Monday, March 30, 2015

Insta Recap #8

Hello lovely readers and welcome to another installment of Insta Recaps! I'm having a pretty exciting week. On Friday, my parents are going to be in Paris! I cannot wait to meet up with them in Italy, which brings me to another exciting point. Next Monday, I leave for Florence and Rome for two weeks for Spring Break! During the break, I will travel with all of my American counterparts and the Snow Doctors to these two incredible cities! I absolutely cannot wait to go and I'll get to see my parents in Rome! With that in mind, I will not be bringing my laptop to Italy (it is vacation after all) which means no blogging. However, I will certainly do a few massive posts when I return! Without further ado, let's get into the Instagrams!

Our first morning in Dublin, we stopped at a pub called O'Connell's on Aston Quay if I am not mistaken, for brunch. This place was actually so good we stopped in another time during our trip! I cannot remember what we were laughing about but I had to post this picture drinking Irish breakfast tea for breakfast (I know it's cheesy!)

With the Ashley's (they're both Ashley) after successfully pouring the perfect pint of Guinness!

A garden view of the Dublin Castle

This is the inside of the Mauritishuis in the Hague. This is the ceiling of the second floor and it is absolutely a work of art in it's own right! Plus, what's not to love about red walls?

Hopefully this post will hold all of my voracious readers over until I am able to blog after Italy! See you in a few weeks!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day Trippin': Den Haag

Isn't it amazing in Europe that it takes merely two hours on a coach bus to be transported into another country? Drive two hours in Ohio and you stay in Ohio. Yesterday, the Loyola International Nachbar Huis took a trip to Den Haag or the Hague, the City of Peace. Since the weather was a bit crummy, I didn't take many pictures outside and I usually don't take too many pictures inside museums.

Our first stop was the Peace Palace, funded by the Carnegie Foundation. Inside, the International Court of Justice and the court of the United Nations preside. Since press is not allowed inside, the public rarely hears about the proceedings here. Unfortunately, we were not able to tour the inside of the Peace Palace, but we did visit the visitors center where we learned about the Justices serving on these courts and even got to see the check Carnegie wrote to help build the palace. It would have been incredible to go inside, but even seeing the building was enough for me and it is am=n important landmark that works towards justice and peace for our world, something I find important.

Peace Palace at Den Haag

Once we finished up at the visitors center, we visited the Escher Museum, Escher in het Palais. As you can imagine from the name, the building which houses these works of art was once a palace. Escher is a Dutch artist who made lithographs, drawings, and woodcuts often inspired by nature that are incredibly mathematically precise. When making a woodcut, for example, the design is carved into a block of wood before it is printed on paper. After mulling over this technique, I could not believe how precise the works of Escher were. I cannot imagine drawing straight lies, let alone carving them into a block of wood! Many of his pieces feature optical illusions, the use of mirrors,a tessellations and repetitions of images. Some of his most famous works include "Drawing Hands" from 1948 and many of his depictions of stairs. Overall, I was incredibly impressed. Not only are the works wonderful optical illusions that test our ability to judge what we see, they also showcase an incredible amount of attention to detail. As someone who is a bit neurotic and adores attention to detail, these images by Escher were quite calming and impressive, If ever in Den Haag, the Escher museum is a must see.

Escher's "Drawing hands"

Of course, I couldn't just visit one museum. With only a few hours left in our day, I, along with two other girls, visited the Mauritshuis, a museum that houses Dutch masterpieces. The most famous painting that calls this museum home is "Girl with the Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer. Being this close to a masterpiece, how could I not visit. For 11 euro, it was all worth it. As the name suggests, this museum is in a huis, so it is quite small and intimate with two floors chock full of works by master painters, like Rembrandt and Vermeer. the building alone is worth a visit; the second floor has a gorgeous painted ceiling and red walls that are utterly swoon-worthy. Without a shadow of a doubt, the "Girl with the Pearl Earring" is the stunner of this collection. Prior to visiting, I was familiar with the painting but I was not super drawn to it. After seeing her in person, I understand the fascination. She is incredible, stunning, with creamy skin and the earring she wears glistening under the light. I was mesmerized by her, enchanted by her beauty. Very rarely do I feel so deeply upon seeing a work of art, but this Vermeer is a painting everyone should see.

View of the second floor ceiling from the stairwell--absolutely stunning!

I take too many selfies with famous masterpieces. Here with "Girl with the Pearl Earring"

Another masterpiece selfie with Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp" (1631)

My trip to the Hague was wonderful. I experienced and was moved by works of art by two very different artists. for any museum-lover, the Hague should certainly be at the top of your list of places to visit!

A lovely quote by Escher-- "A good bit of childish wonder is undoubtedly needed. And I've got plenty of that: wonder is the spice of life."

Be sure to check out the Escher and Mauritishuis websites listed below!
Escher Museum:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dublin up

 With two girls named Ashley as travel companions, we embarked on another weekend trip. From Thursday to Saturday morning, I spent time in the place of some of my ancestors: Dublin, Ireland. Looking out the window as our plane descended on the Emerald Isle, it looked completely how I imagined; incredibly green, lush foliage, cool blue water meeting what must have been a stunning coastline. When we arrived in Dublin, the customs officer knew right away that I was Irish and promptly welcomed me home (he probably noticed my middle name, Farrell, on my passport and guessed from that. Needless to say, the trip started out on a high note, demonstrating how nice the Irish proved to be the entire trip.

For such a blitz trip, we managed to visit many of the Dublin highlights, starting with the Guinness Storehouse tour. Prior to going to Dublin, I never tried Guinness, so this was a totally new experience. Of course, the museum walks you through the steps of making beer from the ingredients to fermentation to the history of the Guinness family to a tasting process to fully experience the flavors of Guinness. Of course, no trip to the Guinness Storehouse would be complete without learning to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Academy. To properly fill Guinness, the glass must be tiled at a 45 degree angel until 3/4 full and then it must settle. Once it settles, the ruby red, not black, pint is topped off. Of course, I learned and now can officially pour the perfect pint. After learning how to pour Guinness, we finish our drinks while admiring the panoramic view of the city in the Gravity Bar. After sampling the Guinness, I think it's safe to stay I'll stick to gin and tonics for now!

The beginning of pouring the perfect pint of Guinness

Perfectly Poured Pints

The gate to the Storehouse
While Guinness was certainly a highlight, we did so much more than learn to pour beer. We visited St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Dublin Castle, which is still an active political building. Being in Dublin, of course a trip to Trinity College was a must do. KU Leuven does not have much of a campus, due to the city setting, but Trinity has a sprawling campus with green space and a huge gorgeous library with cobblestone pathways to boot. On top of that, we wandered Grafton Street and O'Connell Street, two of the most famous streets in Dublin, filled with shops and wonderful street performers. The end of Grafton Street leads to St. Stephen's Green, which was beautiful, but boy was it windy in the park that day! So much so that the water from the fountains sprayed every which way.

The yard at St. Patrick's Cathedral

 Trinity College

Trinity College

From the garden at the Dublin Castle

Performers on Grafton Street--Dublin is one of the few European cities that still allows street performers!

A windy afternoon at St. Stephen's Green

Finally, no trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to a pub or too. Our first night, we went to a pub called O'Neil's, where the food was a serve-it-yourself and there was live music and Irish dancing! During the performance, a drummer would produce a beat and the dancer would mimic the sound with the stomping of her feet on the floor; it was incredibly impressive!

Inside O'Neil's Pub

Visiting Dublin was an absolute blast! Being Irish myself, I certainly felt at home on the Emerald Isle and would love to come back again. Who knows, I might even like to live here one day!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Insta Recap #7

Hello world! Today, I bring to you my seventh installment of "Insta Recap!" I will be honest, I did forget about doing these posts, so I have quite a few photos I have not shared on the blog! I really enjoy doing these posts since it allows me to look back on the semester and some of the fun that I have had! Without further ado, let's get started!

Back in the fall in Bruges with some of the lovely girls from my unit! This was such a great weekend trip!

Het Stadhuis all lit up in December for Chrsitmas!

 German dinner

German schneeballen (Seeing all of my old German food posts is making me hungry and ready to go back to Berlin!)

A chunk of the Leuven group back in St. Malo from our first trip ever! I posted this on the day we were supposed to meet in Newark to fly back to Belgium! I, however, didn't make that flight...

The sunny Plaza Mayor in Spain--what I would do for this sunshine in Leuven!

Parque del Retiro in Madrid with Ashley

Cheering for an imaginary bullfight in Madrid!

I know, I know, some of these pictures are months old. Even so, this is a great way for me to reminisce about my time abroad so far. I hope you all enjoyed my post and get ready for a few more posts soon--I am going to Dublin on Thursday and you can bet there will be posts to come! Stay tuned.