Eurotrip Part III: Dublin

dublinfotorDublin was the only city in the itinerary that was completely planned by B.  As such, the only thing planned was to tour the Guinness Storehouse.  Our return flight left the same day, so we didn’t have much time to explore but that’s all the more reason to come back!  With that said, the Irish Passport Control guy got a kick out of us coming to the country JUST for Guinness.  9sdljflksdUpon arrival we withdrew EUROS from the airport ATM.  Euros>Pound Sterlings…unless you’re British.  We took a €10 roundtrip bus to the city center and from the city center, walked to the Storehouse.  Having done this, I recommend you find the bus (I believe it was #23) to take you closer to the Storehouse, as the walk was about 30 minutes each way.IMG_9676After self-guiding our tour of the various levels of the Storehouse, we arrived at the topmost portion of the building – the Gravity Bar.  This is where you can enjoy your free glass of Guinness surrounded by views of the city (but mostly other people touring).  By this point, it is quite refreshing.IMG_9684For lunch, we ate on campus at the Brewer’s Dining Hall, a cafeteria style restaurant.  We both had Beef and Guinness Stew, served over mashed potatoes and of course, Guinness to drink.  For dessert, we had cheesecake (I think Bailey’s) and an Irish trifle!  I recommend it all!  2015-09-09 14.25.53We walked back (east on College St., I believe) towards the city center and shopped for souvenirs, then stopped in at a bar for more beers, of course.  We tried two local beers, one of which was Curim and I cannot remember the other.  I wish I could also remember the name of this pub!  Next stop, Roma!
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TIPS:

  • Skip the lines and purchase tickets online.  Bonus, if you’re a student you can get a discount!

Odds & Ends

heart

fried pickles

hot and spicy fried chicken

Gus’s Fried Chicken – Little Rock, AR
Fried pickles. Fried chicken.
Hot & Spicy. Made-to-order.  Sign me up!

post

Visit Post Winery ,in Altus, for a delicious wine tasting.
Favorites included the Pinot Grigio, Cynthiana, & Strawberry Fields.

judge parker's court

Fort Smith National Historic Site.
Site of Judge Parker’s Courthouse & Hell on the Border jail.

IMG_6440bomb Blackberry margarita at Chuy’s in Little Rock

Back Down South Now…

cupecoy beach cave

Quick update (avoiding homework).  I’m officially back in the States after a quick stint back in St. Maarten!  I will [kinda] miss that lil island!  This stay was great, considering The Boyfriend was in his last semester of Basic Sciences for med school.  So, after he finished with the comprehensive test students have to take before leaving the island, he finally got to explore!  He wasn’t much of a beach bum, like me, but I convinced him to go to Cupecoy Beach with me one day and I happened to stumble upon the above pictured cave!  The day I went, this cave was full of nude men, so I wasn’t about to snap a pic.  I captured this photo on my last run on the island and was fortunate enough to catch the sailboat in the background.  What a dreamy photo!  It seems so surreal that I was the one standing in front of all this.  Sad face.

I also revisited the Guana Bay Hike with him and our friends, in addition to finally getting to check out La Belle Creole, a creepy, abandoned resort on the French side.  There was also a lot of socialization, outside of med school!  Specifically, I mean, lots of new foods, drinks (wine!!!), and a nice new restaurant in Cupecoy we frequented!  Stayed tuned!  More posts to follow!

Odds & Ends – Boston edition


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Beautiful weather &
a row of homes on Commonwealth Ave.,
where we stayed

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Pavement Coffee 
Voted some of the best coffee in the US!
(proof)
Surprisingly inexpensive.

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Historic Burrage House
Literally situated on the same row of homes where we stayed!
Tom Brady & Giselle used to live here!
Can I live here, too?
Read about it here, here, & here.

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The North End.
Very far left:  unremarkable brown house was Paul Revere’s.
love the cobblestones ❤

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Cannoli’s from Mike’s Bakery, North End.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge.
Where I could’ve met:

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I’m not especially patient enough to be the 333rd person in line.
For anything!!!

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So character.  Such charm.  Much vintage.
shops on Newbury St.

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stairways at Boston Public Library/an entrance at Old South Church,
Copley Square

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IMG_5730Granary Burying Grounds
RIP:
Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock & Crispus Attucks
FYI:  Benjamin Franklin is not actually buried here!

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Building at Harvard.

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Back Bay at night.

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Massachusetts State House

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pretty spot at Northeastern Univ.

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Commonwealth Ave. Mall,
right in front of the apartment ❤

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Trinity Church, Copley Square

Some Tips for Boston:

Apps I Recommend:

  • If you’ve never been to Boston, I would highly recommend downloading the EMBARK BOS App to get around and to navigate the city with public transportation (mostly the subway). In addition to mapping out your subway route, it also shows you the nearest T station to you.
  • ProximiT app to get train times if you are frequenting the red, blue, or orange line.
  • If you’re only in for a few nights and didn’t have time to plan, the Hotel Tonight app had some great deals.
  • Another great app, especially for food truck enthusiasts is Street Food Boston.  This app shows you food truck schedules and also, maps their current or prospective location(s).
  • Yelp and Urbanspoon are both essential to restaurant reviews.

Where I stayed:

  • I needed to stay in Back Bay, close enough to my university so I wouldn’t have to take a cab to graduation.  Hotels are insanely expensive in this area.  I used AirBnB to book a completely awesome apartment for a week.  I saved $1000+ and the apartment was super nice.  It didn’t have concierge, house keeping, or a continental breakfast but that didn’t matter to me–I saved over a thousand dollars!  Our place was relatively quiet (except for the traffic and constant honking, I mean, what is with that?!), extremely comfortable and soooo cozy!  The kitchen was stocked with everything we needed (fridge, microwave, full sized oven/stove, dishwasher, dishes/cups, wine bottle opener–important!, etc) and we had access to free laundry services, free wifi (fast) and the roof.  Additionally, the apartment was only a block away from the T station and proximal to Newbury and Boylston Streets.  Score!

Food:

  • I thought I was going to spend a fortune in Boston, but that was not the case at all!  There are affordable options everywhere, even in Back Bay, an affluent neighborhood.  I felt like a lot of money was wasted ordering in and paying the delivery fee for food [for my parents].  If it were just me, I could have easily made do with food truck meals, banh mis, or a burger.  In fact,  McGreevy’s on Boylston St. has $1 burgers on Tuesdays and $1 build your own 10″ pizzas on Thursdays, both after 4 pm!
  • See my post on what I ate in Boston.
  • Online order & delivery sites:  Foodler, Eat24

Helpful Links:

Etcetera:

  • For us country bumpkins who aren’t used to walking everywhere:  comfortable shoes!!!  I didn’t have any and I must say, I was not Boston strong.
  • Pack a light rain jacket.  I checked the weather prior to my flight and didn’t see rain on the forecast, so I was unpleasantly surprised when it was cold and rainy for a couple days!  In June!!!  “That’s New England weather for ya!” said a friend of mine.  Luckily, I packed this rain jacket and this light fleece. Both of these items are light and can be easily packed in a tote.
  • Don’t be a fool; buy a Charlie Ticket for public transportation! Especially if you are staying for a few days.

Odds & Ends


Self explanatory…

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A small stretch of Orient Bay back in February.
It was a breezy day and the water was slightly frigid.
(Ok, it wasn’t frigid, but SO cold!)
But the sun was out and the people followed.

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Baie aux Prunes or Plum Bay.
Overcast.  Rainy.  More frigid water.
Totally secluded.
Rocky terrain, with beautiful clear water.

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More from Happy Bay.

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Some docks at Great Bay in Philipsburg.
Amazing turquoise water.
High traffic area and it sorta grosses me out.

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Arkansas boys at Karakter’s, Simpson Bay.

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Back in Arkansas.
The “Shiblings”:  Effy and Fitzroy

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Me & the cat.
Fredra Beatrix.
“Fred”

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Pretty.
All the way from France.

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Crown-of-Thorns.
tye-dye!

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OBSESSED with reds from the Cote du Rhone region of France.

goatcheese

UNPASTEURIZED.
Goat cheese from the Poitou-Charentes region, France.
Wow. So. Amaze.
Which Kirby and I put on this…

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Homemade wheat crust
Onion Jam
Garlic
Spinach
Mushrooms
Goat Cheese
Charcuterie I cannot pronounce/spell

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B always picks the best dinners.
“Farmer Combination”
Filet, flank, and duck breast
From Stone, located in the Simpson Bay Resort.

Beef Pho


Since I’ve moved to St. Maarten, I find myself with an incessant craving for pho—a staple in my household and my mom’s favorite food.   It’s one of those things that you don’t miss til it’s gone and boy, did I.  I ALWAYS requested pho when I arrived back in Arkansas or when I was leaving.  It is necessary.

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Not only is pho one of every Southeast Asian kids favorite comfort food, but it’s a social food too.  You ALWAYS have to make a huge pot to share with friends and family…there is no such thing as a single serving recipe for a pot of pho.  I suppose that unconsciously, my request for my mom’s pho is an easy invitation to see my family when I get home and when I’m leaving.  People trickle in and out throughout the day, but no one ever turns down pho.

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So, after about 5 semesters on the island, I finally decided that I, a person nearing 30, should finally tackle making pho from scratch.  Had I not grown up so Americanized, I might’ve had 10 years of experience by now…but, unfortunately, I don’t.  My mom and I are similar, in that we firmly believe that if anything is to be done right, you must do it yourself.  Hence, why I do not know how to cook anything Asian.

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The first time I made pho on the island, it was just…really lackluster.  First of all (and don’t judge me, I live on an island), I didn’t have any beef bones.  Secondly, I enhanced the flavor with pho seasoning cubes.  Blasphemy! I know… but I totally redeemed myself this time.  I found oxtails and didn’t use ANY seasoning cubes.  I cross-referenced various blogs with thorough recipes (here, here, and here) to determine what I needed to produce a genuine, aromatic, and flavorful broth.  The result was a hit!  Much better than the first go-around.

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As you can see, I support the utilization of condiments.  Generally, when it comes to pho, there are two camps:  those who prefer a pure, unadulterated broth and those who like to spice things up with flavors!  There is nothing wrong with either parties.  I have had it both ways and each have their own attributes.  I was just raised the right way to spice up any and all of my food.  My preferred additions include sugar, spicy ground chili in oil, beef paste flavoring, lime juice, green onions, thinly sliced onions, and copious amounts of cilantro.  Other favorite accoutrements:  Chinese long beans and Romaine lettuce.  It is a special treat when my mom makes her famous Lao-style Sukiyaki sauce, I like to dip the long beans in it or even add it to my soup!

Day One.


Pretty yellow flower

People seem to go through life with a set template and very few momentous experiences in between to speak of.

  • School
  • Work
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Retire

I have to say that I love templates.  I love structure.  I make a lot of lists.  Handwritten lists, list applications on every device I own.  I categorize and organize and I do not like things to differentiate from how I think they’re suppose to be.  Thus, I graduated from high school.  I graduated from a university.  I got a job.  Then I got a better job as an entry level quality lab technician at a huge liquor company (they had operations on every continent except Antarctica).  After two years, I got offered a management position at a major US dairy company.  I did this in 3 years.  Some people remain a lab tech for years before moving up.  I was on track to a career in quality management at food manufacturing plants.  My inner monologue went something like this:

Do you want to do this for the rest of your life?  I contemplated this for a very long time.
Not really, but I could do it.
Would you do it if I had a choice?
Hell no.  
What are you going to do instead, considering your compulsive, irrational need to shop and to um, live…?  Hmm… I don’t know. 
Normally, deviations piss me off.  They throw everything out of whack.  But I quit my job and moved to a different country.  Yes, I chose to deviate from the aforementioned template.  Why?  To escape monotony.  To have life experiences that don’t consist of the same thing for the 30 years until I retire.  How do people do that?  I’m not even consistent with my food choices.  I had a hard time trying to imagine me doing the same things for 30 years.  I guess I will have to figure it out as I go.

 

Fast forward to right now, I’ve had an exhausting day.  I woke up late, cooked spaghetti for lunch.  Ran to the beach.  Walked back home (IT’S ALL UPHILL, UGH!).  Did some laundry.  Walked back to the beach, swam, read the Clash of Kings, walked home.  B made me attend an anatomy review with him…… my eyes glazed over.  This was not the anatomy of my undergrad days.  This was like, intense roided-out anatomy of things you didn’t even know was really a significant anatomical structure.

 

 Tomorrow, I’m going to figure out how to get around with a car!  Because I really want a gelato.

Euphorbia milli or the crown-of-thorns plant. Lao ladies are obsessed with these succulents because it is said to bring good luck or a lot of money

the golf course on the way to the beach

view which I will never tire of

this is a 7 minute run