Things get a little crazy in Ireland

My first stop in Ireland was three nights in Dublin. What a wonderful place! My first days were spent visiting cathedrals, museums, Trinity College and drinking far too much Guinness! I visited the Guinness Storehouse which I heard one man describe as an alcoholic’s Disneyland. 

Temple Bar, Dublin

After recovering from an almighty hangover I was off to Kilkenny, ‘the marble city’. I ate some Lebanese food while sitting in the gardens of the Castle. Also to explore were many churches and I climbed a tower at one church for a lovely view of the city.

Kilkenny Castle

On to Cork where I stayed at a bar & hostel run by a guy from Dunedin who came for a visit six years ago and never left. 10% discount on the room for being a Kiwi and 10% discount at the bar influenced my opinions of Cork. I can see why they call it ‘Ireland’s Real Capital’.

Blarney Castle

An easy morning trip to Blarney castle to kiss the fabled stone to get the ‘gift of the gab’. The whole grounds of the castle were great to explore, a highlight being the ‘poisonous garden’ with a variety of dangerous plants including marijuana and opium.

Dingle Peninsula

I spent Saturday night in Killarney which was the night of the French Top 14 final, ASM (my team) vs Paris. Unfortunately we lost, but I met some French guys from Toulouse at the pub and crashed a 21st birthday party.

Dingle Peninsula

I was in Killarney for one reason, to take a day trip of the Dingle peninsula. The whole area has incredible scenery! I can’t sum it up in words! Think castles by the sea, windswept beaches, rolling hills and mountains. Our guide and the others on the tour were awesome and it was a great day out.

Cliffs of Moher

Galway was really hyped up by everyone, and honestly I preferred Cork, but I had a great time anyways and used it as a base for a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher with a detour through The Burren. The Cliffs are really incredible, 200m high and a world heritage site. The Burren is essentially hills of limestone cracked and eroded over time to make it look like rocks, we also stopped at a 5000 year old tomb.

After one more night out in Dublin I was on my early morning, £9 flight to Scotland.

Until next time,

Amanda xx


A week of lasts

The last (slightly more than a) week has been a bit of a crazy one! After arriving back into France on my flight into Paris Beauvais I met my parents at their hotel. We had heaps to talk about as we hadn’t spoken for two weeks (we spoke once a week for the last 8 months) and my parents had spent a week of that travelling London and in Paris while I’d been off in the Balkans.

The next day we headed back to Clermont-Ferrand on the train for a couple of days of relaxation and seeing where I live. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best so we couldn’t go up Puy de Dôme or to Parc Montjuzet. Instead we visited L’Aventure Michelin, a museum about the history of Michelin which is based and founded in Clermont-Ferrand, then we ate at my favourite crêperie, 1513 (named for the year it was built). I also took my parents to the supermarket, the laundromat and to lunch at the cafeteria at school, all interesting experiences for them (they were impressed with all the different courses at the cafeteria – salad, main, bread & cheese and dessert).

Unfortunately for me, Mum and Dad then headed off to Portugal and Spain while I had to finish my last week of teaching. My last week was very light, six hours of classes mostly with me chatting with the students about whatever they liked, also had to supervise a test and help some students record advertisements for fake products they came up with.

Outside of class there was many reasons to celebrate, a week of lasts! The last Tuesday coffee (these became a weekly regular), the last students pub night, the last day of work (which was celebrated with the last visit to Jardin Lecoq and a couple of pints), the last trip to the gym, last visit to the laundromat, last assistants party (including a fun game which was a mixture of taboo and charades, all in French of course). There was also the last annoying French public holiday (NO public transport for the day), there are some things I really won’t miss about France.

For the rest of my time I was doing paper work and running around trying to sort out my leaving, picking up prescriptions, visiting the insurance people, bank, post office, etc. 

On Saturday ASM (the local rugby team), played Toulon in the final of the champions cup. The game was played in London since it was an international competition but in Place Jaude they put up a huge screen and what seemed like the whole town came to watch (estimates suggest there was around 50,000 people there). Everyone was wearing yellow and blue, with flags, horns, smoke bombs and beer in hand. We stood for six hours in the revelry but unfortunately Toulon won the match. Despite this the party continued into the night. The best weekend to be in Clermont-Ferrand and a great send off for me!

Thanks to all the cool people I met during my time in Clermont-Ferrand, I’ve had a great time and am more than a little sad to be leaving. Good luck to everyone!

So where am I off to now? I have about eight weeks travelling around Europe mostly with my parents before I’m heading back to France (but more on that part later). This week I’m making a quick trip to London via Paris before heading to the south of France for a little R&R and to meet up with my parents.

Until next time,

Amanda xx

Nudity at the theatre

So far this year I’ve been busy with a French road trip and a visit to a new country. France has also been hit by one of the biggest acts of terrorism in recent time with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, more in another post.

Last weekend Dom, Jon, Nigel and I rented a car and spent the weekend exploring the Loire Valley: Tours, Blois, Amboise, a creepy empty church and a couple of Chateaux. We had a great time and managed to fit in plenty of wine drinking and cheese eating as well as an adventure to get a selfie with a cow, you really had to be there.

This weekend I went to Luxembourg to visit Amélie who I met in Lisbon. Luxembourg is beautiful if very small. The beauty of the place was increased after some snow on the first night I was there and we spent the next day checking out all the beautiful snowy sights and MUDAM the modern art museum.

Other monthly highlights include: seeing an ASM rugby game at the stadium (with a minute silence for the Charlie Hebdo massacre victims), meeting some of the Kiwi players in the ASM team, attending the rally for #JeSuisCharlie with an estimated 50-70k others, an afternoon at the Louvre, a catch up in Paris with a kiwi assistant, teaching the kids kiwi slang (we love the word ‘piss’ don’t we?! To get pissed, to be pissed off, to go to a piss up and isn’t it pissing down outside?), tutoring and going on field trip with my school to see The Taming of the Shrew (in French of course).

This last highlight was an extremely odd experience for me. Firstly the performance was in French which meant I understood maybe 10% but also it was a crazy 21st century adaptation that included so much nudity that I’d feel uncomfortable seeing it with my mother let alone a couple dozen of my students! For the record I saw two sets of breasts (one set within the first minutes of the play and then repeatedly for the next two hours), and three penises. France…

Until next time,

Amanda xx

Lyon and Christmas parties

Last weekend I went to Lyon for the Fête des Lumières. The whole of Lyon is filled with light displays, installations and people (something like 3 million per day)! I went with one of the other assistants Naomi and stayed with my old university friend Nick who is there for a post doc. The weather was cold but we had a great time.

During the week I went to a language speed dating night where you get to speak to people in different languages and on Thursday I made Pikelets for an international night. On the weekend I went to a Christmas dinner at one of the English teacher’s houses which was lovely. The meal included the typical 5 courses (aperitif – nibbles and champagne, main, cheese, dessert and coffee). Afterwards the assistants had a Christmas party with lots of party games and festive attire. Sunday afternoon/evening was spent at the pub watching the ASM v Munster rugby game as all the tickets had sold out for the stadium. ASM won, yay!

This week I haven’t had many classes due to teachers kids being sick, students on internships and teachers who hadn’t finished covering the material for the term so I have had plenty of time to rest up before heading away on a two week break this weekend. On Saturday I head to Paris before going to the UK on Monday and then for New Years I am going to Belgium with another assistant Ruth. Before then I have another two Christmas lunches and another few catch ups with the other assistants.

I won’t have time to write again until after Christmas so Merry Christmas!

Amanda xx