Okay, technically it was the sea, not the ocean, but it was still lovely! At about 2pm I said to Wes, 'You know, we should have gone to the beach today!' Fortunately, the sun is out here until 10pm, so even though this sounds late, it actually wasn't too bad. We stopped to pick up some sunscreen and 2.5 hours later (seriously) we were in Seapoint. Public transportation isn't the greatest in Dublin, but we are fortunate that our LUAS line and the DART station actually meet up. We had never been to the beach in Seapoint and much to our surprise there was no sand, just grass. I was okay with this because sometimes sand can just be really annoying. There was a sea wall with a ramp that you could walk down to get in the water if you were a brave soul. I have to say, even if it were warmer, I'm not sure I'm brave enough to get in at a non-sandy area. It's very rocky with lots of seaweed and I just remember seeing this HUGE jellyfish in the water in Beara. I'm impressed that people will actually swim in water that is not clear at all. I am not one of those people. There were a lot of people enjoying the sun, but we got a spot on the grass and read our books for awhile. It was nice!
Million euro houses in Seapoint. Wes said we can't have one (I asked!) because we don't have a million euro and we don't have matching Mercedes. Details! Details!
Wes enjoying the beach bench. He did finally come and sit on the grass!
Me enjoying the beach.
There was a low fog hanging over Howth when we got there. I thought it was an island at first!
The new Lansdowne Road Rugby Football Stadium which is still in the construction process. The old one was demolished in 2007.
We've been trying to cut back on spending by not eating out as much, etc. We both love to eat out and it's very expensive to do so in Dublin. So I pretty much knew this conversation was going to go down like a lead balloon:
Me: I may go out today to look for a dress for the wedding next month. Him: (Looks at me suspiciously) Me: I don't really have anything to wear! Him: What about the red dress??* Me: I'm not sure that dress even fits me anymore! Him: Well lose some weight! Me: That's lovely. (Thoughts of guilt for not going to the gym yesterday due to sheer laziness.)
We both agree that we've gained some weight since we've been married. I think it's because we're not used to eating such nice dinners every night (thank you, Me!). I'll spare you the rest of the excuses I have come up with because basically it comes down to the fact that I have no will power and I sit around on my ass for a lot of the day. When I was in Bath, I could eat soup for dinner or an English muffin with scrambled egg (i.e. breakfast muffin if you live in England). Wes' dinners would consist of white things: plain chicken, boiled potatoes, and risotto (made simply with water). I miss my all time favorite dinner in the US of roasted red pepper hummus and Triscuits. Healthy, yes?? In all fairness to me, the dinners I prepare are actually pretty healthy. The problem is portion control. I am not allowed to buy Honey Barbecue potato chips anymore.
We have only eaten dinner out once in the past 2.5 weeks. This is huge for us. We also haven't eaten beef or lamb during that time, mostly having chicken, salmon, and vegetarian dishes. I feel really good! I told him we should keep this up, but he seems to question my ability to do this. The problem is it's easy to do because I'm not working and I have time to cook, but if I start working that will make it much more difficult. So in the meantime I'm going to make a huge effort to cook healthier meals and I'll put my Cooking Light cookbook to good use! Oh, and I was at the gym for TWO HOURS today, so boo-yah!!!
*Note about red dress - I wore this to Lisa's wedding in 2007. It is still sitting crumpled in a ball waiting to be dry cleaned.
When I was in England, I tried to avoid dealing with the NHS at all costs. Not because it was inadequate, but because the receptionist at the GP where I first registered was really rude to me and I had a difficult time getting a prescription due to them not listening to me and assuming I was just another immigrant trying to abuse the system. Yeah, it put me off a bit. In the UK they only do pap smears every three years and since I had one right before I moved there I wasn't about to argue with them to give me one every year 'like in America'. That statement doesn't go over well with people. Ireland has a dual system: you pay for healthcare if you make over a certain amount, but there is a national system for those who don't. Personally, I think this is the way to go, and hopefully Barack Obama is reading my blog. It certainly has it's upside: everyone here has healthcare, and it's downside: you don't always get what you pay for. Even though I'm unwaged (see previous post), my husband isn't, so we pay for our insurance. For the two of us, we have paid about 1100 euro for one year of insurance. This sounds like a lot, but when you compare that to the cost of healthcare in the US, it's minimal.
So anyway, back to the pap smear (because I knew you wanted to go there), it was on my radar to get this taken care of when I moved to Ireland. Wes keeps telling me it's impossible to find a GP that's taking new patients, so he's not much help when I'm trying to figure all this out. Is it like the UK where you have GP catchment areas within the NHS or is it like the US where you have to find someone who takes your insurance? The girls I do know in Dublin most likely still go to the GP they registered with before they moved to Dublin, so they were no help with recommending a doctor. Wes is still registered with his GP in Cork, so that's useless. There's a clinic around the corner which is run by our insurance company, so I started there. I really had no idea if this was going to be our GP, but they do the cervical exam (FREE to anyone between 18 and 60 in Ireland) and I signed myself up for a health scan (partially covered by insurance) and mole mapping (not covered by insurance). I am one of those freaks who is not afraid of the doctor or dentist. This is probably because I haven't had anything seriously wrong with me (knock on wood) and I always made the 'no cavity' picture wall at the dentist. I was mostly annoyed that my appointment was at 8am. Brutal.
The health scan checked for tons of things. He took blood first off which will be checked for numerous things of which I can only remember 'cholesterol', did an ECG, checked my vision (after my experience at the DMV, this was the scariest bit!), hearing, height, weight, BMI, cervical test, breast exam (because I requested it), blood pressure, temperature, listened to my heart and lungs, then did the mole mapping. I have been terrified that I have skin cancer on my head because my scalp gets burned really easily and I can't see it to check for any abnormalities. I blame a very scary article in Redbook magazine for this. I had a few moles that he flagged and I made him pick through my hair like a monkey. I got the all clear on everything so far (the blood was sent off to be tested, etc) and remarkably, I don't need glasses. I thought for sure I would. He said my right eye is 20/25, but my left eye is 20/20 and together they're 20/20. Sweet!
The doctor was really nice. He talked a lot about America and how nice Americans are. This always makes me happy. He said the best thing about America is that when you become an American citizen, you're 'American'. Period. In the UK they will call you 'British-Asian' even if you were born in the UK and identify solely with British. He actually thought the BBC was the worst offender of this labeling. He also really liked how in the US you can study for a degree in anything, then choose later to become a doctor if you'd like. Here you have to decide very early on if you want to be a doctor, and start studying towards that at a very young age. I thought it was an interesting perspective.
Oh, and as for finding a GP, he looked as confused by my question as I felt. He was clearly couldn't understand why I was having problems find someone. He told me about one around the corner. Oops. Hopefully they're taking patients!
I was in England for a few days, getting some much needed girl time with my friends there. Wes had to stay in Dublin to bring home the bacon and take care of Little Kitty. I had a few hours to kill in Bath before heading to my friend's house. I was headed to my favorite shop, Rossiters, when I got distracted by the Lakeland Crack Shop. This is where I picked up my new beloved butter dish. I think what surprised me most about the trip was how inexpensive things seemed to me. When I was new to England everything was ridiculously expensive. I made the mistake of constantly converting everything to dollars which is not a good idea, especially when the exchange rate is 2 to 1. Compared to Ireland though, England is Target. I could have done some serious damage, but I was fairly loaded down with all my stuff as it was and Ryanair had me restricted with baggage charges.
Speaking of Ryanair...they still don't have their shit together, which is no surprise. They have this new thing where they will charge you if you don't check in online and have your boarding pass printed off prior to getting to the airport. They wanted to eliminate the need for people at the counter. They have a place where you can drop off your bag and if you're like me (a non EU/EEA citizen), you have to show your passport and have your boarding pass stamped. So even though I had no bag to drop I had to stand in line, which was fine. When I got there a passenger was at the counter being told that her teeny tiny carry-on bag was too big. The passenger was arguing (as I would have been) that she always travels with this bag and it's fine. Because of the wheels on the bottom it wouldn't go into the bag measurement device, so I gave her the top tip another Ryanair worker was nice enough to give me once. Flip the bag over and put it in handle first. Of course it slides right in and the robot Ryanair worker acts as if she wasn't just telling her two seconds ago that her bag was too big. Have a nice flight! At Bristol airport, things are not any better. I had to check my bag on the way back and had to pay for this at the airport. I went to the counter, their machine wouldn't accept Maestro, so I had to go to the ATM, back to the counter to pay and get my receipt, off to the bag drop off line which wasn't moving, bitch about the cost of utilities in Ireland with some Irish women who were in line (Wes would have been proud of this), finally got up to the front drop to drop off my bag and get my boarding pass stamped as non-EU. I'm then told that I have to go BACK to the counter where I paid for my bag to get the stamp. The girl at the bag counter just CONFIRMS the information, the girl at the customer service counter actually POSSESSES the stamp. What?? How about you have everything all in one place?? I guess that would just make too much sense. THEN, we're about to land and I ask the flight attendent for a landing card. He tells me I don't need one because it's a UK to Ireland flight which would be correct if Dublin airport had their immigration set up properly. When you fly to the UK from Ireland you're shuttled through a special door that avoids immigration due to the agreement between the two countries. When you fly into Dublin you go through the same immigration as everyone else flying from lord knows where. So yes, the flight attendent and I know that I flew from the UK, but the immigration guy doesn't. So the FA proceeds to give me a landing card for the UK and tell me that it's useless. Yes, I'm aware of it's uselessness, thanks. So, I figure I'll wing it with the immigration guy. Fortunately for me, I'm a white American female and there is no issue at immigration. The immigration officer practically invites me around for a cup of tea.
Sorry for my ramblings...if you're still reading this I appreciate it. I'm avoiding the gym. All in all, my trip was great! I got my dose of girl time, hung out with their extremely adorable children, did a bit of shopping, and had lunch with my old work mates. Two thumbs up!
Being 'unwaged' (it sounds so much nicer than 'unemployed') means I can go to pilates for 6 euro per class. The regular drop in rate is 20 euro.
However, I'd rather be 'waged' and pay full price. :(
The other day Wes said, 'How did you get along today....doing whatever it is you do all day?' I resent that, Mister! Right, so I really don't do much all day. On the flip side, I feel bad when people ask me what's new there and I immediately make a reference to potential job leads. I'm not really sure how to define myself without my job and this makes me a little sad. I've heard other people say this is an American thing to do - define yourself by your job, but then that person was a mom, so that could be her alternate definition. My current definition is 'an unwaged, stay at home wife (no kids), with an unhealthy addiction to the internet, who would rather do anything but clean'. I need a new definition and I'm sure Wes would like that too!
A few weeks ago I posted a picture of Farmleigh on my 365 blog and I said I was going to post more and I never got around to it. Oops. So, here are the pictures from that day. Farmleigh is, I think, one of Dublin's best kept secrets. It's clear up on the other side of Phoenix Park and not within walking distance from the city centre so you really have to want to go there. I noticed that most of the people there were Irish, which is unusual to see in Dublin!
Reviewing my pictures, I see that most are of flowers. I miss taking pictures of flowers. I didn't realize how many I saw when I was in Bath and how few I see in Dublin.
Gate to the residence for the US Ambassador to Ireland. The new ambassador is Dan Rooney! Woot! Go Steelers!!!! I told Wes I was going to stand outside waving my Terrible Towel. He wasn't too excited about this.
The back side of the Ambassador's residence. The house is in Phoenix Park and we passed it on the bus from Farmleigh.
Wisteria in the courtyard
Drive up to Farmleigh
The flowers were just gorgeous!
Our usual pose! Good thing Wes has long arms!
Farmleigh - not sure why I never took a picture straight on. Guess I was trying to be interesting.
Last week on a whim, I sent my CV to a recruitment agency. She rang while we were at the airport waiting for our flight to Switzerland and asked if I could come in to chat about a potential position. So today I actually dried my hair with a hairdryer and threw on my 'hand wash only' shirt to make my way into public. It was a good conversation and fingers crossed something comes out of it. I feel bad because I know I should be enjoying my free time. If I knew it was coming to an end with a paycheck in the future, I think I'd be enjoying it a bit more!
Wes and I went to Lausanne, Switzerland last week. He had a work conference and I went along on this one! We had a really nice time and look forward to going again, especially since it was only an hour and 45 minute flight. The weather was gorgeous the whole time. I think I got more sun in these 5 days than in the entire 2.5 years I lived in England.
Lausanne sits on Lake Geneva, just across from France, so everything is in French. Wes had french in high school and I took it through college, so we were able to make a go of it. My problem is I don't feel confident and even if I know the words, I'm afraid of putting them in the wrong order. Is it better to try and get it all wrong, or just ask if they speak English?? So, I stuck to the basics 'Bonjour!' 'Merci!' and nouns 'deux cafe au lait'.
Here are some pictures from the trip. I was a bit obsessed with the Alps. I just couldn't get enough of them! Sorry, but they're in no particular order.
Posh Hotels on the Ouchy (pronounced Oo-shay) waterfront.
I would never drive in this town if there were snow. It was WAY too hilly!
Sculptures with their original paint inside the Cathedral. It's the oldest cathedral in Switzerland.
Alps from the Cathedral
Alps and Lake Geneva
Looking east towards Lutry
Steep hill. The previous slippery road sign was at the top of this hill.
Le Cite (oldest part of the city) from the Cathedral
The Cathedral from Chateau Saint-Maire
Alps with low clouds from the Olympic Museum
On the Ouchy waterfront
Swiss boat on Lake Geneva with France in the background
One of the many fountains in the city
Boatyard in Ouchy
View from the Cathedral
Low clouds hanging over the mountains. This was the view from our room.
Alps and Esplanade de Monbenon
It's hard to see, but there is another hairdresser further down in the picture. There was another one to the left of the picture. Lausanne seems to be the place to go for a haircut! There were tons of coiffures all over the city.
Tour de l'Ale
There were city gardens next to our hotel.
Sunset from our hotel room
View from the front of our hotel. You can see the tram lines in this picture. Lausanne has a fabulous public transport system - trams, buses, metro, trains.