12 March 2010: We stepped out into the morning darkness of the icy March air and headed to the right down Rue Saint Dominique towards the Solférino station on line 12 of the Paris métro. It was that beautiful sliver of the day when the pale blue light of dawn meets the phosphorescent glow of the streetlights. After two stops on line 12, we transfered to the yellow line at Concorde, easily finding seats in the nearly empty car for our ride to the end of the line at Porte Maillot. Since I had researched directions to the Paris Beauvais airport in advance we knew that we had to make the 6:45am bus out of Paris in order to arrive at the airport with ample time before our 9:25am flight. I always love when a carefully constructed plan on paper comes to fruition in real life, and this was no exception. We arrived at Paris Beauvais with a comfortable hour and a half to spare, ready for our journey to the magical land of Ire. Since I don't really intend to recount every detail of my trip to Ireland in this post, I'll leave you with a link to my original blog post from my 173 Days in Europe project. This was a blog I kept while abroad to document each and every day of my time living la belle vie.
I think Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart. Ever since my first visit in the summer of 2006 I have been completely enchanted by its rolling green hills and country towns and the way Dublin feels like the small friendly corner of some larger city rather than the self-contained capital it really is. My feelings for this country were only solidified during my second visit in March of 2010. I went with a group of girls from my study abroad program and we had such a blissful long weekend that none of us wanted it to ever end. We still talk about our trip to this day, reminiscing on it as a time of spontaneous adventure, fresh air, friendly faces, the freedom to speak English after 2 solid months of French, and overall the formation of solid life-long friendships. I returned to Ireland several months later during a month-long trip after classes ended, and although it was an equally fantastic trip it just didn't compare to the experience the 5 of us shared at that particular point in our lives. Ireland, I miss you, and I hope to see you again some day very very soon.
Ashley and I arrived in Dublin in the morning ahead of the other three girls (who had all opted to go to class...which we obviously did not...). The two of us bought some fresh doughnuts after disembarking the airport shuttle bus and spent a couple hours exploring the riverfront, Grafton Street, and St Stevens Green. I am always astonished at how calm Dublin is. It really seems like people live life a little more slowly there.
The cathedral above is in the seaside town of Dún Laoghaire, where Ashley and I stayed for the weekend.
The next picture is quite possibly one of my favorites of all time. Katie and Emilie are still dear friends of mine and we continue to rendezvous between our three home states of California, Colorado, and Texas.
Looking back at these pictures, I am reminded not only of the many wonderful experiences I had while studying abroad, but also of my growth in photography. When I landed in Europe with my little Rebel XTi, I had a very basic understanding of DSLRs though my knowledge was by no means comprehensive. I spent the first few months with no awareness at all of ISO (resulting in some particularly gritty pictures over spring break in Spain and Italy), didn't know how to change my aperture, and had no idea there was a light meter that could tell me whether or not I was under or over-exposing my pictures. So I guess I should say I pretty much just knew how to turn my camera on and use the shutter. There is definitely an enormous benefit to looking back at old pictures to reflect on where I was lacking and how I have improved since then. I maintain (and probably always will) that I still have a looong way to go, but I am proud to say that I have learned quite a bit over the last year.
I can't wait to learn more, see more, and do more.