7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 5)

1. Last week I was MIA with all posts because it was our Spring Break. The Triduum and now Easter in Roma has been glorious. The weather is warming up (the sandals and capris are finally seeing the light of day) and everyone is cheerful and upbeat.

2. First on our itinerary for our Spring Break was Ireland. Before we left I kept joking with everyone “I’m afraid to go because I might not want to come back!” Boy, was I right. One of my brother’s best friends from college moved to Ireland to become a priest, and he is now in the diocese of “Tuam” which is just north of Galway. He played host for us for the 3 days we were there.

The first day he picked us up, showed us Galway and brought us to an amazing restaurant for lunch, then we went back to the place we stayed (a little nun’s house). This house was cozy and quiant and had a fireplace which the five of us girls snuggled up to with tea at least twice a day. That evening we went out for Irish Mexican food, go figure, and we finished the night off at a local pub with local musicians. Perfection.

The second day Fr. Shane organized a pilgrimage for our group, along with about 10 high school students from his parish’s youth group to the Aran Islands for the day. It was so wonderful to interact with the Irish Locals, particularly young people. Part of “Leap Year” was filmed on the Aran Islands, and it was the stereotypical Ireland we were yearning to see: rolling green hills with stone fences built by hand, huge cliffs and carribean blue waters. We had Mass on the Island and got to partake in some wonderful food.

Cathedral of Tuam, where Fr. Shane is.

The third day was the best: Father picked us up in Galway after shopping most of the day, drove us out by his family, and he took us to the town where “The Quiet Man” was filmed. After sun down on the drive home in rural country, we stopped in the middle of a field to see the most spectacular night sky of stars any of us had ever seen. Because we had an early flight the next morning, we stayed up and watched “The Quiet Man” with tea in front of the fireplace.
Not to mention it was sunny and didn’t rain all three days. What stuck out to me most was that everyone we met was amazing and so hospitable to us. The Irish welcomed us like we were their own family. All in all I’d say our visit to Ireland was not too shabby.

3. Near Galway is the area called “Claddagh,” the home of the Claddagh ring, so clearly I had to get one! My intention for this ring was partly aesthetics,  it’s really sweet lookin’, and partly relationship-wise. I wear it facing out which signifies that my heart is open, but at the same time, the Lord is king of my heart. Check out my previous blog on “Purity Rings” here!

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Epic pictures taken by my roommate Emily Hoffmann.

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4. After Ireland we were off to Poland. We flew in to Katowice on Thursday and planned to make it up to Czestahowa to see the “Polish Madonna” but we missed the last train and later found out that some of our fellow classmates had lots of troubles up there so we decided to nix it from the itinerary. We traveled to Krakow instead and the next day we visited Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. Walking around the camps, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and it was really sobering to see the living conditions to say the least. We were able to see the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe was, and a couple guys really like him so they really appreciated that.

Next we went to the Salt Mine just outside of Krakow which was a lot of fun. Our tour guide was hilarious (actually, we have been so Blessed to have top notch tour guides everywhere this trip, the Auschwitz guide was especially knowledgeable and helpful, and she has only been on the job for a year, and she looked like she just graduated college)!
Again, it didn’t work out to go to Wadowice, the home of the late Pope John Paul II as the home and museum are under renovation, or Rapka where my great-grandfather was from. At least knowing where my great grandpa was from was a great bit of trivia to pull out with all the locals 😉
So you may be wondering, what did we do if we didn’t get to all those places? Eat. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the food! Pierogis, Zurek soup, kababs, alcohol, and the desert was to die for! Finally, we finished our trip off at the Shrine of Divine Mercy a little outside Krakow on Divine Mercy Sunday! It was so cold (there was a little less than a foot of snow on the ground) and packed with people, but it was a great experience. The Polish music was stunning!
There were a couple of times when I thought “Man, I am so excited to go home and tell Grandma about my experience, she will be so proud of me!” It very quickly escapes my mind that she died this past January. It was a real gift to get to Poland, I kind of feel like I went “for” her, and it was like being at home when I could recognize and say Polish phrases that she would always say.

5. Here are a couple fun bragging links: My sister and her family were chosen to be the face of Huggies! You can see them on YouTube here (She is the one with the green&white checkered shirt). Also, I sometimes write for a monthly newsletter that is distributed in Coffee Shops around the Twin Cities and here is an article I wrote on True Freedom.

6. Yesterday we had an awesome opportunity to go to a private screening here in Rome of a new film “Little Boy.” It is by the creators of “Bella”, and has some overlapping actors with “Bella” as well. It’s about an eight year old boy who’s dad goes off to WWII and what the boy goes through to try to get him back. There are some pretty great actors, Kevin James from King of Queens and Hitch, the brother-in-law from Hitch Michael Rapaport, David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place, Ted Levine, and Tom Wilkinson among others. Also, really fun fact: We sat right in front of Ali Landry, she was Miss USA 1996, in Bella and Little Boy and once married to Mario Lopez but now she is married to the writer of Bella and Little Boy. I feel special. The movie is definitely a tear jerker–so be on the look out for it when it comes to theaters in the US, and let me know what you think!

7. Finally, today we all threw a surprise baby shower for our professor’s wife! It was a perfect day to celebrate a new life on the rooftop terrace of our house, eat delicious food and play ridiculous yet ridiculously entertaining games. No tears were shed until Mrs. Rota opened the gift of a bib from Medjugorje with a picture of Mary on it. We are so Catholic.

**If you are visiting from the link-up with Conversion Diary and Camp Patton, welcome, and come back soon!**