Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So much to catch up on...

So somehow I now have to restart writing the beginning of this post because I accidentally deleted it and have no idea how to restore it. Rats...

This morning I find myself very sore and stiff, so I figure what better time to write a new post than now since I'll probably be spending the rest of the day on the couch in front of the tv. For those of you reading this who might be wondering why am I so ouchie today, let me explain. Myself and my friend ClĂ©mentine recently decided that once a month we'll do something we've never tried before. She'll then chronicle each of our adventures in a blog she's setting up especially. Last month we went to the 7up on ice  in Arnotts, even though we've both been ice skating before, I think it was a first for us both to skate on eco-friendly ice and on the roof of a building in the rain. I wouldn't reccomend it really. Although I was one of the last people to leave the ice rink, the bulk of the people there had given up half an hour in. I think the reason being, aside from the rain and wind, was because they also found it was harder to get a grip and move around than on real ice. I don't think I'll be doing that again in future.

Anyway, back to our latest adventure, on Sunday we went to the Dublin Roller Girls (DRG) Fresh Meat training session. I won't give too detailed an account of our experience since ClĂ©mentine will be keeping the blog but I will say that the DRG are very friendly, offering lots of reassurance and encouragement to the new prospects for the team. Once suited and roller skate booted I had a lot of fun despite stumbling around like Bambi with wheels on. I had a few falls, only once on my bum, which didn't really hurt and thankfully hasn't left any bruising and the rest were onto the knee pads which is the preferred way to fall. Considering how it may help improve my pretty rubbish balance (which I attribute to when I broke my arm back in Primary school, also leaving me with a big scar on my elbow, a permanent screw holding on the piece of bone I chipped off and a fear of falling) it's also the most exercise I've had in a year so I think I will return to training next week. 

Before I move on, here's the link to Clementine's blog of our adventures: http://dublinparisdiary.blogspot.com

What else to cover? Well I should probably write a little more about America aside from the rather brief post I left last week. Before we went to America, I decided to book a special dietary meal for myself for my Aer Lingus flights since I knew we'd be getting fed and well "Chicken or beef?" don't really sound that appealing to me. So after looking at the options on their website, I decided to go for the vegan meal in the hopes of also limiting my dairy intake. I should probably clarify here that I am a vegetarian, not a vegan, but I do have a dairy intolerance, hence me picking the vegan friendly meal to avoid dairy and meat. While they don't give specifics on the website as to what you'll be fed during your flight, I think if you do have dietary restrictions it's worth checking out the options they have available on the following link; Aer Lingus inflight meal service 

While boarding the plane I think it was nice to have the reassurance that I'd be getting something to eat that would be me friendly, but I should say that I did end up wondering exactly how suitable for a vegan was my meal on the way over? I don't have a photo of this meal to show you, but I got pasta with a tiny amount of finely chopped peppers and onion in just enough oily tomato sauce or perhaps tomato pesto to color the pasta but not really give it any flavor. There was also a side salad of shredded red cabbage, very soggy lettuce and cucumber, with a cherry tomato cut in two; a bread roll with some flora spread and a fruit salad for dessert, which was mainly melon. One thing you'll learn about me over the course of the blog is that melon is one of those things I will not eat, granted whoever prepared my food was not going to know that.

Since I'm not vegan it's not really that big an issue for me if the food was actually vegan or not, but all in all I can't help but wonder how well my meal actually complied with the dietary restrictions placed upon it? I know pasta is normally made with eggs and correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think flora margarine is actually dairy free?
Without a doubt the food on the way back was much nicer than the food on the way over. They gave me a sag aloo which is my usual from any Indian restaurant but with the addition of peas. So it was a lightly curried spinach dish with chopped potatoes and peas, with basmati rice and some very over cooked vegetables on the side. Like on the journey over, it came with a bread roll, with a margarine made with vegetable oil, no dairy according to the ingredients, a lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomato salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing, a melon fruit salad and some crackers. 

While we were over, sadly we couldn't find any Tofurky. We tried a number of health food and farmer's market shops, only to learn that it's more of a seasonal product which disappears off the shelves by the time that New Years rolls around. Since tofu can be frozen I'll ask my brother to pick one up well in advance for next time. We did come across some other photo worthy things during our trip, so rather than me waffling about them for 3/4 paragraphs I'll just chuck up some photos with some brief explanations about them. 

Most people will probably associate Salt Lake City with the Mormon faith. While it is a hugely important place for them and a place over which they have a huge influence, they account for less than half of the population. For those of you not familiar with Salt Lake City, it's a huge city in Utah which is surrounded completely by mountains. While they protect Salt Lake from a lot of bad weather it also leads to a lot of smog and air quality problems. The city is made up of a lot of many suburban residential areas, like West Jordan, Murray, Sandy, Sugar House to name a few.

I think the center of the city, which is dominated by the Mormon temple and other important buildings boasts some architectural beauties and feels like any other city really, stands in a huge contrast to the surrounding residential areas which have more of an American country influence with hardly anyone walking anywhere. Myself and Gar got some weird looks for walking from Fashion Plaza mall across the road to the Fashion Place mall.

 Thought I'd chuck in a couple of photos of my first breakfast in the hotel. I know waffles aren't wheat free, so I shouldn't have eaten one, but I've never had one before and there was a waffle iron and individual portions of batter for guests to make their own waffles, so how could I resist.

I thought I'd chuck in a photo of the butter flavoring I saw in Wal Mart.

My sister-in-law brought the kids out to pick up doughnuts for everyone and she brought me back a chocolate covered one with blue sprinkles. How well she knows me! :) The cute critter looking at it is one of the two teddies that one of my nephews won and gave to Gar and myself. 

On our last night there we decided to go out for dinner so my sister-in-law looked up veggie friendly restaurants in Salt Lake City online and we decided on the Blue Plate Diner. It's a really cool 50s style diner that caters for everyone by serving meat, vegetarian and vegan food. Below is a picture of it when we were leaving, unfortunately because it was closing time they'd switched off the lights in the sign.  

Myself and Gar inside the Blue Plate diner. Below, my veggie burger. The diner caters for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, I have to say I was very impressed with the me friendly burger selection; I got a vegetarian burger with sliced avocado which turned out to be a nut patty, then there were also vegan burgers, vegetarian fake sausage burgers and vegetarian fake chicken burgers, as well as vegetarian fake mince chili. I should also mention that I got fried ravioli as a starter and they were delicious! Aside from the diner being really cool on the inside and the food being fantastic, the prices were really good too. It was very cheap for 4 of us to get starters and mains as well as some sodas with our meal. For anyone whose heading to Salt Lake, I'd highly recommended checking out this place!

Mormon ketchup. The only difference between Catsup and ketchup is the brand name according to my brother but I had to giggle at how they have the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints printed on the back label.

There are restrictions on the alcohol content of beverages available in Salt Lake, typically the beers on offer in petrol stations and in super markets are generally a weaker proof than we're used to here in Europe or even anywhere else in America. Then liquor stores can sell alcohol of a higher proof, but even then that still has a limit.

In Chicago airport grabbing a quick bite to eat during our lay-over. Avocado maki (a favorite of mine), Gar with his prawn sashimi and the special vegetarian roll.

Despite the jet lag, a few other hiccups and the time lost to travelling when we could've used more time with my brother and his family, I think we had a great time while we were there. It was great to be able to give my brother a hug again, which is something that Skype has not been able to let me do. Then of course there was catching up with my sister-in-law and the older kids while also getting to meet the two youngest for the first time. On top of this it was Gar's first time to meet my brother and his family and I'm so grateful to them for making him feel so welcome. There was never an awkward or quiet moment; between him, Geremy and Julia chatting away like they'd known each other for years, the kids calling him "Uncle Gar" which I know he is very touched by, bringing the twins out to shopping, my eldest nephew wanting to bring him out for a coffee at every available opportunity and similarly the younger kids swinging out of him or demanding he read them stories. I have a lot of happy memories from this trip and I only wish we had more time with them because it feels that no sooner were we there than we had to leave again.

We're only home a few days but I already miss them terribly.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Lydia! This was a lot of fun to read. We miss you guys so much, and I'm very happy to know that both you and Gar had a good time. We love you both!