A Travellerspoint blog

Ireland

Life is Good in Galway

overcast 12 °C

On friday night when I got back into my hostel is was LOUD; a group of 3 guys and a girl from Northern Ireland had checked in and they were there to party! Definitely warned me that I wasn't getting any sleep that night! Anyways everyone was sitting in the rooms and drinking and asking random questions and stuff, and Jenn, Kirsty and I joined in on the fun! We then headed out around 10 to the King's Head pub where we had a few drinks and checked out the live music. Dad you would have loved it the lead singer of the band was a babe lol, very Suzie McNiel-ish, and she had an AWESOME voice. They opened with an Allanis Morsette song it was great. Jenn, Kirstey and I were with Sprog and Karl, two guys from the north, and they all wanted to check out a club so we headed over to CP's. It was pretty lame as it was only 12 and the clubs don't get going till around 1. We still had fun it just wasn't busy.
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Saturday morning I got up (without a hangover) and went to the market down the street. It was really good, small market, with lots of fresh vegetables, bagels, olives, jewelry, flowers, cheeses, and bags, and a few vendors selling hot food. It was really cute. After that I wandered around town with a soy latte, checked out some second hand clothing stores, used book stores, found an organic, fair trade shop that sold chocolate I could eat (and good thing I was going crazy!) and other stuff. Also checked out some of the clothing stores, and limited my purchases to a cute necklace that was on sale! It's so hard not to buy the whole store sometimes. Actually, a really crazy, ABD thought went through my head as I was window shopping: If I cut my trip down to just a month, I could go CRAZY shopping here and have the most amazing wardrobe ever! Bad, Kelsey, BAD!
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When I got back into my hostel room, around 3 or so, mostly everyone from the night before had checked out, and Karl, Sprog, Gavin, and Jackie from Nothern Ireland were all hanging out and drinking, so I joined them. We had a great time! Harrison was also hanging around too, jutting in occasionaly with the most random facts ever. For example, we were talking about the years we were born, and he randonly pipes up with some fact about which monkey had the most vertebrae in it's tail it was strange.. but gave us all something to laugh about I guess? The four of them bought crazy drinking "hats" or touque, as I informed them! They didn't even know what a touque was, it was funny actually we kept getting words all mixed up we all have such different words for things! Another one was when I asked Jackie if I could use her flat iron to straighten my bangs, they all didn't know what I was talking about! They call if fringe lol, there was a lot of those moments throughout the night.
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We decided to head out, and on the streets at night are these people, I called them sign people or flaggers lol, they hold up signs to their bar or club, they hand out stickers for free shots or free entry or whatever, and they stamp you. We were "flagged"over by this one girl from Coyotes, who actually walked us to the bar, gave us free shots, and then went back to her spot. It's so weird but good advertising I guess! And it makes for a lot of extra employees like there were 5 girls from Coyotes alone all along the way to the bar. Anyways we had our free shot, and the boys kept buying more shots throughout the night, and lets just say we all got a little bit messy! We were doing aftershocks, which I've never heard of, but they totally live up to their name! You think you're ok, and then you get the aftershock it was crazy! But I had an awesome night with some awesome people!
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Today I head up to Belfast for 4 nights. The guys from the north were giving me all these ideas of what to do up there so I have lots to do potentially. And some good news is I'm getting a free ride up there! There was a group of 17 guys staying around Galway who are here for a stag party, and they said I could tag along because there's room on the bus! So I thought that was pretty sweet. 5 hour bus ride (at least) with a group full of young, crazy Irishmen... we'll see! Hope everyone at home is doing well and good.. miss you all!

Posted by kmcveggie 03:33 Archived in Ireland Tagged backpacking Comments (6)

Cathedrals and Pub Crawls and the Cliffs of Moher

rain 10 °C

Galway is sooo cute! Such a pretty, well made-up town. I'm staying at Barnacles Quay which is right in the middle of everything it's perfect. A little noisy, but awesome! I got into town yesterday at around 2:30, so by the time I got in and settled the day was almost over. I still managed to get out of my hostel and out to sightsee, despite everyone else wanting me to watch Wedding Crashers with them. Ok, if I wanted to watch an american movie at 3 in the afternoon in IRELAND I would have to be either dying or suuuuper sick or something like that. Like I came here to watch movies! Haha anyways, I guess I'm just on a different kind of trip than they are! Met a couple of really nice people right away at my Hostel: Katie from New York (who actually turned out to be a nut case lol), Harrison from California, and Marika from Alberta. But they were watching a movie so I headed out!
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I walked down a pretty little boardwalk by the water and saw lots of guys fly fishing off the railing. I popped into St. Nicholas's Cathedral and it was nice and big and pretty, and some girls were signing what I'm assuming were gospel songs. They were so loud and, for lack of a better word, gospely? The accoustics were awesome, and there was some pretty stained glass, but I just wasn't feeling the church vibe. I mean, they were charging you money to light a candle,which is just a bit silly. But that's as far as I'll go with that one! Very cool, my first time in a cathedral over here so it was good.
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I then walked through Eyre square and popped into some of the shops along there. The mall here is part of a really old building that they sort of threw a roof on and called a mall it's cool. I went into Dunnes and got some food that will hopefully last me the next three days, and then walked back to my hostel.

Last night was the last night of this Backpacker Pub Crawl that they're introducing to Galway. It's all over Europe, but it's the first time being in Galway so it was 5 euro to go, and you go to 4 pubs and 1 club at the end, and you get shots at each bar, the first being whiskey! Totally had to take a picture as I haven't had whiskey in almost 6 years after the incident that I'm sure most of you know about! I only had to buy two drinks because we were doing shots, which I only did two because I didn't want to be hung over for the Cliffs today, but I still had an awesome time!
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We had a really nice kiwi tour guide who's on a year long world trip himself, got a little working bug in Ireland and decided to try out the pub crawl thing for a week. Next he's going to the Middle East, so I wished him luck with that! Met TONS of people on the pub crawl: Two really nice guys from Belgium, two girls from Victoria, Jenn and Kirsty, Andy, a really cool girl from Montreal, Alberta, and two guys and a girl from London, Ontario. Lots of Canadians! Also met a guy named Bob from New Jersey, and a guy from California named Patrick as well. We got a couple of group photos.
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Got a really good sleep even though I banged my head like four times during the night because I'm THAT close to the ceiling! Haha feeling ok this morning though :) Headed off to the Cliffs of Moher bus tour today with Jenn and Kirsty, both from Victoria so we already had a lot in common. The bus ride out was about 2 hours, our tour guide was ok, tried a little too hard to be funny, but definitly full of information. He's just been doing tours too long I think! On the way to our first stop we saw a bunch of old ruined castles and churches. The people who own the castles today don't want to renevate them because as soon as they start to do that they have to pay taxes on them! Also we saw a bunch of churches without roofs because when Cromwell came in and invaded Ireland he didn't have a religion so he didn't want Ireland to have one either. He would take over these churches, murder the priests and monks, and burn the roofs off of them. How cruel!
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Our first stop was the Ailwee caves in the Burren of Ireland. The caves were discovered when an old man chased his dog into a hole when the dog was chasing a rabbit. He ended up going 200 m into the mountains and discovering all these caves. He didn't tell anyone for almost 30 years! He finally did and then they made it into a tour. It was pretty neat. The straw things coming down from the ceiling are formed from the calcium in the water, and develop 1 cm every 50 years! Some of them were over 1000 years old! It was a short, but good tour.
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All over the Burren were these really short walls built by hand in the 1800's during the potato famine. Men would get 1 penny for every metre of wall they built, all by hand, and with only stones - nothing to hold them together. There must have been miles and miles and miles of these walls it was a really desperate time.
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Next we went on to the Cliffs of Moher. They were beautiful! Not much to say other than that they are Irelands number one tourist attraction, with over 2 million visitors every year, and I can see why! It was a rainy, misty, foggy day but it was still beautiful. Got lots of pictures!
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There was a really big gift shop too where I heard the jewelry was cheaper than the other places in Galway and they were right! It took me like a half an hour to decide if I should get this necklace that I really, really liked and I finally did (thanks to advice of Jenn and Kirsty who helped me talk myself into it lol..) and I'm glad I did I love it!
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On the way back we passed a few more things, one of which were these sheets of limestone that were cracked after the ice age 12,000 years ago! They only let tourists here 2 months out of the year because they want to preserve the sight.
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Going out for some live music tonight I think. Galway has been really great so far, and I'm sure it will continue to be!

Posted by kmcveggie 01:04 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Kilkenny & Cork

semi-overcast 14 °C

The bus ride to Kilkenny from Dublin was about 2 hours, and the countryside was ok. Lots of white and black sheep and tons of cows, but nothing too dissimilar from Canada. Besides all the sheep I guess. I got to Kilkenny and found my hostel and couldn’t get in because you either needed a code or needed the reception guy to actually be doing his job! Luckily in about 5 minutes a couple who was staying there was goin in and let me follow. The reception guy was out and a cleaning lady told me I could leave my bag in the hallway (RIGHT) so I hung out with my stuff for almost an hour waiting to check in. It was all good though, I didn’t mind too much.

Once I got out I wandered around Kilkenny, up and down the quaint little streets and side alleys and all the cute shops. Really neat little town.
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I got some wedges and half a cucumber and made my way up to the Kilkenny Castle grounds hoping to find some grass to sit on and eat my lunch. Did I ever find grass!
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The grounds were way bigger than I thought they would be, and the back side of the castle looked really pretty against a sunny, Irish day. I finished my lunch and was about to walk the rest of the grounds when a few clouds came in, no big deal right? Well by the time I made it over to the garbage can it was downpouring, no kidding, within a matter of minutes! It's unreal how fast the weather changes here! When it rains, it rains. It was coming down in criss-crosses, it was crazy! So everyone found cover for 10 minutes, and I had my trusty rain coat with me (always!) and walked around to the front of the castle to take more pictures.
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Very pretty grounds. Next I went to the Kilkenny Design Center hoping to find some jewelry and crafts and such, but it was all very pretentious and super pricy and very limited stuff, so I got out of there pretty quick. Definitely felt like I was being judged wearing my little backpack in such a nice place! So I continued to wander around, found the St. Francis Abbey brewery but I couldn’t find the entrance and I was getting really frustrated so I just found some dinner and went back to my hostel! Earlier when I was walking around I noticed a sign at the Paris Texas pub saying “Live every Tuesday night, The Kilkenny’s!” so I figured I would give that a go and check out some live music. I met up with Matt, a guy I met earlier that day at the hostel also traveling solo from Alberta. Close enough to home for me! Haha. Anyways he was down for some live music, so we went out around 8 and it didn’t start till around 10, so we got some pub food and drinks around the corner from where the music was, and had a nice chat.
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We got to the bar around 10 and it was starting to fill up, and then the band came out. The Kilkenny’s are four very attractive young guys from Kilkenny (obviously lol), two of them are brothers, and they play their own music, plus do covers of pretty much anything else. We could request songs even throughout the night. THEY WERE AWESOME; I haven’t tried you tubing them yet but I bet they’re on there and it’s so worth it they were so entertaining, so funny amongst themselves too always making jokes that I didn’t understand half the time but it was awesome. They started out with the song from P.S. I Love You that the guy sings to the girl in that bar sort of at the beginning it actually made my heart flutter! Haha how lame but I’m so not kidding. Matt had never seen the movie but I totally explained it to him lol. He probably thought I was the biggest dork! But he did thank me for inviting him out halfway through because he never would have known about the band and they were SO GOOD. They also played a cover of The Dubliner’s “7 Drunken Nights” or something it was awesome, and a few other songs that I’d definitely heard before. I had an awesome night, Kennedy you would have died!
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Before I left no one was checked into my 4-bed room yet, so I thought I had it all to myself, but when I got back at 12:30 there were 3 people sound asleep in bed, and I went to use the washroom and the lid was up, and I turned back into the room and sure enough there were 3 boys in there! I don’t know why that surprised me so much but I guess after a 20-bed all girl dorm you don’t expect to be sleeping with 3 guys, all of which I’d never met! I never did get to meet them either because I left by 6:30 the next morning for Cork.

Got to Cork after a 3 hour bus ride that I almost slept through, and was definitely under whelmed by the city. I don’t know if I totally missed something, but it really wasn’t that interesting to me! There was an old city gaol (jail) I could have gone to, but I’d seen the one in Dublin and didn’t feel like paying for it. Also, I would have gone to a really huge and grand-looking cathedral if a crazy, random old shop owner wasn’t following me around for 20 minutes! Don’t worry parents, it’s ok but I definitely wasn’t about to walk back his way to go see it!
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So I basically just walked around, bought an inexpensive but pretty celtic ring, and found an internet café to check up with my mom because the Cork International hostel doesn’t wave wifi (booooooo). ALSO I found this AMAZING vegetarian restaurant, selling tons of vegan stuff, including cakes and pies, mmm I was in heaven! And then below it was a veggie/health store that was the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my vegan life! Tons of vegan stuff from home-made cookies and bread and cakes to tons of flavours of vegan pot-pies (including creamy mushroom, which I read the ingredients to like 5 times because I was SURE I couldn’t have it but I totally could of!) and vegan tortellini and other FRESH pastas (this never happens!) to every kind of vegan smoked tofu you can imagine, and tons and tons of different veggie meats and sausages, my tongue was actually on the floor the variety was unreal. I could have made awesome things out of everything there, but I settled on a tofu and herb stuffed tri-colour tortellini with a creamy sundried tomato sauce made with soymilk. I made it for dinner and was in veggie heaven! Mom you would have died; omnivores you probably don’t understand but it was sooo cool!
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It’s 8 pm now and I’m probably just gonna read, write, organize, and head off to bed! Off to Galway tomorrow.

UPDATE on that last one: If you youtube The KilKenny's they're on there and they look pretty big.. no wonder they were so good!! Watch "Whiskey In The Jar" it's awesome lol.

Posted by kmcveggie 08:12 Archived in Ireland Tagged backpacking Comments (5)

I Heart Shopping and Irish Dancing

semi-overcast 16 °C

Sunday night a big group of us went to the Arlington Hotel to watch traditional Irish dancing. We walked through pouring rain to get there, but it was so worth it. There was a 4-piece band playing before and after the dancing, and they were really good, but the dancing was SOOO good everyone loved it and it really felt like I was IN Ireland.. which I am.. but you know. There were two girls and one guy dancer and they were very good. They did probably 5 dances, 1 without music it was awesome! I had a Bulmers cider that tasted like strongbow, and at 5.70 euro it better have tasted that good!
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Yesterday I slept in. Hey, I'm on holidays, right?! And then proceeded to go shopping down Henry Street, instead of making the daytrick to Wicklow, and it was amazing. I honestly could have bought the whole strip it was so fun. Even though I went by myself, I had a great time haha. I definitely didn't bring enough clothes (Bruno, if you're reading this you're probably rolling your eyes!) but seriously I didn't I hardly brought anything to go out in at night and everyone dresses impeccably cute here so I had to do something about it! I ended up getting 4 new tops, a long cardigan, and 2 dresses for 39 euro! That's like $63 so I did pretty good I'd say; there were tons of sales on! I could have bought a LOT more but I figured a) I don't have room or muscle power to carry anything else and b) I'm definitely gonna want to do more shopping when I get to Edinbourgh and London so I better save my money and space for then! It took me a while to repack everything so it could fit but it's funny how much space a shopoholic can find in her pack for new clothes :)

Last night I met up with Kennedy and Jordan at the Brazen Head Pub, the oldest pub in Ireland, dating back to 1192! It was really small and cramped but that all just added to the atmosphere. There was a band playing as well. Had a good time chatting to my new Canadian friends but head to head back early as it was a 20 minute walk back to my hostel and I didn't want to do it alone in the dark. Got a really pretty picture of a bridge over the River Liffey; it's actually one of the oldest cast iron bridges in Europe!
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I just landed in Kilkenny, met a really nice girl named Racheal from Clonmel on the bus who seemed to know a lot about the places I'm going to next, so we had a nice chat! She was just at a big music fest in Belgium and that made me quite jealous!

Off to find some lunch, talk soon!

Posted by kmcveggie 08:32 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (6)

...Still Raining!

rain 12 °C

So I finally met some english speaking friends last night.. a young pastor and his wife, Sean and Michelle, from texas and a group of 5 med students from Minnesota. It felt great to finally talk to people!! They said I shouldn't have a problem meeting people elsewhere and that it was really strange that no one spoke English in my hostel the first night. So I got that out of the way!

The 8 of us went out to O'Sheas just down the street, where there was live music and plenty of locals. The music was awesome, and I was VERY temted to bust out a jig, but sadly didn't! I had actually heard some of the songs before so it was cool. There was a group of older couples trying to dance it was really cute. We all drank Guinness (of course!! When in Rome...) and ended up talking to a very drunk, wealthy old man named Shamus who was actually handing us 50 euro bills so we could buy rounds. We felt bad taking his money though and gave it back!
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Today I woke up, and had a quick breakfast. The free breakfasts aren't great, its like toast, coffee and juice, but nothing for me to put on my toast (choices are chocolate or butter) so I usually just have juice. I went on a free walking tour today with Michelle and Sean and it was really, really good. It was 4 hours long, very cute Irish tourguide, and he was super knowledgeable about everything Ireland and Dublin have gone through since way back. He took us to places I never would have found which was cool. I met a brother and sister, Jordan and Kennedy, from Ontario who were travelling together and they were really nice. They were at the very end of their 3-month tour of Europe. I couldn't believe they were brother and sister.. I don't know if I could handle travelling with my brother!! Sorry Pynn.. Anyways really informative, funny tour. And they're all over Europe so I'll probably hit them in every city they're offered.
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After that Jordan, Michelle and I went to the National History Museum of Artifacts. It was free, but lets just say I'd rather be doing other things! I guess I'm not a big fan of walking through a museum, looking at old bowls and knives and necklaces. It's cool for sure, and some of the artifacts went back to 2500 BCE, which really is just unimaginable, but I definitely won't be doing a lot of history museums. I'd rather go on tours and learn that way! After that I slowly made my way back to the hostel.
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I've been eating Indian food for 2 days straight now because that was the only store I could find that looked like a grocery store. All the grocery stores here have weird names and don't look like grocery stores from the outside.. but I've finally figured it out lol. I picked up a few things today. So far I've been eating super simple because everything pre-made has milk in it. Today I got some carrots and tomatoes and hummous and a bun so that should do me for tomorrow. So far I've been way under my food budget so that's good. It's weird taking time out of your day to shop for food like.. everyday! But I'll get used to it I'm sure!

Tonight we're going to a bar downtown with Irish dancing so I'm really excited for that. We invited Michelle and Jordan to come too so there will be a big group of us. I think tomorrow I'll take a day trip to Wicklow and Glendalough (where P.S. I Love You was filmed) and see some more of the country. 3 days was definitely enough for Dublin, but it was really fun!

Posted by kmcveggie 09:07 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

It rains in Ireland.

overcast 15 °C

Last night I went for about an hour's walk around town. I went down O'Connell street, which is the main road, and down a few side roads just to take in some of the sights. I got back to my hostel around 9 and I still hadn't met anyone so I just decided to call it a night. Everyone staying here speaks another language, and they're all grouped up together already, so it's hard to connect with people. I'm hoping some new english-speakers come tonight, but we'll see.
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Dublin has been pretty cool so far. I walked to the Guinness storehouse, which took about an hour and a half, and was very relieved when I saw it! On all the streets they have "look left/right" because they drive on the other side of the road, and it's a good thing because it's really hard to get used to! You think your safe and then you step out and a huge bus turns right.. from the other side of the road! Ya, a little scary. I walked down the River Liffey and it was really pretty, lots of flowers and each bridge over the river was really cute and different than the others. Dublin is a huge city, but it wasn't that bad a walk considering how far accross town I was.
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The storehouse was really cool, it showed lots of Guinness history, the brewing process, and pretty much anything else you need to know about Guinness. I learned a lot about beer!
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At the very top of the building is the gravity bar which had almost panoramic views of dublin, which was really cool. It's huge! Had myself a very delicious Guinness that the bartender poured with a shamrock on top, see?
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Next I walked to the Kilmainham Gaol. It was just around the corner so I didn't think I could get lost but I totally did. I asked a taxi driver with a super thick accent so that didn't really help but I kept walking in the direcion he told me and this really nice old man obviously spotted that I was lost and said, "Are you looking for the jail?" I could have cried I was so happy he helped me! Anyways, finally got there. It's a jail that was built over 200 years ago to house criminals, even kids! It was a really cool tour, very eerie at times. We also went out into the rock yard which was where they executed the leaders of the Easter Rising. Really chilling.
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I then decided to take the bus back, especially because it was raining and I didn't have my jacket! Lesson 1, always bring your rain jacket in Ireland. 10 minites later it was sunny again, but still. Actually I think lesson 1 was always wait for someone to cross the road before you do! Anyways I'm back at the hostel gonna make myself some lunch/dinner and then head out to O'shea's pub which is just up from my hostel. There's live music and dancing and stuff there and maybe some Canadians?! Haven't met any yet but you never know!

Posted by kmcveggie 22:08 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (5)

Day 1: Dublin

sunny 20 °C

I can't believe I'm here... still! I got in today at 10am and didn't get to my hostel until 12. My trip went.. well overall, I guess. I had 2 flight delays which meant zero layover time, and also meant I had to sprint to my gates each time. The flights were long too, and I couldn't sleep on them hardly at all, so I've had 3 hours of sleep in the last 2 and a half days. As soon as my hostel room is clean I'm gonna shower and nap. No idea what I'm doin tonight but we'll soon find out! Pictures tomorrow.
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Posted by kmcveggie 21:45 Archived in Ireland Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

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