Ireland (part 1)

So it’s been at least five weeks since I have updated on here, probably more since I really haven’t had much to write about other than boring preparations for studying abroad. But I’ve been in Europe for over a month now, and really there’s no excuse other than I have been living it up (or doing homework) as opposed to sitting at a computer to type a blog. Pretty good trade off, if I say so myself. Anyway, however briefly, I do want to record some of the more awesome things I have done.

I was supposed to leave the US on the 19th (of June) and get to Ireland on the 20th. However, there was a slight change in plans, which actually worked out for the better. The two friends, who I was meeting in Dublin, were flying out of Chicago, and due to some bad storms, their plane was delayed for several hours. This would I have meant I would have had to stay some 8 or 9 hours by myself in a strange city and not fall asleep in the process. I was a little bit panicked by this, to be perfectly honest. As luck would have it, they overbooked the plane by two seats and asked if anyone was willing to give up their seat. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then decided to do it because I did not really want to be alone in Dublin. So they put this other Irish lady and me up in a nice hotel, paid for our transportation to and from the airport as well as our food, gave us some delta dollars, and the best part, bumped us up to first class. Despite how awesome it sounds (and was) there were some issues, and I am really thankful for the lady who also gave up her seat, because she knew what to do to take care of the situation. And let me just say, if you ever have the opportunity to give up you seat, do it, but wait a couple of minutes for the offer to go up. First class was awesome. I got to lay my seat all the way back (and it had a foot rest) and I ate salmon with ice cream for dessert. I feel like it was totally worth waiting all day in the airport, but I did really feel out of place as the handful of older men haggled over each others sleeping medication.

After I finally got to Dublin, my friends were there to pick me up and I dropped my suitcase off and we went back to the hostel. But I did not really have time to sleep because as soon as we got there and I got my stuff settled, we left for a walking city tour. We saw their old city hall (which is now used for ceremonies and special events), Dublin castle, we saw a couple of nice parks (each with their own special history), we saw where Jonathon Swift was born (no, he is not Taylor Swift’s father), we saw Christ’s Cathedral, Haye Penny Bridge, which is also a lock bridge (where lovers write their names on a lock and put it on the bridge and throw away the key). We also saw Trinity College and Parliament. So it was a very extensive walking tour, and I felt like I was going to die at the end (not because I’m that lazy, just because I was jet lagged). I did enjoy getting to see as much of Dublin as I did. Then most of what I did was sleep. I woke up around 9 (and it was still light outside) and Becca and I went and got some fish and chips, which were really good even though the place we went to was really sketch. Pretty uneventful after that.

The next day we took a bus trip out to Galway, which is a smaller Irish town on the west coast. We got up pretty early to meet our bus tour at around 7, and we ate the best scones of our lives at some nearby bakery. There isn’t really much to say about the bus ride, other than the roads are so narrow and winding that even I was feeling a bit off color by the time we got there, and I don’t even usually experience motion sickness. But the first thing we got to do was visit a family farm and feed some teenage sheep. Then we went for a short hike up the Burren (which are the rocky hills Ireland is known for). There were rocks everywhere, despite the fact that all of those fences in Ireland are built from these rocks. The view was amazing, you could see all of the countryside and even a rain storm (which are very common in Ireland) off in the distance. We laid down in the grass and just listened. All I could hear was the wind blowing in the distance, and it was the most relaxing feeling ever. Words can not do enough to capture the essence of the moment. After eating some homemade apple pie we journeyed onward to the Cliffs of Moher (which were also used in the sixth  Harry Potter movie). They were super windy, but they were gorgeous. I forget exactly how high the cliffs are, but there was quite an impressive drop. And the main office there looked like the teletubbie head quarters. It was very neat though. It was essentially built into the side of a hill. After that we drove past a couple of castles and saw one of the oldest grave cites, which was kind of cool. We ate at a local restaurant, and Becca and Joni had some Guinness stew, while I had some sort of seafood chowder. Both were delicious. We decided to stay the night in Galway and stayed at a Hostel. We mostly walked around Galway the rest of the evening and later that night ended up at a pub named Taaffes. That was probably one of my favorite experiences so far. It was a really local place, and it was packed. Luckily we had gotten there early enough to find a seat, so it wasn’t an issue. There was an actual Irish band playing, and people were dancing the traditional Irish dance. I got to drink a couple pints of Guinness from tap, and Becca met a German guy, who we talked to for most of the night. The next morning we walked around, looked at several churches, ate at Taaffes (which they also had really good sandwiches), and saw at least half a dozen street performers. (One of the many things I really like about Europe in general). We caught a bus back at 7 p.m. and got back to Dublin at about 9.

We were all kind of ill tempered and tired at that point, so we did not do a whole lot. The next day was rainy and cold, but we checked out of our hostel and walked around Dublin, toured a few churches, did some shopping, and relaxed back at the cafe near the hostel until it was time to get on the bus to the airport. We did try this thing at the cafe, mine was chocolate “pudding” and Becca got caramel. It was not actually pudding, but a small cake with a really rich and thin frosting on top. It was, as most of the food I have tried here is, awesome. We got to the airport and finally jumped through all of those hoops and boarded the plane. It was pretty uneventful after that. We had to stay the night in the airport in London (because we had an overnight layover which left at 7 the next morning). We tried to do some sleeping in shifts, but that was really hard for two reasons. 1) those chairs were not made to be slept in. And 2) there were these two drunk German girls screaming and running around the airport with baggage trolleys and yelling random insults in German to people. Aside from that, the flight to Vienna was nice, and I was so tired I actually slept.



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