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Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

This weekend was pretty much a last minute decision. The only plan we had was to head to Cork first and then go from there. The girls and I took a bus from Dublin to Cork in what we thought was only going to be a three hour ride. Wrong. Five hours later that involved many stops in between to pick others up on the way to Cork, we arrived with no plans of what we were going to do. The plus side of the bus ride was seeing all the cute little towns on the way, which were pretty brief visits of sight seeing, via bus. Anyways after getting off the bus, the first thing on our minds was…FOOD. So after a satisfying trip to subway (which was plopped down perfectly right next to the station), we decided to head to Blarney where we could kiss the blarney stone. The ride was only five miles from Cork, so we thought that we should see that first and then come back to see the night life of Cork.

The town of Blarney was cute and the Blarney Castle was even more. After paying eight euro, we were able to explore the grounds where the Castle resides as well as climb up to the top of the Castle. Going through the castle was interesting enough. Most floors were pretty much gone so I could see from the cellar barn all the way up to the living room three floors up. On the very top of the Castle was our destination though because the Blarney stone was practically waiting for us. Kissing the Blarney Stone was said to give any kisser the “gift of gab”. The gift of gab was said to give the kisser “the skill at flattery” (thank you wikipedia).

I’m already flattering…

After puckering the stone up, the girls and I walked around the grounds a little bit (and playing on the kids playground) before heading back into Cork where we planned to stay the night instead of leaving. We were thinking of leaving Cork for Galway that evening but since we did not explore Cork city yet and since there were no night buses running, we rented a hostel room instead. I was surprised at how cool the city was. Since Cork won the most cultural city of the year, a few years back, they decided to remodel a few of the main streets. They were cool to walk through with the pretty brick layered streets and fancy shops. The next morning after getting a cup of mocha at this really sweet coffee shop, we walked to the English Market. With my Ireland guide book, I found out that the market had over 140 stalls of different foods. I only bought a fruit scone though (reminds me of a biscuit with berries added). Later on, we decided to talk the 3 hour bus (ended up being 5 hour bus ride again) to Galway. It was a beautiful ride through the country side again.

Once in Galway, we dropped our bags off at only of the girls friends flat who was also studying abroad (in Galway though). After that, we all walked around the city (which was super cute and small). The last place to see was the fast paced river, which led into the bay. There was a big patch of grass that young people alike were out chilling by which made us decide to skip the pubs and bring our drinks out to the river instead. We all say random music of the 90’s and resided under the star lit sky.

The night was a blast…especially seeing a flock of over 40 swans grouped together next to the river. Woo hoo!

To top off the weekend, we took a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. To get there, we took a few stops first. Dunguaire Castle was one them. A beautiful castle that resides over a body of water. Our tour guide stated that there are a portion of Guinness commercials filmed at Dunguaire Castle. I can see why Guinness would use this site. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It’s magical. But after taking our quick five minute bus break to take pictures, we had to keep moving. Next stop was Ireland’s “Burren”. The burren is a site of limestone rock that fully covers mountains and valleys in the area. The farms inside the burren provide the best nutrients for the animals and plants, provided by the nutrients of the limestone. The grass sure looked loads greener in those parts. Over 11,000 species of plants reside in the burren as well which equals to about 70 percent of Ireland’s plant species reside in this limestone covered area.

Leaving the Burren, we stopped for lunch before heading off to one of the most prettiest, most beautiful places I have ever seen.
The Cliffs of Moher. To top off our weekend, we were allowed an hour and a half stop at the cliffs. We were able to hike around for that period to different parts of the cliffs. However, there was a sign at one point that said, “Please Do Not Go Beyond This Point”. Beyond this point was private property. However, a friend of ours told us to skip pass the sign and follow the people who went past it.
So, we went beyond “this point”. Was it destiny to go beyond? I think so.

Going beyond the point proved to be the most worthwhile part of the trip. I was able to get so many more beautiful views on the other side of the sign. I could see two caves down below. One of which was used in the six movie of the Harry Potter series. The “Horcrux” Cave. However, the only part of the cave at the cliffs used was the outer part. I can see how it looks foreboding with 710 feet high cliffs.

With the 710 feet worth of nothing to stop someones fall other than the water below, we were at the very edge of the cliff the whole time walking by it. I checked on the internet later and it shows that at least one person falls from the cliffs every year, whether through the wind blowing someone down, you take the wrong step and fall (which apparently happened to a man trying to take a picture of a group of people and stepped backwords wrongly and fell), or commit suicide.

Let’s move past the morbidity shall we?

Anyways, we could not have gotten a better day for the cliffs. Light breeze, 65 degree weather, and sunny. There were even kiyakers below, paddling their way around the cliffs.

That was the end of a beautiful and perfect weekend. I want to kiyak around the cliffs some day. That would be amazing!

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I was pumped for the big day. However, I made my way through the city throughout the week. The population went from 2 million to WHO KNOWS? Tourists flooded the city and since my backyard is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, tourist buses lined themselves up next to my apartment building. I have never seen it so crowded.

St. Paddy’s Day started off very early. I woke up at 7:30 to prepare for the festivities. In preparation, I bought orange, white, and green face paint along with green hairspray, shamrock antenaes, and a green guiness shirt. Now, I will talk later about the increased popularity I had for the face paint.
Anyways, the group was out the door a little after nine o’clock with a skip in our step. We were excited to say the least. The first thing we accomplished was having a traditional Irish breakfast at little restaurant near our apartments. Heads turned when we fashionably entered the restaurant in full out green. It was a site to remember. I did not notice, but one of the girls showed off the look on one of the customers when we walked in. However, three things happened to me while in the restaurant:

1. One my study abroad friends said I looked like on of those actors from braveheart with the painted face.

2. A local Irishman claimed I looked like an Avatar from Pandora. RAWR.

3. A 45 (or 48? cant remember) year old Mongolian woman initiated a conversation with me, which half the time I could not understand, in telling me how she loved when she was our age. Sandra, the Mongolian woman, came up to me after the chat and two things happened.

She gave me a hug.

And then handed me a container of grapes for the group.

Now, a container of grapes? She along with the rest of the restaurant is either eating an Irish Breakfast or drinking Guinness at 10 in the morning and she for some reason had a container of grapes? I will not further acknowledge what happpened. But the grapes were delicious.

Wherever she got them from.

Now the day was perfect. The warmest day so far with 60 degree weather and bright blue sunny skies. We walked around the city through various sites to see the parade. Kids and adults everywhere were decked out in green. Face painting and hair coloring stands were everywhere (I looked better than any of them!). It was an excited time. The place was PACKED. No where to manuver as rows deep of people were waiting for the parade to go by. Little children nestled on top of parents shoulders, people on ladders, on statues, and on rooftops just to see the parade. Since we knew we were not going to see anything, we decided to head back to my apartment, which is right next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to watch the parade.

However when the parade came by, I could not really see it from the rooftop because the parade was a few hundred feet away, so I left the rooftop and made my way towards it. Slightly better being close up, but again we were blocked out by people being the way from getting a good view. During this time, I met three Russians from Moscow who decided they wanted a picture with me (I know I am famous. My crazy face paint works wonders on my popularity…now if I had known this in high school….). Two of them were also practicing their English and used me as their guinea pig, which was awesome. I am pretty open with talking to anyone. I had a fun time!

The rest of the day consisted of getting sushi for lunch (first time having Sushi and it was very good! It had salmon and cream cheese in it), parading myself through the city, going to a pub, and making my way through the dance floor at a night club (washed the face paint off because I knew it would be rather disgusting with sweat mixed in and some were disappointed I took the face paint off….o well).

One of the best days I had in Dublin thus far. I met people from Mongolia, Russia, Ireland, and the United States. However, people were from all over the world and St. Patrick’s Day was an awesome experience to be emersed in so much culture and with people from all over who just wanted to have a great time and celebrate what makes life special.

St. Paddy’s Day was a site to see and I am thankful to celebrate the holy day in the greatest city to do so.

Dublin.

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Last Sunday, I laced up my hiking boots, lassoed my camera case around my neck, and hopped on a bus that would eventually lead my friends and I through a tour of the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough. Just south of Dublin, I have perfect access to some of Ireland’s true beauty. It was the first time in Ireland that I was outside of Dublin. It was exciting. But, I refused to jump on the bus until I had my caffeine fix…and I bought my first ever scone! Berry Style. Anyways, our tour guide, Ed, drove us down the coastline before we eventually would enter the mountains. Ed stopped a few times along the way, first to a boat harbor that was surprisingly exciting. You know why? Because Ed notified us that we might be able to see some seals that live around the harbor. Sure enough, I saw a seal pop his head out of the water. We all moved towards the seal, like a fly entranced by an electric light. However, our lives were not cut short by its pull, but we watched the fishermen feed the seals. Two adult seals ended up tumbling into the depths of the water trying to snatch the fish away. They had the cutest bugged out eyes. Adorable. We were able to stop another time before the mountains, this time viewing the beach from the road above that included a beautiful sunny day. This stop on the coastline was after seeing Van Morrison’s house and sure enough, Bono from U2’s house (which was actually being renovated). On the gates of Bono’s property were lyrics posted from various songs that the band created. Moving into the mountains, we were able to have one of the most amazing lunches in Ireland so far. Some beef stew (second best to mom’s home cooking). We finished up lunch and eventually drove through the Wicklow Mountain’s. With the unusual snowfall that Ireland received, the van had to avoid one route that would have brought us to sites that were filmed for movies such as “PS I love You” and “Braveheart”. However, we were able to view sites that were in the film “Reign of Fire” starring Matthew Mcconaughey. From what Ed said, when the film was not rolling, locals could watch Matt attempting a rendition of Irish dance at the local pub. Locals claimed he did very well! Now during the trip we saw two waterfalls as well. One was in Glendalough Valley, which was a short walk away from a Monastery that resides next to two lakes. The monastery, founded around the 6th century, was visited centuries later by Oscar Wilde’s father, a eye doctor, who was able to fix the roof of a tower in the Monastery. Any of you reading this into history like that? How about seeing a mountain goat on the trails near the monastery? What a cute goat. From a far. And the sheep…bahhhh. A Sunday in the Mountains was refreshing. And Cold! But, it was a great time. Ed was a good tour guide and gave some useful insight throughout the day. And I would love to visit the mountains in the future. But for now, I will just look out my apartment window at them, since luckily, the mountains are that close to the city that I can see them.

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