After leaving for Ireland bright and early one Saturday morning, there was no stopping! Arriving in the early afternoon, I had just enough time to grab a quick bite before I rushed off to a group tour. Unfortunately since we were so rushed lunch consisted of a few bites of whatever Starbucks had. What started out as a “walking tour” of the city quickly devolved into a history lecture since our tour guide was a wannabe professor. We learned a lot about the political tensions that built Dublin but not a whole lot about the landscape we were walking through.
After the tour, I went back to the four courts hostel for a two hour nap before dinner–traveling is so exhausting! Dinner was lovely, if American in flavor, we found an Eddie Rocket’s. Eddie Rocket’s is a little bit like Johnny Rocket’s in the States, complete with burgers, onion rings and milkshakes. After a long day of walking in the rain a little greasy comfort food was exactly what the doctor ordered. Elizabeth, Rebecca and I quickly realized that we’re not very adventuresome when it comes to food—the week after Ireland we got McDonalds in Spain! (more on that to come)
On Sunday I went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. I’m a complete book nerd so I was right at home looking at the manuscript exhibit for about an hour. Toward the end of the tour, you go through the Old Library where books with beautiful bindings fill the walls from floor to ceiling. My friends made fun of me for inhaling the scent of the place! I was in library heaven. Unfortunately, we eventually had to come out of that place and make our way back to the hostel to change for the class dinner and pub-crawl.
The dinner was lovely and we all ate far more than we should’ve—what? It was on Kenyon’s dime! The musical pub crawl was less than stellar so we skipped out as soon as our professor went home to bed. In our defense, we did go on our own musical exploration of Dublin. The pub we ended up in had great music and a wonderful atmosphere.
Monday afternoon I took the train from Dublin to Galway. Galway is a beautiful little town and the B&B we stayed at was precious! Each morning we were there, breakfast was amazing! The first day I had a traditional Irish breakfast, the second porridge with raisins, the third potato waffles and the last day a combination of all three! There wasn’t much to do on the first night there since it was raining, but I quickly settled into the very comfortable beds and tried to rest up for Tuesday.
The next morning the bus left at 9am for hiking on the Burren. Though it was raining all the way up, the hike was still gorgeous. I’ve never been much of an outdoor-loving girl, but this year has converted me to a definite hike fanatic. There was no rest for the weary as we went straight from the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher. Another beautiful natural site and another climb. Logan and I were a little too damp, cold and sniffly to climb all the way to the top in the rain so we opted for a little retail therapy in the museum’s gift shop.
Wednesday would’ve been a day to rest, but one of the girls on the program found great horseback riding nearby. We all piled into the bus at 9:15 for a second long day of the great outdoors. The horses weren’t used to new riders and a few of us in the group got a bit scared, myself included, but it was our first sunny day in Ireland so we tried to make the most of the great weather.
That night, I went out to the Spanish Arch Hotel for a little traditional Irish music. The band, Alale, was absolutely amazing! I’ve never seen anything like it. Check them out at my YouTube video:
The next day we went on a trip to the Aran Islands and for the first time on the Ireland trip, it was sunny! . Most of the group took bike rides around the island but we decided to explore on foot instead. The coastline was beautiful and I had a lovely time wandering out to the seal beach with some friends and then lunching along the seaside
(We bought matching Aran Island sweaters)
After the jam packed weekend, I took the bus back to Dublin for a little R&R. Our last night in Dublin, Rebecca, Elizabeth and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out. We’d been so frugal the whole time in Ireland that we had a lot of our food stipend left-over for the meal. Walking around the city, dining in style, eating cupcakes and watching silly Irish television was a great end to my Ireland adventure.