Apologies to all of my readers (Like Joey, for instance) who may or may not have been holding onto the edges of their seats with my last post. I didn’t mean to let so much time go by before I finish my spring break adventures. BUT! The good news is, in the meantime, I finished ALL of my papers for the term. I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH SCHOOL! How insane is that?!
Anyway, more London talk later. We must get back to my Irish adventures! When I last left you, I had finished my first few days in Ireland, with the privilege of having my family as tourguides. However, from here on out, I was left on my own most of the time. Not in a bad way, though. In fact, I was excited to explore on my own and wander around as slowly as I wanted. And of course, they helped me figure out the bus schedule, and what the best mode of transportation was each day.
Monday 12/4 – Monday was the day of the hop on/hop off bus! Basically, you pay one standard price (€13) and you have the chance to get on and off at any stop you please. That way, you have the opportunity to actually explore the sights as opposed to just seeing them from a bus. Although I’ve obviously heard of tour buses that show you around the city (they also have them in the States), I never knew there were buses that allow you to get off at different stops and get back on. Sweet! Only thing, most of the stops were museums (exactly why I was so excited to go), but museums are all closed on Mondays. Curses!! Before getting on the bus, I explored Trinity College. What a beautiful campus! Really puts New Paltz to shame (although I love New Paltz, of course!). And it was the perfect day to see it. I didn’t get to see the Book of Kells, but I’m glad I got to see the campus at least. Then, I got on the bus and it took us to St. Stephen’s Green. I was already there, but I got off to look in the Carroll’s (great souvenir shop) for postcards. Ended up getting myself a green sweatshirt 🙂 Anywho, later I went to Dublin Castle. It was closed because of “state business” but they offered to give us an abridged version of the tour where they could let us in. It was pretty interesting, and I love that part of the castle is rainbow colored! Afterward, I walked into Dublin Garden behind the castle, but I didn’t stay for long, had to get on with the hop on/hop off tour! Naturally, I had to go into the Guinness Storehouse. At first I didn’t want to because it seemed too touristy for me; other people I know just did the Guinness Storehouse and that’s it. Lame! However, I’m SO glad I went in; it was fascinating. And HUGE!! Did you know the building is actually structured to look like a pint glass? If you’re ever there, go to the bottom floor and look up, you’ll totally see it! The first floor explained the main ingredients used in Guinness (water, barley, hop, and yeast) and then as you go upstairs you learn more about the process of making and distributing it. I think my favorite room was the advertising room; you get to see all the old and modern adverts for Guinness. Really cool stuff. They also teach you how to pour your own pint of Guinness. I didn’t realize there was a whole process to it, but apparently it’s very particular. Also, you’re not supposed to drink it until all the gas has fizzed away and it’s all black. Otherwise….well it won’t feel too great in your belly, and it won’t taste as good. After I finished with the bus tour, I met up with my cousin Katie and she took me to Ranelagh, a small town in Dublin. That’s the cool thing about staying with Irish people; you get to see all these weird little places. To get there, we had to ride the Luas, a tram system that runs through Dublin. Luas is Gaelic for “speed” which I thought was ironic because they weren’t moving that quickly. After that, it was back home for us.
Dublin Castle from Dublin Garden
Dublin Castle close-up
ALSO Dublin Castle!
Guinness through the years
Probably my favorite advert!
Tuesday 15/4 – For Tuesday, I bought a ticket for a day tour to Northern Dublin (same company as the hop on/hop off bus). The driver took us up to Malehide Castle and Howth, passing beautiful landscapes and the coast of Dublin on the way. Ugh, the coast was beautiful! Probably my favorite part of that day. Afterward, I wandered around O’Connell Street (major street in Dublin) and City Centre a bit, and ended up in the Dublin Writers Museum. Even though it was pretty small, it was actually really interesting for an English major such as myself. There were original prints of books by James Joyce and other Irish authors. Pretty cool! I also got to see Garden of Remembrance which was a small, pretty garden by the museum. That night, my cousin Katie went with me to one of the many Dublin ghost tours. This one was a little lame, unfortunately. Apparently the best one is the bus tour, which was about €28 or something, while this walking tour was about €12. The tour guide was obviously new (he let that slip) and messed up about 5 times before we even left the meeting point. Oy. I guess it was a little creepy at times but his way of speaking was so blatantly rehearsed that it took away from it. Anyone who ends up in Dublin wanting to do a ghost tour, I recommend spending the extra money for the bus tour.
Malahide Castle from a distance
Aaaand nice and close up 🙂
The Northern coast of Dublin
I took so many pictures here!
Me and Ireland, you know
Garden of Remembrance
The Liffey in the afternoon
Thursday 15/4 – Yes, I skipped Wednesday on purpose. I didn’t do anything that day, just relaxed that day. Anyway, another day, another bus tour! This time it was the Wild Wickl0w tour. Hands down, FAVORITE DAY IN IRELAND! For the Wild Wicklow Tour, we started out with a drive past another coast – Dunlaoghaire, Killiney, and Dalkey – and then we stopped at this little shop called Avoca. Mainly they’re a hand-weaving shoppe, but they also have a cafe. I had the BEST scone I’ve ever had in my life (not that I’ve had many). That’s when I knew this day was going to be amazing. After breakfast, we drove past the mountain lakes and heather and Guinness Lake along with loooots of barren expanses of bog land. True Irish countryside. 🙂 We even got to climb up this really big mountain, the name is escaping me at the moment. I was a little disappointed because when Tara did this same tour with her friends a few weeks before, her driver actually stopped where PS I Love You was filmed, and they were able to take pictures by the bridge, and by Dunlaoghaire. However, our driver just briefly mentioned it, barely. Anyway, we also stopped for lunch, and then headed to Glendalough, which is a monastic site that dates back as early as 6th century BCE. I got some of my most beautiful pictures at Glendalough, but I’m not going to put all of them up obviously. A very beautiful but exhausting day.
ALSO – the most important part – this was supposed to be the day before I visit Allison in Rome. However, I was at lunch when I heard about the Icelandic volcano that erupted and caused massive ash clouds over the UK. JUST MY LUCK! Basically, my flight to Rome was canceled – obviously – and instead of rescheduling, I just got applied for a refund. After all, it seemed like the effects of this volcano were going to last for days, maybe weeks. Slightly disappointing, but I was at least happy to be safe with my family in a house (free of charge). So now I was going to be in Ireland for an extra five days…
Me at Dunlaoghaire
View from the bus
Stream leading to Guinness Lake
Just like a painting!
So is this!
The Round Tower at Glendalough
Beautiful scene from the Lower Lake
Scene from the Upper Lake
One of my favorite pictures of the day 🙂
Friday 16/4 – I spent most of this day at the computer, freaking out about what I was going to do!
Saturday 17/4 – Because I had only planned to be in Ireland until the 16th, I didn’t really have a game plan from this point on. On Saturday I went to Temple Bar, this section of Dublin that is very young, full of students and tourists. There is a Photo Gallery in the Temple Bar area that I figured I would check out. Turns out, it’s this incredibly tiny gallery with barely anything in it. Okay….that took about 10 minutes of my day. Now what? Well, when I was heading over to the Gallery, I realized there was a market going on in Temple Bar! (There’s one every weekend.) Knowing how much I love markets now – especially food markets! – I decided to check it out. Had spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) and a fruit smoothie. Mmmmmm. After that delicious lunch, I decided to go back to the Chester Beatty Library, next to Dublin Castle. The reason I say “go back” is because, actually, I thought the colorful building was Chester Beatty Library when in fact it is the Dublin Castle! Didn’t know that until I went to find the Chester Beatty Library to actually go inside as opposed to just take a picture of it, and realized what my confusion was. Either way, CBL was pretty neat. I’m not usually into religious exhibits, but there was an exhibit on all different religions including some original religious texts so that was interesting. There was also a section on Asian Art which was cool. After that I actually took some time to relax on the grass in the Dublin Garden. That night I went to the cinema again with Katie and we saw Dear John. I heard it was lame, but I actually really liked it!
Monday 19/4 – Sunday was another lazy day, but Monday I went up to Limerick to visit Shaina and Dylan (fellow New Paltzers!) who are studying abroad there. I didn’t think about how Limerick isn’t exactly a touristy place, so there wasn’t much to do. So after exploring the city centre (complete with an O’Connell St. just like Dublin and apparently every other place in Ireland), I met up with Shaina and she took me to University of Limerick. I only stayed until the following morning, so I didn’t have a lot of time in Limerick, but their campus is SOOOOO much nicer than Middlesex! Apparently, it’s only about 30 years old, so all the buildings are pretty modern. The only problem was that her building is so far away! Literally in a different county, County Claire! Anyway, it was nice to have a mini New Paltz reunion over in Limerick.
View from campus in Limerick
The next two days were semi-relaxing. When I came back on Tuesday, I booked my new return flight home (London) and on Wednesday I registered for classes in New Paltz from Ireland. Of course, I had to re-research my classes because all my info was in London. But it was a success and I am all set for next semester – as a senior!!! (Eeek!) Also on Wednesday, I booked yet another bus tour, this time to Galway on Friday!
Friday 23/4 – One of my last days in Ireland! SO, I get to the pick-up point for the Galway bus thinking the following: that this shuttle bus would take us to Galway, then we’d get on another bus that takes us around Galway to various sights – all for €20. Before you laugh at me for thinking such a ridiculous, unrealistic notion, I’ll tell you that that’s how the website advertised it. Faulty advertising!!! Anyway, I realized my error when I got to the first bus; you have to pay extra for the second bus. So since I didn’t want to go all the way out to Galway and not know what to do (AND I didn’t want to waste €20 on nothing) I decided to pay the extra price to take another bus to the Cliffs of Moher. Let me tell you – one of the best decisions I’ve made in the longest time. Absolutely BREATHTAKING. I don’t even have anything to say, so I’ll just say it in a few pictures:
Cliffs of Moher!!!!
Me on one of the other cliffs! Notice how far away I am from the edge LOL
The other side of the Cliffs
An artistic shot in the grass 🙂
After the Cliffs we had an hour in Galway City before the bus to Dublin left, so I had just enough time to run down to city centre and pick up an authentic (sort of) Claddagh ring from Galway! I wish I could’ve actually gone to the port Claddagh, but there’s always next time. For now, I’m happy with my ring. 🙂
So dudes, that was my Spring Break! I had another lazy day of laundry and packing on Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon it was back to good ol’ Londytown! So, I didn’t get to explore all of Europe like a lot of my friends did, but I got to spend time with my family and really see all of Dublin and a lot of Ireland. Plus, I’m glad I was safe at a house and not stranded in an airport or something. But, I’m even more glad I made it back to London in one piece, and with JUST enough time to study for my exam this past Tuesday. Now that that and my papers are out of the way, I have the rest of the week (now only 3 days!) to explore London for the last time! But right NOW, it’s 1AM and I’m exhausted. Check in sometime in the next few days for my last London adventures! Goodnight everyone!