Last weekend abroad!
For my last weekend in Europe we decided to go to Dublin, Ireland! I wasn’t planning any more trips after Barcelona but my roommates were talking about going so why not? After a 2 hour delay at the airport Thursday night Natalie, Caroline, Meghan and I finally arrived in Dublin!
After four hours of sleep, Natalie and I had to wake up for a tour we booked to go see the Cliffs of Moher, they are all the way across the country so it was a long day. On the way our we made a bunch of stops while our tour guide/bus driver, Jim, gave us some history or let us relax on the bus to Irish music, it was great. He told us the first settlers in Ireland were in the Stone Age, followed by the Bronze Age, Iron Age then Keltic settlers, Vikings and Normans. Ireland was never taken over by the Roman Empire because they didn’t think that the country who always had winter weather (so they thought) was worth their while so it was a Pagan country until Saint Patrick. He was taken from his family in Wales and was brought to Ireland to be slave, after 6 years he finally escaped back to his family became a priest then a bishop. Legend has it that in a dream it came to him that he was supposed to go back to Ireland to convert the Irish from Pagan to Christianity. We also learned some fun facts: that president Obama has ancestral roots in Ireland in a small village called Moneygall where he visited on a trip to Ireland and met his 8th cousin. Ireland also didn’t have a ‘motorway’ or highway system until about 15 years ago! Off the motorway our first stop was in Limerick to see King John’s Castle across the River Shannon, the river splits Ireland into east and west. Here we also saw the treaty stone between the English and Irish.
We finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher and had about an hour and a half to walk around the beautiful cliffs. They were absolutely amazing and are one of Irelands largest tourist attractions. We got lucky it was a fairly nice day except super windy because it’s right on the Atlantic Ocean. Natalie and I walked around, took tons of (very windblown) pictures. The cliffs are 5 miles long and the visitor area is not that large so we decided to leave the high fenced in area and continue to walk along the cliffs. We wanted to take a cool picture on top of the cliffs where there was a ridge, it wasn’t on the edge so we figured we thought it was a good idea. Well, a gust of find came and we hopped right off that ridge freaking out even though we were fine…it was a little scary haha. We walked (off the ridge) down a little more saw some goats and took some more pictures because the view was just too amazing. After the cliffs, we went to the town of Doolin for lunch and had some authentic Irish food which was delicious! After lunch we continued on back but around a new way to see some more! We stopped at Burren a Karsk/Limestone which was right on the water and had a unique lunar terrain, it looked like we were on the moon! Then just a short while away we went to the Corcomroe Abbey, the remains of a 12th century abbey that was really cool looking, it was getting really cold so we walked around for about 10 minutes and hopped back onto the bus. Our last stop on the journey was Dunguaire Castle at Galway Bay, I accidentally fell asleep while Jim told us about this but there was something about the wood boats called ‘hookers’…I did wake up for the part where he said this was Columbus’s last call to port on the way to America! One more interesting story Jim told us was about Slane Castle, in the 1970’s it needed repair and the family didn’t have the money to do the upkeep. The son just inherited the castle and decided to hold a rock concert to raise money, the concert featured a band called Thin Lizzy who was big at the time in Ireland. They concert had a not well known band for the opening act, this opening act band was actually U2! Now Slane Castle is an international venue for rock concerts. We finished the tour ride listening to U2 music. The tour was awesome and we got see a lot of Ireland which was exciting.
After the tour we met up with Meghan and Caroline for dinner before going on a pub crawl! The pub crawl was around Temple Bar which is a big area, it was awesome and included a drink at every bar. We first met at this bar called Mercantile where we were given a half pint of Guinness which I had never had before, I was surprised that I liked it [must be because I’m Irish]! Then we went on to the first pub called The Old Storehouse which had live traditional Irish music. The band was great and we were called out multiple times while we were at this bar by the band. One guy made Natalie dance with him, then they asked us where we were from, naturally we said New Jersey, (Natalie is the only one not from NJ) and were instantly know as the girls from NJ for the night hah. Then they wanted the ladies in the bar to tell them what song to do by just looking at them…of course the singer singled me out and stared me down, he actually then played an Irish song I knew (I didn’t know I knew any Irish songs haha). The band and the bar was super fun! Then we moved onto Peadar Kearny’s Pub where Caroline and I ruled the beer pong table for the time we were there. The last one I loved solely because this is the setting for the Pub in the movie P.S. I Love You. We had fun and danced until they told us it was time to go to the club called The Village. The club was cool but it was jam packed and super hot and we were tired so after like 20 minutes we decided to head back to the hostel. (Unfortunately we were having too much fun to stop and take pictures)
The next morning Natalie and I went on a free 3 hour walking tour offered by the hostel we saw a lot of Dublin, learned a lot of history and all for FREE! It was freezing cold, windy and raining so it could have been better but the tour guide, Ian, was awesome and made the weather bearable. We started at Dublin City Hall, then over to Dublin Castle which he said he usually tries to set up as a dark and scary place but there was Christmas music blasting in the center so that didn’t really work out too well. We walked to Christ Church, around where old viking settlements used to be, Temple Bar, Trinity College, Over the Ha’Penny Bridge to the River Liffey and ended at St. Stephen’s Green (we definitely saw more but I can’t remember it all).
We then met up with Caroline and Meghan to go on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. We went through the storehouse and saw an exhibit that shows they use only 4 ingredients (water, yeast, barley and hops), an advertisement exhibit, did a taste experience where we learned how to properly drink Guinness. Last we went to the Guinness Academy and learned how to pour the perfect pint and received certificates, it was a lot of fun. We then went up to the top floor to the Gravity Bar on the top floor which had a 360 degree view of Dublin to drink our pints. It was a lot of fun, we sat there for about an hour just hanging out and recapping our days.
That night we ended up getting burritos for dinner (random hah) and meeting up with Meghan’s friend from home who is studying in Dublin. We went to a fun Pub and talked hung out, she told us in Dublin they call having a good time with good conversation and people is called ‘good craic’. It was definitely good craic, but we were exhausted and called it an early night. The next morning Natalie and I got up early-ish to go see St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On the way some young 20-something man came up to us with his friends and says, “good morning I’m spreading Christmas cheer and giving everyone hugs!” and continued to hug me, it’s very possible he was still out from the night before and drunk. The skeptic in me grabbed my purse and Natalie also made sure no one took anything (this is what Rome has done to us) but then he gave the next person a hug too. It was odd and funny but kind of how the Irish people were the entire time we were in Dublin, so friendly and welcoming. Anyways, the Cathedral was beautiful! We walked around the Church and the park behind before doing a little shopping on Grafton Street and meeting up with the other girls for brunch. We went to this place called Bewley’s on Grafton that Monsignor Tighe, one of the bosses from our office who is from Dublin, told us we HAD to go to. It was so cute and a great atmosphere I got a Traditional Irish Breakfast which was so yummy (I didn’t try the blood pudding though…) We then had to head to the airport for our last journey back to Rome. The flight home was quite interesting, it was so rowdy! There were a lot of Italians talking for the entire 3 hour flight. A family in front of us kept moving around seats to see the sunset out of the window literally the entire time, it was so loud and so very strange. However, it was a great weekend, think Dublin was one of my favorite places I’ve been to. The people were great, it was so much fun and a great way to spend my last weekend in Europe.