“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”Confucius
Day 0: Arriving in Dublin- Picking up from my last post, I was a bit under the weather when we went to the airport. I bought a surgical mask to cover my mouth and prevent further spread of my cough. As you have probably guessed, I got a bunch of stares from random people around the airport (we love coronavirus!). Anyways, I got another visa stamp in my passport (which makes me super excited)!
Day 1: Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic Way, Galway & More
We woke up at a beautiful 6:00am to get on a day-long tour bus around Ireland. The first stop we had in the morning was a rest stop called the Barack Obama Plaza. I can’t believe I came all the way to Ireland just to find the Obama’s! Apparently, Obama could trace his Irish ancestry back to the area where the rest stop was, so they dedicated the rest stop to him and Michelle with statues (see me with them)! After that, we headed to the Cliffs of Moher, which is Ireland’s most famous attraction. The drive out was about 3 hours from Dublin, and it was absolutely beautiful. In another life, I would live in the Irish countryside. The entire drive there was raining on and off, which was a bit worrisome. Once we got to the Cliffs, the skies cleared up and it was so sunny (pictures above for proof). My friends and I wandered around for a bit and saw the Cliffs from different perspectives.
Afterwards, we went on a drive down the Wild Atlantic Way, which took us further down the Irish coast. We stopped at an old monastery on the way, and then ended the day in Galway. Galway was the cutest town ever and I wish we got to spend more time in it. We walked around and saw the infamous Spanish Arch (which sadly was under construction), tried weird flavors of ice cream at Murphy’s, and checked out Aron Island knitwear (super famous). We also ate at a really good pizza before taking the bus back to Dublin!
Day 2: Dancing through Dublin
For our second day in Dublin, we took a tour of the Dublin castle! As you can tell from the pictures above, the palace was gorgeous and had lots of rooms, exhibits, and history. The history was particularly interesting because many English, American, and other well-known figure were mentioned. The colors of each room were also incredibly aesthetically pleasing, especially the cranberry color rooms (see above).
After visiting the Dublin Castle, we took a stroll into the garden right next to the castle, and wandered into an exhibit about women’s rights and female representation in Ireland. The exhibit was really interesting because Ireland apparently has had female representation in politics for 100 years! We stopped at a cafe near where we were for some lunch, before wandering around Dublin some more. We found the Dublin umbrellas, a cathedral, and a park with very large hungry pigeons. There are also seagulls everywhere in Dublin, and they will literally sit next to you while you eat your sandwich until you give some to them!
We then ventured out to Howth, a seaside town on the edge of Dublin (shoutout to my Irish neighbors for the suggestion). I got super motion sick from the drive out there, so when we started hiking the Howth Cliff, I lied down and just stared at the sky (which was beautiful + blue). I ended up doing the rest of the hike, which you can see the view from in the top left photo of the gallery of photos at the very top of this post. Walking down from the cliff walk, we stopped at the beach and just sat and enjoyed a bit of the sunset before grabbing dinner at a nearby restaurant. After that, it was back to our hostel to rest before going out for the night.
Our hostel sponsored a pub crawl, so we decided to take part in it for the night. It was a weekday night, so there weren’t as many people out and about, but the people we got to know on the pub crawl were a lot of fun (and we love making new friends). There were some Belgians that we practiced our Dutch on, a couple of fellow Americans, and a Swiss guy who knew how to break it down on the dance floor. All in all, it was a great way to end the day!
Day 3: Dublin pt. 2
For our second full day in Dublin, we explored Trinity College, the National Art Gallery, and ate at Kilkenny Cafe! It was a little weird that so many tourists go to see Trinity College, because there are literally students and professors walking around the quad like a normal university. We got to see [a replica] of the Book of Kells and the Trinity Library, which some parts of Harry Potter were based on.
For lunch, we went to Kilkenny’s, which kind of reminded me of Nordstrom or something like that because there was a shopping mall on the bottom floor and a restaurant on the top floor. The food was really good (I had salmon and curry!) We have been eating a lot of seafood because Dublin has so much (and I missed seafood so much), and this by far was the best fish.
After lunch, we took a tour of the National Gallery of Ireland. I would highly recommend going here if you are looking for something to do in Dublin because it’s free and there’s so much to see (also a good place to go if it’s raining outside). I was not much of an art person prior to coming to Europe, but have loved all of the different art museums that I have visited while abroad! There were a lot of paintings with Catholic symbolism and religious influence, which made sense given that it’s Ireland.
That night, I got to meet up with some of my friends from college back in the states! It’s always good to see familiar faces again. Since we had already been in Dublin for a couple days longer than they had, we took them around to some of the places that we enjoyed. Another wonderful end to another wonderful day! Dublin just keeps getting better and better!
Day 4: Dublin pt 3.
I am apologizing in advance to my mother for this next part of our Irish adventures. On Day 4, we visited the Jameson Whiskey Distillery and got to learn more about how whiskey is made and the different types of whiskey. I had no previous knowledge of this process other than the fermentation part (yay biochemistry), so it was fun to learn. It was Leap Day, and one of the guys in our tour was turning 7, so it was nice to be a part of the celebration that he had with his friends too! We got to try American whiskey, Scottish whiskey, and Irish whiskey. There are many differences between them, with the primary one being that American whiskey is distilled once, Scotch is distilled twice, and Irish whiskey is distilled three times. They were all unique in taste and a lot stronger than I was expecting. My favorite one out of the three was the Irish whiskey.
After going to the Jameson Distillery, we stopped briefly at the Guinness Storehouse (Irish are really proud of their alcohol). We didn’t get tickets in time, so unfortunately we did not get to go on an actual tour of the Storehouse (we did try Guinness though). By the time we exited the Storehouse, it was pouring rain. We were able to get a cab back to the hostel, where we then relaxed a little bit before grabbing dinner. Our cab driver suggested a local pub that had good food as well as the football (soccer) games on, so we went there for dinner. I had a traditional lamb stew and chowder, both of which were incredible. It was also nice to see the pub environment without so many tourists around because it was really different than all of the other pubs we have seen.
Key Tip: Always ask the cab drivers/ friends who are from the area (if you have any) before traveling anywhere. Especially in places like Dublin, the tourist traps are insane!
Day 5: Leaving Dublin 😦 I was beyond lucky to be in Dublin with fantastic weather and fantastic people. Hopefully I get to go back again someday!