Ireland

Dates of Trip: August 19 – 23, 2014

Before traveling to Gaming, Austria for the school semester, a group of friends and I went to Ireland for a week. Due to a flight cancellation and overnight stay in Philly, I didn’t make it to the Emerald Isle until Tuesday, August 19th– a whole day after I was supposed to arrive! Despite the setback, we had a wonderful time in Ireland. While riding the bus from Dublin to Galway, I loved watching the Irish countryside zoom by. It’s full of the greenest fields you’ve ever seen dotted with sheep and cows and walls of gray stone. One thing about Ireland- the bus drivers are nuts. They go faster than you think should really be allowed to, and the roads barely allow for a car to squeeze by on the side. Terrifying. Once I made it to Galway, I met up with the other girls, dropped off the luggage at the house and went out to explore Galway! We walked around Shop Street, which, as you can probably guess from the name, is an area of the town filled with shops and restaurants and bustling with activity! We stopped in a restaurant for lunch and went home for dinner once we had finished shopping. In the evening, we went around to local pubs that had been recommended by friends.

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The next day we went to a tea shop in Galway called Cupan Tae and I got chocolate and raspberry tea– so delicious! It was full of floral embroidered tablecloths and lace and mismatched china… absolutely adorable!

After that, we realized we had missed the different buses leaving to go to the Cliffs of Moher, so we went on a spontaneous trip to Limerick, Ireland instead! It turned out to be wonderful. Since we didn’t have anything planned that we wanted to see there, we spent the day walking the streets and stopping inside a castle, a church and an antique shop.

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Then we stopped for some traditional Irish food at Glen’s Tavern. I ate the most tender lamb I have ever had in my lamb stew that was filled with carrots, celery and potatoes.

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The Irish really know how to do potatoes. On Thursday, we took a bus and a ferry to the Aran Islands. Specifically Inis Mor, which is the largest of the three islands. We rented bikes and rode around the island, stopping along the shore to sit on the beach and take in all of the beauty. Ireland is so beautiful. There was so much peace found in taking a moment to just sit on the rocks and sand and look at the wonderfully blue water (pictures below).

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After riding our bikes and exploring the beauty of the island, we got some Bailey’s coffee (yum) and took the ferry and bus back to Galway. It was exhausting (but in a good way) to spend all day on the bikes and running around outside, but it made for a wonderful nap upon returning to the house. On our last day in Ireland, we went on a tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher!IMG_2351 While driving through the Burren, a very rocky section of land in County Clare, we stopped at the Ailwee Cave and took a tour of it. We saw stalagmites and stalactites in the caves, a particularly impressive one that is nicknamed “praying hands” because they resemble (if you couldn’t guess) hands in prayer.

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After seeing the waterfall (pictured above), the tour guide took a moment to immerse us in the utter darkness of the cave by turning all of the lights off for a minute. It seemed to suck the air out of the cave. We then continued on to the Cliffs of Moher! They are one of the top attractions in Ireland, and for good reason. Reaching 214 meters (702 feet) at their highest point and jutting out into the Atlantic, they are truly spectacular. Standing close to the edge takes your breath away, and there is no type of rope or fence to stop you from falling right down the cliffs! While that aspect is not entirely comforting, the cliffs and the water are incredibly stunning. They were one of those things that you felt like you would ever get tired of looking at.             

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All in all, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to see Ireland! It was filled with immense beauty– from the beautiful colors of the houses contrasted with the characteristic light grey stones and green grass to the stunning shores of Inis More to the towering vastness of the Cliffs of Moher. I found myself often stopping to notice the little, simple things, like tiny plants growing in places they weren’t supposed to…

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and speckled rocks on the beaches of the Aran Islands.

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On Saturday, I hopped on a bus and a plane over to Vienna, Austria and have made it safely to Gaming. I am settling in at my new home and gearing up for the real adventure– classes!

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