Ciao friends! I spent this past week in Dublin, Ireland. The adventure started after being in Rome for one day (after coming home from Barcelona) and then Tuesday afternoon, we headed out for Ireland.
I was looking forward to this trip for quite a while, for a couple reasons. Reason No. 1: I am a good 30 percent Irish so I was excited to see and explore the country where my ancestors are from. Reason No. 2: I was looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in a country where I could understand the language. And lastly, reason No. 3: a big bucket list item of mine was to kiss the Blarney Stone in Cork, Ireland.
Day one we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. Our taxi driver was exactly what I pictured to be the quintessential Irish man. The accent was so cute, and he was a short fellow with snow-white hair, and basically told us to be careful at night, gave us some advice on places to go and told us a couple restaurants to check out. It was a great way to start the trip.
Later that evening, we went out and grabbed a real Irish dinner. Most dinners are served cafeteria style; you go up tell them what you want, and they serve it to you right away and right in front of you. I got turkey, mashed potatoes, broccoli and cranberry sauce. It was just like Thanksgiving dinner, just a couple days early.
After dinner we made our way to meet up with an acquaintance, who is student teaching in Ireland at a local pub in Dublin called Stags Head. We enjoyed a pint of beer and watched and sang along to a ukulele group who basically took over the entire floor of the pub. It was so much fun, and everyone was having a blast singing along to popular songs that they knew. They gave us a song-book, so we could follow along and sing. The group always meets on Tuesday nights at the same place. It was really a neat experience to have, and I love ukuleles, so it kinda inspired me to pick up my uke and play it again.
Thanksgiving day was not your quintessential Thanksgiving at home. Yes it’s all about the food of course and the company, but we did Thanksgiving a little bit differently in Ireland. We went to this castle called Malahide, where we took a bus about a half-hour north. My roommate really wanted to see a castle, and I mean, heck you’re in Dublin; might as well see as many as you can. We hiked up this path to get to the castle, and it was absolutely breathtaking. The dirt paths had orange, yellow and red leaves surrounding you, while people walked their dogs and went on walks with their kids. It was so fun to take in that moment right there. To realize that even though I’m not with my family and friends celebrating this holiday, I felt a sense of home just being surrounded by such loving people.
After we explored the castle, we took the bus back into the city, and I did some exploring myself. I walked along the river taking photos and stopped into a bakery and had this delicious cupcake with vanilla icing. After a bit of exploring, I met my roommates up at the Guinness Factory. You can’t go to Dublin without getting a tour of the factory and trying a pint of Guinness. Our tour was a self-guided one, and I actually learned a lot about the process of making Guinness and who Arthur Guinness was, his beliefs and mottos, etc. At the end of the tour we learned how to drink Guinness correctly (who even knew there was a right way to drink it) and then learned how to pour our own pint. It was so cool to pour a pint ourselves and realize there is a lot that goes into it, more than I ever thought!
The last two days of our trip were spent traveling all over Ireland. The first-day tour we did was through a tour company called Healy tours. I was so excited for this one mostly because of the name of the company… but also to see the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are located on the southwestern edge of the Burren region of Ireland. It’s a huge tourist attraction in Ireland, and I can see why after visiting. It was beautiful, very cold and windy, but absolutely breathtaking. We wandered all over the cliffs and walked up a castle for an even better view. It was such a great day. We also hiked up a mountain and took some beautiful pictures.
Our very last day we took another day tour through a company called Paddywagon. Even though it wasn’t the Healy tour bus one that I enjoyed so much, it was still an awesome day. So this was the big trip that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I booked the trip to Dublin. The main attraction of the day was Blarney Castle. We also visited the city of Cork, Cobh, and then Blarney was the last and final stop. The area was absolutely beautiful, and we crossed a cute little bridge to get to the Castle and climbed up several steps in a very tiny area to get to the top. The view was amazing; you were able to see another castle in the distance, along with stables and the gardens.
So now came the big event of the day: kissing the Blarney Stone. I’ve wanted to do this since I was little for a few reasons. My family talked about it a lot and also because I had a Blarney sweatshirt in the fifth grade. So you lied down on this mat and grabbed onto these metal bars and leaned over a steep edge and kissed the stone. It was kind of scary but really cool. So the myth is that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you receive seven years of eloquent speech, also known as gift of the gab. I guess we’ll see if that actually works.
Dublin was truly an amazing city. Now, back in Rome for two weeks for one more week of classes, a week of finals, then to Germany for 10 days. I’ll be back in America on Dec. 22 right in time for Christmas. Thanks for letting me share my stories with you all!
Ciao for now; see you all in Clarion!