“In Ireland, there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet!” -Mike Murphy, the best Irish tour guide I know
First weekend trip of the year was to a country I’ve been dreaming of visiting my entire life, Ireland. Even though my time there was short, it most definitely lived up to my expectations.
My roommate Shannon and I flew into Dublin Thursday night and went straight to the hostel to rest up because we booked a tour to the Cliffs of Moher for the following day. We had one full day for sight seeing and I knew I wanted to see the countryside in order to feel like I actually visited Ireland.
I had never stayed in a hostel before and I was a bit nervous, but I definitely lucked out in terms of having a good first experience. Shannon and I stayed in Generator Hostel in Dublin because it had rave reviews online. Our hostelmates go to Abilene Christian University in Texas and are currently studying abroad in Oxford. They were all really nice and it was their first time in a hostel as well! We chatted for a couple hours and eventually went to sleep because Shannon and I had to wake up at 6 a.m. to leave for our tour.
We were on our Extreme Ireland bus by 7 a.m. and ready to go on our “cross country” tour. We went from Dublin on the East coast to the Atlantic West coast. Even though we were on the bus for a good portion of the day, the beautiful sites we visited, our entertaining tour guide, and even the views out of the windows made the travel time worthwhile.
That’s Shannon and I with our tour guide Michael Murphy. He is 100% Irish, accent and all. His knowledge of Irish history and culture made the tour that much better.
We stopped at the River Shannon to take a look at King John’s castle. We actually chose this tour in particular because it stopped at the river and Shannon really wanted to see her namesake. While we were there, I ended up buying the men’s sweatshirt you’ll see me wearing in all of the photos for 15 euros from a random athletic store because I was freezing. Weather.com had said it would be 61 degrees (Farenheit. I still haven’t managed to adjust to the use of Celcius over here). It wasn’t even close, but at least it didn’t rain during the day!
We saw castles and rolling hills out the window throughout the drive. I’ve come to the conclusion that everything in Ireland is either green or grey.
A couple hours, a nap, and a few Irish songs later (yes, the tour guide even sang to us), we were at the Atlantic coast!
If you happen to know the book of poem’s by Shell Silverstein called Where the Sidewalk Ends, well, I think I found exactly where he was talking about.
Ladies and gents, I’d like to present to you the Cliffs of Moher.
As our tour guide said, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”
It’s incredible how nature never fails to leave you speechless.
You can just barely see the Aran Islands in the distance.
We opted not to pay to walk to the top of this tower, but it still served as a fun place to start our Cliffs of Moher photo shoot.
Everyone completely bypassed this sign, as did we. Oops.
We were given an hour and a half, which was plenty of time to walk around and take lots of pictures, as you can see.
The sun even “came out” for a little bit while we were there.
We didn’t have to miss the view when we to the bathroom either!
We left the Cliffs of Moher and stopped in the small town of Doolin for lunch. We ate at the restaurant above, which has the same name of some of my family members!
Our next stop was the Burren, which is entirely made up of limestone.
We boarded the bus again and continued our drive along the coast.
I took both of these pictures through the bus windows.
Traditional thatched roof houses.
We took a quick look at Corcomroe Abbey, which was built during the 12th century.
It was very tranquil and quiet.
Right next door to the Abbey,
an example of one of the many cottages abandoned during the Irish Potato Famine.
Throughout our drive, we saw lots of sheep and cows of course.
We took a quick break in the sleepy fishing town of Galway.
And checked out the Galway hookers (Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s the black boat on the left).
Luckily, we were dropped off right next to Trinity College, which Shannon and I were planning to walk through anyway.
Despite the cloudy skies, there was still a nice sunset.
The tour group offered a great dinner deal with the purchase of the tour, so we ate at The Church Bar in Dublin.
I felt obligated to order some traditional Irish fare.
Beef and Guiness stew with mushrooms, carrots, and onions. I had to restrain myself from licking the sauce from the bowl.
We headed back to the hostel to change and hangout in the lobby for a little bit. We met up with three Spaniards we had met on the tour earlier that day and went out with them to experience the Irish nightlife. It was great practicing my Spanish while being in an English speaking country and we all had fun together. They are from Valencia, Spain, which is only a few hours from Madrid, so hopefully I’ll see them again sometime this semester.
Isabel, Andres, and Javi were kind enough to wait with Shannon and I at the bus stop while it was cold and drizzling from 2:20 a.m. until 3:15 a.m. when the bus finally arrived. We boarded the airplane at 6 a.m. I generally can never sleep on planes (even when I took Tylenol PM on my flight over to Europe), but considering I had been awake for 24 hours and nobody was sitting next to me or behind me, I actually passed out.
Although I only spent 36 hours on The Emerald Isle, I am so glad I went. Ireland is everything I ever imagined it to be. I do have to admit, however, I was very happy to be back in sunshine filled Spain. I deal with enough clouds, rain, snow, and cold weather while I’m at Syracuse. I need to soak up as much heat as I can while abroad.
P.S. I learned some new Irish lingo from the tour guide. My trip to Ireland was good feckin crack!
meaning a really fun time :]