Day One :
Our group of four landed in Dublin, Ireland at 6:36 a.m. their time. Which means it was really just after the midnight that I am used to. Many people advised me to head straight to our Air BnB to sleep off the jet lag. My thoughts? Yeah, I thought that was a ridiculous idea. I’m in Ireland for only three days, so I need to go see as much of this beautiful country as I can! Brittany F. and Laice seemed to like the idea of sleep, but Alexa and I were on the same page with our adventure crave! So, I booked a tour for Alexa and I for Cliffs of Moher that picked up in the heart of Dublin at 10 a.m. The next step in our journey was getting out of the airport.
We had some funny moments in the airport as we’re all slap happy tired. Coming through customs, Brittany F was ready to tell the agent at Customs our ENTIRE trip plans, and only kept mentioning Germany. To that, he had to ask her, “So what the heck are you doing in the Republic of Ireland?” Travel seemed to be a good enough justification for him because we all got our green passport stamps, and moved onto baggage claim. Getting bags was easy, but getting the bus certainly was not. We couldn’t find the bus stop, then by the time we did, the bus was about to leave. We hopped on, and they told us we needed to pay with exact change coins, not with our euro cash. So, we needed to hop right off the bus, go get some coins, and come back for the next bus in fifteen minutes. We all scrambled off with our heavy suitcases, and split up to find the coin machine and watch the bags. Laice and I took off towards the machines, and ended up just buying three day bus passes. As we were basically jogging back, the next bus passed us, so we had a sudden fear the bus would leave without us. We grabbed Brittany and Alexa, and tore towards the busses. We finally get on the bus, load our luggage onto the racks, and the driver told us we needed to be on the bus behind us. So we struggled with lifting our 50+ pound bags back off the racks and running to the bus behind us. As we stood on the moving bus heading towards our Air BnB, we were hysterically laughing and trying to gain back control over our rolling suitcases. Somewhere along this sleep deprived and fun time, Brittany and Laice decided to come on our Cliffs tour with us!
We dropped our stuff off at the Air BnB, caught a bus into downtown Dublin, and maneuvered our way to the Tour Office. The four of us made our way onto the bus, snuggled up in our jackets, and went to sleep! Picking a tour was a hassle, which you know a little about if you read my last post, but we went with one through Viator. I was a little hesitant to book this tour because it had a few poor ratings due to the lack of a guide. However, after the long hours of two flights and a struggle at the airport, we needed to get some sleep—the quiet bus ride was such a blessing! We woke up for a brief pitstop to get some coffee, then went straight back to sleep. The next time we woke up, we were at the ever so beautiful, Cliffs of Moher. I am an Irish girl as a result of higher lineage moving to Ireland after the potato famine, so I’ve been dreaming of making it to Ireland one day. Years ago, I was forming my lifelong Bucket List, and I put “Discover my Roots in Ireland and Poland” as a general sense. While writing this point, I was picturing coming to Cliffs of Moher among other things. I’ve wanted to see this natural cove for so long, and I was finally face-to-face with it, and I could not believe it. The four of us seriously could not stop saying, “I can’t believe we’re in Ireland!”
We ventured around the Cliffs for about two hours, and the bus came to pick us back up for lunch. We drove to the small town of Doolin, and enjoyed a traditional Irish meal in Gus O’Connor’s Pub. Being in this small restaurant felt like a scene out of a movie as my friends clashed their pints and I devoured my stew. We enjoyed our first Irish meal, and continued our journey home. Let me tell you, stew is such a good meal, but it puts me straight to sleep! So, we jumped back on the bus, and again, went right to sleep! We got back to Dublin around 9 p.m., so we stopped at the Tavern Restaurant for some much needed dessert! Next time you’re in Ireland, please try their lemon cheesecake because it was SO GOOD!
Day Two :
Now that we were in Ireland for a somewhat proper night’s sleep, we were ready for our guided tours! We grabbed a bus to the city and got there right in time for our Paddywagon Blarney Tour. Thankfully, the Paddywagon company is also the host building of a hostel, so there was a free breakfast that we could enjoy in the kitchen before jumping on the tour bus. We got on board, and our guide was ready to tell us all about the history of Ireland, the legend behind the Blarney Stone, and even made some fun jokes and “pop quizzes.” I mean, hey, without him, I wouldn’t know that 86% of Irish people are Christian, but 62% go to church regularly. Nor would I know that the train station right across from Guinness was built in 1877, but renamed after they gained independence from the UK. Anyways, back to the point of our trip: the Rock of Cashel and the Blarney Castle & Stone!
Before my trip to Ireland, I had not heard of the Rock of Cashel, but along our way to Cork, we stopped at this small town with a large castle. This castle sat atop a hill, and just overlooked the city in such a beautiful way. Everything was so green and so clear. An open place like that would not happen back in America…Walmart would purchase that land and instantly set up shop, but thankfully, the McDonaldization of the world has not yet reached Cashel. I hope it never does. This quaint town was full of friendly faces and cute knick knack shops. I didn’t want to leave just yet, but staying there would mean missing Blarney. I don’t wanna miss that, I wanna kiss it! So, reluctantly, the four of us jumped back on the tour bus and we continued on our way.
For those of you who do not know the story of the Blarney Stone, let me tel you briefly! There was a man of the Blarney Klan who owned this very expensive castle in Cork, Ireland that he could not afford. A man was supposed to come to repossess the house, and Blarney was so concerned and nervous about losing his family home. The night before the city was coming to reclaim the castle, a pagan god appeared to him and told him that if he would kiss the first stone he saw on the way to the meeting, he would be given the Gift of the Gab and have eloquent speech enough to persuade them into keeping the castle. He figured he had nothing more to lose, kissed a stone, and somehow listed off reason after reason until he was cut off by the man. He cut him off to tell him he can just have the castle and not worry about the money. Now, legend has it, if you kiss the stone, you get the Gift of the Gab and can become extremely persuasive for the next seven years! And if you kiss it twice, you’ll be extra fertile and be able to get pregnant more quickly.
For us four, we so desperately wanted to bend over backwards to kiss this stone and partake in the tradition that millions have tried. We made it to Cork, explored the grounds, including the poison gardens, and finally climbed up the tower. Atop the tower, we waited patiently for our turn to kiss the stone. We laid on our backs, grabbed hold of the railings, let the man guide us further and further back, then let your lips meet the chilled rock. For some, it was easy. For others like Brittany, a fear of heights had a slight impact on the experience—we are all the way up the tower, anyways! For me, I was completing something I never thought I’d be able to do. I kissed the stone, hugged the guide, and cried tears of pure joy!
Before boarding back on the bus, we were able to venture around Cork city, shuffle through Blarney gift shops, including the World’s Largest Irish Store (yes, it was HUGE), and indulge another traditional Irish lunch. I enjoyed a turkey plate with creamy mash, potatoes, and a scone. Best lunch I have had in a long time! Everything was so tasty, and it was a perfect ending to our tour. As we were riding back to Dublin, we all realized we needed to experience the real Irish pubs, so we made the decision to go out that night.
Arriving back in Dublin, we just needed to be in the city center, and find a pub, which trust me, wasn’t hard to do! We enjoyed a couple pizzas and cheese fries at a small bar, then headed into the first pub we saw. This pub was full of people to the rims, there was amazing live music, and they were making shots called the Irish Flag (because they were layered green, white, and orange)! Such a cool experience that everyone needs to have at least once. Then, after leaving that pub, we headed to another, and just saw people singing loud and dancing crazy all together, not caring if they knew the person next to them or not. Honestly, the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Please experience a Dublin pub if you ever get the opportunity to!
Day Three :
For our third and final day in Ireland, we decided to make the most of Dublin. We started off with the Guinness Storehouse tour where Brittany, Laice, and Alexa enjoyed some dark ale after becoming certified Guinness pourers! Not only did they enjoy this fresh pint, but we had the luxury of doing so at the Gravity Bar on the top floor that overlooked all of Dublin. And if that wasn’t enough beer, the oldest pub in Dublin sure had some more!
We moved onto The Brazen Head Pub for lunch where I tried another Irish Stew. This time not my favorite, but it balanced out my empty stomach, so I ate it none the less! To continue on our alcohol tour of the city, we moved onto Jameson Distillery on Bow St. This tour was so interactive and digital with moving parts you’d never expect to move or turn on. It was honestly so mesmerizing. Then, for those who chose to participate, there was a small whiskey tasting at the end, which sounded either amazing or terrible! So many mixed reviews from all of our fellow tour buddies. For the rest of the night, we went back to our room to have a study abroad reality check as we did some procrastinated homework and repacked for our flight to Berlin, Germany in a few short hours.
Now we’re off to the main part of our trip : Germany!