Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Long Overdue: IRELAND

My oh my, this post is way way way overdue. But I have been pretty busy re-enjoying everything that America is all about (i.e. burgers, driving, things that cost a dollar)..


When in Europe, the only logical thing to do is to go to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day. So that's exactly what we did.

Early Thursday morning, we boarded an AerLingus (what a name) flight to Dublin and arrived in the country of green. In a word?


Imagine the biggest party you can think of and then multiply that times 100. I have never seen so much green, so many Irish flags, so many drunk people in one place in my entire life. Once we arrived in the city center, we found our hotel and immediately went to the parade. Absolutely ridiculous. Irish people are sooooo freaking happy.

So naturally, we found the nearest pub and ordered a round of Guinness.

The rest of the day was a blur of green, beer, and Irish music. We spent the majority of the day in the Temple Bar District, possibly the biggest block of celebration in the world. It was the world's most perfect St. Patrick's Day. We (somehow) all made it back to the hotel unharmed, all rolling in from our respective adventures.

The next day we recovered, walked around Dublin, went to the Guinness factory, shopped, etc. Overall, Dublin was a great place to visit. It was a nice break from all the French for sure.

Early Saturday morning, we took a lovely cab ride back to the airport where we had to pick up our rental car. WHAT A PAIN. Unbeknownst to us, you have to be like 30 or something to rent a van in Ireland. So we learned that the seven of us, plus suitcases for a week+ of travel, would be stuck in a five-seater. SOMEHOW we wedged everyone (and everything) in and were on our way. After probably two hours of sleep (generous estimate), Terence managed to be pretty boss at driving stick and driving on the wrong side of the car and on the wrong side of the road.

For those who say half the fun is getting there, it's clear to me that they have never been to Ireland (where almost all the fun is getting there). What an incredibly beautiful drive. Absolutely breathtaking. I don't know how to appropriately put it into words, and pictures of course will never do it justice. So if you can make it to Ireland, go to the countryside. Especially if you love sheeeeeeep. There are copious amounts of sheep in Ireland.

Eventually we made it to our destination: Galway, a city on the west coast of Ireland known for its vibrant cultural life. Roads of restaurants and pubs and sweater shops everywhere. I'm pretty sure all I did in Ireland was eat incredible food and drink lots of beer. It was absolutely perfect. I didn't even take very many pictures, which is pathetic, but I think it's okay because it means I was too busy soaking it all in. Now that I am writing this in June, I am thinking about how I should have just taken the time to do this back in March because of how fuzzy things already are. I remember everything, but I'm not so sure about the chronology. I know that I loved Galway, although it was super cold and rainy there in March.

On Monday, we squashed into the car again and began the adventure to Dingle, Ireland. Well. It's a lot more entertaining looking back on it now (from my comfortable bed in June in Ohio), but I truly could have done without the Dingle adventure to say the least.

On the way to Dingle, we detoured to the Cliffs of Moher. I'd love to go back there in the summer when it's not 40 degrees and raining, but it was stunning nonetheless. It was one of those times where I just had to take a minute and think about how lucky I was to be able to be seeing this.

The drive to Dingle was a gorgeous drive, but it got a little less gorgeous as it was closing in on darkness and we weren't there yet. (It's especially important to keep in mind that we had something like a 9 am flight to the Canary Islands out of Dublin the next morning). We finally arrived around 9 pm and commenced driving around looking for our hostel. After half an hour of no luck, Taylor went into one of the only open stores to ask where it was..

Two minutes later, he came back out laughing. "Well, apparently our hostel isn't even in this city," he said, and it took everything I had in me not to punch him in the face. We'd been in the car for probably eight hours, had nowhere to stay, had been spending ridiculous amounts of money, and had to leave at 4 am to get back to Dublin. NOT FUNNY. I was annoyed. Kristi was annoyed. Everyone else thought it was hilarious; I really envy their senses of humor.

Regardless, we found a B&B where we could stay for the night, had an expensive (but tasty) dinner at the only open restaurant, found the only open bar (full of Americans), and went to sleep around 2 am. Right. Young adult decision-making is absolutely terrible. Two hours later, we were on the road again, cranky as all get out. But all that matters is that we made it to the airport in time. Next stop, Canary Islands!

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