A few weeks ago I made it over to the other Island, Ireland. Lucky for me I have a friend who is studying in Ireland and we had a place to stay for part of our journey. We were in Ireland for five days and in two cities, Limerick and Dublin.
Day One: From Oneside to the Other
On Wednesday we flew from Manchester to Dublin. From the airport we took a bus across the country to Limerick, where my friend Lydia is studying. Now this may sound impractical to have flown into the Dublin just to take a bus to the other side. We flew with Ryanair into Dublin for about $20, which is a fantastic plane ticket price. The bus ticket was then 13 euros to get us to Limerick. To put Ireland into perspective, it took about two and a half hours to get from one side of the country to the other. Which coming from the giant USA seems really crazy! So after a really rough plane ride we landed in windy Dublin and set out to Limerick. The bus ride was nice because we got to see the Irish countryside and I got to sleep for a bit. Once we arrived at the University of Limerick we met Lydia. I was really excited to see her because we had spent time with each other in over a year. Most of the evening was spent talking with Lydia about her experience in Ireland, which has been rather different then mine in England. It was nice to talk with someone else about their feelings about being away from home, what we like about being abroad and what we can’t wait to do once we get back to America.
Day Two: Stab City
After a surprisingly pleasant night sleep on a couch we made our way to the bus stop to catch the bus into the city of Limerick. Which we found out the night before is affectionately called stab city because its high crime rate. Hurray!! There isn’t too much to say about Limerick. It wasn’t exactly a fascinating place, just another city. We mainly just walked around and looked at some different landmarks. Went to the bathroom in a very traditional Irish pub. A highlight had to be us running down the street to catch the bus we needed to get back to the University because we were waiting at the wrong bus stop. That was very exhilarating. And that bus was so packed with people, I think we had to had been braking some sort of code because there was literally no room to move on the bus.
We did make it safety back to the university and the best part of the day was next. I was in Ireland at the same time as the Catching Fire premiere, so the only logical thing for a crazy fan like me to do is watch the movie. So Thursday evening we walked to the local movie theater to watch it and I was sooooo excited!!! I love that book series and the movies have been all great so far. Though this movie experience was rather interesting, like all of my foreign movie experiences. The screen that the movie was being shown at’s heating was broken, so the theater was freezing cold. I might add now that Ireland was a lot colder than England. I was half frozen the whole stay, even with my multiple layering. Anyways the theater manager came in and told us that we could go to the next showing in a heated screen or we could stay and watch this one and get a refund. We stayed in the theater because the next showing wasn’t for another hour and the cold just added to the movie’s effect. It was like we were in an arena too. I seriously watched the movie with my scarf around my face and my hat pulled down low, so that only my eyes were exposed. But it was an amazing movie and I wasn’t disappointed. The theater handled the situation fantastically. I need to personally thank Craig the manager. To get our refund we had to hand in the ticket and I am a silly person who collects all my movie tickets. So I asked if I could have mine back, Craig said I could but he went and got me a ticket that someone had thrown out. Awwww thanks Craig! And as they would say ‘Cheers!’ Because they literally say cheers all of the time. No Joke.
Day Three: Back to the Other side
Obviously visiting Ireland would not be complete without exploring Dublin. Which is exactly what we did for the last part of our Irish adventure. Again we took the bus or as they say the coach across the country back to Dublin. First thing we did was find our hostel and check in. It was my first official hostel experience, where you stay in a room in bunk beds with some other random people. It was a really nice hostel and a very good first experience. Though I am one who is always up for an adventure that puts me out of my comfort zone, but staying in a hostel is kinda just like going to camp. Our day of exploring was a bit different then other city exploration because we didn’t do it on our own. We went on a free walking tour. It is done by Sandemans New Europe and they offer free walking tours in 18 cities. Our tour was lead by a nice guy named Peter and he took us all around Dublin. It was really great to have actual background information on the places that we were seeing. We saw Dublin Castle, a viking church, Temple Bar and the Temple Bar area, Trinity College, the Irish parliament buildings and St. Stephen’s Green. You can tell that Ireland is very Catholic for several reasons. One there are Saints everywhere and two the school uniforms are very very conservative (borderline Amish). After our tour we spent some time in the National Museum of Ireland. Here we looked at a collect of viking artifacts, some pressed gold jewelry and other ancient Irishy things. From here we went to a pub in Temple Bar for some dinner. The pub is called O’Donoghue’s and it has been open since 1934. Here I had grilled cheese and tomato soup, which warmed my freezing soul. After dinner we did some shopping in Temple Bar before heading back to the hostel.
Day Four: Nature Time
Sadly in the morning I had to say goodbye to Lydia because she was going back to Limerick and we were going on a day tour. So I was sad to part with Lydia because I wanted to spend even more time with her, but I was sooooo excited about going on our tour, which we had to practically run to because we left late from our hostel and spassy me was freaking out that we would miss our pick up point. But we made it with a few minutes to spare. Then our chariot arrived, which was more like a van. There was eleven of us going on the tour to the Dublin Mountains and Wicklow National Park. Two Germans, one lady from DC, a couple from Greece and Edinburgh and six of us were American students studying abroad in different places throughout Europe. The tour was lead my a cheery chap named Michael. He was fantastic, so fun of information and he really made the tour that much more enjoyable. We left Dublin and headed out into the countryside. I was happy about this because I am from the country and I’ve missed just being in the middle of nowhere. The tour began with us taking a hike and we were joined by a little dog who followed us into the woods. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I hate that they do not keep their dogs on leashes. This dog was walking in the road and cars were passing and it was all making me so nervous that we were about to witness a most horrific accident. So there we were hiking up the mountain/hill, I was in my rain boots, we had a little dog trailing us and we came out to a spectacular view. The whole walk was actually just one amazing view. Ireland does have some spectacular countryside. We got on top of the hill and we could see the Irish Sea and Dublin and the general splendor of it all. Very very lovely.
After the hike we ate lunch at a cute cafe in Enniskerry. Another reason we chose to do this tour was that it takes you to places that several movies were filmed. Enniskerry was where parts of PS I Love You and Leap Year were filmed. Both movies I’ve seen and enjoyed. The last half of the tour was going into Wicklow National Park. This was a beautiful no man’s land. Here we saw th PS I Love You bridge, where the couple first meets, the Guinness Lake and filming location of the TV show Vikings, another place where Leap Year was filmed and also the landscape used in Braveheart. The last stop on the tour was an ancient monastery of St Kevin and Glendalough’s valley of the two lakes. It was truly beautiful and definitely a highlight of my entire study abroad. Ireland is gorgeous and I would highly recommend going to this area of the country. We then drove back to Dublin listening to some traditional Irish drinking songs. It was a fantastic day out exploring Ireland.
Day Five: Bye Bye
There isn’t much to say about day five of our Irish adventure because we got up at 3:30 am to get our shuttle to the airport. Our flight left at 6:30 am and we sadly parted ways with Ireland. Thanks for treating us so well!
Until next time…