Tuesday, March 24, 2009
So I'm a little behind in updating this. I actually just got back from Portugal, so I'm going to have to blog about that as well. But for now: Ireland. It was amazing. I actually considered studying abroad there, but in the end Sevilla worked out with my classes, budget, etc. So the moral is: I'm really really glad I got to visit Ireland while I'm over here even though it put a serious dent in my already seriously depleted bank account.
So: Friday - Me and Andrea head out for the bus to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We're waiting and waiting and then finally the bus for the airport comes! Yay - here we go..."wait! why is the bus driving right past us?!". Yup. Apparently you have to flag the bus down, little did we know. At this point we still had a good amount of time, so we figure we'll just wait for the next one. Twenty minutes later we're forced to get in a cab and pay 8 more euros than we would have had to. Not really the best start. But we made it to the airport, made it to our layover in Barcelona and then ... made it Cork! And got a beautiful green stamp in my passport. We grabbed some maps in the airport and headed out to the bus into the city. Just sitting on the bus and hearing the accents got me really excited. As soon as we stepped off the bus we pulled out our maps to try and figure out how to get to our hostel when these two cute boys come up and ask "Do you guys need some help? Where are you trying to go?" Immediately we knew we were no longer in Spain where the locals would never ever ever ask you if you needed help. Yay Ireland!
We made it to Shiela's, our hostel, which was packed. We stayed in an 8 person room with 6 other drunken Australians. We were really tired from all our traveling and at first it was just the two of us in our room so we went straight to sleep. About 4 hours later: enter the drunken Australians. "Oh no! People are sleeping in here!" Despite this realization they didn't seem to have any problems turning the lights and talking really loud. Actually, this was the least of our problems because a mere few minutes later we realized we were sharing a room with a choo choo train!! Seriously, this girl snored like it was nobody's business.
The next day our Australians were up bright and early, and due to this, so we're we. No problem there, who wants to sleep in Ireland? So we headed out on a mad search for chocolate chip pancakes, which (an apparently misguided) guidebook told us a restaurant in Cork is famous for. Nope. We never found the restaurant. Oh, well. After exploring Cork for a bit we went and bought bus tickets to Blarney, home of the Blarney Stone, of course! The Blarney Stone is part of the castle in Blarney. If you kiss the stone you are:
a) In good company, including that of Winston Churchill.
b) Supposed to gain the gift of eloquence of speech.
After climbing the castle, exploring all the different rooms and kissing the stone we went for a walking tour around the city and the surrounding lake. There are also "wishing steps". If you walk up and down them with your eyes closed thinking only of a wish, it will come true within the year. We then headed back to Cork on the bus. We still had a little bit of daylight to burn, so despite the fact that we'd literally been walking around ALL day since about 8 am, we decided it was a good idea to make the trek to Cork University, which was so far from where we were that it was actually off the map. About an hour and a half later, we found it! It was really worth the hike, it was beautiful and on our way we found this beautiful Cathedral. The Cathedral was closed, so we decided to stop back the next day to get to go inside.
We picked up some dinner, and headed back to the hostel. After showering and eating, I was completely exhausted and all I wanted to do was climb up into my (top) bunk and sleep all night. Our room mates had other plans for us though. They came in and invited us to go out with them. Turns out the Australian accent is very persuasive so we decided to try to work up a second wind and go out. We went to a pub which got progressively more crowded as the night went on. When we got there the dance floor was pretty empty, and I don't think people had enough Guinness in them to want to dance yet. So, me and Andrea, who need no Guinness to make fools of ourselves, decided to get the party started and were literally the only ones dancing on the dance floor for a solid hour. Our room mates were actually really fun people. One guy, Steve, insisted on buying me and Andrea Guinness. Which, considering the price, was really generous. As you can imagine, after a few hours out, we were completely exhausted and headed back to the hostel before most of our room mates.
The next day we were up bright and early again and headed out to try and see the inside of the Cathedral. We got there right after mass had started, so we ended up staying for about half of the mass before we snuck out to try and make the most of the day. Cork was having a little festival for St. Pat's day with food, music and stuff life that. We bought some Irish soda bread which was delicious and then made our way to the bus station again to go to Kinsale, another small town about 30 minutes outside of Cork. Kinsale was beautiful and very Irish. There is a really old Fort there, Charles Fort, which we wanted to see. This involved us trekking up the Irish country side right along the river. It was uphill and about 2 miles both ways, but the walk was beautiful. By the time we made it to the Fort (yay!) ... we found out it had closed about 15 minutes before. I went up to lady and begged her to let us is. The American accent did nothing to sway her sympathy and she did not let us in. It wasn't that big of a deal though, we still got to walk around all the fort and enjoy the amazing view.
The next day we caught the first bus out of Cork to Dublin. It was about a 4 hour ride to Dublin, all through the beautiful Irish country side. When we got off the bus we went to attempt to find our hotel in Dublin. This was much easier said than done. We kept on getting questionable directions from people, including a drunk (this was at 11 am) man wearing a wife beater who reeked of beer. After taking an unplanned walking tour of Dublin we finally made it to our hotel, which was a HUGE upgrade from Shiela's. We then headed out for the Guinness Factory! The Guinness Factory is basically one big advertisement for Guinness, but none the less was still really fun. The best part is that at the end when you get to have a free pint of Guinness on the very top floor with glass walls and an amazing view of Dublin.
After the Guinness Factory we went and explored Trinity College - very cool and very pretty, and very UNC-esque. (but not quite as cool, obviously). We then attempted to find the where Oscar Wilde lived while he studied at Trinity College and ran into a St. Pat's day fair and decided to ride the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel was HUGE and creaky, and I may or may not have screamed in fear when we got to the top.
After the Ferris Wheel experience we went to get some authentic Irish food, Shepard's pie. It was really really good, especially considering that I was all but famished by the time we eat. We then headed back to our hotel, where I passed out in the most comfortable bed I've slept in since I've been in Europe. The next morning, I was heading but, but Andrea and Elle still had another day. So, there I was waiting at the bus stop, when the bus to the airport pulls up. I ask the bus driver if it was headed to the airport and he informed me "nope." and pointed me in the right direction. So, there I was waiting at the next bus stop. After about 10 minutes this taxi pulls up and tells me that none of the buses are running today because of St. Pat's day, but that he would take me to the airport for the fee of the bus. Sounds good to me! I found my pot of gold in this Irish taxi driver. It was incredibly weird riding in the taxi because they drive on the wrong side of the road in Ireland. The whole time I felt like I should have been the one driving. The driver was really nice, but he kept on asking me questions like "So, you see the bus there, what route do you think that's taking?". "Uh....I actually have no idea." His sister also lives in the US and he asked me if I knew about the giant peach in Georgia (Hi Katie and Kim!)
Yay! I finally made it to the airport. I had to fly through London before finally making it to Sevilla, so it was a pretty long day of traveling. But it was fun being in London and hearing all the English accents.
Thanks for reading!