The traveling days are getting longer, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Getting to your destination and just sulking in all the culture, history and beauty surrounding you is worth all the jet lag and long airplane rides.
Ireland was a pleasant surprise. We first went to Dublin and it was not at all what I expected. When I think of Ireland, I think of rolling green fields and small narrow winding roads, Dublin is the complete opposite. There are old drunk Irish men on the street no matter what time of day it is. To me, Dublin was just another typical city. It was beautiful and I was so happy to be in Ireland, but I wanted to see the Irish country side!
We took a bus from the airport to the city center of Northern Dublin. After traveling by train, bus, plane and walking, I was exhausted from the day. We got to the city center around 10pm. I was hungry and all I wanted to do was find the hostel. And of course, we got lost. I have realized in Europe, they are not really keen on clearly labeled street signs, so it is very easy to get lost. After walking around for what felt like hours and me swearing that we were walking the right direction, we realized we had walked past our hostel 4 times. They forgot to turn the lights on. How nice of them. After an hour of walking and asking people for directions, we finally had made it.
We settled in and decided it was time for food and a good Irish Guinness. Because it was Valentines Day, the hopeless romantic in me wanted to go to the pub in the movie P.S. I Love You. It only felt necessary. Michael, Sophie, Emily and I shared Guinness’s while listening to traditional Irish music. After food and a drink, I was finally relaxed and happy.
The next day we took a walking tour. We quickly realized that the city is separated by a river and they have conned the names South and North Dublin. It is kind of segregated to the fact that the North side does not like the South side and vice versa. So with bias and staying on the North side, we took a tour of the North. We learned a lot about the history and many iconic people that lived in Dublin. Unfortunately, we were only in Dublin for a few short hours so we didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked.
After the tour we went and indulged in an Irish lunch at a pub (one our tour guide recommended). It was worth it! The food was absolutely delicious.
Our next stop was to take a train to the city of Galway, on the west coast. Galway depicted everything I thought Ireland was. It was a small quaint town on the Galway Bay.
After checking into our new hostel, we went out for nothing other than a Guinness and a cold glass of cider all while listening to some Irish folk music. It was the perfect way to start our trip in Galway.
Our first day in Galway we did a tour of the little Irish town. Galway is quite small, so we saw pretty much the whole city in the span of an hour. It was incredible though. Everything that I pictured Ireland to be I found in Galway.
Galway is right on the west coast, boarding the Galway Bay. After the tour of Galway we went to the beach. It is not like your typical beach at all. It was freezing cold and so windy, but a beach is still a beach!
The next day we took a tour of the Cliffs of Moher. It was the best €20 I have ever spent in my life.
We got a bus early Monday morning and begin our trek. The bus ride towards the cliffs was exactly how I pictured Ireland to be. Along the way we stopped at castles and overviews of the Irish landscape. The mountains we drove through were lined with limestone and wild flowers. Taking the flowers or the limestone is actually illegal for conserving purposes. So I couldn’t grab a souvenir.
When we made it to the Cliffs of Moher, it was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. Honestly, the most breathtaking view. I felt so lucky because during our bus ride, the guide was telling us how the past few weeks the weather had been really bad and there had been flooding. So he was unsure if we could even make it to the cliffs. But we were lucky. The day we went the sun was shining and not a rain cloud in the sky.
Standing on the cliffs, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean, I was stunned. I didn’t think something so beautiful could exist. The green cliffs with the sun shining in the background was breathtaking. I could have stayed there all day and just looked out into the ocean.
While I was there, trying to capture ever moment on my camera, I realized something. All the places that I go, I try and take so many pictures to remember it by, but while I am there I don’t just sit back and enjoy the moment for myself.
I am always so worried about taking pictures and capturing the perfect moment to show all of you, that I forget that I should just be enjoying this.
It was kind of a revaluation you could say, but it was just shocking to me. I am seeing all these different places in the world and capturing it all on camera, but am I truly enjoying the moment of being there? I am seeing the world through the lens of a camera instead of enjoying with my own eyes.
So while I was there, I just enjoyed the moment. I took it all in and just reveled in the beauty surrounding me. And I did take some pictures, but pictures cannot even begin to display the real beauty of the Cliffs of Moher.
After we left the cliffs, our tour guide was nice enough to let us watch the sunset by the water. He pulled over the bus and said that it wouldn’t be a good tour if he didn’t end at his favorite spot in all of Ireland.
I thought nothing could get more beautiful than seeing the Cliffs of Moher, but watching the sunset, standing next to my best friends, by the ocean was something I couldn’t have even imagined.
At that point I had fallen in love with Ireland. All the expectations were met and exceeded. The sad part was having to leave Galway and go back to Dublin for our last night.
We took a train back to Dublin. During our last night in Ireland, we went to an Irish pub, listened to some folk music and enjoyed some Irish coffee. Another great trip gone and passed.
Our hostel experience for our last night was different to say the least. Emily, Sophia and I stayed in a 12 person room and we were the only girls. It was quite the experience I must admit, but I feel it wouldn’t be a successful semester abroad if I didn’t have one hostel experience like that. You would be surprised at how long you can live out of a backpack and stay in rooms with people you don’t know. It makes traveling much more authentic.
Even though I loved Ireland, it was so nice to be on our way home, back to Leiden. That moment when I no longer have to share a room with 12 strangers and I can sleep in my own bed was what I wanted more than anything.