Friday, April 12, 2013

SPRING BREAK! Part 1(b): The Republic of Ireland

Sorry it's taken me a while to finally get to blogging about the first half of Spring Break. The second half was just so exciting and I've been attempting to work on a paper....But here is the rest of our Ireland trip and the next post will be all about Liverpool.

Day 4: March 27, Derry to Galway
On our way from Derry to Galway we made a quick stop at a couple of locations just to take in some scenery and give us a chance to stretch our legs since it was kind of a big driving day. One of these stops was in Sligo, which is the location of the Poet Laureate W.B. Yeats' grave. It was by a very cute little church which happened to be situated in some very pretty hills. After that we were on our way to check into our Hostel. It was a quite nice hostel and we met another group of girls from Texas, who were studying in Florence for the semester, and were on a 4-day Southern Ireland Paddywagon Tour. After checking in Becca and I wandered around Shop Street. I had one big goal in mind that I really wanted to accomplish while in Galway: to find a Claddagh ring. Galway just happens to be the city where they originated so I had a feeling that we would be able to find some without too much effort. The reason I wanted one so badly is that my mother bought me a Claddagh ring fro my 16th birthday and unfortunately I lost it not too long after and have been dying to replace it ever since. After hearing me talk about them for forever and having Seanie, our bus driver, tell us the meaning of the ring Becca decided she wanted one too. We looked in several different shops, comparing prices and designs, and decided to go back to the first one. We each picked out our favorite and were on our way. Unfortunately, as we were walking around I realized mine was slightly too big and was sliding around quite a bit. We went back to the store and they didn't have any more like that one in my size so I chose a different one which the lady said was probably better since the band was wider. It also happened that my new one matches Becca's.....After that we wandered into some touristy shops until it was time to meet up for dinner. It had been planned that the whole group was going to get dinner at Skeff's. After that most of the group decided to go on a pub crawl but Becca and I opted out in order to go find some live music. We got some recommendations and ended up in a pub called Taaffes Bar. We ordered some pints (with help from the bartender) and waited for the music. This experience just further cemented the fact that I hate beer into my head, but oh well... The music was good and we stayed for about an hour or so before heading back.
Love my ring!!!

Day 5: March 28, Galway to Kilarney
Again we were up bright and early because we had a jam-packed day. We hit two MAJOR landmarks: The Cliffs of Moher (or the Cliffs of Insanity for all you Princess Briders) and Blarney Castle, famous for the Blarney Stone. The Cliffs of Moher were breathtaking. Partly from the views and partly because it was incredibly windy so it made it difficult to breathe. It was extremely enjoyable nonetheless and Becca and I enjoyed just walking up and down the cliff side, taking it all in.

After our stop at The Cliffs we were off to Blarney. We were originally supposed to do this the last day but because there was another tour group now on the same route and some people had some early flights the last day Seanie added it to this day. When we got there we were set free to wander the gardens or meander to the castle as we wanted. Becca and I walked up to the castle first in order to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and hopefully get the gift of the gab. In order to kiss the stone you have to lay on your back and bend over backwards over an edge. Of course there are safety bars at the bottom and ones for you to hold on to as well as a man there to hold your waist. It was a farther reach than I was expecting and I was almost off the Castle edge, but I kissed the stone and hopefully know I'll speak more eloquently for the next 7 years (there hasn't been too much evidence of this yet...) After we kissed the stone Becca and I wandered into what was called the poison garden where they house some pretty deadly and harmful plants. It was really interesting to see them all. A lot of them were not in full bloom or anything though because it was still pretty cold out, which was unfortunate. We them made our way to the hostel where Becca and I managed to finagle our own room. We also got some dinner at a place called Eddie Rocket's ( a European version of Johnny Rockets) for some much missed "American" food.

Day 6: March 29, Kilarney to the Dingle Peninsula
We started the day off with a jaunting car ride through Kilarney National Park. It was absolutely freezing out but the park was gorgeous. We did have a blanket to cover our legs but the wind was relentless. Our jaunting car driver was very nice and told us a bunch of cool facts bout the park and pointed out some interesting landmarks. After the carriage ride we boarded the bus and headed for our first destination: The Dingle Peninsula. We stopped here for lunch and some photo ops with Fungie the Dolphin's statue. He was separated from his pod several years ago and has lived int he bay ever since. After that we were supposed to have just a quick stop at Kilkarnie Bay but it didn't really turn out that way. Kilkarnie was gorgeous with is huge rocks and crashing waves, and also the sight of the Sleeping Giant, a rock formation that looks like a man laying on his back. Unfortunately the bus driver of the other tour decided he wanted to put his feet into the Atlantic Ocean. A couple other guys followed him but they got out pretty quickly (it was freezing after all). Then suddenly a huge wave came and smashed the other driver into a cove lined with rocks. After the wave receded Shawn the driver was having difficulty getting up. Turns out he was in shock from the cold water and we thought he possibly had a concussion. We managed to get him back up the large hill to the buses where some clothes were found for him. Then as he was taking a couple of steps his knee collapsed and his knee cap dislocated. An ambulance would have taken several hours to get to where we were so our Seanie drove Shawn and his tour to the closest medical facility while our group waited on our bus for another driver who just happened to be in the area, which was very lucky for us. The new driver came and got us and we were on our way to our Hostel which is attached to a Paddywagon Pub named The Randy Leprechaun. Unfortunately it was Good Friday and its pretty much illegal for pubs to serve alcohol on Good Friday so that put a damper on things. The pub was open for a couple of hours for us to get food and what not and then we all hung out in the common room since it was our last night together.

Day 7: March 30, Dingle Peninsula to Dublin
Our only real stop for the day was at the Guinness Storehouse. We didn't have to wait in line which was awesome (the line was practically around the building) and we just headed right in. The storehouse was pretty cool because it showed the whole process of making Guinness as well as some history about the family that started the company. You can also learn to pour a perfect pint and see the progression of marketing for the company. Up at the top of the glass-shaped building is what they call the Gravity Bar where you can pick up the pint that was included in your ticket price as well as enjoying views of the city. We were then back to the Paddywagon Hostel where some people left us but a good number were staying the night. We decided to meet up at a pub down the street for dinner where we hung out for several hours playing games and chatting. Becca and I finally decided it was bed time since we had a super early morning the next day and bid everyone goodbye.

The tour was unforgettable. We had a great driver and got to meet people from all over the world. It was a great way to see all of Ireland without worrying about getting ourselves to each of the places and finding decent hostels that were in the area. I would highly recommend these tours to anyone, young or old.

1 comment:

  1. Here is how to wear your ring:
    The way a Claddagh ring was worn on the hand was usually intended to convey the wearer's relationship status, according to Irish author Colin Murphy:

    1. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love. (This is most commonly the case when a young woman has first received the ring from a relative, unless she is already engaged).
    2. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship (suggesting their heart has been "captured").
    3. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
    4. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.