This past week marked our first break from classes. Myself, along with a few other individuals on the program, decided to start the week off in Dublin, followed by a tour of southern Ireland. Instead of flying, we used a rail and sail system. It began in northern England by catching the train in Newcastle which took us (after an annoying amount of stops) to Holyhead on the coast of the Irish Sea. Although it took a bit longer than taking a plane would have, it was refreshing to see the countryside and I quite like the train. A ferry then took us across the sea into the Dublin port which, of course, means I'll be buying a boat in the (not-so-near) future.
We arrived in Dublin and made it to our hostel which was quite nice. It was then time to explore, even though we were all exhausted from getting up at 4 am. Dublin is a huge multicultural city and although I saw and met more tourists than Irish folk, it was still a great time. We had dinner at an interesting little restaurant. After dinner I called it quits and headed back to catch up on some sleep. Sunday morning we grabbed some pizza and went to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour. Although Guinness is certainly not my choice for beer, their displays were awesome and we were able to relax in their gravity bar overlooking Dublin afterward. We decided to take a horse and carriage ride to the Temple Bar area for dinner from the storehouse which was awesome. Dinner and drinks then ensued.
Monday morning began our 3 day paddy wagon tour of Southern Ireland. We all got onto a huge coach with our hilarious tour guide, Tom and headed out of Dublin. Some memorable stops along the way: The location where Christian teachings began in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher (where I was able to see the Atlantic Ocean for the FIRST time), the city of Galway, and another horse/carriage ride through an Ireland national park. We also went to a local pub in Galway where they played traditional Irish music- it was surprisingly enjoyable and the varying insruments were fascinating. Overall, Ireland was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and relaxed. It also made me realize what a cruel and outrageously horrendous history the Irish have (mostly because of the British) and it's becomming clear why the US and the UK are such great allies.