I LOVE IRELAND
I’m sorry it has taken me a few days longer to write my blog post! My schoolwork has slightly picked up this week, so I had to put this off a few days. But we’re here now and I’m so excited to tell you about IRELAND!
I took off after lunch last Thursday afternoon with my friends, Zach and Shannon. We had a flight out of Florence airport, so we took a taxi and we greatly overestimated the time it would take to get to our gate. The ride to the airport was about ten minutes and the entire airport was completely empty, so we were about two hours early for our flight. But I guess, especially in terms of traveling, it’s always better to be early than late! We had a very short layover in Paris, at Charles De Gaulle airport. Now this airport is the LARGEST airport I have ever been to.. it’s basically a small city within itself. And with such a short layover we barely made it in time to our connecting flight to Dublin, but nonetheless we made it. About another hour and a half flight and we landed in Dublin! We met up with some other Gonzaga students who arrived around the same time we did, so it was nice seeing familiar faces. Our form of transportation to our accommodation was called, “The Paddywagon,” which is basically a huge, green bus with a lot of character-like leprechauns depicted on the side of the bus. It was a free shuttle ride to our hotel, so we all appreciated that. We stayed in “All Hallows College” in the dorm rooms, a little outside of the main city. It was a beautiful campus and the rooms were very nice!
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the fact that only 12 students from Gonzaga were on the trip, so it was a very intimate group and conducive to getting to know each other more quickly. Once we settled into our rooms, we met up and went out to a local pub for some beer and pizzas. We found a really neat pub called, “The Cat and the Cage,” and we settled for their “1 pint and 1 pizza” deal for 10 euro.
Now I have a story for you all, which requires a little bit of background knowledge. On our “opening tour” about a month ago, we went to a city in France called, Strasbourg. In Strasbourg my friends and I found a really cool Irish pub where we got some burgers and beer. I asked the bartender’s opinion on what beer I should order and he told me about something called, “Red Guinness” that I might like. So, I gave this beer a shot, and it was absolutely delicious! It was a red ale and tasted very sweet. I enjoyed it very much. On our way back to the hotel that night, we stopped at another bar where I asked for a Red Guinness.. but this time the bartender looked very confused and clarified, “A Cherry Guinness, you mean?” And I told him that I’d give that a try, and sure enough it was the exact same drink I had had before at the Irish pub. SO, I left Strasburg with the idea that 1. Red/Cherry Guinness is a legitimate drink, and 2. I really enjoyed this beer!
So back to “The Cat and the Cage”… We were placing our orders for pizzas and pints and I thought there’s no better place to have a Guinness than the place where it was founded, Dublin! (Guinness is Dublin’s number 1 export by the way.) So I placed my order for pepperoni pizza and I asked, “Also, do you have Red Guinness on draft?” The bartender gave me a very perplexed look and replied, “What?” I said, “Red Guinness, or maybe Cherry Guinness?” He then looked at me very sternly and said, “Get out of the bar,” in a very heavy Irish accent. I was completely stunned and had no idea what to do, and he repeated himself, “Get out.” My friends were all laughing, and I did not know whether this guy was giving me a hard time or serious about telling me to leave! He then told me to get in the back of the line and that he’d be taking my order last. So I eventually placed my order, and I settled on a pint of cider. While placing my order this time around, the bartender was mimicking me, “Red Guinness… ha.” I told him that it was a legitimate drink and he didn’t believe me. So, in order to prove that I wasn’t some sort of loony, I looked up Red Guinness on the internet, and sure enough I found it on the actual Guinness website! Now, I understand that messing with an Irishman and his Guinness is not a good idea, but I had to at least show him that I wasn’t crazy. So when he delivered our pizzas over to us, as politely as I could, I showed him my internet findings. He had never heard of Red/Cherry Guinness before, and although it was very clear on the website, he still seemed to have a difficult time grasping that this drink was a real thing! But anyways, that was my first introduction to Ireland and I must say that I caused a lot of laughs for my friends watching this scene unfold. That night I also tried Ireland’s famous whiskey, Jameson. I had it with ginger ale and it was absolutely delicious! I would definitely order it again. I headed back to my room around midnight as I was exhausted from such a long day.
The next day, we woke up and went on a bus tour of Dublin! It was a neat way to see a lot of the city in such a short amount of time. We drove up a down the main street in Dublin, called O’Connell street, saw the General Post Office where the Irish revolution began, visited Oscar Wilde’s statue, drove up the River Lithe, visited Phoenix Park and also visited the first public library in Dublin which is home to many old and important texts. The coolest book I saw was one written by Demosthenes, a Greek man who wrote about the benefits of a democratic government. The bookkeeper told us that our founding fathers, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton amongst others studied from Demosthenes’ works to better understand and shape the government we have today. So naturally as a political science major, I found this to be SO COOL. Not to mention that the cover of the book is encrusted with real gold leaves!
After the bus tour we ate lunch at a Dublin’s oldest pub, “The Brazenhead.” I got fish and chips, as well as a beer. Afterwards, a few students, myself included, took a James Joyce walking tour of the city. I had never read Joyce’s works, but hearing about his life and his first publication of short stories, “Dubliners,” made me want to read him! So in the gift shop after the tour, I picked up a copy of “Dubliners” and am actually almost done reading the stories. I love the way Joyce depicts life in Ireland, and he’s a superb writer. After the tour we walked down Grafton street and I picked up a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks which as absolutely delicious. We walked back towards “All Hallows” which took about an hour and a half, so by the time we got back we definitely earned our dinner. Our GIF travel guides, Shelley and Linda, treated us all to a delicious meal at a restaurant called, The Ivy House. Afterwards, I retreated back to my room for a good night’s sleep.
Saturday was absolutely fabulous. We drove all the way to the west side of the country to Galway and Cliffs of Moher. Galway is a small, coastal town with so much character and beauty. I shopped for a Claddaugh ring and we walked in the outdoor markets and picked up lunch. The city had a very home-like feel with a lot of families walking around, and it was such a beautiful and sunny day. I loved being there and I absolutely plan on going back one day. After our stop in Galway, we continued on our way to the Cliffs of Moher, which was another two-hour drive. The scenery on the way was absolutely breathtaking, and included rustic homes, castles, rolling green hills and lakes. When we finally made it to the Cliffs I was very relieved because the drive had been so long. The fresh air was so nice to take in and exploring the Cliffs was absolutely unreal. I really felt like I was in a dream. The day itself was perfectly bright and sunny and we could see the Cliffs all the way to the end. We had so much fun walking along the Cliffs and posing for pictures. I even dangled my feet over the edge… Sorry Mom and Dad! I am already looking forward to the next time I can visit both Galway and Cliffs of Moher. The drive back to Dublin was very long, but the day had been so perfect and the drive was worth every minute. Besides, I had James Joyce to keep me company! We ate dinner again at the Ivy House, and some people went out to bars afterwards but I went back to my room as I was totally exhausted.
Sunday was sadly our last day in Dublin, but our flight did not leave until mid-afternoon so we had all morning to keep exploring. We took the public bus downtown to O’Connell street and ended up finding a pub where we had breakfast, bacon and pancakes! I’m not sure that pancakes exist in Italy so eating them after not having them for so long tasted too good. We walked along Grafton Street afterwards and into Stevenson Park, which was so green and beautiful. Families walked around the park, feeding ducks and enjoying the beautiful day. We made our way to a taxi afterwards to take us to the airport, and from there we eventually made our way back to Florence!
Ireland was spectacular, and hands down one of the best trips I’ve ever taken in my life. I cannot wait to return one day and see more of the island.