*Warning: We had 8 days worth of exploring the beautiful country of Ireland so, long blog post. This trip was for the Digital Photography class (but I didn’t take it for credit and neither did Ryan because I’m a graduate(!!!!) and because it was cheaper to just go on the trip and pay the insurance cost instead of the tuition fees.) Anywho, read at your own risk/pace/convenience*
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “the luck of the Irish”, right? Well, this is kind of the same thing, but about a group of kids and a professor from Iowa and their time spent in Ireland.
“You guys don’t understand how lucky you are, it’s just gorgeous outside.”
I’m pretty sure the most said phrase during our time in Ireland was variations of that sentence right there. Alan (otherwise known as ‘Garf’) said that phrase so many times during this trip that I honestly lost count. But he’s not wrong! We were extremely lucky to come to Ireland when we did because we got to go and see and experience so many beautiful things and to top it all off, the weather was phenomenal. It was sunny and mid-60’s or higher every single day we were there. If you guys don’t know much about Ireland in May, it is usually mid-50’s, chilly, windy, and rainy. Before leaving for the trip, we were suggested to bring warm clothes, a rain jacket, heavy socks, and at least two pairs of shoes because it was likely that one of them was going to get wet and need to dry out while you wear your other pair. Yeah, we did have the occasional time where our shoes did get wet, but never soaking wet. We were even lucky enough to only have to occasionally wear a light jacket while we were outside exploring.
In other terms of luck, I found a total of 50€ throughout our time in Ireland, but I’ll explain that later.
Our first day was very long. We left Chicago at 4:30 P.M. and arrived in Dublin at 5:15 A.M. we rented a 9 passenger van (which we named ‘Big Red’) and then drove 3 hours up to Co. Donegal. Garf and his wife, Phyllis, have a holiday home up in Meenaleck. It’s a cute little cottage just behind some beautiful (large) hills. All of the girls (5) slept upstairs in the loft and the boys (2) took turns sleeping in one of the bedrooms and on the couch while Alan slept in the other bedroom.
Alan and Phyllis are nice enough to let students stay at their house “rent free” but we paid some of our dues by doing yard work or cleaning up around the house. Ryan mowed the lawn (I helped a little bit, but I kept killing the mower, so I just let Ryan do the rest while I dumped the bag when it got full of grass (which didn’t take very long because there was a lot of grass to be mowed)). We also helped pull weeds and clean up the “rockery” to make it look nice for when Phyllis comes in July. Some of the other girls helped by cleaning up the house, dusting, cleaning windows, doing dishes, getting everything set up so it’d be ready in when they come in July.
(the flowers/bushes and the stairs are the rockery)
Doing the yard work wasn’t bad, but it was the bugs that made it slightly unenjoyable. The only bug I didn’t mind was my snail friend I made. I named him Paco and I found him while dumping grass in the designated dead grass pile. I moved him to a safer location and then continued on with my work. In Ireland, they have these little black gnats called ‘midges’ that bite like mosquitos. I’m allergic to mosquitos so I am still trying to get rid of my bites while everyone else’s bites are gone by now. Midges only come out when there is no breeze and when it’s damp. But since we were so lucky with the sunny weather we brought to Ireland (or so everybody from Ireland kept telling us), the midges were out in full force whenever they had the opportunity. One night, we forgot to shut one of the windows in our bedroom upstairs and the lights being on drew all of the midges indoors. There wasn’t much we could do about it at that point, so we turned off the lights and just tried to close our eyes and go to sleep. Needless to say, we woke up covered in bites the next morning. Lesson learned.
(The little bugs flying around in this video were midges….)
I suppose I should back up a little and talk about our drive to Teach Garfield (“Teach”, pronounced ‘tcha’, means ‘House of’ in Irish.. making this ‘House of Garfield). We stopped at an Irish version of an ‘Oasis’ and got some breakfast and coffee. Soon after we stopped at an old cemetery outside of Dublin called Monasterboice. This cemetery was filled with many gravestones and Celtic crosses, along with the ruins of an old church and a tall, round tower that the people in the area would find refuge in when the Vikings were coming. Someone would be on watch and when they saw the Vikings coming they would ring a bell to warn the people that the Vikings were coming and then all of the people would go into the tower to stay safe. They even have an underground tunnel system that helped them get to the tower to keep them safe and hidden.
We then stopped in a town called Monaghan for another breakfast break and got groceries to bring back to Teach Garf so that we didn’t have to go get any later. Our last stop along the way was at Gweedor at Dun Luiche (pronounced ‘Dun Lewey” in English). There was a lake and an old church at the foot of Mount Errigal. The view was beautiful. At the lookout that we stopped at, there was a little camper parked that was selling coffee! We didn’t get any this day, but we stopped back there later during our trip and got a coffee. It was really good and the man running the little business was very nice.
Mount Errigal, as fore-mentioned, is the largest mountain in Co. Donegal. We didn’t climb it because frankly, we didn’t have time, but also because when it rains the side of the mountain gets very slick and it can be dangerous to climb. We didn’t know we were going to luck out with such nice weather, so we decided early on that we would not be climbing the mountain.
Co. Donegal is full of large hills and small mountains. Some of the mountains are made of ‘turf’ which is a burnable/consumable dirt. People can go and cut the turf into brick-like shapes and then dry it out, bring it home, and use it as a form of heat for their houses. Alan uses it in his fireplace and the smell is phenomenal. I know that sounds weird…burning dirt smells good? It does!! It smells like a bonfire but…better. That was probably one of Ryan’s favorite parts of the trip was smelling turf burning somewhere. He wished we could have brought some of it home to burn but of course, we couldn’t.
We were also very lucky to see the country covered in bright, beautiful, blooming gorse. Gorse is a prickly bush that has bright yellow buds on it. The yellow contrasted very nicely with the blues of the sky and ocean and looked very nice among all of the greenery around (there was a lot of green because it rains there almost all the time). Burning things outdoors is illegal in Ireland, except for burning gorse. You’re allowed to burn gorse in order to get a fresh new growth for the next year.
While I’m on the topic about just talking about general things in Ireland/Co. Donegal, I might as well continue with this train of thought. Things are spelled way differently than they sound (which you probably figured out before when reading about “Teach” and “Dun Luiche”). A lot of things were spelled really weirdly like “Croithli” which was pronounced “Crolly” and “Dunaeghal” which is pronounced “Donegal”. There are a lot of words that are spelled very similarly and pronounced similarly as well but mean completely different things. “Teach” pronounced “tcha” means ‘house of’, while “tá” pronounced “tah” means ‘yes’, while “trá” pronounced “trah” means ‘beach’. To say thank you is to say “go raibh maith agat” which is pronounced “go row my-a-gut”. None of it made sense, but luckily Garf knew what he was doing and knew where we were going. I’m pretty convinced that if Ryan and I would have been on our own doing this exact same trip, we would’ve gotten lost so many times and had been so confused.
The roads there are very curvy and narrow in Ireland..which makes driving interesting. But what makes it even more interesting? You drive on the left side of the road and the driver is on the right side of the car. I had seen before in movies where they drove on the other side of the road but I’ve never experienced it until now. All of the places I’ve been to prior in Europe either drove like we do in America or I didn’t ride in a car because we took public transportation all over the place. There were a couple of times I would panic as a car would come around a curve that we were just coming to because I would get the feeling we were going to crash into them head on because I’m used to other cars being in the left lane and WE were in the left lane. It made it exciting I guess, but also go my heart pounding.
Stores and shops are named after the owner and one of their parents. So, the local gas station that we would go to was called StevenAnn’s because the man’s name was Steven and his mom’s name was Ann. MoyaNed’s was called that because Moya was the lady’s name and Ned is her father. Along the same lines, some people are defined by their name along with their profession or something else about them. Like Eugene. He is known as the Eugene The Wiseman because no matter how intoxicated he gets, he always has the answer to the question you ask him. It may not be the right answer, but it is an answer nonetheless. Or his brother, John.. he is John The Contractor. And Alan is sometimes called Alan The Computer because he knows more about computers than most of the people in the area.
Most people there are farmers or specialize in some form of a trade. Cows and sheep are the main animals on farms there. We probably passed about a billion sheep during our time there (not so many cows but we saw a good amount). There aren’t many businesses (some, but not many) in Ireland, so many people farm, or specialize in a trade or two. Plumbing, carpentering, contracting, electricians, etc. are some of the forms of trades that they do. It is common to do a trade of services with someone. They do something for you and you do something for them in return and you only pay for the materials instead of for the materials and labor.
People’s lawns are a big deal. If you have a nice, up-kept lawn, then you care about your house and what others think of you. If you don’t keep up with your lawn, you clearly don’t care about what others think of you. Many people have gardens, rockeries, and all people have walls. The walls indicate which part of their yard they are going to for sure keep looking nice and anything outside of the wall is a toss-up. The walls also help indicate who’s land is who’s, but not always.
People in Ireland get free water. In fact, they just started paying land taxes. Free water meant we could shower as long as we wanted. The shower had this on-demand box heater thing, which was super nice because we could all take a warm shower and no matter how long, the water was always warm. But anyway, water was free so that was neat.
The culture of petting stranger’s dogs was different in Ireland than it was in Spain. In Spain, it is frowned upon to pet another person’s dog.. it’s even frowned upon to look at another person’s dog. In Ireland, much like the USA, you can pet other people’s dogs and it’s not a big deal. We met many dogs during our time in Ireland. Butterscotch was the first. We didn’t know his real name, so we named him Butterscotch. Butterscotch lived up the street and came down to visit us and let us pet him. He was a very good boy. He had a brother named Buddy but I didn’t get to pet him. Telan, the dog that lives next door to Alan, was very shy and wouldn’t let us pet him. There was a puppy at one of the beaches we went to that we named Baby MoJosie because he looked like Ryan’s dog Mojo as a puppy but played and had the energy of Ryan’s other dog Josie. He was very cute and played fetch with a rock at the beach for probably an hour nonstop. The other two dogs that we met we named Diarmaid (pronounced “Dear-mid”) and Grainne (“Gran-ya”) (traditional Irish names, ya know). These two greeted us after we got off the ferry at Arranmore Island. They were super sweet and loved the attention.
Okay, now back to the order of events that occurred during this trip. After being at Teach Garf for a while and doing some yard work, we ate dinner. We had Chicken Kiev which was like Chicken Cordon Bleu but better. From there, we went to Teach Bullock (Yes, Bullock as in President Bullock and his family from the University of Dubuque) to say hello to them and the Runkles. They were in the country at the same time as us because UD was playing football in Dublin the next weekend so they were there for vacation at the same time.
From Teach Bullock, we went back to Teach Garfield and walked to the “Wee Bridge”. It was a nice evening for a walk. From the bridge, we walked up to Leo’s Tavern for a pint of beer and to use their wifi because Alan doesn’t have any at the house since he isn’t there much. It was there that we met Eugene for the first time. After being at Leo’s for a bit, we were exhausted so we went home and went to bed. At least Ryan and I and a couple of others did. We were in bed by 9:30 and the sun was still up but we were exhausted.
On Tuesday, we woke up at 9:30 AM. We did some more yard work after breakfast and then headed out for the day at about noon. Our first stop was at Bunbag-Magheraclogher. We stopped to see a tower that used to be a signaling tower in case Napoleon and his troops came. From there, we went to Ballindrait which was a bay with fishing boats and old military barracks. The water was super calm so the pictures we took there were really nice because the reflections off of the water were incredible.
From there we stopped at MoyaNed’s to do some shopping. I didn’t buy anything because I wanted to save my money for other things, but Hayli bought a nice sweater on clearance and Baylea bought a Celtic ring and a jacket. I think some of the others bought stuff too but that’s what I can remember. After MoyaNed’s we went to Teach Jac’s for lunch. Then we went to Teach Muiris before heading to the Bloody Forelands.
The Bloody Forelands were i n c r e d i b l e . They weren’t bloody at all (thank goodness because if they would’ve been, this would’ve been an issue for Aimee…). Nobody really knows why it’s called the Bloody Forelands but there are many theories. The Bloody Forelands were the large cliffs that led down to a rocky shore and the ocean. We went all the way down to the rocky shore and watched the waves crash on the rocks for a while. There’s something so calming about the big waves coming and crashing on the rocks. Maybe it’s because I was a safe distance away so I could watch and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing because I wasn’t actually in the ocean or in any danger.
We explored on the rocks an saw a bunch of different things in the tide pools. We saw anemones, seaweed, sea foam, barnacles, mollusks, a crab foot, and some moss that looked like our carpet in Ryan and I’s future home. 😂
As we headed back to the car from the Bloody Forelands, the Bullocks and the Runkles showed up. We sat and talked to them for a while before heading back to Teach Jac’s for dinner. We ate with them and had a great time talking about our adventures so far and our upcoming plans. I had chicken kiev again except this was a different form because it had sun-dried tomatoes in it and was served on a bed of pasta. It was super yummy! We got dessert also. Ryan and I shared this thing called ‘chocolate fondant’ which was like a small chocolate lava cake and ice cream. It was delicious.
After we got back to Meenaleck, a couple of us heading up to Leo’s for a pint and wifi. This night we met Jim the bartender. He was really nice and talkative to us. We liked him a lot. We also met Susan from Germany. She was also very nice and she taught me how to say turtle in German. I asked Jim if there was a way to say it in Irish and he told me they don’t have a word for turtle because there are no turtles around. (Which is super unfortunate but oh well I guess).
On Wednesday we took the ferry to Arranmore Island. In Irish “Arran” means ‘island’ and “more” means ‘big’, so we went to “big island island”. It’s kinda like the whole New York City, New York thing. We went to the Arranmore Lighthouse and explored. Noah and Alan went up in the lighthouse but nobody else did. Ryan and I spent more time exploring the cliffs in front of the lighthouse than anything else. The water is so blue there and the cliffs are so steep…one wrong move and you’re done for. But we were very careful and cautious to not get too close to the edge. At one point we were trying to throw rocks from where we were and make it into the water. It was harder than it looks because the cliffs came out a little bit from the edge.
Alan took us to some stairs that went down the side of one of the cliffs. While we were walking there, I found 10€ on the ground!! In the middle of nowhere! Where it could’ve easily gotten blown into the ocean and never would’ve been seen again. So that was exciting.
The stairs were kinda steep and scary but I loved every second of it. Stuff like that gets my adrenaline pumping and I am such an adrenaline junkie. We didn’t go down to the very bottom because that would’ve been way too dangerous because of the waves and who knows how worn down the stairs were down there. So we went down as far as we could.
As we were leaving the lighthouse, we passed a red van that looked very similar to Big Red, but the driver was on the “normal” side of the car (normal for me), yet he was driving on the left side of the road. Alan stopped and rolled down his window and began to talk to them. They were a couple from the Netherlands (small world, eh?) out exploring Ireland. The man’s name was Peter. After chatting for a few minutes, we continued on our way. We stopped at a small local pub and ate our packed lunches out on the deck. From there we walked down to the dock and boarded the ferry back to the mainland.
When we got back to the mainland, we went to Teach Bullock because Alan and Noah were working on painting a sign out front that said the University of Dubuque so that the Bullocks and any future visitors would know that that was the Bullock’s house. Then we went to a beach where we got to go in the ocean! We only got in about ankles deep because the water was freezing, but we still got in so it counts. There were some local children and people full on swimming in that freezing cold water. I wanted to but it was too cold for me and I didn’t have a swimsuit or a change of clothes with me. We walked on the sand and in the water and found shells and a couple of crabs (both dead and alive).
When we got back to Meenaleck (I guess if I haven’t cleared this up already, Meenaleck is the name of the small village that Garf lives in, in Co. Donegal.) some of us went up to Leo’s for wifi. We came home for dinner and then after we went to StevenAnn’s for ice cream. I had what is called a “99” ice cream cone which is just a normal soft-serve ice cream cone that has a chocolate bar sticking out of it. I also bought some biscuits when we were there because I tried one at the house and they were very good so I wanted a package of my own.
From there we went to another beach to watch the sunset. It was super beautiful and relaxing, but we also got eaten up by midges again because there wasn’t really a breeze even though we were right on the ocean.
When we got back to the car there was a familiar red van parked next to ours and of course, it was the one and only Peter from the Netherlands. We got to talking to him about Ireland and the day we had because we saw him earlier and then again in the evening so we talked about how it was weird that we ended up at the same beach as them at the end of the day because there are a good amount of beaches they could have gone to but somehow we ended up at the same one. We talked about what we were doing the next day, which was going to Glenveagh Castle, and they apparently were thinking about doing the same thing as us so maybe we would see them then. Alan talked about where he taught art history in the Netherlands and Peter explained to us where they are from (which is the Utrecht area). I mentioned being from a small Dutch town in Iowa and he asked me about it and if I was Dutch. Then Ryan and I told him what provinces our families are from in the Netherlands. It was a classic game of Dutch Bingo! One of my favorite parts about Peter was his excessive use of the words ‘yeah’ and ‘no’. Every time you asked a question the answer was always “oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” or “no, no, no, no, no” instead of just a simple yes or no.
Thursday morning we headed to Glenveagh National Park. It was a beautiful national park with a lake that is surrounded by mountains. We took a tour of the castle that is located in the National Park. Before our tour though, we went and had a look at the view from the small deck that was above the boathouse and enjoyed being right on the lake with the mountains high above us. When we went to head inside for our tour, guess who we passed? Peter and his wife! He asked us what we would be doing the next day to see if it was the same thing they’d be doing again, but when we told him that we were going to Giant’s Causeway, he responded with “oh no, no, no, no, no, we won’t be seeing you tomorrow then.”
The tour we took of the castle was short and sweet and to the point. This castle wasn’t for a king and it wasn’t for defensive purposes..it was a gentleman’s castle. The last two owners before it became a public destination were American. The castle was there as a form of entertainment(? I guess?). The owner would invite famous actors, writers, singers, etc. (ex: Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, the Pulitzer family, etc.) to the castle to relax for a couple of days. There was a scale right inside the front door and you had to sit on it right when you came in and then again when you went to leave in order to know if the food was efficient. If it was, you would’ve gained weight during your stay there. It was also to make sure nobody stole any of the silverware. The last guy who owned it was super into the deer theme so there were deer everywhere in that place. Some of the dishes were even deer themed. It was said that if you stayed there, you would never use the same dinner setting twice because they had 21 different placemats and dinner settings.
After our castle tour, we stopped in the tea room for some lunch and dessert before exploring some of the gardens and hiking the mountain behind the castle. One of the gardens we walked through grew ingredients that they used to make food in the tea room. When we toured the castle we didn’t get to see the kitchen because the kitchen is still in use today by the tea room.
Then we hiked the mountain behind Glenveagh. It was a really steep climb but there was a gorgeous view at the top. After being at the top for a bit, we headed back down and stopped at the ‘Pleasure Garden’. It was a beautiful, open garden. It was there that we found real-life . (LOL SORRY GRAPHIC DESIGN JOKE.) But anyway, I was triggered because I HATE THE FONT PAPYRUS. I could go on a very long rant about this font, but I will spare you because this post is already super long and I’m only on Thursday. But anyway, we took a photo with it to send to one of my professors back home because we share a mutual feeling for the font. Have you ever seen the SNL skit with Ryan Gosling about Papyrus? It’s great lol, I’ll link it below. This gif and the video are exactly how I feel about the font.
After we were done at Glenveagh, we went to another castle called Doe Castle. It was closed, but Alan knew the lady who has the key and so after we stopped and talked to her for a little bit, she let us have the key to get into the castle. We got in and explored around for a bit. Ryan, Baylea, Hayli, and I even climbed up the wall and walked around the edge of the castle for a while. Doe castle was a defensive castle so it was structured differently than Glenveagh. I liked that we had the castle to ourselves and we were allowed to roam around for a while.
On Friday we got up early and cleaned the house. Alan and I went to StevenAnn’s to do laundry because they had a dryer there and we wanted to get all of the bedsheets washed and dried before we left.
Around 10:30, Ryan, Baylea, Jynnejah, and I all headed up to Leo’s because a ‘coach’ (tour bus) was coming and they were going to be having traditional music. We stayed for a while and watched and listened to them play traditional music, and Baylea and Jynnejah even participated in a little dance. We got to try Irish coffee (which is coffee with whiskey in case you didn’t already know that) and I didn’t really like it. I’ll stick to my normal coffee please and thank you.
From there we left for a petting zoo that was nearby but it was closed. So we headed out to that small coffee camper (that I mentioned earlier) and got some coffee before we headed for Giant’s Causeway (Which is technically in Northern Ireland, so it was owned by the UK and they use pounds, not euros). We were in the car most of the afternoon, but we made a few stops at a Game Of Thrones sight because one of the girls on the trip is a big fan of the show.
We eventually made it to Giant’s Causeway and we found our hostel (named after Finn McCool the giant himself) and then we walked to Giant’s Causeway from there since we were really close. This way we saved money on parking. We also didn’t have to pay to get into Giant’s Causeway because it’s a natural thing..it’s not man-made, therefore they can’t technically charge you to go see it. They can charge you to be in the visitor’s center though, and that’s how they make most of their money because people think they have to pay to get in when in reality they don’t have to pay at all unless they want to go inside to use the restrooms or buy a souvenir.
We walked down to the ocean and climbed on the strange looking rocks. The rocks were formed from lava and almost all of them look alike, but none of them are the exact same (just like snowflakes). They were really smooth and kind of slick, especially the wet ones that were near the edge and had waves crashing on them, and so we had to be careful… I definitely slipped and fell at one point hahaha.
Ryan, Baylea, and I went out almost as far as we could and watched the waves crash on the rocks. I don’t know why but I just find crashing waves to be so relaxing.
After watching the waves crash for a while, we climbed the surrounding mountain. We walked over and saw the Giant’s Organ (like the musical organ). We walked the path for a while and then climbed up 162 stairs to get to the top.
We went back to the hostel and had dinner and then drove to the “Dark Hedges” from Game Of Thrones. We saw some strange people ‘LARP-ing’ (Live Action Role Playing) and they were all dressed up in costumes and makeup. Ryan and I didn’t care for that too much so we walked down the path in between the Dark Hedges while some of the group talked to the LARP-ers. While we were walking, we ran into a couple from Utah that I took a photo of at Giant’s Causeway. I don’t remember much of what we talked about but they were super nice.
Saturday we went to Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. We saw another Game Of Thrones sight in a parking lot there that they apparently turned into a camp or something. Then we walked out to where the rope bridge was, but we didn’t go across it because it costed money. I got bird poop on my sweatshirt so that was fun.. but I washed it off in the restroom so it’s all good. We got coffee again before we left.
We got back into the car and went to some caves that were in Game Of Thrones, and then we went to a castle that was also in Game Of Thrones. Castle Ward is what it was called I think. PSA: If you go there, you have to pay to get in. Just so you know.
From there we were finally headed to Dublin. Our 3 hour ride from the north coast of Ireland down to Dublin ended up taking us 6 hours because of all of the stops we made along the way. When we got to the northern part of Dublin, we went to a sports park to watch UD play football against a club team from Dublin. We got there at the very end, but UD won 102-0. (Yikes.)
Then we drove into Dublin and found our apartments we were staying in through a company called StayCity. They were SUPER NICE. We had two apartments and each one slept four people. I stayed with the boys because Ryan and I were sharing a suitcase, but don’t worry, I had a bedroom all to myself. 🙂
Each apartment had a bathroom, two bedrooms with either two twin beds in it or a queen-sized bed to share, a living room with a pull-out couch, a small dining area, and a kitchenette with a washing machine and a dishwasher. Ryan and Noah slept in the room with the two twin beds, I slept in the queen-sized bed (because I’m Princess Aimee 😉 just kidding, I tried to get Alan to sleep there and I would’ve slept on the pull-out couch but he wouldn’t have it) and Alan slept on the pull-out couch.
We walked from our apartments to Temple Bar (which wasn’t very far) and found somewhere to eat dinner. It was really busy because it was Saturday night, but we ended up at the Old Storehouse. They had live music which was cool..but I think my favorite part was a man dressed in a lobster costume that was dancing along to the live music.
On Sunday (our last full day 😥 ) we started the morning off with going to church at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. We took communion which was kinda neat because we went up front and drank wine from the same glass as everyone else that took communion (which is kinda gross if you think about it but they wiped it off after every person). No photos were allowed during the service. After the service, Garf took us over to see the original door and told us the story behind it. We thought we were going to get kicked out soon because the service (which we got into for free because church) was over and they were starting to make people pay to come into the cathedral. We didn’t get kicked out though, so we got to take photos and go look around a little bit more than we would have if we had only been there for the service.
From Saint Patrick’s we walked to Trinity College. We were going to try to get into the library to see the Book of Kells but the line was really long. It started to rain on us (literally the only time it rained during our trip except for when we drove from Dublin to Donegal the first day) and so we walked to a small pub that was on campus, only to find out that it was closed because it was Sunday. SO we walked a little farther and found a restaurant for lunch.
After lunch, we stopped at the National Gallery for a little bit and saw some of the artwork there. Then we left the gallery and began to walk back towards our apartment because the Guinness Storehouse was on the other side of it and it was closing at 5 pm (It was about 3:30 pm at this point). During our walk back, we stopped at a coffee shop that I had been dying to try ever since we found out we were going to Ireland and I started looking up local coffee shops (it’s kinda a thing I do for any new place that I go). Coffeeangel was fantastic and I definitely recommend it to anybody who is going to be in Dublin!
We walked to the Guinness Storehouse and took a tour. I used my UD student ID to get cheaper admission. The storehouse was awesome!! There are seven floors. The first two floors were the process of how they make Guinness. With each ticket, you get entry to the storehouse and a “free” pint of Guinness. You can use your drink ticket at one of about four or five different places throughout the storehouse. The third floor included the Tasting Room (where you could redeem your ticket for free samples), and the Taste More room. We went into the Taste More room because they were announcing that there would be free beer in there. We gathered around to watch the presentation..and when they brought the free beer, only Noah got some because the waitress ran out. She said she was going to go get more, but she didn’t. The “beer expert” had us do a group ‘cheers’ (even though some of us didn’t even have a beer to cheers with…. yes, I am salty about it) and then told us a surprise was coming.
The surprise started out by being a drummer in a kilt…and then it turned into all the waiters and waitresses Irish river dancing, some on tables and some not. Then they all got up front and were dancing in front of us!
The fourth floor was the home of Guinness advertising. This was probably my favorite part of the whole storehouse. There were tons of old advertisements from the past, one of which was a turtle with a pint of Guinness on it’s back. I think they should’ve gone with the turtle for the mascot instead of the toucan but that’s just me.
We skipped floors five and six and went up to the seventh floor which was the Gravity Bar. It had a nice 360º view above Dublin. We got our free pints and enjoyed them while looking out over the city.
Then we went back down to the first floor and roamed through the gift shop. We purchased some souvenirs. Ryan got pint glasses, we bought a wooden sign to hang in our future house with the Guinness turtle on it, and an embroidered patch of the turtle that I can put with all of my other turtles I have. We were hoping to find a little statue of the turtle but they didn’t have any.
We saw a fight on our way back to our apartment.. we think a crazy lady was trying to steal this man’s bike and so the man was holding her by the arm. She kept shrieking “let go of me!!” but it didn’t work. It was scary, so we walked away.
We gathered the rest of the group once we got back to the apartments and headed to Carroll’s Irish Souvenirs. I bought all of my souvenirs for myself and my family there. Then we went to Vat’s Pub for dinner. After dinner, we walked through Temple Bar again. We stopped in Temple Bar Trading Co. and I bought a shirt on clearance for 5€. Then we went to a gelato shop right across from the actual Temple Bar. We ate our gelato and then I got up to get a napkin and when I got back to my seat, I noticed 40€ on the ground!! Talk about luck.
On Monday, we got up super early and packed up, loaded the car, and headed for the airport. We went through Irish security and then through American security/customs so that we didn’t have to do that when we got back to Chicago. We got back at about 2 PM and then drove 3 hours back to Dubuque and then Ryan and I drove 2.5 more hours back to Sully. It was a looooooooong day but we made it through. The next couple of days were spent trying to readjust to the time change, get photos edited, and make my video (which I am going to put here at the end). Our trip was very relaxing but we also got to see many different places and many different beautiful things. We didn’t care to be in Dublin too much just because we went from the northern rural countryside to a big city. But maybe we will go back someday to the north or maybe will make our way around the south, who knows. I definitely recommend going to Ireland and going to the north instead of automatically going to the south to visit Galway, Cork, and the Blarney (but I didn’t go to any of those places so I honestly can’t tell you which was better) but don’t count out the north because there is a lot to do and see up there!