Monday, November 9, 2009

The Emerald Isle

Hello hello everyone!

As promised I'm finally set up and ready to start my posts discussing my life changing fall break. First stop: Ireland.

We left Thursday night for Dublin, arriving late and walking around for a bit in search of out hostel. We then settled in for the night, prepping for a fun day in the morning. Our plan of action was to purchase student tickets for the Dublin Bus hop on-hop off tour. Many European cities have them, and in most cities they're a great way to see everything you want to see (for us it was perfect). We stopped at Trinity College, a gorgeous college that made me feel unintelligent haha, and walked down Grafton Street, where all the shopping is. We stopped at St. Stephen's Green, a nice park area that was a good break from the big city feel.

We also visited the National Gallery, a big museum full of tons of different art from many countries. We focussed mostly on the Irish art, but it was all very cool to see. We didn't spend too much time there, though, because we knew Spain and Paris were going to be more art than anyone needs to see.

After the museum we stopped in the Temple Bar area of lunch. It a section of the city full of pubs and restaurants, and we got sone great traditional food for cheap (Irish Stew and Shephard's Pie, for example). After that we hopped over to Dublin Castle, admired it from the outside, and proceeded to Christ Church Cathedral, where we spent a whole hour looking around! We didn't realize how much time had passed, but it was one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. Cool point: in the basement there was an exhibit showing a mummified cat and rat who had been stuck in an organ pipe and dicovered years and years later. After Christ Church, we walked down the street to see St. Patrick's Cathedral from the outside, and boarded the bus to the most exciting of all stops: The Guinness Storehouse.

We arrived at Guinness super excited to be able to tour the factory and get our free pint of Guinness at the end. We started out with an explanation of the 9,000 year lease signed by Arthur Guinness himself. It was crazy to a. see such an old document and b. to see 9,000 year lease! We then followed a self guided tour including an explanation of the ingredients in a Guinness, information on transport, and an awesome floor full of the great Guinness advertising. We were also really exicted to be there during the celebration of Guiness' 250th anniversary. In the tasting room, we were not only able to taste the Guinness Draught beer but also the 250th anniversary brew. It was very different, but really really good. Our tour finished at the top of the Brewery, in the Gravity Bar, with a 360 degree view of Dublin. We got to hang out and look around as we enjoyed our free pints of delicious Guinness, and we even managed to sneak out with our empty glasses as souvenirs. Here's a video from the Gravity Bar:

After some dinner and a little rest, we headed back out to the Temple Bar area to celebrate Erica's birthday with some drinks and live music, what Dublin does best. We saw a great singer, Clare Peelo, and had a really fun time. Here's a vid of her and her partner jamming with us:

The next morning we got up way too early and hopped on a bus ride across Ireland headed for Galway. The ride itself was spectacular, as we wound through the Irish countryside, a perfect opportunity to see lots of green grass, sheep, cows, and rainbows everywhere! Another video perhaps?

Galway was an amazing beautiful city, and a perfect example of the real Ireland. It has a cute downtown, a gorgeous waterfront, and lots of shopping for fun Irish things. I got a Claddaugh ring from the origional makers, as well as a traditional Irish woold sweater, complete with sheep smell. Oh, and it was VERY windy, especially by the water. Here's a video of me explaning the Claddaugh Swans:

We got to stay in a cozy little bed and breakfast with the most amazing owners, who got up at 4am to set up breakfast for us before we headed out early to Spain. Because we only got a sampling of a full breakfast at the B and B, the day before a friend of a friend took us to a place that served real Irish breakfast all day long. It was AMAZING and we were full for most of the day. So after our early meal and the B&B, we headed to the airport for our next adventure: Barcelona and Madrid. Check back for that soon, hope this wasn't too long. Byeee!

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