And I, very much like Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine, have nothing very exciting to report about the last time I went on vacation. It was a pleasant and relaxing trip to Carolina Beach with amazing family - but nothing exciting or earth shattering.
So, I took a moment and thought back over the past few years to see if there was ever a vacation worth sharing and I landed in 2004. It was actually not a vacation, but may as well have been. It was actually a two week study abroad, and it was amazing.
I was given the rare and privileged opportunity while in college to spend two weeks in Ireland. As a bit of background, my years on this earth have not involved much travel - I've been to neighboring states and a few beaches, but I had never even been on a plane. So, a trip to Ireland was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and an incredibly new experience.
I'm thankful I had enough sense to put together a photo album with space for descriptions so that I can always look back and know where exactly I had been and what I was fortunate enough to see. I even organized the photos chronologically knowing that my memory would fail me (it's very short term).
So, first up was the city of Dublin. I remember being so impressed with how modern and fast-paced it all was. We walked everywhere and we walked fast. A river ran through the city called the River Liffey - the names of their rivers are in opposite order as ours with the "river" preceding the name. We rode a double decker tour bus and listened to an Irishman explain why all the doors to the homes were vivid and diverse colors. He said that the women of the city had to paint their doors bright reds, greens, blues, and yellows to ensure their husbands returned to the correct home after a long night of drinking!
Our next stop was the Powerscourt Gardens. This estate was absolutely breathtaking. There are over 47 acres of beautiful, perfectly maintained gardens. We were able to walk through the gardens and dine at the castle. My favorite of the gardens was the Japanese Garden. One of the other things that I found so impressive was the rich, dark green grass.
We paid a visit to the Guinness Brewery located in Dublin. I actually do not drink alcohol at all, so this endeavor was not nearly as exciting for me as it was for others. However, the tour was still impressive in that how the drink is actually made. The coolest part, according to most of my classmates, was that at the end of the tour, you were given a fresh brewed Guinness. The coolest part for me was that you were able to look out of the Guinness Tower which overlooks the city of Dublin.
While in Dublin, we took a stroll through Saint Stephen's Green - I'm almost certain the bridge in the park is from a scene in a movie but I just can't recall which one I'm thinking of. And we stopped into see Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
Our group then hopped on a train and headed for Galway. In route, we passed through Connemara, where I believe The Quiet Man with John Wayne was filmed. We visited the Kylemore Abbey, which is a convent for girls. The castle there was beautiful and what was even more amazing was that the lunch that was served was completely homegrown - everything is made from what is cultivated from their numerous gardens.
We walked forever, it seemed to see the Dun Aonghasa Fort on the Aran Islands.
We stopped to take a tour of the Dunguare Castle.
And then, probably, the most amazing experience of all was the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are over 700 feet high!! And what is unbelievable is that there is no railing for protection - you could literally walk off of the cliff. I was not nearly so brave to even walk to the edge, I crawled...and then sat to look over. Take a look at the castle on top of the cliffs to put in perspective the ginormosity of these cliffs - look at how small the people are and at the folks that are so close to the edge!
After our trip to the Cliffs, we spent some time at the National University of Ireland. While here we heard from afar that Facebook had been introduced to the world. I remember walking around campus until we found a computer lab where we could log on and get signed up with Facebook.
Another castle to add to the list - the Malahide Castle.
And lastly, something I just couldn't pass up photographing before wrapping up our trip - a meat market.
This really was an absolutely amazing experience. Ireland is a beautiful country. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go and see a different part of the world. It was my first time on a plane, my first time on a train, and my first (and hopefully last) time sleeping in a hostel.
Thanks for reading.
January 18, 2013