A post dedicated to my official favorite place of travel thus far.
Upon learning that we'd have a whole week for spring break, Megan, Holly, and I thought it a no brainer to visit Ireland. While our classmates booked plane tickets and reserved rooms for more beach-like locations, we ecstatically planned 5 days in Dublin. The second we arrived, it felt like home. I loved the culture, the landscapes; the stories. Not to mention, it was the first place where we could exchange smiles with passerby's on the street and have full English conversations with strangers. I can't tell you all enough how much I take that for granted in the US. We had a hard time leaving this beautiful country, as I'm sure most do, though having an Irish heritage might make me biased.
We decided to immerse ourselves in the history of Ireland the first night and booked tickets for a folklore and fairytale show at the oldest pub, The Brazen Head. We sang along to songs in a cozy little room, full with Irish stew and chocolate cake, dimmed lights, and happy accents. Perhaps the best part of the night was hearing an old local tell tales of Irish fairies, which I didn't realize up until this point have an incredibly strong presence on the public here. It’s said that their fairy villages reside in blooming white trees, and if you destroy or mess with them, bad things will begin to happen to you. This myth is so believed that the government even built public roads around them for fear of the outcome. Such creature is “Pookah”, said to be a shape changer which could take the appearance of black horses, goats and rabbits. They may also take a human form, which includes various animal features, such as ears or a tail.
Night came and went and soon enough we were on our way to Giants Causeway. This area is filled with basalt columns (hexagon shaped pillar rocks) formed from an ancient volcanic eruption. This has been named United Kingdoms 4th greatest natural wonder, and rightfully so. The area is incredibly exotic and baffling. I still have yet to figure out how nature created such an intriguing stair-like structure. Another day and Cliffs of Moher greeted us with open arms. I was particularly excited for these and the pure fact that many Harry Potter scenes were filmed here. We were surprised with the option to take a boat out to view the towering 700 foot cliffs from underneath, and gladly took the opportunity. If any of you remember the scene of Harry and Dumbledore in a cave attempting to find a Horocrux - well, we went right past this site that appears in The Half Blood Prince. I felt like a child. We then enjoyed the rest of the day exploring at the tops of the cliffs, then headed back to Dublin for the night where we met up with Molly at a local pub for dinner. A live band began to play traditional Irish jigs while two elderly couples got up on the dance floor and started to step dance. Something so simple, but by far one of the best memories I have of my time here. It was authentic, unplanned, and heartwarming. I could have sat there for hours.
The Guinness factory was next on the list, and I must say I’ve never tried this dark beer until now but I think I’ll have to treat myself to a glass every now and then. It definitely beats the Pilsner they serve in the Czech. We spent our last day visiting Blarney Castle, where we kissed the Stone for “Irish eloquence” and then attended a step dance show to end our trip. Megan and I loved it so much, we’ve decided to travel to Scotland the last week of our program to check out the other side of this culture. That sounds entirely too casual, and we're still getting used to spending a weekend at destinations usually on the top of peoples bucket lists. We're finally on the downhill slope of our European adventures. London, Poland, Bohemia, Croatia, Scotland, and Iceland remain. It’s becoming bittersweet, but we’ll see ya soon Nebraska.