Ireland: Green, green, and more green!
June 30th to July 4th
Meghan, Brendan, Geordan, Kailey and I arrived in Dublin in the afternoon of June 30th. I was so excited to be in Dublin as I have wanted to visit Ireland for a long time now! Originally, I had wanted to apply for an Irish work visa and to stay there for six monts after finishing backpacking, but then my plans changed to having to be home for September rather than January, and found my job in the Ukraine instead. Anyways...
Our hostel was in a great location - it wasn't quite in the heart of downtown, but was walking distance, and was in more of a locals area than a touristy area. After checking into our hostel, we wandered around downtown for a while, found some supper, and in the evening we went out. While in Berlin, Meghan had met a guy from Ireland who was on one of the pub crawls we did. This guy works at a club sometimes, and was able to put our names on the guest list and get us V.I.P. Not wanting to appear too early though as we weren't familiar with the Dublin night scene, we went for a drink first at a pub called Flannery's. Turns out this place is quite the busy place - it was packed - and we ended up being there longer than planned. At one point, Kailey and I were walking through the pub, and this guy looks at me, grabs my head and kisses me on the forehead. He also offered to buy me a beer numerous times in the conversation that followed despite me having a full beer in my hand already. Oh, the Irish! Gotta love 'em! Kailey and I also ended up talking to another guy...
"Where are you from?" "Canada." "No, where are you from?" "Canada." "Where?" "Winnipeg, Manitoba." "Oh! Canada!"
Finally, we realized we should head off to the club, but as it turns out, the guest list ends at a certain time, and we were too late. So we never got in. Oh well. At least Flannery's had been a great time!
The next day, the guy Meghan had met took us on a bit of a tour of Dublin. He showed us some different places, such as their football stadium. Fun fact: professional football (a.k.a. soccer, not Amerian football) players in Ireland are not paid. They do it voluntarily, as its looked at more of a family sport than a professional sport. They may get paid if they do endorsements for certain products, but otherwise they don't make any money off their football career. And the football stadium is huge, holding 80,000 people! I imagine that could be quite a fun place to be some days! It must be defeaning with that many people cheering on games. After he showed us around, we all went for a drink. He told us that Guinness is a must try in Ireland, and that its better at certain places than at others, depending on how long it is from the tap to the keg, and how well they can pour it. Knowing a good place for a Guinness, he took us to one pub. And I must say, when I tried Guinness at home before, I did not like it, but here it was good! Not sure if my beer tastes are expanding, or if it truly is that much more amazing here than at home. Either way - it was good!
That evening was spent the same as the one before - drinking in a little pub. We went to a couple different pubs, one called Whelan's and the other was The Bleeding Horse. Both were really fun little places, and I'm happy we came across both. From what we hear, Whelan's is a popular little place and often has live music. When we first got there, it wasn't that busy, but by the time we left it had filled up quite a bit. The Bleeding Horse was cool because it seemed to have a bunch of different little rooms, and the beer was quite reasonably priced, which is always nice! We didn't stay out too late though, as we were going on a day trip the next day and didn't want to be late for our tour.
On Saturday, the five of us took a tour to the west coast of Ireland where we visited a family farm, the Cliffs of Mohor, a little village, and Galway quickly. The Cliffs of Mohor are gorgeous! When you see Ireland, and these big cliffs that are often foggy, that's where we were. Loved it! And the farm was cool too. We got to walk up the hill behind the farm and look out over the area - tremendous view. And it was so peaceful and relaxing there. This trip has definitely confirmed that I could never live in a big busy city, and instead prefer a smaller city and the country. I don't enjoy the crazy hustle and bustle of a huge city. Its okay for a short time, but not for a long time. The day also made me really want to go back to Ireland to explore the countryside. I think one of my next trips to Europe, whenever that may be years down the road, will be to Ireland solely. I could easily spend a couple weeks traveling around the country.
And guess what Saturday night held for us once we got back - that's right! More time at a pub! We decided to go back to the Bleeding Horse for a couple drinks as we had really enjoyed it the night before. When we got there, it was packed! Turns out there was a boxing match on and they were showing it on their TV's, so there was a huge crowd. We decided to stay though, and had a couple drinks.
On Sunday, Kailey, Meghan and I did a walking tour of Dublin to hear more about the city than what our unofficial tour guide had told us a couple days prior. There is some funny history in Ireland. It was lots of fun to hear about it, and our tour guide was really great! It was fun listening to him explain everything. After the tour, we met Geordan and Brendan at the Guinness Storehouse, where we took a tour. Fun fact: When the company started some 300 years ago or so, the lease was signed for 9000 years for 45 pounds a year. Quite the price! And that's a lot of faith in the success of that company. Seems to be working for at least 300 years now though! After touring Guinness, we wandered into a souvenir shop, then it was back to the hostel to repack as we all had early flights out the next morning. I was catching a flight to Paris, and from there taking trains over to Krakow, while the others were heading off to Rome!