Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The West of Ireland

Warning: this is long, and it's all words, cause I haven't downloaded pictures yet. Sorry!

So, as you all know, I went on a trip through Ireland last week! We left early Monday morning, got back late Saturday night, and all the days in between were amazing! Obviously, there were some ups and downs, but overall, we saw some incredible things, and I feel so lucky that I am able to experience it all. I'll try my best to get the highlights of each place, and keep it to all the interesting stuff.

Monday then, was the beginning of our journey, taking us to the city of Cahir. The main point of stopping here was the Cahir Castle, which we actually found out was closed due to maintenance. Awesome, right? The first part of our trip and we already were at the mercy of construction. We sulked for about a minute, and then sucked it up and went walking through a trail we found behind the castle, and it was stunning. Walking forwards we lucked out with the sun; on the way back though, the clouds darkened in what seemed like 30 seconds, and then we were soaked in another 30. Crazy Irish weather!

We then went to Cashel, where we found the hostel that I had booked and got that sorted out. It wasn't hard to find, seeing as there's only a couple main streets in the whole city. We then went to explore the Rock of Cashel, which was also under construction - but thank goodness, we still got to go inside! Actually, we first were rebels, and walked all around the outside of the Rock, which I don't think we were supposed to do .... but I'm glad we did, because the views were amazing. Everything was so incredibly green.

On to Tuesday!

Tuesday morning, we caught the bus from Cashel back to Cahir, where we had a break in between buses and went to go eat something. We realized then that it was Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day - and I therefore decided to order pancakes. This place actually had them with maple syrup, which was exciting because how much more Canadian can you get?! I still tried the Irish pancakes though, which is basically a thick crepe with sugar and lemon. I don't know how particularly Irish I found it, but nevertheless, it was good. (I mean, it had sugar on it - of course it was good hehe)

We then went to Limerick, and by the time we got settled in at the next hostel, it was close to 3. Everything in Ireland seems to close at 4:30, so we didn't have long to explore. We all wanted to see King John's Castle however, so that was our choice and by golly, it was the right one. We paid the entrance fee, and then were led to what was basically a museum explaining the history of the castle. I was kind of apprehensive at this point, because while that's great and all, I don't really find history that interesting - I just wanted to see pretty sights. (I do realize how unintelligent that makes me sound :S ). Anyways, we continued on, finished the museum section, and then BAM - we entered the the outside castle grounds, climbed a ton of stairs, and were consequently struck speechless, because it was gorgeous. The Castle is right next to the Shannon River, so when you climb to the top, you can see this massive river and the entire city. It was really, really, stunning. We stayed until they kicked us out for closing.

Progressing to Wednesday.....

Where two exciting things happened:
1) I found the way to the hostel from the bus station! Me! I was so proud.
2) We went to a traditional Irish pub that had eight people sitting around a table with instruments playing Irish music. It was incredibly cool to experience.


We went to the Cliffs of Moher! We booked a tour bus, so it left in the early morning, and stopped off at a bunch of really cool places as well as the cliffs. We went to a castle, a fairy ring, The Burren, the Cliffs, and then even after the Cliffs, we stopped again at this amazing rocky beach. It was a lot to take in, and it was all amazing. I wish I could take mental pictures of everything. The landscape is obviously very different from back home as well, and interestingly enough, it makes me really appreciate and miss BC.

Advancing to Friday!

Friday held our trip to the Aran Islands, which was probably one of my favourite things I've done since I've been here. I thought I'd like the Cliffs more, but the Aran Islands were captivating. Not just because again, it was beautiful, but because the type of lifestyle they have there is so different then what I'm used to. The whole day,  I was thinking about what it would be like to live there. The Aran Islands consist of three islands, and we went to the largest one - Inis Mor. There are 800 people on the entire island; their main resources of income are fishing and tourism; they have 3 churches, 3 schools, 6 pubs (haha), 1 supermarket, 1 ATM, and 1 bank. The bank is open only one day a week for three hours.... !!!
We had the option of renting bikes or going on a bus tour, and while I originally would have rather biked, the weather was kind of frightening, so we opted for the bus. Turns out, that was quite handy, because while the weather did hold out for the most part, we got directly driven to all these amazing places, and learned all the above information I just told you, none of which I would've known if we'd just biked. We got dropped off at the base of this hill, had progressively stunning views while climbing it, and then reached the top and realized it was a cliff! I could've sat and stared at the ocean all day. The water was like the thickest vanilla milkshake you've ever seen, swirling at the base, crashing against walls of rock. The other highlight was the stop right at the Atlantic Ocean. I stood too close to the waves, and ended up soaking my shoes, which made for a dismal walk back home at the end of the day, but hey - I touched the Atlantic Ocean!

And lastly, Saturday.

We basically just explored Galway for a couple hours, and then headed back to Waterford. I've decided Galway was my favourite city out of the four we went to, even though I feel like I saw the least of it. Cahir and Cashel were a bit too small for my liking, and Limerick felt a bit too city-ish for me - the building were higher, the streets were wider, things felt fancier. Galway though was vibrant, and full of life. It's like you could feel the people and the energy float off the streets.

And, well, that's it! We've reached the end! That is my week in a 1200 word nutshell. Thanks for sticking with me :) I'll put some pictures up in a couple of days, hopefully.

Enjoy the sunshine I've been missing back home for me (:

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