Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Hills Are Alive

I know it's not Austria, but traveling around such beautiful countryside makes me have music from The Sound of Music in my head all the time! This week my student teacher friends and I have been wandering around Ireland singing and soaking up the beauty (and literally soaking up the rain a lot of the time). I have been glad to get to know three other student teachers in the Dublin area - it is great to have other people to travel with. We have seen a good amount of Ireland in this one week, mostly through a tour company called Paddywagon. Here's a quick summary of my week off of school:

~On Saturday we left on a two-day Paddywagon tour to Northern Ireland, staying in Belfast overnight, and going to the Giant's Causeway on Sunday. The weather on Saturday was just beautiful - I mean, freezing, but sunny. We stopped in a couple of places on our way up to Belfast...St. Peter's Church in Drogheda, where Archbishop Oliver Plunkett's head has been preserved since his death in 1681, and Monasterboice cemetery, which holds three of the biggest Celtic crosses in Ireland. It is said that if you can wrap your arms around one of the crosses, your wish will come true, but they are so wide I think you'd have to be a giant to get your arms all the way around!  In Belfast we had a couple hours to explore the city before we went to the Titanic Museum, and then we were dropped off at our hostel for the night. I was a little nervous about my first hostel experience, but we ended up being placed in an apartment complete with living room and kitchen! Some people might be excited to go out and party in Belfast, but these girls opted for a party with Domino's pizza and movies in our hostel apartment. On Sunday we continued our drive north, stopping at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to wobble our way across the bridge to the island in the cold wind and rain. We arrived at Giant's Causeway around lunchtime and hiked down to see the fascinating sight.

There is a legend behind the Giant's Causeway, of course, but rather than write it out here, you can check it out on Wikipedia if you're interested. (The link isn't working at the moment, but you can look it up if you like.)

~On Monday, I recovered from the busy weekend, taking a quick trip into nearby Dalkey, and walking on Killiney Beach, just a 10-minute walk from my house.

~On Tuesday and Wednesday we had tickets for a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus, so we explored a bunch of the stops around Dublin: Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, Kilmainham Gaol (Jail), O'Connell Street, and Grafton Street. We had dinner at the Arlington Hotel on Wednesday, where they have Irish music and dancing every night, which was quite fun!

~Thursday was a Paddywagon day trip to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. (see the pictures above) Everyone says you should visit the cliffs on a nice day, but of course when we got there the weather was awful! The wind was so strong we could barely walk, and the rain felt like ice hitting our faces. But, the cliffs were still gorgeous, and it was worth the bus ride back to Dublin with soaked shoes...

~Finally, on Friday we did one last Paddywagon day trip to the Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny, a cute little city with a beautiful castle and lots of fun shops. We stopped in a lovely valley called Glendalough, where there are beautiful lakes and a tiny 6th century church and round tower, and a small cemetery. This time I was able to get my arms around a smaller Celtic cross! Now to see if my wish comes true...

Okay, so that wasn't such a quick summary, but I wanted to give you the whole story. It is just incredible to see all of these historical places in person and imagine their history. It was a fabulous week, and I can't wait to see more of beautiful Ireland as my time here continues. Now I'm enjoying a restful weekend before heading back to school on Monday. It's hard to believe I have been here for three weeks! I'll leave you with my favorite picture from the week - a castle and a rainbow...what more could you ask for?

Dunguaire Castle - a famous Norman castle built in 1520

No comments:

Post a Comment