Friday, December 21, 2012

On the Road Again...

I have been so lucky to be joined by my best friend and international travel companion, Jessica, for my last week here in Ireland. Would you believe that when we were in elementary school we would check out library books about Ireland and plan to live here in a castle together when we grew up? Well, even though we have not and will not live in a castle, we have had a pretty wonderful week together in Ireland. I'll share a brief overview of our travels with you.

Saturday & Sunday
We wandered around Dublin, went to a huge Christmas flea market, and stayed in a hostel in Dublin overnight. On Sunday we attended the morning service at Christ Church Cathedral and explored a bit more before catching a bus to Galway.

We took a day trip to Connemara with a great guide named Mike, and just five other people. Just the eight of us in a giant tour bus. I feel that I should personally thank every person who told me to go to Connemara. It was breathtakingly beautiful - certainly one of my favorite places I have visited. We drove through rolling green hills, saw tons of sheep, and stopped to take so many amazing pictures. Back in Galway in the evening, we heard an 18-piece big band in a pub, and spent one more night in Barnacles hostel.

We took a bus to the Cliffs of Moher (my second time there, this time with much better weather). It was a beautiful, mostly sunny day. In the afternoon we took a bus to Limerick, where we ate a late and delicious lunch at the bus station before catching our bus to Killarney. We walked through a large part of the town looking for our hostel, and finally collapsed in our room when we got there.

We slept in, then headed to O'Brien's Bagel Factory for a tasty brunch. We walked into Killarney National Park and wandered along the river and through the wild, green forest to the beautiful Lough Leane and Ross Castle. In the afternoon we had tea and cake at Miss Courtney's Tea Room, and later we went to a movie and walked back to our hostel under the lovely Christmas lights.

We took a bus to Cork, dropped our things at our hostel, and meandered around the main streets before eating lunch - can't get enough soup here! Then we caught a bus to Blarney, and headed to the Blarney Castle. I know it is one of the main tourist attractions in Ireland, but it truly is worth the visit. (And that wasn't just because of the incredible double rainbow that appeared when we were at the top of the castle!) We kissed the Blarney Stone, and now should have the gift of eloquence.

We arrived in Wicklow Town in the afternoon, checked into our hostel, and wandered out toward the bay. We walked down the pier and saw the beautiful view and some seals swimming in the water! We also saw the ruins of a Viking fort, built in the 1170s. The views were spectacular and the little coastal town was beautiful as it lit up with the sunset.

Tomorrow we're heading back to Dublin, spending the night at my host home, and preparing for our flight on Sunday morning. It has been a fabulous week!

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