Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week four (June 25th-30th):
New week, more adventures.  What better to start a new week than with an 18 hour day trip to the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry definitely needs more than one day to really enjoy all of it. I saw some of the bluest waters and most spectacular views.  The train ride home was also worth noting.  It consisted of another Skype call home to view a sporting event but instead of Ireland playing, it was Croatia.  My family is from Croatia so this game was a must see for me.  However, being on a train traveling from one side of Ireland to the other apparently is not enough time to watch a Euro Cup game.  I am so dedicated to this sport (remember my family is a ride or die soccer family) that I actually watched the end of the game in the Dublin train station.  No shame.
After yesterday’s Croatia craze, Ireland played France in the Euro Cup. A group of us headed to the famous pub, The Bleeding Horse (I mean, where else would we go?), to watch the game. Although Ireland lost and was officially out of the running for Euro Cup Champions, the atmosphere was great. After the game we headed to Zaytoon, which is a Persian food place, followed by dining at Bunsen’s a few hours later.  Warning, Bunsen’s has its own cooking scale for their burgers so be sure to ask what their medium is because you may end up being served very red meat.  I have to order my burgers medium well there.  On my way back I met up with my classmate Matt and we explored more of the night life Dublin had to offer.
Our professor took us to Kilmainham Gaol on Wednesday where we learned about how there was an increase in the population of the Gaol during the potato famine. People wanted to be in the Gaol at that time because while they were there they had to be fed. The gaol became so packed that women and children would sleep in the hallways.  Later in the week, we made our way back to Howth.  While the other students went to a radio tower in Howth, I walked around the city and explored.  I wondered down two piers and go caught in the pouring rain, again. While I was there I met a dog that was so well trained. The owner had him sit on a ledge and then walked down the pier and the dog just sat there and waited for his command. After walking around the city we had our goodbye dinner at the Doghouse.

Week three (June 18th-24th):
Today’s objective:  Ireland v. Belgium in the Euro Cup.  The amount of green was spectacular.  No wonder they call this place the Emerald Isle.  The boys in green playing in France had full homeland support and then some (we were the “and then some”).  Although Ireland did not win, the atmosphere in the center of the city was still something to witness. To put it in perspective, the game ended at 4 in the afternoon but the party went to about 4 in the morning.  So. Many. Drinking songs.  So. Much. Excitement.
Irish parties only last so long for study abroad students unfortunately.  The next morning started off in a small travel van as we embarked on a journey 6,000 years in the making.  Today was different than every other though in Ireland as we were accompanied by stereotypical Irish weather: rain.  I must say Columbia has one amazing rain jacket and shout out to my mom for letting me take it with me to Ireland since it is her jacket.  I have my own rain jacket but it is bright green and my mom’s black one goes with more outfits so woohoo thanks mom! We went to the tomb of Fourknocks and saw the battle field. We then headed to the Hill of Tara where a comical amount of us took a slip and slide ride down the hill. We then traveled to Trim where we saw the castle that they shot Braveheart in.  While there we were able to climb into different parts of the castle and explore where the movie was shot. Yes, I have walked in the same place as Mel Gibson.  Be jealous. We then grabbed lunch and headed over to the Hill of Slane. Climbing through the fortress that was there was so slippery but were able to see out into the valleys. We did miss a lot of different views of from these places due to the weather and fog. The last stop before heading back to Dublin was in Monasterboice high crosses.
On a completely unrelated to Ireland note, Cleveland won the NBA championship.  For those of you unfamiliar with Cleveland sports, this is a VERY BIG DEAL.  Cleveland hasn’t won a championship anything in 52 years and up until this moment hope was lost for Cleveland sports. Being in Ireland, I was unable to watch the game.  I tried so hard but if I have one more message pop up saying “this is not available in your country” so help me.  But being as resourceful as I am, I sought the help of my sister and Skype to view the game.  My sister put her laptop on a pile of boxes in front of the TV so that I could watch the game via Skype. Since there was no way for me to watch it in Ireland, I skyped with my family and watched it that way.
Ok, back to Ireland.  Our professor thought that we would be able to learn history better if we went out and explored Dublin rather than sitting in a classroom.  An idea I can fully get behind because why sit in a classroom to learn history when the history is literally right outside. So class ended early and we all ventured off to the city. We went to Christ Church Cathedral. Then we went to go see the National museums in Dublin but forgot that they are closed here on Mondays.  Major bummer but we turned the day around and walked to St. Stephen’s Green and enjoyed the beautiful and good weather before going back to the dorms.
Today we headed to Dublin Castle which once sat the United Kingdom government’s administration in Ireland but is now a major Irish government building in Dublin. There we took a tour of the castle and the Chester Beatty Library and saw where royalty both dined and slept. The castle was amazing and we learned about Charles IV, a French Duke who defended Ireland from English invasion.  After the castle I headed to the National Museum of Dublin- Archaeology.  They had exhibits featuring old jewelry, where people were buried based on class, and the Vikings of Ireland plus much more. On display they also had bog bodies, which are fully preserved bodies that are in some form of moss that keeps them together.
The next morning I took undisputed advantage of the fact that I did not have class in the morning and slept in so I would be able to go out and experience the Ireland v. Italy game. We headed to a pub in Temple Bar. Unlike the last game, Ireland was victorious and the pub went ballistic.  It was great.  The next day was spent in similar fashion minus the soccer.  A chill morning that turned into a personal exploration day.  I wandered the streets of Dublin while the other students in the program were in class. After walking around for a couple hours I came back and a group of us headed to Phoenix Park, which is like a metro park. We ran into a playground that was meant for 12 and younger but we still went and played because there is no way to prove we are all older than 12 unless you looked at our IDs.  We then met up with our roommates and went to an Asian cuisine restaurant. The food was amazing but the best part was probably the fact that after dinner they gave you free ice cream. Ice cream that is free, there is nothing better.
Week two (June 11th-17):
This week started early in the morning.  I think it was before dawn but I cannot be too sure.  Regardless, we awoke bright-eyed and not-so-bushy tailed and headed out for breakfast.  Our goal: crepes.  They were probably, no, definitely the best crepes I think I have ever had before meeting up at Trinity College Dublin to catch the dart to Bray. When we got to Bray we tried to climb to the top of the mountains to see the cross. We made the hike from Bray to Greystones. There were such amazing views and so many different flowers and greenery. I honestly thought it could not get any more beautiful.  Being so enchanted by the view, we found out that we had passed the path to head to the top of the mountain.  However, due to the excessive mist it was too dangerous to head up to the top so it really was not a bad thing.  After all, I did promise my parents that I would be careful. In Greystones we jumped into the freezing ocean, which, by the way, is probably one hundred times colder than Howth.  One day I want to go back to Bray to climb to the top of the mountain. 
The week continued with another early morning, 6 a.m. to be exact, wake up call.  But hey, when in Ireland.  We hopped on a shuttle and caught a bus to head to Galway. When we arrived, we went on a tour and walked through the entire city in 1 hour, because that is exactly what I want to do after waking up with the roosters two days in a row. There are way more Gaelic influences there than in Dublin and the city is so small that you can walk across the whole town in about 12 minutes.  We then loaded back onto the bus and drove through the Burren, which is just mountains of rocks, on our way to the Cliffs of Moher. On the drive we saw the 3 islands off the coast. I thought that I have seen the most breathtaking sights already but clearly I was very incorrect. When we got to the Cliffs of Moher we were told to hike up all the way. That seemed rather ambitious and the fact that there was a sign that told us not to pass did not seem to help.  But, the tour guide told us to break that rule and, may I say, it was totally worth it. The Cliffs of Moher were gorgeous. The strong winds from the Atlantic were very strong and we were advised to walk slowly because the probability of being blown away was more present than the color green in the landscape. We army crawled and sat on the edge of the cliffs in order to capture some amazing photos. Out by the cliffs are some of the best places to learn how to surf since the waves are not that large. You can also find dolphins to swim with while there because the dolphins are not people shy and will come right up to you and play. Beat that Sea World. I definitely want to find my way back there to go swimming and enjoy the scenery.  We headed to the little town of Doolin for lunch. There they had homemade, pure chocolate, live music from people living there, and many farm animals.
We also took a dive into the world of Gaelic sports this week.  After class one day, we headed to Croke Park, a sports stadium, where the two main sports played are hurling and Irish football. We got a VIP tour of the stadium complete with an inside look at the team locker rooms, suites, and dinner room.  Following the tour, we made our way over to the museum where you could actually play these sports. I probably would have been good at Irish football, however not so good at hurling. After this tour we headed back to Griffith College and I went to one of the pubs called The Bleeding Horse to catch the last 30 minutes of the Euro Cup game. Now hear this.  I am from a soccer or die family but nothing is as intense as watching soccer in a bar in the country of the team that is playing.  That might have been one of my favorite experiences so far being here.
Following two chill days, I was ready to do something worth writing home about.  Instead of hardcore chilling in my dorm, I decided to spend the day venturing out onto the streets of Dublin and just see where my music and feet would take me since no one wants to hear that I spent my days on the couch.  I went out to O’Connell Street and just walked around enjoying the beautiful weather.  Whoever said it is cloudy or rains all the time in Ireland has probably never been to Ireland. I made my way to the Dublin Gallery and the Remembrance Garden. 

The next day played out to a different tune than yesterday.  The top hit of the day was a 6 am departure time on a tour bus heading to Northern Ireland.  Destinations of the day:  Belfast, the Giants Causeway, and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.  Belfast is home to the Titanic museum.  Side note, my sister gets nervous on large boats/ships because of the Titanic and still insists on one day going on a cruise.  Weird, but I digress.  While at the museum, I learned about all the engineering that went on while building the Titanic and this is the same place that they had actually built the ship.  As an engineer, I found this part interesting.  Right behind the museum there was a building where they actually shoot the Game of Thrones, a show I do not watch but my dad and sister are mildly obsessed with.  Then we headed out to the Giants Causeway. My classmates, Paidin and Olwyn, and I climbed the most difficult path of the causeway and stumbled upon some of the prettiest views I have seen since being here. I know I say that about literally every place I have gone so far but I kid you not every place just gets better and better.  We were actually standing on the end of the world at one point. Also from the Causeway you were able to see Scotland. The three of us climbed further than the rest of the group and it was totally worth it. On the way down Paidin and I sung karaoke the whole way and even got some requests from people passing us. After the Causeway we headed to Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. The bluest waters surrounded this little bridge which swayed with the wind so you better of held on.  I do not think a rickety rope bridge falls under the “I promise to be careful” oath I made to my parents.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Traditional Irish Breakfast 

Trinity College

The Little Museum of Dublin

The Guinness Storehouse

Teelings Whiskey Distillery

St. Patrick's Cathedral



PS I Love You Bridge

St. Kevin's

Week 1: Couldn't Be More in Love With Ireland!

Week one (June 3rd-June 10th): After traveling over 15 hours I have finally made it to Dublin, Ireland. The first morning when we all arrived we went and had a traditional Irish breakfast. You may ask what a traditional Irish breakfast is. Well the breakfast consists of bacon rashers, pork sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, toast, and a fried tomato. During our first day we walked around a toured Dublin. We saw St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, the famous Temple Bar area, and did a hop on hop off bus tour. As the week continued we traveled to the Little Museum of Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse, Teeling Whiskey Distillery, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the National Library of Dublin. During the first week we also took numerous trips outside of Dublin. First we traveled to Howth and walked along the cliffs where the rain could not ruin the hike and the spectacular views. The following weekend we headed to Wicklow and Glendalough. This is where they filmed P.S. I Love You and we sat on the famous bridge. We also saw St. Kevin’s church and a waterfall. The first week in Dublin has been amazing and I have fallen in love with this country all ready. I cannot wait to see what the other three weeks have to hold.