Dublin and Wicklow

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I honestly hadn’t realized that I haven’t updated this in over a month, so I apologize for that.  I can catch you up later on what I’ve been up to here in Orléans, but for now, I’d like to talk about the trip I took this past weekend to Ireland.

This trip was especially cool because I got to meet up with one of my closest friends, Melissa, who has been doing a teach abroad in Spain program for the last six weeks.  I never imagined that we would be abroad at the same time and get to travel together, so this was a real treat.

I began my trip at 4:30 on Friday morning by taking the tram to the train station.  My flight didn’t leave until 10:20, but I had to take the train into Paris, the metro and then another train in order to end up in the airport, giving me two hours of travel time if all of the traffic went well.  Luckily everything went smoothly, but this left me at the airport quite a bit earlier than I needed to be there.  The Charles de Gaulle airport really isn’t too bad to navigate, so I was lucky that way too.  Once I got on the plane, the flight was really quick, only an hour and twenty minutes long. I’m not used to flights being this short so I was appreciative of that.

When I finally got to the airport I had to wait a bit for Melissa.  This was ok, but once she arrived it took a while for us to find each other because I was unaware that there were two terminals and that her flight had actually arrived at the other terminal.  We eventually found each other, but it took a lot of wandering and asking people about the layout of the airport.

We took a bus from the airport to O’Connell street and wandered around there a bit before finding our hostel.  We were both really hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant and got some beef and Guinness pie, which in this case was a beef stew with a pie crust top and mashed potatoes.  After this, we started to head to the hostel, admiring all of the Christmas decorations along the way.  I thought that there were a lot of Christmas decorations in France, that is until I saw the decorations in Dublin.  This city does Christmas right. We checked into our hostel, which was located quite near Christ Church cathedral and then eventually decided to spend a bit more time wandering around the city.

We walked around the streets lined with shops and saw more and more Christmas decorations. It hasn’t been really feeling like Christmas to me in Orléans, so I welcomed the Christmas spirit that I felt in Dublin.  We eventually ended up in a pub called Madigan’s, where we had a lovely roast beef dinner with cabbage, carrots, mashed potatoes and a roasted potatoes.  Any meal that includes more than one kind of potato is perfect in my book.  After a while, there was a guy in the restaurant playing guitar.  I really loved the live music that filled the streets and restaurants of Dublin.  this is something that is less common in France, or is at least not something that happens every night in most restaurants, so it was really cool to experience.  I also had my first pint of Guinness here.  I never really thought I was much of a dark beer person, but I really loved it.  When in Ireland, you have to drink Guinness, right? 🙂

The next day, we had booked a day trip to the Wicklow Mountains.  We had trouble finding the spot where we were supposed to meet up with the group and had to run through Dublin looking for the Molly Malone statue. We made it to the bus just in time and were off on our tour. Our tour guide, John, was great.  He talked to us about the scenery, the history of the area and was full of interesting facts, not like other tour guides I’ve had who seem to just enjoy listening to themselves talk.  We decided to do a guided walking tour with the day trip, but there were also options for horseback riding and visiting the Powerscourt gardens. For our guided tour, we didn’t do that much walking because it was really windy and rainy.  It was still nice to see the scenery though.  With the tour, we got to see an old German cemetery in Enniskerry, and several of the surrounding mountains.  We had lunch at Poppies’ where some scenes were filmed for Leap Year.  The food there was so good and the cafe itself was absolutely adorable.  After lunch, we drove around in the mountains more, and finally we ended up in Glendalough.  Here we got to see a lovely old cemetery, an old tower, and several ruins. The rainy weather was perfect with this scenery, even though it had begun to feel a bit too cold and miserable too be outside.  I was really happy to see some of the countryside, even if only for part of a day.

That night, after we got back into town, we went to dinner and had really good fish and chips.  We went to a bar called the International bar and ended up in the comedy club there.  I really enjoyed the comedians and it was cool to end up somewhere that we hadn’t planned to be.  After this, we found another bar that had live music every night. Like I said before, it was amazing to be in a city where you could find live music almost everywhere you went.  We ended up chatting with some nice Irish people in this bar as well.  They were super kind and it was nice to speak with some new people.

The next day had been set aside for seeing the sights around Dublin.  Since it was Sunday, most things didn’t open very early, but this gave us time to get breakfast at an adorable restaurant called Queen of Tarts.  The desserts there were amazing and I was very pleased to sit down and drink tea out of a cute little tea cup.  After breakfast, we made our way to Trinity College to see the campus and the library. The library there held incredibly old versions of the gospels called the book of Kells. I am always amazed by how well preserved old books like these can be, and the designs adorning the pages of the book were beautifully intricate and colorful. The library itself was also amazing.  I’ve never seen such a beautiful library in all of my life. The buildings at Trinity College were nice too. I’d always thought that the buildings at Albion were old and beautiful, which they are, but seeing the buildings here I knew that I would be too distracted by the architecture to pay attention in class if I studied here.

After finishing up at Trinity College, we headed to St. Stephen’s Green.  This was such a lovely park with many statues and also the bridge where one of the scenes from Leap Year was filmed was here.  We got lunch in a restaurant in the George St. Arcade and then headed to Christchurch cathedral.  Unfortunately since it was Sunday, by the time we got there it was no longer open for visits.  Instead we went to Dublin Castle and looked around there. It was lovely with all of the Christmas decorations there and was cool to see a building that was so important to Ireland’s political history.  By the time we finished here, it was already dark out.  We wandered around the city some more and eventually found a place to eat dinner.  We had stew, which was again wonderful.  I was really sad that it was Sunday night, because that meant that our trip was coming to an end.

The next morning we got up early enough to look around Christ Church cathedral before heading back to the airport.  The cathedral was really lovely both inside and outside.  I liked being able to compare this cathedral with some of the ones that i had seen in France and Germany.  One thing that especially struck me about the cathedral was the tiled floor. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but the tile were colorful and patterned, and that isn’t something that I’m used to seeing in other cathedrals.  The cathedral also had a crypt, which held many interesting tombs and also had a restaurant where you could buy snacks, which I thought was hilarious and Melissa thought was super morbid.  After leaving the cathedral, we stopped at Queen of Tarts to get scones and tea to go and enjoyed our last hour in Dublin before heading to the airport.

Overall, Dublin was a really impressive city to me. I loved that there was a perfect mix of modern and historic.  The food was amazing and the people were kind. As much as I love it in France, it was nice to spend a weekend somewhere where I didn’t have to think in another language as well.  Even though the weather was a bit dreary when we were there, it looked lovely on the town.  I haven’t been too many places that I’d say looked pretty with rainy and strong winds, but Dublin makes it on the list of those places.  I really saw Dublin as a place that I want to come back too.  I would love to see more of Ireland as well.  I know that I only got a small taste of the country, and there are many places there to see that will be just as lovely.

There are very few places that I’ve visited where I’ve said I could see myself long term, and before this trip, that list only included a choice few cities that I’ve visited back in the states.  That being said, I could see myself in Dublin.  This was another thing that was unusual for me, because even though I love France, I don’t see myself staying here for more than a year or so.  The vibe of the city was really comfortable for me, and honestly I couldn’t stop smiling while I was there.

Anyway, here’s a link to my photos from the trip:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1234818273199952.1073741841.100000153723798&type=1&l=0cf6ca7da9

 

 

 

 

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