Growing up, travel was never something that my family prioritized. A vacation was a week at the beach, or going somewhere close by but relaxing enough to unwind. I, however, was always fascinated with travel and felt in my heart that I was destined to explore. As a child, I was particularly enthralled with Italy, feeling a deep-rooted connection to my heritage and the beauty of the cuisine and warm, hospitable atmosphere.
When I was sixteen, I was finally given the opportunity to head abroad on a school trip. We spent two weeks gallivanting across Europe, and I was in my glory. The food, the culture, the meeting of new people- it all fascinated me. I vividly remember the burning desire I had to return, the moment I hopped off the plane.
When given the opportunity to travel- it is something I take full advantage of. I am so grateful to have been able to explore so many beautiful places, and yet I always have this insatiable desire to see more. Luckily, my boyfriend is equipped with the same passion (perhaps even more so), and is constantly looking looking where we should head next. We of course, are college students and unfortunately do not have an indispensable amount of cash to travel in excess or luxury, but in simply exploring any new places we can- we make it work.
This is a long overdue post- but this past March, we decided to book a trip to Ireland. With flights being pretty cheap, and in finding a reasonable hotel- Sam and I snuck in a five day getaway in the midst of my unusual college schedule.
I have a three day weekend every week for school, and without a formal spring break, I was willing to sacrifice a day of school for this adventure. We left on Friday afternoon, and returned Tuesday night. In going to The Culinary Institute of America, Stewart International Airport is only about forty minutes away from me. We booked tickets for Friday night, so that we could leave for the airport right after I got out of class and maximize our travel time. With only a carry-on each, we boarded the plane and woke up in Dublin (well, Sam woke up in Dublin… I cannot fall sleep on a plane). We arrived around 7 am. local time, and were eagerly ready to hit the ground running upon arrival. We took the bus from the airport to the city center, and checked in at our hotel, Temple Bar Inn. It was the perfect location, right in the heart of the Temple Bar quarter, in a bustling neighborhood of pubs, shops, and lively action at all times of day. We began to check out the area, and sat down for a pint of Guinness and some fish and chips… at 11 am. I quickly found out that Guinness is NOT my thing, but I scarfed it down anyway (when in Ireland, right?).
The first thing we learned about Ireland, is that the weather is incredibly unpredictable. Rain could come out of nowhere, clear and sunny skies turning into torrential downpours. Not even nice and mellow rain, I am taking the kind that turns umbrellas inside out. To keep our trip economical, we relied on primarily walking and taking as few Uber/ Taxis as possible. On our first day, we checked out Saint Patricks Cathedral, Saint Stephen’s Green Shopping Center, and eventually the Guinness Storehouse. We booked our tickets for the storehouse online, and were able to skip the long line upon arrival. The actual exhibits itself were informative and entertaining, but the best part is the top floor with a 360 view of Dublin. With each ticket, you receive a ticket for a free pint, so I tried my best to gulp it down, but I was over it and Sam gladly accepted it. I did, however learn how to properly pour a Guinness (pictured below). I was just happy to be taking in the incredible view that we unintentionally booked for sunset. Being up for 48 hours at this point, we grabbed burgers and called it an early night.
The next day, we took a chance and booked seats on the Paddy-Wagon Bus Tour. A bit skeptical, we met for the bus around 8 am. We boarded the bus, unsure what to expect, and quickly became pleasantly surprised when we took off with tour guide, Val. We booked the Cliffs of Moher Tour (approx. 2 hours away from us) for a mere 45 euros, and were granted admission to the cliffs and also stops at Doolin Village, Kinvara, Bunratty Castle, and the “mini-cliffs” at The Burren. Along the way, our tour guide gave a locals perspective and informed us on the history of each place we went. It was TOTALLY worth the money for us, as we were entertained from 8am-10pm, and were able to do our own thing, not being tied down to listening to a speech all day. At each location, you are dropped off, able to do whatever you’d like, and simply expected to be back on the bus at the given time. We loved the Cliffs and were truly taken aback as to how grand they are. It was pretty windy and rainy out, and very slippery. There is no fence or railing, and our tour guide made it very clear that there are no safety nets to catch you if you fall. We got back on the bus, made a few more stops, only to get caught in a rare snowstorm. Yes, as if we couldn’t escape the snow from New England, it just had to follow us across the world. This was the reason we arrived back two hours later than expected, but we still were ready to hit the pubs when we got back.
That night, we realized that it was most economical for us to book another tour because we wanted to explore some other parts of the country. We headed to The Blarney Castle for day two of the Paddy-Wagon, and it was a perfect day weather-wise. We actually got to spend several hours in Cork, where my grandfathers family was from which was pretty great to see. We got back relatively early, I believe around 6ish, and got ready for our last night out. We had an awesome dinner of beef stew, mashed potatoes, and cider at The Merchants Arch. We sat on the balcony, listened to the live music, and just took in all that we had encountered so far.
For our last day, we had breakfast at a quaint little cafe, paid a stop to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, and began to pack up and head to the airport. We were there a bit early, so we had a nice lunch and said farewell to one heck of a city. Ireland was good to us.