Getting around to writing this post has been absolutely daunting, and I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why. Last weekend I hopped over to Ireland, I traveled and stayed in Dublin alone, and then was welcomed into the home of an old teacher and friend in Belfast. To recap everything I felt and experienced in my weekend is perhaps why I’ve been dreading to write this post. But here it goes:
I managed to make it into Dublin’s city centre no problem, and even took the Luas (Dublin’s tram system) to my hostel. When I got to my room I couldn’t figure out how to turn my light on, the outlets on my bed didn’t work, it looked like someone’s stuff was on my bed, and I was hungry, obviously off to a great start. After dinner I met my Venezuelan roommates, there were four of them, and one of them spoke very broken English. He explained that they were all family. While I was disappointed I wouldn’t be talking to anybody for two nights, I was thankful they were nice. But in the end, nothing makes me more homesick than sitting in a hostel bed listening to Spanish in a place I’d never been with nobody to talk to.
I got up early the next morning to take a day trip to the Blarney Castle and Cork city. Per usual, I am completely indebted to my family. My Auntie Nannie and I spent a long time Skyping about what to do on my trip, and she suggested that Cork and Blarney were the places to be! So thank you, Auntie, for sending me off to an amazing day. We started at Rock of Cashel, then off to get the Gift of the Gab from the Blarney Stone, and we finished in Cork city! There were only eight other people on my tour which was wonderful. I think if there were any more I would have gotten lost in the shuffle, but everyone was super talkative (just as Auntie said they would be) and I even got an invite to eat with some other young women on the tour! I was the youngest by ten years, but I still managed to order the best meal: lamb stew. So good. (Especially because I had had pasta the night before, and who does that in Ireland?) While I didn’t see a lot of Dublin, and whatever I did see I saw in the dark, I cannot regret for a second how I spent my time in the area.
Years ago my cousins went to Ireland. Julia came home with this sweatshirt that baahed like a sheep; it was both wildly entertaining and infuriating. But, they all got to kiss this stone on their trip, and they talked about climbing up stairs, and then hanging themselves over the back of a castle to kiss this measly little stone in a wall. In my head it sounded so cool and daring. When I got off the bus at the Blarney Castle I was so excited and overwhelmed. When I was listening to Julia’s sweatshirt as a kid, could I have even imagined that I would kiss that same stone, maybe 12 years in the future, on an amazing adventure, and by myself? Definitely not.
The next morning I could not get out of my hostel fast enough. After freaking out the night before about making it to the train station, Michael sent me directions (weird how from home he had a better handle on where I was than I did), and I was ready to just bullet to the station. It was so early, but all I had to do was follow one street to the station – easy.I got on the train and slept the whole way to Belfast. After picking Ashley (friend from Naz) up from the airport, Eileen (teacher from Naz working on her PhD in Belfast), her husband, Daniel, and I made the trek up to The Giant’s Causeway. Auntie also recommended this to me, and I did not want to miss it. It was breathtaking (check out the pictures!) After we went to Dunluce Castle which also had amazing and unexpected views!
On Sunday we closed out our time together with a guided bus tour of the city. I learned so much, it was a great way to see the city. After, Eileen took us into a pub, because how could we not? I really liked Belfast, it has a great culture, and felt so welcoming. Staying with Eileen and Daniel for the weekend was by far one of the nicest things that has happened to me during my stay across the pond. They could not have been nicer. (They also could have been the rudest in the world, but because I got to take a shower in a REAL shower with space to move around it wouldn’t have mattered.) But, all joking aside, I cannot thank them enough for everything they gave to me last weekend, and hope to see them again before I depart in May!
In closing, I am so happy I got to experience Ireland. I’m still looking back on my quick stay in Dublin and thinking to myself, “Why did you do that?” And while I don’t anticipate staying anywhere alone in the near future, knowing that I accomplished that does feel really good.
All my love,
When you look at it this way, I covered A LOT of ground on my trip: