Studying Abroad at UCC / Traveling Ireland!

We should start living in castles again.

When I began writing this I was finally in a place where I actually had internet. My trusty cafe. Just sitting there with my hot chocolate. But then at like 4:40 they started mopping around me, turned off the music, insisted that I was fine where I was, but I was pretty sure they wanted to close. So now I’m at the awesome Mardyke Arena, our workout facility. Our spotty (and recently non-existent) internet connection, combined with our crazy weekend led to this blogging gap, so I’ll bring you back to last weekend first (Friday 1/25-Sunday 1/27).

We went to a castle!
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We had planned on going to Blarney Castle on Friday, but it was actually raining. Torrentially. We made it about 10 feet out of our apartment and decided to post-pone our plans based on the fact that we would have been miserable. Plus, in my opinion, kissing the Blarney stone didn’t need to be any riskier than it already was (add wet and slippery to laying upside down over a ledge). So we turned our Friday into a classic rainy day. Played some cards and watched a movie. Then went out for dinner.

They never split the bill when you go out for dinner, so it’s always an extensive process figuring out what everyone owes and arranging for the correct change. I’m usually the money collector. All in all, it’s a fun game.

Saturday we went out for hot chocolate at O’Conaill’s which is dangerously good. We also went to the grocery store and market. And that’s about it!

Then Sunday rolled around and it was a beautiful day. We left for Blarney early afternoon. With only a moderate level of confusion we managed to make it onto the correct bus at the correct time. With time to spare, we paid to use the Toilets (20 cents each), but just as we entered the bathroom the boys texted us that the bus had arrived. Everyone else wasted their 20 cents, but not this girl! Then we literally ran.

We arrived at Blarney, hopped off the bus, checked the bus pick-up times, and walked on over to the castle. It was €10 for students. (Throughout Ireland they’re really good at offering student discounts, so that’s nice!) Let me be the first to tell you that it is an amazing castle. There are cave-like areas on the ground level, which rainboots would have been more appropriate for than my €3 ked-like shoes, but I’m actually becoming quite talented at avoiding water.
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The grounds of the castle are extensive. There are gardens, and rivers, and a lake. Since it was so beautiful during the winter, I can only imagine how gorgeous it is going to be during the summer. I’ll be taking my family back there when they arrive in May! We spent time exploring the caves, taking pictures of course, and climbing the spiral, uneven, staircases of the castle. The Blarney stone is at the very top of the castle (in the uncovered portion) and lucky for us it started raining just as we made our way to the top. But who doesn’t love a little extra risk?! So we kissed it. Laura N. kissed it twice because she missed the first time. Maggie hit her head (which half us missed out on seeing). Both of those situations may have been bad luck. Immediately after kissing the stone, the crows started swarming the castle. Tons of them. But good news is, we all survived, so it was solid day.
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After our castle explorations were complete, we made our way to a pub for dinner. I had a BLT. For all of you bacon lovers, Ireland will not impress you with their bacon. I actually like their bacon because it’s a weird combination between ham and bacon, but if you LOVE American bacon, you would probably be disappointed. We finished dinner just in time for the bus (if you’re looking at the incorrect bus times). I looked at the bus times posted on the same side of the street that we got dropped off on, not the opposite. And no one questioned me. So lucky for the rest of the group, we had some time to waste and where better to waste it than some “palm-reader” looking cafe called the Half Moon Cafe. It was an interesting place…

So we had some hot chocolate and headed home on the bus.

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