Hey everyone. This is Katie—your guest celebrity blogger for the week. I just had the pleasure of visiting my best friend who is studying abroad in Ireland and I’m going to tell you about my week.
To start things off this was my first time flying alone, which may not sound like a big deal to a lot of you, but I am directionally challenged—so much so that if you spun me around in a Target once, I wouldn’t know where I was. Despite my inabilities, I was able to make it to my flight. It was a long one, and lucky for me I got an aisle seat next to a relatively normal Irish man who recommended a few must-see places and things to try. It was on that flight that I was introduced to a few of the Irish sayings that I heard the rest of my trip, such as Cheers and Tanks a mill (thanks a million).
I arrived in the airport the next morning with Laura and her friend Taylor waiting for me (I found out later that Taylor walked up to a random girl and asked if she was me—how embarrassing). We took a bus from Dublin to Cork where we walked from the bus stop to Laura’s apartment. It’s a relatively short walk, and about three minutes in, I felt my first Irish raindrop. When I looked over on my shoulder to instinctively look at that raindrop, I found out that it was a squirt of bird poop—lovely. Welcome to Ireland.
That day we explored Cork. We went to the market where we bought some fresh vegetables and bread (Laura doesn’t buy her hamburger there because it smells “too much like cow”). We also went to the grocery store where they indeed do not keep their eggs in the refrigerated section, as Laura has told you, which is still hard for me to grasp. That night I met Laura’s friends and we went to the greyhound races. The friends I met are as follows: Taylor, from St. Norbert, who has great potential for a career in story-telling…she just needs to work on the delivery; Laura Norton, who is referred to as “Snorts” (to keep her separate from Laura Riley “Riles”) and is one of those people who has great one-liners that they say to themselves, but you just so happen to hear and you laugh for the next 15 minutes due to the sheer cleverness of it; and then there’s Julianne, or better known as Judy, who is a hoot. She’s one of those people where it’s not necessarily what they say, it’s how they say it that makes it hilarious (when you try to repeat one of her jokes, it’s one of those “you had to be there moments” because you can’t imitate the nonverbals that go along with the situation).
Sunday we went to the Blarney Castle. It was down pouring, but that didn’t stop us. The castle is just gorgeous. It’s crazy to think about the things that went on, who stood where you stood, and who got hot grease poured on them through the “murder hole.” We made our way up through the wet, slippery, winding stairs of the castle and reached the tip top to kiss the Blarney Stone. It was not what I pictured it would be—it’s actually quite a scary thing to do. You lie upside down while you grab ahold of freezing wet bars and kiss a stone in the wall that’s two stories above the ground. I almost backed out, but the old man and Laura forced me to do it. I learned there never used to be these bars, which would’ve been terrifying. When you kiss it you are given the gift of eloquence.
We then walked along the castle grounds and found a waterfall and “wishing steps” where if you walk down and back up them backwards with your eyes closed—while thinking of nothing but your wish—(which is hard to do with uneven, slippery, wet, stone stairs) your wish will come true within a year. So much of Ireland’s culture is based off of luck, superstition, and folklore. It’s kind of fun that way because it makes you more optimistic about things—like the bird poop for example. I found out that is “good luck.”
We finished the day by making an experimental Easter dinner with Laura’s friends. Good thing Laura was there to cook the ham. The whole raw pork thing is a little unsettling. We also colored eggs and played a new game where we kept a balloon from hitting the ground using only our elbows—great craic.
Monday was one of my favorite days. We went on a tour to the Cliffs of Moher. Our tour guide tried getting us to sing the song “Galway Girl,” an extremely catchy tune that followed me around the whole week, on the way down to the cliffs. Laura said the first time she went on this trip everyone sang along—our group didn’t sing a peep. Our tour guide threatened to close his eyes if we didn’t sing. Not only was he driving, but the roads are so tiny that we basically have to pull over when another car wants to pass. After that “threat” there were a few murmurs of mumbled singing—a great improvement. We stopped a few places along the way, including some “baby cliffs” which were terrifyingly high. The scenery along the way is so gorgeous—filled with rolling hills, sheep, cattle, an abundance of castles and beautiful cloud-filled skies—all the cliché things that you picture when you think of Ireland. We made it to the cliffs after lunch and they were breathtaking. I know what Laura means when she says that pictures don’t do any of the scenery justice. I would look at something in awe, take a picture and get disappointed at what I saw on my camera. It’s a real shame that the amount of beauty can’t be seen in a photograph. It was so windy that day, and Laura and I made our way to the part where there isn’t anything in between you and the 700 foot drop to the ocean—needless to say, I was terrified.
We also saw some “fairy forts” where fairies live. Our tour guide said that when Ireland was redoing their highways, they moved the prospective location of one, for a cost of €1,000,000, to avoid destroying the land where fairies lived and preventing a curse upon Ireland for 700 years. A professor that specializes in fairies confirmed the fact that there were indeed fairies living there and the highway should be moved elsewhere
That evening we went to a pub across the river and listened to live music. It was just amazing. The amount of passion and soul that the Irish put in their music is intoxicating. It makes you instantly happy and feels like a breath of fresh air. I had one of those moments where you just look around you, think about where you are, soak it in and realize how lucky you are. It was one of those moments where you want that moment to last forever. I was at home. I also loved the way they mix traditional music and instruments with some modern music.
Tuesday we roamed around Cork some more, did some shopping and visited Laura’s college. She wasn’t kidding when she says you can’t tell what cobble stone lanes are roads and which are sidewalks. You just don’t know until a car comes flying by. It’s also strange to see someone texting or reading in the front seat and you think they are driving, but they are just the passenger because everything is backwards.
Wednesday we traveled to Galway on the west side of Ireland. Laura made me curse myself with bad luck because I bought myself a claddagh ring—something you are apparently not supposed to buy yourself. I bought it from the original maker of the ring that has been there since 1750. We also saw a floating man, who we decided was just using a magnet to hover. We finished the day by going to a pub and listening to some more chill live music. I say chill because they sit amongst everyone, not on a stage, but in a booth, and they all play together. This group had an accordion which was fun.
Thursday we went to Dublin, where we missed Tom Cruise by a day. We checked into our hostel, my first experience, and went looking for some fish and chips. The hostel experience was fine. It’s not as sketchy as I thought it would be, but I still was in constant worry of the what-ifs. Our roommates were thankfully normal. There was Marco, from Milan, Italy, who was looking for work, and some kid from France, who chose not to introduce himself, so we called him Polo. That evening we went to The Temple Bar and listened to more live music. We heard a couple of guys who were insane on the banjo. I mean, I can’t even pretend to type as fast as they can move their fingers on the banjo.
Friday we moved to our hotel near the airport and settled in as I tried to repack everything in preparation for leaving. We made our way to a small nearby town called Malahide on the ocean and walked around there for the day.
Saturday was travel day again. Time sure does fly. It’s a funny thing when you are sitting there in your seat on the plane, with two empty ones besides you, watching people pass by. Each passing person makes you hold your breath—the mother with the crying baby, the man who’s already sweating, the two friends who haven’t stopped talking, but as each passed my hopes got higher. It kind of feels like you are getting away with something. Like no one’s going to sit next to me…I’m actually going to get away with this. The lady in front of me turned around and said, “It looks like you are going to get lucky!” It was at that moment I knew I was jinxed, and as the last seconds passed before takeoff, my new flight buddy hustled in—struggling to hold multiple bags and find his seat. So my hopes of having an empty seat next to me were crushed. The flight went by fairly quickly for an eight hour flight as I caught up on movies. The last 45 minutes of my flight however, I’ve never been so scared. Flying into the windy city can be rough. We had to keep circling because it was so windy and because it was so windy there was a lot of turbulence. It wasn’t so bad for the first twenty minutes of this stomach-dropping feeling, but for those 4+ people that vomited for the majority of the 45 minutes, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Six Flags. It was scary, but you keep telling yourself that this must happen a lot. Nevertheless, we landed with a roaring applause and there ended my trip.
Visiting Ireland was such a great experience. I met so many awesome new friends and have an abundance of memories that I will cherish. I am blessed to have had this opportunity and I wish all of you could visit such an amazing place. I may not have been able to understand half of what anyone said, especially taxi drivers, but cheers Ireland, you were fantastic.