Ireland was great! I got back last night around 9pm and have been getting ready for Nate and Hannah's visit ever since!
First off, before I rant about Nate and Hannah coming TOMORROW, Ireland was amazing. We flew from Aberdeen directly into Dublin and spent the night there. Our hostel was very nice, much like a hotel. After we dropped our bags off, we headed straight for the Guiness Factory. We took the tour and got our pint of Guiness on the top of the factory. SO COOL! And delicous! It does taste better when it comes right from the factory😊 We spent WAY to much time in the gift shop, but that ended up being well worth it as well. My credit card took a beating, but it'll get over it😊
We found live music the first night, and of course, it was in the Temple Bar. The atmosphere was fantastic, but the drinks were super expensive! I got out a fiver to pay for my pint and it wasn't enough! About 6.30 EURO for a pint! Ridiculous, but tasty😊
The next day we took the train to Galway, which happened to be my most favorite place in Ireland. It is absolutely gorgeous and right on the coast. Galway is also one of many great shopping places in Ireland, so we had no problem taking advantage of that! I got to buy a beautiful Claddagh ring, which was one of my goals of my trips to Ireland. We spent the night there in another amazing hostel that was like a hotel. I have spent time in so many hostels that it is a treat to get a really nice one without paying too much!
After Galway, we took the train once again to Dublin and then from there to Belfast. We bought tickets in advance for all of our train travel. I was a little uncertain of spending money on the train, because I am more accustomed to the bus, but I have come to realize that it is now one of my favorite ways of transportation. We got to see so much of the countryside, but at the same time were very comfortable.
We ended up in our last stop, Belfast on Wednesday. We found our hostel and right away took advantage of a "Black Cab Taxi Tour" of the city. It was a great way for us to see the city and our driver was fun. He took us in a 6 person taxi, which was great, because that is the number we had. It took us all over and gave a constant history lesson along the way. We called it an early night in Belfast, because we had a 8am flight in the morning, which meant getting a cab at 5:30am to get out to the airport.
The feel of Belfast was quite different than the other two cities. For one, it is on the Pound, not the Euro. Since it is still "owned" by England, the feel of it is closely related to that of England. When we took our Taxi Tour, our bus driver took us in the "ghetto" of Belfast where there is still division among the Protestants and Catholics. There are huge walls that surround the Protestant community as well as the Catholic community. Each night, the gates into these areas are locked by the police, so no one gets in or out. The murals are a huge aspect of this area and we got to see a lot of them painted all over the buildings of the town. There seemed to be a lot more tension here than any other place we visited. There is a neutral part of Belfast and we were lucky enough to be in it.
We caught our flight the next morning without any problems. We flew into Glasgow, where we met up with some friends that were coming back from Poland. Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland, so there can be a lot to do. What this city is most known for is its night life. We walked around the city for a little bit, but most of us were still quite tired from our traveling week. That night we planned on going out and enjoying the city, but it turned into a awesome night in. I would say that I learned more that night about some of these people than the four months that I've been here. We stayed up playing drinking games and talking and watching UK music videos. It was fantastic😊
The next morning we got to sleep in for the most part and then headed back. On the way, we stopped in St. Andrews to explore for the day. I was super excited because I wanted to visit this city earlier, but had no time. The only bad part of that day was that we had to carry our backpacks with us all day and it happened to be one of the hottest days in Scotland thus far. BUT it was well worth it to feel the heat! The highlight of the St. Andrews visit was that we got to golf there. It was mini-golf, but it was part of the Links Golf Course, so technically we did golf in the birthplace of the sport itself😊
So, Ireland was a success and I am excited to go back again this week. Nate and Hannah should be on their plane as we speak, about to take off! I am meeting them in Edinburgh tomorrow evening and I can't wait! I think I am in shock that this day has finally come because I've been waiting for it for so long. I spent all day today cleaning and grocery shopping and getting things organized for when they arrive. I am hoping I'll be able to get some sleep tonight, but at this point I am WAY to excited.
Pictures of Ireland probably won't be coming for a while yet...the time it takes to get them uploaded is more than I have right now...
I'm off to do something productive...hopefully😊
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