A very belated IRELAND: Rivers, Roads, and Loads of great “craic”

Part One: Dublin, Mumford and Sons, and Howth

I Left Toledo at 6:30 am on Saturday, December 15 and flew to Dublin on a flight with Claire, Matt, and Rachel! Right when we entered the Dublin airport after landing, there were huge groups of people with welcome home signs for their families as well as group of carolers singing Christmas tunes. It felt like we were in the movie Love Actually. I embraced the moment as I realized this was the first English speaking country I had been to in 3 and a half months.

We checked into a very cute and funky hostel (The Times Hostel) then met up with a girl Claire worked with who lives in Ireland. We met her on Grafton Street, where the movie Once was filmed. We went to the temple bar area (it’s an area, not a bar) and went to a pub with amazing food and live music! I had my first taste of Guinness beer. The live band in the pub covered a Mumford and Sons song which got us excited for the concert the next day.

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We were told that everyone would be dressed up for Christmas that night, so we went on the lookout for Christmas Jumpers (sweaters) because all the young Irish folks wear tacky Christmas sweaters during the holiday season. They were pricey, but we went to a Party Store and bought ribbons, bows, and tinsel and decorated our own sweaters. We went out to a couple pubs and gallivanted in our Christmas gear!

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The next day was great. We walked around the city in the morning, explored the campus of Trinity College and Saint Stephen’s Green Park, went into George’s St. Arcade, and walked around a cute Christmas market/festival with live music. The weather was lovely so we were lucky! We also visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. After the Christmas market, we got ready for the Mumford and Sons concert and headed to the Guinness Factory!! It’s Irelands number 1 visitor attraction with TONS of info about how they brew their beer, advertising, and the history of Guinness. On the top floor you can learn how to pour your own pint of Guinness and then you can drink it. Even though I don’t love beer, it was a good time and very interesting to learn about the history. After the tour, we took a carriage ride to a famous fish and chips place called “Leo Burdock.” They have a plaque on their wall with the list of numerous celebrities who have eaten there! With our fish in chips wrapped up in brown paper bags, we wandered around the city looking for a way to get to the O2 Theater where the Mumford and Sons Concert was.

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We ended up just taking a cab, and got to the concert with PLEANTY of time. It was a great venue. The concert was amazing (of course,  I wasn’t surprised) and I loved their ending number, a cover of the Beatles “A Little Help From My Friends” sung with Dawes, the band who opened for them. Great show, and it made it 1000 times better that it was in Dublin! After the concert I bought a 5 euro shirt (it’s huge, a medium was the only size they had). But a good memento!

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FISH N’ CHIPS!

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Monday the group left to go to Galway and I stayed in Dublin. I went souvenir shopping in the morning, then I came back and took a nap which felt great. After I napped I went on a free walking tour of the city that was really informative and had a great tour guide. We saw some of the major sites of the city including the Dublin Castle and City Hall.

I was alone the whole day but it was fine. There was free ice cream/cookies in the hostel at 8 so I went down there and started talking to some people. Hostels are cool because you can interact with people from ALL over the world. So I was talking to people from France, Brazil, and two men who work in the hostel, one from Spain and one from Italy. Everyone is really friendly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012: Howth!

I’m so lucky that Cassy was able to meet up with me in Dublin. Even though we didn’t spend a lot of time together in Toledo, I had such a good time with her and it was awesome to have some company. We walked around Dublin on Tuesday morning, saw a few things that I hadn’t yet like the Jameson Whiskey Distillery and the oldest pub in Ireland called the Brazen Head.

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Then we took the train to Howth. Howth was beautiful! It is a little peninsula off Ireland with seafood restaurants and a nice bay. We walked out to a lighthouse while the sun was shining, then stopped for lunch at an adorable cozy home-style restaurant called The House. We got broccoli blue cheese almond soup that totally hit the spot. After lunch we took a hike up around the peninsula and climbed up to see a great view of Dublin bay. That night we went out again to a few pubs in Dublin and heard more live music. The live music is something I could really get used to.

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