Luck of the Irish!

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Apr 28, 2008

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A week with Mitch and Mike, then a few days in Ireland!


This last week continued to be busy.  Mitch, Mike, and my friend Lindsay were all
here staying in our apartment.  I can' t miss very much school, so I have been
saving my " skip" days until they got here. 
It was nice to be able to miss some classes so that we could do more
things around town together.  We went to
Cinque Terre one day and the weather was perfect which helped make it seem like
paradise!  We visited places that I haven' t been to yet either which made it even more
fun for me!  One of the things we did was
climb to the top of the Duomo.  It' s an excellent view of the city from the top,
but it makes your legs burn a little bit on the way up!  Worth every step up, though!  After a week of being able to show them
around, I think they got to see the best things to see in Florence on their week here.  We also had a lot of fun at night, taking
them to our favorite spots in town! 


Friday morning I had to get up early to leave for Ireland, so I
didn' t really get to say " good-bye" ,
but it was probably easier on my emotions that way!  I know that they got up later in the morning
and made it to Rome
where they were finishing up their trip. 
The trip to Ireland
was a long one.  A train to Pisa, a flight to London,
and another flight to Dublin.  I was exhausted from all the traveling, and
the airports were super busy because of the holiday weekend.  We grabbed a taxi to our hostel and pretty
much just crashed and woke up early to start our 3 Day " Southern Rocker" tour of Ireland! 


We signed up for this tour because other people had told us
they had a great time, so we thought we would give it a shot, too!  There were 33 people from all over the
world.  Courtney and I were some of the
younger people, but most of the people were probably in their
mid-twenties.  We had to give a little
introduction to ourselves while on the bus, so it made it easy to get to know
one another and make friends.  The people
that we met on the tour were so great and we all had a lot of fun together.


The first place we stopped at was the Rock of Cashel.  Next we stopped in  Mitchelstown to see the cave there.  It' s
owned by a family and isn' t a place
tourist are able to get to easily.  The
caves were very cool, and they even have had a charity concert with the Three
Tenors down there!    We traveled further south then until we got to
Courtney and I wanted to go and see the Castle, so we walked around the
castle grounds touring that area and went up to the top to kiss the Blarney
Stone.  The stone isn' t against the wall and you have to lay on
your back and behind really far down and back to kiss it.  There is a guy up there who holds you legs
and bars to hang on to so you don' t fall
in between, but it still was a little freaky. 
Courtney and I also bought our Claddagh rings there!  From Blarney,
we stopped at various other places and ended up in a nice town for the
night.  We all went out for a typical
Irish dinner.  The food was great in Ireland!!  Later we went to a bar/club to get our first
pints of Guinness.  I don' t beer,
but I figured I still had to order one and try it anyways!  Everyone said it was the best Guinness they
ever had!  I ' ll
just take their word for it!  We finished
the night by listening to a guy named Pa.  He gave a performance which I ' m
not really sure how to explain.  He wasn ' t an
actor or comedian, but more like a storyteller. 
It was fun to hear some Irish stories and jokes by someone from that


Day two was all
about the scenery.  We went through Dingle, Ireland
which is a nice little town on the coast. 
Along the way through town, we stopped every 15-30 minutes to get out
and see the sights.  The beaches, cliffs,
and fields were amazing.  I ' ve
never seen anything like this before, and I loved it!!  We returned to eat a great seafood lunch in
Dingle before we set off for the Cliffs of Moher.  When we got there it was amazed.  These cliffs were bigger and prettier than
the cliffs before (which I didn ' t think could have been possible).  We also stopped at some of the portal tombs
that are spread around the country, and a fairy ring where the fairies
live.  Our tour guide was constantly
telling us stories and meaning behind everything so it was nice to get to learn
something about all the places we were going. 
The Irish are very superstitious, and when you walk around the fairy
ring you have to repeat your wish in your head and say " thank
you " in Gaelic when you finish and they will grant your wish.     We
stayed the night in a very tiny down called Doolin.  Doolin has about 5 pubs and 10 bed and
breakfast places.  There isn ' t
much there, but you would have never guessed it.  We ate dinner at McGann ' s,
which according to our guide, has the best Irish stew in Ireland behind
his grandma ' s. 
The place was packed with families, college aged people, and visitors.  I think everyone was out and about for the
holiday weekend there! 


On our last day, we
were making our way back to Dublin
after some great stops along the way.  We
stopped at a monastery that was attacked over and over again by the
Vikings.  It was a really interesting
place.  I was a little confused by it,
but walking around the grounds there were very interesting.  It was strange to think that people used to
live there and learn there, when it looked mostly like a giant cemetery with
buildings in the middle.  Our other major
stop that day was to a whiskey distillery. 
It was interesting to see something that wasn ' t
historical, but still a major part of the Irish culture.  The distillery was 251 years old, and is just
a museum now, although they still do some producing there.  It was cool to see all the work that goes
into making whiskey.  We also learned
that Irish whiskey is triple distilled, and that whiskey from the US is only
distilled once.  Our guide at the
distillery was very proud of that fact! 


We ended our tour
in Dublin, and
although we didn ' t get to see the city there, it just gives
me a good excuse to go back someday!! 
The people we met along the way and the people from Ireland were great!!  Even our taxi drivers were awesome!  They were so happy to tell us about their
city and they made us feel so welcome ... a much different feeling than the
Florentines give!


The traveling
process back to Florence
was a nightmare, but Courtney and I made it back!   This week is going by fast because we didn ' t
have school Monday, so tomorrow already feels like the weekend again!  I was originally planning on going to London this weekend, but
after traveling every weekend in a row now since February, I decided not to go
and take a break.  In the end, I ' ll
probably be saving money in the long run, too! 
My body is feeling worn out and a weekend in Florence will be perfect!    Amy and I have some fun things planned for
ourselves already.  The best is probably that
we are able to watch the Badger game live on!!  It plays at 1 am our time, so we ' ll
just have to make sure we don ' t fall
asleep before hand.  I ' m
sure we ' ll be too excited to even think about sleep though!!


Time here is going
fast ... only a little over a month left! 
I ' m going to be in Italy
for the rest of the time and just doing some day trips around to different
cities.  Then, finally, I ' ll
have my last big trip with my aunt Eva around Budapest
and Germany! 


Until next time ... .
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