Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ireland and Wales

I guess I have quite a bit of catching up to do, since I've been to two different counties in the last three days! It was a lot of traveling, but definitely worth it. Friday began bright and early at 5:30, with departing Clayhill and making our way to Holyhead in order to take the ferry to Dublin. It was about a 5 hour drive, with a few stops along the way, but I think the majority of our group was sleeping for most of the ride. We then arrived at the port for the ferry, and we boarded, all still groggy from our early departure time. The ferry took a little over three hours to cross over to Dublin, and unfortunately it was rainy and foggy, so you couldn't really see much as we crossed. We arrived in Dublin in the evening, traveling to Kinlay House, the hostel that we stayed at which was close to Temple Bar in Dublin. It was kind of crazy, it being my first stay in a hostel, but a very interesting experience as well. There were 8 people in our tiny room, but we managed all right I think. After getting settled in at the hostel, our tour guide James took us out into Dublin, planning on giving us a little walking tour, but instead just showed us where a lot of the restaurants and such were, since it was raining pretty hard at that time. We found somewhere to eat, because we were starving from the travel time there and to get out of the rain. I had bangers and mash for dinner, which is just sausage, mashed, potatoes, and gravy. It was quite delicious! Then we explored a little bit, since once we were done eating, it had stopped raining. Because we were so exhausted, we went to bed a little early, in preparation for everything we were going to do the next day.

The next day, we got up and had breakfast at the hostel (which was just cereal and toast) then began our journey to Glendalough, a little Irish town that is up in the Wicklow Mountains. It's best known for it's little monastery that was founded there in the 6th century by Saint Kevin. Our tour guide told us the story of a woman named Cathleen that fancied Saint Kevin, and he tried to get rid of her by beating her with stinging nettles, but she followed him up to his bed, where Saint Kevin promptly pushed her into the lake. There's also a cross there that, if you hug it, you're supposed to find the man of your dreams within in the next year. I love learning all of these crazy little myths about a place. It's so fun! Once we departed Glendalough, we made our way back to Dublin to tour the Guinness Storehouse. I'll have to admit, I wasn't all that excited to tour this, but apparently it's something you have to do when in Dublin, so we went. At the end of the tour, we were able to to try a pint of Guinness, which was absolutely disgusting in my opinion. But the Irish really appear to love it. After touring the Storehouse, we had a little time to go and explore Dublin on our own before we went on a walking tour with our guide. We looked around a little, then rested a little at the hostel before the walk. We then went on the walk, seeing a lot of Dublin's great sights, like the Dublin Spike. Luckily it wasn't raining when we went! After the tour, we went to a little store and got sandwiches for dinner, then did a little souvenir shopping before we went back to go to bed, seeing as we had another early start the next day.

The next morning we left Dublin at 6:30 in order to make the ferry back to Holyhead at 8. The trip was mostly sleeping, since it was such an early start. Once we got off the ferry, we only had about an hour of driving before we got to our first stop in Wales, Harlech Castle. Harlech Castle used to be located right on the coast, but the sea has gone back over time, so now it's just located on a pretty steep hill) which we had to climb to get to. It was cool to see the ruins of the castle, though they had all these signs all over warning of the danger that the ruins posed, especially since it had been raining and a lot of the steps were wet, and some of the places you climbed up were really dark. We only spent about an hour at the castle, then we started our long drive to the hostel we were staying at in Broad Haven, on the coast of Wales. We drove through Snowdonia National Park, which took us through the mountains of Wales, which were absolutely beautiful, though I'll admit that I slept a lot on the way there. Then we finally made it to Broad Haven, which is was a hot spot for UFO sightings, apparently. There were a lot of sightings back in the 70s or 80s, all over the area. We had a BBQ at the hostel once we got there, which was nice because we were all starving by the time we arrived. We didn't really do much exploring, because we got there so late and it was dark once we got there.

The next day, we got to sleep in a little (we left at 8:30) and we had a pretty nice breakfast at the hostel before we left, with eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, cereal, fruit, and a few other things. It was nice to have a real breakfast for once. Then we got on the bus (again! They actually call them coaches here. Kind of interesting) and made our way to St. David's, the religious capital of Wales. It was raining (of course), but the cathedral we visited was really pretty. I can't imagine going here for church every Sunday, it would be kind of cool! The cathedral had a lot of ornate ceilings and windows and such, and was really pretty. Next to the cathedral were the ruins from the Bishops's Palace, which is where the religious leaders of the church used to live. Again, there were a lot of signs warning about the dangers of the ruins, and it was raining, so it made them all the more dangerous! We spent about a half an hour there, then made our way back to the bus, to drive to our next destination, Swansea! Swansea is one of the biggest cities in Wales, and it really was a nice city, but the Welsh accent is really difficult to understand. I had to listen really closely to catch what some of the people were saying to me, but I still really enjoy hearing all of the different accents here. When we went to Starbucks, the lady who took our drink orders was surprised that we were from America, visiting Swansea. Apparently that doesn't happen often...? They also had a big screen set up in one of their central squares for the Olympics, which are happening really soon! It's kind of cool to see all the things going up for that around England. Anyway, we left Swansea and made for our final destination, Tintern Abbey. I was excited to go here because I heard that it was absolutely gorgeous, and it definitely didn't disappoint! I can see why so many different poets over the years were inspired by this little monastery, set in the green mountains of Wales. It probably was even more breathtaking when the building was actually still in tact, but it was still pretty now, all the same! Leaving the Abbey, it was time to make our way back to England, which was nice, because I was excited to finally have my own room back again.

After this whirlwind of a weekend, I think I definitely need to visit Ireland again in the future! I only saw a little slice of it, and it seems like it has so much more to offer! Today wasn't nearly as exciting as the weekend, I had two lectures, and then we had a BBQ with some of the British students who study here at the Kingston. It was kind of cool, being able to talk to them and hear their views of America and how their school system works. Then I had to actually do homework (boo!) so I stayed in the common room to start writing my paper. I'm looking forward to have some adventures the rest of the week! Until next time, happy reading! :)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So much in so little time! I really want to go to Ireland now!