Ireland for 96 hours- “The Pursuit of Hoppiness”…

A requirement to work at Limitless Planet is to have extreme wonderlust! This week, we asked our intern, Audrey Mardoian, to tell us about one of her experiences abroad. Here is one her stories:

“The Pursuit of Hoppiness”…

Four days to travel cross-country in Ireland…sounds like a packed schedule, but as any abroad student knows, you have to make the most of your time while traveling. Studying for a semester abroad doesn’t allow you to really get to know each city you visit. I decided that my time in Europe was just a sampling of the travel I hope (and will) do in the future. Lucky for me, my roommate had family who still lived in Dublin, an Uncle who was historian-turned-tour guide, to show us the country through a local’s point of view. What better way to spend the Halloween weekend than at one of the holiday’s origin countries.

My time in Dublin started with a traditional breakfast at the historic Bewley’s Café. The Americans that we are by-passed the English tea to have coffee instead, but were delighted by the individual French press coffee pots we were given. The café’s Irish charm and warmth took away from the big café’s space, and brought an intimate, old Irish feel to our meal.

The tall streets of Dublin sandwich you with old-Victorian architecture, but are filled with the most popular, modern stores, making it the attractive college city that it is. We had the opportunity to explore Trinity College the afternoon of their commencement ceremony. I couldn’t help but think about all the different countries and ethnicities that were represented there, and where in the world their futures would take them.

Dublin’s Guinness museum and brewery was at the top of our list, if not for the history of the brewery itself, but for the sky-deck bar that concluded the tour. Straight from the Guinness factory was Temple Bar, a well-known tourist-trap, but a stop we knew we had to make before leaving Dublin the next morning. The popular Dublin landmark was filled with locals starting off their Halloween weekend celebrations with the charm of the featured band performing for the night. I didn’t realize what an honor it was to be able to perform at Temple Bar, but the crowds they get who fill the bar with singing and dancing into the morning hours make it no wonder that it is the perfect place to celebrate and enjoy an evening out. With each bar we went to, the live music got better, the dancing grew, and the crowds singing continued to rise. I now understood why the Irish nightlife was one that was loved by so many and what drew people to choose Ireland as a place for celebration.

Without wasting any time, our group was off to see the countryside of Ireland. The “no-plan plan” would guide us in any adventure or side street we took along the way, and would lead us for the rest of our time in Ireland. Ireland looks to be painted with every shade of green. This is one of those rare occasions that the pictures do look exactly like the actual landscape. We drove for hours looking at nothing but sprawling green spaces, occasionally filled with country homes, farms and sheep herds. We were able to stop in old abandoned and historic homes, castles, and hidden sights along the way. Having never been to such a mountainous area, I couldn’t get enough of the way the sun hit the hills and how the shadows were cast on the landscape, as you’ll see in the cover photo of this post.

A few hours in the car led us into Galway, a smaller city just on the West side of Ireland. Galway is close enough to the Cliffs of Moher for us to be able to spend a night there and wander about the city. In both Galway and Killarney, where we visited after the Cliffs of Moher, the cities consist of small roads and quaint shops to explore. It was the perfect city to go in and out of cafés, shops, restaurants, and bars in between the rain drops. It’s a must to buy at least one wool sweaters as Irish memorabilia.

The Cliffs of Moher are simply breathtaking. Nature had a magical way of changing the pictures I took by the minute with the constant mix of the strong sun and dark clouds. You would think that the rain would get in the way of the beauty, but the rainbow that followed was worth all the dripping mascara and soaking clothes.

With the spare night we had, we drove south to Killarney for the night. After a few recommendations about the best place to enjoy another night of live music, we ended up in the town’s most beloved bar by the locals. With that came a bachelor party filled with late 20-something year olds and their fathers. After a full night of dancing, we ended up closing down the bar with them once the band was done playing to be a part of their “sing-song,” as they called it. A sing-song is something that was a traditional ritual in their town for any celebration – anything from a wedding, birthday, funeral and everything in between. The men all sang songs of their family’s origin, individually and as a group, that their ancestors had written themselves, and some that were dedicated to their family, based on their family history. It was the first time in our fast Ireland trip that I had finally felt immersed in the Irish culture.

The small taste of Ireland I got over my four days there made me fall in love with the Irish culture and people. I would highly advise exploring outside of Dublin and going into the countryside, as my group did; it is the surest was to see of much of the beautiful Irish charm as you can.

Blog contributor: Audrey Mardoian, LP Intern