Celtic Tour: April 6

Today we got a tour of Old Ireland. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Most of our day consisted of grave sites & churches, so now when I think of Ireland that is all I can think of.

We went to Fourknocks first. It was a big mound of grass with a tomb under it. It had passages leading to the North, East & South. After being creeped out by practical jokes I didn’t want to stay much longer. Or next visit was to a cemetery where I saw 500 more Celtic Crosses. One of my new favorite hobbies is trying to depict the meanings on each one.

Next came my favorite part of the day. We went to Hill of Slane & Hill of Tara, which is where St. Patrick first brought Christianity to Ireland. It’s an amazing legend that you should look up if you have the time! Both places were beautiful especially since the sun was shining. At Hill of Slane there was a graveyard with castle ruins beside it. What do all the Americans do? Climb the castle. We were there for at least an hour attempting to find new and higher places to climb. I think mostly we were trying to get as high as possible to bask in the sun. At Hill of Tara one in the group was cursed. It was said if you steal a stone from the  tomb at Fourknock or walk through the entry at Tara you would grow horns & a tail. Megan did both, surprisingly she woke up without horns or a tail the next morning.

We ended the day with ice cream, cream soda & a bumpy bus ride home!

St. Paddy’s Day

Well, I can officially say I have been in Ireland on St. Paddy’s Day!

Sunday (March 17) was a day I will never forget! It all began around 9:00 a.m. I woke up and put on my wig, the greatest wig I ever ever seen I might add! I also had a tutu. True to Irish weather it was raining outside, but that was no slowing any of the festivities down!

We watched the parade from Christ Church. This year marks the 100th year since the Great Potato Famine, so Ireland is asking anyone with Irish roots to come back and visit. It’s being called The Gathering. The first hour of the parade was just people. People from all over the world! I saw flags from Spain, Colorado, Brazil, China, Texas. Everyone was here!! I found out halfway through the parade that I could have walked in the parade, needless to say I was disappointed!

The second part of the parade was floats. Kathleen ad I tried to move to get closer and that failed. We ended up standing on wooden posts that are meant to lock your bike up. That portion of the parade was about a hour, and it was raining. Anyone who knows me, knows that being still isn’t an option for me. Standing on that post on the rain for an hour was the hardest thing I have ever done, but so worth it. I got the perfect view of the floats & costumes! The floats were SO extravagant! I had no clue what any of them were supposed to be but I loved it. I felt like a child, pointing and giggling!

After the parade quickly realized the day had only just begun. I ate some traditional Irish stew for lunch &  washed it down with a Guinness. St. Patrick would’ve been proud. I spent a while after that people watching. I have never in my life seen so many complete strangers so happy together. The city had been painted green and was roaring with music and laughter! I have a feeling that before the night was over everybody knew everybody!

I’ll make the rest of my day a long story short; We hopped from pub to pub. I never tried green beer, I was advised that if I wanted to keep my lunch in my stomach to stay away! I meet 100 leprechauns. We turned a pizza place into a club with dancing alligators, and yes I mean exactly what it sounds like! Then turned in for the night early around 10:00.

St. Patrick definitely got the best of me, but being in Dublin on St. Paddy’s Day is a experience I get to check off my bucket  list!

*And just so all you Americans know for next year, it’s spelt St. Paddy’s not Patty’s. Patty is a girls name, and St. Patrick was a man.

Sláinte, 

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Surfing in Lahinch (March 8-10)

Friday as soon as class ended at 1:00 I rushed to pack my bag to get ready for the weekend. As usual I waited to pack until the last minute because the bus was leaving at 1:30. The 4 hour bus ride there was surely eventful. 20 college kids on a bus will always find to entertain themselves!

When we finally arrived at Lahinch it was after dark so we checked into a hostel and went to find food. Lahinch is one of the smallest towns I have ever seen (and this is coming from a small town girl). There were maybe 4 pub/restaurants, a handful of hotels & one hostel. So our options for supper were limited!

At 10:00 Saturday morning the moment had arrived. Time to surf! Luckily the weather was in our favor, as much as it could be for Ireland. The sun was shining & there was no wind. It was still 45 degrees outside though. My wetsuit became my best friend quickly! Getting in to the wetsuit was an experience in itself. Trying to slide into a tight rubber suit is not easy, and the fact that we just had to strip down outside added to the humor. We also got to put on boots & gloves. We were told to grab a board an walk to the ocaen. I was in a group with 7 other people who had never surfed before. Our instructor went over how to paddle and stand up. Within 5 minutes we were in the water. It wasn’t as cold as I expected. The suit definitely helped! Sadly, my left glove had a hole in it so after 10 minutes I could no longer feel my hand. I didn’t even want to ask how cold the water actually was. I found out soon enough when I tried to catch my first wave and completely wiped out head first. When the water hit my face it was paniful. Very painful. After another hour and a half I only stood up on the board 3 times, actually I’m pretty proud of that! The rest of my attempts were admirable… It was definitely time to call it quits for the day when I fell off a wave & lost control of my board. The wind picked it up & it smacked my instructor right on the back of the head. Whoops. The  race to get out of our wetsuits was just as funny as trying to get them on. The suit was suctioned to me, and was my only means of warmth. As soon as I started to peel it off I regretted it. The little hair that I do have was actually frozen into clumps, just to give you an idea of how cold the water was. I didn’t want to get any of my clothes wet so I wrapped my towel around me and ran back to the hostel. There were only 4 showers and at least 30 of us. So the first one back got the hot water! Guess who was the first back? 🙂

Day 2 of surfing was worse. Much worse. There was NO sun, a LOT of wind, & it was 36 degrees. It took everything I had not to cry as I put my wetsuit on. Yesterday changing outside wasn’t that bad, but today SUCKED. The wind was strong & made the cold even colder. After a few seconds I could no longer feel my hands to put my wetsuit on, so I had to get help. When it came time for me to put my boots on my feet were already a shade of purple. I was beginning to hate myself for the decision to surf in Ireland. I refused to quit or give up though (mainly because I had already paid & refused to waste money). Today I asked for a hood. I just couldn’t bear the thought of the icy water on my head again. Especially today. The surfing wasn’t as eventful today. There were minimal waves & the winds were really strong. So when there was a wave, if you didn’t ride it you got sprayed in the face, and if I tried to ride it I would face falling off and going completely under. It was a lose-lose. After an hour I noticed there were only a few people left in the ocean. I looked at my instructor and he pointed to a big wave coming and told me if I wanted out I had to catch that back to shore. I did my best, and of course wiped out major (surfing is HARD). This may have been my biggest wipe out because it rolled me under the wave. When I came back up gasping for air I looked around for my board and didn’t see it. About 2 seconds later I found it when it smashed into my face. The next thing I know my instructor had me sitting on my board pushing me to shore. He asked why my board hated me so much that it would try to beat me & him? Safe to say I was completely embarrassed and done surfing for the day. Trying to get my wetsuit off today actually made me cry. It was 36 degrees outside & I was dripping wet with only a swimsuit on. The wind made it 100 times worse. I was happy to get my boots off and see that my feet were still there though! The walk back to the hostel was only 4 or 5 blocks but it was the longest & most painful walk of my life. My feet were swollen now and bright red & it felt like I was walking on fire. (Ugh….I get sick thinking about it.) As soon as I got to the hostel I ran into a shower. Bad idea….when the warm water hit me it hurt SO BAD! I didn’t even try to stay in and wash off. I ran to my bed and cuddled up by the heater until i could no longer see my breath.

I am happy to report that I am home & warm now, with working feet that are a normal color. Surfing was a great experience & definitely a lot of fun on Saturday. Safe to say the only other time you’ll ever hear of me wanting to surf is if it’s in the Bahamas.

**One great thing that did happen this weekend was Saturday night. I stayed up to watch the Duke UNC game online. Happy to say the UNC might as well not have shown up. Now I have something to run in Blaine’s face for about 2 weeks 🙂

February 16, 2013 Howth

Lauren’s one request was to see the country side or coast of Ireland, so off to Howth we went! It is a beautiful fishing village about 30 minutes outside of Dublin. We took the bus out of Dublin at noon and spent all day hiking and trying to stay warm. We even got to enjoy some fresh fish and chips on the coast. It was the perfect day with my best friend!

Seeing the coast definitely took my breath away, pictures do not do it justice!

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Best Friend Arrival!

There is no better cure for homesickness than seeing your best friend. The road was tough, and I thought she may have gotten on the wrong bus but she finally made it at 9:00 this morning! I can’t wait to spend the rest of the weekend showing my best friend off in my favorite city!

Reunited & it feels so good!

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