Once again I have fallen behind in my writing, the spontaneous delight of my every day keeps getting in the way. I am now in Amsterdam (and loving it!) but here is the last of my UK travels, and current adventures will soon follow. xoxo, m
After Dingle we had a full day of travel to get to Galway, a small city also on the coast of Ireland. I was surprised by how refreshing it was to have a day to simply rest because there was nothing else to do. The next day in Galway it stormed the minute we stepped outside. Within 5 minutes we were soaked to the bone and retreated to our hostel for suggestions of things to do other than wander (we’d never considered there could be an alternative!) In true Irish fashion, the only suggestions we got on what to do with such a miserable day was to go to a pub. Even if drinking at 11am was socially acceptable, we decided to brave the weather instead. By the time we made our way back outside the rain had lightened up enough we could justify walking down to the coast.Galway is an interesting mix of college town, small coastal village, and industrial city. The ocean smelled perfect, but the views were nothing in comparison to Dingle. We joined a free walking tour of the city and got to learn some fascinating history of Galway’s role when Oliver Cromwell took over Ireland. These tours most fun, however, because they’re a great way to meet people. We started chatting up Ricardo, from Spain, and had a wonderful lunch of fish and chips with him afterwards. I continued to be surprised just how much of a conversation with someone from a different country is based around making comparisons. It’s almost as if we seek uniqueness, yet I always am surprised by how universal our experiences really can be.
That evening Isaac and I met up with Molly, a friend of a friend who is studying abroad in Galway and who so kindly opened her home to us. It was so much fun to see the city that night from the eyes of a student, and made me wonder what I will be like once I get to Amsterdam. They knew their way around the popular places, knew what they wanted to show us, and gave us a glimpse in to what they knew of the Irish student life. As fun as the busier Irish Pub scene is, Isaac and I realized that we are not meant to be 20-some-year-olds.
The next morning we were off to Dublin for a whirl wind 48 hours. We ran into a guy from our old hostel on the train, and after storing our luggage he gave us a brief tour of what he knew of the city. But, we quickly moved on to the most important part of Dublin: the Guinness Factory. Isaac was like a little kid in a candy store, except it was beer instead of candy and both a museum and a shopping spree. After convincing ourselves that we’d have time to come back to all the fun Guinness products, we worked our way into the factory tour. We meandered our way through grains and yeast where we learned that Author Guinness kept their specific kind of yeast secretly stored, and offshoots of this original yeast is in every batch of Guinness ever made.
By far the most entertaining part of the tour was watching old Guinness advertisements, starting from the 1950s. Apparently, back in the day, not only was Guinness good for you, but it was also prescribed by doctors as a health remedy. Even pregnant woman were advised to enjoy!
While in the factory we met two 40 some year olds from the States who work for Love Hope Pray. They certainly knew their Guinness and had big plans for their time in Dublin. We shared in a pint of perfectly poured Guinness in the factory’s sky bar overlooking the entirety of the city and had fun getting to know these travelers. They invited us to meet them up later that night at Ireland’s oldest bar: The Brazen Head. After some of our own city exploring we found our way to this hidden little pub right on the water. It was perfect. The room was tiny, built all from wood and stone, and jam packed with locals. The best part? Dublin’s number one fiddle player was performing with his band that night. We shared in Irish toasts, laughed at ourselves with the locals, and wished we could have stayed for hours.
Sadly we had to leave the Brazen Head far too early in order to catch a bus to the airport for a sleepless night and early morning. Fortunately I can sleep any time anywhere, including airport benches, but poor Isaac was the better person and stayed up to make sure we didn’t miss our fight. When we arrived in Glasgow Scotland at 7 in the morning, coffee was very necessary. Then we only had a few hours to take in as much of the city as we could. Glasgow was a strange mix of an industrial feel and beautiful old structures. We explored the Lighthouse, Glasgow’s newest free museum with an exhibit on the history of the city and aerial views of the country. Best of all, we got another fantastic view from a great height of the entire city. We bounced around a few other key places in the city before getting our train to Inverness. It felt quite surreal and fun it felt to do 3 cities in less than two days.
Isaac and I were both ready to settle in to the feel of the country again. Inverness was larger than Dingle and smaller than Galway, right on the water, and full of beautiful paths to wander through. Most importantly to Isaac we took the next afternoon on Loch Ness. Urquhart Castle featured the stunning remains of a Castle built during the 5th century and destroyed by its own people when it became too hard to defend. The moment we set foot in the castle a rainbow emerged on the lake. If that rainbow pointed to Nessy the Loch Ness Monster, she didn’t want to show her face to us. But just being there, with that potential, was enough for Isaac’s love for mystery.
The next day we were off to Edinburgh for the last leg of our trip. There I met up with a friend from Mountain School, Rachel Dicker, who showed us around her study abroad city. It made me so excited to get to my own study abroad city, but first I got to experience the castle-like structure of Edinburgh. The whole city is layered, and every ally feels like a secret passage. Then when we explored the actual Edinburgh Castle, it felt like we were in an ancient village. In comparison to Urquhart, this castle was a full city of mansions.
I said goodbye to Isaac and had one more day with Rachel. The more time I spent exploring Edinburgh, however, the harder it was to stay focused and not get consumed by thinking about Amsterdam. We wandered and cooked and met lots of interesting people, but I was ready for my next adventure. So finally, I made my way to a mini-cruise ferry, boarded my boat, and crossed the English Channel. Waving goodbye to the UK, I landed in Amsterdam full of new anticipation and curiosity.