The first few days spent in Ireland have been mostly a blur. From the moment I stepped into the airport at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to seeing the bottom of a glass of Guinness last night, time is flying. I honestly wish it would slow down, just a little.
But I’m in no position to complain, I am in beautiful Ireland! In no way, shape or form do I want to appear anti-supportive of my home country, but if the weather was nicer year-round I might consider relocation.
The flight here was rough, all-in-all it took me a full day of traveling. For someone who hadn’t slept at all in the days leading up to departure you would think I would sleep like a baby on my journey. But with the exception of sleeping on the shoulder of a complete stranger for the last two hours on the plane from Newark to Dublin, I was running on 36 hours of no sleep. It was there; curled up in a ball in a window seat I looked out and caught my first glimpse of Dublin. The neighborhoods were arranged in neat rows with the countryside stretching on and on.
I connected to WiFi and immediately received several impatient texts from a certain someone waiting for me in arrivals. A usually patient person, my boyfriend would only tell me to hurry up, knowing full well I hate being rushed. The long journey was well worth it as I walked through customs and then through the final doors and saw Nicholas light up like a kid on Christmas morning and duck under the gate separating us, (which I’m fairly certain is illegal) to run to greet me.
We quickly departed the airport and drove through the confusing streets of Dublin. He asked me if it was weird, seeing signs in both English and Irish. It was, but if we’re being honest, I associated it as being English and Spanish. But let me tell you, you do not want to be quizzed on the pronunciation of Irish words. There is literally no rhyme or reason, how an “s” can be pronounced as “sh” is beyond me.
That first day the jet lag was one of the worst things I’ve experienced. It was bad when I went to Kenya, but at least when I arrived it was bed time and I could pass out. Here, my first day running on next to no sleep I got the full tour of Dublin. When I say the full tour I am not exaggerating. We walked close to 6 miles with Nicholas pointing out bars he had been to and telling me the history of areas of the city. He showed me the Ha-Penny Bridge which once upon a time cost half a penny to cross, hence the name. He showed me the bar he had snuck into with his friends. As an underage 15-year-old, one friend would volunteer to cause a commotion so the rest could sneak past security. What a trouble maker.
I became instantly jealous of the four years Nicholas got to spend at Trinity College as we walked through the massive archway and onto the grounds. It was gorgeous, with stone buildings that had been built over 500 years ago.
I got to learn about the time Nicholas and his friend ran, in a drunken stupor, from security and broke a 500-year-old gate on the premises when they tried to jump it. I am learning about a whole other side of my boyfriend causing all sorts of problems. No wonder he moved to America.
We went to a pub that Nicholas used to frequent with his friends and I got to try my very first pint of Guinness. I expected it to be thick and taste awful, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was smooth and creamy and Nicholas took photos of me at first you can see my hesitation, then my eyes light up like “Oh wow! This is actually good!” And then in the final picture I am downing it. It was so good I spent all of last night drinking it.
Ireland so far is incredibly beautiful, I got to ride on a double-decker bus, sitting in the front seat on the top floor is really cool with the exception of feeling like the bus is going to crash any minute. The streets have absolutely zero trash lining them, it is refreshing to see that even in the “bad areas” of Dublin, it is still in pristine condition; if Nicholas hadn’t told me it was a bad area, I wouldn’t have had a clue.
They seem to be more aware of energy conservation here, instead of having massive billboards lit up with electronic signs that change every minute, their billboards are about half the size and have posters beneath the glass that move up and down to change the advertisement. They don’t leave devices plugged in as we do, which might be more to assure it doesn’t start a fire or anything, but even the toaster gets unplugged after use.
It’s nice to be able to walk everywhere here. The lower half of my body has been in pain every morning from the amount of walking we have been doing. No wonder everyone here is in shape. My first comments as I drag myself out of bed these last 3 days have been, “my hiney hurts, and my feet hurt, and my ankles hurt, and my calves hurt, and my abs hurt…” I think it’s becoming a running joke.
Our second day we hiked to the southeast suburbs of Dublin, Killiney, Dalkey and Dun Laoighre. We took the train to Killiney and it was the best metro ride I’ve ever been on. The train rides along the coast of the town right on the water. Looking out the window it felt like I was traveling across the calm blue water as I looked out at the other side of the bay. Once we arrived we hiked 2 miles to the top of a hill overlooking the city. From the top the view was incredible. We sat and enjoyed the view before realizing how hungry we were and had to hike back down.
On our journey back to the house we passed one of the best ice cream shops in Dublin and stopped to split a 99. It is soft serve vanilla ice cream in a cake cone with a chocolate bar sticking out of the side, its name… the 99. We got ours with sprinkles and I have been informed that I have to reveal to the world that I shamelessly ate all of the sprinkles. But in my defense, for the sprinkle fans out there, they are the best part! You would have eaten them all too!
I’m getting my fair share of European sports while I’m here as later that night Nicholas drove like a madman to the bar around the corner from the house to watch the Liverpool soccer game. I drank my Guinness and we split some food as I listened to his small outbursts of “No!” or “Yes! Score!” We were facing the window and I found it so strange to look at my watch and see that it was 9 p.m. but the sun was still up, it looked like it was 5 in the evening. The sun also comes up earlier here, around 4 a.m. and I have to remind myself when I wake up to the sun streaming through a sliver in the curtains that just because the sun is up does not mean it is time to wake up.
Yesterday was probably the best day I’ve had in Ireland thus far. We woke up at the crack of dawn, well, what would be the crack of dawn in a normal country, and sleepily pulled on our clothes. I was still so tired I don’t even remember getting dressed. We hopped in the car and hit the road. The drive to the Cliffs of Moher was great for me given that I got to sleep most of the way. We stopped for breakfast at a rest area where I had beans on toast. Sounds strange, but it is so yummy. The next time we stopped was at Bunratty Castle where I could not stop with my sudden outbursts of “Castle!” Seeing a real life castle certainly does bring back a sense of childlike innocence.
We spent about an hour touring the grounds and seeing the old village which has been kept the same as it used to be, and then climbing through the winding staircases of the castle. I have also been told to mention that I was a “scaredy cat” going down the stairs. They were so steep I honestly felt like I was going to fall on my face. I made Nicholas walk down ahead of me so if anything happened he would break my fall.
I slept the distance of the castle to the cliffs, and when I woke up it was the most beautiful sight. The ocean stretched out as far as I could see and the water was a deep blue as the sun glistened off the waves and the cliffs rose up to meet us. It’s amazing to see something so grandiose that I never thought I really would see. I tested my bravery and walked to the edge of the cliffs and looked down as I felt my stomach drop. Waves crashed against the rocks at the bottom and I wasn’t allowed too close without Nicholas pulling me back. I believe his exact words were “I told your father I would keep an eye on you and keep you safe, you going over the side of the cliffs does not allow me to keep my promise.” I got to dangle my feet over the edge of the cliff and trust me when I say, there is nothing quite like it.
That evening I got to test my drinking skills with a group of Irish men, and I was surprised at my ability to keep up. We called it a night at 3 a.m. and it was the biggest relief to wake up without a hangover, it was an even better feeling to realize my Irish boyfriend has been nursing a hangover all day long.
So far, it has been the best holiday I’ve had, can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.