Disclaimer: I just had the best weekend of my entire life and will most definitely be gushing about every moment. None of the pictures do anything that I saw justice. You have been warned.
Our trip to Galway this weekend was beyond amazing. Not only did I see some of the most beautiful sights in Ireland, I just felt so lucky to be doing so. I'm living in a gorgeous country with breathtakingly picturesque views and the most charming men in the world. More on them later, I'm going to start from the beginning.
About 40 of us left by coach bus in the afternoon with our 29-year-old history teacher, Caroline, as our chaperone and tour guide. She does these tours with her cousin all the time so she's a pro. We drove through the countryside, seeing sheep, cows and horses scattered across the famed 40 shades of green. We rolled into Ennis, a town on the way to Galway, for the night. We checked into our hostel, claimed our bunk beds and went exploring for about an hour before dinner. The town was so quaint.
We came across the beautiful Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.
We spent the rest of the night eating dinner and going to pubs with our teacher, who wanted to make sure we all got Irish boyfriends by the end of the night. Both at the pubs and the only nightclub in town, I could only catch glimpses of her flitting around, bringing over groups of cute boys with accents. We were at one pub during someone's hen party (bachelorette party) so we all danced around the bride-to-be to the live music. An Irish guy tried teaching me how to dance, but it was laughable since I had no idea what I was doing. He did say I spun better than the Irish girls, but I'm sure he was just being nice. Whatever, that was good enough for me.
SATURDAY (which will forever be known as the best day of my life)
The wonderful parts didn't start right away. We woke up in the hostel only to find that the gas had turned off or broken over night, meaning that there was no hot water. There wasn't even cold water. The only water there was to bathe in was a slight drizzle of the iciest water I have ever felt. The shower also turned itself off every 15 seconds, so I had to keep pushing the button, asking for more and more ice water. After crouching under the hand dryer in the bathroom for a few minutes, I stopped whimpering and was good to go.
We got back on the bus, where Caroline got on the microphone to tell us what we were looking at and also to get details on everyone's luck with the locals. We drove by a famine memorial that depicts the true story of a four-year-old boy, who was left at the door of a workhouse with a note from a priest pinned to his shirt that said his father and mother had died, and if he was not let in, he would also starve to death. Unfortunately, when the boy was found on the doorstep, he had starved.
The next place we went was to the Cliffs of Moher. The sight of the cliffs literally took my breath away. The sun was shining and warm, the waves were crashing against the enormous cliff faces, and with the slight breeze running through my hair, I thought that this absolutely has to be what Heaven is like.
Beyond the wall barricading tourists to the safer parts of the cliffs, there was a sign to keep us from exploring on our own. You can imagine how well that worked.
The added views that disobeying the sign allowed us to see were well worth being delinquents.
We sadly left the cliffs, but Caroline made up for it when she brought us to her family's farm for some hiking and homemade cooking.
The higher we hiked up the mountain, the more spectacular the views became.
Including of Caroline's cousin. Remember when I said the pictures wouldn't do anything justice? I was including this man. Every girl on the trip was giggly and pathetic over him.
But back to the scenery.
After we finished hiking, we came inside for some homemade quiche, pasta salad, potato salad, brown bread, apple pie and fresh cream.
Then we all crammed inside the tiny living room to listen to some of the neighbors play traditional music.
After sadly leaving the farm, we got back onto the bus to drive to Galway City. We checked into our second hostel and went to eat dinner, where I had delicious Irish stew and brown bread. We spent the night going out with Caroline once again and when a band took the stage at one pub, I ran up and requested they play "Galway Girl" for the Americans. It took a bit of convincing since the song is pretty touristy, but they finally agreed. We all danced and sang at the top of our lungs for the rest of the night.
We woke up early to go and explore Galway City in the daylight.
Once it opened at noon, we were the first ones inside the T. Dillon Claddagh Museum, established in 1750 and home of the original claddagh ring. In Irish, "claddagh" means "shore." I ended up buying a ring, which has "TD Original" stamped on the inside.
The rest of the day was spent on the bus heading back to Dublin. We stopped for a few minutes in Clonmacnoise, where we saw the ruins of castles and churches. We were all pretty exhausted at this point, so we snapped a few pictures and got back on the bus.
When we got back to DCU, everyone said how nice it was to be home. It was the first time that many of us felt like this place was home, at least for the time being. It's overwhelming how lucky I am to be able to see and do all I that I did this weekend, let alone stay here for a semester. I feel so exhilarated and free to be figuring out how to live in another country and blessed to be able to make mistakes along the way and still have the time of my life.