Family, friends, random people who stalk my blog, I have some news. I will not be returning home. I have chosen to spend the rest of my life in Ireland. See you never. … Really though, this past weekend was probably the best weekend of my life. This post is going to be suuuuper long. Let’s start from the beginning…
[Open scene. Lights come up on a 20-year-old-girl, brown hair in a bun as frazzled as her mind in the current situation. It is 5:17 pm and she’s running home from school. Is someone chasing her? Is she running away from a crime she has committed? No. She is running home to pack for a weekend trip to Ireland. She is meeting her friends at the metro stop and has 10 minutes to fit everything she needs into her Vera Bradley weekender. The clock is ticking.]
I arrived home in a sweaty blur, completely terrifying my host mom, Sol. Panicking, I ripped my packing list out of my backpack and sat down on the floor. Approximately 8 minutes later I had fully packed my bag with everything I would need for 3 days of adventuring, 3 nights of going out, and one night in the airport. Time for challenge number two: run to the metro and hope to reunite with Laura and Kathleen, my fellow travelers. Amazingly I arrived only 5 minutes later than we had originally planned. As I ascended the escalator, Laura’s face came into my line of view as a beacon of hope. My relief, however, was soon swallowed by an overwhelming wave of anxiety: Kathleen wasn’t there. We waited, checking the clock every 15 seconds, grinding our teeth and glancing nervously at each other. Finally Laura and I decided to take a leap of faith, get on a train to the airport, and hope that we’d see Kathleen on the other side.
[Cut to one hour later. Annie and Laura run around the entirety of the Madrid Barajas airport, but finally make their way through security. The bittersweetness of arriving at the gate coupled with the longing for Kathleen’s presence renders the girls speechless. Suddenly, from the distance, Annie hears a voice calling her name from the distance. Kathleen runs toward her, bags dripping off of her arms as sweat drips off of her forehead. Amid shouts of joy, the two embrace. Laura looks on from the gate, arms raised in the “touchdown” position. They each breathed a sigh of relief.]
We arrived in Dublin around 10 at night and practically ran to the taxi, desperate to experience Ireland. We met up with our friend Allie (who is studying abroad in Galway and met us in Dublin for the night) and headed into the hostel. After a confusing check in process we made our way up to the all-female 14-person room, in which we discovered the lights turned off and a single sleeping girl with an eye mask. Ooookay. We didn’t bother dressing up, just set down our things and ran out the door. We started out the night at Temple Bar, which is a famous old bar in Dublin. There were people from ages 18 to 80, live music, and, of course, lots and lots of Guinness. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would! We bar hopped for the rest of the night, making friends everywhere we went. It’s amazing how friendly everyone in Ireland is. They truly want to get to know you, which is something I haven’t really experienced much in Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Spaniards, but Ireland just felt like home.
The next day we woke up, said “bye” to Allie, and started walking around Dublin. In walking around we ran into an old man named Connor McGuire, who explained the story of the Molly Malone statue and gave us directions as to what we should see in the city. I’m convinced is really a leprechaun. We went to Trinity College to pretend we were “freshers” and see the Book of Kells. We then went to O’Neill’s for lunch, our first real meal in Ireland. It was delicious, and it felt so good to just sit and relax for a little while. After lunch, fueled by the Irish-ness we had soaked up in sitting at O’Neills, we got ambitious with our sight-seeing. We decided to walk across town to see the Brazen Head, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Ireland, found in 1198. Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were gorgeous too, but we were starting to lose steam. Upon arriving at the Guinness brewery, after taking a few pictures of the outside, we started to walk in. Someone came up to us as we were lingering on the steps, saying, “Excuse me, we need to sweep the steps, would you mind moving aside?” For some reason in our travel-weary minds, we interpreted this to mean “You need to leave now,” which we promptly did. We walked all the way there… and turned right back around. This process of walking to things but not actually experiencing them happened many more times than I’d like to admit, but we were okay with it.
[The girls return to their hostel to siesta. Fade to black as they fall asleep. Two hours later they wake up. Epic music swells as they regain consciousness. Backpacker’s Ball is tonight… It’s time to rally.]
Confident that we had a firm grasp on the city’s layout, we headed off into the night to find the Backpacker’s Ball. After getting lost and being pointed in literally every single direction, we finally made it… and it was awesome. We met people from all over the world. Three British guys we met managed to convince us that they joust (two of them on horses and the third on foot). We also met our new best friend, Adam from Alaska. He hung out with us for the rest of the night as we went back to barhop in the Temple Bar area. All in all it was a great night.
[The next morning brings rushed packing, untoasted bread, and full-out sprinting down O’Connell street to jump on the bus to Galway. Panting, tired, and relieved, the travelers begin their 3 hour ride across the country. Finally they arrive, but, as usual, realize they don’t know where to go.]
Galway was beautiful and a lot of fun, but it was definitely a lot of walking to places, looking at the outside, and moving on. The best parts about our trip to Galway were the food and the nightlife. The hostel desk worker recommended a hole in the wall restaurant for lunch that serves literally anything you could ever want. The chef is Moroccan, so they also have a lot of cool Moroccan food on the menu. I ordered curried chicken kebabs, Laura got a ratatouille pizza, and Kathleen ate a salmon sandwich with a side of salad. Sooo good. The nightlife was easy to maneuver because all the places you would actually want to go are within a 3 block radius. We had such a fun time meeting people and going from one place to the next.
The next day we ventured to the beautiful Cliffs of Moher. It was awesome (in the traditional sense of the word), but none of our pictures really do it justice. The wind was so strong that we could barely walk up some of the pathways… that was definitely terrifying. Eventually we decided to turn around, head back to the safer area, and climb partway up a seriously tiny castle. About an hour later we hopped back on the bus, drove back to Galway, took another bus from Galway to the Dublin airport, and proceeded to enjoy our sleepover party in the airport food court. It doesn’t get much classier than that. When 6 am rolled around we hopped on our flight back to Madrid, crying the whole way about the imminent lack of Irish brogues. I guess we’ll just have to find some more Irish friends in Madrid’s Irish pubs.