Ireland Diary: 1st-11th January 2018

Ireland Diary: 1st-11th January 2018

I haven’t posted in a little while, the last post I did right before I went over to Ireland. I know I said in previous posts how after I went to New Zealand I was going to write a big post full of my film photos, but me being me, I never got around to it. So I thought I better get onto doing one for my little Ireland trip nice and quickly before the same thing happens.

I flew out of Canberra on new years eve, which kinda sucked (I hate being alone on nye), but really was completely bearable considering I got to go to Ireland. This was the first time I’ve ever traveled overseas alone, and I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of nervous about getting around airports I didn’t know, but it was all fine. I’m the type of person that really enjoys doing things alone sometimes (I’ll often go grab a coffee and read by myself for a while), so for me it wasn’t a strange or difficult thing for me to just be by myself.

My dad had flown over a little less than a week before me, and it was definitely nice having him there, and already with a hotel room and things of that nature that you really don’t want to have to try and deal with after travelling for 30hrs already all set up.

Dublin is such a lovely city from the places I went and saw. It reminds me in a sense of Melbourne, another city which I love. There’s the few touristy things to do around (which of course we had to do a couple of), but just walking around and taking in the city is enough to fill a day. There’s pubs scattered all over the place and so much wonderful shopping.

Honestly the weather was not as bad as I’d thought it was going to be. It was definitely cold, but it was a nice break from the super hot days we’d been consistently having in Canberra. I was expecting to absolutely freeze to death, and while some nights I did get very cold, I found that with a couple of layers, a good jacket, and pair of gloves, I was more or less fine. I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone traveling to Ireland or the UK over the middle of winter would be to ALWAYS have a pair of good tights to put on under your jeans/pants (it makes such a big difference).

Trinity College and the Book of Kells exhibition was the first ‘touristy’ thing that me and dad did when we were in Dublin. I was really interested in seeing this exhibition, and to be honest it was kind of a let down. There was about a half an hour wait in line, so if you’re thinking of going to see the Book of Kells I would definitely suggest booking your ticket online so you can skip pretty much the whole line. The actual exhibition was very small, and only 2 pages from the books were on display. The standout of the college is definitely the old library, which is so beautiful, and looks like something straight out of a movie.

After our first little stay in Dublin, we headed to Galway for the next couple of days. Galway was a beautiful place. It’s quite a bit smaller than Dublin, but what it lacks in size it absolutely makes up for in charm. Like Dublin, it’s full of wonderful pubs and good food, however, it just has a completely different feel to it. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is that makes it feel so different, but I would say that the much more intimate size of the city has absolutely got something to do with it.

There’s lots of places to go to and look at while in Galway, and something that I really loved about it was that almost everything is in short walking distance from each other. Walking was something that we did a lot of while we were in Ireland, and I really enjoyed it. It sounds kind of strange to say that, but just being able to go to almost all the places in the city that you want to get to by foot is definitely nice. Plus, once you get going in the cold it’s really not bad at all.

While we were staying in Galway, we did a day trip out to Kylemore Abbey, and the Victorian Walled Gardens that are also out there. The Abbey itself didn’t have much to offer, most of it’s roped off, so you don’t get to wander around as much as I would’ve liked to. The grounds and the history of the place however, are really interesting. The gardens are about a 10-15 minute walk from the Abbey, and have been restored and up kept well over the years. The drive out there is also really pretty, and I’d say if you don’t have much to do while in Galway, it’s definitely worth a look.

We stayed 3 nights in Galway, then we headed out to stay in Killarney for a night, and stopped by the Cliffs of Moher on the drive over. I really think that going to see the Cliffs of Moher is something that you absolutely should do while you’re in Ireland. It’s such a beautiful view, and it’s well worth the cold and intense winds that are around at this time of year. I feel like there’s not much that I can say about the Cliffs other than that they’re just beautiful, and they’re one of those landmarks that you should definitely make the effort to see.

Killarney is of course another beautiful little place, smaller once again than Galway. We only stayed there one night, so we didn’t get to see a lot while we were there, but in all honesty I don’t think there is an extensive amount of things to do while in Killarney. We got in quite late in the afternoon and left pretty early the next day so all we really did was go into the town centre, have a look around and grab some dinner. The bed & breakfast we stayed at was so cute, and the people working there were super lovely too. I think while Killarney is definitely not the most exciting place in Ireland, I think it’s still a lovely place to just relax and I’d love to go back at some point for a longer period of time.

From Killarney we drove back up to Dublin, stopping along the way in Blarney. As well as seeing the Cliffs of Moher, I think kissing the Blarney Stone is something that you just have to do while in Ireland. The Blarney Castle is now just a massive ruin essentially, but it’s still very interesting to read all the plaques about the family that had lived there and what each room had been used for. The walk up through the castle to get to the stone gets very small and thin near the top, buts it’s nothing that’s too hard to manage. Kissing the Blarney Stone was one thing that I knew I wanted to do while I was in Ireland, and I’m really glad that I did it.

We had a few days in Dublin before we had to fly home, and we spent 2 of these 3 days just around Dublin. We went down to the Guinness Storehouse and did the self guided tour through there, which was definitely very irish, and also pretty interesting. It’s very easy and enjoyable to get through, and the gravity bar at the top has a really cool 360 degree view of Dublin. Our second last day we spent doing our one organised tour of the trip. The trip we did was a one day tour up to Northern Ireland; to Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge, The Giants Causeway and Belfast. I would say that doing a tour like this is a really good way to see a couple of amazing landmarks, and spend a little bit of time in Belfast too.

Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge was a really beautiful place. The bridge was originally used to travel across to the small island which was used for salmon fishing. In my mind I thought it was going to be a much more hardcore and dangerous rope bridge, that we’d have to be harnessed up to in order to cross it, but it was nothing like that at all. It’s quite a short bridge, and has a wooden boarding so it’s much easier to cross than I thought it would be. If you have a fear of heights then this is not for you. Although it is a short distance across the bridge, it’s a 90 foot drop into the Atlantic Ocean below, and if it’s as windy as it was the day that I went, it could definitely be quite scary.

The Giants Causeway is only a 15 minute drive from the rope bridge, and both places have around a 15 minute walk from the car park to the actual landmarks. Neither walk is difficult, but the Giants Causeway has a couple of different walking paths you can take to get down to the causeway, as well as a bus that will take you down there. The causeway is really beautiful too, and you could easily get lost in time just walking around and taking it all in. While the walks up onto the cliffs above give you some stunning views, the causeway is absolutely better looked at from close up, so that you can actually see the shape of the rock formations.

We were only in Belfast for around an hour and a half on this tour, but for me that seemed to be enough. The most interesting thing that I think you can do while in Belfast is learn about The Troubles. If you haven’t heard of the troubles then you should definitely look up what happened in Belfast from the 1960’s-1990’s, it’s very interesting and sad, and the effects of it are still visible throughout the city today. You can take what’s called a black taxi tour through the city, which are driven by people who lived through the troubles and will give you a small history lesson on what happened. Our tour bus driver was really great and gave us a quick tour of some of the most significant locations from the troubles, and he knew a lot on the subject which was super interesting.

After our tour, we had one day left in Dublin in which we really didn’t do much other than do some last bits of shopping. We had to leave our hotel for the airport at 5am of the morning that we left, so we got dinner pretty early then headed back to the hotel to pack and then get to sleep. The shopping in Dublin was definitely the best of all the places we visited, which wasn’t surprising really considering it was by far the biggest city. Shops like H&M and Top Shop which I’ve never been overly impressed with in Australia, had a lot of great stuff over there. H&M I was especially impressed with, and of course the vintage shops I visited in both Dublin and Galway were all wonderful too.

We flew out of Ireland on the 11th of January, and already can’t wait until I can go back again. It’s a beautiful place filled with wonderful and friendly people, and if it’s somewhere you’re considering going then my advice is to absolutely do it.

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