Excursion Edition: Edinburgh

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This past winter break, we took a little trip over to Edinburgh, Scotland. We booked our trip through Groupon in the fall and were happy to have something to look forward to after finals – especially since neither of us were going to be traveling back home to the States for the holidays. This was the first trip we had ever booked with Groupon (though we had gone through LivingSocial for our first Ireland trip). We loved that the Groupon included our flights and hotel for an extremely reasonable price – if you’re flying out of Dublin, you can typically find 2-4 day vacations with flights to all kinds of European cities for between $150 and $300. I was very pleased with how it all turned out and will probably be booking trips this way in the future – in fact I have my eye on one for Krakow, Poland right now.

We visited Edinburgh at the beginning of January, so the Christmas market was still in full swing. This was a big draw for me as I love anything Christmasy and had adored the markets we had previously visited in Munich, Germany.

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Our flight to Edinburgh was through Ryanair, which some of you may know is one of the cheap, easy ways to fly within the European Union. Our flight arrived at the airport around 4:30 AM, and we took a quick tram ride to Princes Street – if you ask people for advice on where to start in Edinburgh, you will undoubtedly hear this street mentioned. It overlooks the Princes Street Gardens, shown above, that divide the city into its two halves – New Town and Old Town. I could immediately tell upon exiting the tram which side was which – New Town, built in the late-18th and early-19th centuries, is in a flat grid pattern and filled with Georgian/Neo-Classical architecture.

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Old Town is a stark difference with winding streets over hills and medieval style buildings, including Edinburgh Castle sitting proudly on top of a hill overlooking the city. Together, both sides make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Given that we got in so early, we started our morning with a much-needed caffeine boost; we found a trendy little cafe just inside Old Town called The Milkman. The coffee and croissants were an excellent way to start our trip, and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier.

After coffee we continued our morning by exploring Old Town on foot. Our first destination was one of the most famous in the city, the Royal Mile. This avenue runs from Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill at one end to Hollyrood House (where the Queen stays on her royal visits) at the other. Along the way, visitors can see everything that makes Edinburgh the charming city that it is: tartan stores, whisky shops, medieval cathedrals, statues, and (of course) pubs. If you find yourself in Edinburgh and want to just take it all in, this is the place to start.

We finished our first day by visiting the Christmas Market, which filled the gardens and overflowed out onto the nearby streets. The stalls had everything from woolen goods and handmade crafts to hot chocolate, coffee, gluehwein (a warm spiced wine that is a staple of the German markets), and all the fair food you can imagine. DSC_0450We did our late Christmas shopping, drank hot chocolate and ate some sweet treats, and took a ride in the Ferris Wheel overlooking the market. We spent the evening there and didn’t even scratch the surface of what this holiday festival had to offer. Luckily our hotel was along the same tram line we took from the airport, so it was very easy to trudge, exhausted, to our room for the night.

 

IMG_1163We started the second day with a trip to the Edinburgh Dungeon, a fun jaunt through the more sordid history of the city put on by people who had a lot of fun doing their jobs. Part haunted house and part history lesson, we had a good time taking a trip through time and learning about witch trials, torture methods, some local ghost stories, and Burke and Hair (two infamous grave robbers-turned-murderers who made a living selling bodies to scientists eager to study anatomy – eek!)

After the dungeon we had a quick lunch (Kelsey insisted on trying haggis) before getting on the Hop-On Hop-Off tour. This bus ride took us through both

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Haggis – sheep heart, liver, and lungs mixed with onion, oatmeal and spices. Traditionally cooked within a sheep’s stomach.

halves of the city and talked about its rich history from medieval times to the 19th century, along with some local folklore. We saw the Royal Mile again, Grassmarket (an old town square in the shadow of the castle that used to be the site of public hangings), various pubs with colorful histories (including Greyfriar’s Bobby, where a loyal pup once waited dutifully for its master that never came), Arthur’s Seat (the famous volcanic hill which offers amazing views of the city), and much, much more. These bus tours are a great way to get around a city cheaply and easily and be able to spend as much time as you want at a particular location, and I would recommend them in any city where they’re offered. At one of our stops along the Royal Mile, I noticed a crowd forming around a  man with two owls. While we were stopped, I realized  that the crowd was waiting for their turn to hold the birds. For any of you that don’t know, owls are easily one of my favorite animals so, of course, we immediately got in line. Unfortunately they were closing for the day, but the man assured me they would be back the next day – and you’d better believe we would be first in line. We ended the day by returning to the Christmas Market before heading back to the hotel for the evening.

 

Aside from the prospect of holding an owl, a highlight from the day was just seeing all of the pubs around the city and learning that seemingly every one has its own fascinating story. So again, I can’t recommend the bus tour enough.

DSC_0473After getting the general tour of the city and seeing a small part of it on foot, we had a good idea of what exactly we wanted to visit on our last day. We started the day at The Elephant House, a fantastic Asian-inspired cafe that also happens to be a Mecca for Harry Potter fans. This was where J.K. Rowling penned the first chapters of the Harry Potter series on napkins and scraps of paper, and they have mementos on display such as a signed book and pictures. Aside from the awesome history, I would recommend The Elephant House for its tasty coffee and pastries and a nice location in Old Town. I personally ordered Fleur’s Fantasy which is hot chocolate with a shot of Bailey’s Irish cream.

 

After breakfast, we had reservations at the Scotch Whisky Experience. Although it was IMG_1306never itself a distillery, this museum/tour did a fantastic job of teaching about the history, art, and enjoyment of Scotland’s most famous drink. I myself am not much of a whisky drinker, but I still very much enjoyed learning about the different types and the regions in which they’re distilled. At the end of the tour we did a tasting in a gallery housing the largest private collection of Scotch in the world. The assortment was a sight to behold, and I think Kelsey may have felt like he was in heaven. I would recommend the tour to anyone regardless of whether you enjoy Scotch, and they even let you keep your tasting glass as a souvenir. The Scotch Whisky Experience is just down the road from Edinburgh Castle, and after leaving we headed up there to spend a little time taking in the views from the top of the hill. Even if you don’t want to tour the castle itself, it’s worth making the trip just to see the square and look out over the beautiful city.

Finally, we made our way to Gladstone’s Land (the place with the owls) – needless to say, I was very excited. A small donation is asked, which we were happy to give, and everyone is given plenty of time to really enjoy their experience. I held Guinevere, a beautiful European Eagle Owl, while Kelsey snapped about 50 pictures. It was even better than I had hoped, and I was able to cross it off of my bucket list.

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For lunch, we headed back to Grassmarket to get a better look at it (since we had only seen it from the bus). Once the site of public executions, like I said earlier, it now holds open-air stalls selling produce and various goods – and is lined on both sides with pubs and restaurants. We had a hard time deciding where to eat with all the options available, but settled on The White Hart Inn – one of the oldest pubs in Scotland. Originally founded in 1516, this is the place where Burke and Hair picked up their victims to murder and sell the bodies – quite a dark history. The interior was small and exactly what you want in an old pub, and we ate delicious Scottish fare – including Irn Bru, a soft drink that is the most popular (non-alcoholic) beverage in Scotland. Afterward we took a roundabout path through Old Town back to the Christmas Market, where we ended the evening once again.

DSC_0434The next morning it was back on a Ryanair plane to Dublin. I would love to go back some day, but I felt like we had a perfectly fun-filled three days in an amazing city.

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Vet School Survival Tips

The first year of vet school was as challenging as it was rewarding, and after two semesters under my belt I thought about a few things that were important for me to remember so that I could stay sane during the stressful parts.

1. Build relationships

Vet school is hard enough as it is; for me, going it alone might have been impossible. The friendships I’ve cultivated have given me the support I’ve needed  through things like study groups, stress relief, and in general just having other people to talk to who are in the same boat.

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2. Stay organized

This topic has two important elements: mental organization and physical organization.

In my experience, the role of a planner is vital to a vet student’s success. I found it easiest to look at my syllabi for each module before the semester started and copy all relevant information immediately into my planner. This became a resource I used to look at my weeks “at a glance” to know exactly when and where I needed to be at all times and to keep track of all important deadlines.

As the semester went on and I learned more about social and society events on campus, I could easily arrange my schedule and block out times both to study and to take a (much needed) break.

This may not be the case for everyone, but I thrive in a neatly organized environment (which I’m sure will come as a surprise to my mother). I find that having everything in its place allows me to feel more relaxed when I begin my daily study sessions. It’s also nice to take study breaks and do some cleaning, which helps me clear my mind and gives me a sense of accomplishment before hitting the books again.

3. Study smart

There are countless different ways to learn, and a lot of thought has gone in to finding what works best for each individual. I myself thrive when I rewrite important points from my notes, lectures, and practicals. I also found drawing to be extremely helpful for both my anatomy and physiology courses – my review notebooks are filled with diagrams and pictures on almost every page.

Some resources I find to be helpful are Microsoft OneNote (for in-class note taking), Khan Academy (for another approach to learning certain important concepts), and Quizlet (for creating your own online flashcards – free). As far as veterinary-specific resources, a few of my go-to books were Guide to the Dissection of the Dog by De Lahunta and Evans, Cunningham’s Textbook of Veterinary Physiology by Klein, Anatomy of Domestic Animals: Systemic & Regional Approach by Pasquini, and the Veterinary Anatomy Coloring Book by Singh. There are also many useful online resources from a lot of the U.S. vet schools including Cornell, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and Iowa.

Again, everybody is different – the important thing is to find what works for you early on.

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4. Don’t stress…too much

Let’s face it, stress and vet school go hand in hand – but minimizing the damage is crucial. It’s important to find ways to de-stress, whether that be through exercise (for me, cardio and yoga – anything that helps clear your mind), meditation and mindfulness, creative outlets (like drawing, music, photography, or…maintaining a blog), connecting with nature, or finding time to keep up a social life.

5. Sleep!

Sometimes, an extra two hours of sleep is better than two hours of study. Especially around finals, your body needs sleep to keep you going and to keep your mind charged and ready. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest.

6. Utilize your resources

It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re the only one going through this, but remember that you are surrounded by people who can help. From your classmates to your professors to your advisors and counselors – there is always someone who can help you with whatever you may need.

7. Get involved

Most schools have a variety of societies and clubs to offer. UCD in particular has a large number, with many being specifically geared towards veterinary and health sciences. The Vet Society here at UCD is popular and hosts a wide range of social and educational events. Another society I particularly like is OneHealth, which is working to bridge the gaps between all medical fields – including human and animal medicine. Through the societies I’ve joined, I’ve been able to attend events ranging from a suturing clinic at a local hospital to presentations from leading researches and industry figures from around the world.

However, it doesn’t need to all be geared towards your degree. There are societies for almost any interest from music and drama to history and debate, Harry Potter, gaming, geography, sports, foreign languages, and many more.

8. Know your supports

Especially when attending a school away from home, don’t forget your support system. Whether it’s friends, family, coworkers – whoever you are close to from life before school is still there. It can be easy to forget when you become engrossed in the rigors of vet school, but you always have someone rooting for you at home. And with things like FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger, those people are easier than ever to connect with from all over the world.

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It’s essential to remember that, as a vet student, you are going through things that thousands of other people are. It’s certainly difficult, but you’re doing this because you want to. Keep things in perspective, remember that it isn’t insurmountable, and take care of yourself. 


And most importantly: if you find that you need help, just ask for it.

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8 Great Places to Take Your Dog Around Dublin

I’m sure there are even more wonderful places out there (and Sagan and I will find them) but for now, these are 8 great places we have found around Dublin to take your best friend.

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1. St. Anne’s Park

I absolutely adore this park. It has a wonderful mix of everything I want in a good walk with my dog and it keeps us both interested and happy. It’s quite large with plenty of nature (various types of trees, a river, large areas of grass for dogs to run) but also has charming rose gardens, beautiful stone walls covered in ivy, a clocktower, great playgrounds for kids, and cafes. On Saturdays, this park is host to a nice little market where you can buy arts and crafts, flowers, and homemade goods. This is by far one of my favorite places in Dublin. Sagan seemed to approve, too!

 

2. Ardgillan Castle

Perfect place to see some history, take in some great views AND the best part – it’s very dog-friendly! Located north of the city, Ardgillan has a large, beautiful castle to look at plus you can see the water and mountains in the distance from the grounds. They feature a dog-friendly cafe outside the rose gardens where you can have a light lunch and enjoy a little break between walks with your furry friend. The dogs aren’t allowed in the rose gardens but are allowed to walk all around the grounds and, believe me, there’s plenty to enjoy without entering the garden areas.

3. Wicklow Mountains

South of the city, the Wicklow Mountains span a large area with numerous trails to choose from. This area is great for breathtaking views of not only the mountains but lakes, waterfalls, cliffs, and the overall beauty of nature.

4. Loughshinny Beach

This is a peaceful, quiet beach north of Dublin. Great for when you want a calm setting for your walk. It’s rarely crowded and has really unique rock formations to look at.

5. Sandymount Strand

This is a nice stretch of beach with a walking/jogging trail along the coast southeast of Dublin city centre. There are good views of the Dublin Bay, famous Poolbeg chimney stacks, Dun Laoghaire, lighthouses, and the Wicklow mountains.

Sagan really enjoyed the day here and even made some new friends!

6. Howth

Howth is a peninsula just to the east of Dublin city centre.  There are many different trails and climbs that offer fantastic views of Dublin bay, the city, and the mountains. You can take a walk along the water from pretty much any side of this small peninsula or you can go to the Howth summit to get some gorgeous views of the city from above. You may also want to hop by the local fish market to buy some of the fresh seafood while you’re exploring.

7. Malahide

Malahide is a charming small coastal town located north of the city. It offers peaceful walks by the sea with long stretches of beach. We always see plenty of dogs and their owners out for a stroll when we visit and most of the time we can bet that Sagan will make some friends (and so do we)! You can also take your dog for a walk around the Malahide Castle grounds which are dog-friendly and surrounded by beautiful gardens. Overall, Malahide is definitely a great place for dogs – and their people!

8. Skerries

Skerries is another coastal town north of Dublin and, as with many of the others on this list, provides phenomenal views. Here you can see the boats on the water and the rolling countryside on the hills. You may, if you need a little post-walk refreshment, enjoy a pint outside at the various local pubs facing the sea.



Thanks for reading and feel free to comment if you know of some other great places to take your dog around Dublin!

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Vet School Semester 1 Overview

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Wow. I cannot believe my first semester of veterinary school is over already. In a way it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye, yet at the time it felt the opposite.

The first semester started with a week-long orientation which included campus tours, meet and greets, and team-building exercises – but most of our time was devoted to scheduled trips to Lyons Research Farm. Almost every day, my fellow 30 classmates and I would travel by bus from campus to the university’s research farm about 30 minutes away. We purchased coveralls and Wellies and spent the days learning about handling and behavior basics with horses, sheep, and cattle. It was a pretty exhausting week, but very informative and fun.

The first few weeks of classes were pretty intense as I was juggling a new school with a very different scheduling style, a lot of difficult classes, a new home in a new country, and trying to make new friends. Luckily, as time went on, all of those things did get easier. The classes were always hard of course, but the material is very interesting and fun to learn about. Unfortunately, vet school is a lot of information overload at times and it can be quite a task sorting it all out. Much of my time this semester was spent in the vet building library studying and tying all of the information together. The modules are good in that, for example, aspects of my histology class would relate to particular organs we had been looking at in one of my anatomy dissections that week. The module coordinators try to arrange things that way in order to aid students in piecing together the big picture.

The modules this semester were:

  • Cells, Tissues, Organs and Development
  • Neurobiology and Structures of the Head
  • Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems
  • Animal Behavior and Welfare
  • Professional Skills
  • Cell Metabolism and Dynamics

 

As a side note for anyone interested in applying to/attending vet school at UCD, most professors say that no books are required  but there are books that they recommend. The ones I found to be most helpful were: Anatomy of Domestic Animals: Systemic & Regional Approach by Pasquini, Cunningham’s Textbook of Veterinary Physiology, and the Saunders Veterinary Anatomy Coloring Book. Pasquini’s anatomy book has great diagrams and pictures as well as a wealth of information on anatomy of many domestic species. Cunningham’s Veterinary Physiology can be a little terminology and detail heavy but does a good job of explaining more in-depth physiological processes that you learn about in your classes. The Veterinary Coloring Book is an amazing study aid. It’s a great tool to work with in the days after your dissections to help you reinforce what you’ve learned.

I was lucky enough to make friends with a great group of fellow classmates and we created a study group. I highly recommend study groups, as it’s a great way to cement what you know and also a wonderful chance to talk through the things you don’t understand. We put this weekly group together about midway through the semester and I believe it helped me a lot with finals. We’ve already set it up for next semester so we can start right out of the gate.

Finals. Where to begin? They were very different than what I’m used to. First off, the exams are taken off-campus – about a 10 minute drive (5 Euro parking each exam) or a 40 minute walk from campus. You take the exams in a very large hall with around 2,500 other people. Most of the exams are essay only and (at least in the vet program) make up the majority of your grade – as in between 60 and 80 percent. You are only allowed into the exam hall with your student I.D., pencils, pens, erasers, and a calculator (all in a clear plastic bag). No backpacks or purses can be brought in. They also do random desk searches and may ask you to roll up your sleeves. If you come in with your phone or a smartwatch, it has to go face-down under your chair. If you are unlucky and your phone makes any kind of noise during the exam, you have to pay a fine and meet with a disciplinary board to discuss the situation. If you forget your student I.D., you also have to pay a fine and fill out a form. This was all very stress-inducing to me at first but after the first exam, it gets a lot easier.

Overall, this semester was exhausting and very stressful. Yet I know it was all well worth it as I reflect on the knowledge I gained over the past several months. I am also very lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends, family back home (sending me lots of great care packages), and wonderful locations around Ireland and the rest of Europe to travel to and get some much needed stress-relief. <— Posts about those trips to come soon! 😉

 

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7 Things You Might Be Surprised to Learn are a Little Different in Ireland

It’s January 8th and Christmas is just wrapping up in Ireland. From Christmas Eve to St. Stephen’s Day on the 26th, to New Year’s and “Little Christmas” on January 6th, the Irish have a full festive fortnight in which to enjoy the Christmas season. The post offices close, a lot of people take a couple of weeks off work and the celebration doesn’t end quite when you think it would. Upon coming here last summer, I had never heard of Little Christmas and didn’t know anything about St. Stephen’s Day beyond the line from Good King Wenceslas. It was quite a treat to learn about, and partake in, the holidays that were completely new to me, and it certainly made the already enjoyable holiday season that much more fun.

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This little difference at the end of December got me thinking about some other peculiarities in Ireland that you may not realize are not quite the same as they are in the States, and I thought I would talk about a few of them for a fun little first post of 2017.

 

  1. Shopping and Dining: Differences and Similarities

It should come as no surprise that the quintessential worldwide American food/beverage chains are common in Ireland – Starbucks still seems to be everywhere, and you can’t go far without finding a Subway, Burger King or McDonald’s (although Kelsey says not to expect the same burger – the price and quality both tend to be a little higher). It was slightly more interesting to see chains like KFC and Hollister, and a few Texaco petrol stations. These made sense, though. It was the subtly different but unrelated chains that I found to be even more surprising.

There is no Johnny Rockets in Ireland, but you can find a strikingly similar ‘50s American diner called Eddie Rockets (owned by a different company), and the atmosphere and logo are alike enough that I went as far as to look up whether or not they were related.

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I was happy to find an affordable clothing and home goods store that can be found in most malls, and its name (Penney’s) led me to believe it might be related to the familiar J.C. Penney chain that I know from the Midwest. Again, I was surprised to find out that they are completely unrelated; although, interestingly, the Penney’s here has a few locations in the States that go by its more common name – Primark.

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As an avid Victoria’s Secret PINK clothing shopper, I was very excited to see a PINK store here in Ireland. Imagine my disappointment when I found out it was a completely unrelated designer clothing store – mainly aimed at men’s fashion! The font is similar and the brand name is capitalized, but this store just so happens to be named after a man named Thomas Pink – who most assuredly has nothing to do with the PINK I know and love.

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I did, however, find one similar chain that was simply too much like its American counterpart to be a coincidence. It came as no surprise that the extremely affordable department store here – TK Maxx – is owned by the same company that owns the American TJ Maxx.

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On a somewhat related note, Ireland doesn’t have a one-stop-shop anywhere near the level of Wal-Mart, Target, Meijer and other American stores in the same vein. It is much more common to see rows of smaller, more specialized stores. For instance, a copy-print store next to a book store next to a shoe store. This is nicer in a lot of ways and definitely adds to the quintessential Irish charm, but I can’t say I would mind being able to buy a pack of bagels and a $5 DVD at two in the morning every once in a while.

The closest thing I could find is a brilliantly designed store called Argos. There are a few screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-21-25-32little toys, electronics and various small items on the walls when you walk into the store, but the floor is dominated by banks of computers and catalogues which you use to look up the item you want – whether it be a TV, toaster, LEGO set, etc. – and write down its catalogue number. You take the slip of paper with that number up to the counter, pay for your purchase, and wait while an employee pulls your order from the attached warehouse and brings it to another counter for you to collect. It is affordable, convenient and quick.

 

Also, a sad side note – there is currently no Amazon Prime in Ireland. That means no 2-day shipping and the inventory that may be shipped here at a decent cost is much smaller. 😦

 

  1. Most Things Close Earlier

I mentioned not being able to buy random items at 2 AM, but it was quite difficult for me to get used to almost everything closing by 5 or 6 in the evening. Even pubs, which might stay open until midnight or 1, usually stop serving food by around 9 o’clock. It’s also very rare to see “Open 24 Hours” signs anywhere. I have gotten used to planning, sometimes a week in advance, when I would be able to pick up dog food after class since I sometimes couldn’t get to a pet store by the time it closed at 6.

It happens at the other end, too – there was one day I wanted to grab Starbucks before class and was shocked to not be able to find one that opened before 7 or 7:30 in the morning!

These shorter hours coupled with (what feels like) random bank holidays certainly took some adjusting to, but I definitely see the appeal for the people who work in those industries.

 

  1. Interesting License Requirements

I was a little shocked to read, in preparation of moving here, that any household with a TV is required to have a TV license. The current standard cost is 160 Euros a year, and you will be fined if you don’t have it up-to-date. Luckily, only one license is required per household, regardless of the number of televisions.

So where does the money go? Most of it pays for public broadcasting and is used on programs promoting Irish culture and heritage and improving adult literacy, and providing funding for the primary news and cultural channel, RTE.

In addition to the TV license, you must also pay a license to own a dog. This is currently set at 20 Euros a year per dog, or 140 Euros for the lifetime of the dog. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any concrete information about where that money goes.DSC_0754.jpg

Along with licensing, there are also leashing and muzzling laws for certain breeds: these breeds include German Shepherd, Akita, Pit Bull and more. These breeds are required to be muzzled in any public place at all times.

 

  1. Energy Consciousness

It was something I heard early and often when we first moved here: “Don’t forget to turn off the immersion!” I live in a more rural area, and it’s very common in houses like mine to have the water supply heated by a source that, rather than being constant like a water heater in the US, is controlled by a switch or timer so no energy is wasted. This is the “immersion.” As someone who didn’t need to commit this to memory for 26 years, it was a bit of an adjustment and a common source of stress in my early days in Ireland. Obviously this is important to my Irish landlords partly because nobody likes throwing money away, but I think it also shows a certain energy consciousness ingrained in the culture here that you don’t necessarily see as much back home.

It isn’t just the immersion: recycling is the norm, including a separate bin for food waste. Clothes dryers are not nearly as common as they are in the States, and most people (around us at least) still use clotheslines. Seemingly every single power outlet I’ve seen has had a switch that can be turned off when not in use. (As a side note, if you’re reading this and planning on visiting Ireland, remember that the power outlets here also use a different plug than the States – this plug is referred to as “Type G” and is also used throughout the UK.)

 

  1. Cell Phone Plans

While we’re on the subject of saving money, let’s talk about cell phones. In the United States it’s common to pay upwards of $50 for a plan that doesn’t even offer unlimited data, and a lot of plans tend closer to $70. Coming from this, I was absolutely floored to see the pricing on plans in Ireland – so much so that I assumed there must be some catch. fullsizeoutput_349bCurrently I pay a monthly 20 Euro top-up which covers unlimited 4G data, unlimited texting, and unlimited in-network calls (and free calls all weekend). It gets better, though, as any fees accrued from calling out-of-network, in-app purchases or roaming data actually come out of that 20 Euro top-up, rather than adding on to your bill. I made enormous use of this when I first moved here, as I had to make frequent calls back to the States to sort some things out, and was able to pay for these calls out of the 20 Euros that I had already paid.

The big American networks, such as Verizon and Sprint, are nonexistent here. Instead the big three are probably Vodaphone, Tesco and 3. I have 3, which is also available in the UK, and when travelling there I can use my phone plan at no additional cost. There is also a very minor add-on fee for using it elsewhere in the EU, which is extremely convenient.

 

  1. Sports

You won’t find much baseball, basketball or hockey here in Ireland, and American football – while somewhat popular – isn’t followed all that closely either. What you will see are rugby, golf, horse and greyhound racing, MMA, boxing and, of course, soccer. Bigger than all of those, though, are the archetypal Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling, which are both overseen by the Gaelic Athletic Association. The most interesting thing about this is that none of the sports in the GAA are professional – they are entirely amateur. This has a predictably enormous effect on ticket prices – my Irish friends were shocked when Kelsey mentioned the general cost of an NFL ticket to them.

 

  1. Roads and Driving

The first thing you will notice about Irish roads, as soon as you leave the motorways or County Dublin, is that they are small. Many roads are narrow enough that if two cars meet going the opposite direction, one will have to pull over into the grass to let the other pass. In addition to being narrow, these roads also tend to be very winding. Roundabouts are extremely common and many times will have multiple lanes, figure-eight structure, and traffic lights. This can be a lot to consider when you’re first driving in Ireland, since you’re also on the left side and going around the roundabout clockwise instead of anti-clockwise.

I’ve tried to learn a little bit about the road system in Dublin from a combination of online research and friends who have grown up here. What I have found is this: since the Celtic Tiger, a decade of enormous growth in the economy and infrastructure of Ireland from the mid-‘90s to the mid-‘00s, the traffic in Dublin has grown a lot due to several factors. The combination of large multinational corporations in Dublin, economic growth leading to more people driving rather than relying on public transit, and a population boom in the last fifteen years has led to a bit of strain on the motorway encircling the city of Dublin, the M50. Rush hour tends to look more like Chicago than you would expect from a modest (by American standards) city of about 1.3 million. I had a hard lesson in this when dealing with that traffic every morning and evening on my way to and from UCD first semester, so I can attest to it.

The common car types are what I’ve come to expect in Europe: small, compact and mostly hatchbacks. I see more sedans here than I did in my short time in Italy and Austria, but SUVs are extremely rare and you would be hard-pressed to find a pick-up truck that isn’t a company vehicle. I honestly can’t even remember the last pickup truck I saw. It’s certainly a far cry from my home state of Indiana.

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Bonus Observations!

  • When you order a beer at the pub, it will almost definitely come in a glass with the name of the brewer on it. Guinness obviously comes in a Guinness glass, Heineken comes in a Heineken glass, Orchard Thieves (amazing cider!) comes in an Orchard Thieves glass, and so on.
  • I don’t think I’ve seen a single house with vinyl or wood siding here. It’s almost all brick or flat stone.
  • Kelsey insisted that I point out that lamb is often the same price as chicken, and barely more than beef.
  • Hopefully you don’t get thirsty easily, because the drinks here are small and you can forget about a free refill. Also, when you go to a restaurant, don’t expect water to be brought to your table without you asking for it.

 

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Some of these changes have certainly taken some getting used to, and I don’t think any of them are bad by any means. It has been a fun and exciting learning experience, and hopefully if you’re planning on visiting (or moving to) Ireland then some of this will come in handy.

Words/Phrases You Will Hear a Lot in Ireland

Some of these you may know and some you may not, but these are terms you are likely to hear with a visit to Ireland.

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“Hey, this place has great craic!”

General Terms

  1. Cheers! – often used as “Thanks!”
  2. Crack on – continue on
  3. Craic (pronounced “crack”)  – Fun or gossip. You may hear this as “What’s the craic?” or “That pub has great craic.” If a place has great craic then it is presumed to have grand conversation and good times.
  4. The Gardai – the Irish police
  5. Half eight – This would mean 8:30. Half eleven would be 11:30. Just how they denote a half hour.
  6. How’s the form?  – How are you?
  7. How’s she cutting? – How are things?
  8. It’s grand, I’m grand, you’re grand – Instead of saying something is “cool” or “awesome” you are likely to hear an Irish person say that something or someone is grand. Also, if you thank someone for something, their reply may be “Ah, you’re grand.”
  9. The Jacks, the loo or the bog – the restroom
  10. Knackered, Shattered or Wrecked  – words to describe being tired
  11. Mad – crazy. This is much more likely to be used over the word crazy, which is rarely if ever used. And words other than mad, like “cross,” would be used to describe someone who’s angry.
  12. Petrol – gasoline. Not called gas here.
  13. Pissed, Plastered, Flaming or Ossified – words to describe being drunk
  14. Queue/queuing – a line/waiting in line, say at a ticket office or a supermarket. This can also apply to car traffic.
  15. Wee – small
  16. Yoke – a thing or a person you can’t remember the name of off the top of your head, like Ireland’s version of a “thingamajig.”
  17. Your man or your woman – referring to someone you are speaking of

 

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“Can’t get enough of the black stuff.”

Food/Drinks

  1. Afters – dessert
  2. Bangers – sausage
  3. Biscuit – cookie
  4. Black stuff – Guinness (of course!)
  5. Chips – French fries
  6. Crisps – potato chips
  7. Minerals or Fizzy Drinks  – pop/soda/soft drinks
  8. Off-license (Offy) – you see this a lot on store windows or awnings; it means that you can buy alcohol at this establishment to take with you and drink elsewhere (a liquor store).
  9. Streaky bacon – what Americans would think of as bacon. The bacon in Ireland is more like thinly sliced ham.
  10. Spuds – potatoes
  11. Sweets/Sweeties – candy
  12. Sláinte (pronounced slon-chuh) – a toast “to your health” or “cheers”
  13. Take-away – carry-out

 

Some Extras We Have Heard…

  1. Arseways – if you did something arseways then you messed it up!
  2. The boot – the trunk of a car
  3. Creche – daycare
  4. Current Account – at a bank this is just like a checking account in the U.S.
  5. Dodgy – disreputable, an area of crime
  6. GAA – Gaelic Athletic Association, which handles Gaelic football and is very important here. You rarely hear it called Gaelic football or even football, they’ll refer to it as “G-A-A” or “Gah.”
  7. Holiday – vacation
  8. Jumper – sweater
  9. Pictures or cinema – the movies. Instead go saying you are going to the movies you would say you are going to the pictures or to the cinema.
  10. Trainers or Runners – tennis shoes
  11. Trad – Traditional Irish music. Sometimes you will see pub signs listing “Trad Sunday Nights” or “Trad here!”
  12. Windscreen – windshield
  13. Wingey (pronounced “win-jee”) – cranky/fussy

First Trip to Ireland – DUBLIN! Days 5, 6, and Heading Home

We started our day with a cross-country drive from Galway to our last city of the trip, Dublin. Before we actually went into the city, we decided to check in to our B&B, Cornerville B&B in Howth. Howth is a beautiful peninsula northeast of Dublin that offers magnificent views of Dublin bay. Cornerville certainly lived up to its 4-star status in beauty and service. In fact, I would probably say that it was my favorite of the three B&Bs we stayed at – although I admit I was a bit biased, given our new canine companions (and the fact that by this point in the trip I was missing mine).

Our hosts were nice enough to offer us tea and biscuits, along with some advice on what to do, before we headed into the city for the day. As you can see from the pictures, our new friends were also happy to welcome us (and were maybe hoping for a dropped biscuit or two).

The house was very charming and inviting, and our hosts took everything into account – we had heated blankets, the use of a computer and printer, and maps and guides for Dublin City.

With directions from our hosts, we found the train station on Howth’s main street and parked in the market. The area was exactly what you think of when you picture a seaside town: the smell of salt water in the air, lots of gulls flying overhead, and fresh fish for sale. From there we caught the DART, Dublin’s rail system, and headed into the big city!

Stepping off the train, we immediately noticed rainbow flags and a festive atmosphere. We then saw flyers indicating that this was the weekend of Dublin Pride. Along with the flags, the city was full of people in costumes, shops offering discounts for the festival, and crowds around some of the pubs that were so thick you could barely push your way through.

We were particularly touched to see graffiti messages about the recent attacks in Orlando and showings of  support for the victims.

We decided to just start by walking around with only a basic idea of what we wanted to see, and right away we happened upon an amazing site we didn’t even really know about, an ENORMOUS cathedral that captured our interest and drew us in: Christ Church Cathedral.

Located in the former heart of medieval Dublin, Christ Church was founded sometime in the 11th century. Much of the cathedral we saw was built after that time, but we did get a look at a bit of the original foundation on display (shown below in the bottom-left corner).  The cathedral is massive, spanning about two city blocks with a stone skywalk in between. Tours of the cathedral and dungeons are offered, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to take one on this visit.

We continued our walk around the city and encountered some pretty incredible sites including Dublin Castle, medieval walls, Dublin’s oldest pub (The Brazen Head, established in 1198), The Ha’penny Bridge, and many colorful buildings along the River Liffey.

We even found an area I thought would be perfect for our first picture in our new city.

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For dinner, we went to The Porterhouse, famous for winning “World’s Best Stout” twice. We sat on the third floor, and we were completely surrounded by bottles on all the walls of various beers from all over the world. I was happy to see my new favorite lambic beer, which I promptly ordered (some of the guys of course got the world-famous porter), and even though I was tempted to get fish and chips (again) I decided to try the veggie burger this time – and I wasn’t disappointed! The guys in the group informed me that the porter did, in fact, live up to the hype, and everybody enjoyed their food.

One of the few world-famous things we knew about Dublin was that it had some kind of spire, which we decided we would try to see before heading back to the B&B. As you can imagine with something that tall, it wasn’t very hard to find. The Spire, built in 2003, is 121 metres tall (that’s about 398 feet for those of us that don’t think in metric) and was commissioned in 1999 when the city wanted a redesign of O’Connell Street to reinvent the area and improve its overall aesthetic.

After the Spire we caught the DART back to Howth and rested up for our last full day in Ireland.

The next morning I had a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, which I had not yet had on the trip – and Howth was the perfect place to have it. The china looked very familiar, and I noticed that it was the exact same china my grandmother had used for most of my life! It was a neat coincidence.

Our plan for our last day in Dublin started with finding the tattoo parlor that two of our traveling companions had booked appointments with to get their permanent souvenirs. It turned out to be more difficult than we had anticipated – it was nestled in a tiny medieval street that you could pass by without even noticing (and we did just that!) We did eventually find Merchant’s Arch, though, and it turned out to be a colorful and vibrant little alley with lots of interesting storefronts.

While our friends got their tattoos, we enjoyed some tasty meat pies from The Pieman Cafe, which was just next door. We were served by The Pieman himself, and enjoyed talking with him about his business.

After lunch, we decided to do a little sightseeing while our friends were still occupied at the tattoo parlor. Trinity College was only a few minutes’ walk away and we were able to catch a tour of the campus led by a current student. He is pictured below showing us his academic robe.

At the end of our tour we had the opportunity to see the world-famous Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells. The library “long room” was even more captivating than it looks in pictures, and there was a lot more to see in it than just the architecture. The last picture on the bottom right shows the harp that gives Ireland its national symbol. I would have included pictures of the Book of Kells, which was incredible, but photography was not allowed in the exhibit – which seems fair, since the book is from 800 AD and has probably been through enough!

After Trinity College we met up with our friends, grabbed some pasties (mine was cheese, broccoli and leek filled – yum!) and got on a sightseeing bus tour to see more of the city.

At the end of our tour we hopped off at the Guinness Storehouse, long-awaited by some of the guys in our group and seen as a top attraction. The tour cost nineteen Euro a person, which included a beer at the end. It was mostly self-guided, and unfortunately – in my opinion – a little underwhelming. Unlike the Bushmills tour we had taken earlier in the trip, this one wasn’t of the actual brewery. Instead, we walked through what was essentially a Guinness museum. Many parts of the tour were just audio or prerecorded video, and it was so crowded and loud that you couldn’t really hear any of it. We did enjoy the top floor, which was a circular room surrounded in glass so that you could look out over the city while enjoying a pint. This area was also VERY crowded, so unfortunately you had to drink your pint fairly quickly and make room for the next group.

That was our last stop in Dublin, so we got on the DART and headed back to Howth for dinner. We ate right by the DART station and Howth Market at a restaurant called The Bloody Stream. It had a cozy atmosphere with a fireplace and dim lighting, and the seafood was as phenomenal as we had hoped.

After dinner we made our way back to the B&B for our last night in Ireland.

As if leaving wasn’t hard enough, I had some visitors while I was getting ready to go the next morning. The two Yorkies we had initially met on our arrival to Cornerville had become four (our hosts were dog-sitting two other pups). I enjoyed another breakfast of smoked salmon and our hosts talked to us a little about the area and gave advice for places to live when we came back in the Fall. We thanked them for a lovely stay and decided to see just a little bit more of Howth before we left for the airport.

We walked along a pier on Howth harbor and said our final goodbyes to Ireland… for now.

 

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First Trip to Ireland – Day 4

After a busy day at the cliffs, it was great to wake up to a delicious breakfast and a relaxing break in the gardens behind Roncallli House before we set off for the morning.

For our second day on the west coast, we drove northwest to the deservedly famous region of Connemara: a region well known for its bogs, mountains, lakes and beautiful forests. The drive was beautiful, but the absolute best decision we made on this trip was to leave the main motorway on a whim and drive through an area that we thought looked like it could be beautiful. We were right!

The road R344 is a regional road that cuts between Lough Inagh and the Maumturk Mountains, and the entire route was peaceful, quiet, and the most beautiful place I have ever travelled to. After driving along a road with sheep constantly crossing in front of us and traversing a path through lakes, trees and mountains, we finally decided we had to get out of the car and look around.

 

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What greeted us was an amazingly gorgeous pastorale scene unlike anything I have seen before. We parked right along a lake which sat at the base of rolling hills, across which we could see forests and mountains, and aside from the flocks of sheep roaming around us there was not another soul around.

Seeing and being in this area was my favorite point of  the entire trip, and it was pure happenstance that we decided to check it out at all. It was archetypal Ireland at its finest, and it’s a place I can guarantee I will go back to. I felt like I never wanted to leave, but we had more destinations planned for the day, including…

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Kylemore Abbey! After parking, we walked along a path toward the visitor center and were greeted with the above view. Visitors immediately get an idea of the beauty of the abbey, and we were anxious to explore and learn more about it.

Upon entering I immediately felt that I had walked into my favorite show, Downton Abbey.  It’s like stepping back in time to that era, and visitors are surrounded by elegance and Victorian charm.

In our tour of the abbey we were able to watch a brief video about its interesting history. It was built between 1867 and 1871 as the private home of Mitchell Henry, who had it built to show off what Connemara had to offer, and was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909 after Henry returned to England. Unfortunately the Duke and Duchess had a bit of a gambling problem and were forced to sell it again after only a few years. During World War 1, a group of Benedictine monks had to flee their monastery in Ypres, Belgium and relocated to the abbey in 1920; they have remained there ever since. Between 1923 and 2010 it served as a school for girls from the surrounding area, but now it is simply a monastery for the nuns – and a great place for tourists to visit.

It’s not just the abbey that you get to see for the price of admission. Visitors can also visit a small Neo-Gothic church and a Victorian walled garden – although the surrounding woods, lakes and mountains and the beautiful walk to the garden ended up being our favorite parts. Even with scores of visitors all over the grounds, it was hard to not get the feeling of calm and serenity as we walked alongside a lake and watched the mists roll down over the mountains. At the end of our 20-minute walk, we came to the six acre walled gardens full of all kinds of vegetation we had never seen before. To see such a variety in one place was truly remarkable, and our pictures really don’t do it justice.

After taking  shuttle back to the abbey, we sat by the lake and watched swans and sheep going about their business a short distance away. It was amazingly peaceful.

Eventually the inevitable rain rolled in and we took that as our cue to leave. We started our drive back to Galway, but this time we went west instead of east and stopped in the capital of Connemara, a smallish seaside town called Clifden. We stopped there for lunch/dinner and walked through hilly streets with picturesque shops on all sides. Eventually we came to a pub whose name we recognized from travel guides online – Mannion’s. We wanted a traditional Irish meal, and we sure got it; the rest of the group had beef and Guinness stew, and I went with the old standby of fish and chips (my favorite of the entire trip). After lunch a couple of the guys got whiskey and a dessert called sticky toffee pudding – which was apparently good enough that they talked about it the rest of the trip. After we all tasted the pudding, a few more were ordered. I did have a bite, and can attest to the fact that it was absolutely delicious – even for somebody who isn’t the biggest fan of caramel.

After dinner we left for Galway, and because of rock slides we were forced to take a detour off the motorway through more winding country roads. None of us minded, because we got to see more beautiful Irish countryside (and more sheep). The roads were so narrow that we had to pull over every time we passed a vehicle going the opposite direction, and everybody worked together to make sure traffic went smoothly and always passed with a polite wave.

Finally we got back to Galway City and walked to Quay Street again for a night on the town.

The streets were lively and fun, and you never knew what you were going to see next. We came to a crowd and moved closer to see what was going on, expecting more performers of some kind. Instead we found a game I had never seen before; the sign above reads that if you pay a ten-Euro entry fee you can try to hang on the bar for 100 seconds to win 100 Euro. We watched a couple people try it, one of whom looked quite strong and almost made it. We were all rooting for him!

The rest of our night consisted of walking around the busy street, buying some trinkets for family back home, and enjoying some gelato and another pint. I was also pleased to discover one of my favorite beers (Kilkenny Irish Red), which I had only ever tried in Munich, in a liquor store on the way back to the B&B – I couldn’t pass it up.

Tomorrow marks the end of our time on the west coast – it’s time to go visit what will be our new city in a few months: Dublin!

First Trip to Ireland – Day 3

We started our morning with breakfast at our B&B, Keenogue House. This B&B was great and very accommodating considering our late night arrival after our Northern Ireland adventures the previous day. They provided a delicious Irish breakfast by a beautiful bay window that looked out to their stables and greenhouses; it was also nice to look out and see the Border collie at work since I was currently missing mine.

After breakfast we shuffled back into our rental car and set out for the western side of the island. It was about a 3 hour drive from Julianstown to Galway and it was a pretty peaceful drive full of lush, green countryside.

Once we arrived in Galway, we checked in to our new B&B for the next two nights – Roncallli House. This was another great B&B with friendly hosts that welcomed us and gave us an idea of things to do in the area. Our room was a very nice size and we were surprised to see that we had a view of the water in the distance.

From our B&B we then headed to our next destination: The Cliffs of Moher. This had been one of the sites I was most excited and anxious to see since we decided to visit Ireland. The trip to the cliffs was approximately an hour and a half traveling along the west coast. The road was constantly curving and narrow – not the easiest to navigate. The drive was very eye-catching as it spanned through an area called The Burren, which is composed of rolling hills of limestone. We also passed a few castles along the way and got many great views of the water and countryside.

After the winding road stretched higher and higher, we finally made it to the top of the large hill with the visitor center for the cliffs. We parked and began walking – at this point we still couldn’t really see anything resembling the Cliffs of Moher, but as we walked closer to where all of the other people were looking, we could hear traditional Irish music being played by a street musician. The music grew louder as we approached the cliffs, and suddenly we were looking out over the ocean from a height of about 200 meters – it was absolutely astonishing.

Around the visitor center, there was a wall about chest high – as seen in the pictures above. As we walked along the cliffs, though, we came to a warning sign telling us that we were leaving the safer area. Past the sign, the only thing separating us from the cliffs themselves was a hip-high stone wall – which Kelsey of course insisted on climbing over immediately. Eventually I did follow him over, but I wasn’t there for long!

Just north of the visitor center is a small tower, seen below, called O’Brien’s Tower. Built in 1835, the tower doesn’t actually have the storied history you come to expect from Irish castles. In fact, it was built by the landowner at the time just as a place for tourists to have a view of the cliffs. It cost us two Euro apiece, and the view was definitely worth it. However, if we thought it was windy at ground level, it was nothing compared to the wind tunnel going on at the top of the tower.

Overall the cliffs, though they made me feel small, they also made me very excited to get to live in a country that offered such beautiful natural treasures. The pictures truly don’t do them justice – there is nothing like standing over the lapping waves far below, hearing the constant surf, and feeling the sea air blowing in your face. Even with a large crowd everywhere along the paths, it was one of the most peaceful and cathartic places I have ever been – but standing near the edge was also amazingly thrilling. There’s a reason the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous natural landmarks on the planet.

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After the cliffs, we made our way back down the winding road to Galway. We stopped back at our B&B, got ready for dinner and then walked from there to Quay Street (pronounced “key” street). Quay street is the notable main street full of nightlife and entertainment in Galway. Our walk there was about a mile from our B&B. There we ate some quick dinner at a small doner kebab place (doner is Turkish shaved meat, very popular in a lot of European countries) and grabbed some pints at a local pub.

After Quay street we explored the main drag a little, and we stopped at a pub by the Claddagh called Salt House. We had heard they had the “best double IPA in Ireland” and some in the group wanted to try it but, unfortunately, they were out of that beer. However, nobody had any trouble finding something they loved – and we even saw some beers on tap from back home. I myself had a Belgian lambic beer that is now one of my favorites – Lindemann’s Cassis. The atmosphere at the Salt House was lively and fun and the people were inviting and genuinely interested in what brought us to the country.

The Salt House sits on the River Corrib as it enters the mouth of Galway Bay. When the river runs under the bridge the salt in it collects at the base of the bridge and collects to form a sort of foamy layer – you can see this collection of foam in some of the pictures below. It was a cool and unexpected sight.

After that last pint we headed back to our B&B to get some rest for a busy day in Connemara.

First Trip to Ireland – Day 2

Wow. Today was filled with some absolutely amazing activities and gorgeous sites. We left our hotel in Drogheda around 08:00 this morning and hit the road for Northern Ireland. I drove the entire time today and I have to say, I think I’m getting used to it. The only tough part was when we occasionally would get lost or have to drive on a small  country road barely big enough to fit our vehicle (let alone any other).

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We stopped for breakfast at a place called Gables right off the motorway as we entered Northern Ireland. The staff were very kind and we were able to partake in some great breakfast tea and traditional Irish breakfasts. The meat-eaters in the group seemed intrigued by the blood pudding and were head over heels for the bacon, which looks very different from what I typically think of as bacon in the U.S.

After breakfast, we continued through Northern Ireland to our first place of interest for the day – Dunluce Castle. This castle as a whole is from the 17th century, with some sections dating back to the 13th, and unfortunately it sits in ruins today. It is still very beautiful and rests upon cliffs overlooking the ocean.

As you can see in the photos we got some cloudy weather, but luckily no rain. It was a gorgeous day to visit. Our second point of interest today was mainly to please a few of the guys in the group – the Old Bushmills Whiskey distillery. Though I am not a fan of whiskey, I still thought the town of Bushmills and the distillery tour were quite fun. The town is small but very inviting and the distillery tour was intriguing (basically like watching processes from my organic chemistry class in much larger format). The tour also ended in samples of Bushmills whiskey which definitely made the men in our group happy. For my sample, I opted for a “Hot Totty” which is a one part whiskey, two parts hot water, cinnamon, cloves and some lemon.

Once we finished our whiskey, it was time to head to our third and most anticipated location of the day – The Giant’s Causeway. What’s great is that all of these locations are actually very close to each other. It didn’t take us long at all to get to The Giant’s Causeway, park, and get into the visitor’s center. Once we walked out of the visitor’s center, we saw a long trail leading by the water and around a  large cliff. The large stones we initially saw were black as charcoal and like nothing I had ever seen in nature – stunning, and not even the main attraction. Once we got farther down the trail and turned to pass the cliff we finally saw it. The Causeway is breathtaking. It looks like an array of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns forming hills in and above the water. It almost seems impossible that something like it could be a result of nature but they were formed  by an ancient volcanic eruption.

One more thing I found to be quite fascinating about this area was this section of very tall columns where people from around the world had appeared to stick coins in-between the interlocking pieces. There were thousands of these coins and I wondered how long this tradition had continued. Even while I was there looking at all the different coins I saw a man pick up a piece of rock and use it to hammer and wedge a penny in-between two of the pieces.

Lastly for today, we needed to start heading back toward the Dublin area where our B&B for the night would be. We wanted to make one more stop along the way. Admittedly, I had never heard of the Dark Hedges until I saw the series ‘Game of Thrones’ but as soon as I did see them in the show, I knew I would want to visit someday. For those of you that have seen the series, the hedges are on the ‘King’s Road’. They are an amazing tunnel of beech trees dating back to the 18th century.  The hedges were not terribly far out of our way but unfortunately we did get a little lost trying to find them. But hey, all is well that ends well, right? We did eventually make it and I am so glad we did.

Also, for anyone that likes ghost stories, there is a beautiful estate located right next to the hedges called Gracehill House that dates back to 1775. According to some local folk-lore, there is a ghost called the Grey Lady that haunts the estate and the hedges. Spooky.

After the hedges and a somewhat long drive, we made it to our B&B located in Julianstown called Keenogue House. It is a beautiful house located on a fully working farm with barns, greenhouses, fields and even a border collie (yay!). I’m sure this will be a great night’s sleep as we were are all quite tired from the adventures of today and have some very comfy looking beds to look forward to. More tomorrow!