Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ireland: Dublin, Limerick, Cork

So this past weekend I traveled to Ireland. We had many ups and downs along the way so here we go.
Our flight to Dublin was scheduled to leave at 8:55. So we took a bus to the airport, which it was one of London's smaller ones so getting through security and checking in wasn't a problem. We even had enough time to sit down and eat dinner. The plane was a little late to board, I have yet to understand completely why but it sounded as if they were doing a security check or something along those lines. The flight was rather short too, about an hour or so. Once we landed we went to try and figure out how to get to the hostel. The only option that late at night was a taxi. We stayed at the "Shining hostel" which was pretty much in the city center so that was nice. We arrived and had some issues paying because the ATM gave all of us 50 pound notes and the hostel had almost no change. After some finagling, we got situated they gave us our linens and we headed up to our room. We were staying in a 18 bed room--which is officially too many people in the space provided. Here we had a little problem because there were only 3 beds open and there were 4 of us. So G and Sam went back down to figure it out and they ended uo staying in a different room while Mike and I slept in the original one. Minor drama but no big deal. I was calm until I went into the bathroom. Now I am a very relaxed person who doesn't get grossed out easily but this bathroom takes the cake. It was terrible. Extremely dirty, I barely wanted to go to the bathroom. And a shower was out of the question-wearing flip flops was too much exposure for your feet--definitely some virus floating around the floor. But we went to bed anyway.
We woke up the next morning and walked about two blocks to the city center and looked for a tourist office for some information. The people here were very helpful and we decided to buy tickets for the Guinness Storehouse tour (of course) and a hop-on hop-off bus tour which took us to all the major sites of the city. We hopped on the bus and it was a bit cold so we had to sit on the lower level of the double decker bus which I wanted to sit upstairs--better view, picture opportunities and open air. We rode it till the Guinness Factory and got off to take the tour. The tour was really cool--just like brewery tours back home only a bit bigger the place had about 5ish levels. After the tour we went to the top level which is where the Gravity Bar is located. With the ticket we got a complimentary pint of Guinness so we checked that out. The bar had an amazing view of the city-simply gorgeous. After here we hoped on our bus tour to see the rest of stops. We saw cool places like Trinity College and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Trinity college is where some of the scenes for the Harry Potter films were shot and we actually saw a rainbow there! How amazing is that? After touring most of the afternoon, we headed back to the hostel took a break and went and ate dinner at the Asian Buffet that was next door--delicious! We then went out to a pub and called Madigan's had one pint and went back to the hostel. We had to get up early to head to Limerick. We had some issues with the beds..again. Sam and G were supposed to be in our original room but there was another mix up-long story short G ended up staying in a different room.
We woke up early to catch a train to Limerick. I mostly napped on the train but was woken up by the man that checks your tickets. We arrived in Limerick smoothly and after having some difficulty with the bus system we ended up taking a taxi to our hotel. The hotel was really nice-just your standard room but it was heaven compared to our Dublin hostel. It was called the Two-mile Inn-named for how far it was outside the city. The first thing we all did was take a shower--the hostel in Dublin was too scary so I opted to be smelly instead. And it was an amazing feeling to be clean again. Ah showers. After that we all got ready-our taxi driver told us that if we only had one day in the city the best thing to see is Bunratty Castle which was in the next town over, Co. Clare. So we took his advice and I am glad we did. We took a bus to the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. So cool. The castle was really fun because they recreated all of the rooms to how they looked in the time of the castle. Attached there was a recreated village as well and you got to go in the houses to see what they looked like. In one of houses they had freshly made scones too! They were delicious, we each had at least two. So we pretty much just walked around the sites and such. Afterward, we walked across the street to the Creamery Bar for dinner. I had beef lasagna, potatoes, and vegetables. I think it was my favorite meal since i have been over here. We then took the bus back to the hotel and had a little break-watched some tv/ news. I haven't watched tv since I have been over here so even the cheesy Irish soap opera was fun. Then we decided to head into the city for a pint. G wasn't feeling well-migraine-so the three of us went. Mike and I got a pint of Guinness and Sam all of sudden felt sick so she didn't get anything. Eventually she went and threw up in the bathroom-she thinks the food didn't sit well with her. Mike and I were worried about getting sick from the two of them-just because spring break was in a week. This was actually a Rugby bar called Foley's and we watched the Ireland v. Bulgaria football match.--they tied. And then headed home.
We woke up early and took a bus to Cork. Cork is a gorgeous city built on a hill so from the bus terminal all you can see are these rows of houses with fields off in the distance. We then hopped on a bus to Blarney where we were of course heading to Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle was really cool and had a completely different feeling to it from the last one. you actually walk through a little bit of a garden to get to the castle and they haven't really restored it at all. Just added some railings here and there. So it was like walking around on these cool ruins. Yes i kissed the Blarney Stone. It was actually kinda neat--you have to sit on the ground and lean backwards/ up side down while a man holds on to you. Very cool--I can check that one off my bucket list. The funny thing about the castle was that it had the smallest corridors and stairways-and since we didn't have a hostel in Cork we had to bring our luggage with so my backpack made me feel like a watermelon getting squeezed through a keyhole. We left the castle and had some time to kill before the bus so we went and did some mini souvenir shopping and ate dinner. The bus took us back to Cork where we had about an hour and a half to kill before we need to catch our bus to Dublin--where our hostel for the night was and where our flight was leaving from in the morning. During the lay over I went a couple streets over and walked around there shopping district. I went to Penney's there which is basically the equivalent of Forever 21 from back home--there I bought a pair of capris and a pair of shorts for spring break, since I only brought one pair of shorts with me over here. The travel back to Dublin was fine everything went normal. We found our hostel after some minor directional errors. this one was way better than the one we stayed at before-smaller rooms (6 beds), clean bathroom, free internet! Amazing. We stayed up for a little while and chatted then realized that we had to be up at 4 to catch our flight back to London. When we went to sleep it was just the four of us in the room (2 free beds then) but to our surprise at about 1-2 am two Spanish girls came into our room-must've checked in real late. And after them being really loud and turning on all of the lights-I almost punched them. I wanted to asked them to be quite but I could only of the rude way to say it in Spanish. They also must have figured that none of us spoke Spanish but I've had about 6-7 years of so I understood most of what they were saying which made it hard to fall asleep because it didn't just sound like gibberish to me.
We awoke at 4 am to catch a taxi to the airport. We arrived without a hitch and I wish the day stayed that way. We chose to do online check-in and had our tickets already printed off. So we headed to security. I t was the morning rush so it was a little hectic. I got through perfectly fine but the other had had problems because they had umbrellas in there bags and they were supposed to take them out before the x-ray machine. So after security we headed to our gate; we were here a bit early so we had enough time to grab some crappy airport breakfast ( a croissant and juice). Normally, planes board about a half hour before their departure time but our flight didn't start until about ten minutes before, which was rather annoying. So we began to board and hand the respective people our tickets and passports. Mike was let through fine but Me and Sam weren't allowed-I was told I couldn't board the plane. When i asked why I couldn't I was told that I needed a stamp on my ticket-a visa verification, like an ink stamp on my ticket. Apparently if you are not an EU ( European Union) student you need said stamp to get on their planes. Whatever. So G was able to go on because she is Norwegian. Sam and I jaunted back to check-in . Which was a bit difficult because it meant that we had to go through security backwards...which you're not supposed to do. We had to talk to the head officer on duty and explain the situation before we could go through--luckily they sympathized with us and were actually quite upset with the airline. After they let us through we hurried to check in, explained what happened, and had our tickets validated. By the time this happened it was about 6:21 and our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:25. We thought we could run back but the guy said it would be a waste of time since by the we would get back to the gate the plane would be gone. Annoying. So as this was happening Mike called me to inform me that they realized that they let him on the plane no problem but figured out they shouldn't have. So they went and kicked him off the plane! Seriously, what is wrong with these people. So the airline told us that to get on the next flight would cost 248 Euros ($400)! Sheesh. So we went to a different airline which had a flight for 182 Euros ($250) which still sucked but it was the best deal we were going to get. The whole time I was about to cry because I had a paper due Monday that is worth 50% of my grade and they don't accept late papers. So we bought the ticket, made it through security (again) and to our gate. This time we were able to board the plane no problem. We got back to London made it through the airport and jumped on a tube which takes about an hour to get to King's Cross, next to where I live. I was back in time to hand in my paper, but the events at the airpoty really put a damper on the trip and I was in a bad mood for 2 days. Oh well, at least I kissed the Blarney Stone right? :)

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