My trip to Ireland is officially over but was full of lots of good craic! Ireland was a perfect first port to stop at and it was hard to say goodbye to the friendly Irish! We have meetings the nights leading up to our arrival to prepare us for entering the country. Two nights before we have our cultural pre-ports where we learn about the culture and history behind the country. The night before we have logistical pre-port where they tell us places to visit and any information about traveling.
We arrived in Galway at 6 AM. Most of us got up at 5:30 to watch the ship pull up to land. Standing up on the 8th deck and seeing land for the first time in over a week was surreal. Galway was an interesting port because we weren’t able to pull up to the dock. We instead had to go through the process of tendering. We anchored on the water and took the lifeboats to shore. The process of checking passports, going through customs, and taking boats out to port took a few hours but we finally touched land at 10. I traveled with my friends Paige, Jade, Ashley, and Haley in Galway. We started off going to a touring company and signing up for a tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We went with a bus full of SAS students and when we were there ran into even more friends. The tour was a half-day tour and took us through the beautiful green hills of Ireland. The cliffs were breathtaking and I took a million pictures walking around. After the tour we went back to the hostel to take a nap after traveling all day. When we woke up from our nap we had our first experience with “land sickness” the faculty told us all about. After adjusting our bodies to continuous waves our body didn’t know how to react to being on land. We all sat up and were dizzy and/or nauseas. We didn’t let that hold us back from experiencing Galway at night. We found dinner at a local place and went shopping for the Clauddagh rings that originated in Galway. We spent the rest of the night in pubs throughout town talking to locals about life in Ireland.
The next morning we were up bright and early to get on a bus. Our group split and Paige and I traveled with other SAS students to Dublin. There was a huge game – Notre Dame vs. Navy – which drew a lot of US fans. It also meant that most hotels were full. We walked around town looking for places and finally found the last room in Dublin! That night we met up with other SAS students and went to the Temple Bar area to the Pubs. We ended up meeting a group of Irish boys who talked to us for over an hour about Ireland and what they loved about it. It was sweet to be able to compare our countries and hear about different traditions they have. (It also helped that our homework assignments are to speak to locals about different topics and they answered everything we could ever need!!)
The next morning we woke up and went sightseeing! We paid for an on-off bus through Dublin. We planned on mainly using it for transportation. We went to Trinity College, Dublin Castle, the Cathedrals, and wandered through the streets. We ended up getting lost and walking all over which ended up being an amazing way to see the city and meet locals. The people here are so friendly! We asked for a good place to eat and not only did they tell us a good place but they walked us to the place, which was at least half a mile away. They have an amazing spirit in Ireland which I’ve never experienced before. We met up with some SAS students at a pub later in the day to watch the Dublin vs. Mayo game. They had live music playing while everyone was packed in watching the game. One thing I love about Ireland is their live music and street performers everywhere! After the game we went and got Shepherd’s Pie and walked around town more. Perfect day in Dublin!
The last day we had a shorter amount of time because we had to be back at the ship by 6. If we are late we get “dock time” where we aren’t able to leave the ship in the next port for a certain amount of time. We got back at 4:30 to make sure we had time to spare. I knew my brother would kill me if I missed out on a tour to the Guinness factory so we took the on-off bus to the factory. We went on the tour and got to see how it was made. They had a computer where you could type in your last name to see if any of your ancestors ever worked at the factory. I typed in Bolger, how they used to spell my last name and multiple people popped up. You never know! We went to the top deck to get our free Guinness. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the beer, the view from the top deck was amazing! On the way back we stopped to see the statue for the potato famine and then headed back to the ship.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot because cramming Ireland into four days is nearly impossible. I fell in love with the country and people of Ireland and hope to come back soon! I wish my family were here to see it with me! I haven’t gotten too homesick yet which surprises me but there are definitely times when I’m sightseeing that I point out how much my parents or my brother would love to see certain things. We had one day of classes today, which was hard after an exciting four-day break. It was a lot of fun to catch up with friends and exchange stories while sitting out by the pool or eating dinner outside. I still can’t believe this is all happening. I hope everyone at home had a relaxing Labor Day weekend! The State Fair was missed by all of the Minnesotans on the ship! Tomorrow at 8AM I’m off to London! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in England!