Well I just got back from Ireland last night and it turned out to be a great weekend. I guess I’ll talk a bit about last Wednesday in the German pub for the semifinal for the Euro 2008. We had a group of about 10 Iowa students there watching the soccer match with Germans going crazy for the national soccer team. During the whole game, I was standing in the middle of a crowd of almost all Germans cheering on their team, trying to join in on the chants. However, most of them were in German so I had no idea what they meant. Germany won the match and everyone in the bar celebrated their entry into the Euro final.
After work on Thursday, I headed down to the Victoria tube stop and walked over to the bus station. Mark, John, Meghan, Liz, Matt, Yuan, and I all hopped on the National Express up to Stansted Airport. We were worried we were going to be late because of rush hour traffic but it turned out that we were very early since our plane got delayed twice. The plane was supposed to take off at 9:45 p.m. but it took off about 11:00. We touched down to Dublin around 12:15 and hopped in a taxi to take us to our hostel. At first, the hostel was somewhat creepy because I had heard of the movie “Hostel” but never seen it. The hostel was very quiet, and the hallways were somewhat dark. The reception desk didn’t give us specifics on the room so we were walking into different rooms looking for ours. After waking up a few rooms, we finally found ours. The hostel for Thursday night was only about 9 Euros, so it was a good price. It was a decent room, could’ve been much worse. 4 of us stayed in one room and it was with one other guy. When we got to Dublin, we just walked down to Temple Bar, their big nightlife area. Because it was so late, we just walked around.
We woke up to a continental breakfast in the hostel and headed out. We walked over to tour the Jameson Whiskey brewery first. We took the tour, which was an alright tour. We had a tour guide and he walked us through the process of making whiskey. I was pretty disappointed because it was just an area that they created for tours and we never really saw the real brewery at all.
Next we walked to the Guinness Brewery, which was one of the cooler places I’ve been to. The tour was a self-guided tour and was very well done. It was interactive and interesting. The building was 4 or 5 stories tall with something on every floor. The Gravity Bar at the top gave a great view of Dublin in every direction.
After the Guinness Brewery, we took a taxi over to Budget car rentals. We had decided earlier in the day that we would drive to Galway (thanks to Rachael and Patrick’s suggestions). Galway is on the west coast, about 3 hours west of Dublin. We wanted to rent a minivan since that would fit all of us, and luckily Meghan and Liz are both 23 to rent it. At first they said that we couldn’t rent it since you have to be 30 to have that many passengers, but Liz and Meghan persuaded them to let us take it anyway. Luckily Meghan knows how to drive a stick shift and was confident enough to drive on the left side of the road.
We made stops at different towns along the way to try to get some Irish food. However, to our surprise, most pubs seemed to stop serving food at night and only served beer at night. We continued on and finally got some food at a grocery store. We made our way all the way to Galway. The countryside in Ireland is great. Instead of having cornfields, they are big grassy areas with sheep everywhere. Also, there are many stone walls which tend to be very old and cool to see. After arriving at Galway, we found our hostel which we had booked earlier that day at an Internet cafe in Dublin. The hostel was voted one of the best in Ireland and it proved to be nice. However, when we walked into our room, two French ladies woke up and asked how many of us there were and we told her. Then she got upset and said that they had requested a female only room and that they had paid extra. We insisted that we just booked that day and that it wasn’t our fault that they put us in the room. We ended up going to the guy a reception and he came up and said that it was a mixed room and that someone had told them wrong. It was already 11 p.m. so we just put our bags in the van and went downtown.
We woke up the next morning and the ladies were still sleeping so we never had to talk to them again. We took off in the van and headed southwest to the Cliffs of Moher. We stopped at a few towns to take pictures. Nice scenery the whole way. The roads in Ireland are terribly small at some points, so Meghan was conservative with her driving. At points, it would be tough for us to pass another car without pulling all the way over as far as possible. One town we stopped at caught my attention was Doolin, a town about 10 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher. We parked along the street and went to a little restaurant to buy sandwiches to go. The town was literally a block or two, but the people here were very nice. A few people stopped on their way through to have coffee outside along the main road. I would have liked to have done that, but we were constrained with our flight time and getting back to Dublin in time. We kept driving up to the Cliffs of Moher. We saw many bed and breakfasts along the way with great scenery over different bays and the ocean. Makes me want to come back to Ireland and just drive around for a week while staying at different cottages and driving around the country.
We finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher, and they didn’t disappoint. The cliffs stretch hundreds of feet over the ocean water. An amazing sight to see. However, unfortunately someone apparantly either jumped or fell off of the cliffs before we arrived. There were probably 40 officials there figuring out what to do and trying to do something about the person that had fell. I’m not sure if the person was alive down there, but they did have a body board that they were about to lower down the cliff. I never heard exactly what happened or how it turned out. Because of this, we weren’t able to go over to some of the cliffs. But we were time constrained anyway, so it was ok. It was a cold, foggy, windy day but it was still enjoyed. After this we made our trip back to the Dublin Airport. We went dropped off the car and hung out in the airport until our flight left at 9:15. Made it back to London, took the bus to the tube, took the tube to King’s Cross, and walked back to Nido.
Today, I woke up and did laundry, cleaned the room up, and then headed over to Regent’s Park with a group of 7 of us. We walked around the park, then found a place to play soccer and throw around the frisbee, then went and got some food and brought it back to the park. It turned out to be a nice day, somewhat cloudy but probably about 75 degrees. Then tonight a small group of us went to a pub to watch the Euro 2008 final. Spain ended up beating Germany 1-0 which was actually a pretty boring game. Now it’s time to get ready for another week of work. Hopefully something new will come my way this week. I didn’t use my camera much this weekend so I will get some pictures from others soon and post them.
Thanks for reading and we’ll talk soon.