Ireland: Day 3

My final full day in Ireland started off with hopping back onto the Paddywagon tour bus at 7:30 am to head to the famous Cliffs of Moher.

On our way, we stopped at a castle to take photos and to stretch our legs. There were some tourist shops and a cafe at this rest stop, so I spent some time browsing before getting back onto the bus.

An Irish Castle

After the castle, our journey continued onwards until we finally arrived at the famous Cliffs of Moher. Here, we were given two hours to see the cliffs and eat lunch.

My friend, Maria, and I decided to walk/hike the Cliffs of Moher first before getting our lunch. There were two path options: one with a stone “fence” and one without any barrier. For part of our journey, we opted to stay behind the safety of the stone fence. This path happened to be crowded and narrow. At some point, Maria and I decided to hop over a low part in the stone wall and walk on the other side where there were fewer people and we could see the beautiful Cliffs of Moher more easily. The farther we walked, the better the view of the cliffs became, which is seen in the progression of photos I took below. I am sure I said many times “this is so beautiful.”

I definitely think some form of a water-resistant shoe is needed when going to the Cliffs of Moher. Rainboots or hiking boots provide warmth and grip on the muddy/wet path and traction with the high winds. I could not believe the number of tourists that wore impractical shoes to the cliffs. I am talking about high heels or white shoes…crazy! There were also the risk-takers who chose to get as close to the edge as possible for the PERFECT Instagram photo. I had to look away several times.

After taking tons of photos and admiring the view, Maria and I made the trek back so we could grab some food.

I think it was at this point that I decided I am not a fan of organized tours. If you are only in Ireland for a brief time (or any other country for that matter) and want to see the highlights or main attractions, booking a day trip like a Paddywagon tour is perfect! You hop on a bus and the driver drops you off at all of the sights for a limited amount of time. What I did not like is that I had a limited time at each designated location. We drove around 4 hours from Dublin and only had 2 hours at the Cliffs of Moher. For me personally, I wanted to walk/hike along the path more, but there simply was not enough time. When I go back to Ireland (someday), I will rent a car or take a train myself so I can go at my own pace.

When our time was up at the Cliffs of Moher, the Paddywagon driver took us to the Baby Cliffs. This area we only spent 30 minutes at and the views were gorgeous! Once again, I had to look away several times because of how close to the edge my peers were getting for photographs.

Our next stop happened to be a small Irish fishing village. It worked out that this was not a long drive from the Baby Cliffs because someone ended up getting carsick and we had to do some cleanup on the bus. The buildings were colorful and fun!

After our brief pit stop, we drove the rest of the way to Dublin.

For dinner, my friends and I went to the Brazen Head, which is Ireland’s oldest pub! We all had some Irish cider and Irish food. If you are in Dublin, I think the Brazen Head is a must! The atmosphere is fun and live music occurs on certain nights of the week. Unfortunately, we did not experience said live music because we did not stay late enough.

Our group split in different directions after dinner. I went with Maria and Taylor to get ice cream at Cloud Nine, which is right across from Temple Bar. The area around the bar was bustling at night and very lively. A great place to people watch if you ask me!

Kinder Bueno icecream…yum!

Well, that concludes my time in Ireland. Please stop back here tomorrow to see my day one recap of Wales!

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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Dublin, Ireland: Day 2

On Friday, I had a free day in Dublin. My day began with eating a quick breakfast with my friend Maria at our hostel. Then, we left to explore the city.

Our first stop was the famine memorial along the river. The statues were extremely eerie in the daylight.

Remembering the Irish famine

Next, Maria and I walked to the Ha’Penny bridge. Back in the day, it cost half a penny to cross the bridge hence the name. Now, Ha’Penny bridge is free to cross and an iconic city landmark.

Ha’Penny Bridge

Once we crossed Ha’Penny Bridge, Maria and I walked towards the Temple Bar, which is a famous pub in Dublin. We then popped in a souvenir shop to look around. Afterward, we parted ways.

The Temple Bar

My next stop was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library. I happened to run into some of my friends at Trinity College, so the five of us went inside to see the Gospel Latin manuscript and old books in the library. Quite honestly, I went mostly to see the library over the Book of Kells because I am a book lover at heart and am not religious. The exhibit detailed how the Book of Kells was written and how the drawings were made, which I found extremely interesting. I could not take pictures of the two books on display. However, for being written in 800 AD, I was wholly impressed by the detail and neatness of the drawings and writings in the books. Next, I headed upstairs to the library. When I stepped upstairs, I smelled the air of dusty books. BEST. SMELL. EVER. I 100% spent more time here just gazing at the books than I did reading about the creation of the Book of Kells. #noshame

To enter the exhibit, student admission costs 12 Euros with a normal admission 1 or 2 Euros more. For what I saw, I felt the whole experience was overpriced. However, I am glad I went to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library. It is definitely not an exhibit I would return to see.

After Trinity College, I walked to a nearby park because the weather was amazing! Sunny outside and warm, which is highly unusual for Ireland since the weather is typically rainy like England. The park had fountains, beautiful flowers, statues detailing the history of the park, and a nice pond. I was half tempted to pull out my Kindle to sit and read on a bench for a while, but I did not. Too much to see in so little time!

Once I walked through the whole park, I decided to traverse some nearby streets that had cafes and shops. I found some neat alleyways, local stores, and unique buildings!

By the time I wrapped up in the covered area (pictured above), I had to start walking towards the Guinness Factory for my 1:00 pm tour. After a 15-30 minute walk, I finally made it to the building where I met up with my friend Kirby.

Once 12:45 pm rolled around, Kirby and I headed inside. The tour was completely self-guided, which I liked because I had time to read the information on each floor. Of course, the museum is set up to resemble the largest pint of Guinness in the world as you ascend to each level.

Throughout the tour, we learned about the different ingredients that are put into the Guinness, how each batched is processed, and the evolution of Guinness advertising. My favorite portion of the exhibit was learning about how the barrels were coopered. A cooper had to spend 7 years as an apprentice before being able to make the barrels on their own. Crazy!

Most importantly, though, Kirby and I learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. All Guinness has to be served in an official Guinness cup with the gold harp facing out. When pouring, you line up the tap with the harp and tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle. You pull the tap towards yourself so the gas and liquid mixes together. As the glass begins to fill, you slowly tilt the glass back up to a straight position. Once the Guinness reaches the harp symbol you stop and let the glass sit for approximately 119.5 seconds. This allows the beer to settle and separate. After the 119.5 seconds pass, you fill up the rest of the glass pushing the beer tap away from you so only the liquid comes out. This step is the most difficult because you want to top off your drink with a nice “bubble” over the rim without the drink overflowing.

Now, the most important part…the taste test. I actually enjoyed the Guinness, which I was not expecting! Typically, I am a cider or sweet wine type of gal. However, this ruby red drink (Guinness is not black in case you did not know) was really delicious! Kirby and I headed up to the 360 degrees bar area to drink our pints. We each made it about halfway through before calling it quits. Neither of us wanted to chug our drinks in a short period of time and wanted to get on our way to explore the city.

All in all, I spent around two hours at the Guinness Factory. I think if you go to Dublin, it is an absolute must! The ticket for a student is 18.50 Euros and includes a pint of Guinness, which you can choose to pour (like I did) or have a bartender pour for you. For non-beer lovers or even kids, the voucher can even be used for a soda.

Farewell Guinness!

After the Guinness tour, Kirby and I walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I believe admission was 6 Euros for students. Kind of pricy depending on how long you stay, but worth the money!

Once we wrapped up at St. Patrick’s, Kirby and I wandered in and out of some local shops and admired the building art of the city.

Pretty soon, both of us found ourselves REALLY hungry. We opted for a restaurant called Elephant and Castle, which had burgers on the menu. Now, I know burgers are not Irish but a burger sounded delicious and the restaurant looked so cute! We were both under the impression Elephant and Castle was an Irish burger establishment. Come to find out after reading the menu, the first Elephant and Castle was opened in New York City. It was not until the Irish cook could not get his visa to return to the United States that he decided to open a restaurant in Dublin. No wonder the burger tasted like home (haha). I had the Elephant burger and let me just say it was delicious!

The Elephant Burger! The sauce is curried sour cream. Yum!

After dinner, Kirby and I meandered back towards our hostel. We stopped in a department store to look around. The store had so many departments and floors that Kirby and I could not find the way out. We had to ask an associate how to exit the store. How embarrassing and hilarious!

If you plan to visit Ireland, you definitely need more than one day to see Dublin! There were so many museums that I simply did not have the time to go in and have a look around. I think two days would be the perfect amount of time to see the sights and get a feel for this lively city.

Stop back Monday to read all about the famous Cliffs of Moher!

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo