Summer adventures, continued

Some noteworthy that have happened since my last blog post:

Day trip to Connemara and Galway with friends

This included a lot of sitting on a very bouncy bus, with stops at a peat bog, Kylemore Abbey (so beautiful it looks fake), an hour long cruise from Killary Harbor around Ireland’s only fjord, a tiny little town where I got a handmade leather wallet, and an hour in Galway city (where we could’ve spent a lot more time!). Overall, it was a good trip! (PS – I haven’t edited all any of the photos from my nice camera, so a lot of these are just quick phone snapshots!)

 

Spent time drinking delicious tea and reading

Some days after work, I spent some time sitting in Bewley’s Cafe or in the friendly, hip Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge, sipping on tea and reading. While I’ve been here, I finished Looking for Alaska by John Green. It was a quick read and was well written for a young adult novel (his debut novel as well!), but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn’t really like any of them, and felt annoyed with the narrator (a 16/17 year old boy) most of the time. The ending of the book was the kind that gave me goosebumps because it closed out the story so well, and the story itself was pretty gripping, but I just didn’t come away from the book with a great overall feeling. John Green gets a lot of praise for being a great YA lit author (and a lot of hate/criticism, some of which I really agree with), but this book just didn’t live up to the hype for me. It’ll be interesting to see the movie version of it! I am now reading It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice. It’s already incredibly moving and powerful!

 

Went to Longitude Festival with my friend Sara

My boss was kind enough to let me take a half day on a Friday to go to the Longitude Festival out in Marlay Park! My friend Sara and I had looked at tickets for it earlier in the summer, since we both love Bastille and they were playing on the main stage, but had decided back then that the tickets were too pricey. One week before the festival, we impulsively decided to go! Bastille doesn’t tour around the US very often, so this was a great opportunity to see them. We left Dublin via coach bus around 2pm, and spent the day watching new (to us) bands perform and getting excited about Bastille. The set-up for the festival at the sprawling Marlay Park was awesome – there were different stages tucked in random wooded fields and there were tons of delicious food stands. It was forecasted to rain that day, but it was barely even cloudy – we lucked out! Bastille was excellent (aside from the tall annoying man standing in front of me) and they’re even better live than they are on their album. I also discovered Hudson Taylor, a brother duo from Dublin who perform folksy-indie original songs that make me very happy to listen to! It was a long day, and we got back to Dublin around 11:30pm after a lot of walking, but it was definitely time and money well spent!

 


Day trip to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, courtesy of Global Experiences

My coworkers said we were crazy for doing the Cliffs and the Burren in one day, and I kind of have to agree! The day after the Longitude Festival, I got up at 6:20am (thanks to my roommate for waking me up when I didn’t hear my alarm!!!) and boarded yet another coach bus with the 45 other interns and we headed off to the west of Ireland. This was another day trip that Global Experiences arranged and included in our program fee. I had already been to the Cliffs of Moher and to the Burren, so I wasn’t all that excited, but it ended up being a lot of fun! We stopped in Limerick for a few minutes to take pictures of a castle, which is somewhere that I’ve never been. Around 11:30 we finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher, which are a stunning sight to see! I took a lot of the same pictures of them that I took two years ago, but was brave enough to walk on part of the unauthorized path (ie, not paved and with no barriers between you and a very far drop) which I was too nervous to do last time. I still don’t enjoy seeing other people near the edges of things, but I was a little proud of myself for going a step further than I was comfortable with.

After our stop at the Cliffs, we got back in the bus and drove to Doolin for a delicious, touristy lunch. My family had actually stayed at a B&B in Doolin when we traveled around Ireland two years ago, and we passed it on our way to the restaurant! It was fun to be re-tracing those steps. The road to/through the Burren was VERY windy and narrow, and I don’t know how our bus driver managed to do it! The stop in the Burren was at a different point than I had been to before, and it was so beautiful. There’s something so impressive about the rock formations there. I could’ve spent a long time there exploring the landscape! Finally, we stopped for a snack-and-bathroom break in Kinvarra, which was incidentally where my family had stopped for lunch on our trip! Tired and happy, we made our way back to Dublin by 8pm.

MY FAMILY CAME TO VISIT!

Easily one of the most exciting parts of my time here in Dublin was being able to show my parents and my sister around “my” Dublin. It has been pretty fun to feel like a local after the short time I’ve spent here, and showing my family my route to work, my favorite cafes, places I get lunch, etc. was great. They came in the middle of the week, and I met the very jetlagged travelers for lunch before heading back to work. I was able to take a day off of work on Friday to spend more time with them, and they left on the next Sunday. They had a short trip, but we packed a lot in there – museums visits, delicious dinners at new restaurants, lots of lattes, a day trip via the DART to Malahide and Howth (which included a castle!), a sister night out to see one of our favorite drag queens Latrice Royale (it was sickening), a Croke Park stadium tour and museum visit, a self-guided walk through the Guinness Storehouse museum, and a few (free) pints of Guinness at their Gravity Bar. We got lots of great pictures together, and I was very sad to see them leave, but it’s great to know that I will see them so very soon! August 10, to be exact!

 

Paris for a day 

Near the beginning of the program, when I was sitting in the living room with a few other girls from the program, we were trying to plan out our weekends. One girl, Samantha, suggested a day trip to Paris, specifically to see the end of the Tour de France. I’m not big on bike races, but the idea of a spontaneous quick jaunt to Paris sounded perfect. We booked our (more expensive than I thought) flights to Paris, and a few weeks later, off we went! Two of my other friends also went, but their flight was at a different time to a different airport in Paris, so we decided it would unfortunately be too complicated to meet up and explore together. The girl I went with, Sam, is fluent in French (lucky for me!) and we traveled very well together! After getting to the airport at 4:30, and only being able to sleep a little bit on the flight, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. The customs experience was the quickest one I’ve been through – they didn’t give us any forms, or even ask how long we were staying… That was quite different from any time I’ve flown back to the United States from abroad. We made our way to the RER (like a commuter rail) and ended up smack-dab in the middle of Paris – the first thing we saw when we came out of the station was the Notre Dame Cathedral! I’ve been to Paris before, with my family a few years ago, so I didn’t feel the need to do all of the tourist-y things. Sam felt the same way since she had visited before as well, so we focused on walking around Paris, getting to see the sights, experience the culture, and end our day by seeing a bit of the Tour.

After walking along the Seine, seeing the famous bridge full of love locks, getting delicious crepes at a cafe, and attempting to stay hydrated in the heat and sunlight, we made it to the Eiffel Tower for some typical photos and a rest. There’s something so impressively magnificent about standing underneath the Eiffel Tower! After we rested our already aching feet a little bit, we checked our map and headed up to the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe, where we hoped to catch the final minutes of the Tour de France. On the way, we stopped for a few snacks, including a macaron for me! I had never tried one before. I am officially hooked. We weren’t sure what time the Tour would come through the Champs-Elysees, so we weren’t totally expecting to see the race before we had to leave for the airport. Luckily, as we were heading towards the Metro to leave, support cars and motorcycles began to drive through, so we knew the bikers were close. We found a spot with only a few people in front of us, and waited, cameras ready. We heard some cheers, and the bikers ZOOMED by! It was amazing how fast they were, and how many of them were packed so close together! My camera decided to auto-focus on people in the crowd instead of the bikers, since I couldn’t see where it was pointed, but Sam got some great pictures with her phone! After a minute, the bikers raced back down the other side of the road. We saw them go up and back a few more times, and then headed to the Metro to leave, satisfied.

The trip back to the airport was a little longer, more crowded, and more tiring, since our feet were aching (I got twenty seven thousand steps that day) and we didn’t have time to grab dinner or much water before we left. The airport was an absolute MESS. We stood in an unneccesary line for 20 minutes, then stood in the non-EU passport customs line for over an hour. Inching along, a few tiny steps every few minutes, growing increasingly tired and anxious, as our flight was supposed to board very soon. There was only one customs agent for the hundreds of us in the line that wrapped around 4 or 5 times. They brought a second agent in, and Sam and I were about to walk up to the desk, when six people who had been standing on the side cut in front of us. Exhausted and cranky, we moved to the other line (which probably wasn’t the nicest thing to the people in that line), and the guy behind us tried to follow. People started moving forward, some people started pushing, the guy who tried to follow started yelling, and it was stressful. The agents then got out of their desks and moved us all back. By this time, our flight was supposed to be boarding. And we still had no food and no water. We rushed through after a few more minutes, kind of ran to security, and luckily, they delayed the boarding of all flights since they knew the customs line was insanely long. We made it on the flight, slept a tiny bit, and after an hour and a half, we were back in Dublin. We took a taxi back, and I have never been so happy to see those leafy Lad Lane Apartments since the morning I first arrived in Dublin. Our time in Paris was wonderful and unforgettable, but it’s unfortunate how one terrible leg of the trip can mar the rest of it. Hopefully in a few weeks, the memory of that stress will fade and I’ll be able to look back on the trip with only happy thoughts. (PS – read Sam’s blog posts about our trip here & here!)

And that now brings me to the LAST week of my internship, and the last bit of time I’ll be spending in Ireland! This summer went by so much faster than I expected it to. It was a whirlwind with lots of traveling, meeting new people, learning, and adapting, and it has been great. As cliche and cheesy as it sounds, this time in Dublin has changed me and made me more independent, a little more adventurous, and more confident in my ability to work in a professional setting and live on my own. While every experience has its ups and downs, I know I will remember the high points of this summer for a long time to come.

I have one day left of my internship, and then my boyfriend Ben comes to visit and travel with me all over Ireland. I’m so excited to see him and to explore the coast and countryside together!

Thanks for reading! Margaret

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