Wanderings & Ramblings

The Last of Irish Travels

Okay, so I’ve been pretty busy again. Let me mention some noteworthy things that happened a little bit ago, and then I’ll move on to my trips the past week.

– First, I started climbing at a new, local gym a couple months ago, and got to know the people working there. It was small and a fun atmosphere. On May 11, they were having a fundraiser for Nepal. The goal was to climb 8848 meters, the height of Everest – except with everyone donating and contributing laps on the wall. So, I made my donation and for my day of climbing, I did 50 laps to help Nepal (I climbed 350m total). All proceeds went to the Himalayan Stove Project, and the fundraiser was a great success! (The gym is Activate Waterford.)

 
Selfie at Activate Waterford for the Everest Challenge for Nepal!
Selfie at Activate Waterford for the Everest Challenge for Nepal!
 
 
Watched the sunset at Kilbarry before my last exam. Great night!
Watched the sunset at Kilbarry before my last exam. Great night!

– Technically, I was still finishing up school. I had my last exam on Wednesday the 13th. It felt great to get it over with, as that was the final I was most stressed about. It feels weird, however, that my semester is officially over.

– That afternoon, to celebrate, Brit and I went to city centre for some fun, before we met some of the others to do a mini pub crawl. We went to some of our favourite pubs, and tried a few new ones. It was great craic! Later we met up with ‘everyone’ as a sort of goodbye party. There have been a lot of goodbyes the past week, and they have been really hard for everyone. Who knew that you could grow so close in just a few months!?

Alright, now you’re caught up.

On May 15th, Brittany and I set out on a mini-trip to check out another area of Ireland we wanted to see. So, we left the Republic and headed to Northern Ireland to spend 2 days in Belfast. It still amazes me that we can take 2 buses, travelling for 4 hours, and cross an entire country, into another. As we all know, 4 hours would not even get you out of British Columbia…

We took a tour with a black taxi cab. It’s a historical and political tour of the city, and although it is a whirlwind of information, it is fascinating! The history is so tumultuous, from the conflicts and divisions, to the acts of violence which were common until merely 7 years ago. You can still feel the instability in some parts of the city. We went around the city seeing murals, memorials, Catholic & Protestant neighbourhoods, and the peace wall. It was truly interesting, and made me curious to know more about Irish history.

 
On the bus to Belfast!
On the bus to Belfast!
 
 
Quote in the hostel in Belfast. Loved it - even if there were spelling errors.
Quote in the hostel in Belfast. Loved it – even if there were spelling errors.
Queen's University in Belfast.
Queen’s University in Belfast.
 

Our driver dropped us off at a great place for dinner, and after eating, we wandered the city a little. We found Queen’s University, which we agreed looked like something from Harry Potter, and we quickly walked through the Botanic gardens before they closed.

The next day was the one we most looked forward to – a tour to Giant’s Causeway! Not only did we get to see the natural phenomenon, we also went to Bushmills Distillery for a pit stop, and saw Dunluce Castle from afar. The winds that day were insane, but we were pretty lucky weather-wise. Giant’s Causeway was not what we had expected, but amazing nonetheless. It is seriously busy with tours and tourists, but we had fun walking around and taking pictures, even hiking a trail to get a view from the cliffs above.

 
Dunluce Castle from a distance, on the Antrim Coast. It was crazy windy!
Dunluce Castle from a distance, on the Antrim Coast. It was crazy windy!
 
 
Post-wind selfie back on the bus. Love this girl - we can make crazy faces together and laugh!
Post-wind selfie back on the bus. Love this girl – we can make crazy faces together and laugh!
 
I am on top of the world at Giant's Causeway! (So many tourists though...)
I am on top of the world at Giant’s Causeway! (So many tourists though…)

Before the tour ended, we stopped at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, where you can cross to a tiny island that used to be used for fishing. Apparently, the fishermen didn’t have to pay taxes on what they caught there – but they had to lug the fish out of the water and across the bridge. To finish off our trip, we went to the infamous Crown Bar for a pint. Belfast was super interesting and I’m glad that we had the opportunity to see it, even for a couple days.

 
 
Giant's Causeway - a beautiful natural phenomenon! The rocks are so cool.
Giant’s Causeway – a beautiful natural phenomenon! The rocks are so cool.
Selfie at the Giant's Causeway cliffs.
Selfie at the Giant’s Causeway cliffs.
 
The Antrim Coast - view from the cliffs at Giant's Causeway.
The Antrim Coast – view from the cliffs at Giant’s Causeway.
 
 
The famous Crown Bar in Belfast. It was so cool! Enjoyed a pint there our last night.
The famous Crown Bar in Belfast. It was so cool! Enjoyed a pint there our last night.

Coming back to Waterford, there were more goodbyes and parties. Again, it was really hard to say goodbye to people we had grown close to over the past few months.

Lastly, was the trip I just came back from – Brittany and I went to Killarney for a few days. It was more bus rides, and 4 hours (again) to get there, but it brought us to the southwest of Ireland, a part we had yet to see. The bus ride into the city was beautiful, and the town of Killarney itself was cute – like a mix between Waterford and the town of Kilkenny. We took a short walk through Killarney National Park, as it began to pour rain on us, and looked around town before heading to the hostel to make dinner. We ended up sharing a room with 2 girls from Alberta – a whole room of Canadians, eh?

On Tuesday, we got up for what we had been looking forward to – a tour. We found out we would be touring the Dingle Peninsula that day, the Ring of Kerry the next. Weather-wise, we had wanted it the other way around, but it actually worked quite well! It didn’t rain on us either day and we were afforded spectacular views (of course).

 
 
Inch Beach - a beautiful place on an amazing day.
Inch Beach – a beautiful place on an amazing day.
Inch Beach - far longer than an inch, stretching far into the distance. The tide was out and it was amazing.
Inch Beach – far longer than an inch, stretching far into the distance. The tide was out and it was amazing.
 
Beautiful Dingle Peninsula
Beautiful Dingle Peninsula
 
Probably the smallest church in Ireland. In the Dingle Peninsula.
Probably the smallest church in Ireland. In the Dingle Peninsula.
 

The Dingle Peninsula Tour took us to so many amazing places. First stop: Inch Beach. The sun was shining and the views were spectacular as you looked down the far-stretching beach. The tide was out, so you could walk pretty far too. It was a great first stop. We made multiple other stops along the way at viewpoints overlooking beautiful beaches, the ocean, castle ruins, hillsides, the Blasket Islands, and we walked to the smallest church in Ireland. It was so adorably small!

Part way through the day, we stopped at the town of Dingle. It was a place I had really wanted to go, and I was ecstatic to have some time to spend there! We wandered through shops and along the harbor, taking pictures. We got ice cream from Murphy’s, an amazing place! I had Irish coffee ice cream (yes, it had Jameson whiskey in it), and chocolate. We continued our walk and took pictures with the statue of the famous dolphin – Fungie!

 
I was so excited to finally visit Dingle!
I was so excited to finally visit Dingle!
 
The Dingle Harbour was so cute!
The Dingle Harbour was so cute!
 
 
Yummy ice cream made in Dingle - Irish Coffee & chocolate.
Yummy ice cream made in Dingle – Irish Coffee & chocolate.
 
Fungie the dolphin statue! Famous in Dingle.
Fungie the dolphin statue! Famous in Dingle.

Back in Killarney, we went for a walk to Ross Castle in Killarney National Park, as the sun was still shining and it was a gorgeous day out. To finish off the night, we had a quick pint at a little pub, where I got to try a beer brewed locally in Dingle. I’m loving trying new beers now, trying to find new ones I like, and trying local ones whenever I can. Thanks to the guys for making me try new beers all the time – now I find them on my own!

 
Killarney National Park - we went walking because it was a beautiful day.
Killarney National Park – we went walking because it was a beautiful day.
 
Ross Castle in Killarney National Park. It was pretty cool!
Ross Castle in Killarney National Park. It was pretty cool!
 

Wednesday led us to our tour of the Ring of Kerry. Now, to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to see on this tour other than the landscapes of Ireland from a bus. I actually had no idea what the Ring of Kerry was. Anyways, the tour started off slow and was sort of a letdown in the beginning after we had just experienced the stunning Dingle Peninsula. The first stop was just a viewpoint of the peninsula from the opposite side of the valley, and the second stop was a tourist trap – pay to watch a mini show. We opted out and had lunch instead. Only to find that the next stop was at a single place for lunch. We walked a little to get a better view of castle ruins far down in the valley – apparently a filming site for a movie I love, Leap Year!

 
Views of the Ring of Kerry
Views of the Ring of Kerry
 
A beach at the Ring of Kerry.
A beach at the Ring of Kerry.
 
The beautiful hillsides.
The beautiful hillsides.
 

Then it only got better. The sights became even prettier as we ventured further into the valley and weaved through the mountains. We made multiple stops at viewpoints, including Ladies’ View, where the Queen (I don’t remember which one) saw the mountains and lakes of Killarney. It was beautiful.

After the tour, we decided to wander Killarney National Park since it had become such an amazing day. We ended up finding an open field and taking tons of pictures of the amazing views: fields, mountains, lakes, and just nature. And deer. Weirdly, I became obsessed with the fact that there was technically no proper fence up, and there was a massive herd of deer in the center of the area we were walking. And I became fascinated watching them as they attempted to ‘escape’ their enclosure – literally just stepping over the fallen fence. But one deer left and multiple others followed. And I got to fulfill a wish of mine for Ireland: walking through a wide open field. It probably wasn’t illegally trespassing, as I’m pretty sure it was somehow part of the park…

 
Lady's View in the Ring of Kerry!
Lady’s View in the Ring of Kerry!
 
Slightly obsessed afterwards, we found a Murphy's in Killarney, too.
Slightly obsessed afterwards, we found a Murphy’s in Killarney, too.
 
I got to fulfill my bucket list - walking through a random field in Ireland. I'm pretty sure it wasn't trespassing.
I got to fulfill my bucket list – walking through a random field in Ireland. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t trespassing.
 

To end off a great day, we had dinner at a restaurant called Failte, the Irish word for ‘welcome.’ It was great! But the best was yet to come – we walked around the corner to The Shire, a Lord of the Rings themed pub. Yes, it was amazing! We walked into Mordor, and I ordered a tankard of Gandalf’s Ale. We met some Americans, listened to live music, and had a great night!

I’m so glad that we got to have these last trips to explore the other areas of Ireland. It’s such a beautiful country, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to travel around it in my time here. I cannot wait to come back to explore some more.

 
We found the Shire in Killarney - cool Lord of the Rings themed pub!
We found the Shire in Killarney – cool Lord of the Rings themed pub!
 
 
Loved this sign in the Shire!
Loved this sign in the Shire!

This weekend, I get to see some familiar faces – my brother, and friend Kirstin are coming to Ireland so we can begin our epic European adventure. The 3 of us, one month, 11 countries, 17 cities, friends along the way, and multiple stories. It’s going to be legen- wait for it -dary. Legendary. 😉

Now, I had to say some more goodbyes the other day, and many more are coming. I am going to save these for one post – when I leave Ireland. So get ready guys, it’ll be a sad one.

“Travelling tends to magnify all human emotions.” – Peter Hoeg

May the road rise up to meet ya

From

JH

P.S. – Sorry for the lack of pictures of Belfast… I actually lost all of the pictures from that trip from my camera. And my videos. I’m super bummed about it. But at least I had pictures from my phone and the memories!

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