This weekend in Ireland was perfect. It was the first time I wasn’t ready to come home to Madrid by the end of the trip. Two and a half days was nowhere near enough time. However, if you would’ve asked me at 5:30 on Thursday night if I was going to be enjoying Ireland that weekend I would’ve said no. Jess and I agreed, someone upstairs loves us and we were meant to be in Ireland.
I got out of class at 4:30 on Thursday. Jess was going to meet me at the metro stop by the dance studio so we could go to the airport together. She was running a few minutes late, so I didn’t see her waiting when I got out and panicked. I walked around the area looking for her for 20 min hoping to run into her. When she was nowhere in site, I decided to walk back to school to look for her there. At this point it was 4:50pm and [we thought] our plane left at 5:55. I was obviously worrying that we weren’t going to make it in time as we rushed through the metro. We were 4 stops from the airport when Jess looked at me and said, “Oh no, I’m not sure if I should tell you this. Don’t cry. But the gates to our place close at 5:25.” I nervously asked her what time it was. “5.25.” If I wasn’t freaking out before, I was now. A few choice words slipped and the second that metro stopped we ran for our lives towards terminal 1, which happened to be the farthest away. Our luck. I’ve never run so fast in my life. Carrying my huge backpack didn’t make it any easier. Let me set the scene. I had come straight from Latin Rhythms so I was already pretty sweaty when we got to the airport. Running through the terminals we sweat through every layer of clothes we were wearing and our hair looked like we just got out of a swimming pool. Jess was wearing her Spanish pants with her liquids, passport, and other things in her pockets. The weight pulled her pants down and she was running with her pants halfway down. We were a hot mess and a half. In less than 5 minutes we made it to terminal 1, a feat in which I still can’t believe. We got to security and they wouldn’t let us through without getting our boarding passes stamped. They sent us away giving us directions in Spanish to the office to get the stamps. I was flustered, so my Spanish was a little rough and we struggled to find the correct location. We ran from one end of the airport to the other twice before we successfully had a stamp on our passes. After that I took off even faster than before. Jess’s sagging pants slowed her down, so I ran ahead hoping to tell them that we were still coming. At this time our plane left in 5 minutes. We sprinted back to security where we were visibly red, sweating, and panting. On the way Jess was jumping over people’s suitcases and small children. I may or may not have knocked over a barricade in the process. Hot messes. They let us through the line first because our situation was urgent. In our rush, we forgot to take our computers out of our bags before they were scanned so we had to get in line again. I had no time for these shenanigans. After the security check we didn’t waste time putting our computers away or our shoes and belts back on. We continued to run through the rest of the airport barefoot with belongings in hand. We arrived at the correct gate when we saw a huge line of about 70 people or so. I haphazardly asked someone in line if they were waiting for the flight to Dublin at 7:55 (I actually meant 5:55 but since it was 17:55 military time it got lost in translation). When they said no, Jess and I darted to the front of the line to talk to the airport worker. He spoke English (THANK GOD) so in my shortness of breath I managed to ask him if the plane to Dublin left yet. He told us not to worry; it was still there. In pure disbelief I said, “No, the flight that leaves at 5:55pm.” He again reassured me that the plane was delayed and it was sitting right outside the window. I’m just gonna go ahead and beatify that man. It was at this point that we threw our shoes, belts, computers, and backpacks on the floor and plopped down to cry. Tears of pure joy flew from my eyes. Jess was in hysterics, laughing and crying at the same time. We couldn’t believe our luck. We were making quite the scene. Everyone in line witnessed us racing to the gate and were now witnessing us crying on the floor. Needless to say, they were entertained. As we blew by them, one guy yelled, “Tienes prisa?” (Are you in a hurry?) Others just laughed at me for mixing up 17:55 with 7:55. We pulled ourselves together; put our computers away, and our belts and shoes on before doing the walk of shame to the back of the boarding line. When we sat down in the seats we couldn’t believe our luck. An hour prior to that we never thought we’d be on a plane to Dublin.
3 hours later we landed in Ireland. It was unreal. We were ready to go to the hostel and crash. I turned to Jess (who had written down the directions) how we to get there. The look on her face was priceless. “I pulled a Molly.” She left the directions in a notebook at home. Our lives are such a joke. What was worse that neither of us could remember the exact name of the hostel. Was it Four Corners? Four Castles? We didn’t know. Halfway through our bus ride, Jess has an epiphany and remembers Four Courts. Thankfully the bus driver knew of it and was able to give us directions. This was our first interaction with the saintly Irish folk. Everyone is just so nice!! We settled into our hostel and started planning our weekend adventures.
I’m pretty sure the desk workers hated us for the mass amount of questions we bombarded them with. We knew that we wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. And we couldn’t pass up walking around Dublin as well. Unfortunately, doing all of this in the 2.5 days we had wasn’t super doable. We decided to take a train ourselves to Blarney Castle, a 3-hour ride, and a day trip guided tour to the cliffs. With our plans set, exhausted, we crashed for the night.
Our motto of the trip: We’ll sleep next semester. So at 6am we were up bright and early to board the train to Cork to visit Blarney Castle. It was a 3 hour train ride away so we used that time to catch up on our sleep. After the train we had to take 2 more shorter bus rides to get to the castle grounds. I’m surprised that we didn’t get lost during this trek. The castle was AWESOME. We climbed through caves, dungeons, and walked through gardens in addition to trekking up to the top of the castle. The stairs to the top were a little scary. The stairwell was super narrow and there was even a rope to hang on to because they were so steep. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the top, including stopping in all of the side rooms. The view was gorgeous. It was green for miles. The safety regulations are nowhere near as strict here in Europe. There were lots of little crevices/holes that anyone could easily slip on and fall. We could get right up on the edge of the top of the castle. It was invigorating. After climbing all the stairs we were rewarded with the Blarney Stone. I bent over backwards, threw my head down and gave the rock a good smooch. They took pictures for us but charged 10 euros for them so we passed on that. It was a cool experience because you legit have to stick your head down a hole in the top of the castle while holding onto 2 bars to kiss it. So worth it. With our new luck from the stone, we headed back down to explore the grounds. It was a lot bigger than I expected. We could’ve spent all day walking around the area. We spent the last few hours exploring caves, walking in the gardens, and learning about all the little nature attractions. There were wishing stairs, witch’s stone, and things of that sort that all come with a legend behind them. As it got closer to our train’s departure time, we stopped at a cute little café for lunch before hopping on the bus back to the train station. Once again, we were on time and everything went smoothly. I think we’ll look back on this trip and realize that this was the turning point of the semester. It’s horrible that it took us this long and such a frightening experience, but I don’t think we’ll be late for anything for a while. We’ve had enough of that.
We once again slept on the train ride home so that we could rest up enough to enjoy the Temple Bar neighborhood that night. We walked around the area for a little while before deciding which bar we wanted to go in. We ended up choosing one with live Irish music. We sat down and ordered our first Guinnesses and was it fabulous. I’d have to say it’s one of the best alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had. Loved it. Jessica was trying to get me to talk to some boys there before a man walked up and starting with us. Leave it to us to attract the only Spaniards in the bar. Turns out he was from Madrid. So we had a nice little chat and he complimented me on my Spanish accent. Needless to say my night was made. When he left Jessica was still trying to get me to talk to some Irish boys. Eventually the group of guys we had our eye on came over to us and told me I had a nice smile. I was flattered and we started chatting with them. Unfortunately he wasn’t a true Irishman. He was originally from England and moved to Dublin a year ago. We stayed a while and talked with him and his friends before we needed to head home and actually get some sleep. But before we left, he asked me for my phone number so we could meet up tomorrow for another drink. Jess and I struggled to remember how to use the area code/+ on our ancient pre-T9 phones before we successfully exchanged numbers. He was slightly drunk at this time so we weren’t actually expecting a call the next day. I went home a pretty happy girl. Gave my number to a boy and was complimented on my Spanish accent. Successful night.
Saturday was yet another early morning. We were up by 6am to get ready and meet our tour bus for the Cliffs of Moher at 7. This was a little bit shorter ride than the Castle, but still a 2.5-hour trip. This time we had a tour guide who told us tidbits about everything we were passing. We drove through Galway while our guide pointed out all the attractions, occasionally hopping on/off the bus for photo ops. Before we got to the Cliffs of Moher, we made a pit stop at some much smaller cliffs. I was amazed at these ones so I couldn’t wait until we saw the real deal. I loved that we could get right up to the edge. It was quite the experience to just sit and dangle my feet of the edge of the cliffs. So unreal and invigorating. The next stop was lunch. We ate at another cute café for lunch. With our stomachs full we were off to the Cliffs of Moher. Our tour guide advised us to go up on the right side of the cliffs first because it had a much better view and was the easier climb of the 2. So we followed his suggestion and made the trek. What we weren’t prepared for was the railing that kept us from the edge. My heart sank a little. I was worried that the whole thing was going to be like that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. On the left side we had to jump over a barricade to get to the edge, but it was so worth it. I got to sit on the ledge and dangle my feet. I couldn’t have been happier sitting there. No picture could do that view justice. It was phenomenal standing there and looking out. If Jess and I hadn’t been with a tour on a time limit, we would’ve sat there all day. I had such a blast walking along the edge. A couple of people walking by told me and Jess to step back because we were making them nervous. It was just so incredible. I never wanted to leave. What made it even better was the perfect weather we had. Both days the sun was out and there were hardly any clouds. It hadn’t even rained at this point. I was shocked that we’d spent 2 days in Ireland without using a raincoat. An hour and a half later our tour guide dragged us from the cliffs to continue with the day. We stopped at a few points of interest on our way home, but nothing could compare with the cliffs. We rolled into Dublin around 9:30pm. Since we’d been up since 6, we just headed back to the hostel.
We got back to our hostel to meet some new roommates. I was a little nervous when the bathroom was covered in hair dye. I walked into the room and one of the guys asked me if I was at the pub crawl last night. When I told him no, he was confused because thought I looked familiar. Not thinking anything of it, I continued with my activities. Jessica walked in later and the 4 of us got to talking. The 2 boys started with the casual ‘where are you from’ and we did the same. Small world: turns out they were juniors from SLU-Missouri who are studying in Geneva, Switzerland and visiting Ireland. Even smaller world: one of them is friends with Rachael. Turns out I also had a class with him and had mutual friends with the other guy. It was too weird.
Once again, we didn’t waste anytime on Sunday. Our flight left at 5:05pm so we were under a little bit of a time crunch. We still wanted to do see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, do the Guinness tour, and the Jameson Whiskey tour; all before 2:30pm. Before the sun was fully up, we were admiring St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We weren’t able to go inside due to mass services, but it was fantastic looking from the outside. From there we went straight to drinking. Like true Irishwoman, we were ready to do the Guinness tour at 9:30am. You bet we were there early too. 45 minutes actually. Like I said, I think this was a turning point for us and we won’t ever be late again. The tour was pretty neat. We saw how it was made, how they use the different ingredients, and even learned how to pour the perfect pint. After we enjoyed our Guinness, we were off to the Jameson whiskey tour. Jess’s dad is a huge fan, so we had to go so that she could get something for him. The tour was a lot different that Guinness. It was guided and much shorter. At the end of the tour, the guide picked 8 people to be whiskey taste testers and I got to be one!! First they made us try the Jameson whiskey, which is supposed to be the best because it’s triple distilled. Then we had either bourbon or a Scotch whiskey (double distilled) I can’t remember followed by the good ol’ American Jack Daniels (single distilled). It was obvious that the Jameson triple distilled was the best. Hands down. After all my tasting, I got a nice little certificate showing off my skills. We then got lunch before heading back to the hostel to get our luggage and catch a bus to the airport.
We successfully made it through the airport before our flight left. Seriously we’ve turned over a new leaf. I can’t believe how much we got done in the 2.5 days we had in Ireland. I’m pretty proud of us. And other than our mishap in the beginning, everything went perfectly. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend.
I was sitting at school today thinking to myself, “Did this weekend really just happen.” I have to remind myself, “I’m in Madrid.” And I’m getting to travel all over Europe. I can’t believe how awesome my life is here. This truly is the semester of a lifetime. Each day I think about how hard it’s going to be to go home. There is never a dull or boring moment here. Everything is an adventure.