One of the main things that I’ve learned while studying abroad is how to be flexible. Things are never going to go how you expect, and you just have to adapt and go with the flow. I recently got to practice this skill during my spring break travel plans. Since we have four weeks of break, my friend Victoria and I had made plans to travel around Ireland, Italy, and Greece together for 2 1/2 weeks. Well, things didn’t go as planned.
Sadly, Victoria got her wallet stolen in Prague last week and her passport was in it. Therefore, she’s not allowed to leave the UK for the time being. I was really sad that I wouldn’t be able to travel with her, but I decided since we had already booked hostels, plane tickets, and tours, that I would just go ahead and go on my own with our original plan.
So, here I am. On a train somewhere in Ireland by myself. I’m actually pretty excited for this time. I had been wanting to do some solo travel, anyways, so here’s my chance! So far, I’m really enjoying myself. The hardest part is not having a photo-taking buddy and someone to share laughs with. Also, it is a bit more stressful, knowing that I need to watch my own back all the time. So, I guess this just goes without saying, but extra prayers for safety would be appreciated!
Now onto the good stuff…What I’ve been up to for the past couple of days by myself!
After my mom left on Monday, I caught a train back to Lancaster to basically unpack, do laundry, and repack. Then, on Tuesday I was off to the airport to catch my flight to Dublin. And this actually worked out really well, too. I had been wanting to meet up with Tessa (high school friend) on her home turf, since she’s studying at University College Dublin. We met up for dinner on Tuesday night and walked around Dublin for a bit.
Then, on Wednesday, I got up and walked around Dublin by myself and then did the Guinness Factory Tour with Tessa before I was off on a train for Cork on Wednesday night.
Now, Cork was interesting. Victoria and I had been planning to stay with a family that she had known growing up. Now that she wasn’t with me, I didn’t know if this would still be okay, but thankfully, they were extremely hospitable and willing to put up a complete stranger for a few days and run me all around the Irish countryside. I am extremely grateful to the Spencer family.
I got to their place late Wednesday night and found out that they are actually an hour South of Cork, 2 km from the very tip of Southern Ireland. When I found this out, I just had to go and explore, so on Thursday morning, I got up and walked down the road until I found the beach. Boy am I glad I did, because I saw probably the most beautiful views I’ve ever encountered in my life! And it was beautiful & sunny out!
Now, our plan for Thursday had been to go to Blarney Castle, so I went ahead and did this too. It is right outside of Cork, so I was able to take the bus here. For those who are unfamiliar with Blarney, it is a famous Castle with a legendary stone. People come from all over the world to kiss the stone and it is supposed to bring you the gift of flattery. To achieve this feat, you have to climb up the winding staircases of the castle and lean over the castle edge to reach the stone.
Now, because I’m poor, I didn’t want to pay 12 euros to buy the picture of me kissing the stone, so I just took a selfie with the castle instead:
So, the other cool thing about Blarney was that it had some crazy cool gardens to walk through on the castle grounds, complete with a fern garden. For a second, I forgot I was in Ireland, but then it started to sprinkle a bit and I remembered. After fern garden frollicking, I caught a bus back to their place and was able to have a nice dinner with their family.
On Friday, Victoria and I had booked a tour to visit the Cliffs of Moher, so I went ahead with this as well. Unfortunately, Friday was not nearly as nice weather as Thursday. I think I got more of a taste of the typical Irish weather, complete with horizontal rain.
Now, because of the weather, I didn’t get very many photos of the Cliffs, but the view was absolutely breathtaking. By the end of the day, I was completely soaked and chilled to the bone, but I would definitely say it was all worth it!
Please excuse the fact that I look like a drowned rat, it’s all part of the experience.