Wednesday, May 22, 2013


After a few days, I decided to take a break from the busy city streets and head out into the famously scenic countryside of Ireland. I hopped on a train to Galway, a port town all the way west. It only took 2.5 hours to cross from the east to west coast of Ireland, and cost 35 euro round trip. No pictures I captured did any justice to the beauty of the lands along the way. I am from Portland, but even I thought the scenery was remarkably GREEN.
Galway is really special. As in, super endearing and engrained into my memory forever. It’s an itty-bitty cobblestone town with lots of charming pubs, remarkably stunning views of their port and cathedral, and unbelievably stubborn rainfall. It was raining when I stepped out and it was raining when I got back on the train. But when the sun came out for an hour, the whole town transformed. I went from self-consciously sipping a Guinness at a random pub to skipping along the bridges, surprised at myself for being so happy and content to be on my own in a foreign little Irish town. I found a map and tracked down all the landmarks (which laid within blocks of each other) and was a bit disappointed when ‘Lynch’s Castle’ turned out to be a converted bank. I had salmon & chips for lunch, and it was phenomenal. I picked McDoughs cause it was close to the river, but they must have pulled the salmon straight out of the water cause it was amazing! A day in Galway is more than enough time to do everything there is to do apart from sitting somewhere to soak in the peace and beauty. 
I also made a friend during the ride over, a nice older Irish man. Traveling is sometimes nice with random company! 
 Down the main street-performers!
 Early in the morn' before shops opened
 Beautiful, isn't it? Taken from a nook at the Galway Museum 
 Money shot! You can see the opening out to the ocean past the houses
 Standing on top of a bridge-so pretty it was unreal!
 I made it all the way down to the cathedral, went down the 'solitude walk' or something
 Light a candle, say a prayer. 
 This was a different church, completely empty but peaceful 
 My lunch! OMG I don't ever need to eat anything else. 
Blurry view from the train, my window was a picture frame. 

IRELAND-Dublin Part 1

After a whirlwind weekend in London and Sardinia, I was well looking forward to my ultimate destination.
There is a marvelous land, far away from anywhere I’ve ever been to before, called Ireland. The icy air is harsh but the sun is welcoming, and as warm as the hearts of the locals.
The first morning, Cormac drew me a map on how to get to the city center before he left for work. It turned out to be all I needed for the entire trip!
He worked every day at the office, so I was free to roam the city and do all the touristy things I liked. AND I DID THEM ALL!
Dublin is incredibly accessible by foot. I thought Taipei’s transit system was impressive-in Dublin they don’t even have a need for it. Luckily we were staying close to the city centre with his lovely sister and boyfriend, so everyday I would just walk downtown and explore. There are many bus companies that do a ‘hop on-hop off’ tour, so I paid 18 euros to get on and went everywhere for two days! They stop at all the famous and cool places to drop by for tourists and natives alike: shopping streets, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, Phoenix Park, along the River Liffey, Trinity College, etc. Along the way I learned so much about the sites we passed and the history of the Irish people. (I feel like I’m meant to insert a random fact here now, but I can’t remember any except for that in Ireland you can drink water from the tap! And they didn’t even tell me that on the tour!) I did a lot of shopping and people watching on Grafton and Henry’s Street-the main shopping areas. I was thrilled to see Forever 21 and tons of stores I had never heard of before like River Island and AWear and PENNYS. The older buildings (pubs, post offices, minimarts) all had so much character-I found them jolly but sad at the same time, like they had gone through a lot and just found things to laugh back on. But the streets are alive and to me, there were no signs of any recession. But then of course, I was a tourist.
My favorite part of Dublin was the Ha'penny Bridge and along the River Liffey. The bridge is narrow and white, rustic and curved romantically over the river. I wanted to get off the bus the first time we passed it, and was delighted that my boyfriend asked to meet around there for lunch so that I could go back. The water is very still, and all the buildings lining the river (canal?) are smushed together in the background with all their unique colors and frames. Homeless people snuggled expectantly on the sides along the bridge, and tourists would often stop and admire and snap shots. Like me. On our very last day, Cormac and I went back with a padlock to join all the other padlocks and yep, locked our love against the railing and threw off the keys!
I also had a wonderful time getting to know his beautiful older sister. I admired their modern, cosy but tasteful apartment (which seemed to be the theme for most home interiors) and she baked up treats for us!

 Phoenix Park
 A bridge