UK and Ireland July and August 2003
I can honestly say that I had this trip was the best ever. I saw loads, went out loads etc. I actually cried on the journey back from London. Where to start? So many things happened on this trip and exceeded all expectations in so many ways. Here is an account of the best trip...let the journey begin...
Day 1: Dublin, Ireland
After an overnight flight on Air Canada, I arrived bleary eyed in Dublin, Ireland. Claire is to meet me at the airport. She also mentioned that I should get enough rest and sleep on the plane as we are going out later that night. If anyone knows me, you know that I can not sleep on planes, buses, or trains. I’m usually just too excited. Anyway, the first thing I am greeted with is a huge poster of Westlife. I am in heaven already. I find Claire, hugs are exchanged and we head off to by bus to Dublin. I drop off my bags in a locker. This is so that we can roam around Dublin for the day, luggage free. The lockers are interesting and they charge you by the size of the locker. The bigger the locker, the more you pay. I have my first pint of Guiness at a pub. Guiness is gross. I barely manage to finish my Guiness without vomiting. I’m not a beer drinker in general anyways. It feels good to be in Dublin though, as I have wanted to be in Ireland for so long. We go around St. Stephen’s Green, Temple Bar, I see the spire and then we head off back to Navan where Claire lives. The bus ride to Navan is interesting because you sort of have to estimate where to get off the bus. Once you’ve figured this out, you make your way to the front. Claire’s house is nice. She sets me up in the dining room converted to guestroom. We have dinner and then make our way to the infamous Knights. They play excellent music, and Claire and I have a good time dancing.
Day 2: Dublin, Ireland
Claire suggests taking one of those sightseeing bus tours around Dublin as this will be the most convenient way to get around Dublin, so this is what we do! We stop off at Trinity College first, where we have to elbow our way in to see the Book of Kells. We stop off at Dublin Castle, which to me is more like a house. Then we head off to Christ Church Cathedral and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. In the process, Claire and I manage to have a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful weather. We head off to Guiness Factory, where we enjoy stunning views of the city. And then finally we go off to the Irish Museum, which to be honest I am not in the mood for due to the fact that I am so tired. We half-heartedly walked through the museum and then headed back for Navan. We didn’t go out, mainly because I was taking a tour of Belfast and had to leave early the next morning.
Day 3: Belfast, Northern Ireland
So I got up extra early to catch the bus into Dublin. Claire gave me instructions and drew me a map of how to get to the bus stop. Unfortunately, me being me, I managed to screw this up and get lost. Luckily the bus had not come yet, so I still managed to catch the bus into Dublin and be on time for the tour of Belfast. I think I was even a bit early. So Paddywagon (http://www.paddywagontours.com/) offers these one day tours to Belfast. I was actually fine being alone because well I just was. My main concern was just meeting nice people on tour who would be kind enough to take photos of me in front of all these places. So the tour takes you to Monasteboice (sp?), and Drogheda where you see Oliver Plunkett’s shrivelled up head and finally to Belfast. You also need to remember that you need pounds for Belfast. Belfast was definitely a cool experience. We went in a black taxi cab tour and saw all the murals, historical sites etc. I couldn’t help but feel a bit creeped out though because of all the stuff you hear about the North and the South. Previously my dad had tried to warn me about going to Belfast, but I did it anyway. Mainly because Claire had told me how cool it was and I also thought that the opportunity might not come again. After the black taxi tour, we went around and shopped for souviners for a bit and then it was time to head back to Dublin. Later on that night, we went out to Knights and Solar. Again, had a great time dancing the night away.
Day 4: Dublin, Ireland
Didn’t do too much today. Decided to stay in Dublin as we were doing the 6 Day South tour with Paddywagon. The tour starts early, so we wanted to make sure that we were on time for the tour and didn’t miss it or anything. We stayed at Jacob’s Inn. Met up with my pen pal Sandra, and hung around Dublin for the day. Went shopping, ate lunch... the usual stuff. We went later that night around Temple Bar. However, did not know of the good spots to go to. So we just sort of walked around and had a good night.
Day 5 - Dublin - Glendalough - Kilkenny - Kinsale
I love being a tourist. The Paddywagon tour - there are 25 of us from all different walks of life. Mainly Canadians, Australians and there is a friendly group of Italians. Our tour driver is great, funny, but swears a lot. Immediately though, I am put on the spot because I am the only Asian person on tour. It’s sort of funny because I had expected there to be Japanese, or other Asians, but nope it’s just me. We start off seeing famous people’s houses - Bono, Enya, the Edge. This is cool but then we head off to Gledalough, which is just beautiful. Stunning, stunning scenery. You can’t help but be impressed. Next it’s off to Kilkenny. We only have a short amount of time there. Lucky Claire knows what to see and do. So we head off and buy our lunch and have a picnic in front of Kilkenny castle. There is actually not enough time to go in and look around. I am a little bit disappointed by this. But I’m assured that I’m not missing much. We head off to the Rock of Cashel and then Kinsale where we are staying for the night. Claire and I get our own private room - hoorah!!! But it is dead small. But that’s OK because I’m having a great time.
Day 6 - Kinsale - Blarney - Dingle
Start off at Charles Fort which is pretty cool. Head off to Blarney to kiss the infamous stone. Luckily Claire is there, so we just head straight for the stone, so as to not waste any time. The line up is not too bad and I managed to kiss the infamous stone. Head off to Dingle where we stayed in this mansion type accommodation. Stunning views all around. Joey our tour manager made his special “punch”, which we all drank up on. I tried to go to sleep early, but could not sleep which sucked. Finally, Claire had to give me a sleeping pill. Not being able to sleep is one of the worst feelings in the world.
Day 7 - Dingle - Killarney
This day rocked. We started off in Dingle and then managed to stop off at a beach. I’m not sure exactly where it was, but it was so cool. I never thought I’d be going to a beach in Ireland. I have not been to the beach in ages. We played a game of kick ball, and everyone was just so calm and chilled. We just relaxed and I had the best time. Later, we got into Killarney and went on the jaunting cars which we were told was a must do. By this time I am craving Chinese food, so we find a Chinese restaurant in Killarney. It’s not like home, but it will do. Killarney is beautiful. We head off to see some traditional Irish dancing, and then Claire and I dance the night away. Fantastic.
Day 8 - Killarney - Ring of Kerry
Drove around the Ring of Kerry and enjoyed the spectacular views. Every scenic view is more amazing and impressive than the previous one to it. We stopped at a place where Charlie Chaplin used to vacation with his wife. So they have a statue erected there. Some of the guys played hurling. Went to Sneen for the second best vegetable soup and homemade ice cream. Had a quiet night in.
Day 9 - Killarney - Cliffs of Moher - Galway
Took the ferry across the Shannon to County Clare. We stopped to have lunch at this beach town. Then onwards to the Cliffs of Moher. Now if you are a big Westlife fan, you know that these cliffs feature prominently in their music video. So this was easily the highlight of the trip. Looked over the edge of the cliffs, admired stunning scenery, listened to and sung My Love. It’s just one of those moments. Afterwards, we stopped at the famine walls, which provided me with some more insight into Irish history. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the whole thing. We got into Galway in the evening, staying at the Kinlay House hostel. Galway is known as a university/party town. Went out to dinner with Ruth and Kristin which was nice. Later we went to a pub where we had the fat frog (you don’t get those in Canada). The only thing I have to complain about is how early everything closes. We were back at the hostel by 12 midnight. In Canada, that’s when the party’s just getting started.
Day 10 - Galway - Dublin
The first sign of rain and chilly weather today as we finish off the tour. Went around a shopping mall in Galway and then we headed back to Dublin. Robbie Williams was playing at Phoenix Park. A part of me really wanted to see him, but with the huge crowds expected, I couldn’t be bothered dealing with the hassle. Especially after a fast paced tour. Got into Dublin around late afternoon and went to the Guiness Factory. It was OK. You take a self guided tour. I was really tired, so I sort of walked half heartedly through all the exhibits. I like museums, but you really do need to be refreshed to do that sort of thing. Got a free pint of Guiness, but could not finish it. Took loads of photos, said our good byes to people on the tour and headed back to Navan. Had a wicked night out in Navan. Who knew? Went to Knights where they played loads of great music. Then to Solar for some more dancing. Again great music and a momentous moment for me.
Day 11 - Navan - Dublin
Had a quiet day in Dublin. We were meant to wash our clothes, but could not find an open laundromat. So we had to go and buy clean socks and underwear. How dodgy! We went out to dinner at the Bad Ass Café. Then we headed off to Temple Bar to people watch. I could not believe my time in Ireland was already over. How badly did I want to stay?!? You have no idea.
Done Ireland? Onwards to England....
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