Dublin

Next Stop: Belfast, Northern Ireland

So begins my 10 day tour of Ireland!

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~ Day 1 ~

With Paddy Wagon Tours (which I highly recommend taking if you really want see a lot in Ireland in a short amount of time) we started our day by driving to Belfast, which is actually in Northern Ireland and the only part of Ireland that is sectioned off and part of the UK. Ireland is its own country with euros as their currency, while Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and uses pounds. This is a bit of a hassle to carry both euros and pounds, but its interesting at the same time. Not only is currency the only thing that separates Northern Ireland from Ireland, but also the road markings and signs. It’s interesting to note that driving in Ireland, you will have yellow lines on the left side of the road, where all of a sudden, when you enter Northern Ireland, the line turns white; indicating that you are now in a different country. There isn’t really a border or border patrol to enter each country, so that saves you the hassle of talking to the typically scary and intimidating officers at a country’s border.

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At the start of our tour, we stopped in Drogheda to see the preserved head of St. Oliver Plunkett (death: 1681) in St. Peter’s Cathedral. It felt extremely eerie to see an actual head right near theater of the cathedral and I felt weird talking a picture of it, but I did. You know it’s going to be a good day when you start your morning with a viewing of a preserved dead man’s head. Afterwards, we stopped at a really beautiful cemetery called Monasterboice.

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On our drive to Belfast, we had one of the most cheerful, spontaneous and enthusiastic tour guide who sang Irish songs that some people knew, but most people didn’t. He would tell us all about the stories and interesting myths of Ireland and we would all laugh when he said a word that ended in “-th” because the Irish don’t pronounce “-th” and just pronounce the “-t”. For example, the say three as “tree” or say thirty as “terty”. It’s quite humorous fun.

Once we arrived, we all took a Black Taxi Tour around Belfast. This tour option is the cheapest and best way to get around the city. The Black Taxi Tour is the most recommended thing to do in Belfast, and it only costed £8 for each person to get driven around all the unique places of Belfast and told of all the history and events that have taken place around the city.

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Even though it’s the 21st century, there is still religious conflict and riots in Belfast. There have been bombings, gun fires, murders, and distress between the Catholics and Protestants, who a mainly separated from each other in the own encased communities. Literally, there are walls that have been there for decades separating the Catholics and Protestants within the city. You would never have a Protestant living within the Catholic walls, and vice versa.

They have gates within each enclosed community and come Saturday night at 11:59, the gates close for 24 hours. For the entire Sunday, nobody is to leave or enter the gates because it is God’s day. Only one gate is left open for security and evacuation reasons, but still, I could not believe that this is going on in Northern Ireland. There is a peace wall in between the two religious communities with colourful political murals and graffiti where visitors can leave messages of peace and hope for the people of Belfast.

Photo 10-12-2012 09 01 17After the Black Taxi tour, we all went to the Christmas market. After we all got hot drinks and Christmas goodies, we began our walk around the city. Some people went to the Titanic museum, but it was beyond my money budget (plus I’ve already been to a lot of titanic museums). On the walk around the city, we saw the city centre, city hall, Albert clock, and Europia (the most bombed hotel in Europe).

Photo 10-12-2012 09 03 24Across from the hotel was a convenient store that sold something surprising and amazing: Tim Hortons. This was the only place in Ireland and in the UK where I saw Tim Hortons being sold. Tim Hortons is a very Canadian novelty and seeing Timmy’s in another country made me feel like I was back home again in Canada. I miss my Tim Hortons.

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In the evening, all the paddy wagoners went out Photo 10-12-2012 11 01 22for dinner at an Irish pub and had a great time getting to know everyone. The hostel we stayed at was the sketchiest hostel I’ve ever stayed at. Barely any of keys would work and one room had to get the door broken into, because the none of the keys would work. I also had these guys knocking on the window in the middle of the night asking me to let them in, because they forgot their key. We were told not to let anyone from the outside in, because the last time some foolish tourist did that…

The outcome was horrific.

Important travel tip:

Bring Earplugs. They were literally a godsend with people knocking on the nearby window and the restless noises of 11 other people in your 12 person room. Perks of staying at a hostel for cheap.

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Overall, Belfast was full of surprises, turmoil, history, and even beauty. If you are one for religious and political conflicts or the history surrounding it, check out Belfast, because although it’s the 21st century, it seems like they still live in the 19th or 20th century. It’s quite an interesting and unique city.

Check out my journey in Dublin, Ireland

Check out Day 2 on my Paddy Wagon Tour!

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Categories: Autumn, Belfast, Blog, Canada, Dublin, Fall, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Seasons, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

St. Patrick’s Day in IRELAND!

522597_10152657414370032_258668603_nSt. Patrick’s Day in Ireland has always been a
must thing” to do on my bucket list, and for 2013, I was able to cross this experience off my bucket list with a Guinness in my hand, and an irish crowd cheering on a great day in Dublin!

Back home at my university, there is a tradition that we do on St. Patrick’s Day. This tradition begins with a pancake kegger that commences early in the morning, and consists of a glorious amount of green-coloured pancakes (sometimes shaped like four-leaf clovers if you’re lucky), and lots of green-coloured beer. This is our breakfast for St. Patrick’s Day.

Sounds grand doesn’t it?

This year, we brought this tradition to Dublin and we began operation “pancake kegger” at 10am on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day. What made the day even better was the fact that we had so many people from my university back home at this pancake kegger, including my best friend Savannah, who you may recall from my trip to Oktoberfest in Germany this past year. Last year, Savannah and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day together in Canada, and this year we were able to spend the green-filled day in Ireland together. It’s now our yearly tradition!

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LET THE PANCAKE KEGGER COMMENCE! Sorry, got a bit too excited there…

Ireland ran out of green food colouring, so none of our pancakes were green, but we decided to just add extra chocolate chips in them, and oh boy… were they delicious! Savannah made the best pancakes I have ever had! They also went down amazingly with beer and wine. This was a great start to the morning!

 882161_10152673579900032_1265473501_o902318_10152673580925032_1987098120_o893983_10152673579940032_1401738973_o904139_10152673581245032_1622047313_o891819_10152673581375032_10707097_oAfter a few shots here, and a couple of fake tattoo’s there, we all made our way to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade! As I walked through Trinity College to get to parade, all I could think about was “Wow, you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland… I’m so lucky to be here and alive”.

Once we got to the parade, all you can see is 50 shades of green throughout the enormous crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people jam-packed together in a street, let alone Dublin, in my life. Everyone had big smiles on their faces and eager to see the parade! I don’t really remember much of the parade – all I can remember is feeling the energy of the crowd and how amazing it was to be in this moment with my friends talking, drinking, singing, etc.

Here’s what Savannah captured of the parade:
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SO MANY PEOPLE, SO MUCH GREEN! THE STREETS OF DUBLIN WAS CRAYCRAY.

After the 2 hour-long parade, we headed back to my friend’s place where we either continued to drink, eat or nap (as you do mid-way through St. Patrick’s day). Afterwards, we all got refreshed, and started to get ready to hit the city nightlife hard. Savannah, Jenn and I ended up touring the streets of Dublin for a bit and then ended up in this irish pub called “The Duke” with barely any tourists, and had the real authentic irish experience! It’s great that I have a friend whose a local in Dublin and knows where the best places to go!

In the end, silly drunk Ryan thought to further this irish experience he would try some irish whiskey… Ryan had been drinking since 10am and finishing the night off with whisky was a no-no. Silly Ryan. Oh well! Overall, Ryan and Savannah had an amazing time in Dublin and had a spectacle St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. There’s something I can finally cross off my bucketlist! I recommend that anyone and everyone who has thought about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland…. DO IT! It was one of the best days of my life! If I were to come back for St. Patrick’s Day again, I would definitely go to a smaller city/town in Ireland, such as Cork or Galway, because there would be less tourists, and more irish locals that would be willing to show tourists a good time!

Until next time….

544643_10151504664912969_1674852668_n (2)Check out my bucketlist!
Coming To Dublin? Check out my post here.
Want to see where I’ve been in Ireland & get inspired by the beauty of this green country? Click here

Categories: Blog, Dublin, Holidays, Ireland, Seasons, Spring, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Next Stop: Dublin, Ireland

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Ireland, here I come!

My Australian friend Freya and I arrived in Dublin early in the morning and began our day with a nice Irish breakfast in a cozy Irish pub. We then went on a “Free Tour of Dublin”, which is highly recommended for those who want a tour of Dublin and want to know the history behind the sites and monuments. Although it is technically a free guided tour, the guides earn their wages based on tips, so you can pay the amount you think the tour guide deserves.

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We visited the Dublin Castle, O’Connell street and O’Connell’s monument, as well as the “pointless thing” (which has many names and is literally a metal spire), city hall, Trinity College, a few parks within the City, and the most popular area of Dublin: Temple Bar.

For those travelers who don’t know what Temple Bar is, it is not actually a bar, but the area in which many amazing bars, pubs, restaurants and shops reside. There is an actual Temple Bar in the Temple Bar area, which most tourists go thinking that’s where the best pub is, Photo 08-12-2012 16 39 05however, I’d advise those to go to The Auld Dubliner or The Storehouse as recommended by a local.

After the free walking tour, we checked-in to our hostel (which was Paddy’s Palace), and had dinner. We ended getting together with Freya’s Aussie friend Jen, who is studying on exchange at Trinity College, and spending the rest of the night in a bar with a vast amount of Irish people and no tourists.The bar was called Flannery’s and I had a blast getting to know and dancing with the locals! I also had my first Guinness in Ireland here! It was actually image_1356002789923081quite good!

Because I spent my first night with all the locals and majority being Irish, I had an amazing first night in Ireland!

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The second day we were in Dublin, we met up with some friends we met at the bar last night for a delicious brunch at the Elephant Castle. Afterwards, I went to a famous jail on the outskirts of Dublin called the Kilmainham Gaol.

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There was a guided tour throughout the historical site and walking around the dungeons and jail cells was extremely eerie. I highly recommend those who visit Dublin to check out the Kilmainham Gaol.

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We then took a stroll afterwards through a very picturesque driveway towards an art museum. It was too late for us to visit the museum but I was able to get some nice pictures.

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By the end of the night, I walked around the city all lit up with Christmas decorations.

Because we had to wake up at 8am, we went back to our hostel and had an early night. Absolutely loved my time in Dublin!

Here’s to 12 days of traveling Ireland!

Categories: Blog, Dublin, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Seasons, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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