Monday, March 20, 2017

Don't Kiss Me, I'm Not Irish

>>> Hello Ireland <<< 

Cliffs of Moher

Hello memories and moments I'll cherish forever.

Hello neighborhood friends, old friends, and dearest friends.

Hello Irish coffee, green beer, parades, and feather boas. 

Hello Dublin. Hello Cliffs of Moher. Hello Cork. 

Day One: Dublin

the girls and me at Phoenix Park

I have to say, there's nothing that compares to the giddy feelings I experienced walking to Mochaland Cafe in Dublin, Ireland to greet three of my dearest friends. I caught them at the end of their lunch on Wednesday, and after an espresso we headed over to Phoenix Park where Rob joined us. 

Dublin was beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the quick bits I saw while we toured through the day I arrived. If I would've rushed, I could've made a tour of the Guinness Factory and poured my own pint, but seeing as I don't even like Guinness, it didn't hurt me too much to miss out on that bit of Dublin tourism. 

I did, however, get a great dinner at a traditional pub, and we hit up Temple Bar in the evening. The streets around Temple Bar were so alive... it was such a fun vibe, and I completely understand why Dublin is a favorite of so many people I've spoken with. When we entered Temple Bar as I attempted to squeeze through a crowd, I was greeted with a fairly (*very*) unwelcome kiss from a fairly (*very*) intoxicated man, but weirder things have probably happened at Temple Bar.

We enjoyed the playful atmosphere of the bar, and we all got a particular laugh out of the song "Seven Drunken Nights". The live singers seemed to get a special kick out of that one as well. Rob made friends with a handful of people, as usual, so we can add a couple from New Jersey (I think it was NJ anyway?)  to the long list of strangers we've made memories with. With an early morning and lots of driving ahead of us, we called it an early night!
cannot miss these opportunities with my (one quarter) Mexican best friend
this gave us a solid laugh inside  Temple Bar

Guinness marketing campaigns through the years at Temple Bar

Day Two: Cliffs of Moher

Chels and me... You can just barely see the castle on the other side in the distance

After a couple hours delay waiting on our rental car, we headed out to the Cliffs of Moher around noon on Thursday. Once Rob announced that driving on the left side of the road wasn't too uncomfortable, we all relaxed and really enjoyed our roadtrip through Ireland. Here in Europe we rarely ride in cars (with the exception of my trips back and forth to soccer), so we were all pumped to just enjoy the ride. We took one lunch break at Obama Plaza before we passed Limerick, but we made good time getting to the Cliffs. 

When we were renting the car, the man in Dublin told us we were unlucky because we wouldn't see the cliffs on such a cloudy day. I'm excited to say that Irish man was hugely mistaken, and the weather was perfect for us to see the cliffs. 

Please just look at these amazing photos:

This was definitely one of the moments I stopped to think about how crazy it is that I have these opportunities this year. Even to witness such immense natural beauty was a dream, but to be there, in Ireland, with my best friends... I swear no one gets this life. I could for sure tear up just thinking of how much my parents, friends, and BGSU have given me in this year abroad.  Blessings on blessings.

After we left the cliffs and road just a short way along the coast around sunset, we stopped at O'Connors Pub for dinner. It was a great meal, and it was just what we needed before hopping back on the road to finish our day by driving to Cork, returning the car, and checking into the hostel.

The rest of the days: Cork

This was stop #1 on our St. Patrick's Day tour of Cork!

Wow. Time flies when you're having fun.

Friday was St. Patrick's Day, and while we slept in more than many are accustomed to in Bowling Green, we were still some of the first out and about to start our day. 
Oh, and we found Bowling Green Street

We didn't find any green eggs & beer, but we did find great Irish Breakfasts and Irish Coffees. The hostel we were staying at gave us shamrock temporary tattoos, and the pub where we found breakfast had green hats and ridiculous shamrock glasses laying out for us as well. I gladly snatched those, and we found some cheap green feather boas to complete our looks. 

The feather boas were a perfect throwback to sophomore year Halloween when my friends and I went out as a bachelorette party, and left pink feathers trails all throughout Bowling Green, Ohio. 

I guess you could say we haven't changed a bit (it was Hozier's birthday, not ours).

Cork, Ireland, you are welcome for the green feather trails.

Anyway, it was a crazy fun day. We met up with Logan, who was Kelsey's neighbor growing up, and he invited us to join his university friends for their parties that afternoon. The day went as you can imagine with a parade in the early afternoon, and bars into the night. I wouldn't trade the stories or the hilarious memories for the world.

Saturday we were up and at it, trying to make the most of our day, although bad hostel coffee and sitting down seemed like a good idea for the first bit. Eventually, despite some confusion with the directions of bus line 215, we made it out to Blarney Castle, and we kissed the Blarney Stone. 
Kels and me at the castle

The gardens around the castle were super pretty and we really enjoyed this trip out to the castle, but I have to say the stone was quite underwhelming. It's supposed to give people who kiss it the gift of eloquence, but I still feel no more eloquent than the girl who woke up Friday morning with the goal of consuming green beer more or less all day. 

Saturday evening we met back up with Logan and two of his awesome friends from the day before for dinner in Cork. The place we ate had a really cool vibe, and it reminded me of something we mind find in a college town in the U.S. This dinner was also less expensive than a lot of options we saw, and I really enjoyed my meal. Throughout these travels, I'm really missing U.S. prices, but at least Irish people speak English; it's a super nice bonus to travel places where you have the ability to ask for help when you need it.

Anyway, we considered hitting up another bar in the evening, but with 6am flights on the horizon, we called it an early night instead. 

At 4:30am on Sunday, our alarms rang, and by 5:00am, Mary, Kels, and I were on our way to the airport. Saying goodbye was sad because it meant our perfect St. Patrick's Day in Ireland Adventure was over, but it was not sad because of separation because we're meeting back up in Barcelona this weekend!

Is this really my life? Yeah. It really is.

Love, Julie

my eyes turned green for this picture

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" -Tyler Knott Gregson

P.S. High quality photos from Kels coming soon!

Exchange life is crazy, and I'm just uploading this blog with what I have on my camera. Kels has amazing pictures on her camera (shoutout to VCT besties with photography specializations), so I'll add those to Facebook and maybeee even this blog at some point!

P.S.S. Life in Strasbourg

In case you're thinking "Wow, is Julie Kessler even taking courses this year?" I'll have you know I'm covering a lot of bases to make all of these travel plans work. 

Working around my soccer schedule has been just as challenging as working around school recently, since we have such an important match coming up April 2nd. I've also gotten pretty lucky with timing of exams and cancelled classes on a few occasions, but I've also been smart about getting work and studying done ahead of time... 

When I'm in Strasbourg, I definitely have a tough time balance catching up with responsibilities and enjoying my friends and our amazing city, but it's 100% worth it to squeeze in the adventures while I'm here on this side of the Atlantic. 

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