Austen in Ireland: Weekends in Galway and Edinburgh

So the past two weekends I went on two different trips: one to Galway, Ireland with the International Student Society at UCD and the other to Edinburgh, Scotland to see friends from UR studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh.

My trip to Galway started early on a Friday morning with a bus ride heading to the west coast of Ireland, where Galway is.  Our first stop on Friday was Clonmacnoise, a famous monastery on the way to Galway.  It was in a beautiful setting on the water.  We then arrived in Galway late afternoon and took a walking tour of the city.  The city is great and looked like a more cultural and less tourist-y version of Dublin.  It also has a great amount of history as explained by our awesome tour guide.  For dinner, some of us from the group had dinner at a very Irish place, where most of us had fish and chips.  It was delicious!  We then went on a pub crawl, where we went to four pubs and one nightclub.  There were some great pubs.  On Saturday, the amount of flooding caused a detour from our planned sites so we went to a small Irish town, which was nice but didn’t have much to see.  We then got back to Galway, where we went out to dinner on Saturday at an American diner and got American food- my first American food in Ireland!  On Sunday, we went to the Cliffs of Moher, probably my favorite place that I have been to so far this semester.  The cliffs were absolutely breathtaking and definitely a must-see when in Ireland.  Our next stop was the city of Limerick, which was quite nice with a river in the middle- similar to Dublin- and had a lot to see.  I definitely could have spent a lot more time than our hour allotted.  We then went to Moneygall, a small town where President Obama’s ancestors are from.  The town is all decked out with Obama memorabilia (there’s even an Obama café) and we went to the pub where Obama had a pint when he visited (which had even more Obama items on the walls).  I was exhausted when we got back on Sunday night but I still went to downtown Dublin to see the Super Bowl that night with a couple friends.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The trip to Edinburgh was even more memorable.  I left early Friday morning to catch my 12:30 Ryanair flight from Dublin to Edinburgh.  It was probably the shortest flight I’ve ever been since we were in the air for only 45 minutes.  Luckily my Ryanair experience was pretty unforgettable.  Once I arrived in Edinburgh, I met up with my friends studying abroad there (I know 4 UR students there).  We immediately climbed up a hill to catch views of Edinburgh.  I realized Edinburgh is very different from Dublin because Edinburgh is much more hilly compared to the flat Dublin and Edinburgh was much more a historic city.  I got a mini tour of the campus of the University of Edinburgh and was especially amazed by their eight floor library.  For dinner, I had some haggis (a Scottish specialty) as well as Irn Bru (a famous Scottish soft drink).  Both items were so great; I wish Ireland had these.  We went to a pub near the University popular with students, which had a live band with pretty good music.  On Saturday, we went to Edinburgh Castle (where there were some sieges during the Wars of Scottish Independence), which was beautiful and had some great history museums, where I learned quite a lot about the history of Scotland.

 

Edinburgh Street

A street in historic Edinburgh

We then went to the Holyrood Palace, which is where the Kings and Queens of Scots have lived since the 16th century.  For dinner that night, I had fish and chips with the Scottish rugby game on the TV in the restaurant, so a very Scottish night to say the least.  Sunday, I climbed up Arthur’s Seat (a hill with excellent views of the city) with my Richmond friend and his Scottish roommate.  They are experienced climbers so they wanted to go up the more difficult route where, given my lack of fitness, I almost fell down the cliff about four times.  I made it up somehow though and the winds were some of the strongest I’ve ever experienced, but the views were so worth it.  Going down was easier but it was so muddy and I didn’t have boots, so with my clumsiness, I fell not once, but twice right in the mud so my clothes got really muddy.  Our last stop of Sunday was at the National Museum of Scotland, which was a magnificent building; that had collections on pretty much everything, including animals, clothing, cars, and almost anything related to Scotland.  We only had about an hour because it closed pretty early but I could have definitely spent a whole day there.  Monday morning, waking up at 5:00, I caught my 8:00 am flight with an hour delay (I had a window seat without a window) and got back to Dublin in one piece.

Richmond Edinburgh

Richmond takes over Edinburgh

I look forward to what my future travels have in store for me!

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