PaddyWagon Tours and an Irish experience

06 June 2010

Day 2: Dublin - Thursday, June 3
We made it!

On Thursday morning, we successfully and happily arrived in Dublin. Though, we were exhausted. We managed to get to our hostel after some airport struggles, but we got there safely with luggage and all. A family on the flight was amazed that we were backpacking, which reinforced our tremendous enthusiasm to be embarking on this new adventure. The dad was so excited to hear about our plans I swore he was going to run off with our packs and try it on his own.

The two of us explored the best of Dublin in a single day. Really, that's all we felt that it took. We thought Dublin would be quaint and different than major cities we've explored. We expected it to be buzzing with Irish culture, history and spirit, but we were a little disappointed. Although we loved Ireland, it was much more city than we anticipated.

During our attempt to see Dublin Castle on the first day of our stay, Holly and I decided to take a bus from our hostel to get there. The receptionist at the hostel provided us with directions via the bus that would take us to the castle in about 40 minutes. It seemed a little odd... If you've ever been to Dublin, you should know that it probably doesn't even take 40 minutes to walk from one side of the downtown area to the other. So, we justified the time by saying the bus needed to make quite a few stops.

We traveled through the city, down some winding roads, past a few parks and sure enough, it was a 40 minute ride to the castle. Malahide Castle. Yes, Malahide Castle. We got lost 15 miles outside of Dublin on our first day in the city! (Don't tell Mom.) But we made it back safely, with a few twists along the way :).

Day 3: Dublin - Friday, June 4th
After enjoying Dublin our first day in Ireland (with the exception of Dublin castle), we were thankful we planned tours for the second and third days of our stay. We hopped the big, green PaddyWagon bus, decoratively detailed with leprechauns and sheep, and traveled four hours west of Dublin to the enchanting Cliffs of Moher.

Along the way we stopped at the Burren, which is a field naturally covered in limestone. It sounds strange, but it's very neat. Though, nothing quite like the cliffs. They were absolutely breathtaking! We had great weather for all three days in Ireland, and we captured some spectacular photos.

Holly and I hoped to get a nice Irish meal during our final two days, but the Irish aren't particularly known for their cuisine. Most places serve stew, salmon and lamb as traditional dishes. And, they eat potatoes with nearly every dish. At one meal, we were served three kinds of potatoes! But don't get the wrong idea. We were all over their starch-filled diet.

Day 4: Dublin - Saturday, June 5th
For our final day in Dublin we took another full day tour with PaddyWagon Tours to the north coast. Our guide was hilarious, and he granted Holly and I the privilege of being his assistants for the day. He gladly shared with us information about his upbringing in Ireland and the history of his country.

We drove north through Belfast and entered Northern Ireland, headed straight to the Carrick-a-rede bridge and Giant's Causeway. The journey gave us a chance to learn about the rivalry between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic is primarily Catholic, while the north is predominantly Protestant. We learned about Bloody Sunday and various events that led the island to remain separated. To this day, one remains under British rule and the other is independent.

The tension still remains, though. And at one point our tour guide mentioned we might have garbage thrown at the bus while traveling through the Northern Ireland. Our bright green, leprechaun-covered bus suggested nothing more than our affiliation to the republic. We held our breath and made it through safely.

The tour ended with a quick stop in Derry, or Free Derry as some call it. Today, both Protestants and Catholics can live in Derry with equal rights, deeming it a free land for all. It's a walled city, and we spent about an hour walking the walls, gathering the facts and photographing the murals depicting the events that led the north and the republic to separate.

We loved every second of our tour to the northern coast. I can honestly say that I never imagined Ireland to be so absolutely beautiful. And hey, we crossed off our first Seven Wonders of the World. Slainte!

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