Wednesday, March 30, 2016

IRELAND (or, the one where I finally get a Spring Break)

Hello, world.

I have seriously neglected the blog the past couple weeks. I finished Hilary Term (hallelujah) and then promptly left for Ireland with some friends to start out this break right. Now, this is kind of a big deal. We don't get Spring Breaks at BYU (I know, I know). So this was my first-ever university Spring Break. And it has not disappointed me so far.

Ireland was incredible. We started in Dublin and then moved up the coast, coming up north through Belfast, then along Giant's Causeway, Slieve League, down to Donegal, and then back through the northeast to get back to Dublin. But I'll just post the pictures and let them tell the story.


{Also, did you know that one of my favorite short stories takes place in Dublin? It's called "The Dead," by James Joyce in his collection called Dubliners.}

[In the square at Trinity College.]

[Trinity College again. The Book of Kells is held here. Also, this square is where protesters fought with British soldiers during the Easter Rising in 1916.]

[The Library at Trinity College.]

[With the ever-lovely Emily.]


[Oh, you know, just an indie band playing on the streets of Dublin.] 

[St. Patrick's Cathedral with Emily and Dani.]

This trip also introduced me to the wonderful thing that is Air B&B. We stayed at great places each night. One of the perks was getting insider information on places to see (and full Irish breakfasts, but that's a different story). The guy at the first place said that we needed to go see a place called Newgrange, which is an ancient tomb that is older than the Pyramids of Giza . . . and you get to go inside. So, naturally, we set out to see Newgrange. And it ended up being one of the trip's highlights. 

[See that mound in the back? That's Newgrange.]

[The entrance.]

[The crew.]

[Quintessential Ireland.]

One of Emily's coworkers had highly recommended that we stop at a potato crisp factory on our way to Belfast. So, we did. I mean, how often do you get to go to a potato crisp factory? And how often do you get to meet Mr. Pat Tayto? Once in a lifetime. 

[Oh, and did I mention that the potato chip factory is in a castle? Yep. It is.]

[The spud himself with the crew.]

Next up, Belfast. I felt like we were transported right into the center of history--the Troubles weren't too long ago, and there are still disagreements . . . even bombings in Northern Ireland. We went to see the Peace Walls and the murals in the city: 

[The past is not even past.]

The next day, we went to Giant's Causeway, which I was stoked about. Going to Giant's Causeway has been a goal of mine for years, and it met all of my expectations. 

[This is my excited face.]

[On the causeway. This is a natural coastal formation. Years of wind, fire, and water made the coastline look like cobblestones.]

[Sooo, we kinda look like a mid-2000s band with our shades of green. What can you do? It was St. Patrick's Day. We had to wear green.]

[Dreams do come true.]

We then went to a Rope Bridge, which connects a small little fishing island to the rest of Ireland. I'm not a fan of heights (especially when you can see a sheer drop off), but I swallowed my fear and went across the bridge. And the view (and the day!) were absolutely gorgeous. 

[On the bridge.]

[Irish coast.]

[Natural beauty.]

It wouldn't be a proper St. Patrick's Day without a parade. And don't even worry--we went to two. One we watched . . . the other we somehow drove through. 

Our last destination was Slieve League, which has the largest sea cliffs in all of Europe. We got there at sunset and the next morning we hiked around a bit. You could not have asked for more stunning views. 

[Pure beauty.]

[A watchtower which was built during the Napoleonic Wars to ward off Napoleon.]

[Livin' on the edge.]

[The crew . . . and somehow we all ended up matching again?]

Basically, this trip to Ireland was incredible. Truly, it was. Great sights, great company, great conversation. One of my most favorite trips I have ever taken. I'd say Spring Break 2016 is off to a great start. 

(Also, Spring Break 2016 aka Best Spring Break Ever is not over yet--I have more pictures to post from Dartmoor [as soon as I get them from Briana], Easter weekend, etc. But for now, back to dissertation.)

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