Before I had even left the states to study abroad I knew that I wanted to spend my 21st birthday in Ireland for a few reasons, 1. because I’d never been and it was the top of the list of places I wanted to go, 2. because it actually matters at some of the bars in the Temple Bar section whether or not you are 21 so I might actually get carded, and 3. my family is Irish which has made me familiar with the country since I was little and had a soft spot for it!

We woke up early on Friday and took a plane from Pisa to Dublin and arrived at 8:40am. Instead of staying in a hostel, I found an apartment for the 5 of us to stay in which was so much nicer and more fun for my birthday and also my roommate Alison, whose birthday was the day before mine.

The first thing we did after checking in was visit the Guiness Factory which was down the street. Like I said in my Munich post, I’m not exactly a big beer fan, let alone Guiness the darkest beer out there! But it was not bad and for the experience you obviously have to have one. The tour was huge and showed how it was made, the history, how to pour a proper pint, and then a great rooftop bar overlooking all of Dublin. We had fun sitting around up there and got some great advice from the workers there on where to eat and what to do. They told us that the best fish and chips in all of Dublin were right down the street from our apartment and also to go visit a small fishing village outside Dublin called Howth if we wanted to experience the real Dublin like people picture.

Next we got some food and did a little wandering around the Christchurch area and Trinity College. After, since we’d had a long day of travel, we just sat in our apartment appreciating couches (we don’t have any in our apartment at home) and american television… in english! Watching friends and drinking Dr. Pepper may have been one of the biggest highlights of the weekend….

That night we went down to Grafton Street which I had heard is supposed to be the big pub scene with typical irish people but I was sorely disappointed. Most of the “typical pubs” turned out to be clubs and they were full of lots of old people…. who weren’t even Irish!! We had fun anyways and I did find a nice Irish couple that Alison and I were able to chat with for awhile that was fun, but we decided we needed a new location the next evening for our birthday celebration.

In the morning Alison and I went to get breakfast and found bagels! Something I had not even realized I missed. They were delicious and we sat drinking hot chocolate for awhile deciding what to do with our day. This was actually Alison’s birthday so we had to make it special. We headed back to the hotel, got ready and then headed out to the bus station to go to Howth. Along the way we were not sure where we were so we stopped and chatted with a sweet little Irish lady who gave us even more great information about the best ways to get there, where to go when we got there and even told us some cute stories. The irish hospitality was really unbelievable, the next day we had 2 different people give up their places in a starbucks so that the 5 of us could sit together!

We drove along the coast on a double decker bus out to Howth and got out at the port. We walked along the water and what did we see but several sea lions! They were playing and looking at the people on the dock. They were so cute! We walked to the end and took some pictures and then it was lunch time. We went into this little restaurant called the Oar House not expecting much because it didn’t look to crowded or fancy, but on the inside it was so cute and full of people! It worked out perfectly because apparently you need reservations to eat there, but they just so happened to have one 4 person table left just for us!

I ate the more fresh and delicious salmon for lunch as well as oysters with Alison. AND! The water was even free, with ice, and free refills! This is a big deal in Europe! After finishing one of the best lunches I’ve ever eaten we went to the tourist office and got a map of hiking the cliffs.

I didn’t exactly realize we were going to be hiking on scary tiny paths along steep cliffs that day, so I was wearing my heeled boots that are several inches high. It was a bit scary, and not the most comfortable, but you sort of forget about pains and scaredness when you turn around and see beautiful cliffs, hills, old walls, and green just all around you. It was truly breathtaking and something I’ll never forget. It was also a very long hike and we needed to meet up with our fifth friend that came with us so we had to book it for the last kilometer or so which was a little on the scary side!

We got to the end of the trail, found the bus and just collapsed on the way back because we were so mentally and physically exhausted. We started chatting and laughing about the silliest things and being the one thing I seriously try to avoid being…. loud americans, but sometimes it is unavoidable when something is funny enough! I had been laughing till I cried about silly little comments Bevy had been making about a “swamp” that was outside the window and eventually everyone joined in. Taylor said she heard an irish man behind us say, do you think they’re drunk? By george it’s only 2pm! Obviously we were deliriously tired so we got back and took a long break before going to dinner.

For dinner we got chinese food which was the first I’ve had since leaving the US and it was pretty good! We had a good time talking about our days adventures and Alison’s birthday, then we went home and got changed to go out and celebrate my 21st and Alison’s 22nd. My mom had sent me a large Happy Birthday banner, a black and gold boa and an obnoxiously huge crown to wear on my birthday, so I pulled them all out, hung up the banner, put on my outfit and headed to temple bar.

We first went to the actual Temple Bar and it was packed! We had fun just pushing through to the bar, getting a beer and then finding a place to stand. As we passed we met a lot of people from all over the world. Obviously when you’re wearing a huge crown that says 21 on it people notice and start conversation so that was fun and interesting!

As it got closer to midnight we moved to a different pub with a live band and I had my first official drink of my 21st birthday which was a beer…. who could believe it?! The band played lots of songs we knew and we had a lot of fun watching them and chatting until the place closed at 2 and we went to sleep.

On our last day, and my birthday, we had to wait till 12 to get any of the things we wanted done because it was Sunday and nothing was open! First we had the best fish and chips of all time, they were sooo greasy but amazingly good! Then we toured Christchurch which I loved! I had been getting a little sick of the Italian churches lately. Finally we went to Trinity College where I was able to go to the Library and see the Book of Kells!! This was a big deal for me since I did so much research on illuminated manuscript last semester so I spent probably a solid 20 minutes just staring at the pages they had open. The ticket also let us into the library above which was seriously the most beautiful library I’ve ever seen!

We still had a few hours left so we went to Starbucks and then I bought the book Pillars of the Earth because I have been talking to my dad about reading it for some time now and with all of the focus on cathedrals now. After the past 2 weeks of traveling I am through 740 of the 1100 pages if that tells you how much time we spend on the road!

Leaving Dublin was depressing because it is just never enough time but I was comforted by the fact that I would spend the next weekend in Scotland which should be equally beautiful!


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