Zee Luck o’ Zee Irish

I fell in love with Ireland. Point blank. This was one of the most amazing countries I have set foot in. Green was EVERYWHERE!! And hiking is what they do for fun! It’s seriously the best place! I found out before we even left the ship that Ireland have food policies banning GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in their food. That means that all of their food is free of pesticides and growth hormones and all that jazz! That is like hearing a music major hearing in-tune bagpipes; I was ecstatic! I couldn’t stop shrieking out of joy and excitement (those who know me know exactly what noise I am talking about.)

The first day, we started with taking a train right outside of Dublin to a place called Howth Head. It was a peninsula that is known to have beautiful hiking trails and that is EXACTLY what we saw. It was difficult, yes, but worth it in the end, when we finished and enjoyed a nice cup of Irish coffee and seafood chowder (fresh from the sea–YUM!) To top it off, we found out that the blackberries lining the whole trail were edible. Ugh, they were AMAZING!

Picture of the blackberries. Obviously the red ones aren't the ones we ate (not ripe yet) but the black were juicier than a picture could show. It also made for beautiful scenery when we couldn't see the cliffs.

One of my friends got tired of walking, so we had to find a way for her to get to the train station. We had met the main (and only) road in the peninsula, and tried calling her a cab. Unfortunately, being out of the city, those services are hard to come by and the reception was not strong. So we decided we were going to walk the way to the closest train station and grab her a train back (we DO NOT let one comrade stand alone.) While we were walking, we decided to try and put our thumbs out, just for the heck of it. To all of our surprise, a man pulled over and took us on a ten minute ride by car to the train station!!! So I can officially say that I hitchhiked. Sorry Mom and Dad! Don’t worry, though, a male was in our group, and Irish people are very nice.

Juergen even got to enjoy the scenery. I had him popping out of my backpack the whole hike.

The next day, I went to Belfast (Northern Ireland) with a friend I met on the hike the day before. We took a train and got there at noon. When we arrived, I was ready for food. We had no plans, but we started walking towards the center of the city. On the way, we saw a building that had people coming in and going out quite often, but it didn’t look very inviting. It was a big building with little windows. We walked in and were greeted by the smell of DELICIOUS FOOD! There were food stands from every country all around this warehouse-looking building. There were also handmade craft stands and a fish market at the end of the building. This building was a whole block long!! I think I was in heaven for a bit. So we walked around and decided to share an Irish Bap (potato-like bun with sausage, bacon, and egg) and Irish stew and Curry stew (both homemade that morning by the woman working the stand.) They both were delicious. We sat next to a young mother and her two children, and they told us cool places to see in Belfast. The little boy told me we HAD to take the “Titanic bus” to the Titanic museum, all while spitting the food that was in his mouth at me due to the excitement of what he was saying. It was adorable. Northern Ireland people talk with an accent that is almost like they are asking you a question for every sentence they say. It’s funny because they–like the U.S.–have different accents for different parts of their country. So cool!

We also went to the Titanic museum and saw where the Titanic was built. It was so full of history, I felt like I was on the ship, or somehow tied to it. The dock had a cool building, and best of all, I could walk the length of how long the Titanic was. It was humungous! The museum had a virtual room where it went from the bottom deck to the top deck, furnished and music playing like it would have been back when the ship sailed. There were also first-hand stories and information on the building, sinking, and recovering of the ship from the ocean floor. There was a book that I wish I would have bought with stories from survivors of the ship. Buyers remorse…

Thompson Graving Dock: where the Titanic was built and went through "graving"--cleaning off the oysters on the ship. Also, the blocks down the long isle in this picture is where the Titanic actually sat! They were wooden on top to prevent scratching of the ship.

The countryside of Ireland--SO green and SO beautiful! And cows and sheep everywhere!

The third day, we woke up early and caught a bus to the cliffs of Moher (mower is how you pronounce it.) The bus ride was beautiful, the cliffs were beatiful, and every small town we stopped in was beautiful as well!! Gosh, the air was so fresh too!! I couldn’t stop breathing! I guess that’s a good problem to have.. :]

Doing an Irish kick along the cliffs of Moher. Living life on the edge!!

The last day we stayed in Dublin and went to the Guinness factory. That was definitely worth it!! We spent 4 and 1/2 hours in the museum. We learned how to properly taste beer, how to pour beer from a tap correctly, and how to connect beer with food!! I fell in love with that floor of the factory, and actually asked for the application process. I have brewery experience!!

We also had a life boat drill on board the MV Explorer yesterday, and saw dolphins for the first time!! Whales have been spotted today!

Until next time,

Kait(lyn)

P.S. A shout out to my Dad! I am sooo proud of him for passing his Master’s test!! I always knew he was smart!

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About Kait Squanda

Semester at Sea is a study abroad program sponsored by University of Virginia. It is a cruise liner made specifically for college students, professors, hall directors, and lifelong learners to experience a hands-on learning atmosphere around the world. My voyage will be traveling to 15 countries: Russia, Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba. WIth some stops before-hand, it is bound to be a trip of a lifetime!

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