The last day spent in Edinburgh was a class day, but that evening a bunch of us headed out for our first free travel adventure. I decided I wanted to go to Ireland, since I do have Irish in my blood. However it was only (as far as I know) my great-great grandma Marry O’Rourke who is Irish..
After taking four hours or so to get to the airport and checked in, we landed in Dublin where we would spend the next 3 days. The first day we took a guided tour of the city. One thing I learned quick was the frankness of the Irish. Our tour guide who was close to my age swore like a sailor and was very politically opinionated. One thing the Irish government didn’t do very well was preserving areas for historical land or architecture. There was a place in the middle of the city where geologists found the largest area of preserved Viking weapons and other things, but the government was stubborn to build on the land. They gave the geologists one week to find what they could before the building process started on this government building. However, they were kind enough to build a historical museum for the vikings down the block from the government building. (I probably have ancestors rolling in their graves)
My tour guide, Lawrence, also shared his two cents on American politics. This was brought out for many reasons:
1-there is a very prestigious college in Dublin called trinity college. At this school, and many/most European colleges, if you get good grades, you can go to school. They don’t charge 18 year olds thousands of dollars for higher education or put them in debt within their first year of adulthood.
2-in Ireland they put more money into education than their military. Instead of using their money for bombs, it goes towards text books.
3-he wasn’t very fond of how our middle class is slowly deteriorating.
Soon after the tour we headed to the Guinness factory. I’m not a fan of dark beer but I thought it would be fun to explore the place, and there was a lounge on top of the place that had a sky view of the city. I was taught how to properly taste Guinness which is by breathing in through your nose, taking a sip, and then exhaling. I then was certified on pouring a proper glass of Guinness, so if you ever need assistance, call me.
Side note: Something that I kinda realized on this trip… They say Americans drink a lot, but it’s more because their liquor and beer are not as high in alcohol content or are full of more sugar. People here just drink it straight, therefore not needing to drink as much.
That night I experienced my first pub crawl but tapped out a little earlier than everyone since I was fighting a cold. But if anyone is thinking about going to Dublin, one must be fond of the pub and live music scene, since there isn’t really much to do in Dublin besides eat, chill in the park, and drink. This was a Sunday night but every pub still had live music, and most of it was acoustic which I adored. We stayed at this one place for a bit because the girl who was performing was phenom. Her alto range was raspy yet soothing. She played guitar but was accompanied buy another man playing guitar so there was a full sound and many guitar solos that displayed their talent. That was my favorite part of the trip. Oh and remember how I said Irish are frank? I had a bartender in his late 40’s tell me to “get a life”‘after ordering water. I was also told that I looked like Mila Kunis which is completely false lol. That came up after a guy asked us where we were from and I replied with Wisconsin, and he connected that with That’s 70’s Show. ☺️ #hellowisconsin
The next day we spent roaming around catching up on homework, and doing a little shopping. Though that’s a little hard to do since I only have about 96 liters to work with. This weekend taught me a lot about Hostel life, and i met some nice people from different countries including Latvia and Argentina. The girl from Latvia told us she didn’t think Americans were loud… Russians are loud. Haha
Tuesday was a day I was kinda dreading. I have traveled in groups before and I was already aware I’m not fond of traveling in groups, yet there I was doing just that. A little tip: it’s always good in life to try figuring things out yourself by using context clues or your resources… Not only does that make you a better problem solver, but it also makes people like me less annoyed when the same questions get asked over and over and over again. It’s appropriate to ask for help then if you can’t get the answer, but it’s also good to know who to ask. Don’t ask an American who has never been to England how to get to the bus stop because chances are they haven’t been there. After a 30 minute plane ride, three train connections and a little walk to the bus stop, I reached downtown Stratford Upon Avon, the home of Shakespeare! (Hence the title incase you caught that) Stratford got its name from a street called Strat which is in the city and ultimately leads to the river Avon which is in the middle of the city. Naturally they needed a way to cross the Avon river and Before they had bridges, there were shallow parts of the rivers which were called fords… This is the part where people would cross, hence StratFord Upon (on) Avon.
The city bus driver was not fond of 14+\- traveling Americans who did not have their heads on straight trying to get on his bus, but we waited for 45 minutes for this only bus that would take us to our hostel. Eventually we made it on time.
Today we had a city tour by an Englishman who seemed to have knowledge just pour out of his mouth about history and literature. Obviously we learned much about Shakespeare, his family, and his career but we also learned about a haunted tavern and saw a few beautiful cathedrals. On this trip there has been much talk about how the reformation impacted many countries, including Scotland and England…the Irish didn’t really budge on that one. (I also knew a lot about the reformation already thanks to a great music history teacher, Dr. Dickey 😊) It disappointed me, however, that many of the churches were forced to white wash the walls inside over many paintings because of the Protestant views on music and art, but hundreds of years later after the white paint deteriorated we were able to see many cool paintings that dated back to the 1500’s. Today we saw the church that Shakespeare was buried and baptized in, which was kind of amazing. Not to mention the architecture was pure genius. I could have spent hours in there just looking at everything inside.
Also fun fact that I somehow already knew but can’t remember why…: Shakespeare was one of the men who spent 46 years translating the Hebrew bible into English…as requested by King James (hence KJV). In the KJV, if you go to Psalm 46, you’ll notice how the 46th word is Shake, and the 46th word from the end of the Psalm is spear. Coincidence? Ehhhh….
This town obviously gets its money as a tourist town, but that doesn’t justify the adorableness of the town. There are many old shops and many buildings that are very old… Along with old people. Coffee and sweet shops are everywhere, including a tavern here and there. We only spend a few days here but it reminds me of home since it is a little smaller than the cities we have been in or will be in.
I’m usually not one to get homesick, but it has hit me a little harder than usual this week. I’m missing my parents and my siblings, along with my church family, and friends and professors in Platteville. I’ve sent a few post cards to some so maybe it will be your lucky day in a few weeks. If you want a post card send me your address and I’d love to write you. I would also enjoy a message every now and then as well 😉
Cheers y’all, and I appreciate you reading my babbling and stories!