I’m finally home to Edge Hill University after three weeks of the most incredible, inspiring, thought-provoking, life-changing and action-packed journey of my life. I still can’t completely wrap my head around the fact that I have now seen so much (yet somehow only six percent) of the world with my own eyeballs. I am beyond grateful to have been able to see places that a lot of people only dream about seeing. I went to 12 different cities throughout 8 different countries in 23 days carrying a backpack that weighed 9 kilos and I have never ever been more exhausted or exhilarated.
First stop: Ireland
We started our Easter Break on St. Patrick’s Day, so of course our first destination had to be Dublin, Ireland. We flew from Manchester to Dublin, and arrived in the evening. We went downtown and walked around. The streets were completely packed with people dressed as leprechauns or at least wearing green from head to toe. It was so populated that it was actually impossible to get into any pubs or restaurants, but it was still a thrill to people-watch and see some of Dublin’s nightlife.
On another day in Ireland, we took a bus to Galway and went on a day-long guided tour. Our tour guide, named Darren, played Irish music and drove us through the Burren, which our guide told us is a stretch of landscape measuring 320 square kilometers. The Burren is mostly made of limestone and came about by the Ice Age. It looks like cracked pavement, with grass and endangered plants growing between the cracks. I’m making this sound boring, but it was a pretty incredible sight to see and learn about. We also stopped at the Ailwee Cave and took a tour. I had never been in a cave before, so I was surprised by how dark, cold, and wet it was. Even though I have a mild phobia of darkness, and don’t particularly like being cold or wet, I loved this tour. We learned the story of how the cave was discovered by an Irishman in the 1940’s when he chased his dog into it. He didn’t tell anyone about it for about 30 years, so it wasn’t officially discovered until the 1970’s. We also got to see bear bones that were 2,000 years old.
After the cave, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher, which was the reason we booked the tour. As soon as I got off the bus at the Cliffs, my jaw dropped. As soon as my jaw dropped, a bug flew into my mouth. I share this information because nobody shared it with me, and now I feel like a bad vegetarian because I swallowed so many bugs. I’m not sure why the flies like this area as much as the tourists, but we learned the hard way that you must keep moving or else the flies would swarm you, and you should take two pictures of everything because the flies would photo bomb you. After getting over the initial shock of what we were seeing, we spent a couple of hours walking the Cliffs and taking it all in. Like a lot of the breathtaking sights I saw during this holiday, it’s a challenge put into words what I saw and felt at the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs were massive and incredible and the water was so blue and you could look out and see for miles and it made me feel so small in the world, but not in a bad way, and I now understand what people mean when they say it “takes the talk away from you.” It should definitely be near the top of everyone’s bucket list.
When we returned to our hotel that night, we learned about the strike of the French air traffic control workers, which was causing tons of airlines to cancel tons of flights, including a few that our classmates were supposed to be on. We were concerned because we were meant to be flying to Paris the following day, and if we couldn’t get to Paris we might not be able to fly to our next destination from Paris, either. The drama queen in me wondered if Easter Break was over for us. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
To be continued,