19 February, 2014

Being able to act as a Tour guide!


This past weekend was jam-packed with exciting activities!  My mother and my older sister came to visit all they way from Boston/New York City!  Despite the snowstorms and chaos in the airports on Thursday night they were able to make their flights and got here just a couple of hours after they had planned.  I was very excited that they got to come and visit, my mother had surprised my sister with these plane tickets about two weeks prior to their arrival.  I had previously thought that them visiting was out of the question!

                                                            Porterhouse Main Floor

When they first arrived I showed them around the neighborhood, though the weather was windy and very rainy.  We decided that our best bet was to grab some food at the Porterhouse, which they loved!  I ended up devouring about eighteen buffalo wings along with a sizeable amount of chips which took me the rest of the day to digest.  From here, we decided that a good rainy day activity would be to go and check out the famous Guinness Storehouse.  This was my mother and sister’s choice, although previously they had not cared much for the taste of the beer.  By the time we got through the taste testing and then up into the Gravity Bar, they were completely sold.  My mother is not much of a beer drinker in general and she got a couple more while eating at restaurants through out the weekend!

                                                                Guinness Gravity Bar

The next day, despite the forecasts for strong winds and heavy rainfall, we were pleasantly surprised to see the sun in the sky all day with out one drop of rain.  We took this as a chance to experience some of the cities more notable landmarks. We started by walking down Dame Street and stopping at the Castle of Dublin, which was very underwhelming inside.  After this we made our way over to the Bad A** Café  in the Temple Bar area which served the best bacon cheeseburger I have had in the city along with American style french fries.  This is a great place to go if you are home sick for some classic American food.

We took the short walk, after we had finished lunch, down to the Trinity College campus for a tour of the grounds.  This was very interesting for me due to the fact that I had walked by it so many times but never realized you could just walk onto the grounds not being a student.  In the main quad there was loads of different, intricate types of architecture, my favorite being the bell tower in the middle.  Each keystone in the arches of the bell tower has detailed artwork of each of the four professional majors at Trinity, two of which being social work and medicine.  There was one building that had one strip along the whole thing of these carvings that look like flowers.  Each carving represents a different type of flora that is native to Ireland, it is said to have every type of flora covered and to not have any duplicates.  My favorite part of the tour was going into the library, though.  It looked as if you were entering the Hogwarts library, shelves stacked 20 feet high with leather bound books and ladders to climb and reach them.  In the center there were music books filled with old Gregorian chants and more.  The most incredible book, though, was The Book of Kells.  This is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book written in Latin.  It is called an illuminated text because they actually used intricate and colorful artwork on each page, which made the book stunningly beautiful.

                                              Trinity College Old Library

The third and final day that my mother and sister were visiting we went on one of the Wild Wicklow Tours, a bus tour through Wicklow county stopping at some of the most incredible sights and historical spots.  First, we stopped at Sandycove, it was a gorgeous morning and everything was being illuminated by the sunshine.  There was a small sandy beach and some large boulders to walk along.  The water was an incredible turquoise and there were a surprising amount of older men going for a swim, if I had brought a change of clothes I probably would have been in there myself!  You could see the coast of the town called Howth directly across the bay.  The shore houses lining the small roads were unbelievable and it turns out that we were just up the road from where Bono and his family reside!  This was the most beautiful weather and closest to summer I had felt since I had come to Ireland and I was loving it.

                                              Sandycove Coast/Swimmers

By the time we reached the Wicklow Mountains the sun had faded behind the thick clouds.  There was snow cover at the top of the mountains which is something I had not seen since leaving the states!  We stopped in a small country town called Laragh for lunch, consisting of the oldest pub in County Wicklow!  The food was delicious and there was an actual harpist playing while we ate our lunch!  I had never heard someone play in person, never mind so close up, this was a real treat considering there are only a few hundred people in the world that can actually play the instrument correctly.  She was a very elegant young woman and the way he played made it look like second nature.  The harp, that I found out was actually hers, was beautiful, it was a navy blue color with white trim and gold accents to it.  After lunch we boarded the bus and made the quick drive to Glendalough to see the waterfalls and the ancient cemetery.  You can read more about Glendalough in Nicole Christopher’s blog post about the full day our class spent there.

                                                       Harpist in Laragh

This just goes to show you that you really can get a lot in over three days if you utilize your time.  I did not even mention a good chunk of the things that we did on top of all this.  It was a great thing to be able to spend some time with family and give them a little taste of the experience.  It felt good being able to act as a sort of tour guide so that I could orient them quickly and get them to what they wanted to or should see.  It would have been nice to have a few more days to really cover all of the bases but with the time we were given I believe we did well.  Thanks for making the journey Mom and Ellie!

Henry S Schwartz
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2014
Champlain College, Environmental Policy and Business Administration 2015

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