Settling In // Zoe IRL

[This blog will follow my adventures as I attend UCD in Dublin, Ireland throughout the semester.]

It’s been 10 days since I arrived in Ireland. So far, Dublin and Northern Ireland have treated me well. I’ve settled into my dorm, registered for classes, and (kind of) figured out the bus system.

My first day here, last Wednesday, began with the always fun task of tracking down a lost suitcase. Thankfully, the issue was quickly resolved and and bolted out of baggage claim to reunite with my friend Ellen. Ellen and I met at Camp Fellowship last year, we hadn’t seen each other since August of last year, so the reunion overshadowed my impending jet lag and lost luggage.

We drove up into Northern Ireland (the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland is a soft one, but with Brexit coming up that may all change) and into Portadown, the town Ellen lives in.

After lunch we headed into Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capitol and biggest city. The city centre runs along a river, offering beautiful views and lots of industry. We visited the Dirty Onion, a modern pub with a youthful feel where I had my first (legal) drink. It was a fun city to walk around in and explore, but the North Coast was the highlight of my pre-UCD trip.

The small towns and hipster-chic coffee shops dotting the North Coast pale in comparison to the stunning views of the sea and the steep cliffs lining the coast. We started our tour on a viewpoint of the coast where scenes from Games of Thrones are filmed, the craggy rocks and rough surf seemed the perfect setting for the show’s Iron Islands scenes.

Next, we ventured to Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. The rope bridge connected two jutting rocks so fishermen could get to their docks back in they day. The vivid green of the grass and the vibrant blue of the sea were breathtaking.

The rope bridge is quite a hike, but thankfully my lack of luggage meant I had no choice but to wear my comfortable shoes. Surprisingly, it was hot. The hike combined with the abnormally warm August afternoon made for a work out, but it was worth it (you’ll see the pictures and believe me).

The next day, we had breakfast in a cute cafe overlooking the water in Portrush, one of the popular tourist towns on the north coast. We then ventured west to Mussenden Temple. The ruins of a bishop’s mansion and his temple sitting on the edge of the cliff were crumbling, but the architecture and location still make it a must-see.

Next, we took a walk down the beach then headed back east to see Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark, The Giant’s Causeway. Instead of paying parking fees that border on extortion, Ellen parks a good mile away and takes me in the back way. Walking along the headlands (the cliffs’ edges), we peeked in a Hogwarts-esque abandoned building, saw sailboats sailing below us, and climbed hills dotted with rabbit holes and purple wildflowers. It was definitely my favorite part of the whole trip (and it saved us money).

The Giant’s Causeway was amazing as well. Believed to be the construction project of a giant of days gone by, the Causeway is a collection of hexagonal rocks all piled on top of each other to form hive-like rock formations. Situated right on the water, it’s a bewildering sight to behold.

All in all, my whirlwind of a first three days in Ireland were amazing, but now I’m settled in Dublin ready to begin a semi-normal pace of life. Classes start Monday, but I’ll fill you all in on life here in Dublin during my next post.

Until then, peace out.

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