Luck of the Irish

Spending a weekend in Dublin,  Ireland was much more than experiencing a country filled with Irish pubs.  It was also more than the opportunity to be reunited with a large Jewish population of college students who are studying abroad.   I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the city of Dublin is and how sophisticated their stores and restaurants are.  Every local person that I met throughout the weekend was nicer than the next.  This weekend started when I met my five best friends from home at the Dublin airport.  After getting completely lost and circling my way around each terminal’s baggage claim area, I was reunited with them for the first time in a month.  We arrived at our hotel and after quickly dropping off our luggage we ran over to the Guinness factory because it was already approaching early evening.  We toured the factory for a solid three hours and it was nice to learn more about how beer is made and comparing and contrasting points that I picked up at the Heineken factory in Amsterdam.  At the end of the tour we all got a free liter of Guinness!  Even though I do not enjoy dark beer because it is an acquired taste, it was so beautiful as we looked out and took pictures at the very top of the factory as there was a panoramic view of Ireland.

IMG_8008-1After the fun time touring the Guinness factory,  that evening my friends and some of their family members who were visiting from home enjoyed a delicious authentic Irish dinner of fish and chips at a pub that was close to our hotel.  It was really nice to relax and enjoy each others company, especially because I don’t get to see these friends everyday, it makes times like these so much more special.  As the end of the night approached, we were all over exhausted from traveling and drinking so much beer so we got to bed pretty early.  IMG_7992We needed to be well rested for Friday because we all had to wake up at 6 am to catch the Irish Day Tour buses to take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.

Throughout the day we made a series of stops with the first being the famous castle in the town of  Limerick.  We could see the castle in the distance but our bus only took us to a view point where we weren’t able to get a close up.  There was still pretty scenery of a river and bridge.

FullSizeRender Our next stop took place about two hours later when we finally reached Clare which is the location of the beautiful cliffs.  Supposedly this area was in the running to be one of the 7 wonders of the world.  Even though it is not considered one, I can absolutely see why it was such a tough decision to make.  We only were given an hour and a half to wonder around and I could have used another hour to see more view points and take in the beauty.  It was one of those things where a picture cannot begin to explain how astonishing it really is.

Our third stop was to another cliff region called The Burren and I think I took this view for granted because of the previous cliffs that I had seen.  It was still mind blowing to see how high up we were and the huge rocks that made up the mountain we were standing on.  The water below us was crystal blue and almost reminded me of the water color in Lake Tahoe, CaliforniaIMG_8109After taking a quick lunch break that was organized by our bus leader, we made our next stop at an old catholic cemetery not far from the second cliff area.  I did not really understand much about this sacred place but it was a good way to get some nice photos.  On our way out a man showed me an old skull that he had found inside the funeral home. IMG_8111

After getting the goosebumps it was time to hop back on the bus and head to our last stop of the day which was the fishing town.


After napping for three hours on the bus ride home, we all worked up the energy to go out for our first evening in Dublin.  We went to Temple Bar which was not far from where we were staying which is an entire street of cute Irish pubs and parades.  Beside seeing a bunch of locals dressed up for the holiday, it was nice to bump into a few friends that I haven’t seen since coming abroad.  After a few bar crawls, we made it back where my three friends and I all snuggled into one bed and quickly fell asleep.

All of Saturday consisted of day drinking and celebrating St. Patricks Day along with every other American student studying abroad this semester.  My crew and I started at a bar close by to where we had brunch and ended back at Temple Bar where we were able to celebrate with other friends and enjoy hanging out and taking pictures with the locals.  It was really fun roaming the streets all day and hopping from pub to pub because I don’t have this type of social scene in Barcelona or Miami where I go to school because those cities are more organized around clubs.  By the time 5 pm arrived, my sorority sisters from Miami and I met and had dinner together.  It was so much fun being all together and gave me a taste of what being home feels like.


Sunday I got to sleep late before checking out of the hotel and I then met a friend for brunch who had not flown back to her city.  After eating we went shopping on Grafton Street and it was nice to shop at some of the same stores that we have in the States but not anywhere I’ve traveled so far within Europe.   Dublin was definitely the most fun weekend I have had while being abroad and I plan to return sometime in the future.



This past weekend I traveled to Amsterdam for the second time.  I was able to visit Amsterdam two summers ago with my family as part of a European vacation.  However, because I loved it the first time and was only able to spend a couple of nights there, I thought it would be fun to take another trip and to see Amsterdam for a second time.  Because it is the middle of winter in Europe, traveling is quite different than during the peak of vacation season in the summer.  Nonetheless, although it was much colder, while the sun was out the city appeared to be just as beautiful as it appeared in the summer.  Upon our arrival, my friends and I checked into the Marriot, which was much nicer than the hostel we stayed at in Berlin.  Friday morning we decided to wake up early and go to the Anne Frank house.  I had been there before on my first trip to Amsterdam.  But like most things, you can look at something from a different perspective the older you get and more educated you are.  I remember the Anne Frank house being my favorite part of my last trip, and it remained my favorite site on the second visit.  After completing the tour of the Anne Frank house and feeling somewhat sad we decided to lift our spirits, by having a meal at a pancake house that we heard was delicious from other friends who had visited before.  Later that afternoon we went to the Van Gogh Museum and then the “I am Amsterdam” tourist attraction where everyone takes photos.


The next day we were able to sleep in which is always a plus.  We toured the Heineken beer factory where we were able to learn about the history of Heineken Co. and sample the ingredients they use besides wheat in their beer.  It was so interesting to see it all being made; I have never been to a beer factory before.  The museum gave two beers to each person who completed the tour, which was a nice surprise!  Because I love beer, this was definitely a highlight to our trip!  We shopped for the majority of the afternoon and walked by all the beautiful canals. We were able to watch the gondolas passing by and enjoyed the amazing scenery. Later that evening, we went to a comedy show.  That was the first comedy event I have ever attended, but it looked just like I pictured it from watching comedy on many television shows and movies.


Even though I have been to Amsterdam before, it is always nice returning to a place and remembering all of the fun activities you enjoyed the first time.  I learn so much from traveling, even when I am going back for a second time.  I plan on traveling to Amsterdam again in the future, and who knows? Maybe it will be in another two years!