This weekend my parents finally arrived in Limerick to visit me. They had been here in Ireland a week so far and decided to come and see me after a week long tour. This allowed for them to get a glimpse of all the real popular areas of Ireland before they came to see me. It was good of them to find a way to see what I’ve seen so far since I’ve been here without being too much of a burden during my last week of classes. They saw so much, that I could not even imagine bringing them to several different cities during one week while I’m trying to do some final papers for the Ireland study abroad program and starting review for finals.
I did however get to spend four days with my parents which was nice, and we traveled to some amazing places. I made sure to go to some places that their tour had missed as well as places around Ireland that I had not yet visited during my time abroad. This first day brought us to Galway, which is a well known city a couple hours north of Limerick. It is a very beautiful yet busy town near the coast. Before going to Galway I really had no idea how busy it would actually be, which proved to be very challenging for my dad who was still learning how to drive on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road. He was trying his best not to get us in an accident and I was trying my best to read the maps and try and navigate us on the roundabouts. A good portion of the day was spent seeing the city by car because we were still trying to figure out the roads and everything, but it gave us a good tour overall of the city. That evening I had one of my only dinners out-to-eat during my trip to study in Ireland(because it’s too expensive to eat at restaurants) where I spent a good portion of my time catching up with my parents. It was a good time for telling them what I had been up to since we last talked and also to hear about their experiences so far in Ireland during their tour.
The next day we left Galway to go to the nearby Aran Islands. We ended up taking a flight from a nearby town to one of the islands, and it is one of the most interesting experiences I have had in Ireland so far. I was quite excited to try this out because we rode in an 8 seat plane, and the flight lasted only seven minutes. I was a little bit nervous at the start, but have never had such a thrill in my life. The views from the plane were amazing and we made it to the island in such a short time! Once we made it to the island we took a van tour that lasted about three hours. Our driver was a local man who had lived on the island his whole life, and had the best stories and descriptions of the sights and everything we saw around us; plus, he was hysterical. We truly got a taste of rural Ireland that day when we saw farm animals and stone walls everywhere. It also allowed us to see the beauty of the ocean from many angles, the best being the views from the top of Dun Aonghasa, a historical fort at the highest point on the island. The Aran Islands overall were just astounding, I have seen few places nearly as beautiful. At the end of the tour we did our obligatory gift shopping and then hopped on the ferry to the main shore. Let’s just say that the ferry ride was not that exciting(and rainy). It was hardly anything compared to the plane ride a few hours earlier.
Sometime the next morning we left to go much farther south in Ireland to the Dingle peninsula. This is another coastal area, but in a much smaller setting. The drive was a bit long, and the most challenging part was going through Conor’s Pass in the middle of the peninsula to get to the town of Dingle. That area is completely mountainous and has only one lane in which both directions of traffic must go. The journey through this area was quite scenic and we could see both the bay areas and the mountains mostly at the same time. There were troubles from time to time when we had oncoming traffic and people often had to pull over on the side of the road to let others pass, but we made it out alright and with a ton of amazing pictures of the multitude of views. Once me made it to Dingle, it was much more relaxing, and we were done with driving for the day. The town is quaint and very small that we spent the rest of our time walking as we went shopping and went to dinner at a nice local pub. This was a nice quiet evening after dinner, and it was a good time to rest up after all the traveling.
The last day we headed back up to Limerick. I gave my parents a tour of the campus and they also got to meet my roommates. It was nice to be back at home and just relax. My mom also decided to cook dinner that night, so I got a nice home-cooked meal, which is something that I haven’t had in a very long time. It was a good way to end my time here in Ireland with my parents. Then it was time to get back and buckle down on my studies in order to be ready for exams coming up.