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“Play the field and anchor none of them.”

My post’s name is a little strange, I’ll admit. So far I’ve been using travel quotes and song lyrics as titles but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use a quote from an old Irish woman we met at a small pub in Doolin. These lovely 90 year old women were Irish and had immigrated to the USĀ  years ago. But they had come to a tiny town on the coast near the Cliffs of Moher for holiday. At 90. And then they taught some American girls a few Irish step dance moves. At 90. And they were drinking whiskey at midnight. At 90. And they were telling us how we should have the time of our lives right now when we’re young and not let anything or anyone tie us down. Did I mention they were 90 years old???

I hope that I am taking their advice to heart; it definitely feels as if I have. The reason this post has been such a long time in coming is because I haven’t stopped to think about my adventures since I’ve started. Thinking about trying to put them into words seems like an almost impossible task. Between traveling, figuring classes out, making new friends, and just generally taking advantage of every moment, and then in between all of that trying to stop my immune system from crashing from the lack of sleep… I have been busy.

Our program group is pretty close and even though we don’t do everything together we have arranged a few trips. A lot of us went on a day trip to the Aran Islands where we rented bikes for the day and rode around looking at the beautiful scenery, seals, beaches, and old churches. I bought an Aran wool knit sweater, which we thought was something that you did when you went to the Aran Islands, but upon talking to some new Irish friends we found out that this is mainly a tourist thing to do. Either way I think when winter hits we’ll all be happy with our purchases.

Ferrying back to the mainland after a day on Inishmor, the largest island.

Coast on Inishmor

Aran Islands

typical Irish rock walls

Cemetery on the island

Aran Islands

beautiful fields on the island

Biking through the Aran Islands

We also bought a student pass to take a tour of the Connemara region, the place that was hit hardest by the potato blight famine in the 1850s, and to see the Cliffs of Moher. We haven’t gone on the tour of the Cliffs yet, but the bus ride through Connemara was beautiful and it ended with a trip to Kylemore Abbey, and castle built in the 1850s by a young couple in love. Now it’s owned by nuns, but I can see why they wanted to live in the Connemara mountains: it is absolutely gorgeous.

Lake near Kylmore Abbey

Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey, set against the Connemara mountains.

Kylemore Abbey, a castle built in the 1850s by a wealthy couple in love. Today it’s inhabited by nuns.

Quick stop in our tour to take in the Connemara Mountains,

Connemara region, where the potato famine hit the hardest in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

Connemara

Small pong in the little town of Cong. We stopped here during our tour of Connemara on our way to Kylemore Abbey. Although I’ve never seen the movie, our driver told us The Quiet Man was filmed here.

View right after leaving the Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey.

Connemara

Connemara

This past weekend me and a few other girls from the program went to Doolin, a small town in County Clare near the Cliffs of Moher. We spent the night and talked to our new friends, the wise Irish women, and some old Irish men that were in the area for the Matchmaking Festival that was going on in the next town over. We decided not to go to the Festival with them and instead watched a traditional band play and talked with people from our hostel. The next day we took a hike around the village and up onto the beginnings of the cliffs and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful. We lucked out and the normally bipolar and wet weather of the Irish wet coast was sunny, crisp and beautiful for the entire weekend.

Little town of Doolin.

Hiking through the little town of Doolin in County Clare.

Hiking along the cliffs in Doolin.

Hiking along the cliffs near Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher on an uncharacteristically sunny day in County Clare.

Beautiful view of the clear waves crashing at the bottom of some of the shorter cliffs.

Hiking along the cliffs near Doolin- absolutely beautiful!

Cliffs near Doolin.

Rocky shore in Doolin.

Doolin

Doolin

Little island off the coast of Doolin.

Shot of the cliffs off the coast of Doolin.

Evening walk towards the shore in Doolin.

I already have plans for my next few weekends here and they all involve staying in Ireland. After the past few trips I almost feel like I don’t need to leave the country to enjoy my time abroad. I know I will, but I’m glad I had my backpacking trip before I settled into Ireland so I could have time to really enjoy this country. When will I ever again have three months to really get to know one place well?

I’ll post again in a day or two with all of the videos from the past few weeks.

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