When I was first accepted on exchange I made a list of the countries I really wanted to visit during my time abroad. As of last Sunday I have officially ticked off every place on that list. It is like a dream coming true. Since I was a kid, I have always dreamt of the future and what other countries would look like. When I travel I don’t like to do a lot of research and set my expectations high, I like the surprise, which causes pure excitement and a slight thrill to see the unknown.
With my wonderful British friend Abbi, who I roomed with in Greece we set off for two quick weeks driving around Ireland and Scotland. Clocking just over 2000 miles up in Abbi’s ford fiesta, you could definitely say it was one hell of a road trip.
We actually began the road trip at London Stansted and then we drove to Holyhead where we stayed the night before we boarded the ferry bright and early. Even though I have been travelling for a while now, still to this very day it amazes me how easy and quick you can pop to another country. As the ferry approached the Dublin headlands, the scenery became instantly greener.
You know the quote that the grass is greener on the other side? Well when it comes to Ireland, the grass is definitely greener on the other side. Ireland had a beauty to it that I can’t put my finger on it. I think it is a combination that it is endless beauty, a fab accent spoken by all, great pubs and even though it is a small country they are just humble in their ways.
Our first stop over in Ireland was Dublin for two nights. Throughout our trip we stayed in hostels and Airbnb’s. Which in it’s self is always an interesting experience, as again you’re never really know what you’re going to get until you arrive. Unless staying with friends, most weekends have been in Airbnb’s. We have come across some real gems, are we travel in a group we rent out the whole house for a weekend. It is nice to get away for a couple of days and have access to a double bed and a kitchen – always a luxury when you don’t have access to either everyday in Madrid.
Dublin was great but once again surprised me, it felt a little sketchy at night but during the day perfectly small and safe. The Guinness beers went down very well at the incredible and original Guinness factory, they also went down well when exploring the local and tourist bars. The one thing most people don’t know about Ireland is that they also have many other amazing flavored beers other than Guinness; I definitely say there is a beer or cider for everyone in Ireland.
After Dublin we adventured to the wonderful city of Limerick, which is the third largest city in Ireland. We stayed in the most wonderful cottage on the outskirts of town. The peace and scenery created such endless picture perfect moments. One of our days in Limerick we explored the castle and also the University of limerick – which is in fact of my second chose after Madrid for exchange. The campus was beautiful and large, with a river and a great bridge in the middle. You could say it was love at first sight, once I return to Australia I think I’m going to have to research further study abroad options, perhaps complete my masters overseas.
Another day we drove and we drove pass Kilarney National Park all the way down to the endless area of Ring of Kerry. This without a doubt was my favorite place we visited in Ireland. It was absolutely breath taking. Along the way were many small downs, lakes, cliffs, sheep and green as far as you could see.
Unlike everyone’s expectations for us, we had very un-Irish weather. Everyday filled with sunshine, little wind and not excessive cold weather. Even my Irish friends were surprised when I told them. From Limerick we made our way to Galway, on the way with a very touristy stop at Cliffs of Moher. Unlike most tourists we walked to the end of the cliff, which felt like miles away. The Cliffs were just like all the postcards and as we kept walking we would meet people who told us what movies had filled scenes at the Cliffs of Moher, which made this world-renowned tourist attraction even greater. One thing that I didn’t realize is that Ireland has hundreds of wonderful walking tracks, would definitely like to look into doing one when I go back another day. As the country is beautiful and small, so you could cover a lot in a day if you tried.
Galway and Donegal were our final nights in Ireland and were two great places to visit. Even though we didn’t have a lot of time at either place, I believe we found the best of it. We went to some great local pubs, heard great live music and meet some great locals along the way. Galway and Donegal towns were smaller than I originally imaged with by being surrounded by water, again we found post card perfect places to visit.
From Donegal we headed up to the North Ireland to board the big ferry to get to Scotland. It was funny entering North Ireland, as you don’t realize you’ve crossed the boarder but then all of sudden numbers plates become UK and car road signs change to miles.
Unfortunately Scotland was like a wonderful blur, it made me wish we had longer in places but we booked this trip knowing I couldn’t miss too much school. The days flew by and we had our first couple of days of true cold UK weather and rain. We met up with Abbi’s uncle and Aunty in FortWilliams and boarded the Harry Potter train you could call it, it is the same one from the first movie and we got over the bridge they do. I’m personally not a Harry Potter fan, but the sights of the train were so incredible! It’s hard to believe that I didn’t see an ugly sight in the UK. Not that anywhere is ever ugly, but I had a huge smile on my face all day, everyday, each and every turn it was all so wonderful.
We stayed one night in a cute cottage in the middle of nowhere with Ab’s aunt and uncle, yet some could call it close to the famous Lochness. I didn’t see the Lochness monster on the way to Edinburg. We spent two days in Edinburg for our final days which was simply fab. We headed to some of the highest points around the city to capture the views of this wonderful city.
It was interesting living out of suitcase again for two weeks, as I think I love having a home base. It is exhausting travelling each weekend but being exciting and a constant adventure when you’re travelling with incredible people. Considering I was planning on travelling alone when I first arrived in Madrid but haven’t done a trip alone. I’ve been lucky enough to met people from all around the world who have become not only people I’ve met on exchange but rather friends for life. Thank you everyone, especially Abbi for this incredible trip around Ireland and Scotland, can’t wait to explore England with you in December.