So this post was due like days ago but I've been so busy with work and there has been soo much things to do. So I apologize for this post being so late. I have divided this post in three parts because otherwise I'm going to spam these post with loads of photos and therefore I would just slow down your computers. So part 1 includes the arrival in Ireland, Dingle Roadtrip, Blarney Castle and the Ring of Kerry Tour.
6.9.2010. It was 4AM when we left home towards Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. It's actually quite surprising that they don't have straight flights to Ireland. Or well, they did with Aer Lingus and only on specific days. Which, of course, did not fit in my schedule. Anyhow, it was quite sad to leave everyone I knew behind and head to another country for five months. I was heading to [TRALEE], co. Kerry which is probably most known of it's annual Rose of Tralee -festival.
I was going to study in IT Tralee. It is the only third degree school in Tralee. They had created a group for us new exchange students so we could get in touch and whatnot. There I met Helena, who was from Sweden, and was traveling the same day I was. We agreed to meet in Copenhagen Airport where we went to Dublin and to Kerry together. So all in all it took 3 different flights (and it would've been easier to take the train to Tralee, but little did we know then...): Helsinki - Copenhagen - Dublin - Kerry. I was going to stay in An Seann Mhuileann ("The Old Mill") an apartment complex, situated near the town centre, about 3km from the North campus where I studied. Helena was going to live in Oakpark, about half way from An Seann to North Campus.
Tralee was quite little and all the necessary shops were basically just around the corner - Dunnes Stores was actually right next to my apartment so it took only 5mins to get there. Which was quite convenient. I met a lot of people from different countries - a few from my own. The closest to me were Helena, another Finnish girl Hanna and Tanja from Germany. I was in an apartment with two other girls too - Lina from Germany resided in one room and Melike from Turkey in the other. I had ridiculously good luck with my room since I got a double room with the price of a single room. More space for me. Which actually turned out to be handy since I lodged a couple of friends there if we got home late or for some other reasons.
Well, hop to the future. At the start of the semester, me, Lina, Helena and two guys rented a car for a weekend and went to a little road trip. First day we went to see the [DINGLE PENINSULA]. It was quite a nice trip and the landscapes were really breathtaking! First we stopped at Brandon's point (3rd row, 1st photo). I only saw Atlantic Ocean to... well no point at all. It was something you need to experience. Standing on a cliff and just... thinking how lucky you are being in a place like this. Anyhow, we continued our journey to Dingle, which is a little coastal town, famous for it's dolphin, [FUNGI]. We didn't go to the boat tour though, something I felt a bit sad about cause I love dolphins!
From Dingle we continued our journey around the Peninsula and stopped by Coumeenoole Beach. What really surprised me was that they actually surfed there! Not that I don't know that it can be done but since it's not exactly the most ideal temperatures and all. It was kind of chilly there in autumn-winter. So I could only imagine how cold the water was. It was really fun to walk in the soft sand (though I had tons of it in my shoes) and just stare at the tidal waves and goof around. When we finished the amazing landscape-tour in Dingle Peninsula, we drove to Killarney - a town near Tralee. There was lots of places to shop and places to eat. One of my favorite place's in Ireland was Murphy's Ice Cream Shop. There was ice creams in all flavors (even Guinness!) and coffees to die for.
The second day started with us driving towards Cork and stopping by at [BLARNEY CASTLE]. That was actually something I had suggested because I wanted to see it so bad. I'm a sucker for old castles and history and well - snapping one thousand photos in those kind of places. Blarney Castle is quite famous for the [BLARNEY STONE]. The story tells that if you kiss the stone located on the top of Blarney castle, you will be given the gift of eloquence. So yes, I did it too (and later I just hoped that no one had any diseases...). It was kind of scary (even more if you have fear of heights... what a good plan...) lying on your back, no nets or any safety procedures at all, only a person holding your waist while you hold two metal pipes and bent down to kiss the cold stone. But it was definitely worth it! I just didn't look down... (3rd row, 1st photo). There was also a lovely poison garden (1st row, 2nd photo) with lovely but very poisonous plants such as wolfsbane, hemlock, kannabis etc. (nope I didn't take a souvenir).
After Blarney, we continued to Cork. It was a city I fell in love immediately. Lot of shopping opportunities, pretty buildings and... [BUTLER'S CHOCOLATE CAFE] (1st row, 1st photo). Honestly it was the second best place after Murphy's and the best chocolate in Ireland. It definitely beats Belgian and Swiss chocolate, both of which I thought were the best before tasting Butler's. After Cork we ended up in a place called Bandon. And we ended up at the gates of a golf course where there was another beautiful view, amazing cliffs and the ocean continued to the infinity. After the day was done, we went to eat in this nice restaurant in Kinsale called Dino's Family Restaurant. While other four ordered seafood - fish and chips and other stuff, I ordered chicken (I don't eat fish. At all). And it was fantastic! A good way to end the trip, definitely.
Part 2: Dublin, London, Sligo & Galway. Coming soon...