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Dublin and Edinburgh

Okay, Tonight I plan on Updating YOU, the reader through Dublin and Edinburgh (MINIMUM!). Hopefully I can get through Berlin and Interlaken too, so I'm up to date before I go to Spain! Ready? Lets go...

Dublin:

I got to Dublin on Monday afternoon of my week-long break, perfect flight, even though I almost missed it (stupid busses in London.. ugh!). The weather in Dublin was grey and rainy the day I got there, not exactly the way I wanted it to be, but I got a bus pass and headed into town. I stayed in the Temple Bar part of Dublin (one of the biggest centers of city life for pubs and good, Irish times). The hostel was great and let me check in early to throw my stuff down. After that, I went and met up with an Irish guy I'd met earlier in my travels who promised to hook me up with a tour if I came to Dublin... best money I never spent. We toured through Trinity college (beautiful), the Georgian (After the architechtural style) neighborhoods, back through the park to Oscar Wilde's statue (that's the guy on the rock in my pictures), and ended up at the art museum (honestly, the most breathtaking painting I've seen in Europe was here... Carrivaggio's "Taking of Christ"). It was a great FREE tour, and this guy, John, knew his history, so it was really informative. I checked out Dublin Castle on my own later that afternoon. That night I ate at the "Kick Ass Cafe," a completely overpriced and un-Irish place, but worth saying I've eaten there :). That night, made my rounds to a few of Temple Bar's famous pubs, had a few Jamesons, a few Guinnesses and headed home.

The next morning, I got up at about 9am and headed downtown to do my "Hop-on/Hop-off" tour of Dublin (included in my 3 day bus pass... heckuva deal). Through the tour I visited a few of Dublin's big attractions and got a lot of information about the history of the city (really cool considering I'm 50% Irish). My favorite stop of the day, however, was the Guinness Storehouse, home of "The Guinness Story," the 9000 year lease that Arthur Guinness has on the property, and the world-famous "Gravity Bar," which provides you with your included pint (best I've ever had) as well as a 360-degree view of Dublin (great for pictures). Honest to goodness, it was the best 10Euro I've ever spent. The tour was really informative, had a decent amount of Irish history in it, and I had the best pint of Guinness ever! :) Okay, enough about that... I know my mom is thinking "I sent him to Europe for WHAT?!" I had lunch (Irish Stew and a Pint of Guinness) at the original "Brazen Head" pub, which might not mean anything to you unless you're from Columbus/Dublin, Ohio, where the sister pub is (and I happen to love!). I took a picture there to take to the great people in Dublin, OH. Incidentally it's Dublin's oldest pub, constructed in the 1600's too... cool! I also went to the Modern Art Museum (one of the real disappointments of Dublin), which had some neat pieces, but it was half-closed, and not the best museum. That night I went and saw the british comedy "Hot Fuzz" (from the makers of Shaun of the Dead)... one of the funniest comedies I've ever seen, then headed back to my hostel.

The NEXT morning, I decided to pay for a tour to southern Dublin's coast and the Powersgate Gardens. Again, the tour was absolutely worth the money. I saw a lot of the coast and the Gardens were amazing--compared to Versailles, I liked them a lot more. It was like a miniature version, but much better kept, and the weather was such that some of the gardens were in bloom already. It was a really peaceful experience to walk around them. After the tour was over, I headed back to the hostel and packed up my stuff, it ended up that I wouldn't be able to catch the bus early enough in the morning, and I didn't want to pay for a cab, so I stayed overnight at the Airport (yes, it was plenty safe), I was just bummed since I paid for an extra night in my hostel. However, when you're at the mercy of public transport, that's life! The next morning at 6:30a.m., my flight left for Edinburgh, Scotland.

That was Dublin in a nutshell. I wish I had gone a few more places in Ireland, but I think I hit all the big stuff in Dublin, and felt really good about it as a city. The saying for Ireland is: There are no strangers, only friends you haven't met. I felt this to be true everywhere; Dublin was a warm, welcoming city with a lot of history... I loved it.

Edinburgh:

I arrived WAY too early into Edinburgh, and on only 2 hours of sleep from the night before.. blah! I got to the city center at about 8:30am when the only thing open was Starbucks (not even the ticket counter for the busses)! I went in, had some chai, and came back to the bus ticket place, got a day pass, and went to my hostel (arriving at about 10am). They were SUPER nice and let me check in early. I got there, took a shower, then went back out to the bus stop to go back into town. I toured around the town, checked out things like the Scott monument, the Royal Mile, The castle (from the outside... too pricey to go in!), saw Edinburgh Univeristy, etc. I had lunch in a killer baked potato place (apparently, they're all the rage in Edinburgh), run by a vegan. I had pineappe/onion/sour cream filling in mine... it was absolutely off the chain good! After that, I stopped in at a hole-in-the-wall pub and had a hand pulled ale... not bad, but not the best thing I've ever had (especially over here). After my mini-tour, I headed back to my hostel to rest a bit until my friends, who had gone to a different part of Ireland, arrived. They texted me later that afternoon and we met up, largely repeating my mini-tour, then grabbing dinner and going out to see a band play.

The next morning I got up and met them in the center of the city (they stayed in a different hostel). My hostel was a bit far from the city center (25 minutes by bus, blah) but was situated on a bay, and had a lot of amenities, which were nice to have. Anyway, that day we decided to skip the city and do our own nature-based tour, climbing up the cliff/mountains surrounding Edinburgh. They're actually really accessable to people even if you're not a superb climber. The girls kept up pretty well in their designer boots :P. We reached the top after about an hour or so, then took some time to take in the surroundings. It was a beautiful view, and a great place to "commune with nature." Coming down ended up being the most fun part... We headed down a different way than we came up, the way WITHOUT the path. Stupid, stupid idea. It didn't look that steep until we got to one part of it. I was in the front with Danny, and there was a point that was prettyyyyy freaky. I'm not going to lie, I had a 10-15 foot slide on the wet rocks that was pretty scary, ripped my hands up a bit too. After being approached by the rangers to make sure we were okay, however, we all got down safely. It took us about an hour and half to actually get down, but we were happy we all made it safe! That night we celebrated our safety and Mike's birthday at THE TRON bar, cheap and a lot of fun!

The next day we took it pretty easy, toured around a bit more, let the girls do some shopping, and got our stuff out of the hostels. We never made it on the Underground tour that dad wanted me to do, but Edinburgh still ended up being a great city to visit for a short amount of time. We jumped on the train and headed to the airport in the afternoon then flew back to Frankfurt-Hahn airport, getting into Luxembourg at around 1:30 in the morning. Ughhh. We had to pay 85Euro (split 4 ways) to get back to Differdange that early in the morning, an absolute rip-off, but... c'est la vie. The next day was spent recovering and relaxing before school on Monday.

Yeeeee hooooo. That's Edinburgh and Dublin, the rest of my Carnival break! Next up, Berlin, Germany! Stay tuned to read all about it!

=Nate

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