October 12 marked one month since I arrived in Dublin! The time has flown by and I know it is just going to keep going that way right up until December 19. My weeks are fairly busy with even busier weekends so keeping up with blog posts has been challenging - but now, with over a month under my belt, I have so much to share!
I spent my entire first month in Ireland, which was very beneficial because while I am huge on traveling and taking advantage of my close proximity to so many other countries, I remind myself I chose to study in Ireland and this island has so much to offer! Below are some highlights of my first month in the country.
Dublin: howth, Guinness factory, causey farm, & food
My study abroad program took us on a day trip to Howth our first weekend here. Howth is a small fishing town on the easternmost coast of Ireland. It is a pretty big tourist destination, and one of the wealthiest areas of Ireland. I was expecting to enjoy this trip, but I could not have anticipated just how beautiful this little village would be. We hiked the Howth Cliff Walk, which is about a four to six mile hike depending which route you take. Luckily, most of the hike is pretty easy, flat ground. The entire six miles is absolutely stunning with a front-row view of the ocean.
I could not fathom how blue the water was. I have been on beaches in Barbados, Puerto Rico, Ghana and Mexico and this water beat them all. I absolutely love hiking as it is, but the views on this were some of the best I have ever seen. At this point, we had only been in Ireland for four days, but it was so nice to escape the hustle and bustle of Dublin and have some time out on the coast. On our walk back down the cliffs, we saw some absolutely stunning houses - I completely understand why people flock to live here and how it became a wealthy area.
After the hike, we stopped for some fish and chips (fries) at Leo Burdock, an Irish fish chain restaurant. The meal was by far the best fish and chips I have ever eaten and it was an absolutely huge portion for the 9 euro I paid. I recently discovered there is a Leo Burdock half a mile from my apartment in Dublin, and sometime soon I am going to cave and get fish and chips again for dinner!
Classes at Dublin Business School did not start for a week after we arrived, so my friends and I had some free time to do a bit more sightseeing before classes began. Of course, one of our first destinations was the Guinness Factory. The factory is directly across from our apartment building, which sounds cool, but we unfortunately get the fumes from the beer factory, and it smells awful. I am a little more used to it now, but at first, if the factory was running, I literally would gag when I went outside. Sometimes, the fumes waft in through my bedroom window, and it is never pleasant.
However, the factory tour itself was so fun. Guinness really works to make this an experience, even if you do not like the beer. It has seven floors in total, and you learn about the entire process, from start to finish. This includes learning about the water, hops, and barley in the beer, as well as the heating process. My absolute favorite part was the floor on the advertisement and public relations of Guinness (communications major nerd status). I took over twenty minutes to look through Guinness ads from decades back and read about different marketing strategies the company had utilized over the years.
The tour ends with the amazing views from the Gravity Bar on the top floor of the factory. The bar boasts possibly the best views of Dublin in the entire city, and is a round room completely made of glass windows. You get a free pint of Guinness with your tour. I knew I had to at least try it, but was pretty sure I was not going to like it because I have never tried a beer I did like (haha). As expected, I was not a fan. I used my free pint to take an obligatory picture, and then handed it over to a friend. :)
The second weekend in Ireland, my study abroad program took us on another day trip to Causey Farm which is about an hour outside of Dublin. It was, once again, such a wonderful escape from the busy atmosphere of Dublin and I had such a great day. We got to try a plethora of different activities on the farm, including baking brown bread from scratch, milking a cow and playing with baby pigs, and learning traditional Irish dancing.
After all these activities came the highlight of the day: bog jumping. Of the thirty five people in my class, only about ten jumped in the bog, and I was one of those fateful souls. I knew from the minute I saw the farm itinerary I had to do it. When would I ever have a chance to go diving into a mud bog again in my life? I will admit it was much more physically exhausting than I was expecting. You cannot tell from outside the bog or from the picture, but the mud is actually upwards of ten feet deep. The twenty minutes I spent emerged in the bog were pretty tiring but so fun. Although it was a pretty cold day, the mud itself was really warm and comfortable when you were just sitting on it and not trying to pull your body out of it. Let's just say those clothes did not make it back to Dublin that day and I was ever-thankful I packed a change of clothing.
Being the foodie I am, I tried a ton of amazing food within my first month in Dublin. The first weekend, my friends and I went to dinner at a restaurant that had been recommended to us called the Woollen Mills. It has some traditional Irish food as well as burgers and mac and cheese. I am one who gravitates toward what I know, so as soon as I saw the menu I wanted to order mac and cheese. However, my friend informed me that this restaurant was known for having the best Coddle in all of Ireland and she encouraged me to get it. I agreed, and I am so glad I did. Coddle is a potato broth-based soup filled with chicken, sausage, potato and onions and is served with a thick piece of brown bread. It was one of the best meals I have ever had. I am so glad I went outside my comfort zone a little and tried the dish - I ate the entire bowl and have been wanting to go back to the Woollen Mills ever since.
Our study abroad program took us to a dinner at the Market Bar in Dublin during the first week as well. The Market Bar is an Irish-American tapas bar where people typically order multiple small dishes for the table to split. I am a huge fan of tapas because it is an easy way to try so many different foods at one meal. The tapas just kept coming: we tried chorizo chicken skewers, meatballs, potatoes bravas, beetroot hummus, fried shrimp, nachos, and my absolute favorite, goat cheese crostinis. I have always been a fan of goat cheese, but this is next-level amazing. I took my cousin to the Market Bar when she visited and she was just as impressed as I was. I will definitely be heading back again before I leave Dublin.
These are just a few of many highlights so far in my Ireland journey! If any of my readers have any suggestions for other must-do's in Ireland, I would love to hear them. You can comment directly on this post or contact me here.
More to come again soon xx
Just living, learning + loving and writing some of it down along the way. Senior + Director of Panhellenic Recruitment at Elon University in North Carolina. Currently interning + curating social for some badass clients at SFW in Greensboro, NC. Yogi, sightseer, shopaholic, foodie, writer.
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