Week 14: A Visit From Canada
Although I have fallen in love with this country and all the wonderful people I have met, I do still miss my family so it was a nice surprise when my brother decided to come visit.
He arrived December 11th and stayed for about a week. The school was very generous and rented him the other room in my apartment for a very good deal.
I was very excited that he was going to get to experience this incredible country I had fallen in love with and very eager to show him around. Luckily we had the opportunity to do lots of travelling during his visit since my classes had ended for the holiday.
I started off showing him around Galway a little, all the best spots for live music, the best slice of pizza, the best pint of Guinness. Then we headed off to Cork to see Blarney Castle. Cork is a nice city but very different from Galway. In Blarney we stayed in the Blarney Castle Hotel which was the perfect quaint little hotel situated right across the road from the Castle itself.
Blarney Castle was so beautiful. You walk ten steps into the park and there it is, standing tall surrounded by beautiful gardens and quiet, flowing rivers. Since it was December there was next to no one at the castle and Taylor and I basically had the place to ourselves to explore. It was the most perfect day in Ireland. Despite it being December the weather was spectacular.
First we toured around the castle, exploring every nook and cranny, every little room you could see. It was amazing and the castle had so much history and in each room there was a sign telling you exactly what that room had been used for. It was very interesting. Then finally when we made it to the top, of course…we kissed the Blarney Stone. That was definitely a strange but cool experience. I really had no idea what it was going to be like. When we got there, there was a man who had you sit down, grab two poles and tipped you back and upside down to reach the stone. I have to admit it was a little scary when suddenly I could see the grass below me from the top of a castle. Then you lean forward and kiss the stone! And that was that…I had kissed the Blarney Stone and now I’ll have the luck of the Irish with me wherever I go.
After we saw the castle and kissed the stone we took a walk around the grounds to see some of the gardens and caves. First we saw the poison garden which was filled with a variety of different poisonous plants and very cool. Then we walked around the rock close where we got to see some very charming wooded areas and enchanting fairy glades. We also took a walk up the wishing steps. The wishing steps are a set of stone stairs behind/under a waterfall. If you climb the stairs top to bottom with your eyes closed while making a wish or thinking of your biggest dream they say it will come true.
The next day we caught a bus to Killarney to see the National Park. Of course this was the day it decided to rain (it is Ireland afterall), although in the end it actually made for the perfect day exploring the Muckross Abbey. On our path to the Abbey we came across a deer on the walkway…we hadn’t even made it to the park and our day was already fantastic. When we came to the Abbey it was even more spectacular than I had imagined. Again, there wasn’t a soul around (because what crazy people would go to Killarney National Park on such a rainy mucky day…). The combination of the steady rainfall and the emptiness created the perfect eerie atmosphere for exploring the Abbey. It was absolutely breathtaking, I could have stayed there and walked around the property for days. After the Abbey we walked to the Castle, which unfortunately was closed, so instead we took a horse and buggy ride through the park. I know I will always remember this part of our trip because we had about 30 minutes to travel quite a distance. Our buggy driver was a very jolly Irish man who very much enjoyed singing to his horse, Jack. He was kind enough to understand our time limit and made the best of our experience in the park. Unfortunately for my brother and I that meant booking it to all the stops (including some magnificent falls) and booking it back to the buggy. But we laughed the whole way…especially when we did in fact make our bus back to Galway. Even though we had to rush through the last bit it was definitely one of my favourite memories with my brother.
We took a few days off to relax and experience a little bit of Galway together. We had some great meals and some great beers. Then I took him to one of my favourite places that I have visited…The Cliffs of Moher. I really wanted him to see the cliffs and just how astounding they are so I took him there. We had such a good time and the cliffs are absolutely amazing (even the second time around).
It was so nice to have my brother visit, it definitely made being away from home a little easier for the remainder of my stay. It was such a surreal and marvelous thing to have the opportunity to show my brother around this incredible country I have fallen in love with. Even in a week I saw Taylor fall in love with Ireland and it was so nice to see him really appreciate it’s beauty. So thank-you to my brother Taylor for going on these adventures with me and experiencing some of the best memories, sights and laughs with me.