Today, I have reached my destination in Rome! I am tired and overwhelmed but also very excited that I will be living here for the next four months. No more hostels! I finally got to unpack all the bags that I have been lugging around across Europe. On a side note, I have gotten very strong.
We spent the last two days of our trip to Ireland in the beautiful town of Galway. Galway is alive with color as well as a rich history. Our group went on a walking tour of the city and learned a lot about the history of Irish rebellions from the British, civil wars, and fights for independence. I was glad that we got to see the Galway Cathedral; it was beautiful. Our tour guide pointed out a small mosaic in a side chapel that was dedicated to JFK from when he visited Galway on his campaign trail (I guess he wanted to appeal to Irish Americans). That was surprising to see, and later we came back to the Cathedral for mass. We also got to see the Spanish Arch and walk along the Corrib River and down to the bay where people were playing water polo. The Irish must love cold water! Apparently, there was a water polo tournament going on that attracted quite a crowd. It was fun to see the city bustling with activity.
My favorite story from the tour was about the Friar River, which is a smaller river that runs parallel to the Corrib River. Across the Friar river was a fairy bridge where people would throw pennies into the river like it was a wishing well. Our tour guide explained that the fairy bridge references fairy creatures that are much different from the small woodland ones that you and I imagine. Rather, these fairies refer to Irish mythological fairies supposed to be big, strong, powerful gods–they are also supposed to be very physically attractive. The story goes that these fairy gods are actually quite mean and temperamental, and you do not want to get on their bad side. According to the legend, the fairies put a curse on the John F. Kennedy family line. Perhaps JFK was a mere coincidence…or perhaps not… As a result, people drop coins in the river not to ask the fairies to help them, but instead to ask them not to. As my tour guide put it, “Don’t ask for help. Ask them not to screw you over!”
We had maaaaany delicious foods in Galway! I had the best fish and chips because we were so close to the ocean. The next day, we went to a Lebanese restaurant that a friendly local recommended to us. I had some sort of lamb dish that weirded me out a little because it had a strange crunchy texture mixed into it, but I ended up really enjoying it because it had yummy feta cheese, lettuce, and lots of juicey lamb. My favorite was our late night crepes. I got banana crepes with ice cream and caramel sauce.
Staying in hostels in Ireland has been quite the experience. I learned to adapt to many situations, took a few ice cold showers, and woke up to many loud college kids coming back at obscene hours of the night. I learned that everyone can tell that I am American as soon as I open my mouth, and I learned that just because the Irish speak English does NOT mean that I can always understand them.
Thank you for reading the highlights from my week in Ireland! Now, it’s goodbye Ireland and hello Italy. I hope that everything continues to go smoothly, and I hope that you continue to read about my adventures.