March has been packed with travel and cultural experiences, kicking off with a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Another group of international students from NUIG took the same flight and happened to be staying in the same hostel, so it was fun to run in to some familiar faces. Kristen, Paige, and I stayed in Castle Rock Hostel which was super cute and right across the street from Edinburgh Castle, the first castle I’ve toured. We saved some money by making dinner in the hostel kitchen Saturday night, and it was bustling with other travelers. We bonded over shared cooking ingredients and a broken stove top, making us feel right at home.
The castle itself was also magnificent. We did pay to go inside which wasn’t my favorite part of the trip given that it largely felt like a war museum (not my thing), however, the chapel was beautiful, there were plenty of city views, and we watched the firing of a canon, so I suppose it was an explosive experience at the very least.
A museum experience that I thoroughly enjoyed was at the National Museum of Scotland. The museum is free, massive, and has a plethora of interactive exhibits. Not to mention, it is aesthetically stunning.
We also spent a good amount of time wandering, as we are prone to do. This led to several little adventures including an exploration of the University of Edinburgh, and my personal favorite, The Boy Wizard Harry Potter store. I will admit to exhibiting a little too much childlike enthusiasm and purchasing a cauldron mug (it’s so cool!). The employees were kind enough to let us borrow a few wands for a photo op too!
Amidst all of the sightseeing, the highlight was the ghost tour. We took a late night ghost tour down the Royal Mile, through Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetary and down into the vaults beneath the city streets. Our tour guide was absolutely hilarious and dressed in a ghostly period costume, adding to the immersive experience. The tour was a fantastic way to learn a little more about the city’s history and legendary characters, such as little Annie, who is said to appear in the corners of the very vaults we stood in…
The following weekend, we continued to get to know the modern Celtic world through the much beloved holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. This time, Paige, Kristen, and I ventured into Dublin to spend the day and see the parade. Luckily, Dubliners aren’t quite as inclined to camp out for parade spots, so we were able to get a front row view. A quick hop into a tourist shop, and we were decked out and ready to celebrate.
The parade itself was a colorful collage of dancers, floats, and a surprising number of U.S. marching bands. We made friends with a group of international students beside us who were studying in Dublin, taking photos and sharing trivia answers.
Following the parade, we faced the madness that is the Temple Bar area and met up with Kristen’s friend who is also studying abroad and wanted to visit Ireland for the holiday. The rest of the trip was spent exploring the pub scene, enjoying the revelry, and taking a spin on a nearby Ferris wheel in a truly memorable celebration.
I hope you enjoyed the latest update, and the larger photos! I’ll try to go back and modify the size of the ones in my older posts for your viewing pleasure. Stay tuned!