Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Europe Part 1: Ireland

We finally did it! And we decided to do it within a month of leaving. Lisa and I were on a hike in Spanish Fork canyon on our anniversary (August 22), and we were talking about our favorite trips. I mentioned that we should go to Europe. I had just gotten out of a 10-month training for the Air Force Reserves, and all of a sudden we had a LOT of free time, with no job offers in the works. We had some money saved, and if I started a new job, I likely wouldn't have much time off for awhile. It all made sense in my head, and I slowly (or quickly) convinced Lisa. By the end of the hike, we were already making plans!

So I'm dividing this up into the different areas we traveled: Ireland, England, Benelux (Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg - minus the Luxembourg), and France. Then I'll end with some planning advice and things we learned from our trip!

Part 1: Ireland - 14-17 September


We left SLC early on the 14th toward Dublin, with a long layover at JFK in NYC. We went into the city during the layover (because why not?), had dinner, and walked around Central Park. We hurried back to the airport and boarded our red-eye flight to Dublin. We arrived around 3am Mountain time--local time 10am (15 Sept). We picked up our rental car, and immediately headed out to our first site, the Rock of Cashel, while jamming to Irish-born U2 and Enya. Everything was so green! We spent a few hours exploring the castle and grounds, and ate an early dinner in the nearby town of Cashel. We then headed back to Dublin, and checked into the Glashaus Hotel in Tallaght, on the southwest side of Dublin.

We woke up early the next morning (16 Sept), and grabbed breakfast and snacks for lunch at the Tesco supermarket across the street from our hotel. Then we hopped on the Luas (light rail) to ride into downtown Dublin. First, we picked up our hop-on hop-off bus tickets, and then rode the double decker bus a few stops to our first sight-seeing stop, Trinity College. Our main interest was the Book of Kells, illuminated manuscripts of the four Gospels that date back to 800 AD. Above the exhibit, located in the Old Library, is the Long Room. This room was awesome; it holds thousands of rare books and artifacts in a room 213 feet long. I wish I could have that room in my house.

Next, we hopped on our bus and headed over to the National Museum of Ireland, had a picnic lunch at St. Stephen's Green, and then visited Kilmainham Gaol. This was the jail where many of the Irish revolutionaries were held and executed in the early 1900s. We also explored Grafton Street (a giant pedestrian way), Dame Street, the Dublin Castle (didn't go in), and the Temple Bar neighborhood. We finished the night with dinner at the Porterhouse pub in Temple Bar, then headed back on the Luas to our hotel. After all that walking, we slept very well that night. We headed back to the airport the next morning, dropped off our car, and boarded our Aer Lingus flight to the London Gatwick airport!