So back in November I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Ireland, mostly to visit my sister who was spending the semester studying abroad there.
Before she packed her bags and left against my mother’s will, Ireland had never been on my radar as a travel destination.
I mean sure, it looked gorgeous in films like P.S. I Love You and Leap Year, and sure, I have a thing for Irish/British accents. But with so many more “popular” destinations in Europe, it wasn’t a top priority on my “Places To Travel To” list.
But hey, when you have a sister studying there who’s got an apartment you can crash in FO’ FREE and flights are reasonably priced because it’s low season, you really can’t say no. And so I (over)packed my bags and headed off in hopes of drinking many glasses of Guinness, finding leprechauns and running into a Gerard-Butler-Type like Hilary Swank did on the road. None of that happened. I realized I don’t even like Guinness after one heavy sip at their giant factory in Dublin.
Anyways, I went into the country with not a lot of expectations and with no plan. I took it day by day and winged all my adventures, which actually worked out for me. But I know there are people out there who NEED to know what they’re getting into and even, *shocker* have an itinerary planned.
So I thought I’d share some advice/helpful tips and a few pictures for anyone interested in visiting the land of the four leaf clover. If you want a little summary of my trip, I put together a vlog below that I’d LOVE for you to check out!
Though I stayed in Galway, obviously I had to check out the capital! I took a double decker hop-on/hop-off bus which cost me 16 euros (because the man in the tourist office was nice enough to give me the (struggling) student price. It was definitely the best decision. Like all tourist carrying vehicles it took me around all the hot spots and landmarks in the city. You don’t have to buy your ticket ahead of time, just walk into any of the many tourism offices, because you can probably then bargain for a cheaper price in person.
I hopped off at Trinity College, which is a massive and old and beautiful and historic university. Did some walking around, gawked at some cute students, got strangers to take pictures of me in front of buildings, and then I found myself in a very long lineup to get inside their library. 30 minutes later I finally got inside only to find out there’s a $10 admission fee! As a former struggling student whose Canadian dollars were like nothing in Euros, I decided to skip out, so I scoped the gift shop and left.
If you don’t wanna travel to the countryside or northern Ireland, your chance to see a real life Medieval Castle is still possible in the middle of the bustling city of Dublin. It’s big, it’s beautiful and it’s free to walk around (going inside, I’m not entirely sure).
This is where that infamous red bar is and where all the tourists go to have a drink. The Temple Bar area is a great atmosphere with cobblestone streets, pubs, and tons of gift shops. It’s a nice area to just walk through during the day, though I imagine it’s also where the partying happens at night (partying I never got to experience sadly).
Probably Dublin’s most tourist filled attraction, the Guinness factory was a huuuuge building that reminded me kind of like the Willy Wonka Factory from the movies, with its giant gates and smoke bellowing from the top. The tour cost around 18 euros and with it you also get a free pint of beer. Guinness beer, obviously. I don’t know if I could justify the price being worth it, but it was still interesting to see. Note that it’s a completely self guided tour, though they do have audio books available for purchase. My favourite part was where we learned to craft the perfect pint of beer in the Guinness Academy and then are able to enjoy it on their Gravity Bar, which gives the best CN Tower/Empire State Building type view of the city.
The “random” city my sister was studying in. I say random because as an uncultured Canadian I had never heard of this city prior to my sister moving there for four months. Let’s be honest, when you think Ireland, you think Dublin and that’s about it. However Galway is one beautiful gem that is definitely worth the 2.5 hour bus ride to visit. It costs around 16 euros for a two-way bus ride from City Link and there’s FREE WIFI on board! What’s in store for you in this town? The sea, awesome shopping (see: Shop Street), great pubs and just the taste of a beautiful quaint Irish town.
I visited this BEAUTIFUL picturesque part of the country through a day-tour offered by Galway tours. It cost 25 euros, 20 if you’re a student, and it was worth every damn cent. I was indifferent about going on this tour but it was probably the highlight of my trip. If you’re about seeing the countryside, jawdropping scenery and a giant mansion to boot, then this trip is for you. Take a look for yourself:
SHOPPING IN IRELAND FOR TEENS/YOUNG TWENTYSOMETHINGS
Since everything about this trip was a “just go and roll with it” type of thing, I obviously had no idea what the cool, hip, happening and let me stress, affordable places to shop were. Finding these places weren’t as hard as I thought, so here are my top 3 places, from cheapest to most expensive, cuz that’s how I browse online:
Penny’s (known as Poshmark in the UK)
If there was a retail heaven that shopaholics died and went to… I imagine this would be it. I was so overwhelmed when I first walked in, I probably resembled this meme right here. For a Canadian/American, shopping across is the pond is NOT cheap! While things may be reasonably priced for Europeans, like a sweater for 30 euros, that costs us around $45! And hey, I’m a recovering student who just paid off my debt. Which is why my eyes widened at the site of Penny’s prices. Scarves for 2.50?! A jacket for 30? And no way this sheer blouse is only 7 euros! Things weren’t just reasonably priced, they were dirt cheap. And so cute! From clothes to accessories to shoes to makeup to home goods, it’s basically like a Target meets Forever21 and it’s AWESOME! If you’re going to spend your money in one place, this is it my friend.
New Look is like the UK/Irish version of Urban Planet/Charlotte Russe/Forever21. And I’m saying that because I saw a lot of the same brands there that I’d find at UP or Charlotte. Prices are a step above Penny’s but that’s not to say you can’t find a good deal (they have plenty). If you’re going to buy just one thing make it a pair of jeans. Seriously the best fitting jeans I have ever tried, they’re soft to the touch and tight and fit like a dream.
The most expensive of all three, River Island is on Topshop’s level. Which means that the clothes look great and are probably of better quality. I recommend splurging your money on one of their cute bags/purses.