Right now I'm in one of those strange moments in time when time seems to slow down. I'm sitting here, basically ready for work, and it feels like it should have been time to go about thirty minutes ago. Therefore, to pass the time I decided to blog a bit about our trip!
We flew into Dublin (all at different times but within two hours of each other) on January 3. On the 4th we went on a day trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland. What an interesting city! Ninety-seven percent of the city is divided into Protestant and Catholic. Religious segregation in action, daily. There's even a wall that runs three miles between them. January 5 we left on our 3-day tour of southern Ireland. We hit a ton of stuff, like Galway, Killarney, the Blarney Castle, Cliffs of Moher...and so on. Our tour guide, Joe, was awesome. When we first boarded the bus, he said, "Is there anyone easily offended on this bus? If there is...here's the door." I loved all the stories and his humor. We got back from that on the seventh and had a free day in Dublin on the eighth. We took the opportunity to visit the Guinness Storehouse, the Long Room at Trinity College, and went on a pub crawl that night. On the pub crawl (which was a musical one), they asked three of us (the crowd) to get up and entertain them. I went second and sang "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)." It was a blast.
The next day we flew out of Dublin into Edinburgh, Scotland. Even at night we could tell that Edinburgh was an awesome city. Unfortunately, early the next morning we left on our three-day tour and never got to spend a full day in Edinburgh. Our tour took us into the Highlands of Scotland and the Isle of Skye. The Highlands were just gorgeous, and we all fell in love with the country. Glen Shiel was by far my favorite area to drive through. For the two nights we stayed in the Stationmaster's House in Stromeferry, basically out in the middle of nowhere. Two men live in the house and take care of, and one of them (Gordon) worked with Mel Gibson on Braveheart! He was hardcore, and we loved him. He now does a lot of scouting for movies all around Scotland. On the last day of our tour we visited Loch Ness - which I swam in. :D Yes, it was ridiculously cold, and, no, I couldn't feel anything when I got out. Haha. I know it was a crazy thing to do, but it was so worth just to say I did it. It was an experience, too, stripping on the beach when I got out. Lol. I had to get my wet clothes off and change, and I wasn't going to get very far. Meagan, Anna, and Tiven brought me all my stuff and covered me as best they could.
The day after we got back from our tour, we hopped on the train to London. I just realized that I stopped putting dates, but I think it'll be okay. ;) We checked into our hotel that evening, and quickly wished we were back in hostels. The room smelled bad, and Tiven's bed pretty much collapsed when she sat on it. After we got back from eating and walking around London, we ended up changing rooms - and arrived in a room whose heater was broken. The next day they fixed it, but it was dead again before the next night. Our first full day in London we went on a free walking tour (you could tip the guide) and went to see Sunset Boulevard, a musical production. It was a good show; we went in not knowing what it was about, but it turned out to be a good choice. We really wanted to see Dirty Dancing, but we didn't find discounted tickets until after we'd already bought tickets for the first one. We went to Dirty Dancing the next night, after we got back from our day tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford.
While we were in London, Tiven's flight got cancelled; she had to change her flight to the next day - MY flight! My original itinerary changed back in August, and I was already leaving a day later than the others. I was glad that Tiven ended up being on my flight and therefore being able to spend another day in Dublin with me. We flew from Luton Airport in England back to Dublin. Anna and Meagan flew out the next day, and Tiven and I had a free day in Dublin. We finished our souvenir shopping, watched Bride Wars in a theatre, and ate sushi for dinner. Ironically enough, that day was the only day of non-sunny weather we'd had the whole of our time in Ireland. Haha.
There are so many stories to tell, but I won't put them here. We all kept travel journals, which is great for remembering everything that happened - and there was a LOT. I also took about 860 pictures and video. I'm going to put SOME of them on Facebook soon; I had some serious issues last week just trying to get the data off my camera onto my external hard drive. Blurg. I do have it figured out now, though, so it's happy days. :)