Ciao! a semester in firenze

Yikes. I'm a little behind on this whole blogging thing.. from midterms week to spring break, life got a little crazy. I have a lot to share about the last couple weeks, so beware of the long post ahead! First up, my time in IRELAND!!

St. Patrick's Cathedral

It's already been over two weeks since I traveled to Dublin, but it seems like just yesterday I was exploring the city with my life-long friend, Kristin. My roommate, Maddie, and I opted for an early departure from Pisa on Wednesday, March 8th. Because the travel is a little more lengthy than other weekend trips we've took, we wanted to most time as possible in Ireland. From the moment we woke up, to the moment I connected with Kristin in her dorm room on Wednesday, it was about 13 hours worth of travel. Needless to say, I was very tired. With a weekend booked solid, we decided it would be best to get a good nights sleep before all the excursions and activities. After getting to know her three other roommates for awhile, Kristin and I squeezed into her twin-sized bed and quickly fell asleep.

Feeling refreshed after a great nights sleep, I met up with my roommate, Maddie, while Kristin went to class. Much to our surprise, there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was warm and bright. Taking advantage of the weather, Maddie and I wandered around the city, stopping in many cute stores, cafes, and even St. Patricks Cathedral. I must admit, it was refreshing to be in a country where everyone spoke English. Studying in Florence provides a challenging but welcomed language barrier; however, I felt at ease knowing that communication wouldn't be a problem in Ireland. After a yummy lunch Maddie and I made our way to St. James Gate where we met Kristin for our highly anticipated Guinness Tour. For lack of a better word, the tour was AWESOME! The history, branding, marketing, and perfection behind a pint of Guinness was really fun to learn about, experience, and TASTE. The best part of the tour was pouring our own pints of Guinness and then taking it up to the gravity bar where we were able to see a 360 degree view of Dublin. By the time we finished with our self-guided tour, it was already time for dinner! Kristin insisted on going to her favorite place to eat, a hole-in-the-wall sort of restaurant for sushi burritos. 10/10 would recommend.

Friday was left completely open for Kristin and I to decide how to fill it. So, we decided to take a short train to a costal town called Howth. Even though it was a little overcast and dreary, I could still tell how cute the town was. Before hiking the path along the city, we sat overlooking to blue water. As we were taking in the surroundings, an extremely ugly animal swam up to some fisherman begging for food. Kristin and I were dumbfounded as to what animal it was. We googled several different animals before finally deciding it was a seal (lol). Honestly, seals are drawn and painted to look a lot more cute than they really are. After our weird encounter with the seal, we made our way up the hill. We ended up following the path along the hills for about 3 hours. It was breathtaking! Having a close friend to travel with provided an great combination of chatting and catching up, as well as silence to take in our surroundings. Having time to reflect on my time in Europe and how lucky I am is always needed. When our fingers started going numb, we knew it was time to head back to Dublin. Tonight a couple of Kristin's roommates came out with us a traditional Irish pub. The night included lots of singing, dancing, and even getting our face's painted in preparation for St. Patricks Day. It was a BLAST!

Howth

Morning came fast as we had to be on our guided bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher at 7am. Kristin and I cut it close on time, but thankfully, we made it just as the last group of people were boarding the bus. After what seemed like a million hours later, we finally arrived at the cliffs. Somehow, we lucked out AGAIN as the sky was completely clear and the sun was shining bright. I don't know how I made it through an entire weekend in Ireland without a single raindrop. Incredible. The two hours we were allotted at the Cliffs seemed like a lot at first, but we quickly realized we could spent several more hours walking along the path. Even with dry conditions, the path was still muddy and slick. I can't imagine how slippery/ scary it must be to visit the Cliffs on a rainy day. The views were absolutely gorgeous. I've seen the cliffs in pictures several times before, but finally seeing them in real life was absolutely amazing. This was definitely my favorite part of the weekend. Once our two hours were up, we boarded the bus again and headed to the Wild Atlantic Way and then to Galway. I wish we could have spent more time in Galway because by the time we found a place to eat, it was almost time to leave again. Even with the little time we spent there, it was obvious the city was filled with lively young adults. There were already flags hung from building to building to get ready for St. Patricks Day. The day absolutely flew by and by the time we were back in Dublin, it was already 8:30pm. The perfect day just kept getting better because my good friend from home, Jack, arrived in Dublin from the States to visit his college buddy (who just so happened to be Kristins roommate)!! I was exhausted, but if Jack could go out while being jet-lagged, then I could too! It was so much fun to see him and I couldn't help but feeling a little jealous at the fact that he got to stay in Ireland while I did not.

Ireland was more than I could have ever asked for! I knew I would love it, but I didn't realize just how MUCH. I only saw a small portion of Ireland so I know I have to return to see the rest. Saying goodbye to Kristin was a little less difficult knowing that she would be visiting me in Florence in a few short weeks!!

Getting back to Florence on Sunday proved to be a little (or a lot) more difficult than anticipated. Originally, I was supposed to meet my roommate, Maddie, at the Dublin airport for our 730am flight but unfortunately, neither Kristin or I's alarm went off. When I woke up at 630, I knew there was no way I would make my 7:00am boarding time. Nevertheless, I was out the door and in a taxi by 6:35am. Sadly, my efforts did not pay off as my flight left without me. With no other option, I had to pay to be put on the next flight. As if my luck couldn't get any worse, the flight from Dublin was delayed due to mechanical issues causing me to miss my connecting flight in London. Because the flights were different airlines, I couldn't get refunded. Thinking of my options (and my midterm bright and early the next morning) I had no other choice than to pay a hefty fee for another flight from London to Rome. The wifi in London's airport wasn't working, so I had no way to contact my parents (thanks Vodafone). By the time I arrived in Rome, I was feeling tired, sad, but relieved because I was SO close to being home. To keep my bad luck rolling, when I tried buying a train ticket back to Florence, everything was sold out. My first thought was that the machine was just malfunctioning but when I went to the help-desk, my worst fears were confirmed... no more trains until the morning. I had three options: 1. Wait in the train station from 9pm until the morning 2. Try to find a bus station alone in Rome at night or 3. Stay in the hotel connected to the train station. Emotionally and physically exhausted, I opted for option number 3. By the time I was finished spending my life-savings on a bed to sleep in, it was already 1030. A this point, I was starting to feel really bummed out. I decided to order room service, take a hot shower, and go to bed. Trying to stay positive, I mentally listed the many things I was thankful for (queen-sized bed being high up on the list). As I fell asleep, I couldn't help but think of the saying that my Nana always mentions in times of stress.. "this too shall pass"

Thankfully, I made it back to Florence Monday morning just in time for me to run to my midterm. I was alive, happy, healthy, and FINALLY back in Florence. There are definitely worse things than being forced to spend a night in a nice hotel room in Rome...

Created By
Morgan Collins
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