The E's in Europe, Part 1

Six months ago today I had completely finished my master's degree. Sean and I had flown back from commencement in Baltimore, and while he had to head to work for a few days, I was scurrying around the house preparing for our trip to Europe. It was a celebration of my graduation and an early anniversary gift to ourselves. Today I am reminiscing, thumbing through out photos, and would love to share our travels with you.

We started our trip in Dublin, Ireland. We landed at 6am local time, which meant we should have slept on the plane... but we were seated in the very last row, right in front of the lavatory. Which means our seats didn't recline, and there was always someone using the lavatory with at least one person in line. Hard to sleep when you get hit by every person who walks by... Sleeping wasn't an option once we landed either, so we left our luggage at our hotel, where we couldn't check in yet, and headed out to find some breakfast.

The barista (do they call them that in Ireland?) must have seen the super sleepy look on my face, so he made a little bear in my coffee. Made me smile. As did the breakfast... I'm a big fan of oatmeal for breakfast anyday, but the Irish know how to do porridge just right! Mine involved quite a bit of butter, so yeah, obviously delicious. 

We sat at Bewley's (off Grafton Street) and tried to come up with a plan to fit all of the places we wanted to visit into our 3 day stay in Ireland. I specifically remember the guy outside playing the theme song from Titanic... you know, the instrumental version of My Heart Will Go On.

We headed over and took a tour at Trinity College to see the book of Kells. It was cool... but packed, and rushed, and you couldn't take photos inside. We thought the library there was the best part (where we also couldn't take photos) and made the entrance fee worth it. Soooo many old, I mean OLD, books from floor to ceiling. You can see what I mean here.

I took the photo above on the Trinity College campus to test out the Camera+ app on my iPhone. Most of the photos I took with that turned out wayyy to over-HDR, but I thought I'd at least share because it does look cool... and you should try out the app.

We wandered the city for a few hours while we waited to get into our hotel room. After a quick nap, we walked a few miles over to the Guinness Storehouse for a self-guided tour. Sean brews beer, so it was interesting to see the differences in what he does compared to a really huge operation like Guinness. The biggest difference... well, everything is BIG. The building itself was about 7 stories high, and though most of it is museum space, it was once the only place Guinness was brewed. Things are a little different now; there was actually a wedding going on while we were there, if you're looking for a venue!

At the very top you get a drink ticket for a free pint. I finished about 1/4 of mine and had to hand it over to Sean. It could take me all day to drink a whole pint of that stuff- it's much thicker than the brews I'm used to. Here's a portion of the 360 degree view from the top:

The following day we took a day trip to Trim Castle. It was an experience to just hop on a city bus and get dropped off 50 yards from a castle out in the countryside. You have likely seen Trim castle before... many parts of the movie Braveheart were filmed here in the early 90's.

 We took a tour inside the tall building you see in the photo above. That's the part that has survived the longest- rightfully so as it was the keep where its inhabitants lived. Trim was built in the late 1100's.

We have a lot of photos of me looking pensive as I sit in various European locations. One of Sean's biggest hobbies, as you already know, is photography. I've learned that it's best to just have a seat, relax, and let him get all of his shots, I usually have no idea he's moved the lens to include me until I go back through the camera later!

But then there are times that he asks me to smile or pose, and that lasts about five minutes tops before I'm ready to move on.

Above is what happens when I am asked to being the subject of too many photos. Off with his head! (I'm sure you know I'm kidding... but just in case... I'm kidding. I don't often get as many opportunities to take photos of Sean as he does of me, so this is a total gem.)

 If you've never been to Ireland, you may have heard that it's very green. I can definitely confirm that this is a very true statement. I don't think there's ever been a single dried out plant in the entire country. Though it rained nearly two out of three days we were there, it's definitely worth it to see so much green!

The next day we took a day trip to Kilkenny through Glendalough (pronounced Glend-a-lock, "lough" means lake) and the Wicklow Mountains.  We made a few stops, one at a very old cemetery and church, where a hotel sat on top of a river. We walked through the cemetery in the rain, up a trail about a half mile, to get to Glendalough. It was a little creepy, but also really cool.

Back on the tour bus, our guide pointed out more places that Braveheart was filmed, THE road/bridge from P.S. I Love you (if you've seen it you'll get what I mean by THE... otherwise, go watch it) and lots and lots of sheep. We made a few quick stops for photos before we got to Kilkenny.

We took our time and wandered the little town, made a quick stop at the castle (above), went in some shops, and ate lunch. We were pretty worn out at this point so we just took our time walking and enjoyed our full bellies. We ate at a pub called the Playwright, and I can still remember just how delicious that sausage and mash was.

This is also where we began the "List of Beverages Sean Tried on Our Trip to Europe." After 3 days in Ireland, 2 in Scotland, and 3 in England, it included 11 varieties of beer, (some of them more than once) and three brands of whiskey. What can we say... it's a passion. Next, we headed to Edinburgh, Scotland. Check back tomorrow to hear more!

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