Over Easter weekend, I went on a trip with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). We went to Galway for a night, and then we headed off to Inis Mór, one of the Aran Islands. The trip was a ton of fun, and it went by entirely too fast.
In Galway, I was able to take a walk along the Corrib River and see the beautiful Galway Cathedral. The weather was absolutely amazing, and I enjoyed sitting along the Galway Bay and soaking up the sun.
On our first day in Galway, I was able to get a traditional Claddagh ring. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Claddagh ring, it is a ring that has two hands holding a heart, and the heart has a crown on top. If you're single, you wear the ring with the heart facing outwards. This means that you're able to give your heart away. When you wear the ring the other way, with the crown facing outward, it means your heart is taken.
The second day in Galway was a blast. There was a huge market (similar to our flea markets) in the middle of town. There were tons of booths selling everything from jewelry to crafts to food.
I was even able to get a sushi roll! That is one of the things I miss most. Dublin has a few sushi restaurants, but they are extremely expensive.
On Saturday afternoon, we took a ferry to get to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. We hiked up to our hostel (which wasn't easy for a chronic overpacker such as myself), and we spent the evening making dinner and hanging out with friends.
The next morning, we rented bikes and trekked all across the island. Unfortunately, five minutes after we began our trek, my friend Renee's bike broke and she was unable to go any further. It was fortunate that we were so close to the bike rental place, and I was able to bike back there and get her a new bike. It was also fortunate in that we were able to meet Paul, a very nice and good-looking Inis Mór native, who drove me and a new bike out to meet Renee.
After the new bike arrived, Renee and I set off to see more of the island. The weather was once again spectacular, and the views were breathtaking. We rode around for about an hour and a half, and then we headed back to our hostel to meet up with everyone.
At the hostel, we rested for a couple of minutes and then headed off to find the Dun Aengus site. It is the main attraction on the island, and it could date back as far as 2,000 B.C. The site is a fort-like structure, and it is not fully understood what the purpose of the structure was.
We dropped our bikes off in the parking lot, and made our way up to the site. After paying to enter, it was about a 15-20 minute hike to reach the top. Once there, we entered through a narrow archway and found ourselves with a spectacular view of the ocean and the fort. The fort was built on the edge of a cliff, and there were no fences along these cliffs.
Though they are not as steep as the Cliffs of Moher, they were still quite high. It was both exhilerating and terrifying to stand along the edge. It also made for many great photo opportunities. Renee and I took turns being the brave one on the edge of the cliff and the safe one taking pictures.
After an hour walking along the cliffs and taking pictures, Renee and I decided to make our way back to the hostel. We then took our bikes back and made the hike to our hostel (it was much easier without the extra baggage).
The next morning, we got up early to catch the first ferry back to mainland Ireland. Once we were back, we travelled through the Connemara area and stopped for a break at the Kylemore Abbey. After that, we loaded back up on the bus and headed back to Dublin.
The whole weekend was a great experience, and I met even more great people. To anyone who will be studying abroad in the future, I highly recommend getting involved with campus groups and going on trips with them.
All the photos from my study abroad experience can be viewed here.