I have been in Ireland for almost a week and have absolutely loved it. It is a place of rich history and SO MUCH GREEN-- the landscapes here are breathtaking. Not to mention the people, who are extremely cheerful and love talking with visitors about their beloved home. After a few hiccups on the way here (there was terrible weather in Chicago which caused us to miss our flight to Ireland-- luckily we got a flight out the next day), we arrived in Dublin on Wednesday morning. We were super jet-lagged but had an awesome apartment booked and were able to take a long nap before exploring the city.
That night we went to see the xx at the O2 Dublin, which was AWESOME. I have wanted to see them live for a very long time and the show surpassed my wildest expectations. The venue was great because it wasn't too large or too crowded and served lots of beers! Plus it was cool to see the xx perform so close to where they formed as a band (they met at the Elliott School in London and formed while some members were only 15 years old).
We have spent the rest of the week exploring some pretty big chunks of the country. On Friday we did a tour from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, which let us see many of the small towns in between the east and west coasts. The castles in Kinvarra and surrounding areas were especially pretty! On Sunday we took a train to Cork for the night, which went along a beautiful route to southern Ireland. The trains here are impeccable-- extremely high tech and comfortable.
In between our trips we have done a ton of exploring around Dublin. I have gotten to see everything on my list- from the exquisite Trinity College Library to Dublin's Pride Parade to the Google EU Headquarters. One of the obvious perks about being in one country for over a week is that I have gotten the opportunity to see many small towns and also learn a great deal about our home city of Dublin. I didn't realize that this city was such an international business hub- the government has great tax perks for big businesses and robust programs to help start-ups get going. Large corporations like Goldman Sachs, Google and Facebook are just beginning to lay their roots in Dublin, and such investments give Ireland a promising future. I am working on an entire post about my interactions and experiences with Ireland's tech world, so more on that later. For now, I'm off to see Riverdance for my first time since elementary school! After seeing it for the first time I decided I was going to grow up and be a professional Irish dancer.. which obviously didn't come true (although I did take lessons for a good while). We will see if I love it as much the second time around! More posts coming tonight.