I came to Ireland through a group called Interstudy and they had one final trip planned for us for the spring semester. It was to an area in the Republic called Killarney, which is a small town about an hour outside of Cork. They had the whole weekend planned and so Friday after class me and the three girls from my group hopped on a train and headed that way. From where we are in Belfast it took six hours and two train trips (the second of which we almost missed) but we finally made it around 8 p.m. We met up with all the other American students and got situated in the hostel. We went out to a pub with traditional Irish music before calling it an early night as we had a 7 mile hike the next day.
We woke up early the next day and headed off to the area we would be hiking. We got on a bus that took us to a lake where boats would be taking us to the hiking area. The plan was to then hike around the area and get back to around the same place where we caught the boats. I thought it would be a short boat ride but it turned out to be about 20 minutes or so and the wind was very cold. There were also some waves that day so we were constantly getting sprayed. Still, the view was great and riding in a boat is always fun. At one point the rapids got very strong underneath a bridge so everyone had to get out and walk around except for me and our contact in Ireland. Together we pushed the boat with an oar and added some extra weight as the boat struggled to make it up through the rapids. A few times we actually moved backwards and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it, but we finally did and everyone piled back in until we made it to the drop off point to start the hike.
After we got we started the 7 mile hike, in which we saw every type of weather imaginable. In the beginning the weather was nice and sunny, but not too warm. As we started getting up in to the mountains more it actually got a little warmer, and people began to take off their jackets. But that didn’t last long and soon it was raining and getting colder. It rained for most of the walk, but no one really seemed to mind, as the view was great and so was the conversation. Here are a few pictures from the walk:
That night we ate at a very nice Irish restaurant and then went out to celebrate one of the girls birthdays. We went to a pub with a live rock band, but still called it a fairly early night as we had another big day ahead of us before the trip back.
The next morning the group was split in half for the days event which was something I have never done before: horseback riding. I was in the first group and by nine o’clock I found myself standing in a horse stable waiting to get my horse. Mine was named Indiana, which I found appropriate since I am from a midwest state. I snapped a quick picture of him after our ride.
The ride was great, the weather was warm and sunny and was out in the countryside. It was like something out of a very cliche movie. We all rode in a long line, as none of us were very experienced, and the fastest our horses ever went was a trot, but that was fine with me, I was doing great just walking slowly and enjoying the view. It was tough to take too many pictures on the moving horse, but here are a few pictures of what it looked like on the ride:
After the ride, while the next group went on there ride, a few of us walked over to the Cathedral in Killarney. It was really impressive inside and we snapped a few pictures before heading out, as people were starting to come in for service. After that we walked around the town a little more before heading to the restaurant we were all meeting up at for lunch and goodbyes. After that we got on the train for the long trip back to Belfast after yet another great trip.