The Road to Dublin- By Alli Stark

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Today we set off on a three day bus tour along the coast of Northern Ireland. We made three stops today beginning with Giant’s Causeway. A geographical landmark on the northern coast of Ireland, stones and rocks line the coast making for some beautiful views. After some steep hills and many stairs we made it to the top of the hill looking over the North Channel. It was the most surreal view I’ve ever seen.

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Giant’s Causeway

After the Giant’s Causeway we headed to Dunluce Castle, which is featured in Game of Thrones. The earliest standing remains of the castle date all the way back to the 1500s. Standing in this castle and thinking about how old it is was mind-blowing. Learning about how and why they built the castle the way they did was so interesting. People back then were a lot smarter than I originally thought.

Our last stop of the day was the Dark Hedges, which is also a known location in Game of Thrones. The trees lining the street intertwine above you creating a canopy. Walking underneath the trees was beautiful and it was even cooler for everyone who watches Game of Thrones. It really makes you realize how cool nature is.

For the night we stayed in Ballintoy, at the Sheep Island View Hostel. Coming from the Premiere Inn in Belfast and then coming to a hostel, I wasn’t very prepared. There was 8 of us girls in one room and no wifi or air-conditioning, not to mention no phone service. This wasn’t a bad thing, just something I am not used to. It’s a totally different world out here in the countryside of Northern Ireland. Things were different in Belfast, but I got used to it relatively quick. I can’t imagine living out here in this remote coastal town, being so far from the rest of the world. Although, they have a television and landlines, social media and cellular phones aren’t really a thing.

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Ballintoy

If you thought day one sounded exciting, day two was even more exciting. Being woken up by the sound of sheep roaming around in the fields was definitely an experience itself. Because we woke up so early, a few of us decided to go walk down to the water. One attraction in Ballintoy is a rope bridge, but unfortunately it was closed. The walk had to have been at least a mile, but with beautiful weather none of us minded the exercise so early in the morning. The view was amazing and the water was beautiful shades of blue.

We left Ballintoy around 10 am and headed to Londonderry, a town in Northern Ireland, right near the border of the Republic of Ireland. We walked around, stretched our legs and just viewed the city for about an hour. It was nice to be able to explore random towns once in a while since we sit on the bus for so long. After Londonderry we headed to the Slieve League Cliffs. Honestly, I complained the whole time on the 2 mile hike up to the top, but it was worth every single minute of the pain.

Day three was a little more relaxing compared to the past two days. We visited the city of Enniskillen for lunch and then headed to the Hills of Tara. Learning the history and myths of Ireland has been interesting and eye opening. With America’s history only dating back a few hundred, it’s crazy to learn about Ireland’s history that dates back 5,000 years ago. The bus tour came to an end in Dublin and we are now staying here for a few days. I’m so so so excited to explore this city!

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DUBLIN!!!!!

Being able to go to these places throughout Ireland has been the greatest experience I’ve ever had. Before coming here the only time I’ve ever left the country was going to Canada, which is basically the same as America. I’ve been in Ireland for 6 days now and I’ve never felt so cultured. Just walking around the towns and the countryside has made me realize that there is so much more out there in the world. There’s more to life than social media, material things and money. Before leaving my mom told me to spend my money on experiences rather than things and that was good advice for someone who has never traveled abroad. Knowing that I wouldn’t ever travel to half of these places if it wasn’t for this trip makes me feel so grateful for being able to attend Michigan State and go on this study abroad. This trip is doing a lot more than giving me college credits. It’s teaching me a lot about myself and the world. I’m excited to see what the next four weeks have in store!

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