Ireland was everything I had hoped for and so much more. The people were wonderful and the views exceeded expectations. My only regret is that we did not stay for longer and explore more of the country. We were on a limited time schedule and only had time to visit Dublin, Dún Laoghaire, Belfast, and Giant's Causeway, all of which are on the east coast of Ireland and North Ireland.
During this adventure I continue to learn the intricacies of boundaries, which I don't think I could have understood as easily without visiting this beautiful place. First of all the island of Ireland is divided into two different countries. The country of Ireland or, the Republic of Ireland, is the southern portion of the island. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and as the name implies, is the northern portion of the island. From my limited time there I felt a distinct difference between the two countries and the people that live in each... of course my only real exposure to Northern Ireland was Belfast and we stayed mostly in Dublin while in the Republic of Ireland, so I realize I would need to see more and stay longer to really make a true assessment of the differences between the two.
However, that aside this is an important difference when it comes travelers as it helps to understand when you will and won't get your passport stamped. For example, if traveling from London to Belfast, you won't go through passport control because you are in the same country. However, if crossing into the Republic of Ireland you will always go through passport control as it is it's own independent government.
We were fortunate to be able to stay with some friends in Dún Laoghaire and took a couple of field trips into the city to explore "Dublin proper."
Our Guinness Brewery Tour
There's a very good chance that you just had to be there to appreciate the fish and oyster but I was mesmerized.
Though there were many other things to see in Dublin we did spend the good part of a day at the brewery.
St. Stephen's Green is a beautiful park in the heart of the city. I have learned in our journey to appreciate really nice parks and though this wasn't as nice as Paris (I'm not sure I'll ever see a park that nice again) it was very lovely and there were lots of people enjoying this beautiful spot.
By this point of our journey we had already traveled through most of Europe and we a bit "museumed-out" but I always have time for interesting scientific curiosities which I happily found here!
Bog bodies at the National Museum of Ireland
It's hard to really quantify how much I loved these interesting naturally preserved bodies! I felt I could stare at them all day and see something new with each look.
Cat and the Rat at Christ Church Cathedral
There must be something very special about Ireland as it seems to naturally preserved dead things. Magical indeed!
We really enjoyed walking around the Temple Bar area as well. It felt kind of like home and being on 6th street in Austin. It was funky and vibrant and filled with lots of people just having fun.
All in all Dublin was a lovely city. We enjoyed the little bit that we did have time to see! Hope to head back here again one day and really dig into this city in more depth!