Julie's journey through Ireland to Finland!
29.12.2008 - 18.01.2009
Welcome to my travel blog! Here I will try and keep everyone at home updated with my adventures abroad! So let's begin!
My journey began on December 29th when I left Saskatoon to arrive in Dublin, Ireland on the 30th! Waiting at the airport was the darling Cayley Moffat who would be my traveling companion and friend for my time in Ireland. As many of you know, I've always wanted to see Ireland, and now that I've been there, I want to see more! As Cayley can verify, I did not stop smiling the whole time I was in the country. It seemed that everywhere I looked there was something that I've always wanted to see; castles, cathedrals, cobblestones, and charming little Irish pubs. The hostel we stayed at straddled the medieval district of Dublin and the Temple bar district, so it was perfect :P
We spent a couple of days walking around the city of Dublin, soaking in as much culture and history as we could. We also took in the essential tourist stop: the Guinness storehouse as well as spending New Years in the Temple Bar district with many of the other guests at the hostel.
We also did a couple of trips outside of the city by train; one to Howth on the outskirts of Dublin to walk along the cliffs, and another to Kilkenny to meet some friends of Cayley's. Kilkenny was absolutely incredible. In Dublin we'd only been talking with other tourists and going to all the touristy spots of the city while in Kilkenny it felt so much more 'Irish'. It seemed like such a quaint little town with winding cobblestone streets, hundreds of little pubs, and some wonderfully friendly locals. I think my favourite part of the town though was the Castle. The history geek within me came out in full force while I was in Ireland and I was absolutely overjoyed to step into a real castle and trace the footsteps of hundreds of years of royalty. To me, it felt as though the air shook with all of the experiences that the castle has seen over the years and I felt privileged just to be a part of it.
Yet, I think the trip highlight occurred the night we got back to Dublin from Kilkenny. It was Cayley's last night in Ireland and the friends we had met in Kilkenny had told us that we had to go to a little pub called "the Cobblestone". I am so glad we did! The pub was packed, not with tourists like most of the other pubs we'd been in in Dublin, but with locals who were there to drink a pint and listen to the traditional music being played by a group of local musicians. I told Cayley earlier that I had to dance in Ireland, no matter what, and this was my opportunity. An older man who had been playing the fiddle earlier saw me grinning from ear to ear so he asked me if I played an instrument. I told him no, but I dance! His eyes lit up and within minutes he had cleared a small space for me and had the musicians playing a reel for me! I danced as best as I could in my 2 foot square space, and had an absolute blast! It was so much fun, and you couldn't have wiped the smile off my face if you tried!
I had one more day in Ireland which I spent on a bus tour of the Wicklow mountains. It was nice to sit in a nice cozy chair all day just watching the beautiful Irish scenery roll by while the soft Irish voice of John the driver told stories and sang songs. It was a beautiful tour, despite the snow that fell at the top of the mountains, blocking our view. Nevertheless, I saw the rolling fields of green and fences made of stone, and felt the Irish rain.
It was sad to leave Ireland, but I was excited to get to my new home in Finland! I also know that I'll be seeing Ireland again this summer, so I didn't have to say goodbye forever :P
Christchurch Cathedral: just steps away from our hostel!
Cayley and I at St. Patricks Cathedral
The Brazen Head: Ireland's oldest pub!
The essential tourist picture :D
Cayley and I on the cliffs of Howth
Cayley calls me her Irish pixie :P
Mike and Josh, our American travel companions in Howth
The Beautiful Kilkenny Castle
I get excited about history :P
Cayley loves castles too!
I've become known as the girl who hugs castles. I don't mind, the castle always hugs me back :D
Cayley and I made friends with the bartender at a pub in Kilkenny and he wanted to teach us the proper way to pour a Guinness. Too bad the keg was empty!
I love stained glass
Cayley and I seemed to always be thinking the same thing. We even bought matching rings in Kilkenny :D
Musicians at the Cobblestone
The lovely Irish fiddle player who gave me the opportunity to dance :D
I couldn't believe it, but there is actually a Rider flag hanging next to the Irish flag in the Cobblestone! According to one regular at the bar, he had no idea what that flag was for until I came along, haha!
Ireland is so pretty, even in graveyards
Snow in Ireland!! This bridge is also the location where they shot a scene from the movie, "P.S. I love you".
Still happy in the Irish rain :D
I'd like to congratulate you on making it this far through my blog! I promise next time I'll update sooner so it doesn't have to be so long!
From Ireland I took 2 more planes (hopefully my last, for at least a month) and arrived in Helsinki, Finland! I managed to get myself on a bus to Turku and spent two hours of my evening looking out the windows at the dark and beautiful landscape that surrounded me. Even if I could only see a little ways in the darkness, it was beautiful! I went from walls made of stone in Ireland to 30 foot stone walls along the highway. I was met in Turku by my lovely tutor, Pirkko, who has since been a wonderful friend and a fantastic help. It was so nice to arrive in a foreign country, thinking you know no one, but being welcomed by a hug! I should let those of you in my family know that I've adopted her as my sister :P
Turku is a beautiful city, I think I'm falling in love with it already! My dorm room is bigger than the room I was living in in Saskatoon PLUS I'm enjoying the many benefits of having my very own bathroom! I've met some incredible people here from all over the world and still I feel like I don't really know many people, so it can only get better! I've been having a blast getting to know my new home, taking in as much as I can. I'm only a 10 minute walk from school, and 20 or so minutes for the town centre (or Kauppatori) so I find that I actually walk everywhere!
School has only barely begun, but so far it seems like it will be really good. The language barrier isn't so bad, in fact sometimes I feel that some people who speak English as their 2nd or 3rd language speak better than me!
One surprising thing that happened last week happened as part of campus sports; I saw an Irish dance class on the schedule and even though I knew it would be very basic, I went anyway. Turns out, the girl who's teaching it hasn't had a teacher of her own for about 4 years so she's asked me to give her lessons! It will be so nice to keep dancing while I'm here! I'm also looking into some other dance workout classes or possibly some ballroom dancing, so I'll be trying out something new too!
The front door of my dorm, the bathroom's to the left.
My very own bathroom, Yay!
My desk and bed. The windows look out over a graveyard; very cheerful :D
And my very own fridge!
The beautiful Turku Cathedral. I walk by it almost every day. I can't wait to get inside!
Part of the university campus
I love how this city was built around nature. Rocks and trees seem to be unplanned, just left in their natural beauty. This photo is on campus as well, and you can kind of see the cathedral in the back. It's very close!
Monica from Mallorca (in Spain), Julie from Canada, and Pirkko from Finland. These are my sisters :D
I think that concludes this edition of Journey's with Julie! Please feel free to email me and update me on things back home too!
Live, laugh, and love always,