My friends and I visited the Deçan Monastery a few weekends ago. We were fortunate to go on a mild spring day.
Some interesting facts about the monastery:
There are 10,000 portraits in the monastery.
St. Stefan’s tomb is inside and every Thursday at 7:00 p.m., they open to tomb to show visitors St. Stefan’s “uncorrupted” hand (meaning, it has not decayed). Sadly, I did not visit on a Thursday evening and did not get to see his hand.
The monastery has a rare fresco that depicts Jesus holding a sword. It is one of the only images of Jesus holding a sword in the whole world.
Here are posts about other monasteries I have visited in Kosovo:
Hello, Everyone! This will be my last blog post about Ireland. Last week, we left off at the Aran Islands. Whitney and I were on a tour with Wild Atlantic Way. After exploring the Aran Islands, we got back on the ferry and it took us to the Cliffs of Moher.
I stood at the back of our ferry for this photo, and shortly thereafter, a wave crashed over the side and soaked my jeans. 😦 !!!
I went into the ferry’s bathroom and peeled off my jeans. It was way too cold to wear wet pants. I had leggings on underneath and decided that wearing only one layer was better than wearing a wet layer.
The ferry returned to Doolin and we got back on the tour bus, which then drove us to the top of the cliffs. I had imagined visiting the Cliffs of Moher to be a tranquil experience, but it was a wind tunnel up there.
Then, we got back on the bus to go back to Galway. We stopped twice along the way for photos.
Here is a fun fact: Thatched roofs are falling out of popularity in Ireland, despite being excellent insulators. Because they are a natural material, they need to be replaced every 5-7 years and the cost each time (I forget the figure our tour guide gave) exceeds what it would cost to roof your house with a regular roof that lasts for a lifetime.
After a day of being cold and pants-less, I treated myself to oysters for dinner. Of course, I stopped at our Airbnb to put on dry pants first. 😉
Friday, Whitney and I walked around Galway and visited shops and looked for souvenirs. We wanted to do a wine and cheese tasting that afternoon. I stopped at a local wine shop to ask the guy working there where he would suggest going. At first, I got a snarky reply, “Uh, go to a bar and buy a cheese plate.” I persisted in my cheerfulness, though (“Oh? Is there anywhere you would recommend?”) and the guy told me to go to the downstairs bar at Kasbah (better wine there than at its sister restaurant upstairs) and order a cheese plate down from the restaurant. He launched into Kasbah’s wine-buying strategies and when I finally left the shop, Whitney wondered what had taken me so long. 🙂
I am glad I stopped to ask for a recommendation, because Kasbah ended up being our favorite bar that we visited in all of Ireland (and we went to a few *ahem*). We stopped by the (quiet) restaurant upstairs first, and then we wound our way downstairs to the bar, which was packed and lively. The wine and cheese were great!
Well, friends, this marks the end of my stories of Ireland. The next day, Whitney and I returned to Dublin to fly to our respective homes. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my spring break trip!
My tips for the day:
Don’t stand at the end of the ferry for photos.
Wear waterproof pants if you are on a ferry.
If you are ever in Galway, stop for a drink at the downstairs bar at Kasbeh.
(I took this video on our last morning in Galway.)
On Wednesday of our week in Ireland, Whitney and I woke to more rain. We trudged out to get donuts and pick up our handmade scarves because they had to be washed before we could wear them. Then we packed up at our hotel in Dublin, ate lunch, and jumped on a bus to Galway.
We booked a tour of the Aran Islands/Cliffs of Moher for Thursday. It was through Wild Atlantic Way (highly recommend) and was an all-day event. We got on the tour bus at 9 a.m. and didn’t get back until 6 p.m.
The bus picked us up in Galway and drove us through the Burren (pronounced “burn”). According to Wikipedia, “The Burren is a region of County Clare in the southwest of Ireland. It’s a landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites.”
(Another fun pronunciation fact I learned in Ireland: I thought the word quays was pronounced “kways” but it is actually pronounced “keys.”)
The bus dropped us off at a ferry and the ferry took us out to one of the Aran Islands, where Gaelic is spoken as a first language.
It was freezing on the island. However, we saw palm trees! We learned an interesting fact on the tour bus: the rocks in this part of Ireland (don’t ask me which ones) are very good at conducting heat. Therefore, you see plant life that is only seen elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
Whitney and I walked around a bit, visited a local shop, and then stopped at a pub for lunch. I had Irish stew. (The bartender told me, “That’ll keep you going for a while.”)
At the pub, we saw a notice that the local lottery jackpot was up to 4,100 Euro. 🙂
After lunch, we got back on the ferry and headed out to see the Cliffs of Moher. Stay tuned for Monday’s post to read more about that. 🙂 It’ll be my last post about Ireland! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the country through my experiences.
“Green, green / It’s green they say / on the far side of the hill. / Green, green / I’m going away / to where the grass is greener still.” — The New Christy Minstrels
After gray and rainy weather our first two days in Dublin and more rain in the forecast, Whitney and I lucked out that Tuesday. The weather defied the forecast and we later saw our first blue sky in Ireland!
Our first stop of the day was the Chester Beatty Library. Chester Beatty was a wealthy art collector and collected religious art and texts from all over Europe and Asia. What I liked about this museum was that it displayed works from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. I found the collection to be far more interesting than the Book of Kells.
Next, we jumped on the bus and headed for Kilmainham Gaol prison for a tour. This is where we hit a snag — I had bought a Groupon for the wrong prison! We had our Guinness tickets booked for later in the day and we couldn’t stay to tour Gaol at their next available tour time. 😦 Oh, well. This wasn’t my worst travel disaster. (Ask me about the time I missed my flight from Paris to Kosovo, or the time I was stuck at Luton airport for 21 hours).
With our sudden free time, we walked across the street to tour the grounds of the old Royal Hospital (which has now been converted into a modern art museum). Since the museum was free, we also went inside, though neither of us especially likes modern art.
Next, we walked to the Guinness factory. This is Dublin’s most-popular tour. The exhibits are done well but beer production has since moved sites, so we didn’t actually see beer being made. We did get to sample beer, though, at the rooftop bar.
We ended the day with yet another tour — a literary pub crawl another friend had highly recommended. The tour was fun and informative. Our only complaint was that the pub stops were short (twenty minutes), which didn’t leave much time for drinking.
My Dublin tips for the day:
If you like religious art, I highly recommend visiting the Chester Beatty Library and Museum. (Bonus: admission is free.) I enjoyed it more than the Book of Kells.
I like whiskey and I don’t like beer so I am bias in this opinion, but I enjoyed drinking at the bar at the Jameson Distillery far more than at the Guinness bar. While the Guinness bar had nice views, it was very crowded and difficult to find a seat. Jameson was much quieter and we could actually sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders.
On Monday in Dublin, it rained all day. Whitney and I had planned to visit the Book of Kells and do a walking tour of Trinity College. We decided to scrap the walking tour, since it was outside, and find something else to do in the morning. We had passed Christ Church cathedral the day before and felt inspired to go on a guided tour. I am glad we did because the tour ended up being one of my favorite things.
Christ Church is 1,000 years old.
Our tour guide was funny and informative. We learned a lot about the history of Dublin and of the church. We even got to ring the church bells!
Also, Christ Church has a famous organ that was donated in the 1920s. The only problem was, it didn’t work. They took it apart and found a mummified cat and rat inside! This story was the inspiration behind the cartoon “Tom and Jerry.”
That afternoon, we went to see the Book of Kells and Trinity Library, both famous sites on the Trinity College campus. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript (meaning, a text supplemented with illustrations) of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that was created sometime around 800 AD. Pictures weren’t allowed, so I have none to show you. Several people had recommended the Book of Kells before I went on my trip. Honestly, though, it wasn’t my favorite thing that we did.
The Trinity Library had an impressive collection of books.
It was still raining after our tours, so Whit and I decided to go to the Jameson Distillery for a drink at their bar. We had a great time sampling different whiskeys and shooting the breeze with the bartenders. We topped off our evening by pub-hopping near our hotel.
My Dublin tip for the day: Take a guided tour of Christ Church cathedral!
Hi, everyone! Did you miss me? I am back to blogging after a full two weeks off. It’s been nice to have time away. I spent my spring break in Ireland with Whitney, my childhood friend.
I got to Dublin on a Saturday afternoon. Whit arrived the next morning (Easter Sunday) from Los Angeles. If it were me I would have been dead tired, but Whit was a real champ and arrived ready to see the city. She had a surprise planned for me and I had no idea what it was.
But first! We had to stop for a drink at Dublin’s oldest pub.
Next up was the surprise. I had kind of thought it would be a facial or massage or something. I was wrong, though! Whitney took me to a loom knitting class where we got to make our own Merino wool scarves. (How cool is that?!) We took our class with Liadian Aiken.
Things went well at first but then my yarn kept falling off the hooks. Righting it was a tedious process where our instructor had to re-hook each loop back on the loom. My yarn fell off about five or six times. 😦
But FINALLY we finished and I am really happy with the result.
Now I have a beautiful, warm scarf that I handmade and that will remind me of Ireland and spending time with Whitney. 🙂 I love it so much! I wore it all week.
Here’s a little video of some live pub music that evening:
I’ve got lots more to share about Ireland. Four upcoming posts will be about my trip.
Hey, Everyone! I got exciting news this week: I finally learned the date for my Peace Corps Close of Service (COS). Not only did I get my first choice of dates (there were three), but so did everyone else in my cohort. 🙂 I’ve already shared the exact date with my family and friends via email. Here, I’ll just say that I’m going home in mid-July!
On Monday, I was really excited to get my date. I got the email while I was on the bus and when I got to my house, I immediately began looking for flights home. Then Monday night, I cried as I got ready for bed, thinking of leaving my friends here. Then Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling restless and bored and wanting to just leeeeeave already. Such is the roller coaster of PC emotions.
Media consumption this week:
I read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer after two different friends recently brought it up in conversation. It tells the story of Pat Tillman, who famously left the NFL to become an Army Ranger. Though I don’t have an interest in football or war, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I found a copy of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen in our Peace Corps library. It is the writer’s memoir of growing up as a Vietnamese refugee in Grand Rapids, Michigan during the 1980s. She is only a few years older than I am and though I’m from eastern Michigan (I don’t think I’ve ever been to Grand Rapids), I could relate to much of what she had to say about growing up in the state.
I wrote another article for LinkedIn about my experiences with mindfulness as a Peace Corps volunteer. If you’d like to read it, click here.
And finally, I am heading to Ireland on Saturday! My friend and I are spending 3 days in Dublin and 3 days in Galway and then returning to Dublin to fly out. We have tours booked for Trinity College, Kilmainham Gaol Prison, and the Guinness brewery. We’re playing the rest by ear. Can’t wait!
My plan is to take two weeks off from blogging and be back online Monday, April 16 with posts about my Ireland trip. I’ll be traveling next week and then the week after, I’d like to spend time making changes to the back-end of the blog.
As always, you can follow along with me on Instagram. I’ll be sure to post some photos from Ireland along the way. 🙂