Welcome to my blog about my trip to Ireland with the Greeley Chorale in May/June 2013.  This site will consist of blog entries for each day of the trip and contain pictures (that I took while on the trip), excerpts from the blog I kept while we were in Ireland (which will be placed in quotes and italicized), and just some various other bits of information or my thoughts/feelings about the trip now that we are back and I've had a chance to soak in and process the journey we took.

The Chorale left in two separate groups for this trip.  I was a part of the first group to leave but the second group to arrive.  The group I was in was made up of all the people who were staying an extra 4 days for the extension portion of the tour.  This group included my parents who were excited for the trip as well.  My dad is a part of the Chorale which is why we were getting to take such an amazing adventure.

Ireland is a place I have always wanted to go.  Anytime someone would ask me, if you could go anywhere in the world where would you like to visit most, I could quickly and without any hesitation say Ireland.  Usually before they even could complete the question.  :)  That made this trip a dream come true for me.  We were going to visit many of the places I wanted to go (Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle) as well as a few areas I had never had a specific desire to go (Belfast, Dublin). However, even those places I hadn't had a specific desire to go to were exciting prospects, mostly because, I was going to be in IRELAND!

I hope you can enjoy the journey with me as I walk back through my trip and share the experiences that make me still answer the question of where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world with a quick and resounding IRELAND....AGAIN!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thursday, May 30th (JFK, NY --> Dublin, Ireland --> Belfast, Northern Ireland)

"The airport is beautiful.  Glass walls everywhere.  They take you on quite a walk to get to customs.  Along the wall there are portraits of all sorts of people.  Anyway, customs was easy to get through and we went and met Katie our tour guide.  She is fun!!"  I couldn't have imagined how much fun Katie was actually going to be when I wrote that.  She was amazing, as was the Dublin airport.

There were so many things that were cool about the airport, including this sculpture.  "We gathered everyone together and took quite a walk to the "coach" or bus.  We got boarded and met our driver Tom."  Tom would also become a well loved and missed (now that we are home) member of our group.  We stopped for lunch on the way to Belfast in Northern Ireland where we were starting our trip.  Our lunch was at a service station that has a bunch of different types of food and coffee as well as some shopping.

When we got to the hotel I had some issues with the room keys, and when I got them fixed my roommate, Sara, had problems with her key.  We did finally get it all figured out but it was a bit of a struggle to get everything worked out so we both had working keys.  "At 3:30 PM we had a walking tour with Katie where she showed us Ulster Hall, the post office and shops, a couple of pubs, the Opera House and City Hall."


The statues and architecture of city hall in Belfast were very beautiful and I enjoyed photographing them a lot.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and there were people sitting all over the grass outside of the building enjoying the sun.  The city hall is open to the public and has some very nice stained glass windows.  One example is the left photo above.

Katie was amazing in sharing a lot of information about all kinds of topics regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland.  She gave us some of the history of Northern Ireland and the different groups, the types of crops they grow and some of what happened to split the Republic or Ireland and Northern Ireland.  I did find it interesting that the most important crop is grass.  It makes sense, with all the cows and sheep that are raised here, but surprised me a bit. I would have thought potatoes.

"Kaite also told us the story of The Crown pub. Apparently the couple who started it were not of the same group (nationalist/loyalist).  They wanted to name it The Crown, but wanted the nationalists to still come, so they put a crown on the ground in front so you can either step on or around the crown." The Crown was a very ornate and beautiful building.  I only took pictures outside, but on our last day in Belfast mom and I had lunch there and man they made a good stew.

I made sure to take time that first day to just wander around and take lots of pictures. I wanted to get a feel for the city, and get as much "Ireland" as I could. I loved all of the different styles of architecture mixed together. The building above has actually become a mall, although if I remember correctly it used to be the headquarters for one of the groups.

We also got to hear about this hotel.  The Europa has the, slightly sad, distinction of being the most bombed hotel in the world, as well as Europe.  Many important and famous people have stayed here.  The hotel was a very short distance from where we were staying and is quite a tall landmark in the city.

The first night we had a welcome dinner in the hotel. There was so much good food, including a leek soup that I just fell in love with!  The food just kept coming though, so I was stuffed by the end, and I'm not sure I even tasted everything. My dad got the main course for me as I was somewhat trapped in a corner of the table.  Crawling into bed that night felt wonderful!  Not only was I very tried, but I was finally and officially in Ireland.

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