British Isles – Part 2

Ok. So, it’s been a crazy month and a half since I got back to the states, so I am just now getting around to posting pics.

Ireland was incredible. I loved the places, the cities, the accents, the people, etc. The air is so much cleaner than the air in the US. You notice it. It was the first thing I noticed after we landed. I breathed, and it was clean and clear, as if I had just gotten my first breath of fresh air after being underwater so long I forgot what it was like to breathe. The food was better, too. All of the ingredients are fresher and mostly grown or raised locally, so the meat was higher quality, the vegetables tasted more natural, and even the beverages were better. I loved the place.

First Castle in Ireland
This is the first castle we got to explore after a jaunted carriage ride through the country out in Kilarney.
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Bagpipes!
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Trinity College, home to the book of Kells, and free tuition, just like all colleges in Ireland.
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This is called Dublin’s Viking Pub, because it was actually established by vikings. The food was pretty good.

Wales was an unexpected gem on the trip. I never thought that Wales would be a place I would want to visit again, but it is now near the top of my travel list. We drove through Snowdonia National park which has some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. I didn’t get any good pics of the park, but I did climb to the top of a mountain behind our hotel right as the sun was setting, and the views were spectacular. Pics are below, but they don’t do it justice. You could see green for miles. I definitely need to go back and visit so I can hike in Snowdonia.

Holyhead ferry
This was our ferry from Ireland to Wales. It’s huge, and felt like a luxury cruise.
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A nice tea party at a small restaurant in Wales.
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That’s me. At the top of a mountain. Amid the ruins of an old castle. Yep.
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Top of this mountain. The castle ruins are so old, that only pillars of rocks were left and a couple structures.
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Just look at that view.
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Sunset is the best time to climb a mountain.
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Some more structures during sunset.
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The path up the mountain
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Just wow.

England was nice. I got to see some incredible places, like Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, and so on. I didn’t get to see Big Ben because it is under repair and will be so for the next few years, so the entire tower was encased in scaffolding. Still, The tour of London was worthwhile. There’s so much history everywhere you look.

 

The best part of England, however, was the natural history museum. I could spend a week in there. As it was, we spend nearly five hours, and were only just able to see every exhibit almost at a run. The place is huge! The fossils were incredible. I almost cried. I grew up loving paleontology and natural history, which is why I am now studying biology, so this place was like heaven on earth. The research going on there is amazing. I spent a long time on their website learning about their efforts to digitize 20 million specimens by 2020. They are creating 2D and 3D models of these specimens, both wet and dry, and providing open access to anyone around the world with a computer and internet. The best part, that’s only 1/4 of their specimens! There’s so much research going on, from fossils to conservation biology, to genetics, to molecular biology. I might consider this place for my post-doc, because it was awesome!

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That’s a real blue whale skeleton. 

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That’s the blue whale skeleton from below. 

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British Isles Trip – Ireland

We finally made it. After a 24 hour delay in Philadelphia we are finally in Ireland. The airline put us in one of the worst hotels I have every had the displeasure of staying at, and then we got to sit in the Philly airport for about 10 hours with meal vouchers that didn’t really cover the cost of meals. Then we sat on the plane for over 2 hours because of delays. We finally left the US at midnight Eastern time and landed around noon in Shannon, Ireland a day and a half late. All of that struggle was worth it, though. The Irish countryside is beautiful. There are castles everywhere! After getting through customs we drove to Killarney, Ireland, which was amazing. Today we left Killarney and made our way to Dublin. We stopped for a few hours in Blarney to explore the Blarney castle. I got to kiss the Blarney stone, which has been near the top of my bucket list for a long time. I don’t have digital pictures, but I’ll try to upload a couple pics of the castle. Everything is amazing here. The air is so clean and fresh. The people are all very nice. The food’s great. I love listening to all the Irish accents. There’s bagpipe and flute music in the streets. I love it here. In a couple of days we’ll leave Dublin and head to Wales. I’m going to miss Ireland, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip.

p.s. pictures are coming, probably in later posts. They won’t upload, probably because of the wifi. It’s been pretty terrible at all the hotels, not just in Ireland but in Philly, too.