Leslie Conner Temple Rome

One Week: Francis and Ireland

One of the coolest things about studying abroad is how much can happen in just a few days. This past week has just been overflowing with incredible experiences and wild moments (and mishaps, naturally). Thinking about trying to contain them in one blog post is overwhelming- but it’s worth it.

Pope Francis

Ahh! So cool!

I will never forget sprinting to St Peter’s Square with Avery around 7pm Wednesday on March 13, 2013. The bells were ringing all around us and we couldn’t stop laughing and smiling while we raced with thousands of other people to see the reveal of the new Pope! Amazingly, we made it into the square and were witness to the newest Pope’s first reveal and blessing. Seeing the curtains pull back to reveal the College of Cardinals in bright red filling the large windows still gives me chills. It was a surreal moment to be in the most watched place in the world right then.

The atmosphere was so joyful and positive- everyone was either in tears or just contagiously smiling. I hope this new chapter for the Vatican brings healing and joy in a way that’s been lacking in the past. I still can’t believe I was present for a moment like that- wow.
Thursday marked the beginning of our adventures in Ireland!We hopped on a plane and made it into Dublin by 3pm. Everyone is so nice in Ireland; it is easily my new favorite place in the world. I would love to bring my family back here to visit again!

Friday we had the pleasure of visiting Galway and the Cliffs of Moher and I can’t begin to do them justice with words or photos. This place is the most breathtaking location in the world- I absolutely have to return. If you’ve never been, make it number one on your bucket list.

We were extremely lucky to have gorgeous weather for the right side of the cliffs, but once we reached the left, the sky shifted to a violent hailstorm. That’s Ireland for you… we experienced sun, rain, hail, and snow over the few days we were there.
Temple Bar is a complete riot, and was only magnified by it being Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. I am a huge fan of pubs in general (this is a little known fact about me and slightly surprising I’m sure), but Dublin takes the prize for having some of the most fun ones I’ve ever been to. People were just happy to be exactly where they were and that’s always a special thing to experience. Most pubs have live music as well which is always a huge bonus!
Saturday, Casey and I went on a walking tour of the city and saw all the major sights. Dublin is full of interesting and silly landmarks, a solid reflection of the overall city atmosphere. We also got to visit the Guinness Factory! I have an innate gift for consuming Guinness in great qualities at a remarkable speed so this was a real treat. We learned all about the history and brewing process and then got to see the famous Sky Lounge. I was terrified by the heights and pretty much stayed against the wall. It was like having to walk next to the railings in the mall- unnatural and physically uncomfortable. Everyone else seemed to really like it though, go figure.
Festival Highlights:
Guinness and Jameson and Ginger ales first thing in the morning!
The streets were packed with extremely happy people!
The Food:
I finally got to have a Shamrock Shake! After having a meltdown when I found out McDonald’s in Italy do not take part in the tradition of mint shakes dyed green, consuming this was a great moment for me. The US and Ireland are the only countries to carry them and I was so upset I was going to miss out. Score! It tasted like a candy cane on Christmas- perfection.
I’ve happily been a vegetarian for about 8 or 9 years. That being said, I wanted to be a badass this weekend and try something new: I ate meat. Cottage pie to be specific and it was pretty delicious! I even tried a bite of Guinness Stew. I’m still not sure how I’m going to move forward at this point but meat might be back on the table… possibly. Most likely not. I’m glad I ate it though!
Nando’s! I finally got to go to a Nando’s! It was SO good, just like everyone says!
bean burger on a pita with hot sauce
Homemade vegetable soup and soda bread at the Hairy Lemon. I am obsessed with Irish soda bread. Monday night our waitress gave Brian and me an entire loaf at the end of the night. Praise Jesus!
I carried this soda bread around like my baby

Here are a few more photos of Dublin, Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher- I wish I was still there!

Brian spilled an entire Guinness
on my new chucks.

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