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Opinion

Lauren in Ireland

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April 29, 2016

I have now hit that point in my grand tour abroad where my remaining time in Europe is running through my hands like melted gelato. How can a trip I have been preparing for so long almost be over?! There are so many places I have yet to see, places I want to return, and places I did not have time to see… So maybe I should not be agonizing over how little time I have left in Europe, but instead begin the planning for the next time I will get to come back here.

Since the time I last wrote about my experiences in Berlin, I have traveled to four more cities in Germany, all over Northern Ireland, Dublin, and Nice, France. And now,with four days left in Europe, I plan to see as much of Amsterdam as I am able before I board a plane for a final flight back the to United States.

But do not get me wrong, I am savoring every moment – and making sure that I am “present” in all these moments while I am still in Europe. Northern Ireland was my first destination during the two week break from the rest of my International Traveling Classroom group. After one uncomfortable flight later on Ryan Air I found myself in an alien territory of green, with no glass skyscrapers in sight, completely different from the cities I had just left. Riding in the backseat of an Irish native’s car I road tripped up to the North of Ireland with plenty of Maud’s honeycomb ice cream, and candy floss (cotton candy) to keep me company. Soon even the little towns fell away to reveal long stretches of green pastures with dots of white sheep sleeping away in the fields, while a very familiar “farm smell” wafted in through my open window. We were definitely getting farther and farther “up north”.

While I did not have nearly enough time to explore Northern Ireland as I would have liked, what I was able to see was incredible. Incredible, because everywhere you turn in Northern Ireland you see amazing views, crumbly castles, and miles of bright green rolling hills. There just is not a bad part of Ireland I believe, so whatever you are able to see will be well worth it. Some of my favorites from my time up North include Mussenden Temple which, as the name suggests, is this little temple sitting all by itself on the edge of a cliff hanging over the Atlantic Ocean. It overlooks a stretch of impeccable golden, sandy, beach. The temple is not nearly as impressive as the views but it is well worth the trek out to see it, just hold on to your hat. Up along the Irish coast, there is nothing but you and the temple to prevent the winds from ripping at you and your belongings! I also really recommend a trip to the very famous and iconic Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is a freak of nature, but in the best possible way. Not even the multitude of tourists clambering over the basalt rock formations can detract from the immenseness of this natural phenomenon borne of a volcanic eruption. This huge outdoor playground of salty waves, grassy hills, and slippery rocks stretches for miles up the Irish coast and I plan to come back to walk the entire coast line along where these formations exist.

But you cannot stay in paradise forever and now sitting in a hostel in Dublin I am instead surrounded by the smell of boys’ sneakers, little piles of dirty socks, and for some reason a pink lei. If I concentrate hard enough I can just smell what is left of some pizza left in a cardboard box underneath a bed across the room from me. But when I close my eyes and smell my jacket, I can still smell the salty air of Northern Ireland. That is the smell I want to take home with me in four days and hope that it remains in my memory until I return to the beauty of Ireland. To paradise.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.