Travel keeps my spirit full
Slainte! One of the many things I learned from visiting the home land was how to properly cheers to good health. By far the best thing I have ever done for myself was book a flight right after graduation to take a trip back to the homeland of Ireland. It was a very interesting trip to say the least. Myself and two buddies started the trip in Amsterdam because it was about $400 cheaper to fly from O’hare to Amsterdam than it was to go from O’hare to Dublin. That being said, I do not recommend going cheap on international flights; as fun as it was to sit on a plane for 5 hours to Iceland and then another 5 hours to Amsterdam without any food or water, I likely won’t be doing that again.
We started out landing in Amsterdam around 6pm and took a little tour around town checking out some places for dinner and getting a couple of drinks before checking out the infamous redlight district. While it was interesting to be immersed in the “culture” of the redlight district, we ended up calling it a night early and going back to the hotel to prep for the next day of activities. Day 2 we went to Body Worlds early in the morning and spent 2 hours roaming around the halls of preserved cadavers and reading up on how the body works. While this was fascinating for me, I am not too sure how my finance friend felt about seeing the inside of bodies posed in various positions. During our second night we attempted to be cultured again as we met up with our other friend who was in Amsterdam for work by going on a boat tour. That ended with the 3 of us dozing off because none of us had gotten good sleep since arriving in Amsterdam.
Day 3 started after getting about 14 hours of sleep. We decided that since it was our last day, we would really live it up tonight and scheduled a mixology class and set up a reservation for the Ice Bar! Knowing what was in store for that night, we spent the day in the park people watching and being amazed at all of the people riding bikes. Fun fact: there are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people. While the parks were beautiful, it had been 3-4 days since either of us had worked out so naturally we had to get a little chest day session in in our hotel room. After 30 minutes of pushups of various types, we hear a knock at the door. Naturally we open it to find a sweet looking lady who asked if our room needed to be cleaned. I can only imagine the thoughts running through her head as she was greeted by two sweaty shirtless men with Ed Sheeran playing in the background…Anyways…
The mixology course was amazing! If you find yourself in Amsterdam, I highly recommend setting up a course at the House of Bols. If you go on groupon, for 30 euros you can have a private class on how to create your own cocktails. Come at this with an open mind and you may find yourself making an Elder flower cocktail or a Pineapple, blood orange, and chipotle martini (amazing!). Our instructor was an amazing guy who also let us try the traditional Dutch way of having a drink called “Kopstoot”. After taking their audio tour, we made our way to the ice bar where the drinks were served inside of a freezer that was -9 degrees; while they gave us some coats and gloves, we were only in there for 10-15 minutes.
Next our night continued at Door 74 which was a speakeasy that was recommended to us by the mixology class instructor. Luckily one of us had data in Amsterdam so we were able to wander up to this random door with a peephole and make our way inside to this hidden gem. Though the drinks were a little pricy, the ambiance and classy feel to this speakeasy made it an amazing end to our night.
After catching our 8am flight to Dublin, we spent the next hour or so waiting for everyone to get to the airport. Finally once everyone got to Dublin (my girlfriend met us at the airport) we made our way to the Airbnb using the bus system. Once settled in, we found some dinner around the apartment and wandered around the downtown area a little bit. Day 2 was again another recovery day from travel while we waited for the last 2 members of our group to get in. We went to the Brazzen head pub and watched a live band where a guy was killing it on the spoons. This was our only rainy day of the entire trip!
On Day 3 it was time to explore Dublin like real tourists using the Dublin pass! We got to see the Guinness Brewery and the Teelings Distillery to start the day, then we made our way to lunch where we got a 2 for 1 deal because we had the pass. We ended the day going to a couple of churches and checking out Trinity College’s campus. After calling it an early night, we slept in a bit and the got an authentic Irish Breakfast consisting of white and black pudding, some sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, and some vegetables.
On day 4 my girlfriend and I went to tour the Jameson distillery and did a private whiskey tasting. It was an interesting experience to sit in John Jameson’s private study and taste several whiskies that are only sold at the distillery.
Day 5 took us to the Cliffs of Moher which I cannot even put into words. The weather was perfect, sunny and 75. I didn’t think I would have to have sunscreen on this trip, but luckily I packed some. These magnificent cliffs created an arching coast line that was beautiful from nearly 600ft in the air. The soft mist from the crashing waves down below created an atmosphere that is second to none. Without a cloud in the sky we were able to see the full coastline that wrapped as far as the eye could see. After climbing to the highest point of the cliffs, it was time to head back to the bus to finish up the day tour.
Day 6 we had another day trip scheduled where we went to Northern Ireland. After much debate we decided that we would not need our passports to cross the border because that would just be silly… the tour bus driver clearly had done this a couple of times because he had half the bus freaking out about not having their passports for “border control” as we drove between two luscious fields of grass where you could “clearly” tell the difference between the Republic of Ireland’s grass and the Northern Ireland’s grass. Touche Mr. Tour guide; touche. Once we made it to the rope bridge we were able to cross a chasm 90 feet in the air on a small rope bridge between two islands. The weather on this day was overcast and gave me the “Ireland” vibe I had been looking for this entire trip. The grass was wet, the smell of ocean was very in your face, and you could only see maybe 200 feet into the ocean because the fog cover was rather heavy.
We ended day 6 at the Giant’s Causeway which is a very interesting place where the ocean has somehow created a collection of thousands of perfectly octagonal pillars that look to form a bridge between Ireland and Scotland. The myth is that a giant created this path while having an argument with a Scottish giant and did not complete it because once he was close enough to Scotland he could tell he was outmatched. Regardless, the Causeway was worth the 13 hour day trip to see this very strange natural scenery.
After returning from the causeway, it was officially our last night in Dublin so we had to make the most of it. We headed out to Temple bar for a couple of pints after dinner and then found our way to a local cocktail bar where we wrapped up the night around 2am. Scheduling a departing flight around noon was one of the smarter moves we had done while scheduling this trip because it gave us a little time to catch up on sleep before making the 9 hour flight back to Chicago.
I am happy to say the flight back was much better than the flight to Amsterdam as Aer Lingus had great service, above average airline food, and new movies on board to kill the time.
This trip was exactly what I need to mentally prepare myself for tackling the NPTE and becoming a licensed physical therapist come July. If you are debating on taking some time to yourself and traveling abroad you have to do it! I am yet to regret any travel that I have done as it always is full of new experiences and great people. If you have any questions about Ireland or Amsterdam please feel free to reach out as I would love to share more pictures or ideas of things to do. This is by no means everything that went down in our week on the Emerald Isle, so if you are thinking about planning a trip please feel free to reach out!
Happy Monday my friends—until next week!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.