A picturesque visit to the land of the Irish

Not your cup of tea? // Photo by Christina De Nicola

Tea and England are synonymous. How many times have you used the expression, “Not my cup of tea?”

I had my first true scones and tea experience on my final day in London, but this photo was taken at a grocery store in Ireland.

Look at all the choices!

What did I learn that day and while in Ireland? Tea is so calming. I need to start drinking it more.

What are you looking at? // Photo by Christina De Nicola

This photo was taken at Phoenix Park, which was celebrating its 300th anniversary! Europe puts into perspective how young America (and Miami is!)

Inside the park is plenty of greenery, wildlife, equestrian courses as well as the president’s house.

I need to look up how big the park is as a whole, but let’s just say it’s Dublin’s Central Park.

A quiet sanctuary // Photo by Christina De Nicola
You artsy, huh? // Photo by Christina De Nicola

The first stop on our Paddywagon day tour was Dunguire Castle, Corcomroe Abbey and Poulnabrone Dolmen.

Like much of Ireland, it’s quiet and serene.

On our next stop to the Barren, we would hit rough terrain because the roads aren’t paved very well.

Toward the end of the tour when we headed back to Dublin, I learned Irish folk songs thanks to Jenna, Martin and the tour guide.

The main stop in our tour was to the west coast of Ireland (from Dublin, which is on the east coast), to the Cliffs of Moher.

Other than being right along the Atlantic Ocean and breathtaking in their views, you might find them familiar because of a movie series.

In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Harry and Dumbledore visit a cliffside to find the locket horcrux.

This mist is thick // Photo by Christina De Nicola

When we first got to the cliffs, we couldn’t see anything.

There was a heavy mist blocking views. You could barely see in front of you! Our tour guide was optimistic (in true Irish spirit) that it would clear up long enough to experience the scenic views.

And it did as you saw in the above photo. But, it didn’t last too long. As you can tell on the right, the mist came back and the water got rocky.

It’s a beautiful day // Photo by Christina De Nicola

The following day, the three of us spent our time in Dublin — the “Dirty D” — taking in the sights.

In true U2 fashion (hey, they’re Irish!), it was a… beautiful day.

The photo on the left is of Christ Church Cathedral, which looks familiar to everyone who sees it.

Whether it is or not, I’m not too certain. It looks like it could be one of the exteriors for Hogwarts during the earlier films.

Outside here, I hate a very yummy and fried meal of battered sausage and chips (potatoes). Irish potatoes are the best.

Olympic history // Photo by Christina De Nicola

In Ireland, I hit the second part of my traveling trifecta: The Olympic torch came to the country for the first time EVER!

This photo was taken in St. Stephen’s Green, where former Olympic medalist Sonia O’Sullivan and her daughter lit the flame.

British X-Factor stars (can you call them that?) Jedward were also on hand to help with the relay.

The Olympic spirit is definitely a go across the pond.

Turned to stone // Photo by Christina De Nicola

If you’ve seen the movie “Once” — the little Irish film starring a couple with that Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” — then Grafton Street should sound (or look) familiar.

It’s where all the street performers go, whether they play an instrument or pose as a statue like the guy on the right.

His disguise was so spot-on that a pigeon decided to remain on his head! Whenever he received money from an onlooker, he would briefly change positions.

In the background is a Burger King sign. This is important to note because it was at that exact location where I discovered that the first BK opened in Miami in 1964!

Something vital I learned on my trip: Europe has plenty of McDonalds and Burger Kings to go around, and they look a lot nicer than ours. Oh, and their public bathrooms are lifesavers.

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