May 29, 2014
Senior-to-be Sachi Sugiyama will be providing MGoBlue.com with weekly updates during her month-long study abroad trip in Ballyvaughan, Ireland. In this fourth entry, Sachi reviews her visit to the Aran Islands and Galway, hitting on the food, the shopping and the sights.
Additional Photos (Facebook)
Another week down in Ireland and I can safely say that the time is flying by way too fast! This week was as busy as ever with a visit to the Aran Islands, the city of Galway, more caving, and of course, spontaneous hikes and studio time.
The trip to the Aran Islands took about an hour by boat. We went to the smallest of the three islands (Inisheer) on the first day and the biggest island (Inishmore) on the second day. Personally, I liked the smaller island a lot better. It was a lot more compact but there was still so much to see! A few of us thought it would be a good idea to walk the coast line of the entire island. Let's just say we completely misjudged the size of the island. We walked for several hours, most of it not on a trail, either, but over loose rocks. The weather was nice aside from the occasional deafening wind and we were able to take some great pictures. There was a shipwreck, a massive boat covered in brilliant orange and deep-red rust. There was also a light house, along with beautiful scenery.
The second day was another boat ride to Inishmore. The weather was rather grey and very windy, which made the boat ride rather rocky. I had fun on the bottom deck, pretty much hanging over the railing just watching the waves and wakes and getting sprayed by them. The big island was nice, but it seemed pretty similar to the smaller island, just more spread out. There was a shop called the Aran Sweater Market, a store consisting of wool wear all made from the sheep that live on the Aran Islands. We must have spent about two hours in that store picking out sweaters or hats or gloves, socks, scarfs and jackets for ourselves and family members. The detailing was beautiful and with high quality much worth its price. Dinner that night was delicious at one of the local pubs. I'm going to miss this food when I return to the U.S. Everything I have eaten here has been so fresh and possesses such a cleaner (for lack of a better word) taste to it.
The next morning, we headed to Galway for the day. It was a small city that reminded me a lot of something you'd see it Italy. The section we were in had quite a few pedestrian streets, lots of small shops and then a market. I was able to do quite of bit of souvenir shopping there, which was fantastic because I really needed to do that. We ended with a group dinner, on the school. I'd have to say that it was honestly one of the best meals I have ever had! We had a choice from about five dishes. I chose the cod and gnocchi and shared a scallop appetizer. WOW, WOW, WOW! The fish was cooked to perfection and the gnocchi was potato goodness.
Luckily for us, the weather was much better for our next caving trip (No more thundering waterfalls!). This was the most intense trip for sure! Right off the bat we had to crawl through a squeeze, which lasted a good ten minutes. It was definitely a mental push for us to get through. Thank goodness for the helmet. It was the most amount of maneuvering we had to do out of all the caving trips. A lot of working our way either over or under rocks and I didn't even mention the mud, loose rubble and freezing water! The water at some points was up to my chest. Once we got through, it was time to descend, which was an awesome experience. At first when you look down, it is just a high vertical drop and the panic jolts through your stomach and throat. Terry, one of the two guides helping us, had already hooked up the rope. All you had to do was lean back and hold the other end of the rope to the side. The more vertical you held the rope, the less tension there would be and the faster you would descend. By the time all of us got down, we were freezing cold (we had been in the caves for three-and-a-half hours at this point) and had a 30-minute walk to the surface. We booked it, going as fast as you can in a cave without hurting yourself. I'll never look at the sun the same way again!
The rest of this week has consisted of hiking and finding another smaller cave, which was a challenge because it was kind of hidden. It was a little cave that did not go very far and we didn't need any gear. We had to hike up a smaller mountain to a gully, only to realize that we were on the wrong side, so we just ended up taking some pictures. I took part in a photo shoot for one of my classmates, Grace. Today, I was in another photo shoot for Katelyn, so we hiked to the top of the mountain here in Ballyvaughan where the rocks are light grey and very flat with lots of big cracks separating them. It was beautiful up there, probably the best day of weather we've had. The only clouds in the sky were surrounding the valley like a beautiful barrier over the surrounding mountains and sea. We were able to soak in much needed Vitamin D and I even got some color on my shoulders because we were finally able to take off our jackets.
With so much going on, we have to use our time in the studio to the fullest to try and make as much progress as we can in the time we have left. I am working on my final piece. Though I've got to work on some of the little details, it's looking pretty good. Tomorrow, we head to Dublin for the weekend, so that should be a lot of fun.
Until next time,
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