Today marked day one of our journey to Galway. The day started bright and early around 6.00 with John and I having to be ready at the "bus stop: for pick-up around 7.00. After walking to designated "bust stop," we then ventured with our guest families (up to 48 people on the bus now) to the Kilmurray Lodge Hotel where we had a big breakfast. The breakfast included potatoes, bacon, tomatoes, beans, sausage links, toast, pudding, and several choices of beverage. Since I already knew what a true "Irish breakfast" was like I was prepared for all the different types of food and tastes.
After finishing a very good breakfast, we then made our way to King John's Castle in Limerick. The view was tremendous - the bend of the River Shannon was in sight and so was the rest of the surrounding city of Limerick. The castle included a tour of different parts of the castle, historical background plaques, and included some authentic pieces to demonstrate the looks of the castle in its previous venue.
After King John's Castle, we then took a small bus ride to the likes of the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in nearby Shannon. Once again the view was spectacular and had even more opportunities to see the likes of historical views from previous times. My favorite part of the castle was actually not any part of the castle, but what was inside - prehistoric deer antlers that were at least 10,000 years old! The surrounding land or bog-like landscape preserves a lot of materials and the antlers were excavated at some point and brought into the castle. After the guided tour of the castle, my roommate and I then went on the nature trail through the Folk Park - this included several buildings, animals such as sheep, chickens, and pigs, and even a small little village with shops.
Once everyone made their way through the castle and park, we then made our last journey of the day to Lahinch (County of Clare), a location just off the Atlantic Ocean. When we arrived in the area, we first checked into the hotel. The room inside was great - we had full-size beds and a television and a decent-sized bathroom. We were living large! After checking in we had about two hours to roam around the area and get to see some shops before they closed. On our way down to the beach or ocean, we walked past the Lahinch Golf Club - a links golf course that is well-known around the world (If we had more time I would have at least stopped by and maybe tried out the range!). John and I then continued further to the ocean. The view was great. We also stopped by Celtic T-Shirt Printing shop. It was really neat to see the setup they used to create and make the t-shirts that were being sold. From there, we made our way over to the Atlantic Hotel where dinner was being served at 19.30. The food was very great being that it was Thanksgiving. Before we started eating, Dr. Lehman said grace and then John Nolan started the traditional "What I'm Thankful For" speech that eventually went around the room to every person. I was personally thankful for the staff, my loving and caring parents who worked so hard for me to have this opportunity, and to the idea of teaching mathematics while also being in Ireland. Dinner itself consisted of stuffed ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, carrots, vegetables, and so much more! It was hands-down the best meal so far on the trip!
After dinner, we then moved across the hotel to the bar and restaurant area where live and local musicians were playing for the evening. Everyone pulled chairs up and gathered around the two fellows playing the guitar and banjo. It really felt great to be surrounded with amazing people as well as the decorative feel of Christmas (full of lights and even a Christmas tree). After a couple hours of listening to the music and our own guest singers, we then walked back to the hotel where John and I took some time to relax over some "beverages" while watching television and reading books.
Tomorrow is the big day - The Cliffs of Moher. Hopefully the weather holds off long enough that we will be able to enjoy the day! I cannot wait!