My 16th birthday will always be one of the best memories I can look back on. Why? I was given the opportunity to spend it in Europe. I got tremendously lucky and was able to spend an amazing 12 days in July hopping through Ireland, Scotland, and England.
Only a six and a half hour plane ride from New York and we were in our first stop, Dublin, Ireland. I’ve always been told that Ireland is the home of many kind and happy people. I can attest to this fact, I’ve never been treated so nicely anywhere else.
A deep contrast from New York, the first thing I noticed was the patience and friendliness of the Irish ‘lads’ I encountered. I can certainly say that of all four locations I visited, we were treated the best in Ireland.
We only had three days in each location, so I wasn’t able to see all of Ireland in this one trip. On the first day, we walked around the Temple Bar area for a little bit, but it was so packed with tourists. I definitely wouldn’t recommend going there; it’s just a plain waste of time.
The next day, however, was way more eventful. We first visited the Dublin Castle, which was absolutely stunning and rich with history. The walls were engraved with detailed gold embellishments and held beautiful portraits each with a different story. Even the ceilings held paintings and designs.
After that we went to the Guinness Beer Factory, which is one of the most popular attractions in Dublin. Something I noticed that you don’t see here in America is how young all the workers were; the drinking age in Ireland is only 18!
My favorite part of the day was going to Trinity College. We first only visited the college to see the famous Book of Kells. The book was displayed in a small room behind glass, full of celtic designs and ancient art.
After this room was a beautiful, historic library that I will never forget. Two levels full of books that stretched from the floor to the ceiling. I felt as if I were in Harry Potter or Beauty and the Beast, being transported back in time.
The next, and last, day of Ireland consisted of a tour to the Irish countryside. We saw the famous green rolling hills full of cows, sheep, and many other animals, as well as the Cliffs of Moher, a beautiful sight to see if you wish to visit Ireland.
After Ireland was, of course, Scotland. Three days in Edinburgh was certainly not enough. Our first day was spent traveling the city. Something I admire about Edinburgh is how it was preserved to still look medieval. No building structures were changed, even our hotel room was in a dome shape.
The second day we spent in the Edinburgh Castle. Atop a hill, this castle definitely has the best views of Edinburgh, and of course is rich with history. My favorite part was seeing the crown jewels. We were able to see ancient jewelry and crowns once used by powerful kings and queens, including Mary, Queen of Scots.
We spent the last day of Scotland exploring the highlands, but the highlight of the day was taking a boat on Loch Ness, a lake which is known for the legend of the Loch Ness monster. Sadly, we never saw Nessie.
After Edinburgh, we visited Brighton, a beachtown in the south of England. There we relaxed and spent three days without worrying about tours or sightseeing. A fascinating thing about Brighton is there are small walkways, such as North Laine, full of shops and restaurants.
In Brighton we spent my actual birthday, July 20th, hanging around by the rocky beach and the boardwalk (and of course, eating lots of fish and chips).
Our last stop was London, England. Although this was the only city we visited that I had already been to before, it was amazing to see again. The first day was spent taking cheesy tourist pictures with red telephone booths and drinking gallons of delicious tea.
However, the next day was more eventful. Luckily, my dad booked tickets to see the Buckingham Palace in advance to our trip. We were unable to take photos, but we saw beautiful state rooms, the grand staircase, and breathtaking pieces of art.
After the palace, we visited the Tower Bridge and the Shard. The Shard is a very tall skyscraper with beautiful views of London, though we were unable to go to the top. We also visited Shakespeare’s Globe, but unfortunately, we never booked tickets to see a show. I’d definitely plan that ahead if I were visiting again. The rest of the day was well spent figuring out the Tube (underground railroads) and drinking more tea of course.
Leaving Europe was bittersweet. Bitter, because it was one of the best experience of my life that I didn’t want to end, and sweet, because I missed my home (mostly my dog and my bed). I’m very thankful that I was able to travel Ireland and the U.K. and of course, I hope to go back one day.