Shanell Peterson is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism major South Dakota State University, she is studying abroad in Dublin this term.
In this week's post, Shanell shares her ranking of all of the places she's been this summer.
I want to get something out there that’s been on my mind this summer as I’ve explored Europe: I’m hesitant to call Dublin - and Ireland in general - beautiful. Not because it isn’t, but because it is beautiful in a completely nontraditional way. It’s messy and unorganized - chaotic even - but in an illogically calm way.
In the country, small, rustic houses sit sporadically in the middle of rolling, green hills rich with fragrant, green grass bending lazily in the wind. Unfinished stone fences start and end without purpose. The cities bustle quietly, as haphazardly constructed pubs illuminate the night with a warm, welcoming energy; you can practically feel the laughter and the joy behind the walls of each building you pass. It’s unique, and it’s the epitome of Ireland.
For those of you going to Ireland for a limited amount of time, I have constructed a definitive ranking of the places I’ve been this summer to help you get the full Irish experience. I’ve also included a few places outside of the country as well since I believe having something to compare to Ireland helps you appreciate it more. So, here you have it - a definitive ranking of the places I’ve explored these last couple months:
8. South Dakota, USA
Sorry, Mom and Dad. South Dakota is ranked lowest on my list. Don’t get me wrong. My home state has some charm: numerous cornfields, gorgeous sunsets, a sky filled with stars. It’s just that I’ve lived there for 21 years and I’m ready to see more of the world, you know?
7. Bray, Ireland
Bray is a pretty city on the south of Dublin you can easily get to from the DART. It is known as the “entrance to the Wicklow Mountains” or something similar. While I don’t regret going there, I am kind of sad I didn’t make my way over to Enniskerry. Enniskerry is a village west of Bray where you can see better views of Wicklow National Park. Instead of going there, a friend and I did a cliff walk from Bray to Greystones, Ireland. It was fun, but I don’t recommend it if you only have a short amount of time to explore Ireland.
6. Rome, Italy
There is so much to see in Italy. I vow to myself that I’ll go there again. However, Rome isn’t all it's cracked up to be. The Colosseum is great, and the Vatican is gorgeous, but the whole area it is very, very touristy. People are constantly poking at you to buy their sun umbrellas and selfie sticks. I gets annoying really quickly.
5. County Galway, Ireland
Ah, County Galway, you beautiful, wonderful place, you. County Galway is home to places like Connemara and Kylemore Abbey. However, my favorite place has got to be Galway City. It’s just a wonderfully lively and fun place to spend a night or two. I wish I had a few more days there.
4. County Clare, Ireland
The Cliffs of Moher took my breath away, and the Burren Region was wonderful. This is the ideal place to go if you want to see the Irish countryside. While I didn’t have much time to explore County Clare, I still think it is a must see for anyone coming to Ireland. You won’t see a place like this anywhere else!
Photo: The Burren Region is a “karst” landscape with unique rocks I’ve never seen before.
3. Dun Loughery, Ireland
What a view! Dun Loughery is stunning. Grab a Teddy’s ice cream cone and walk down the harbor. My friends and I also went to a little festival in a nearby park where I bought a few books. The coolest part was that I negotiated for the first time; both books ran me a mere €7!
Photo: Teddy’s food trucks are scattered all around, but I highly suggest you walk down to the end of the harbor and get a cone. We ate ours before we even got to the harbor!
2. Howth, Ireland
I can honestly say that I completely enjoyed getting lost in Howth. My group and I hiked around 15 miles and each second was absolutely wonderful. Take a day to see Ireland’s Eye (Be sure to wear good shoes!) and breathe in the crisp, calm air all around you. It’s the most relaxed and at peace I think I’ve ever been. (Plus, I saw a seal, which was AWESOME.)
Photo: Since it’s Ireland, don’t forget your umbrella and/or raincoat while hiking!
1. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, my home away from home, is absolutely just…wonderful. I can’t even put it into words how deeply Dublin has touched my heart. Again, it isn’t a traditionally beautiful city, but it’s a city of its own. The people are inviting and warm, full of stories and life. They teach me things about the world without even realizing it. In fact, I love it here so much that I might move here one day.
We’ll see where life takes me, I suppose.
Shanell's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.