The rest of April was spent finishing up projects and papers for my classes. Classes ended here on April 25th. After many hours of travel my mom arrived in Dublin that same day. Her original flight was canceled so she had to fly to Atlanta, Paris, and then Dublin. I was so excited to have her here in Ireland! On Friday, I took her around Dublin. We walked through St. Stephen’s Green park, shopped on Grafton Street and had lunch at Bewley’s Café. We finished the day off with dinner, live music and Irish dancing and Fitzsimons in the Temple Bar area.
On Saturday we went on a day tour to Cork, Blarney Castle, and Cobh. It was a beautiful sunny day! When we returned to Dublin I took my mom to have corned beef at O’Neils.
On Sunday I took my mom to mass at Sacred Heart Church and then I showed her the UCD campus and my apartment.
We then left for the airport at 4a.m. to head to Rome! We stayed at Starhotels Michelangelo. It was just around the block from the Vatican.
We then headed for the Colosseum. As we were walking up I ran into my friend Toni’s friend who visited in Dublin. With the thousands of people in Rome, I thought it was crazy to run into someone I knew! We then toured the Colosseum and experienced the ruins surrounding it. As we walked out my mom spotted dressed up gladiators and insisted I get a picture. Even though I was so embarrassed, it is quite funny to look back on.
We headed to the Trevi Fountain. This area was absolutely packed with visitors. We threw our coins in and made our wish to return to Rome someday. Surrounding the Trevi Fountain were boutiques and gelato shops. We had local gelato and it was heavenly!
We then rested up and had a celebratory birthday dinner at the restaurant next to our hotel. Tuesday was spent visiting the Pantheon and Spanish Steps and trying local cuisine.
On Wednesday we attended the Papal Audience. Having attended Catholic grade school and high school, being at The Vatican and seeing the Pope felt surreal. I couldn’t help but think of how much my grandmother would have loved to be there. I also do not think I have ever been surrounded by so many people in my life! Even though when the Pope spoke we couldn’t understand him, they had an English summary that was read. It was very interesting to see such a large group of diverse people gather to listen to the Pope. After this we ate lunch at a local restaurant and then rested before dinner. Following dinner we took a night tour of the city to see everything lit up. I am so glad we did this! Our driver took us to two separate points that overlooked the city and were both breathtaking. It was really nice to see the attractions lit up with half as many tourists as during the day.
On Thursday we went on a guided tour of the Vatican. The tour included a tour of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. These were both so magnificent and gorgeous. It was so neat to be there right after the election of a new Pope. You could feel the energy throughout the city. We finished out visit with a carriage ride, shopping, and dinner at a local restaurant.
Throughout the week we had gorgeous weather. I was able to wear shorts and a tank top everyday. Coming from wearing a coat everyday in Ireland, this was a nice change. Rome was VERY crowded and I was surprised at how little English they could speak. Overall, Rome was a breathtaking city and I am so blessed that my mom and I were fortunate enough to be able to see it to together. The weekend brought more sightseeing, shopping and eating at local restaurants in Dublin. My mom flew home Sunday as I began to study for finals. I was so sad to see her leave but grateful that she was able to come visit! I had my first final on Tuesday. I have two next week and then will be on my way home on the 19th! It is unreal that I only have a little over a week left here!