This is a tough one for me to write because my feelings are all over the board as to how I felt about my time in Ireland.
Ireland was the whole reason this trip even happened, and now that it's all said and done, I didn't give myself enough time to see and do everything I had hoped to see and do. Now I know what not to do for the next time I visit the Emerald Isle.
The view leaving Edinburgh was absolutely spectacular.
From the moment we were above the clouds the shadow of our little plane was in this sun rainbow. As a person who doesn't absolutely love to fly (it was also 9/11), it was almost a sign of saying everything will be ok. The landing was a tad rough due to the gale force winds, but we landed safe and sound.
Once we landed I picked up this beauty who would be my traveling side kick for a couple of days. As a pro little car driver and someone who's mastered Minneapolis snow and ice covered streets, driving on their tiny roads wasn't as difficult as everyone scared me in to believing.
On my way to Galway I stopped at the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher weren't something I thought I'd have to see until I arrived and realized just how amazing they really are. I thought I'd walk up, snap a few pictures and be back in my little Mii and on my way. I hopped a fence with about a hundred other trespassers and walked along a muddy trail next to an electrical fence that may or may not have given me a nice little jolt as I reached out to grab my balance.
Considering the alternative, that little jolt of electrical current rushing through my body wasn't so bad.
It felt like every step I took was a completely different view and constantly had me swearing to myself in awe of just how massive these cliffs are.
The winds were incredibly strong to the point that people were losing items left and right. Something flew out of my pocket as I was trying to walk up some steps. Good news is, I haven't realized I'm missing anything, so it must not have been very important.
I had to force myself to leave since I still had a bit of a drive in front of me and I wanted to have enough time to explore Galway.
No one really knew what the meaning of this was. There were a lot of hair ties tied to this fence which was at the end of the trail I was on.
When I got to Galway, I checked into my hotel, The House Hotel. It was a pretty cool hotel right in the Latin Quarter.
It was pretty nice to have a hotel with an elevator...excuse me, a lift, and a king sized bed. They had free wifi and water in the room which I made sure to drink. It was absolutely lovely.
After I was settled in my room I hit the pavement and explored Galway.
I walked up and down the streets, popping in to different shops and grabbing ciders and food along the way.
The music scene in Galway was one of the best yet, from the folks playing on the street, to the bands in the pubs, I couldn't get over all the amazing music!
The next morning I woke up with the plan to drive the Ring of Kerry. I had mapped out my drive and saved the route in Google Maps. I clicked on The Ring of Kerry and was off!
About two hours into my drive, I started to have second thoughts about driving another three hours in the wind, rain and fog. Somehow, the universe was with me because I checked my GPS and instead of taking me on my planned Ring of Kerry drive, it was taking me to the store, Ring of Kerry in Kenmare where I was staying the night.
I took that as a sign and continued on my way to Kenmare.
Kenmare was everything I had hoped it was going to be. It's just a triangle with all one way driving. The streets are lined with colorful pubs and shops.
From the moment I arrived in Kenmare, it rained.
I was already soaking wet so I ventured slightly outside the triangle and found this beautiful church.
What most people don't know is that this area of Ireland is actually a sub tropical environment and there were palm trees/bushes everywhere! I was told that the weather they were having that particular day was similar to a winter day for them. Lucky me!
Market in Kenmare.
Foley's Guesthouse is where I spent the night. Since some of the pubs and restaurants were already implementing their winter hours, the evening was rather quiet but it was still fun to pop into different pubs since every. single. pub. had live music and/or dancers. When I headed back to Foley's, I was pleased to see that they had two different performers for the night so I bellied up to the bar, enjoyed my four favorite foods/drinks, cider, potatoes, bacon and cheese before climbing the steepest three flights of stairs to my room.
I was feeling pretty good about how the day turned out so I thought I'd get my Irish music set up to play while I took a quick shower. To amplify the sound, I tried to put my phone in the water glass next to the sink. Well, turns out the glass was a tad small, my phone didn't like that, and plunged into the toilet. Luckily, the toilets in Ireland don't have nearly as much water in them as they do in the US, so I was able to snatch it out rather quick, let it dry and after a couple hours it was as good as it was before it took a dip.
All that rain from the day before made for quite a beautiful morning. As I was walking to my car, I turned around to find this amazing rainbow coming out from this shop down the street. It was fading fast as the sun was rising, but it was quite surreal how close and vibrant it was.
It was time to say goodbye to Kenmare and hello to Dublin, but first - a stop at the Blarney Castle.
I arrived just past 9:00 AM when the castle opens which had me feeling like I had the grounds to my self.
The castle was pretty neat to explore and I really liked that there was one set of stairs to go up and one set to go down. Until someone gets three steps from the top and decides they can't go any further and uses the up stairs to go down.
The folks at the top of this picture were kissing the Blarney Stone and I did the same. Bought the super flattering picture as proof. Another bonus of arriving when the castle opened, no line and waaaay less lips had touched the stone.
For a castle, I was surprised at just how small the rooms were. Maybe I've been watching too much Game of Thrones, but the rooms were similar size to a King sized bed.
I walked through the castle, read a few plaques, snapped some pictures and headed back to my car. As I was walking out, waves and waves of people were walking towards me and multiple buses were pulling into the parking lot.
By this point in my trip, groups/tours were not my friends.
I checked and double checked that my directions were in fact taking me to the Dublin airport to drop off my rental car. After a near run in with a horse, I found the tollways, returned my car with no extra scratches and all it's mirrors and doors, called a cab, and headed into Dublin.
As soon as I arrived in Dublin I met up with my cousin who showed me around. We came across this statue of Molly Malone and she somehow convinced me that it's good luck to rub her breasts so I obliged...just waiting for that good luck to kick in!
Cousins in Dublin!
Mattie and I did some cousin bonding over a few cocktails. She took me to some of the pubs she likes to visit...
...and Whelans from P.S. I Love You!
After my time with Mattie I grabbed some dinner which was just mozzarella sticks because I was going through withdrawls and I needed fried cheese. stat.
I bopped around Temple Bar for a bit before meeting up with an old co-worker who has been living in Dublin for a while. He was entertaining some colleagues that were in town from Minnesota so I tagged along with them and had a great first day and night in Dublin.
Day two in Dublin and my last day of vacation was a pretty relaxed day. I wasn't feeling super hot, chalk that up to walking around in wind and rain and a late night out. I walked around checking out different menu's and was sold as soon as I saw Guinness Beef Stew at the Old Mill Restaurant.
Not sure what to do with myself, I signed up for a Vikings tour that took us around Dublin and finished in the canal. Of course it rained the whole time and my seat was one that wasn't under the roof.
After the tour I walked around some more, bought myself some wool items to take back with me and decided I would have an early night in.
On my walk back to the hotel I stopped in a small Italian restaurant called La Gondola and ordered one of my favorite meals that doesn't consist of meat and potatoes. Caesar salad and alfredo. It hit the spot and I was able to leave pleasantly stuffed.
The iconic Temple Bar.
I had some euro's left over that I didn't want to bother exchanging so since I was going to have an early night in, I popped into the Tesco next to my hotel and picked up some snacks and a three pack of mini proseccos! Why don't our liquor stores have these amazing concoctions?
It was finally time to bid farewell to my home in Dublin and head back to the U.S.
Well there you have it. 10 days, 3 countries, 8 different modes of transportation and a whole lot of memories.
Ireland, I will definitely see you again and for a much longer period of time.