Ireland is my favorite country. I first visited Ireland about six years ago. While I never did visit the northern, more tempestuous region, I did visit both east and west coasts, as well as some of the south.
Hands down, my favorite part of Ireland is what’s between Dublin and Galway. That’s where the romance took place. We were traveling on a train, virtually from the east coast to the west coast, my husband and my two older children were all napping. It was if I were traveling alone… like a secret rendezvous with a mysterious stranger. I smiled the entire journey, probably looked ridiculous turning my head from left to right looking outside the windows. But I couldn’t help myself. The countryside was seducing me.
The grass was an emerald green carpet. The cows were not only white, but white with brown patches, and just plain black. Many sheep, white and black. Back and forth my head bobbed. The carpeting was dotted with farmhouses here and there. Trees and pastures and little hills.
How I wanted to wake up my brood, but not enough – wanting the seduction all to myself.
The people on the train, not us tourists – but those who lived in Ireland – you could spot easily. Dressed simply, quiet (even the children) were kind to those of us who were being romanced. Sure, the children were feisty at times – they were after all acting their ages, but never loud.
Mile after mile of emerald pastures with cows, sheep, farmhouses – I was in LOVE. I knew then that Ireland would be for me what Italy is for my husband.
(Pardon me for switching between I and We. They are interchangeable because I am rarely alone, probably just like you.)
On that first visit we stayed in Dublin. Cute big city, but not as big as Milan or Rome, not even in the same category as NYC. Easy pedestrian streets. Food was what you would expect for a city – touristy food traps that label themselves as “traditional” – and yes, we did hit those places first! But there were chain American restaurants like McDonalds and Subway. Dublin was not without its’ colorful characters, if you travel, you know exactly what I mean!
There are three places I want to briefly speak about which are from both of my trips to Ireland.
In County Wicklow, in a glacial valley, sits Glendalough. It is a medieval monastery founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. What you see is whats left of a church, a tower, and a bunch of tombstones nestled between hills. It is stunning. Bring your camera – you won’t take a crappy photo, I guarantee it. (the photo attached is from here)
In County Cork, resides the legendary Blarney Stone which is located at the Blarney Castle. It’s actually located INSIDE the castle – way up high. Not at all what I was thinking when I walked up to the castle. Wouldn’t you think it would be a really large boulder that sits just outside the castle as sort of ‘greeter’ of the castle? No, that would be too easy. Instead, and not for the faint of heart or someone who does not do well with heights (moi)… it’s at the very top of the castle, in the upper underneath of a window. Which means, when it’s your turn to kiss the stone, you need 2 strong men to hold you from falling out of the window (to your death, not doubt), bend you backwards so when you look up, the stone sits basically at your lips. NO THANK YOU. When I saw that a zillion people were lined up, one by one, kissing that stone – WITH ALL THOSE GERMS – FORGETABOUTIT!! I took photos of my husband and children, hugging the wall as to not fall down in the center of the castle. Did I mention the staircase that grew more narrow as you climbed higher?
In County Clare, sits the Cliffs of Moher. Like the Grand Canyon, if you don’t believe in God before you see it, you will believe in God after. Breathtaking, stunning, and I got to see the cliffs with my sister!
There were other areas of Ireland that I saw, that were as amazing, but I wanted to showcase what I thought was most popular in case someone reading was thinking of traveling over the pond.
One tip, if you are thinking of going, it never gets really cold, nor really hot. A lot of grey days with some drizzle. If you decide to do ‘proper tea or tea time’ do plan two hours and do not make dinner reservations – trust me, you will be STUFFED from your ‘tea’ experience.
Lastly, a quick story – again, as always, true.
As our flight arrived early, we went to our hotel in Dublin to drop our luggage and take a quick shower before exploring the city. The guest in the suite we rented had a special check-out time and we were told not to return until 4pm.
When we returned around 3:30pm, there was a bunch of paparazzi huddled in front of the hotel. Went to the front desk, asked if our suite was ready, they said shortly – the guest was just about to check-out.
The guest checking out of our suite was BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN! We saw him walking across the lobby, black jeans, leather jacket – exactly what you would expect a rock star to look like.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!