I went to Ireland a couple of weeks ago…
… and had such a great time, I came home and looked up how I might qualify for Irish citizenship. (I don’t. My ancestors came over way too long ago 😦 )
HOWEVER, I definitely plan on going back someday, and until then will be busy extolling the virtues of that lovely country to anyone who will listen. Hence this list.
A caveat: my method of vacationing is taking the road less traveled by. So while we did do some touristy things (The Guinness Factory tour, wandering through Temple Bar, The Cliffs of Moher) those were not my favorite things and are hence not on this list.
Without further ado, the list:
Wander into all the random pubs While some planning when it comes to dining isn’t the worst idea, I generally prefer to fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to eating out while traveling. Irish bartenders are unbelievably friendly, and regardless of where you go, the beer (and whiskey!) is always amazing. Most of the spots we ate in were randomly stumbled upon, and we were never disappointed.
Rent a car I like Dublin very much. I do. But perhaps it’s the fact that I live in a city, but it doesn’t truly ever feel like vacation until I put the crowded streets and buildings behind me and head out into the countryside. Driving in Ireland can be daunting for Americans–right side of the car, left side of the road–but you get used to it. And once you’re off the highway and wandering down those little green lanes, you’ll see why it was worth it.
Watch the sun set in Doolin Our second stop after leaving Dublin (the first was Galway) Doolin is a tiny seaside town on the west side of the country that people use as a base to go to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. It’s quaint and lovely, and also has one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, made all the more breathtaking by the legions of surfers riding the epic waves, freezing water and deathly-looking rocks be damned.
Spend the night on Inishmore If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already be aware of how much I fell in love with Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. A lot of people simply take day trips to the islands from Doolin, but we arrived one afternoon and spent the night, and I’m so glad we did. We got to wander this ancient stone fort with literally no one else in sight (excspt a few cows and a donkey), watch the sun set over the water, eat at this cozy little pub, and then wander through the pitch blackness to our B&B to sip whiskey by the fireside. Heaven.
Ride bikes on Inishmore Another reason to spend the night: wake up before the ferry arrives (around 11 AM), rent bikes, and head up to the most popular tourist attraction, Dun Aonghasa, this extremely well-preserved stone fort that’s a couple thousand years old. After a charming ride where we saw horses, cows, goats, sheep, and even seals, we got to the fort before the crowds and had it all to ourselves. Plus, bike-riding on an island that is not Manhattan is SO MUCH BETTER than bike-riding on an island that is.
Visit the Wormhole No, I did not discover a way to time travel (unfortunately). I’m talking about this crazy pool in the cliffs of Inishmore that looks manmade because of its perfect rectangular shape, but is actually nature-made. Once more, we were the only people there, and just stood above it watching the tide come in. (Just be careful; here, as elsewhere on Inishmore, there’s nothing to stop you from falling over the edge.)
Drive the Dingle Peninsula Our next stop after getting back to Doolin, Dingle is a lovely little seaside town where we spent a few days. On the second day, we drove the peninsula, stopping often to look at the cliffs (I never got tired of them), visit more ancient stone forts (ditto), stop at a coffee shop for rhubarb pie (so yummy) and of course, have a meal at a random pub. It was a lovely day.
See traditional Irish music We also did this in Doolin. Just wander down the main street of the town and look for the pubs advertising it outside, then make your way in, grab a seat and a pint, and enjoy. The melodies are both haunting and lively and made me feel like I belonged there, somewhere deep in my bones.
We did more, of course, and a lot of it was great, but these were my favorite parts. How about you? Have you been to my new favorite country? What did I miss that I should do next time?
All images taken by me, October 2016