You wouldn’t think that Ireland and England are different, and in many ways they are not, but during my Epic Ireland Adventure with Christa I learned that Ireland is beautiful. Beautiful and awe-inspiring and a fascinating mix of what I know as British culture and something very unique and altogether foreign. If you prefer watching over reading here is a videoblog from our trip, the written post is below 🙂
Our adventure started in the capital of Ireland, Dublin. We flew directly from Newastle Airport and got to Dublin feeling a little dazed and confused, not really knowing what we were looking for or what we were hoping to see. Months before we had booked three nights in Barnacles Hostel (Highly recommend it, very social and very good standard), right smack in the middle of the Temple Bar area, arguably one of the most colourful neighborhoods in the city. Not that we were aware of this, because as it turns out, we knew nothin’, Jon Snow. We learned quickly however, and spent the first day exploring the medieval-like cobblestone streets of Temple Bar and soaking up the tempo and atmosphere of the city, including a evening visit to Hard Rock Café Dublin. While sightseeing the city we also popped by the magnificent St.Patricks Cathedral.
Dublin is a fascinating city in many ways. It was founded by vikings, under British rule for centuries, then became an independent republic, heavily influenced by Catholicism. Ireland itself used to be Gaelic, though much of the Gaelic culture slowly disappeared under British rule, but the remnants of it still exist. While walking around Dublin and all throughout our trip we were reminded of Irish history and it was an interesting one!
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde
Dublin is, and was, also the home to some great literary names such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and more and this is evident all over the city. With statues (like the one above of Oscar Wilde looking swag), memorial centers and literary walking tours Dublin is lovely for anyone interested in literature or wanting to see some fictional sights in real life.
A must-do in Dublin is visiting the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness is a dark malt beer that originates in Dublin and can be bought in shops all over the world. It’s not a stereotype that the Irish like their beer, but then again, so does any citizen of the British Isles (Yes, Ireland is not british anymore, but is located geographically among the British Isles). We headed there on our second day in Dublin and it was almost a full day tour, tasting beer, smelling ingredients, pouring a pint – we did it all, and despite not being into beer we both enjoyed the experience. On our last day in Dublin we explored the less touristy side of the city and enjoyed some people watching
After Dublin we headed off by train to what turned out to be the best part of our entire trip – the coastal town of Galway. Galway is a small town of only 70 000 people (ish) living there, but because they suburban areas are spread out, it feel like a very small town. It’s also extremely cozy, with picturesque streets, pubs that offer live Irish music almost every night and a unique shoreline promenade that provide tourists and locals a like a breath of fresh air from bigger cities. Dublin felt much like a lot of other larger European cities, but in Galway we came face to face with what felt like authentic Ireland.
The highlight of the trip was a package day trip we went on from Galway. We left early in the morning on our second day in the little town and got on a bus along the coast. Our first stop was a short photo stop at Dungaire Castle, a costal fortress from the 1600s. Our second stop was a 6000 year old burial place, famous because there are so few left in Europe that are still standing and our third stop was the ruins of an old Gaelic homestead. From there on we went north along the coast, ending up at the Cliffs of Moher.
(I can only apologize for he bad quality of the photos – due to our limited baggage allowance I only had my phone camera and my film camera with me.)
Not only was our guide on the day trip the most hilarious Irish man I have ever had the pleasure of listening to for 3 hours straight, but despite the foggy weather I slowly fell in love with Ireland. Slowly, and then all at once 😉 No, but seriously. The Cliffs of Moher are majestic on a whole new level of majestic and none of the people who where there could do anything but marvel at mother nature. The fact that the Cliffs of Moher and a cave below the cliffs were used as a location for Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince was the cherry on top.
Limerick & Cork
We hadn’t planned our trip after any guidebooks, but rather by looking at a map and choosing places we had heard of at random. This turned out to be a little bit of a mistake on our part, but the entire trip was a lesson in spontaneity so I guess we learnt something. Here is the thing: Limerick is is not worth a visit – and you wouldn’t think someone wanderlusting all over the place would say it, but it’s true. It is the stab capital of Ireland, it’s sadly run down and destroyed by the economy and other than an Angela´s Ashes walking tour and a castle, well….. after lively Galway it didn’t catch our attention. Now, our impression of this small city was probably affected by the fact that we had been sleeping badly in hostels for a week, but we quickly skipped passed Limerick and went to to Cork.
Cork was the last place on our itinerary and though we still hadn’t recovered from our disappointment in Limerick we enjoyed Cork. After a quick explore of the Irish foodie capital we walked into Cork Opera House where it turned out Grease the Musical was showing and on impulse we bought a ticket each and spent our last afternoon in Ireland watching a wonderful cast singing and dancing. Our moods skyrocketed and our Epic Ireland Adventure ended on a high note. Badum tssssh.
We had two amazing, fun-filled weeks adventuring around Ireland, but I honestly can´t wait to go back, because I think there are certain parts of Irish culture that stands out and deserves more time. Gaelic history, the North, the endless green of the Irish countryside. Nature is without a doubt one of the strong points of Ireland and why I encourage everyone to go. Book some cheap tickets from England and other European countries with RyanAir and off you are! Xxx