Okay I finally had some time (aka getting snowed in) to sort through 600+ pictures from our trip to Ireland. It was so fun getting to go back through all the pictures and remembering the wonderful time we had. After not being able to travel outside the UK during the second half of our stay, we decided to chance it during our last weeks and make the trip to Ireland. Thankfully it was well worth the risk, we had the best time and no immigration issues on the way back! This was actually my 3rd trip to Ireland and Owen's 1st, but it was of course my best visit so far! While I had been to Dublin before, there were lots of firsts and new experiences for both of us, such as Northern Ireland, the west coast, and long road trips through the rolling green countryside. I divided this point by location and pictures, with a link to more pictures at the end.
We left the day after Owen's last shelf exam and flew into Dublin. We stayed the first 2 nights in Dublin, about a mile outside the city center and were able to walk to the center. Thankfully the weather held off and we even had a little sun! We spent 2 days exploring all of Dublin, shopping, walking along the River Liffey, seeing Dublin castle, several churches, the Guinness factory (though we skipped the tour), going to church and having lunch with some friends of friends, and of course wandering the city at night and seeing the Temple Bar area and all the bright lights.
|Four Courts Building|
|St Patrick's Cathedral|
After a few days in the city, we needed some quiet time in the countryside. We drove up to Portrush, Northern Ireland. It was interesting how different the two countries are, with it being so clear that Northern Ireland is the UK. Portrush is a cute little seaside town, which was very quiet in November, but a great break from busy London. We stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast overlooking the bay, and enjoyed some time by the fire each night. We went for some long walks along the coast at night, had dinner at a great restaurant with amazing desserts, and hiked along the coast towards Giant's Causeway (though eventually having to turn back and drive the rest of the way around due to time/light concerns, unaware of how close we actually were to begin with). The weather was a bit extreme, very windy and rough seas, so it was a little tough to explore too much. It was the perfect escape from city life and time to relax before moving again.
|View from our bed and breakfast in Portrush, Northern Ireland|
|Hiking along the coast towards Giant's Causeway|
|Where we turned around, Giant's Causeway just on the other side of that middle set of cliffs|
|Such a beautiful place|
|The very narrow roads throughout much of Ireland|
Doolin/Cliffs of Moher
After Northern Ireland, we spent the day driving down the west coast of Ireland to a tiny town called Doolin, just north of the Cliffs of Moher. Thankfully this was the only really rainy day we had all week and we spent the whole day driving anyway. The countryside was so beautiful, with streams and rolling hills everywhere. We got to the hostel and spent the evening relaxing by the fire and enjoying some of the best fish and chips we've ever had in this quaint little pub, one of three in this tiny town. The best part, it was so dark on the walk to the pub! The next day we hiked on the new portion of the coastal walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, about 8K (5miles) one way just to the cliffs (plus wandering around and out to the point)! Seeing the cliffs has always been a dream of mine and I just had not been able to work it out on either of my other trips, though I'm glad I didn't because this was way better than taking the bus tour to see the cliffs and of course being able to share it together! We planned the whole day for the hike, so we were able to take our time and really enjoy the whole trail and sites along the way. It was incredibly windy, especially along the coast and at the cliffs. The wind could practically hold us up while leaning into it, and the last portion of the trail was right on the edge so Owen ended up doing the last bit out to the point on his own, while I waited for him. It was truly one of the most beautiful places and the hike was great! We would highly recommend it to anyone and would love to return someday. After hiking back to Doolin (total of about 12miles) we relaxed by the fire again and had dinner at another pub with live music. It was a really great end to a great week!
|View of Doolin (and our car)|
|View from our hostel, the start of the coast walk to the Cliffs of Moher|
|Our trail along the cliffs|
|Looking south along the cliffs|
|Near the visitor's center|
|Looking north along the cliffs|
|One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen|
|Beautiful rays of sun just as we turned around on our hike. Perfect end to a perfect week.|
Okay so there are all my ramblings about our trip. Everyone should go to Ireland at some point in their lives! I've posted a few highlights from our trip here but have So many Ireland pictures! on our picasa page, so enjoy!