Ireland. It's hard to figure out where to start when talking about this trip because looking back it feels like such a whirlwind of moments and a week that only felt like a mere couple of days. I started my trip off with a drive from Seattle up to Abbotsford, I found tickets to Ireland considerably cheaper out of the Vancouver airport than Seattle. On my way up, I made a quick pitstop to catch up with an amazing friend I haven't seen in ages with coffee and dinner. I Continued onto Field House Brewing Company to meet up with another wonderful friend (bless her soul) who was willing to drive me an hour to the airport EARLY the next morning!
My first day in Ireland started with a 3-hour bus ride from Dublin to Cork City where we checked the important things off our list first: coffee at a lovely little place called Soma Coffee Company before heading to Carrigaline where I would be staying with friends the majority of my week there. We kept my first day fairly low key to recover from the travel and relax in Carrigaline before the week began. For me, I have a major pet peeve when traveling; I don't want to do everything a normal tourist would. Yes, of course, some things are tourist attractions because they are downright amazing: for instance, The Cliffs of Moher, The Long Room at Trinity College or the Dingle Peninsula - but I always find my favorite moments seeking out the things a local happens to tell me about. Places that tend to be off the beaten path a little more, or hidden gems that are just overall great ways to experience the culture of where I am traveling. We spent our foggy Sunday morning walking the empty streets of Cork City before picking up our rental car to make our ventures for the next 3 days much simpler for traveling to the coast. After picking up the car and adjusting to being a passenger on the left side of the road and having a driver be on the right side of the car, we were off to a day of wandering in the cute shops throughout Kinsale. Of course, the day included coffee at The Old Bank House and classic fish and chips at Dino's. We also took some time to explore Charles Fort before heading back to Cork City for their Glow Festival to turn on all the Christmas lights in the city.
I must say I am no stranger to a good long road trip and this is exactly what Ally and I ended up planning when we chose to spend our day driving from Carrigaline to the Cliffs of Moher then down to Dingle all in one day. I know what you're thinking, where are the photos of the Cliffs? Well, there aren't any! haha Due to the nature of being on an island in the Atlantic Ocean and being at the end of fall beginning of winter, we were in for some crazy thick fog. Fog so thick that the closer we got to the cliffs the harder it was to see. By the time we arrived and walked over, the cliffs were completely invisible! The day was not lost as we spent a lovely lunch in Ennis (coffee and good food ALWAYS) and who can be opposed to a road trip along Wild Atlantic Way, belting out Disney classics and soaking up every moment you have with a close friend before your inevitable return to The States?
Morning in a beach town in the winter clearly means no one is awake until about 11, so Ally and I had a leisurely morning in Dingle going in the shops and had a classic after breakfast snack: Murphy's Ice Cream. Being from Washington, I know we have some shops we are all very proud of - BUT Murphy's puts them all to shame. Every single one of them. It's this glorious, delicious ice cream that's handmade in Dingle with ingredients from pretty much just Ireland. I, of course, got a scoop of their Irish Coffee with whiskey ice cream and a scoop of the Dingle Gin. Trust me when I say I have looked several times to see if it was possible to get the ice cream sent here. Pretty sure you can't. Now the day wasn't all shops and ice cream; after leaving Dingle we made our way to Inch Beach were I as always, made friends with somebody's dog. The day was far from over as we made our way from the windy beach to Killarney. We made our usual coffee run with a quick bite to eat before taking the beautiful windy drive through Killarney National Park.
Since we had just finished up quite a full couple of days, we spent Wednesday in Cork going in a few shops and to English Market getting the needed groceries for our American Thanksgiving in Ireland the next day. On Thursday the heavy rains had stopped and besides making Thanksgiving dinner We only really had one errand to run in Cork. Several months earlier I had emailed a tattoo artist at Love Hate Social Club Tattoo Studio. I had wanted the design for a while and just really loved the artist so it was the perfect timing. We walked around University College Cork and a different part of the city before heading to the shop. I spent about 2.5 hours getting the tattoo before hopping on the bus back to Carrigaline for Thanksgiving dinner.
Friday morning dawn in Cork was absolutely beautiful. We had a pretty early bus ticket to Dublin where we would be staying the night before my return home. In Dublin, we made sure to go to Trinity College, the Long Room Library, and to look at the Book of Kells exhibit. There is also this extravagant donut shop called Offbeat Donuts. I'm not kidding one of the donuts had Jameson Whiskey filling, and another had a Ferrero Roche literally inside of it. It was glorious. We stayed with some friends in Dublin before my flight bringing a close to an absolutely wonderful first trip to Ireland. I say first trip because there is no way anyone can go just once.