This week is one of my favorite of the year. From the time I was little and teachers would put chocolate gold coins in our shoes during nap time through Green Beer Days in college, St. Patrick’s Day is always fun. When I was thinking what to write about this wonderful week on the brink of Spring though I was stumped. Yes, I could fill you in on all of the healthy ways to show your Irish flare or create a festive recipe of my own.
If you are looking for that kind of post please check out The Endless Meal and Halfbaked Harvest. The ladies of those blogs continue to amaze me with their ingenuity and fabulous food. I, however, am taking a different approach. Two years ago my best friend and I took an amazing trip through Ireland. A trip with triumphs and mishaps alike. So sit back, pour yourself a guinness, and give into your wanderlust as I present you with the perfect,easily duplicated, Irish getaway.
Travel: We arrived in Dublin a day later than expected after over 24 hours in transit. We were jet-lagged and luggage-less. My first tip is don’t fly United. Also, remember to pack your essentials and a change of clothes in your carry on. My second tip is rent a car. This may seem daunting, as they drive on the other side of the road and car, but it allows you to see some of the best places that normal bus routes either don’t go or don’t go at accommodating times. Places such as Powers Court, the Rock of Cashel or the Fota Island Zoo. If you do get a car, get the insurance. This is an absolute necessity because you will get in some sort of a scuffle. The roads are tiny, you are unfamiliar with them, and there is overgrown foliage making them even smaller. Don’t worry though because if you crash your car, even in the seemingly remote Dingle Peninsula, you will soon have ten people asking if they can help and an exciting new adventure of cab/uber rides and navigating the bus system (which isn’t really bad). We did it for the second half of our trip with just a little more planning.
Lodging: We mostly stayed in AirBNB’s. This worked best for us because they are generally cheaper and allow for more eclectic locations such as above a pub. They were all clean and safe. We did stay at a few regular bed and breakfast‘s and a hotel throughout the trip when AirBNB’s weren’t as prevalent or we had a specific recommendation. My favorite location was in Cobh because we were right on the water and in the town. My least favorite location was where we stayed in Dublin. When you go definitely read more about the different areas in bigger cities than we did. We were lucky everywhere else but stayed in a dodgier part of Dublin than we would have liked.
Food: Honestly, the food was incredible. I don’t think we had a bad meal. The seafood was fresh and delicious and even the full Irish breakfast was a marvel. Three places I won’t soon forget were Wan Fu in Cobh with the black bean mussels and prawn dumplings right on the water, the Stonewall cafe and pizzeria in Doolin because of the AMAZING pizza and the insane travel day that led up to it and Ard Bia in Galway for it’s menu,wine, and atmosphere.
Drinks: Plenty of places to find a pint in Ireland. I will provide a few of my favorites. Left Bank in Kilkenny was a must see as is Smithwicks. The brewery tour is incredible and creative and the tasting is unmatched. Anywhere in the Latin Quarter of Galway. You can spend your night talking politics and history with an older intellectual set or dancing and drinking with the 20 somethings. Lastly, The Ivy in Dublin. Mostly because after not being thrilled with our accommodations,the food and the people in Dublin won us over again finishing with a night at the Ivy with fabulous bartenders.
All in all a wonderful trip that set the stage for more travel to come. The key to this trip was plan a general itinerary of must-see’s, book lodging, and then go with the flow. I would absolutely suggest Kilkenny, Cobh, The Dingle Peninsula, and Galway. We took a boat tour of the Cliffs of Moher, met some nice people, and got extremely soaked. I would still recommend it though if you have time to do a boat tour and a hike. That would be best. The cliffs were gorgeous from the water but I will be back to take some pictures from the top. Go to Blarney Castle and stay a while! We went and toured the castle, I kissed the stone, and then we walked around the grounds. I was unaware previously that there was so much to see other than the castle. Lastly, go to Temple Bar in Dublin and look for the world camera diagonal to your right across the the street from the entrance! I had previously decided on a date and time with my coworkers and now have a hilarious photo(screenshot) waving from the streets of Dublin.
Talk to as many people as you can. Everyone we met was so friendly and excited to talk. Finally, write a journal. On previous trips I have not written anything down and it is such a shame to look back at pictures or try to remember exact people, places, or things, and not be able to. Everything will be an exciting blur but with pictures and a journal you can look back on it whenever you want.
I hope this recounting pumped up your wanderlust and you are soon in some or all of these amazing places.