Finally after so long.
01.18.2011 - 02.06.2011
This blog has been on our minds since we got back to FL, but between planning Alec's brother's wedding, pouring a new front porch (among many other construction projects) at Alec's parent's house, and beginning our next trip we just haven’t found the time to write it until now.
Some of the most enjoyable moments of our trip were spent in Ireland. There were places we visited where we felt like the only two people on earth. The landscape was breathtaking and the people were kind beyond compare. So without further ado it went a little something like this...
After quite possibly the most frustrating travel day ever we finally made it to Gatwick Airport from Frome and caught our Aerlingus flight to Ireland. We were beginning to think it would have been easier to swim there. Arriving at Dublin Airport we picked up our rental car, a stylish Nissan Micra that we quickly named Patty Clover O'Conner, and headed to our friend Sean's place.
Our fourth tiny car of the trip.
Sean had visited us in Tampa and we were excited to see another friendly face on the trip. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with his family and our first Pint of the "Black Stuff" at the local pub that night.
The next day we headed south for our next HelpX adventure in the small town of Skibbereen, population 1200, with around 12 pubs. Along the way we made a stop in Cashel for lunch and a look at the famous castle. Back on the road we enjoyed the rare Irish sunshine and Alec honed in on his left side of the road driving skills.
Our time spent at Barbara's cottages (which you can find here http://barbarascottages.com/) was amazing. We helped look after the ducks and chickens, did some weeding and gardening, repaired the roof of a shed, constructed a polytunnel, and helped with the cooking.
Our time off was spent exploring southwest Ireland. We visited Sheepshead, Drumborg stone circle, Three Fingers, the Blarney Stone, Glandore, and Unionhall. We even got to celebrate Australia day with the other HelpXer, Dave, who was also staying at Barbara's cottages.
Gotta love kissing some hard rock!
The next part of our Irish adventure was spent driving the entire perimeter of the country. We drove the Ring of Kerry where we saw spectacular views and the occasional sheep in the road.
They owned the road.
That night we stayed in the small surf town, Lahinch. I enjoyed the double carb overload of salmon on a bed of mashed potatoes with a side of chips aka french fries. I love me some potatoes! Our next stops were the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. The Burren was like the surface of the moon. It is a limestone landscape with megalithic tombs, underground caves, and a surprising variety of flora and fauna.
Just some of the amazing scenery the island had to offer.
We sprung for our lodging that night in Galway...one whole euro per person! Galway was a happening town full of music and young people. We went out for a night on the town to catch some authentic Irish music.
The longest leg of our road trip was the drive from Galway to Donegal, but oh how it was worth it. We had been told by many people what a beautiful place Donegal was and we decided that we had to see it for ourselves. The evening of our arrival was rainy and cold, but there was a magical feeling in the air as we drove past seaside cliffs and through large valleys to Ardara where we would be staying in a B&B for the next couple of nights.
After a delicious breakfast consisting of coffee, juice, porridge, yogurt, toast, eggs, and brown bread we headed out for our first adventure in Donegal. We explored the beach and caves of Maghera where we felt like we were the only two people on earth. It was nothing but, wind, waves, and beautiful scenery for miles and miles. We even saw a rainbow!
Anyone for a swim?
Next it was on to Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. At almost 2,000 feet tall, Slieve League is a sight to see. In our time spent there we managed to see only six other people. There were no guardrails or security so we essentially had the run of the place. We spent many hours at the cliffs before heading around the other side of the cliffs to do a little hiking. We just couldn't get enough of the breathtaking landscape around us.
So much freedom.
We both decided that Ireland and especially Donegal was some of the most spectacular nature that we had seen the entire trip. That evening we shared locally harvested raw oysters, a couple pints of Guinness, and great conversations with the owner of the nearby pub. We were also told that, "It never rains in a pub" while discussing the weather with a pub patron. Gotta love his glass-half-full take on life!
The next day we were on the road again headed to Northern Ireland. We wanted to check out Giants Causeway before returning back to Dublin. The weather was a little sketchy looking that day, but we decided to visit Giants Causeway anyway. It really was a neat place. All of the stones are hexagonal in shape and are the result of volcanic activity.
Amazing what the earth can do.
We had a wonderful time until we started to head back to the car and the skies opened up. I'm not talking about a light shower it really came down on us. We were soaking wet by the time we got back to the car. So with a couple more hours on the road ahead of us we took off our pants and I dried them on the heater while Alec drove.
Our last days in Ireland were spent in Dublin. We took a free walking tour to see the sights, visited the Guinness Storehouse, went on a pub crawl, had a traditional Irish breakfast, and went to the Archaeology Museum to see the bog people.
Guinness, for strength!
We also managed to listen to some traditional Irish music and have a few pints of Guinness. We were sad to go, but were so thankful that we added Ireland to our itinerary last minute.
With our trip drawing to a close it was time to pack our bags, say goodbye to Ireland, and head back to England for a few more days before returning home to Florida.