Ireland, the recap

Ireland, in a word, is AMAZING.
The country is beautiful. The people are friendly. And how can you not love a place that has a bar/pub on ever corner.

We loved every minute of our trip... it definitely exceeded our expections.

A little map of where we travelled... with many little stops in between. We got to see a lot of different parts of country, which was great, although obviously there was still plenty to see.

All of our pictures can be viewed here: Meg & Trav's Travels

We left of Friday from Philadelphia (7pm) and flew through the night, arriving in London at 7am... "12 hours" after we started. Heathrow is a maze... it reminds me of the hampster cages with all the tubes. And it's a b*tch to get through... took us over an hour to go from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1.
But British Air is amazing. Great people, two meals on our flight, and pretty comfy. We took Aer Lingus out of Heathrow and arrived in Dublin at 10something. We transfered to our hotel, and got settled in... then headed to meet our group around 3. At this point we were a bit tired, but were doing great considering we hadn't eaten since the breakfast on the first plane ride, and hadn't slept more then a half an hour since the night before we left.

So our first day in Dublin started off with a drive around the city. Then we went to visit the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and a free pint in the rooftop bar overlooking Dublin. After that we went to a "Shindig" at the Old Jameson distillery... we toured the recreated distillery and had a welcome drink there, then a dinner of Irish specialties with some traditional entertainment. After all those drinks and food, there were NO problems falling asleep that night!!

The next day we felt much more human after a full night of sleep. We took another, more extensive bus tour around the city. We got to check out Grafton Street, view the Georgian townhouses and pass the Dail where the government convenes. After that we toured St. Patrick's Cathedral, and visited Trinity College's Old Library to view the 8th century Book of Kells with exquisite illustrations and learn about its origins and monastic traditions. We had the rest of the day free to wander around on our own... so Trav and I walked up and down Grafton St., the Temple Bar area, and hit up the National Museum and National Art Museum. That night we went to a place called The Porter House (a fun pub with tons of their own beers) for dinner... and watched America get its butt kicked in rugby.

Our third day in Ireland we left Dublin to travel through the Irish countryside, and check out those "Forty Shades of Green". We stopped for photos at the Rock of Cashel, before heading to Blarney Castle (outside of Cork) where we did our part to get the silver tongue and kissed the stone! It was rather exhilerating considering to do so you have to be upside-down, hanging over the edge of the castle. We ate lunch there and checked out the Blarney Woollen Mills before heading into the mountains of County Kerry, and our hotel in the center of Killarney. That night we went out and walked around town a little to get a feel of the place.

Day four we drove around the Ring of Kerry... along roads winding between the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, Ireland's highest mountains, and the Atlantic coast. It was amazingly beautiful! Greens and blues and yes, some grays. Then we crossed the bridge to Valencia Island to visit the Skellig Experience to learn about early Christian monks who braved a harsh existence on the rocky offshore islands. We continued on through the remote villages of Cahirciveen and Waterville, before looping back through the colorful village of Sneem and stopping at Moll's Gap to view the three lakes of Killarney. When we got back, we hit up some of the small stores around our hotel before heading to dinner. After dinner, we headed out to a few pubs before settling into one on the same street as our hotel. It was a smaller one, but had great music (from these two funny, funny Irishmen)... so we drank there for a while before heading back to our room.

The next day was one of two that I was most excited about (the other being Blarney Castle)... the day we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. We left Killarney and traveled north through the village of Listowel to Tarbert. Then we hopped on a ferry to cross the River Shannon and drive along the coastline of County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher are sheer walls of limestone that rise to heights of almost 700 feet above the Atlantic. It was a bit gray when we left that morning, but as you can see from the pictures it cleared up beautifully!! We had such a great view. After the Cliffs, we drove through the Burren, an area of rounded limestone hills where rock has weathered into formations. Then we drove around the shores of Galway Bay, and a short drive around central Galway before heading to our hotel.

On our last full day in Ireland we headed to another famous scenic region - Connemara. It is full of hills, lakes and peat bogs... and was so stunning. We traveled alongside Galway Bay to Spiddal where most locals speak Gaelic (the Irish language). Through Connemara and on to Leenane where we took a cruise of Killary Harbour, a 9-mile fjord. On our way back to Galway we stopped at the Connemara Marble factory (small but beautiful pieces) and the Celtic Connemara Crystal Factory (which specializes in Celtic designs cut into colored pieces).

The next day was our last day and we took a bus to Shannon Airport, about an hour away from Galway, for our flight home. We headed from Shannon to Heathrow, then from Heathrow to Philly. The flight to Philly was about seven hours... and the time change is five, so we arrived at home only about two hours after we left! But man were we tired because our 8-something pm arrival time was 1-something am in Ireland.

In the end the trip was more then what we had expected, all that we had hoped for, and Trav and I both look forward to going back someday in the future.

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~ Meegs