For the second part of our trip, we stayed in Dingle, Kilkenny, and Swords. Dingle ended up being such a highlight of our trip (and this part II post!) thus Patrick suggested the title, Dingle All The Way :) You can read part 1 of our Ireland adventure here!
After we returned to the mainland on the ferry (we made sure to sit on the bottom that time!), we drove back to the little town of Salthill for dinner. We went to a cozy Italian spot called La Collina, and it was absolutely delicious! I also remember that it was the only night while we were there that we watched T.V. back in our B&B room, and we were so excited to see that Friends was on...that's been our go-to / can't-go-wrong show since college. It was the perfect way end to a perfect day.
The next morning we drove through the beautiful landscape of The Burren and down the west coast to the Cliffs of Moher.
...and we found the end of the rainbow! Do you see the family of deer congregated in a circle underneath it? I mean really, Ireland was just showing off at this point.
It started to get pretty foggy, though. This was also around the time when Patrick went deaf in one ear. Yes..! We can laugh about it now because he's been to the doctor and it's fixed, but he seriously couldn't hear very well at all which made navigating what felt like 347 roundabouts ("take the third exit!" / "the first?" / "the THIRD!") an event that needed its own sitcom episode.
^ Dunguaire Castle
^ a familiar name
We later arrived to the cliffs which are supposed to look like this:
or like this in the summer:
But after buying tickets and climbing to the top, this was our view:
The wall of fog was so thick! It was actually pretty creepy because you could hear the waves crashing, but couldn't see past where the ledge dropped off.
Soooo we took some selfies and explored the visitor center.
But yeah, although the day before had gone off without a hitch, we weren't having the best luck on this particular day. We didn't get to see the cliffs, Patrick still couldn't hear (bless him), and then we missed the car ferry in Killimer by a matter of seconds (we drove up just as it was leaving!) so we had to wait in a tiny convenience store for an hour to catch the next one. We diiiid end up finding the funniest present in that little store, however, so I'm thankful for that and can't wait to give it.
^ Once we got on the ferry, we watched our GPS system take us through the water. We found that so funny!
It was a long day of driving, but then we arrived at the Castlewood B&B in Dingle, the nicest and most welcoming place we stayed all week.
Look how cozy it was!!! ^ And don't even get me started on those decorative hearts.
Our room was basically the size of our apartment.
Although the picture on the right was actually taken on our very last night ^, I wanted to document Patrick in his element. This was my view every night at dinner :) (sip beer, smile, repeat) The picture on the left is from that night in Dingle, our party-of-two Thanksgiving dinner at The Chart House which was unbelievably delicious and memorable. Dingle saved the day. Dingle all the way!
The best part of staying in B&Bs? The breakfast experience! And I have to say that the coffee quality at The Castlewood was far superior to anywhere else we visited. I found that most B&Bs were more tea-friendly, but If I'm going to have tea, I prefer it later in the day. I savor my morning mug of joe!
They even offered some to go! ^
When I have a home big enough for multiple Christmas trees, I'd love one dressed in pink.
After breakfast, we set out on Slea Head Drive, the most picturesque trail along the water:
^ This is the moment I learned Patrick's sheep impression is better than my sheep impression.
The water was the most beautiful shade of turquoise!
^ If you look in the distance on the left, you can see what they refer to as "the sleeping giant." Doesn't it really look like one? You can see a better picture of it here.
That's a two-lane road, ladies and gentleman.^
So there we were. We had finished one loop of Slea Head Drive (which took maybe an hour), and we hadn't seen the part that we had seen pictures of in our research. Naturally, we started bickering about what turn we must've missed and whose fault it was. Patrick was determined that we see it so he started the loop all over again while I was all, "Whatareyou crazy?!?" We eventually pulled over to try and plug something into the GPS, and we spotted another car and couple. I walked over to them and awkwardly described what we had seen in pictures. ("Um, it's like, a giant triangle coming out of the water! ...and it reminds me of a Christmas tree or an elf's hat! Hahaha! ... Seen it?") Just as they were excitedly telling me that we were right there and just needed to walk down a little path, Patrick yelled my name. He had just discovered it, too! We went from bickering and being annoyed with one another to high-fiving and cheering like little kids in a matter of point three seconds. #marriage
Then we walked down and saw this:
Pictures don't do it justice. It was my favorite view of Ireland!
here's a little video clip! if you look closely at the end, you can see a seal bobbing in the water:
FYI, this part of Slea Head Drive is called Dún Chaoin (one of my favorite pictures of it is here!) and it's not even halfway through the loop. If you're pressed for time, just start the Slea Head Drive (there are signs for the actual loop everywhere) and stop when you get to this part (it will be on your left and there will be a small sign marking it) and then turn around as that segment is the best part of the entire drive.
After we finished our loop(s) of Slea Head Drive, we ventured back into town to grab lunch and explore for a little bit.
I love how colorfully they paint their store fronts! ^
After that, we had to get on the road and head to Kilkenny. It got dark pretty quickly into our drive which made it an adventure to say the least. It was probably the longest we had to drive all week and we discovered that our GPS system was programmed to take us through every single village along the way. At one point, we pulled into the main street of a small town called Mallow. Just as we pulled in the front of the line at a red light, masses of people gathered around us yelling, "5! 4! 3!..." We didn't know what the heck was happening until they got to "1" and turned on all the holiday lights. We couldn't. stop. laughing. ...because we literally arrived for their annual town lighting JUST in the nick of time. To think of all the decisions we made that day that put us there at the perfect moment...
We stayed in a B&B that night called Carriag Rua. Despite a minor miscommunication with the hostess who wasn't there to let us in when we arrived (we met some friendly neighbors, though!), it worked out just fine. The best part of that B&B was how close it was to downtown! We walked and grabbed a bite to eat, and crashed early once we got into our room.
The next day, we left our car parked there and walked to check out Kilkenny Castle:
We pretended we were on House Hunters Kilkenny.
Just a slight size upgrade from our current digs (!), but we'll take it!
This picture ^ is for my stepdad because Patrick calls him "JB" :)
Also, I love how many pictures on here are all, Can you find the man in the yellow coat? haha!
We had to get to Swords that night, which is right outside of Dublin, so we did a fair amount of driving that afternoon. We wanted to take the scenic route so we drove up the east coast and pulled into Bray, a cute little town on the water, for a late lunch.
(There are some pictures that make me want to immediately hug the person. This is one of them.) ^
We arrived in Swords that night and stayed in a B&B called San Augustine which was really nice and cozy. Swords honestly looked like a super cute town, but we didn't see much of it since it was dark when we ventured out. It was another convenient location, and I highly recommend staying in Swords if you need to catch a flight out of Dublin as it was seriously 10 minutes away from the airport.
Our evening (and trip!) ended with a waiter treating us to a free beer and Bailey's Irish cream.
We dropped off our rental car the next morning at the airport, which was miraculously still in on piece. It was sad to wrap up the week, but we were also eager to get back to such a busy and exciting time of year. Patrick has started a wonderful new job and we've already celebrated a round of Christmas with my folks and got to show them our apartment for the first time!
However, I keep thinking back to this trip and how refreshing it felt to get away and just "be" without multiple distractions. It was good for us in so many ways. If I ever have the opportunity to return, I'd have a hard time deciding between spending the entire time on the west coast between Galway and Dingle (my favorite part!) or exploring all the places we didn't get to go. Ireland, you are absolutely wonderful...thank you! ♣
P.S. I was successful in my packing-super-light attempt as I ended up wearing every clothing item I brought at least once which must be some sort of record for me as I typically have at least a couple extra outfits. The most important things you need in Ireland? ...a pair of comfortable + waterproof boots, a warm + waterproof coat with a hood (no one uses umbrellas), an outlet plug adapter, and you know, Band-aids + Neosporin in case you wipe out on the sidewalk immediately after you arrive ;)