Well 'ello there! (you know...shouted in my new, improved Irish brogue)
Although I often neglect this blog in my list of priorities, I'd like to share a couple posts from our recent trip! I took WAY too many pictures, and I'm fairly sure I killed my computer uploading them, but I thought it would be fun to post a bit of what we did in case anyone is planning a similar trip. I'm going to start by sharing the first half of our journey: Dublin, Galway, and the biggest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore.
So let's back up. The days before we left were chaotic, to say the least. The biggest thing I took for granted at a typical job? Paid time off. When you work for yourself and alone, and you take a vacation, there is no one taking care of things while you're gone. And when you're not working, you're not making money, which makes you feel like you should be working constantly. It's stressful. But it also makes vacations necessary for your sanity. So even though I was still shooting off emails to my printing studio on that Friday night at midnight, laughing a "hello" to my birthday, it felt worth it to tie up as many loose ends as I could. With all of that said, I can't express just how nice it felt to get to the airport Sunday night... there was a restaurant near our terminal where we split an appetizer and enjoyed a beer, and I remember feeling the biggest sense of relief and excitement. The older I get, the more I enjoy vacations and traveling, and it makes me want to save every penny to do more of it!
We were like two kids on Christmas Eve. I attempted to sleep and wore an eye mask they gave us for the majority of the flight to sort of pretend it was working (and it did - for, like, seventeen minutes), but Patrick watched movies the entire time. In retrospect, this probably wasn't the best decision, but I don't really know if we could have avoided it. It's so hard to sleep on a plane! When we landed in Dublin, it was about 8:30AM local time, and we took a bus from the airport to downtown where we were staying. I would highly recommend that operation as the bus couldn't have been easier.
Soooooo in true Ginny form, as my husband would say, I made my mark on Ireland within 90 seconds of getting off the bus... We we were walking to the hotel and I was both incredibly excited, but also unbelievably exhausted, and I suppose my legs just stopped working at the appropriate speed because before I knew it, I was falling flat on the sidewalk. Let's be clear, it was not some graceful trip with a quick recovery. When Patrick thinks of how hard I fell, he can't stop laughing. I went Boom. Ka-put. Splat. The color drained from my face and I had to sit / sprawl out, whilst holding my leg on some little, nearby stair for a good five minutes. Patrick later compared it to this Family Guy clip. Alas, the first thing on our agenda after checking in?...find Band-aids (or "plasters" as they call them there) for my bloody knee. Why am I such a hot mess?!!!
We stayed at the Harding Hotel ^ which had a perfect location and it was exactly what we needed that first night - a basic, simple room to crash. Our first day consisted of this: take a cat nap, leave the hotel to walk and explore, eat, return to hotel, repeat. We did this three times!
lots of Patricks in this pic ^^^
and then St. Patrick's cathedral!
It was stunning inside.
the Dublin castle ^
We sat inside this bar for a bit and enjoyed the music. Here is a snippet if you want to listen to one of my favorite songs:
After dinner and breakfast in the restaurants of our hotel (and a lot more sleep), we took a cab to our rental car and our driving adventure began!
Let's just say it was a wee bit scary ;)
On our second and third nights, we stayed in the Marless House in Salthill, right outside of Galway. Mary, our hostess, couldn't have been sweeter or more helpful. She made us a delicious breakfast both mornings (she had an enormous menu, but we could also just basically pick and choose any combination!), and gave us helpful maps and instructions for what we wanted to see and accomplish. My favorite part of our stay was the electric blanket on our bed haha! You could control the temperature of both sides so I could make my side nice and toasty even though Patrick didn't want to. It was a dream, especially for my feet which are always cold! I also have to mention that we left a few clothes at her place (oy!), and she's already mailed them to us. So nice.
The first day we were there (it's just over 2 hours from Dublin to Galway - that's how small the country is!), we took a bus to downtown Galway near the bay to explore.
I loved seeing all the holiday decorations! This was a few days before Thanksgiving (but they obviously don't celebrate that holiday in Ireland) so I'm guessing they start decorating in early November. Another thing we noticed was the smell of peat everywhere, which is what they burn as a heat source in the colder months. It has a strong sweet, smoky smell and I felt like everything we wore smelled like it at the end of the day. To be totally honest, I wasn't a fan of the scent, but I got used to it by the end of the week.
The store on the right is the original maker of the Claddagh rings! ^
We then stumbled into a little bar and went upstairs where it was empty, and we made ourselves at home.
I'll never forget how good of a mood Patrick was in, drinking a Galway Hooker beer in Galway :)
The next morning, with the help of Mary's directions, we drove to Rossaveal and took a ferry to the largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore. We sat on the top of the ferry and I almost got sea sick because it was so rocky...I was doing everything in my power to take my mind off the fact that it felt like we were going to tip over at any minute! So little tip: sit on the bottom, if you can. When we arrived on the island, we teamed up with a crew in a tour van with the funniest guide named Bertie. It was such a great way to see the entire island (another way is to rent bikes, but I can't ride one), and to hear the history from someone who grew up there.
Inishmore (or Inis Mór) has a population of about 800 people. They still speak Gaelic there, too! The schools teach the language and many children come from the mainland during the summer for weeks at a time to learn. The first thing we wanted to see was Dún Aengus, a prehistoric fort (believed to date back to the Iron Age, built in the 2nd century BC) on the edge of a cliff. We certainly weren't in NYC anymore...
Miraculously, I didn't fall walking up this treacherous path. You know, it takes a flat sidewalk.
Do you see Patrick on the left? I was fah-reaking out and yelling his name, but he couldn't hear me! Apparently it only looks like he was super close to the edge, but he wasn't. Still, though. Heart attack.
After we climbed to the fort, we had some lunch in a little cafe. This salad was surprisingly delicious and that local feta cheese? The best. Not pictured is a shortbread caramel treat we split that was to die for!
We then visited a horse...
... and a donkey named Ruan!
We bonded. And we might have taken a selfie together ;)
Afterwards, we visited graveyard ruins, and went down to the water.
We came home with sweaters made on the island that I know we'll have forever. Out of all the places we visited, Inishmore was probably my favorite. I felt so far away, in the best of ways!
***stay tuned for pictures and stories from the second half of our trip!