Ireland and Northern Ireland have been at the top of my bucket list forever. I cannot believe it has taken this long to finally make it over there! Kevin's family came to visit us in Europe this summer and we decided to meet up in Ireland for an epic week-long road trip. Our itinerary was ambitious, but I wanted to see it all! Shout out to Kevin who drove us safely all week long on the left side of the road!!
DAY 1 : DUBLIN
Our first day in Dublin happened to fall on my birthday! We wasted no time and set out for St. Stephen's Green. It was a little out of the way but the weather forecast predicted afternoon showers so we tried to get the outdoor sites out of the way. It's a fabulous park and a must see if you are in Dublin on a nice day.
After strolling the park, we had to stop for a coffee and quick carb overload at The Rolling Donut. They had all kinds of fun flavors I had never seen nor tried before. If you are in the area I would stop in for a sweet treat.
A trip to Dublin would not be complete without a visit to Trinity College. The Library here is absolutely breathtaking. Everyone recognizes the iconic dark wood barrel ceiling and legendary floor-to-ceiling shelves of countless books. I was so excited to finally see it in person!
We arrived shortly after lunch so there was a bit of a line. We waited for about an hour when a few staff members emerged from the locked doors to inform us that the library was closed for the rest of the day and there would be no more tours. We were so bummed!! But, it's just another thing we have learned about travel. You have to flexible because something is bound to not go according to plan. At least we were able to walk the grounds of the beautiful campus!
Our last stop of the day was, of course, The Guinness factory. Kev's family had booked a special tour where we tasted several of their beers and even learned how to make the perfect pour. It was an interesting and informative tour for an amateur beer drinker like me. After the tour you can take the ice cold pint, that you poured yourself, up to their "rooftop" bar where you can get a 360 view of the city. It was packed and the whole bar sang "Happy Birthday" to me! So fun!
DAY 2 : KILKENNY CASTLE
On the second day of the trip, the goal was to make it to Killarney which is about a 3.5 hour drive. We had the option to see a castle on the way to sort of break up the driving. I had done a lot of research and I read that Blarney Castle, while iconic, tends to be a bit of a tourist trap. Also, I had no intention of kissing the stone so we decided to skip Blarney and stop at Kilkenny castle! The grounds were beautiful and there were only few tourists which made it pleasant to walk around, have lunch and snap some pictures. You can also take a tour of the castle if you wish!
DAY 3 : KILLARNEY NATIONAL PARK
We spent the day in the Killarney National Park. There are numerous things to do in and around the park you could easily spend several days here. Since we only had one day we decided on a short easy hike/walk. At the start of the hike is the Muckross house which is absolutely stunning. It almost reminds me of the Chatsworth House in England ( Mr. Darcy's residence in the movie Pride and Prejudice).
If I had to make only one recommendation of the entire trip, it would be to stay at Friars Glen B&B in Killarney. Over the past few years, Kev and I have stayed in a countless number of accommodations and this one stands out above them all. The house and grounds are adorable and the breakfast is superb. Oh, and John was the kindest most hospitable host EVER! Do yourself a favor and stay a few days.
DAY 4: CLIFFS of MOHER
As much as we wanted to stay in Killarney (and if we had a few more days I would have spent them there), we had to make it up to Galway. So much to see so little time! On our way to Galway we stopped to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. The views were unbelievable! The more I travel the more I realize that you can have an idea in your head of what you think something will look/feel like, but until you actually stand there, you just have no clue. God's creation continues to render me in awe. We only spent about an hour here, but you could easily spend several hours by hiking. There are several different trails you can choose from. I would recommend staying a while if wind does not bother you. HA!
We spent the rest of the day/evening in Galway. One of the things this city is most well known for is it's music scene. We had a wonderful night bar hopping and listening to music. I had the best beer of my life in a dive bar listening to a toothless man singing his heart out. It was awesome!
DAY 5 : NORTHERN IRELAND
We totally lucked out with weather the week of our trip. We had a little sprinkle everyday but we barely had any wind and the temperature was perfect! Giant's Causeway is known to be VERY windy but we barely had any wind and it was so cool to visit!
THE DARK HEDGES
Recently made popular by the t.v. series "Game of Thrones." This beautiful tunnel of beech trees is rapidly becoming more and more well known. As a matter of fact you can now go on a Game of Thrones Tour that leaves out of Belfast and see several sites that appear on the show!
We finished up our epic road trip in Belfast. This is a fabulous city full of culinary wonders and colorful street art. Kevin and I were a little tired from the jam packed week of sightseeing so we walked around for a bit until we settled down with coffee and listened to a street musician for the afternoon. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip!
If you ask anyone who has been to Ireland and Northern Ireland, they will tell you the best way to see these countries is by car. A road trip was definitely the way to go. I only wish we had more time! I hope to return one day. When I do, what should I add to my list of "must see" things?