Archive of ‘Europe’ category

Adventures in Ireland (Part 2)

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Read Part 1 here.

Day 6: Ring of Kerry

One of the highlights of my trip was the Ring of Kerry, but it wasn’t accomplished without difficulty. Once I got to Killarney I kept hearing from other travelers how the bus tours are pretty awful and you need to rent a car to get the full experience. I was terrified of driving on the left side of the road, but that ended up being the least of my concerns. After lots of phone calls I ended up getting the last automatic car available in the area… But I had to pay nearly €200 for one day! People who rented in advance paid less than €20 a day for a stick shift. But after moping about it for awhile I decided to just do it because it’s a once in a lifetime trip. I’m so glad I did!

I spent the day driving around the southern peninsula of Ireland. The roads there are scary! They’re just slightly big enough for one car, yet they’re meant to be two-way streets. So whenever a car came the other way, one of us would have to slowly back up to make room. Yikes!

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But at the same time the roads are so beautiful. Driving the winding roads along the cliffs over the ocean was amazing. I would stop every once in a while to explore and take pictures. I also made a number of detours whenever I saw an appealing sign. This included a trip to Ireland’s best chocolate factory and even a trip to a subtropical jungle (who knew?) I also stopped by a few farms to “play with” (read: gawk at from a distance) the cows. A highlight for me was when I found an empty beach surrounded by cliffs. I took the time to take a break and relax, while I took in how small I felt (in a good way) compared to the world.

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Later, I stopped in the quaint and colorful town of Sneem for dinner on the river. As I made my way back to the hostel, it was starting to get dark but I wasn’t done with the adventure yet. I spotted another place to stop and started to take a little walk when I realized there were wild sheep all around me staring me down! I briskly (read: cowardly) walked back to my car. But I have to say it’s hilarious to look back on!

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Days 7-9: Kilkenny

Finally I made it to Kilkenny, the town where my great grandmother is from! This beautiful city feels more like a small town and, from what I gathered, most people seemed to know each other. That being said, Saturdays here are a little…well the only comparison is Vegas. Stag and Hen Parties (translation: bachelor and bachelorette parties) like to come here for debauchery and the pubs turn into nightclubs for that one night a week. Let’s just say I wasn’t a fan. But by Sunday and Monday, everything was back to normal.

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I spent some time exploring the cute little shops, walking through the park, and seeing Kilkenny Castle. I stopped in friendly, local pubs for meals and drinks as I did everywhere else, but somehow it just felt homier here. On Sunday night, I stopped in a pub that had fun Irish music playing. As soon as I sat down, I found myself in a conversation with an elderly musician who frequently plays in New York and a few other men closer to my age. That’s one of the great things about Ireland. It seems that age isn’t a barrier and everyone is friendly with everyone. Anyway, they taught me a lot about the music and the town. That night, everyone in the bar seemed to come together, from the “posh” girls to the farmers, in the name of music (and maybe a few too many pints). Either way, it was a sight to see.

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Adventures in Ireland (Part 1)

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Ireland was incredible. I spent 9 days exploring the country on my little solo adventure (I may have a future post about the perks of traveling alone). Of all the places I’ve traveled, it was the only one that was just as beautiful and amazing as it looked in the movies. The people were also just as warm and friendly. I made the journey by myself, but I made friends everywhere I went. They were all so open to telling me about the history and culture of Ireland. I’m not sure if I would have truly experienced Ireland without them.

Day 1 (and Day 9): Dublin

I arrived the day of the football match between Dublin and Kerry. So Irish pride was in full swing. Debauchery was also in full swing. I met some fun fellow American girls on a little pub crawl and we witnessed some very… colorful Irish men. While it was a lovely city rich of history (I had a drink at The Stag’s Head where James Joyce was once a regular) it was probably my least favorite part of the trip. Ireland really begins outside of Dublin, in my opinion.

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Days 2-4: Galway

Walking through the streets of Galway makes you feel like you’re in Disney World. The classic Irish architecture and traditional music playing everywhere is a rush! On my second night, I met up with some members of the Irish Navy and they taught me some songs and we all danced the jig. It was some mighty craic!

Galway is also close to many natural wonders. I took a bus trip to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher, which was breathtaking. As I was taking pictures I kept looking at them thinking “people are going to think I’m in front of a green screen!”

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Days 4-5: Killarney

On this trip it was almost like everywhere I went was better than the last! Killarney is much more of a small town and during the week wasn’t as big on nightlife. But the nature was incredible! Killarney National Park is gorgeous. I recommend renting a bike because it’s a LOT bigger than you think! My favorite parts were the Torc Waterfall and muckross house and gardens. The mine trail by Ross castle also has incredible views.  I actually spent more than one day exploring the park because I just kept wanting to go further! Although I probably should have stuck to the paths a bit since I almost had a run in with a wild dog.

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At the hostel I became friends with some lovely people from Australia, Belgium, Israel, and fellow Americans. I also can’t say enough about how great and friendly the staff were. They were always there to help and on this leg of the trip I really need it. More on that later.

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