One rainy day a couple weeks ago in Santorini, out of curiosity I looked up where the cheapest flights out of Greece were and saw a 60 € round trip flight to Dublin. (I used the “everywhere” search option on Skyscanner, FYI. If you don’t know about this travel hack, you should!) I couldn’t pass it up…obviously.
It was raining in Greece so I figured why not pop over to the notoriously rainy Ireland and see the famous Cliffs of Moher- you know, since I can’t exactly enjoy the beaches of the Greek islands in the rain.
It was an impulse decision, and one that will go down as one of my favorite choices these past 8 months. Ireland was calling me and as I traveled around the country for 2 weeks I found a million reasons why.
On day one, I stressed big time about trying to see everything. I am not a speedy traveler. I really like to take my time and get to know a place, but this trip was different. I only had 14 days, at least 14 days too short for an ideal visit. Anxiously I went over to the receptionist at my hostel with a map in hand trying to make some sort of plan. (His name was Keith and he looked like he could be in a 2001 boy band.) Keith laughed and calmed me down and helped me realize just how small the country is, saying “If you wanted to you could see almost everything worth seeing in two weeks.” I looked at him like he was crazy, and I still think he’s crazy, and not because of his bleached blonde spiked hair. Two weeks is NOT enough! If you are planning time in Ireland, give it at least three.
Maybe it’s just me (but I doubt it), this country will completely suck you in.
I felt an extremely deep connection to the land of this country and was enamored with the people immediately- it helps that I love the Irish accent. I kept having that feeling you get when you just know you were supposed to meet a particular person or be in a particular place at a specific time. I was meant to go to Ireland. It felt like home…a new home. I kept telling everyone “That’s it I’m moving here!” and I meant it.
Ireland honestly brought out the best in me and I wouldn’t hesitate to move there for a while at some point in the future. I was the healthiest I’d been in well over a month. *Confession* The previous month in Greece left me a bit gluttonous (but it was worth it).
With so much natural scenery outside I was motivated to get out and explore and exercise. I ate pretty healthy (soup everyday to stay warm) and only indulged in a few drinks. I’d say I was pretty damn well behaved during my visit. I also took time to myself every single day to read, write, or just sit in silence. It was like hitting the healthy reset button, which I needed more than I realized.
I took in as much as I could but feel like I only got a taste of the big green picture that is Ireland.
I’d always dreamt of seeing the famous Cliffs and the deep green countryside of the Burren. My dreams didn’t come close to the real deal- and neither do the pictures, but I tried.
I’m often asked where my favorite place is that I’ve traveled and my response is never concrete. I can not possibly pick one place or one experience over all of the others. It’s impossible. Instead, I like to the answer down into categories: favorite city (torn between Paris and Prague), favorite islands (Koh Tao and Crete, favorite overall experience (Italy…the entire country). And now, Ireland has created a new category for me.
There’s something to be said for the way the Irish have preserved their land and their heritage, leaving much of the country untouched. You can travel all over and never see a place with such amazing countrysides.
Where else in the world can you find countless castles, lush green surrounding, national parks, untouched “fairy trees,” and little cottages on the countryside?
Ireland is a very special and unique place.
Oh, and did I mention the beer? I’m not even much of a “beer person,” and I never really liked Guinness. Then I went to the Guinness Factory in Dublin for a tour. I spent hours there and saw every corner of the place then went up to the “Gravity Bar,” which has panoramic views of the entire city, for a pint.
For some reason, we’re drinking crap Guinness back home in the states and they are keeping all the good stuff local.
Within two weeks I stayed in 5 different towns/cities. Each one had a totally different vibe but still the same Irish humility. My favorite town was the unexpected one, Killarney. I loved the National Park and went there three days in row. I hiked, jogged and walked for miles. It was exactly what I needed.
I am already making a list of the places I will visit during my next visit. Five was not enough, although each stop was more than fulfilling.
And if it weren’t for the weather, I would move to Ireland tomorrow.
Even though the weather sucked almost the whole time, I still enjoyed every minute. Ireland may be cold and rainy, but there is plenty of Jameson, Guinness and stew to keep you warm. 🙂