I just got back from a 9 day trip to Ireland. I had a wonderful time -Philadelphia to Dublin – then onto Galway.
The main purpose of the trip for my hubby, Ed and I was not really to sightsee, but to see our daughters. Mandy is spending a semester in Ireland studying and Kelly whom we haven’t seen in over a year as she is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Africa flew up to Ireland with two of her Peace Corps buddies – Anna and Cara so we could spend some time together.
They enjoyed a bit more globetrotting beforehand as they like obtaining lots of passport stamps. Casablanca, Lisbon, Paris. We also needed a break – from living in limbo, 2 years of unemployment and dealing with aging parent issues. It was the perfect getaway.
My daughters Kelly and Mandy in front of a florist shop in Galway– X O
It was so nice to see them and be together after such a long time. We Skype on a regular basis and even Kelly has Internet access when she is not in her African village, but seeing them in real live person is so much better.
We were on a strict budget since Ed is unemployed. We used our accumulated timeshare points to travel on the cheap. We didn’t stay in a resort or hotel, but in an authentic Irish cottage with a thatched roof in Connemara.
It is on the west coast of the country in the lake region. We felt authentically Irish. The interior was quite simple, but the kitchen was brand new and looked very IKEA-ish. These are views from the cottage – most mornings there were sheep grazing right next to the cottage.
We felt pretty authentic by driving on the wrong side of the road, too. We rented a car and Ed drove – making right hand turns and going through many roundabouts in Dublin and Galway were a bit intense at first, but then he got the hang of it. We could not have gotten anywhere without the GPS. It gave us freedom to do our own thing on our own schedule. I would highly recommend traveling this way.
Our little cottage was up on a hill. It was also on the road where the bridge scene from the 1952 movie The Quiet Man was filmed.
Kelly, Anna, and Cara enjoyed being quiet silly on The Quiet Man Bridge.
There is even a photo of John Wayne at the site. Tour buses stop here.
The cottage next to ours was getting a new roof. It was very interesting to watch the roofers work. A thatched roof will last 30 years – who knew? Simple yet amazing process.
Our cottage had the most unique glass doors – I wish I had found out more about the glass.
Mandy had to take two final exams – so we went sightseeing to the places she had visited already on that day. The first place was Kylemore Abbey. It was sunny and warm – very pretty even though Spring was just emerging.
Gumby and Pokey came along with Kelly. They got their photo taken everywhere we went.
This was the only day we had full sun all day – it was so pretty. This is Kylemore Lough right in front of the Abbey.
Look closely below – YES- that is a thriving Palm tree growing on a North Atlantic island – not on a tropical one.
They show up along the coast too –
Speaking of the coast – Ireland has lots of coast and ocean views – The most popular is the view from the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. The day we went was overcast and misty. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to see the cliffs in all their glory.
This is what they look like on a sunny day – I love nature and rocks – in my past life I think I was a geologist! Such a wonderful site.
Since we didn’t get to really enjoy the cliffs – we did have fun in the welcome center.
We spent a lot of time in the car going from place to place and passed a few castles
and pretty vistas.
We passed through colorful villages and towns
If you are wondering what is in the pretty pink bags that line the windows of this butcher shop below – potatoes.
Unique windows –Here is the glass again – love it – I saw it everywhere we went.
Perfectly named eateries
and quaint homes with perfect hedges.
We also saw lots and lots of pretty yellow gorse. This is along the road to the cottage.
We went to a few pubs and watched more than one soccer football game on big screen TV’s with the locals. “Mom – you are soooooo NOT taking our picture from across the pub are you?” Anna and Cara are sitting behind the guy in the hat.
and we downed a few of these…
We walked along Salthill in Galway and climbed up on a diving platform used in the summer months. It was blustery, but was worth putting up with as the view of the area and the Aran Islands was stunning.
There were people swimming laps in the freezing water without wet/dry suits. Crazy!
We spent some time in Galway enjoying all the shops
On our last day we went hiking up Diamond Hill at Connemara National Park. It was overcast and got misty the higher up we climbed.
Not quite halfway.
Yeah! Jump up and down we are half way to the top.
At the summit – SUCCESS
The descent. Kylemore Abbey is way down in the valley.
I could not help but check out Dunnes in Galway one afternoon.
It is a bit like Ikea and a Super Wal-Mart mixed into one. I had to hold back from wanting to shop.
I also went to- not TJ Maxx, but TK Maxx. I didn’t buy anything, but it sure was tempting.
We had a great time and it flew by. Before we knew it – it was time to say goodbye to Mandy who has a few more weeks to go until she comes home. We then drove to Dublin to drop off Kelly, Anna, and Cara who were going to spend a few more days seeing Dublin before returning to Africa. It was hard saying goodbye, but I live for Skype so we can stay connected with them. We stayed in a hotel that evening and the next morning we flew to Frankfurt, Germany to meet a relative of Ed’s.
After our visit we were back in the air flying home. It was a 9 hour flight. I thought I would sleep, but I made the mistake and drank really strong German coffee during our visit. I was wired – so I ended up watching 3 onboard movies to pass the time, read a book and ate too much. US Air does not let you go hungry.
Even though we had a wonderful time, when I come home after traveling I am always reminded of this song by Frank Sinatra.
It’s very nice to go trav’ling
To Paris, London and Rome
It’s oh, so nice to go trav’ling
But it’s so much nicer
Yes, it’s so much nicer to come home
It’s very nice to just wander
The camel route to Iraq
It’s oh, so nice to just wander
But it’s so much nicer
Yes, it’s oh so nice to wander back
It’s very nice to go trav’ling
But it’s oh so nice to come home
No more customs
Burn the passport
No more packing and unpacking
Light the home fires
Get my slippers
Make a pizza
It’s very nice to go trav’ling, but it sure is nice to be home!