After a wonderful stay in Killarney at The Lake Hotel, and exploring both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Pennisula, Erin and I headed north to Shannon, staying at the lovely Carrygerry House B&B in the countryside, which dates back to the 18th century. In addition to the peaceful setting, it has a fabulous restaurant, and just incredibly gracious hosts and staff. Worth a quick mention, was our stop for lunch at Dirty Nelly’s at Bunratty Castle in the Shannon area before we arrived at the inn. It was fun to see, with surprisingly good food. While in the Shannon area, we took a trip out to see the famous Cliffs of Moher, both from above, and from a passenger boat that took us along with base of them on the water. It was great to get both perspectives, and appreciate the size of the cliffs. As our boat headed back to the dock, the sun broke through and gave us some great views and weather for the rest of the drive that day, taking us to Doolin, and the surrounding area.
After our stay in Shannon, we drove up to Galway, and arrived in time to watch the Ireland v. Argentina rugby match in a local pub, which was a fun experience, despite the crushing loss for Ireland. For the first three nights, we stayed in the Sea Breeze Lodge in the Salthill area of Galway Bay, which was impeccably run and just beautifully done. If you’re ever in Galway, this is the place to stay. We spent the first full day just enjoying the city of Galway, finding many little shops and cafes, as well as a long promenade along the water to enjoy the waterfront. We learned that as hearty as we may be in Seattle with the weather, we have nothing on the Irish, and they even swim in the bay in the cold and wind like it’s nothing. Crazy. On our second day, we drove all around the beautiful Connemara area, including a stop at the Kylemore Abbey, and driving the famine road in the Doo Lough (Black Lake) area. It was a long day of driving, with the last bit of it in the dark on narrow roads in the rain, and not something I want to do again any time soon, despite being glad that we saw as much of the area as we did.
Our last day in Galway took us up to the Ashford Castle for a one night stay, and this was a real treat. It was recently voted as the top hotel in the world, and it was just so lovely to experience the incredible service and accomodations of this amazing place. I could write a small novel on just this part of the trip. So beyond.
Our last two nights found us in Dublin, a city that has long been on my list to see, in large part due to the glimpses of it over the years as a long time fan of U2, and the city did not disappoint in terms of living up to its tattered badge of gritty cultural history and pride. Like other European cities, it’s very walkable, and we fit a lot into our short stay, including visiting Trinity College and The Book of Kells, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, the River Liffey and the Ha’penny Bridge, the Leprechaun Museum (just to get photos of Erin with the signs, since she is one), seeing live music on Grafton street, visiting the Little Museum of Dublin and the U2 exhibibit, and a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green.
It was a great two weeks seeing this green, lush, and incredibly friendly country, and Erin is on her way back to Seattle today, having finally visited this magical place. I’m so glad that she saw it, and that I was a part of this special trip. And I’m about to board a plane to Barcelona for three more weeks in Europe, this part now completely on my own, including Barcelona, Spain; Avignon, France; Nice, France; Milan, Italy; Varenna on Lake Como, Italy; and the Almalfi Coast in southern Italy, with my last two nights in Rome before flying back to the US in the middle of November. Any nervousness that I’ve had about navigating all this on my own is small in comparison to the excitement to continue my journey into the unknown discovery of what’s to come. And I’m loving every moment.