Ireland (Weekly Recap, Weeks 38 & 39, June 17-30, 2019)
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
The day we left France I worried we might not feel the warmth of the sun for quite some time. We were heading up to Ireland, and from there we go on to Norway. I checked both my weather apps and was greeted with the same stormy images regardless of where I looked.
The reality has been much luckier. We arrived in Dublin, picked up a rental car, and drove to a sheep farm (another one!) about an hour away where we spent the night. We then headed to the northwest of the country, to Westport. Not typically the first stop for tourists, many of whom opt to go south, but we needed to end up in Cashel, in Connemara, two days later and this route seemed the best option for breaking up the drive, seeing some sights, and not adding too much car time.
We ended up having a nice time in Westport, which as a town was very picturesque, but without a babysitter we couldn’t enjoy the pubs. We mainly enjoyed the day when we hiked the first part of Craugh Patrick and then went to a little beach nearby where WP lost her mind with glee. The weather was chilly but mercifully mostly dry.
From there we went down to Connemara and met up with my parents and their friends who live in Roundstone and had generously arranged for us to stay with friends of theirs nearby. This was the second time this month we lucked into staying in a beautiful home beyond what we could afford by virtue of the generosity of friends, and friends of friends. The view from the deck was unbelievable.
We took a very memorable boat trip to the Aran Islands, stopping on Inish Oirr and taking a horse drawn cart around the tiny island to see the sights, which mainly consisted of the most incredible stone walls I’ve ever seen -- all built by balancing stones with no glue of any kind and different patterns depending on the stonemason. We had snacks at a picnic table with a view of the sea and then got back on the boat for the trip home. We saw dolphins on the way out and cliffs on the way back. The sea was flat and the sun shone. It was awesome.
From Cashel we went to Dublin and I think all had a moment when we regretted it, the contrast between wild, quiet, expansive Connemara and the crush of Dublin, especially arriving during the evening commute on a Tuesday, was so stark. I almost lost my mind the first evening in the Tesco with everyone queueing, WP screaming, and me having no idea where to find anything. Our Airbnb was lovely though with a nice little patio out front and back and we spent a nice time chilling out there.
We did a small handful of touristy things, but mostly prioritized grandparent-grandkid time, including a trip to the zoo with Gpop, which was great. My parents left, we spent an afternoon with a friend of Mike’s and his family in a suburb of Dublin, and then we packed up and picked up a rental car and drove 30 minutes south of Dublin to Wicklow.
We splurged on the Powerscourt Hotel with a bunch of Marriott points we had sitting around. I am not usually a big fan of fancy hotels because the inflated prices once you get there feel like one paper cut after another. I am already paying a ton to be here (ok I’m not we used points, but still)...why is this turkey wrap $23? But we had a lovely room with a sleeping nook for WP (it was the walk-in closet, but she does not need to know that), and there is a playground on site, so I tried to relax about the crazy charges on site (breakfast is 28€ each??).
We bummed around Wicklow a bit, then returned to Dublin for our last two nights, spending much of the time in parks and playground and strolling around town, but making time for a visit to the Guinness Experience as well, which had an overproduced and hysterical quality to it, particularly when the escalator broke down.
All in all, Ireland was a nice segment of the trip, though mainly for the company more than anything else, as it was really nice to spend time with family and friends.
Now… on to Norway!