A Weekend Away: Ireland
Back in June, my parents came to visit for a 10-day trip. To break up our time in Paris, we ventured to Ireland. There were a few reasons for it: 1.) Why not? We had been wanting to go and this was a good opportunity. 2.) Our former neighbors were Irish and had since moved back to Galway. 3.) It'd be nice to speak English and get a little break from all the French while my parents were here.
We rented a car, with the plan to travel from Dublin to Galway and back again. We made ourselves way too busy, but still had a nice time exploring the cities and the countryside in between.
DAY 1: DUBLIN TO GALWAY (+THE CLIFFS OF MOHER)
Driving in Ireland is not easy. After lunch at my parents' hotel, we piled in the car and set off for Galway. My dad was named driver and quickly realized that this was going to be a tough trip. The car was a manual, so he had to work the stick shift with his left hand and try to make sure he was always on the correct side of the road. It was a lot of mental work in addition to controlling heavy machinery.
By the end we worked out a system so that each person in the car had a job. My dad's job was obviously driving. For Steve - he was the navigator and always made sure to say something along the lines of "other lane" to make sure we didn't head down the wrong side. My mom called out the stop signs and I pointed out when we were getting a little too close on the left side (when we were about to scrape the tall stone walls where the shoulder should be). For the most part it worked. We clipped a few side mirrors, but nothing serious.
We drove to the Cliffs of Moher on tiny, hairpin roads in the countryside. In need of a few deep breaths, we took a break or two to check out the scenery.
When we finally arrived, we had a little trek to make it to the top of the hill. Once there, the views of The Cliffs of Moher, along with the wind, were incredible. The photos are good, but nothing beats seeing it in person. Also, I'm a bit scared of heights so walking along the path beyond the official park, was terrifying, cool and probably dangerous. But we made it!
After leaving the Cliffs, we drove west to Galway to visit our former neighbors. We arrived at their home, went out to dinner (Moran's is superb) and spend the evening catching up, laughing and reminiscing. The kids were all grown, and though I remember them, they didn't quite remember me babysitting them as little ones.
DAY 2: Galway to Dublin
After a traditional Irish breakfast cooked by Yvonne (thanks!) with fresh brown biscuits, we had a quick morning in downtown Galway. It was a lively town with music on the streets, a morning market and many people out and about. I wish we had more time to spend there!
We drove on the freeway back to Dublin, which was much easier than the frightening back roads, and made it back in time for the end of the Euro Cup game. We watched it in a pub, drinking Guinness and cheers-ing with the other bargoers.
For dinner, we ate a local pub - I think we all settled for traditional Irish fare. From there, we embarked on a literary pub crawl where the tour guides acted out scenes from the works of famous Irish authors and offered a bit of history at each location. We stopped at Trinity College and four pubs along the way, drinking (sometimes sharing) a pint at each one. My parents even made friends with some chatty locals along the way.
After the pub crawl was finished, we returned to one of the larger ones to listen to some live music. The atmosphere was lively - two girls started Irish dancing, a man played the spoons, ad everyone seemed to have a great time.
Day 3: Our Last Day in Rainy Dublin
Our first act of the day was breakfast. We went to Brother Hubbard - a place that was recommended to us. They served an exotic twist on traditional breakfast food with flavors from Turkey, the Middle East and Morocco. It was delicious - check out their menu here. Before making our way back to the airport, we did a bit of shopping and acquired new raincoats to combat the rain.
It was a good trip overall, but not enough time to do Ireland right. We had fun seeing the sites, visiting old friends, and bonding over the craziness of driving on the other side of the road. Next time we travel to Ireland, I think we'll stay in one location for a bit longer and explore it well.
What are you favorite sites or memories from your visits to Ireland?