I started this post on our flight leaving Ireland. We had just spent 2 days traveling back from Ireland to London. Then catching our flight from London to Seattle before we head back out next time to Hong Kong.
While everything was fresh in my mind, I wanted to write out and tell you my favorite things about Ireland as well as what I would do differently.
Let’s start with TRANSPORTATION. How we got here, and how we got around. Typically we are using the public transit system but we knew there was so much we wanted to see in Ireland that we decided to have a rental car for our full time. We have spent the last 3 weeks in Ireland. We took a ferry from London to Dublin and then from Dublin we got the rental car . FYI: they are more expensive then you’ll plan for because you are required to have insurance, even if your travel insurance or personal auto insurance covers you normally (as both of ours do). We ended up paying about $700 usd more than we had been expecting. Basically, the price of the car doubled.
But having the rental car really was great! We had so much freedom and used it to our full advantage covering the Irish countryside as much as we could. There is so much to see in Ireland, and most of it for us anyway – was under an endless grey cloud, that typically chose to drop it’s endless moisture down on us! But! There were a few glorious days of sun! The best of which was when we went to see the magnificent Cliffs of Moher.
Now I do want to add a little caveat – in all brutal honesty. Ireland is stunning, absolutely and positively gorgeous but experiencing it under a blue sky vs. grey clouds could truly make or break one’s holiday. We came in August and I assumed that this would mean the very best possible weather, but it still rained 90% of the time we were there. As one Irish man shared with me, ‘All Ireland needs is a roof’.
Cliffs of Moher
When we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, it was overcast and I was so worried as we started the climb to the cliffs because you couldn’t see much of anything, but much to our surprise and delight – we started stripping layer after layer as it got warmer and warmer, till we found ourselves under beautiful blue skies looking at one of the most incredible backdrops of this planet I’ve ever witnessed.
Now our first 5 days we hotel hopped and just explored as much as we could. It actually probably wasn’t our best move. We didn’t reserve any places as we didn’t quite no where we would end up each night and didn’t want to be tied down but, we continually found ourselves driving out of our way to find a hotel in our budget that still had availability.
After our 5 days in Sligo, we got to our Airbnb….
We stayed in a tiny little area outside of Sligo in a little Irish country house. One of the things we’ve hoped for out of our travels is to experience a little of everything. The slow-paced countryside and the bustle of the metropolis and this was our chance to experience the latter.
Now the huge mistake we made was forgetting to check that the AirBnB we rented had wifi! So we booked ourselves into a home that had no wifi and no cell coverage – this brought unplugging to a whole other level!
With cows just outside the kitchen window and sheep across the lane, we definitely felt like we were experiencing country life! We made fires to keep warm, the kids tried to get the sheep to let them pet them (they were not successful) and we spent days exploring the countryside or indoors playing card games, painting with watercolors (found on one of our day trips) or reading.
Having no internet or cell service proved to be very hard for planning what to do. There was no research that could be done and when we wanted to go somewhere we had to guess a direction and then wait till we got service to plug in the address to maps. Oh my gosh, and probably one of the things I was most fascinated and curious about in the country was that no one had house numbers. None! Each house has a name or is off a lane and then you just seem to know how to get there.
I was so surprised by this and I kept asking questions like, ‘but what if you want to invite someone to dinner’ how do they know how to get to your house. Somehow they just do, it brings knowing your surrounds and paying attention to a level that my always plugged, maps dependent personality couldn’t even fathom.
So we explored. Some days were Succesful and others mainly seem to be to just find food, drive down a country road after country road and well that was about it. Well, almost it. There was also the grand adventure of me (mom) trying to learn how to drive a stick shift. Because, honestly if I haven’t been able to grasp it the multiple times I’ve tried when I was driving on my normal side of the car, on the side of the road I’m use – why not try it on the opposite of both, with all of my children buckled up in the back, on what quite possibly have to be the most narrow lanes on the planet.
And once we found ourselves being led by GPS right into the woods itself. It took a while, (we are explorers to of course we had to see) but eventually we turned around before we got ourselves in too precarious of a situation
Paysen’s Waterfall (otherwise known as Glencar Waterfall)
This was another one of our days where we left the house unsure where we were going to end up. It was not particularly warm (actually not warm at all) but Paysen was brave enough (which may have been aided by the challenges of his sisters) to climb into the waterfall for a little swim.
On one of our days exploring (the one that had the most potential for sun – and it didn’t disappoint). We decided to go find the ocean in Killaspugbrone, Sligo, just outside the Strandhill golf course ! It was gorgeous, and the kids absolutely loved it!
First, let me say that I absolutely loved Dublin. I’ve heard a lot of people say, get out of Dublin and go see the rest. Well, I’m glad I saw all of it, but Dublin was a highlight for me! Since you may be going in just for Dublin this post is becoming a small book, I’m going to give Dublin its own post, starting with how to spend the perfect Saturday (it has to be a Saturday) in Dublin, which you can read HERE.