When traveling to Ireland, keep the following in careful consideration:
Remember that driving on the left side of the road is important. translation: the slow lane is on the left, extra care is needed for right hand turns, pray that whoever is driving stick is left-handed.
Do not eat the Black Pudding.
Leave more than a week if you are planning on skirting the whole island.
Come well prepared – rain coat, working knowledge of a gps system or map reading, and a hearty appetite for heavy food (and drink).
Verify that you are not allergic to sheep.
Ireland was terrific. Every day was packed with driving and seeing and driving again, but let me highlight some items..
First stop Dublin. Bad words are coming to mind as i’m reminiscing. Let me paint the picture for you: after very long flight where neither of us slept a wink, we arrived at 6:21 a.m. Ireland time. Felt like zombies and looked worse. Due to extra expenses, I was forced to navigate rather than drive (there’s problem #1 – ‘passenger’ is not the best word for control freaks). Driving on the left side, in traffic, with tiny itsy bitsy roads, and no sleep is not how you want to start a trip. We got pulled over by the police within 45 minutes. Took us embarrassingly long to find our hotel and must have asked 1/2 a dozen people for directions. what a day.
Things could only get better, fortunately, and they did. The next two days were absolutely gorgeous and eventful. Hiked the highest sea cliffs of Europe (One Man’s Pass in Slieve League) found in County Donegal. The rocks we scooted down were about 2 feet wide, dropping 3,000 feet on one side, and very long on the other as well. Let’s just say we OWNED One Man’s Pass =) see flickr for pics.
Met a group of wonderful, warm, and welcoming Irish hikers who we ate with and spent time with that evening in the Pubs.
Drove through Beautiful Northern Ireland and down the West Coast through Connemara National Park (another great hike), Cliffs of Moher, and Dingle Peninsula. The town of Doolin is world renowned for music, so we ate at a pub and had the best night listening to music. The men playing were so fun and friendly that they wanted us to sing! Fortunately for them, I didn’t… However – I did have my harmonica, so i played a couple songs. The trick is to wait until everyone has had several pints of Guinness, so anything sounds good. It worked.
One evening, we stayed at a cozy B&B owned by a jolly, round-faced little lady named Brid Egan. (She is the definition of jolly. i tried to think of a different word and couldn’t). We walked accross the street in the morning to a shop called “Wool ‘n things” and had a nice chat with the owner, Mary, who knew Brid. We bought some things and went on our way. The next morning we got a call from Mary, who tracked us down from Brid (who called her friend, a B&B owner for our next stay) and told us she accidentally overcharged us 10 Euro! She even sent it to us in Dollars to the U.S. How about that? Needless to say, everyone was very friendly.
We did see so many other things – including Castles and ruins, but the hikes were my favorite part. and talking politics with our Irish friends.
A fantastic trip. Pictures only resemble what we saw; it was greener. Go if you get a chance. Cheers!