Friday, July 21, 2017


I took off on a week long adventure this month. I took off from Wichita 
and landed in New York to meet my dear friend Diana for our Ireland adventure!
Somehow this country girl figured out how to find the right place to catch an Uber ride downtown to find my was a tad bit stressful, but kinda fun too.
I found her and we immediately decided it was time to eat! Eataly was at the top of her list and I always think pasta sounds good so off we went. Dessert were these four delicious Italian delights.

Then back into the thick of things to get to our bus that took us out to Stewart International Airport - a small, way out of the city airport to catch our red eye flight to Belfast.
We woke up on the plane to lovely overhead views of Ireland!
And just like that we found ourselves in Belfast.
It was a gorgeous day, so after we got our rental car and Diana figured out how to drive while shifting gears with her left hand and driving on the left side of the road, we made it to our first Airbnb host. Plopped our stuff down, brushed our teeth, and then hit the road to go enjoy the northern coast of Ireland.

Dunluce castle was our first stop.
It was built in the 17th century, but now is in ruins.
We walked all around and found this spot where we could venture down a bunch of rocks right to the water (in the photo below the water is the bleached-out area).
It was cool and dark and if the photo wasn't bleached out you would be able to see how amazing the views were out to the ocean.
Then we headed to the small town of Bushmills - a lovely place where we caught a bus that took us out to Giant's Causeway.
Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
There is a lovely visitor's center and hotel at Giant's Causeway, but we opted to simply walk out to the water, following trails and people and simply explore the area.
The tide pools were endlessly interesting to me.
We might have been the tourists who got too close to the incoming waves and got wet while taking a selfie....just maybe.

Europe is so lovely for the ways it makes simple things like mailboxes and telephone booths so quaint and nice to look at.
Eventually, after lots of hiking and looking and exploring, we took the bus back to Bushmills and since we were hungry decided that surely we could find some fish and chips to eat. Turns out we failed at finding food, but we did find some beer at a little pub. The pub had just a few locals in it and when we figured out that we couldn't pay for our beer with a credit card, one of them bought them for us!
We grabbed some snacks at a little grocery store and then headed back out to find the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
There were so many stunning views on our way to this bridge that connects the mainland to the small island of Carrickarede and was first built in 1755.

But, we were too late in the day to be able to cross the bridge. The last people were coming back from the island when we got there so we just walked around and enjoyed the views.

Then we hit the road back to Belfast and our search for food was on. Too bad for us though, most restaurants and pubs stop serving food by 10...and it was after 10...and we were hungry and still searching for fish and chips.
Eventually we figured out that Pablos, a burger place right near our Airbnb served food until 2am.
It was quite possibly the best burger and fries I've ever eaten!
The next morning we relaxed and then eventually got up to go find St. George's Market for breakfast.
That's the building where our Airbnb was - quite a nice apartment building and with a good location, too.
St. George's Market was wonderful, but we hadn't exchanged any money so we had to go on a search for a place to do that on Sunday morning...but we managed to find an ATM at the train station.
Then it was time for coffee (oh how we needed coffee!) and our breakfast!
It was an amazing breakfast at the time, but afterwards we agreed it was entirely too much meat and we kinda felt sick each time we thought about it, hahaha.
It was a cloudy, slightly rainy day but we took off anyways to find Tollymore Forest. It's where the show Game of Thrones is filmed (which neither of us has ever seen).
Our first attempt to find the forest was a total bust, but we did get to enjoy some lovely countryside.
Then, once we got Google maps set accurately, we found the right forest and it was absolutely lovely.

We had picked up some cheese and crackers before our hike so enjoyed them as an afternoon snack.

Then back to Belfast to explore a bit more
and we settled on eating at Bootlegger. We liked the relaxed, country vibe of the place.

The photo is dark, but all of our food came on a metal tray, mostly served in enamel bowls.
Next we enjoyed some gin cocktails and learned that the world of gin is much, much bigger and better than I ever thought. It was a very educational visit with the bartenders as we finished off day 2 in Ireland.
Day 3 was our last morning in Belfast. We walked out to the Titanic museum.
Belfast is famous for being the place where the Titanic was built.

The area was beautiful and the weather was nice too.
We grabbed some coffee and relaxed before it was time travel again.
We dropped off our rental car and then headed south to the Dublin airport by bus where we rented another car.
Then we drove south of Dublin to Wicklow to our next Airbnb host. She had these amazing oatmeal/granola bar/cookies waiting for us!
It was a lovely place to stay, a big deck that looked out to the countryside
and with a small view of the water, too.
Wicklow was quaint and beautiful!
We walked around for a while taking in some of the town

before going to eat.
Then after dinner we walked along the coast until it was almost dark.

On our walk back to the house we passed by this church up on a hill
and then after a long hike uphill we were back to our house!
In the morning, we found an amazing breakfast spread waiting for us in the kitchen. It was all so fresh and homemade and lovely after days of traveling and eating only restaurant food.
From Wicklow we traveled to Wexford and explored around the town.
There are lots of castles and
beautiful old churches.
Even the ground is pretty! :-)
We popped our heads inside this Catholic church and the beauty of the stained glass almost took my breath away.

After a picnic lunch in the car, because it was raining, we got out our umbrellas and explored around Johnstown Castle and gardens. It's a 19th century castle surrounded by beautifully cared for gardens and ponds.

We decided this plant is a cousin to rhubarb because the stems and leaves looked the same, just much, much larger!

We enjoyed afternoon tea and scones in their tearoom. It was all so very, very good.
Then we drove over to Tintern Abbey which was established in 1131.

And then we ventured even further south to Hook Lighthouse.
It is 800 years old and the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world. The views around the lighthouse were amazing, even on a cloudy day.

And then as we were driving back to Wicklow for the night we had to stop because cows were crossing the road.
The next morning we packed up to leave our Airbnb to head into Dublin but spent our morning hiking at Glenalough.
It's a glacial valley known for it's two lakes and monastic history.
We hiked a good bit of the place and enjoyed the views the entire time.

By the end, my phone told me we'd walked over 23,000 steps...not sure about how accurate that is, but we were spent! There was a hotel there and when we saw people with ice cream we knew we had to find some for ourselves! Honeycomb ice cream - with actual honeycomb in it - was amazing.
Then we took a back road north to Dublin and got to enjoy gorgeous views the entire time.
Plus we got to dodge sheep on the road!
Once in Dublin we dropped off our rental car, grabbed a taxi to our final Airbnb host and then hit the streets. We were staying very close to the oldest pub in Dublin and so that was the first place we went. Why not, right? Oh, and it was Diana's birthday!
Temple Bar is famous in Dublin so we headed there for a bit and had a great time photobombing strangers photos. Hahaha :-)
Then off to eat to dinner at The Bank
and more walking around Dublin.
We ended up back at the Brazen Head to hear live Irish music. Turns out, the whole place sang happy birthday to Diana!!
Thanks to this lovely guy for making that happen (we never even found out what his name was....).
The next morning we were worn out. All the hiking from the day before, plus staying out late made for a rough morning. But we found breakfast and then hit the streets to explore Dublin.
It seemed like there was an amazing old building
or amazing beautiful flowers around every corner.
We walked by Guinness, but didn't pay to tour it.
But we did tour the only working distillery in Dublin, Teeling.
It was fascinating! I had no idea that so many steps went into making whiskey.

Lucky for us, the tour ended with a tasting.
Later we went out for dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant.
On our last morning we walked around for a bit and found ourselves at Jameson.

And then it was time to get on a bus to go the airport, and then onto the plane with this little bit of amazing food I scrounged up at the last kiosk before our gate. Scone, chips, snickers bars and water. What a meal!
8 hours later we landed at Steward, over 2 hours later we got off the bus in NYC, then we had to venture our way to train to take us to Newark.
Finally, the next morning, after a good 5 hours of sleep in a hotel, we said good-bye to each other at Newark.
It was an amazing adventure with such a special person. Now I want to take Ben with me and explore even more of Ireland!

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