All I can say to open this is; FINALLY. This trip was many years in the making. It’s the motherland, I’ve been dying to make my way over here for many many years. My ancestors on my dad’s side come from Munster, Cork so obviously, a trip to the Emerald Isle had to happen at some point in my life. It was my first, but it will not be my last.
Ireland as a country is relatively small so if you’re wondering if you can see nearly the entire thing in a week, the answer is yes – but depending on how much of it you want to see. I traveled all over Ireland three out of the 7 days I was there and saw Cork, Belfast, Dublin, and Howth. In hindsight, I should have spent a few extra days there to make it to Galway on the west coast and see more of Limerick, and everything else in between. I’m convinced every inch of this country is covered in colorful, green beauty. Like I said, I will be back. This trip was definitely not “once in a lifetime”. Ireland, we have unfinished business, you and I.
This was one of the places Anthony Bourdain visited. I found it by chance and absolutely loved it. I was just walking through the Temple Bar district streets and this place looked awesome so I went inside and found this little upstairs bar where I had my first drink in Dublin! Not surprising that he and I have similar tastes. He was pretty punk rock and I like to think I am too.
Touristy stop #1: Blarney Castle. It’s over 600 years old…you kind of have to see this.
…and hell no, I didn’t kiss the stone. Gross. I just looked at it. That’s it (below). I’m like “You know what? Not for me.” and the locals quietly applauded me for not being a typical tourist. YEAH, because I’m not. Kissing it is believed to be for fools only, according to those who are actually from Ireland. Otherwise, the myth tells you that those who kiss it are given the gift of lifelong eloquence. I already have that, thank you very much.
Badger’s Cave…right by the castle. It was like walking through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
Cork! The city my ancestors migrated from some time ago, I think pre-Titanic. This area is also the port of call where the Titanic departed for her final voyage. This was the departing port for many immigrants, especially to Ellis Island. Cork is rich in history. This village also has a handful of quirky homes like these below, nicknamed, “The Deck of Cards” due to the way they’re stacked. Like Ireland’s version of The Painted Ladies in San Francisco.
The final port of call for the RMS Titanic. She was built in Belfast, sailed to and departed Cork, aka Queenstown, which they changed the name to after Queen Victoria when she visited in the early 1920s before eventually being renamed back to Cobh, on her final tragic voyage.
This part of Cobh is said to be “the saddest place in Ireland” as this is the place where millions of immigrants departed as they left the country. If you have ancestors from Ireland, there’s a huge chance this is where they left. The Queenstown Story houses an exhibition that highlights a lot of history from the Great Famine to the Titanic and the Lusitania.
I LOVE THIS PHOTO!!! I spotted this row of colorful homes up from the hill by the “Deck of Cards” row of houses. If you scroll back up, you can see it in the shots of the view with the water. Since I was with a group of people and not on my own this day, I thought there was no way I’d be able to get this shot unless we got closer to that street so I can run over there real quick without losing anyone. I actually got to! We drove down the hill and drove right by it and parked up the street a few blocks. I knew I’d have time to go rogue and slip away for a little bit to get this shot. I was very about it. It’s within walking distance from the Queenstown Story exhibit.
This is the Temple Bar district in Dublin. Essentially, it’s where all the action is, especially at night. At twilight, it reminded me of Paris; the cool BLUE sky contrasted against the warm pub and restaurant lighting. It’s a whole mood and I live for it.
Fun fact: “Cave Hill is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Swift imagined that the Cave Hill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. There’s a trail leading to the summit.” – I stole that bit from Google. Do you see it? I don’t really see it….
Ireland’s North Coast!
This is where I really fell in love with Ireland…
I’m not a Game of Thrones fan, in fact, I’ve never even seen a single episode, but I am intrigued by this row of trees! I just wish we had fog instead of rain this day. This location is known as The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland.
How did I manage to get images with no one there? Strategically waited for the flock of tourists to go through and disappear down the road until they were out of sight/small enough to photoshop out. On my Instagram highlights from this trip, I have tips on how to do this 😉 Always wait for a lull for a clean shot to make it look like you had the place all to yourself.
The Giants Causeway, Bushmills, United Kingdom
This area is made up of over 40,000 basalt columns, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. It all looks manmade, but it’s actually a result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
…and yes, did mostly the same tactic as the Dark Hedges; just waited for people to disappear a little bit or be far enough away to easily Photoshop them out of the photos. This location was just too beautiful to have other people in the background. No offense to you guys, and I say with this love or whatever, but GTF out of my shots. Thanks 🙂
HOLY SHIT! Can I just live here?!
I loved this restaurant. So this cold and windy day, with a lunch that was the king of all comfort foods with a frosty pint, matched with little sleep/jetlag…had me fighting for my life to stay awake, especially on the bus. I would have eaten that meal twice though. It’s a delicious Bangers and Mash type of dish – pork sausages with onion gravy on top of mashed potatoes, you know, what this whole country is famous for. It was one of those meals I’ll remember forever, as simple as it was. And the restaurant is called Fullerton Arms. I was born and raised in Fullerton, CA so obviously I loved the name.
They had their restaurant on one side, the pub on the other side, a Game of Thrones room in between (another must-see for you GOT fans), and their small boutique hotel upstairs. If you’re looking for a trip to the North Coast in a sleepy yet BEAUTIFUL coastal town on top of a hill with views that is close to the Giants Causeway and everything around it, this is a great place to stay! It’s inside of a small village with other shops and cafes to walk to. It’s the total opposite of a party town. This is a good place to come and disconnect, and reconnect with yourself or some tranquil beauty brought to you by Ireland’s northern coast.
FYI, this area is inside of the United Kingdom and their main currency is British pounds, although they also accept Euros.
A political mural tour of Belfast
The IRA wars in Belfast aren’t a fun thing to discuss and it was a heavy, total-bummer part of the trip to Belfast, but it’s real life, and it did happen. And the messed up part is, it wasn’t quite that long ago. The city is peppered in murals and memorials, one of these pictured being dedicated to innocent protestants who had their lives taken. Needless to say, this is definitely one part, if not the part of Ireland where you’d get your ass beat for ordering an “Irish Car Bomb” at a bar. Car bombs aren’t even a joke here.
I also instantly noticed the northern Irish accents are different from those in the Dublin area. Northern Ireland accents are more “brogue” and thick. Any Peaky Blinders nerds like myself would have noticed this right away as Sam Neil’s character spoke with this accent in the show and he was from Belfast.
My cabbie from the airport when I arrived in Dublin asked me what my travel plans were and I told him I didn’t really have any and just planned to explore and roam around. He suggested I roam my way to Howth, a charming little seaport town with the BEST seafood! He wasn’t wrong. It took me a while to find the spelling so I could find this town. I couldn’t understand the name he was telling me because his accent was so thick, you could stick a fork in it. Even though everyone here does speak English (as well as Gaelic), the accents vary.
Last full day in Dublin meant finally making time to visit the Guinness Brewery. Yes, touristy, but a must! Even if you don’t drink the beer, it’s still pretty cool. It’s more than just a distillery that you walk around aimlessly in. They have interactive exhibits with all the history you could ever want, tasting rooms, a quick class on how to properly pour a Guinness, cafes, bars, and restaurants…oh and also live music inside the brewery, because WHY NOT?! I did not expect this place to be a party. I was so lit before noon and left this place totally tipsy. A true display of Irish hospitality hahahah.
My first and only pint of the beer of the land! Ironically, on my last day there.
I hear very often how “gross” the food in Ireland is. QUITE THE OPPOSITE! I’m here to shut that down. It’s surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean – freezing cold water – which usually guarantees excellent seafood. And they have just that. Their oysters are the size of my hands! A half dozen is pretty much a whole meal. They also have beef, which I don’t eat but lots of people do, and they’re famous for their fresh dairy, and of course, potatoes. Not exactly the most vegan-friendly agriculture, but they still have vegan and vegetarian options at nearly every pub and restaurant I dined at.
Hands down, one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. It’s easy to get there, easy to get around, and for being in Europe, it’s not very expensive. I managed to travel around the country from Munster to Belfast, all while staying in Dublin. If I had more time, I would have made it to Galway, which is on the west coast. I will save that for next time because there definitely will be a next time.