I had every intention of documenting every little detail of our time in Ireland. Alas, things did not go as planned…prepare yourselves for a long post!
From the moment we stepped off our tiny plane in Dublin, I loved everything about that lush green place. We walked outside from the plane to the gate and were bombarded with wind and rain and the freshest most soothing scent in the air. We rushed past the waiting travelers inside and all the cheerful, soulful accents made it hard for me to hold in my giddy smile.
We had our first proper Irish breakfast in the airport and smiled to ourselves about the exciting week to come. We could hardly believe we were there.
We had reserved a car and paid a really reasonable (cheap) price ahead of time. In my head, I was anticipating it to cost a bit more, but we had left ourselves a little cushion so I wasn’t too worried. TURNS OUT Ireland has some interesting car rental laws. Within the first 10 minutes of our stressful 3-hours-stuck-at-the-airport-with-no-phone-service-and-no-idea-what-to-do-session, we learned that they don’t accept rental car insurance usually provided by credit cards (didn’t seem open to accepting the rental car coverage from our regular insurance either?), the minimum insurance option would be another $40 a day with an $1,800 hold on our credit card, the “premium” insurance would end up costing us close to $100 extra a day, and if we opted for no insurance, they required a hold on our card for the cost of the entire car (in our case, it was 3 grand). Needless to say, none of those options were all that…possible…for us. We’ve rented cars before, and were aware that there can be hidden fees and extra things that come up, but this we were not prepared for. Kind of makes you feel dumb, but I guess you live and learn.
After hours of phone calls and dead ends, we ended up being able to catch a bus to Galway (2-ish hours north of where we were staying) with hopes that we would be able to find another means of transportation to the town we had rented a cottage in. We arrived in Galway and were able to find and board a bus to Doolin within 30 minutes of arriving. The next 2 hours were a white-knuckled, motion-sickness-inducing doozy of a bus ride. We had looked up directions and pored over maps, but it was getting dark and since the cottage didn’t actually have “an address”, we were getting slightly nervous about how we would find this place. In the dark. On narrow, winding country roads.
We hopped off the bus at our stop with 30 minutes of light left, and headed up the hill on the road we were (pretty) sure our cottage was on. We had a moment realizing just how much of a comedy of errors we were in the middle of when we reached the church at the top of the hill and (no exaggeration) about a hundred noisy crows flew out of the trees into the sky above our heads. In that moment I may have regretted ever seeing a certain Hitchcock film. Twenty minutes of uphill trudging and car dodging ensued. Then, miraculously, a car passed us and stopped. Those beautiful white reverse lights turned on, and we were offered a ride. We hopped in and met Jim Shannon (God bless ‘im). He slowed down at every house we approached so we could identify our place. Such a kind man! We found the place just as it was getting pitch black out, used the light of the iPad (because, of course, our phones were dead) to unlock the door, and we were home at last. We snooped around a bit and promptly passed out from sheer exhaustion.
The next morning, a view out the window made things seem much more optimistic.
We started our “2km” walk (that actually ended up being more like 4km…) through the beautiful countryside to get to some food and discover a little more of the town.
I have never been to a place and felt so instantly at home. If my soul was a piece of geography…yeah.
We walked through the charming little touristy-town and enjoyed some lunch at Gus O’Connors pub. We decided to do a boat-tour of the Cliffs that afternoon, stopping at a charming Tea Cottage/Music Cafe for some coffee and scones. The owner was friendly and the scones were out-of-this world good.
We headed down the road to the dock and took our tour. The Cliffs of Moher have been something I’ve wanted to see for a long time, and they did not disappoint.
The next day consisted of an early morning trip to the bus stop to take the 40-minute bus ride to get to a grocery store so we could, you know, eat for the week. Then an afternoon of rest and laundry and the washer breaking with the majority of my clothes locked inside. I may or may not have had a melt down at that point…it was a long day. What.
Saturday we made it back out to O’Connor’s to experience a trad session (traditional irish folk music, which Doolin is widely known for). The air was full of joy and levity- I know I will remember that night for the rest of my life.
The next two days were full of rest and walks and just being. It was so needed and full of sweet memories. Oh, and a repairman rescuing my clothes from the washer. Thank. God.
Tuesday we made our trek back to Dublin to get to the room we were renting in an Apartment through Airbnb. We did a little exploring and grabbed a bite to eat before finding the apartment.
We made it to our apartment and met our wonderful hosts. After being up since before 5am and the crazy allergies I was having, we settled in early and got some sleep. Tuesday we got a late start and headed out to Trinity College. There we toured the Old Library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells are an illuminated manuscript of the Gospels created by Celtic monks in around 800 AD. It was such an intricately beautiful exhibit and work of art. The Old Library was one of my favorite parts of our visit. The beautiful architecture, the leather-bound books of every size and the smell of ancient pages…it was perfect.
On our way back we made a stop at yet another coffee shop, 3FE. It was cool to be able to try some excellent espresso in other parts of the world, and it definitely gave me a larger appreciation for the coffee culture that we have here in Portland.
That evening, after exploring a bit more of Dublin, we had some lovely conversation with our hosts. They were really great people who had so much to share with us about their city that they love. We talked for a few hours, and they helped us find a bus to get us back to the airport in time for our early flight. After a couple hours of sleep, we walked across town in the wee small hours of the morning to catch our bus and began our journey back home.
Two flights and a country or two later, and we were back in Portland. I really do love our city, and our little home in Canby. There really is nothing like being in the home you’ve started with the person you love. We are really thankful for everyone who supported us and encouraged us and rejoiced with us. We are blessed.
And as amazing and unforgettable as it all was… It is so, so good to be home.