During the second week of May, we took advantage of some of the college girls in our ward being home, and hired one to come stay with our kids for 4 days so that we could go on an adults only trip. We traveled with our good friends, Mandy and Andrew. Because we were paying a babysitter, we decided we better pick somewhere really awesome to go, that would be difficult to do with kids. It didn't take long for me to decide on Ireland. I think since watching Far and Away as a teenager, I have dreamed of seeing that beautiful country in person. And it did not disappoint.
We arrived on a Monday afternoon, and went out to find our rental car. Poor Nate got stuck with being the driver, and we hadn't thought much about the fact that he would be driving on the left side of the road, but in the right side of the car, with a left-handed shifter. Ugh!! So weird. About 10 minutes into our drive, traffic started to get heavier as we approached a city. Nate wasn't too confident in his 'navigators', so he quickly found a spot to pull off the road and regroup. Unfortunately, he failed to see the stone wall that was about knee height on the left side of the car. The entire rental car scraped along the edge of that wall. It was not our best moment. Poor Nate carried the brunt of that, and it kind of bummed us out for the rest of that evening. We knew that we had coverage through our credit card, but were now wishing that we hadn't declined the rental company's insurance. Would have saved a lot of hassle. (Side note--5 months later and we are finally being reimbursed!!) For the rest of the day, we found a place to eat some fish n chips (never as good as I hope), and we found the BEST ice cream around. We had heard that Murphy's was amazing. But it really was. Unique to the area, they had some awesome flavors--the Brown Bread and the Sea Salt Caramel were my faves. After food, we drove part of the Kerry Loop before it got too dark to see anything. Then made our way to the first hotel. (Which, by the way, was an apartment that happened to be occupied by the landlady and her daughter--we were essentially houseguests. Not what we were expecting but it worked out ok! :) ) Oh and after getting settled, we walked down into downtown Dingle and followed the music into a fun little pub where we just sat and enjoyed the traditional Irish jams--so awesome.
Thankfully, Ireland was so amazing, that it totally made up for any of that first days' mishaps. Day 2--Driving the Dingle Loop. First, I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed the name of the town "Dingle" and every association that came along with that. We are really mature ;). This was my favorite day. We just drove around this peninsula all day. Anytime we felt like stopping, we did. No kids to wrangle. Just the beauty of the earth and our own instincts. And we were amazingly blessed in the weather department. I don't think Ireland sees a lot of sunshine--but we certainly saw the sun. And despite the very cold wind, it was beautiful!! Just what I imagined it to be.
That night we drove up north a ways to a city near the Cliffs of Moher. It was called Limerick. That night we stayed in a very nice city hotel. A much different experience than the night before. We wandered around looking for a Pub to eat at, and weren't having much luck. We almost got sucked in by a Papa Johns!! It was so tempting! But we opted to save it for the next day. We asked a local man coming out of a pub, where we could find some good food and music. It was so funny as he described what we would find on a "ChooseDay" night--no one in our group understood the man but me. TUESDAY guys! Come on! Anyway, we found a fabulous little pub with really great music and really yummy food, overlooking the river. Such a fun experience.
Wednesday we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher, which were absolutely breathtaking. We decided to first visit an island just off the coast, before viewing the cliffs from above. It was so cool to see the cliffs from below--truly awesome. The island was beautiful! We rented bikes and just rode all over that little island to our hearts content. I kept thinking that none of this would be possible with all the kids in tow. After our island bike tour, we drove up to the top of the cliffs. I am not embarrassed to say that I've developed a real fear of heights in the last few years. I was SO nervous being on top of those cliffs, with the wind whipping by so forcefully. We played it safe, but seeing some other tourists pushing the limits nearly gave me a heart attach. Aside from the fear, I was, once again, awestruck. I wish everyone could have that experience. As we drove away from the Cliffs, we looked up the nearest Papa Johns' on our route. What a joyous reunion. Our tummy's were satisfied. We drove late into the night to arrive at our hotel outside of Dublin. This time we stayed in an old castle inn. Again, totally different than the other two--very charming. Unfortunately, we had planned to see Dublin before flying home, but ran out of time. The next morning we hurried to the airport and, due to a few different hold ups (the rental car return being one of them), we nearly missed our flights! We didn't even have kids along!! But it was such a whirlwind. A quick trip, but filled with memories that I will always cherish. Ireland now has a place in my heart (and we didn't even have to try the whiskey! ;) )