Adventures though the Republic of Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, and North Ireland
  • Day1

    Leaving Home (LAX)

    October 16, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Thank goodness I get everywhere early, because I had plenty of time to find the new gate my plane leave from and meet a lovely couple. At least I'm off to a good start for my first flight, and caffeinated too.Read more

    Traveler

    Virgo anxiety= tons of wait time at the airport lmao

    10/18/18Reply
     
  • Day1

    Boston to Shannon

    October 16, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Turns out a five hour flight is no problem when there's an outlet on the chair in front of you, not including the nicotine cravings that is. I saw an awesome lighthouse, there are rocking chairs here (!!!) that I did sit in, and I also got to try Walburgers. Pretty eventful for just a plane ride.Read more

    I’ve always wanted to eat there, how was it?

    10/22/18Reply
     
  • Day2

    Lessons Learned

    October 17, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    As it turns out, the second flight had a few issues for me, like a lumpy seat, as well as not being able to sleep. There was some pretty good plane food and a couple of good conversations, but otherwise nothing special other than a chocolate pudding. The flight seemed to be over before I knew it though and suddenly we were landing in Shannon 40 minutes early at 5:40. Silly me, I was under the impression that there would be taxes and buses galore... no. Apparently there isn't even a sunrise until around 7:30, and most people are fine getting started on the day after that. Fortunately a friend who had flown in at the same time had rented a car and we decided to start our day out together. We drove up (on the left) to see Dunguaire Castle, only to get there and find it closed. So we hung out, went to a market for some food, and I napped in the car. When it finally opened we walked through and around, getting a couple of nice pictures along the way. Then we decided to make our way over to the Cliffs of Moher. That's where I found out that I didn't pack enough clothes for how windy it was up there. My friend very kindly lent me a sweater to get me through so I could see this marvelous sight. There was a visitor center carved into the hillside with a wonderful interactive area for kids, and a cute little gift shop, but the real attraction was at the top of the cliffs. Once reaching the summit there was a small castle type tower with a spiral staircase winding to the very top, and up there was just an incredible view. So, after taking a totally reasonable amount of selfies, and soaking in the view, it was time to climb down the hillside and move on with the day. So on my friend and I went, headed to the next destination, only to realize how late it was in the day, that he had already passed his check-in time and I was only a few hours away from mine. He kindly drove me back to the airport so I could get an estimate on a car (I quickly abandoned that idea) and realized that my idea of five sights in one day would have to be abandoned. I booked a bus to Cork where my first hostel was located, hugged my friend goodbye, and promptly had an anxiety attack about how my trip would go. I realized later that my breakdown might have had something to do with the lack of sleep and food. Finally, the bus arrived, and I basically slept my way through 95% of the ride, waking up only long enough to know I wasn't missing my stop, or think "what lovely landscape" before promptly falling asleep again. My first few steps in Cork were such a relief; I felt like I could finally relax. I found my way to my hostel with the help of someone at the bus station, and checked in with ease. I finally got here, and although I just wanted to lay down and sleep forever, I decided I should probably go get some food. Full on fish and chips, I made my way down the street to my hostel (and bar) to have a drink, and ended up staying there for a couple of hours chatting with someone else staying at the hostel. It was so nice chatting with someone, and it made me realize that although my plans didn't go as I may have wanted them, I'm still having my U.K. adventure, I'm still seeing things I've never seen before, and I'm going to make sure I have a great time no matter what is thrown my way.Read more

    Traveler

    Nice picture. I like the purple hair. It kind of blends.

    10/19/18Reply
     
  • Day3

    Starting Fresh

    October 18, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Okay, day two, and I think I'll be a bit lazy. I'll still go see a couple of sights, but this is now a leisurely stroll and not a marathon. Plenty of sleep under my belt, and food in my stomach, it's time to figure out how I'm getting to Blarney Castle (I know it'll be a bus, I just have to figure out which one,) when I'm getting back, and what I'm doing after. Prioritising sights to see, rolling with the punches, and traveling like a local. I can do this, even if I don't have any internet. This means, asking about 30 people how to get to the bus that will take me to Blarney Castle, stopping and getting my first real souvenir (a toasty warm jacket), stopping along the way at a funky shop to get a coffee doughnut, definitely missing my bus, and then asking about five more people to find the right bus stop. It may almost be 11, but today has been so much more relaxed than yesterday.Read more

    Bonn

    10/18/18Reply
    Traveler

    Nice jacket. I hope it keeps you nice and warm.

    10/19/18Reply
    Traveler

    OMG!! It took me forever to realize that purple braid is your hair!

    10/19/18Reply
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  • Day3

    Blarney Castle

    October 18, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    After a nice bus ride (that has wifi, they all have wifi!!) I found myself somewhere in Blarney next to a petrol (gas) station, and a little bit hungry. Now, when I think of gas station food I think of sad hotdogs and a bag of chips, but that is not at all how food is there. Fresh fries, made to order sandwiches, fried chicken, and much more. Plus, they were really nice. There was a man, Paul, behind the counter who suggested I get the chicken curry with rice and a side of chips (fries), said it would be perfect to warm me up on a chilly day. Boy was he right. When I went back to the counter for some water I was able to thank him for his recommendation, and we got to talking about Blarney Castle; my next stop. He suggested, after I saw the castle and kissed the stone that I make my way around the back to see the poison gardens, but especially the Blarney House, and that I would love it. So I made my way over to the castle (there were surprisingly few signs), finally found the entrance, and made sure to get a book on Blarney right there, before I even went inside. It was only 3€ and even the guy who sold it to me said it was the best one, which I thought was nice. Once I finally made it inside, I was truly in awe of the castle, not to mention the grounds. After admiring the rooms, and winding my way up very narrow staircases, I was at the top... and only slightly out of breath. What I ended up realizing as well as daring to do, is that to kiss the blarney stone you have to essentially lean yourself off the side of the castle into a gap head first, all the while hoping you don't look down and that the man holding your legs has a good grip. I felt a little like a badass. After that I wound my way down the stairs again and headed to the poison gardens. Honestly, if there weren't signs everywhere, I could have easily mistaken this garden as something run of the mill, but it was very special and informative. Upon exiting the gardens you're let out on a path that leads directly the Blarney House. Unfortunately, the house was closed, but it was very lovely to look at as well take photos. Leaving through the gift shop, and without buying anything more, I was able to get myself on the right bus back to Cork, but that's not my final destination of the day. Asking around, I was able to find a bus that goes directly to Dublin, and hopefully I'll make it to my hostel by the time I said I'd check in. I may have only gone to one site today, but I had a really great time.Read more

    Traveler

    You're my hero!

    10/18/18Reply
    Traveler

    Awesome that you're there. When brownie and I went I was too lazy too climb to kiss the Blarney stone when I found out you could kiss someone who kissed the stone and or was the same. Have a fabulous time.

    10/18/18Reply

    You’re a interesting writer!

    10/18/18Reply
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  • Day3

    Watch out Dublin

    October 18, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    There's something interesting about finally making it to a city, and still having no idea where you're headed. Fortunately I was able to pull up a map on how to get to my hostel and it was only a few blocks away from the bus stop. This place is so much larger. There's two huge areas to hang out, a big kitchen, four stories with a rooftop veranda surrounded by glass, and my shared dorm has 12 beds. After getting settled in, and I can very easily say how nice it was to walk somewhere without my backpack, I went off in search of food. I decided to just start walking and find a place to eat by running across it; it wasn't a long journey, I ended up about two blocks away from my hostel. This place was a nice decently sized pub, with all the food you'd expect, and the only thing I wanted was the Cesar salad. Clearly I've been feeling vegetable deprived, but it was also a marvelous salad. Now, I won't say that people in the US aren't friendly, but our customer service skills are put to shame by Ireland. After finishing my meal, the person clearing my food away asked me how my day had been, and how I was enjoying my trip, and we were able to have a nice little chat. They also have very nice after dinner mints. Heading back to my hostel I realized that although I've only been there for a bit I've seen that people there are slightly standoffish, and seem to keep to themselves or their group; so it's a good thing I can strike up a conversation with almost anyone. I was able to start talking to someone outside of the hostel, just chatting about our travels, and I learned that he and a friend had met someone the night before who was coming to hang out, and fortunately was invited along. We hung out and chatted for hours. Unfortunately, they're all headed in different directions tomorrow, so I may just take a lazy day and go on the hostels pub crawl tonight.Read more

  • Day4

    More Than Expected

    October 19, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Today was... fantastic, and it's not even four. I woke up early, which was nice because I was able to take my time getting ready, but it also meant that I was able to look up a place to get an Irish breakfast. Once my decision had been made, backpack safely locked away for the day, I grabbed my essentials and headed out the door. It took me stopping three places to get free wifi, but finally Queen of Tarts was located. After a very filling breakfast, obviously with tea, I headed for my next destination. At first, I didn't even realize I was in the courtyard of the Dublin Castle, but then I saw all the tour groups. Thinking I was just going to wander around, maybe even eavesdrop on what the guides had to say (that only works if there speaking English) I headed inside. When I realized how inexpensive a guided tour would be, I jumped on it. A very informative hour and a half later (I have already forgotten most of it) I was taking a photo of myself where the president of the Republic of Ireland is inaugurated, as well as where they host foreign dignitaries. Money certainly well spent. Unfortunately, my clumsiness kicked in and I dropped my camera, but my silver lining was a very nice man who sent me to a nearby camera shop. Along the way, and realizing it was past noon, I came across a fantastic ice cream shop that uses local products to make their flavors. I think brown bread was my favorite. I ended up getting a raspberry and dark chocolate sorbet, but everything there was delicious. I did finally find the shop, and although they couldn't fix my camera, they were kind enough to tape it closed for me and offer a bag. At this point, I decided to just wander, and maybe get some food that was actually healthy. Walking down a random street there was suddenly a line of people out of a shop, and that made up my mind for me. If the locals liked this place then I was certainly going to try it. I got a very tasty, and impressively spicy, lemongrass chicken stir fry, as well as a water because I had just noticed that I had left my travel mug somewhere random in Dublin. After a satisfying meal, I headed up the street to go see the statue of Molly Malone, stopping only briefly to buy a new claddagh ring and double check my directions. At this point, the day was still young, the sun was shining, but my feet were killing me. I realized I'd been walking, nearly nonstop, for almost 8 hours. I headed back to my hostel, and miraculously, I was able to get there without asking a million people or using free wifi for gps. All in all, a day of fun adventure, and not quite getting lost.Read more

    Traveler

    If your camera is broken, does that mean we no longer get photos?! That would be a shame. I’m enjoying them and your blog so much!

    10/19/18Reply
    Traveler

    My Polaroid, my phone is still alright.

    10/19/18Reply
    Traveler

    Love following your journey. Your rich writing style is enviably captivating.

    10/23/18Reply
     
  • Day4

    The Wind Down

    October 19, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    As it would turn out, walking around for eight hours can be tiring. This is why, upon my return to the hostel, I promptly fell asleep for about three hours. I did have enough time to get up and join the pub crawl, but there's always another night. Instead I decided to go to the local market so I could see what was available. First, I would like to say that they are so much smarter about eggs, and they don't have to keep them in the refrigerated section. Second, their tea section puts us to shame. Shame!!! And finally, the variety they offer on flavors is incredible. They have pear flavored popsicles, and the juice I got tastes delicious, but it's like that for nearly everything. I was also very lucky to see that right outside the store, which is only about two blocks from the hostel, they have a bike rental station. Talk about lucky. Tomorrow will still be an adventure, but it might be one on wheels. For tonight, I'm just going to enjoy being freshly showered (with sandles) and read a book.Read more

    Traveler

    Unrefrigerated? Are they unwashed with their original protective coating?

    10/19/18Reply
     
  • Day6

    New Beginnings

    October 21, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Now I'm sure you're thinking "Wow, Kelley didn't post at all yesterday. She must not have done anything." Wrong. Not only did I wake up early and walk to the shop to get food, but I also had breakfast... and read a book. What a thrilling day. Really though, what occupied my time, was meeting my first cousin once removed and his family for the first time in my life. I took a taxi over to his house, because there was no way I would be late the first time meeting him, and thankfully found his house with relative ease. It was made a bit easier to find than most because it's made from shipping containers, and absolutely amazing. I don't know how most people feel when meeting a family member for the first time, excluding babies, but I was a little nervous. Fortunately, things went extremely well. I was welcomed in to their home, where I met his two children, and we enjoyed coffee and some cake all while getting to know each other. We spoke about our family tree; I think I surprised him with how many of us there are. After we all walked from his house and in to the main city center to go buy Halloween decorations for their house. Along the way we stopped in to say "Hi" to his wife, who was working at her family's shop, and I suppose to introduce me as well. When they realized I didn't really have plans for the day, they very kindly asked me to join them for dinner, and I most certainly accepted. From there we headed to a pub for a few drinks. While his youngest napped in the pram (stroller) and his older one was occupied watching videos on YouTube (fortnight gets you at all ages), the conversation continued to flow. After a while there, we headed back to the house, hoping to get there before the little one work up. Once we got back to the house we just spent time together chatting and, in my opinion, having a wonderful time. When my cousins wife returned home, with fresh cuts of lamb, vegetables, and potatoes, they set to work cooking... and wouldn't let me help at all. We sat down to dinner and I found that their young daughter was very concerned with vegetable intake, and kept serving bunches of vegetables to anyone who didn't have any on their plate. It was highly entertaining. Along with being fed well, we chatted the whole way through dinner an in to the night. I learned so much about my extended family, like that they're uproariously funny, and their life here in Ireland. Perhaps they were just being polite, but they invited me to stay with them for the rest of my stay in Dublin. I accepted. Well past midnight they called a cab so I could head back to my hostel and get some rest before today's adventure. With my plans constantly changing, I figured I had better see the sights I want while I have the time, so today I'm headed to Giant's Causeway on a bus tour. It's an all day trip to four destinations, two of which are apparently filming locations for Game of Thrones, but I'm just excited to see more scenery. So, let's see how today goes.Read more

    Traveler

    So cool, keep posting when you have time. I too missed the Blarney Stone. Loved Ireland! You must visit a pub in the afternoon, we really meet shamus in one and laughed our asses off with him.

    10/21/18Reply
     
  • Day6

    Bus Tour

    October 21, 2018 in Northern Ireland ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    Not even 10 minutes into the trip and already our guide was giving us information on the tunnel we were passing through. The Dublin Port Tunnel is the longest urban tunnel in Ireland. That may not be a sight to see, or a destination on a map, but I found it pretty interesting. Now we're off and running, all the while enjoying classic Irish weather (light rain), and beautiful countryside. I can say confidently that I'm quite grateful for my first souvenir on a day like this.

    After driving for a while and stopping to get food (I got a chicken and bacon toastie), as well as use the facilities, we were back on the road. Suddenly, the tour guide says "Okay, were about to cross the border so get out your passport and ID's." pausing long enough that everyone on the bus had a moment to panic, she then says "Okay, go ahead an put them away, we've crossed the border." I thought it was a pretty funny way to bring the whole Brexit situation to light, and that they're still not sure what will happen with their border, but that may be because I would have been able to produce those documents. One of the other things she mentioned is that in Northern Ireland (U.K.) they use miles, whereas the Republic of Ireland uses kilometers.

    Our first stop along the tour was at Dunluce Castle. It had stopped raining, so we didn't really need our jackets, but to call the weather blustery would have been a vast understatement. Our tour guide informed us that it was originally owned by the McQuilllan family, but was taken over by the McDonnell family in 1550. Although this was just a photo stop, it was lovely to look at, and apparently it's the castle that is used for the Greyjoy castle in Game of Thrones.

    Nearing our second destination of the day we had to pass through Bushmills, where they're very well known for whiskey. Our guide also informed us that Bushmills is the oldest whiskey distillery, ever, and they started by using the water from the river right next to it. I guess Ireland wins that round. Finally we pulled up to Giant's Causeway, the place I've been looking forward to most. After a lovely walk down the cliffs, and roughly 20 photos later, the rock formations can finally be seen. Giant's Causeway was formed 50 to 60 million years ago when lava flowed up the coast to form hexagonal pillars, and the ones with iron in them have a deep red coloring. On a clear day, because it's only 17 miles away, Scotland can be seen from the causeway. Truly, breathtaking scenery.

    As a side note, because our bus had gone off somewhere during our time, people kept coming up to me asking if I knew when it would be back. I can only presume that I was the only person they recognized from the group because of my purple hair. At least I was able to reassure them that they wouldn't be left behind.

    From the causeway we continued on to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, but due to the windy conditions we aren't able to cross over it, which was fine because we only had an hour at this stop. I suppose them not wanting us to get blown in to the ocean is a good thing. The bridge was made as an alternative to boats to get to the island for fishing. After stepping off the bus and spending 15 minutes walking the wrong way (the pictures were worth it), I was able to powerwalk down to the rope bridge to at least take a picture before making my way back to the bus. I was also the only person not wearing a jacket, apparently because I'm a lunatic.

    A short drive later we were pulling up to Dark Hedges. This road has beech trees over 230 years old and were planted to create an imposing entrance. One hundred fifty trees were originally placed along the path, but after a severe storm in 2016 only ninety-nine remain. This was another location that Game of Thrones has filmed, so unfortunately there was no way to get a photo without tourists in it, but it was still very impressive to see.

    On the way back to the bus from the final stop I stumbled upon a small walkway. At first I thought it might just be a garden that wasn't in bloom, but walking through I realized that it was filled with fairy homes. Dozens of them. Certainly an unexpected surprise, but a fun way to end my trip before heading back to Dublin.
    Read more

    Traveler

    I loved this post, very informative. I’m glad I’ll eventually get to see all the photos, not just the ones you posted.

    10/21/18Reply