Ireland: Beyond the Pint

Sorry for the late update…I ended up going camping a few days with my family. Well it wasn’t exactly the typical kind of camping that usually involves sleeping in a tent, being attacked by mosquitoes and cooking over an open fire. No it was slightly more flashy and comfortable. And with my last tenting experience fresh in mind (more about that later…) it was quite nice to be sleeping in my parents caravan. Although we were still being attacked by mosquitoes. It is impossible to get away from does annoying little bastards!

But still better late than never…as promised I thought I’d share a bit more on my Irish adventure. There are so many amazing places in Ireland, and there are a lot that I still haven’t seen, and everyday is a new experience. Like I’ve said, there’s always reasons to return. Travelling off season has its pros and cons. The positives are probably pretty obvious. Less crowded- meaning easier to find accommodation and score better deals. No need to book ahead. And in my opinion places seams a bit more genuine in the off season. The negatives are that some places might be closed. It can also be a bit harder to get around. Ireland is like many other countries definitely best seen by car. Just remember they drive on the left…If you, like me are going by bus be prepared that some routs are gonna be closet during the off season. Something I experienced more than once. Luckily I have a thumb and a big smile;)

There are a lot of ”must sees” in Ireland. And by a glance it looks like a fairly small country, but my best advice would be to take your time, and don’t rush around too much. Don’t attempt to see the whole country in a weeks time. If you only have a few days or a week to spend in Ireland try and see a small part of the country, and actually see it and experience it. And then come back for the rest another time. Cause I promise, you gonna want to return.

I think it is safe to say that Ireland is just one of those places were making a fool of yourself is not only allowed, it is very much expected and cherished. Some things that in any other place would be a bit unusual feels perfectly natural in Ireland. So I probably shouldn’t have been all that surprised when one night in the pub a fine gentlemen came up to me and asked to sing me a love song, instead of the more common ”can I buy you a drink” pick up line that honestly feels pretty used (even if you’re a cheap ass backpacker like me counting every penny.) And he sang, load and clear and to be honest he was a terrible singer! Which in a way made it even more sweet. Then we had a few laughs and he tried to show me some traditional Irish dancing. It is just the way of the Irish…(And no he didn’t try and get me in the sack)

Besides the people, the music and lets face it -the Guinness, Ireland is all about the nature. Which I just happen to be very found of;) Green rolling hills with grazing sheep, ancient ruins, windswept beaches and spectacular cliffs dropping straight down to the roaring North Atlantic Ocean. I mean what is not to like?

The Causeway Coastal Walk  

Undoubted one of Irelands finest walks. Put on your walking boots and spend the morning enjoying the 16,5 km walk from the Carrick-a-Rede to the Giant’s Causeway. Simple breathtaking! It was totally worth dragging my as out of bed for. And if you’re up for it why not do the whole 53 km walk from Ballycastle to Portstewart. The Giant’s Causeway itself is definitely worth a look, and it’s easy to see why the old Irish myth goes that the Causeway was built by a giant. The 60 million years old rock formations looks man-made! However some of the charm goes missing because of the fact that it is literally packed with tourist. So if possible I would recommend to visit really early in the morning or late at night.

Killarney National Park

The town of Killarney in County Kerry is not really worth staying in for too long, it’s a pretty bland place with cheap motels and souvenir shops everywhere. But the distinctive combination of mountains, lakes and woods in the 26 000 acres Killarney National Park on the other hand is worth exploring! Spend a day or two just walking around and taking in the natural beauty and peace that surrounds this place.

Wicklow Mountains

The Glendalough Valley in County Wicklow attracts a huge number of visitors each year, and this ancient monastic settlement of St.Kevin is well worth a visit. It’s a perfect daytrip from Dublin, and the settings are stunning. And why not do a bit of a hike in Wicklow Mountain National Park while you’re there. A place famous for being part of the setting in a number of movies, including Bravehart, P.S. I love you, Excalibur, King Arthur and Lassie to name a few.  Along with the rest of Ireland cycling also seemed to be a popular thing to be doing. And you’ll definitely be sure to get a proper workout…

The Cliffs of Moher

The majestic cliffs of Moher rises 214m above the Atlantic Ocean southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare and is one of Ireland top tourist destination with over 1 million visitors a year. It is amazing. As is the rest of the Burren region, which is also less crowded. Personally I much preferred walking around in the area than the famous cliffs itself. I just appreciate the natural beauty even more without all the people constantly flashing a camera in my face asking if I can take their picture…I spent 3 nights in the cosy town of Doolin, often refereed to as the capital of traditional Irish music, and the 3 pubs, McDermott’s, McGann’s and O’Connor’s within this old little fishing village are all excellent! And if you stay at Aille River Hostel you’ll be sure to feel right at home.

And then there is the characteristic town of Kilkenny that deserves a visit, check out the Dingle Penninsula, the remote part of West Cork are pretty cool as well and no visit to Ireland is complete without a visit to lovely Galway.

…And with all that exploring you’ll be sure to spend some quality time in the pub, but hey, don’t forget to have some food with all that beer…A traditional Irish stew with some soda bread is the best way to go after a long day out in the cold. Or if the sun is shining, which happens, occasionally visit the local fish n’ chip shop (or chippy as they call it) and head outside and watch the sunset.

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