Last week I blogged here about how to plan a trip if you aren’t a planner. Back in March of 2015 I went to Ireland and Northern Ireland on a short notice trip. It was a trip of a lot of firsts for me, including first airbnb stay, first left side driving experience, and first independent international flight.
So this is a summary of that trip and some things I learned along the way, before I had my trip planning system all figured out.
Part 1: Ireland.
My first impressions of Ireland started on the plane. It seemed to me that Irish people, with their lifting intonation dialect, always sound happy, even while traveling.
Landing in Belfast, Northern Ireland I put myself on a bus to the Belfast city bus terminal. There I met up with my sister-in-law and we caught a bus to Dublin. Twoish hours later we arrived in Dublin and went hunting for accommodations. (Meaning, we checked out a few hostels near the bus station and decided to go with our airbnb lead instead.)
Did I mention that this was a quickly planned trip?
In fact, I set up my airbnb account at the airport before I flew. We solidified our evening sleeping arrangements via public transit wifi. All the city and regional buses have free WiFi, which is a life-saver when you need to contact your host about your estimated arrival time. We checked our luggage into the bus station lockers and headed out exploring.
First stop, Trinity College to roam the streets. We stopped by the Christ Church Cathedral because I thought I had to see the arch over the street (it’s cute though, right?) and walked the streets of Temple Bar, mid afternoon.
We saw the book of Kells (very old, elaborate Bible pages) and the library it’s housed in, on the Trinity College campus.
From there we headed to the National Leprechaun Museum and learned about this culture’s attachment to said creatures and their friends (including giants and fairies). It was a little informative and mostly amusing, with interesting little interactive exhibits, including a room of giant furniture so we can experience the leprechaun life and a life-sized story book for us to jump out of.
That was all day 1.
Day 2, we took a cab to the airport to get a rental car. It was a light little thing that felt like it could blow away on the high-wind highway sometimes, but I loved the left side driving. It made even the normal stuff, like driving on flat roads for miles, lots more entertaining.
The car took us first to Bunratty Castle. Bunratty Castle is a tour-able castle and village. It was on our list mostly because I don’t think you can go to Ireland without visiting a castle and it was the most in route. I can’t speak to how it compares to other castles, but it did the trick for us.
This is also where we faced our first real bout with Irish wind in an attempt to take selfies from the castle roof (is it called a roof?).
The Cliffs of Moher followed soon after and, no pun intended, blew us away. Quite possibly my windiest life experience to date, we struggled at times to stand upright. This was also the moment before I had the revelation to start bobby-pinning my hair back, if you were wondering.
Last stop, Galway. We had shepherd’s pie for dinner because we’re in Ireland and roamed the streets after dark. As a female traveler who’s often staving off well-meaning warnings from others, it was a relief to feel safe to be out at night.
Dessert was a Cadbury Creme McFlurry. Needless to say, I definitely enjoyed the chocolate varieties of the UK.
Day 3: We crossed Ireland again, return tripping our car to the airport and ourselves via bus to Belfast, but not without some classic Irish countryside views along the way.
And a stop in this little town, just because it was cute.
Stay tuned for my next blog post, Ireland Part 2: The continuation of this spontaneous trip in Northern Ireland, which is, yes, another country.