There are aspects of every trip that do not fit in with other blog entries and that lack the substance to fill out an entry of their own. Many of them are goofy and have nothing to do with the trip or the country I am in, they are just kind of a universally comical experience.
Some aspects are simple moments of gratitude and calm. Some are scary or astounding. Some things never change no matter where you are.
Here are some of my favourites from a recent trip to Ireland. We traveled from Dublin to Belfast, from Belfast all the way up to the coast Northern Ireland and back, and cross-country from Dublin to Renvyle. Then we took the Wild Atlantic Way all the way down the west coast through the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher into Shannon.
We named this sheep Spreaghad, the Irish word for “Encouragement” and he was our spirit guide on the trip. Any time my friend got nervous about driving or going out into the ocean on a boat, or when we got frustratingly lost or stressed out, he cheered us on. If Spreaghad says you can do it, you can do it!
Clonmacnoise and the Baby Cow Blockade
Speaking of getting frustratingly lost, there was one night where we were just about at our wits ends navigating junctions in the countryside with no signal when all of the sudden we were greeted with several pairs of eyes in the pitch black.
We slowly herded them along not having any idea what the outcome of this might be. Eventually we came to where a truck blocked the street and a man that was frantically herding more cows through an open gate. He thanked us and we laughed the rest of the night. You never know what will happen in these hills.
Sleeping in Castles
It really is the small details that make magic happen. Our stay at the Clontarf Castle was absolutely magical, and everything from the hand-carved furniture to the door hangers was tailored perfectly to suit the castle.
Sleeping in General
Sneaking in a nap at any possible opportunity is vital during cross-country or multiple destination tours. The train from Belfast down to Dublin provided just the right level of noise and movement to lull us to sleep.
Checking out the local art scene is always an exciting part of any trip, especially when you find things you can relate to or that resonate somehow.
The Sound of Music
We were shockingly hard-pressed to find some authentic live Irish music during our trip. Admittedly we did not stay out super late very often but I suppose we had just expected to hear it blasting from every corner.
One of our hosts owns a Trad House and was kind enough to give us a backstage tour, play some of his own music, and invited us to sing a few of our own. He gave us lessons in playing the bones also and my friend found a pair she liked.
It’s obligatory. You know the drill. Everyone does it.
Even though Ireland has been relatively peaceful for the last decade, tensions are still stirring. Many neighbourhoods have made signs and do not hold back about their beliefs. Brexit dominated the headlines on local papers and the news channel and radio stations held open discussions, many callers in a panic.
Despite this, there was never a moment when we were questioned or instigated to discuss our personal opinions on the matter, and we did not witness any hostility among others in mixed crowds.
The Weird and Wonderful
So we found this creepy building in Tullycross. I was not able to gain any back story on this building, and the fact we were fleeing from a hurricane in a remote village with no living people in sight made things seem even more unsettling.
The Pigeon God of St. Stephen’s Green, found in Dublin’s most famous park, is a man who put on an elaborate pigeon show for half an hour.
He conducts them into various formations and moves them from one location to the next. At his command, they step into circles or climb up onto a spectator’s shoulder.
He says they do not belong to him.
Breaking the Rules
Absolutely no photos are allowed INSIDE the Book of Kells room, which is more like protecting darkness from light here.
The floor tiles of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are simply gorgeous. One reason I love visiting historic sites is to admire the amount of detail that goes into the architecture and design.
Universal Sense of Humour
This was hanging up on the concierge counter and made me laugh a little too loud.
That one store or cafe you keep revisiting, but does not exist where you live. You get back home and dream of just one more sip, and find yourself at 2 am one night trying to order some on the internet. But you can’t.
Insomnia coffee and cocoa was a lifesaver for us during those moments of sheer exhaustion and helped us ground ourselves. I rarely take sweet drinks but this was perfect on a cold, rainy October morning.
Moments of Peace
I am not religious but there was something incredible about entering Saint Patrick’s Cathedral right as they began their daily prayer and hearing the words recited in unison, as they had for centuries, echo around us in the chamber.
Each trip is different and brings its own unique memories but some things do not change no matter where you are.
Follow me to Dublin.
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