Ireland

Stunning, absolutely stunning. This is how I can describe the majestic views of Ireland.

For the very first time in 15 years as a working professional, I was able to take a week off during Spring break.  The hubby and I typically take time off during the summer or during Christmas break. We both work in school settings and it is quite difficult to take time off in March.  However, this time around the hubby and I both had spring break during the same week and I just had to take advantage. This is usually peak time at work for me but I thought it would make sense to take a quick pause to re-energize and come back to the chaos.  I thought I would regret it, but I did not!

The hubby and I typically travel alone, but this time around we were accompanied by Nancy, my sister’s sister-in-law (I know, a mouthful).  She is like family and I see her as a sister.  We had a casual conversation a few months back regarding a trip to Ireland. She expressed interest in visiting and basically threw it out there that we should all go.  We also invited a few other people, but no one took the bait.  So we decided it would just be us three – and we had a fabulous time.  For this post, I will focus on Ireland, but we maximized this trip by adding a trip to Amsterdam. I will write about that experience too!

We departed Chicago O’Hare Airport on Saturday, March 24th at 5:50pm.  We had a layover in Washington Dulles Airport. We were there briefly and before we knew it, we were on board to Ireland! The flight was less than 8 hours and we arrived in Dublin at about 10am.  We all wanted to experience public transportation and decided to take the AirLink – it was about a 20 minute ride to our Airbnb. We stayed at 12 Townsend St. in a 2 Bedroom apartment.  It was quaint, modern and spacious.  The best part was the prime location.  When we arrived on Sunday, we left our bags in a nearby Tour Office – very quick and easy.  We then explored the city and looked for a place to enjoy some breakfast.  Nancy read about a restaurant called Queen of Tarts, and we so happen to come across the venue on our walk.   As we walked in, I immediately found comfort in the quaint ambiance and the sweet smell of fresh pastries. This is a very cute and modern tearoom and coffee shop.

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Great way to start our journey!

For our Ireland trip we all wanted to see as much as possible in such little time.  We thought the best way to do it was to experience Ireland through Irish Tours.

Day 1: After our delicious brunch we walked through the busy streets of Dublin.  I was in such awe of my new surroundings and afraid I would trip and fall as I gazed at the beautiful architecture.  At about 2pm we headed on over to our Airbnb and took a load off. We wasted little time and headed back out.  We strolled through St. Stephen’s Green, stopped by Trinity College and even made a quick stop to H&M.

Stephens Green
St. Stephen’s Green

 

Trinity College
Selfie with Juan (hubby) and Nancy

I personally couldn’t wait to come across The Temple Bar.  As I prepared for this trip, I couldn’t help but stroll through Instagram accounts focusing on Ireland. I kept seeing this pub in every picture – I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.

The Temple Bar

As we built up our appetite we hit up Dublin’s city centre to decide on dinner options.  While doing so, we finally came across The Temple Bar –  I was ecstatic. It was just as gorgeous as in the pictures – and it was super crowded! After that we contemplated ideas for dinner we decided to enjoy a nice dinner in a nearby pub – The Porterhouse Temple Bar.  I enjoyed some fish and chips, accompanied by the energizing sounds of Irish music.  It couldn’t be more perfect.

After a delicious meal, we were off to another Pub.  We came across The Oliver St. John Gogarty. This was actually a recommendation made by one of Juan’s colleagues. It was definitely vibrant with a good crowd. We enjoyed a few Irish beers before calling it a night.

Day 2: Giant’s Causeway Tour

Since we knew we had such little time in Ireland, we wanted to maximize our experience and we all decided on doing a long day tour through Irish Day Tours.  One of my bucket list items was to cross the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge and wanted to make sure this was included in the tour. As we browsed through various tours, and based on what the group wanted to experience, we made the choice to pursue the Giant’s Causeway Tour.  We had to report to the bus at 6:20am.  Luckily for us, our Airbnb was less than a 10 minute walk.  As we boarded the bus we were warmly welcomed by the friendly bus driver who was also our tour guide.  The bus was cozy and spacious and pleasantly so, it was not a full bus.  By 6:30am we were off and ready to begin this Ireland adventure.  As we drove through the long roads, I admired the beautiful, green landscape.  I was in awe of all the sheep and goats we passed by (that’s kinda of my thing during road trips, but sheep! that was a new one). I have to say that gazing out the window, enjoying the scenery, and nodding off into an occasional deep sleep, was one of my favorite parts.

Ireland window

I have to mention that the weather we got on this day, was atypical. It was bright and sunny and a perfect day for this tour.  Our bus driver kept reminding us on how lucky we were.

Our first stop: The Dark Hedges

The three of us are Game of Throne’s fans, so we thought of this place more like the Kings road.  I was fascinated and mesmerized by the endless rows of gigantic beech trees. It was quite the scene.

As we made our way to our next site, given that it was a beautiful clear day, we were able to see Scotland from afar. That was pretty cool.

Next stop: Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge

My stomach was in knots waiting in anticipation for this experience.  For weeks, I visualized myself crossing this bridge.  I am afraid of heights and learning about this bridge through videos and travel shows, I was marveled at the idea of crossing this and being absolutely terrified.  I know, I’m twisted!

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After this, we stopped by a local restaurant to grab some lunch before making our way to our next stop:  The Giant’s Causeway.

As soon as we got off the tour bus, we walked about a mile before arriving to the spectacular views of the grand causeway. As we reached our destination I took a nice deep breath to take it all in.  I was captivated by the beautiful black rock formations and the watching the incoming waves crashing against the rocks.  We carefully climbed some of the rocks to get a better vantage point.

The day was slowly coming to an end and we were ready for our final stop: Dunluce Castle.

I was personally excited because when I think of Ireland I think green and castles.  However, this was extra special because this castle is also part of the Game of Thrones filming site for Castle Greyjoy. Pretty amazing.IMG_0250.jpg

We had the opportunity to walk through this beautiful, medieval castle and enjoyed the spectacular coastal views from up top.

view from Dunluce Castle

After this stop it was time to head back to Dublin.  We were back on the bus for a nice and long 3 hour drive.  When we arrived, the bus driver recommended a few places for dinner.  We decided to try a restaurant called The Bank.  As soon as we walked in I was in awe of this old bank turned into a restaurant with a unique interior and with a beautifully, stained glass ceiling – an enchanting décor.  We all enjoyed a few libations while we waited for dinner.  It was a nice way to end the evening before heading back to our hotel to get some rest before our next day 6:40am tour.

 

Here is a video capturing some of our adventures!