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When we visit countries like Ireland, we tend to think of its capital as the only major shining point, and sorry Dublin, but it’s time to give your distant cousins some love.
While my love for
Irish men Dublin is quite clear, and my St. Patrick’s Day celebration more than solidified my opinions of the city, I think it’s only fair to show you guys that to experience gorgeous ocean view sunsets, countryside villages, and cobblestoned roads, you’ll have to get outside of the capital.
While touring the country last month with Shamrocker Adventures, although my third time in the country, I was reminded why I’m always so excited to return.
Whether it’s the coveted Irish accent or the incredibly addicting live music scenes in even the smallest of towns, Ireland will simply grab your heart,
throw it at the next Irish man you see, and tickle it to pieces with its sounds and sights of beauty.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast was a first for me this time in Ireland. And what makes visiting new cities so fascinating is learning its history and being able to contextualize it all on a larger scale.
Nationalism, identity, and power have been the dividing forces of Belfast, a city in Northern Ireland looking to regain and maintain its peace.
Belfast has such a somber yet inspiring history to it, and while one should practice tact when discussing its history, visiting the walls and murals and reading the scribbles of hope for peace, was a breath of fresh air.
Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
Ballintoy might have one of the most captivating sunsets I’ve ever seen (see cover photo), and it has a way of just bringing out the kid in you.
Hidden way in the north in a village filled with lambs and cows, it made for the perfect escape from city life, and it was one of the most fun nights for the tour group to stay in our cabin and bond with each other — and maybe some roadside chickens…
Living up to its name, the Causeway is in fact, Giant, and walking along its steep hills and narrow walkways was surreal and almost indescribable. It was the first time I was really able to put my GoPro to the test capturing a full landscape shot in all its glory.
I also came up with my 3-step retirement plan for my friends and I.
Step 1: Get to Northern Ireland.
Step 2: Never leave.
Step 3: Die happy.
Galway is easily a crowd favorite; a town that not only tourists love, but locals as well. You get the best of both worlds with a youthful atmosphere, incredible nightlife, and gorgeous views over their harbor.
Not to mention, I had this beautiful exchange…
It was on this street when it happened. I was waltzing about Galway, where many will tell you is their favorite Irish town, as it’s pretty young and hip, with over half the population under 25, on the opposite coast of Dublin.
Amazed at how everything was exactly as I remembered it when I was last here 4 years ago, I found myself piecing together streets with memories. Such a cool feeling.
Funny how you visit these cities multiple times and then expect it to change dramatically when you return, because you have. But things were just as they were, and I was taking it all in.
Then out of nowhere, a very excited lady walks up and starts asking where I’m from, why I’m here, and where I’m going, each of my answers cut off by her next question out of anticipation for understanding this enigma before her.
Matching her flare, I found us face-to-face, hands and arms locked in a standing cuddle (is that a thing? lol) as she goes on to recite every piece of American history and pop culture she knew, often expressing how badly she’d love to visit “The States”, as many call it abroad.
Those of us who take advantage of this incredible privilege and ability to travel, for others around the world, simply meeting an American is almost like me bringing my country to her.
It was as if I took her to the heart of America for those brief moments of the friendliest interrogation I’d ever experienced.
No matter where I go, I always remember that I serve as a walking representation of not only myself, but my country, color, and culture as well.
And before she let me go, she asked if she could give me a hug, and it was one of the warmest embraces I’d ever received. As if we transferred energies from our respective countries while doing it.
These moments are why I travel. And these moments are why you should too. ❤
Cliffs of Moher
In what might be my new favorite picture in Ireland, I had some time to just stop and take in the beauty around me on my second visit to these mighty Cliffs of Moher. There was so much historical facts I had learned this time around, thanks to our guide, Dave.
You see, Ireland is a country well-known for its pub culture, because when they were going through hardships like the big famine or their fight for independence, their folk songs are something that kept them united.
No country is without its fair share of struggles, but the banter and craic in Irish folk songs is a great reflection of its people. A good time and just a wee bit crazy 😉
Dingle Bay Peninsula
One of the most scenic drives you might ever make, the Dingle Bay Peninsula takes your through a curvy road overlooking the grayish-blue water of the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southern tip of Ireland.
What I love about these tours is that you truly get a full experience of everything a country has to offer. Its popular cities, its historic sites, and its gorgeous views through peninsulas, castles, and villages.
While I didn’t find the Irish husband I swore I came to marry, I was again reminded of the craic (Gaelic word, pronounced “crack” but meaning good time or banter) of Irish men.
Whether I was strolling into pubs and finding myself on the dance floor
3 beers a few songs later, they were always the first to welcome, laugh, and play along to my antics.
So I’ve put off the
fertilizing of my eggs exchanging of our wedding vows for another time.
A big thank you to my friends over at Shamrocker Adventures for sponsoring this trip and helping induce what felt like a 10-day hangover, ha! Kidding, but these two weeks with these incredible group of people from as far east as Australia and as far west as Canada, helped make March one of the most memorable ones I’ve had in a while!