Follow my SEVEN day trek with my best friend Montanna through Ireland in 2015 – Questions? Comment below and I’d be happy to answer!
What happens when you buy cheap airfare? You get into Dublin at 5AM. Now I am a chronic early bird, but as I am terrified to sleep on a plane – I was not the most pleasant person. Montanna and I grabbed our little car – a French automatic – and prayed to numerous gods that Dublin rush hour would hold out until we could cruise safely to our hotel. I am a very confident driver and a steering wheel hog, so I took the driving initiative with more grace than I predicted.
After recovering from jet lag we toured:
Jameson Distillery – €27.00 for two tickets.
It was a great and charismatic tour. There was also a free Jameson drink at the end. This was a great free Wifi spot if you do not choose to buy an international plan. I chose not to buy an international phone plan and used Facebook Messenger to communicate if I needed to. Plus you get a super cool certificate:
Book of Kells – €10.00 per person.
The Book of Kells was beautiful. It was unfortunate that the book itself was behind glass but the pages displayed were vibrant and detailed. Included with the Book of Kells was the Long Room tour which is any bibliophiles wildest dream. There are over 200,000 antique titles! I was in such awe of all of the books that I left my phone. About an hour after Montanna and I exited, I realized that it was lost. Luckily the security guards found it – they told me ‘your phone wanted to stay where the books lived’. They were so sweet.
Fun Facts: 3 – 2 Liter bottles of water – €3.00
Bus Fair into Center City Dublin from the hotel – €6.60 each way
Things we learned today 120 km = 75 mph – good to know for speed limits!
Traveled to Glendalough a beautiful, goliath cemetery and settlement located in the Wicklow Woods. We hiked a loop that was about 1.5 km (2ish miles) as we waited for a tour bus to leave. FREE but €.50 for a map.
We left Glendalough at 11AM and arrived at Blarney Castle in Cork around 1PM. The gentleman who was collecting admission said we were in luck – it was one of the slowest days of the year! There was so much to see at Blarney – caves, gardens, the grounds and of course the castle itself. Montanna and I both kissed the stone despite rumors of locals peeing on it. We couldn’t come all this way and not be granted eloquence. €16.00 per person.
Our last stop of the day was Valentia Island – we arrived at 4PM. Car Ferry: €6.00 one way.
Skellig Michael Cruise – €60.00 CASH ONLY
Today we hiked up (and down) eight hundred ancient steps to reach the monastery and living quarters of the Irish monks. Their living quarters were made out of mined rocks from the island and form beehive shaped homes.
The island is also home to puffins – tiny little birds that resemble penguins with bright red and orange beaks. They are not terribly friendly but they are curious.
The boat ride back to Valentia was a wet one. By the time we got back Montanna and I were completely soaked and freezing – I don’t know if fun is the word I should use but it made the adventure complete.
After we took hot showers we headed out to find some food (quick note: small towns close up shop VERY early – plan to have diner no later than 4PM or risk not eating at all).
We came across a ruined church and grave yard. Something rustled in the grass behind me and I could hear footsteps but no one was there. Spooky experience.
Along the coast there is a spot where you can see Tetrapod tracks – Tetrapod’s are ancient creatures who allegedly are the first to walk on land. The spot is FREE and there is a nice little hike to the location.
The Cliffs of Moher was our mission today. I have to say it was tourist-trappy like the Grand Canyon of Ireland. There is no doubt that the landscape was phenomenal however it was crowded and too loud to really absorb the scene. We didn’t stay too long but we took a bunch of pictures. €6.00 for entry.
The Burren calls to me – all of the rock walls and farmlands. The wind makes my favorite whistling sound.
Maura at Fallon’s Bed and Breakfast in Kinvara is the sweetest lady. She would not let Montanna and I leave without a ‘proper’ breakfast.
Today we saw Corcomroe Abbey. It was a quiet place – silent. My favorite parts were the circa roman carvings – there was so much detail. Left me feeling tranquil. FREE!
Also to the Poulnabrone Doleman (a tomb) – one VERY photographed entity. I was shocked how small it was. I am 5’4” and I am pretty sure I could see over it if I could get closer. FREE!
The Burren was beautiful there were crevices so deep that I fear there was no bottom. Plants grew out of the side and moss grew in the shallower holes. The landscape was kind of like walking on a giant rock brain. Fascinating.
HORSE BACK RIDING! There are no words to describe the happiness of riding. Connemara and Clifden were AMAZING. I really wish we would have stayed longer. The mountains are vivid green and the water is literally sapphire in the morning when the sun is just starting to rise. My guide was named Joey a grey Connemara pony – a sweet boy. Once he realized I knew what I was doing he let me drop the reins so I could take pictures. We trekked through cattle and sheep pastures, open fields, and through some stretches of beach. €20.00/hour depending on who you chose to ride with.
For dinner we had dinner in a castle – yeah a castle. Dunguaire Castle hosts banquet dinners every week. It was cheesy but the food was good and the entertainment fantastic.
We arrived in Belfast at 2:30PM and checked into our hotel – one quick note: most of the hotels in Belfast are street parking, which can be a little inconvenient so if you plan on carrying lots of luggage you may want to consider a hotel with private parking. We headed to the FREE Botanic Gardens on the Queen’s College campus. It was a great walk after being in the car for five hours.
We headed up to Giants Causeway. Kind of a bleh drive but, for the sake of time, we did switch from back roads to highways. The Causeway was fascinating; it was super slick from the ocean water and algae but I managed to pick my way out to the furthest point. On the furthest point if you could look far, far, far into the distance you can actually see Scotland! The lore behind Giant Causeway is that a giant, Finn McCool built the causeway by flinging mud out to the ocean with the hopes of building a bridge to Scotland. Science says that the strange hexagonal shapes we formed by the rapid heating and cooling of lava during a volcanic eruption. Either way it was a place I would love to return.
On our drive back to Belfast Montanna and I thought that a last minute castle stop would be a great idea. We were lured in by signs to Dunluce Castle roughly four miles from Giants Causeway. Dunluce Castle was a sprawling castle that served as a fort to a nearby city. It was so windy! Favorite parts were daisies that were growing out of the fireplace.
Back in Belfast, our last mission of the whole trip was to browse a dusty book shop. It was everything that I had hoped – for moldy and glorious! There were so many titles Montanna practically had to drag me out. I left with two books – Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Science Gleanings in Many Fields – both together costing £45. I can’t wait to add them to my collection.
“I Have Never Felt So At Home Being So Far Away”
In June 2015 my friend Montanna traveled to Ireland – and had the trip of a life time! Below consists of only a few of the memories we took with us. Unfortunately we took over 500 pictures combined between the two of us and I felt that uploading all of them would be silly. All of the photos are in chronological order and span over out ten day trekk. We managed to see:
- Center City Dublin, Temple Bar, and Trinity College
- Jameson Distillery
- Glendalough historical and sacred sight
- Blarney Castle – Yes, we kissed the stone!
- Skellig Michael UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The Burren
- Poulnabrone Doleman – Neolithic Burial Site
- Cliffs of Moher
- Horseback Riding on the Connemara Coast
- Giants Causeway UNESCO World Site
- Knowth and Newgrange UNESCO Neolithic Site
- 7+ Irish Castles
And much more! I highly suggest this trip for someone who doesn’t have much experience traveling. Ireland is packed with history, ancient sites, friendly locals and beer!