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A trip to the Emerald Isle (Pt 1)

If you'd have told me months ago that I would finally touch Irish soil, experience the vastness and beauty of the country, the kindness of its people, and the euphoria of being near the Atlantic... I would have called you crazy. I originate from Europe, and have always wanted to go back to visit, eventually even move back. But life had a way of always getting in the way when I planned a trip, and it never happened. I had almost started to despair, when my husband and I took a leap of faith and bought our tickets back in June. Despite this, perhaps because of how much I had wanted the trip, it did not feel real. Not until the moment we got on the plane and took off, did I finally dare to believe my luck. About 1000 different scenarios of why we'd be unable to get on the plane swirled in my mind: issues with our dog boarding, flat tire (we were driving from Ottawa to NYC), missing documents, unable to pass security check... you name it! But we made it on to our Aer Lingus flight and I was ecstatic. A few details here, then I will follow up with pictures and a play by play on our trip 😁 - the flight company we went with was Aer Lingus, and their staff was AMAZING, the food was great on the plane, overall amazing experience - Our trip was for 8 days so we rented a car from Dan Dooley at the Shannon airport. It has to be, hands down, the best experience with car rental. The check-in/check-out was seamless, barely 5 minutes, the car was AMAZING, and staff super friendly. - Our lodging: we used The Inn at Dromoland for the first night, followed by 3 Bed&breakfasts places we booked via the website (Carrigane House in Adare, Castle Farm near Youghal, Corrib View Countryhouse near Oughterard). Our stay at all three was top notch, the food superb, and the people in charge just lovely!! We had a view of the Atlantic at the last 2 b&bs that was simply spectacular! And now, onto the highlights of the trip!! Before the flight This deserves a mention. We drove down from Ottawa to NYC, an 8hr drive, on the morning of our flight. I was expecting the drive to be fairly boring, but about 30min after crossing the border at Champlain/Lacolle, I was pleasantly surprised! We passed through the Adirondack park and boy, those mountains are simply gorgeous!! We had a wonderful view of them for a good two hours, and even saw some friendly does on the side of the road (I wasn't quick enough to snap a pic!) Here are some more pics of the drive.

Note: avoid driving through there at night. At our return, we ended up nearing the mountains around 9pm, past the sunset. The roads got quite dark, and though the rest areas are wonderful and safe (as far as our experience went), as a driver it's very easy to get sleepy. So be safe if you do get in the area at nighttime. Landing at the Shannon Airport Our first experience with Ireland was landing in their airport. We chose to avoid the busy Dublin area (east) and instead landed in Shannon (west), in County Clare. It was by far our best choice! I must say, we hit absolutely no traffic anywhere in Ireland the entire time we were there (and we drove at any time) and the scenery in County Clare was breathtaking. Some highlights of County Clare The Burren A national park in Ireland, this was a major surprise. We went twice, once on this beautiful hiking trail, and another I will mention later.

Cliffs of Moher Beautiful sight, but windy! I would not recommend bringing young kids there, because depending on the day, the wind could be too strong. We went after 6pm so there were less tourists about, and what a view!!! Saw the beginning of the sunset there, climbed all the way to the top and the tower house there... I hadn't known, but the Cliffs is where they filmed the sixth Harry Potter movie! (When Dumbledore and Harry go to destroy a Horcrux)

Liscannor Went down right after seeing the Cliffs, for a whiff of the Atlantic, and it was picturesque as you wouldn't believe it!

Dromoland Castle Funny little tidbit about this... we got lost at night trying to return to the Inn at Dromoland. Google Maps brought us to the castle instead, which is why the only pictures I have are at night :(

But here is the actual room we stayed in, The Inn at Dromoland, as well as the view from Castle Farm B&B and Corrib View Country House B&B. Imagine waking up to that!!!

I should mention, we took around 3000 pictures and videos hehe 😁 Going back over the pictures, I may mislabel a place, so if you notice anything please let me know!

Of course, one of the best things about this trip was the overall scenery! Driving in Ireland is a wonderful experience, so much to see and live and breathe... 😁

Coming up next: a living past experience, Limerick, and our first time in an Irish pub! Not to mention castles. Stay tuned!

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