Sitting in Costello's Travel Caffe, I thought it only seemed right to compose a travel-themed blog. Seriously. Why have I never been here before? I have lived in Portland a long time. This is almost inexcusable. But, I found it now. Wrap-around canvas prints of photos from around the world grace the walls, there is a "travel special" running via tvs around the space and delicious coffee and food. I even scored a gluten-free donut! Trust me, that is not easy to find. And it was tasty. So I digress. Back to why I am going to Ireland, sooner than later, ranked in no particular order:
1. Love. I think about Ireland. A lot. I am always trying to figure out when I can go back. I would probably book a flight in a month or two and just go. But, that might not be the best financial choice. Or maybe it would be! Who knows. When you love something, or usually someone, you want to see them again and will do whatever it takes. This is how I feel about Ireland. I have never felt so connected to another place, not even Portland. I must go back, and sooner, rather than later.
2. Vikings. Not the real Vikings, but the tv show "Vikings" on the History Channel. After watching the most recent episode, I decided to find out where it was filmed, because it did not look like Norway to me. And the majority of the outdoor scenes are filmed in the Wicklow Mountains. Of course they are! Somehow it escaped me this is an Irish show.
3. Weather. I experienced every kind of weather you could imagine. We had more than one windstorm, lots of rain, sun, sleet, snow and hail. And I still loved it. It simply invigorated me and I loved being out in it. And it was January! If I loved it this much then, how much more would I love it in the Spring or the Fall? I intend to find out.
4. Music. What can I say about this? The music is just as you expect it to be, wild and raucous. I found one of my most favorite bands ever, the Eskies, at the Shannonside Winter Music Festival in Sixmiledbridge and Bunratty Castle. That was an unexpected treat, and the Eskies now have a lifelong fan. When I go back to Ireland, I intend to take in more trad sessions and find out where the Eskies are playing, because I am going.
5. People. The people in Ireland are wonderful. First, the accents. I never tire of them. Full of joy, used to working hard, very wonderful people. Every where I went, even though technically I was alone, I felt made welcome by shopkeepers, farmers, servers, bartenders....let alone my host Steph and her friends. They were so hospitable. I cannot wait to go back and make some more friends.
6. Scenery. Ireland has it all. Lakes, the sea, beaches, mountains, rolling hills, rocks and so much more. If you like to fish, go to Ireland. If you like to golf, go to Ireland. If you like to hike, go to Ireland. I think you get the picture. I intend to go back and explore Connemara and the various peninsulas, Dingle being first and foremost. And I intend to drive and explore as much of the Wild Atlantic Way as I can. I picked it up here and there, but I intend to drive all of it.
7. Alcohol. I definitely did not drink enough whiskey or beer. I was driving so much, and I wanted to keep my wits about me. This next trip I intend to settle into some villages for the night where I can walk to a pub and still make my way home without a car. Be a little more adventurous at night.
8. Castles. Almost every single castle across the whole of Ireland was closed for the season, except for Bunratty. I am grateful I was able to spend an afternoon exploring it and an evening at the Medieval Banquet, but there are so many more I did not get into! Dunluce Castle in the north, Trim Castle, Slane Castle...I don't know, you get the picture. I want to go when things are open, not closed.
9. Giant's Causeway. I am still pissed I did not get to see the Causeway. And the Antrim Coast. The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, one of the harbors where they filmed "Game of Thrones". The weather was scary windy. But, this time, I will go up North via Donegal, rather heading up the Eastern side of Ireland.
10. Daylight. If I would have had even 2 more hours of daylight, I could have got around a lot more. So, I intend to return when I at least might have a full 12 hours of daylight. I knew going in January I would only get about 8 hours a day, but I intend to go back when I can explore to my heart's content and still have light well into the evening.