I love Ireland, I honestly cannot say that enough. I got the chance to go on a trip to Europe through my University, OSU a few years ago and was able to squeeze in a few days on either end in Ireland and the UK. Let me tell you, it was like coming home! Ever since, I have constantly tried to get myself back over to the the island. Every chance I get I drag my girls along for the ride!
On my first trip I went solo and I couldn’t help but miss my kids and my wife, I mean I have barely been away from them for more than 12 hours since they were born. Obviously this means that I have to get Holli prepared for the intensity of international travel first if I expect her to take all our kids across the Atlantic! We chose to travel somewhere I had already been in order to get Holli used to international travel, in Dublin I could basically act like her personal tour guide.
We decided that we wanted a very special travel experience one where we had half structured time, half just plain exploration. That’s my favorite part of a trip is just to go out and explore as much as possible whereas Holli likes to be more of a tourist by following group tours, which do have their benefits. But for me there is nothing like totally unstructured freedom to explore a new place. It always leaves me feeling so refreshed and has a way of restoring my sense of wonder.
Dublin is the biggest city in Ireland and is full of pubs that serve great food. I think it was the best choice to give Holli a little crash course on the differences in the landscape and culture there. We chose to use public transportation for most of our sightseeing while in Dublin. Using public transportation allows for more walking/sightseeing in between pick up points, and let me tell you there is a lot of walking in Ireland. Everyone walks everywhere and at a super fast pace, like crazy fast. The city has a healthy public transit system, but it may take a bit longer to get you where you need to go than a car might take. The bus and train system are reliable and the stops are everywhere (which is great for sightseeing)! Plus, driving on the other side of the road in a big city on Holli’s first trip may not have been the best, we didn’t want to miss anything by following a map!
So we jumped on the train which allowed us to explore the Irish coast all the way down to Killiney, Ireland. We found the cutest pub in Dalkey with my Grandparents name on it, Finnegan’s Pub! We were not expecting something like that to happen! So of course we stumbled right on in and made ourselves at home. The people inside were more than welcoming to us and answered all our many question about family links.
We had the amazing opportunities to visit some wonderful castles and even spend the night in one! Holli was speechless when we arrived at the elegant Clontarf Castle for the night. There were suits of armor everywhere and everything is elegant royal purple, from curtains to the genuine antique chairs at the top of the stairs. So breathtaking and beautiful! I definitely recommend staying at this wonderful castle.
Another amazing castle that we just loved was Malahide Castle. We visited the Castle to see the wonderful grounds with its many exotic plants. Holli loves to take pictures of flowers so we spend a whole afternoon here roaming the grounds and looking at exotic plants.
As we look back on our trip the one thing that stood out to us as similar everywhere we went was the mouth watering food and amazing hospitality! We ate so much fresh seafood and vegetables that I may have gained a few pounds even despite all the extra walking! Talk about eating like a king for your vacation! Everything we ate was so fresh and flavorful that we had to investigate whether it was us or the food that was actually tastier. Irish food and beef are way more restricted in their markets and so every level of the local food web seems to be genuinely healthier than at home and the meat we ate was all from free range sources. Needless to say, this was more than enough to inspire us to want to go back again and again!