Life With Ben · travel

Thanks a Million

our-honeymoon-to-ireland

In just a week, Ben and I will be married for six months. I cannot believe how fast those six months went. We have been so busy between me starting a new job, getting married, going on our honeymoon, standing in our best friends wedding, buying a house, and Ben starting the school year back up as a teacher. Whew, that was a mouthful and a pretty accurate depiction of how crazy our lives have been lately. When I say crazy, I mean good crazy. This weekend we were reminiscing about the amazing summer we had, and got on the topic of our honeymoon to Ireland. When Ben and I were brainstorming ideas for honeymoon destinations, we decided to both write down our top three places on a piece of paper. Conveniently, we both wrote down the same three destinations with Ireland at the top of our lists. This made our decision very easy. Being of Irish decent, it has always been a dream of mine to visit “The Motherland” and was beyond ecstatic that this dream would be coming true. This was our first big trip together and was just what we needed to continue the celebration of our marriage. I’m so excited to go through old pictures and take you through the two weeks we spent adventuring one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.

Ben and I spent months and many weekends planning this trip. My parents spent their honeymoon in Ireland and we thought it would be neat to attempt to follow their itinerary. We wanted to see as much as possible in the two weeks and knew that the only way to do this would be to rent a car. I will never forget the moment Ben opened the window shade as we were descending into Dublin.  There really are no words to describe the luscious landscape of Ireland. We collected our luggage and were so excited to get out and explore. Ben and I picked up the rental car and left the parking garage to drive into Dublin City. This was our first time traveling in Europe, and we knew the driving was going to different. Thank goodness Ben is so calm because he definitely rocked it, but it was a little unnerving navigating through the city.

We spent our first two days in Dublin. Our hotel was located right on the River Liffey and was within walking distance of The Temple Bar, Grafton Street, Trinity College, and much more.

Once we were checked in we decided to walk to The Temple Bar to get a bite to eat, and of course our first Guinness in Ireland. They are not lying when they say Guinness tastes better across the pond. We ate at the Quay Bar (pronounced key) and had some delicious Irish Stew. After a few Guinness’s and a full belly, we went to bed early so we would have plenty of energy to explore Dublin the next day.

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We woke up early and found this adorable cafe, Avoca Cafe, to eat breakfast. Ben and I are food people, and the food we ate in Ireland was some of the best we have ever had. Avoca Cafe was my favorite restaurant. The atmosphere was adorable and the food was absolutely delicious. My breakfast was a pouched egg with toast, smoked salmon, avocado, arugula, and tomatoes. YUM. Also, the coffee in Ireland is to die for and I could not get enough of it.

After eating breakfast we walked over to Grafton Street. Complete with cobble stone streets this is where you can find some of Dublin’s best shopping. From there, we visited the beautiful Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and St. Stephens Green. The thing that was neat about Dublin is that most of the big tourist spots are free and easily accessible by foot.

Our favorite stop of the day was the Guinness Storehouse, and this was the main attraction we wanted to visit in Dublin.  The tour of the facility leads you through the history of Guinness complete with a class on the proper way to pour a pint of their famous beer. At the end of the tour you visit, The Gravity Bar, where you can enjoy your pint with an absolutely stunning view of the entire city of Dublin.

The next day we left Dublin for County Wicklow. There was a donut shop called, The Rolling Donut, right next to our Dublin hotel so of course we had to stop and pick a half-dozen up for our travels. They were DELICIOUS and we made sure to stop back when we were back in Dublin at the end of our trip.

We were excited to get out of the city and see the Irish country side. Our first stop of the day was at the Powerscourt Gardens where we walked the grounds and had a delicious lunch at my favorite, Avoca Cafe.

From there we made our way to Glendalough National Park and spent our afternoon hiking through the Wicklow Mountains. We ended our day in Thomastown, at The Abbey House B&B.

This was both our first experience staying at a B&B and we weren’t sure what to expect. Our host was a sweet Irish woman who made us feel right at home. This B&B was located across the street from an Abbey which our bedroom looked out onto and were able to walk right across the street to explore.

On day four we left Thomastown and moved towards the city of Cork. Along our way we stopped in the adorable town of Kilkenny where we explored the Kilkenny Castle. Castles are everywhere in Ireland and most of the big ones you are able to take tours of. This particular castle was right in the city center and had a large green where people were having picnics, doing yoga, and playing football.

We ended our day in Cork where we stayed at our second B&B, the Garnish House. We were welcomed with coffee and homemade scones. The host was extremely helpful and provided us with a map and a list of his favorite restaurants. We were able to leave right from our B&B and walked throughout the city and stopped in a few local pubs.

The next day we made our way towards The Blarney Castle, which was about 15 minutes outside of Cork City. Most people are familiar with the castle due to the Blarney Stone.

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Legend has it that if you kiss this stone, you are granted eloquence for the rest of your life. However, you may not know that the proper way to ensure this eloquence is to climb up to the very top of the castle, and kiss the stone upside down hanging over the side. The only thing holding you from falling below is a worker who offers you words of encouragement while you fear for your life. This is definitely a tourist location, but a must see when you are in Ireland. We arrived right when they opened and for anyone planning a trip and have this on their list, I recommend that you do the same. We did not have to wait in any lines, which we heard get very long as the day progresses. The grounds are absolutely beautiful as well and definitely worth walking around.

After kissing the Blarney Stone, we made our way to a little coastal town called Kinsale. Ben had read about this town in our travel book in which it was described as the “gourmet food capital of Ireland”. For obvious reasons this became a must-see stop for us. It was a rainy day, and not many people were out, but we had a blast walking through the city streets.

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We ate at a cafe called the Lemon Leaf and our meal was delicious. Again, the food in Ireland is some of the best I have ever had and the seafood is incredible. With full stomachs and soggy shoes, we made our way to the town of Killarney which would be our stopping point for the night at The Abbey House B&B.

Killarney is the main hub for anyone who wants to complete, The Ring of Kerry. This is a scenic route that takes you around the Iveragh Peninsula. Along this route are tiny seaside towns, and rugged landscapes. Most people take a tour bus which brings them through the Ring of Kerry loop, but we decided to use our trusty rental car. We had a blast driving through the route and made a point to stop at every chance we got.

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We found this castle and were able to climb around in it. Ben was in heaven.

Off of the Ring of Kerry is Valentia Island which is accessible by ferry. It is definitely worth the five euros. We found this family owned ice cream shop, Valentia Island Farmhouse Ice Cream and that alone made it worth it. This was the best ice cream we have ever had and they even had a little Jack Russell that visited with us!

Along Valentia island are the Foghor Cliffs and Geokain Mountain which offered stunning views.

At the end of the Ring of Kerry is the Killarney National Park which is a must see. Ben and I wish we had another day to explore this beautiful park. We stopped to take a picture at, The Ladies View, which offered unbelievable views.

The next day we were off to drive through Dingle Peninsula on our way to our next stopping point, Adare. The Dingle Peninsula was one of my favorite destinations.

Along the route we stopped at an Irish Potato Famine cottage.  The cottage was owned by a Irish gentleman whose family had owned the property for generations. He put on a sheep herding demonstration for us and it was neat to hear the history of his family and the many hardships they had to endure living in this rugged section of Ireland.

We stopped in the main town on The Dingle Peninsula, Dingle, for lunch and had some of the best fish and chips and walked throughout the quaint town.

We ended our night in the adorable town of Adare. This town is straight out of a story book and they are known for their thatched roofed cottages that line the street.

Our sweet B&B host recommended a trail along a river that was perfect for an evening walk. We met so many authentic and genuinely kind people in Ireland. I think we could all take a page from their book and learn that it is really not that hard to be kind to people.

After spending a night in Adare, we were off to see the infamous, Cliffs of Moher. This is a definite tourist spot, but something you have to see when in Ireland.

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About 15 minutes away from the cliffs is a town called, Doolin. This town is known for their traditional irish music scene and we stopped and walked around, and of course had a bite to eat.

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We made our way to our destination for the night, Galway. This was hands down my favorite city in Ireland. It had that authentic Irish feel that you imagine when you think about Ireland. We stayed at the Marless House B&B which was also our favorite of the entire trip. Our host, Mary, was so accommodating and full of great recommendations for things to do in the area. While we were visiting Ireland, the Irish football team had advanced to the Euro 2016 tournament, which was big deal  because they hadn’t made it that far in years. The Irish love their football, and boy do they get into it. Ben and I thought it would be fun to go to a local pub and spend the night watching the game. This is one of my favorite memories from our trip. The excitement in the pub that night was unlike anything I have ever been a part of.

The next day, we drove to the ferry port in Rossaveal to leave for our day trip to the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are a group of three islands and we went to the largest, Inis Mor. When planning our trip, this was a destination we were unsure about doing, and I am so glad that we decided to. The ferry ride out to the island was a bit treacherous, but so worth it. If you are looking for an authentic Irish experience, you are going to find it here. We rented bicycles and rode around the island for the day.

We ate at an adorable restaurant that was located in an old Irish cottage and stuffed our faces with an amazing salad complete with homemade goat cheese that was made right on the island. I was in heaven.

We rode over to the famous cliffs on the island, got to meet some sweet horses, and even got to see seals lounging on the beach. This was a perfect day.

We then made our way to the Renvyle House located in Connemara. My parents stayed here on their honeymoon and I was really excited to visit it as well. The Renvyle house is an old estate located right on the ocean. We spent our day at the estate and swam in their heated pool that looked right out onto the mountains and ocean. This was a perfect relaxing day for us after being on the go for so many days in a row.

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Kylemore Abbey was about a 10 minute drive from Renvyle and we spent the next day there. Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine Monastery that was home to an all girls boarding school for many years. At this time, it is no longer a boarding school but the nuns still live on the grounds. They make delicious chocolates and homemade soap which we picked up as souvenirs to bring back to the states with us.

We also took time to hike through Connemara National Park later in the afternoon. Ben and I love to hike and we really enjoyed the trails that the national park had to offer. The views were absolutely stunning and perfect for burning some calories from all the food and Guinness we had consumed throughout the trip.

We spent that night in a town called, Clifden. Our B&B had two adorable collies, a horse, and donkeys who were oh so sweet.

In their backyard was a private trail which we walked on that evening and sat by the cliffs talking about how amazing our trip had been so far.

Our last full day was spent in Cong. Cong is the town where Ashford Castle is located. For you John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara fans, this is the location where they filmed, The Quiet Man.

We completely fell head over heels in love with Ireland, and I would move there in a heartbeat. This trip was the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of our lives together. We will never forget the memories, the beautiful places, the amazing food, and the kind people that we met. From my favorite Irish saying that we learned during our time there, “Thanks a Million,Ireland”. Our honeymoon was a trip of a lifetime and an absolute dream.

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