The Cliffs of Moher & Dublin

After a wonderful day in Blarney and Cork, Sarah and I wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher and then head straight to Dublin.  For the most part, I try to avoid organized tours (I like experiencing places at my own pace), but the hostel owners recommended a fantastic tour company.  We needed to be in Dublin that night, and we were feeling too lazy to figure out our own transportation.   Thankfully, the people over at Paddywagon Tours were more than accommodating.  They put us on a bus from Cork to the Cliffs, and then from there we switched onto a bus that went to Dublin.   I cannot recommend this tour group enough.  The guides were hilarious and made it fun for everyone on the bus.  They picked out wonderful Irish places to eat, and the pace of their schedule gave us enough time to explore on our own.

After a beautiful bus ride through the Irish countryside, we visited what they call the Mini Cliffs.  Unfortunately, the winds and rain were extremely strong, and after getting a glimpse, I scurried back to the tour bus without taking pictures.  We set off and had a short lunch stop.  After that, we finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher.  Unfortunately, it was extremely windy and rainy that day ( I saw multiple people actually fall over from the wind and the wet ground) , but the Cliffs were still magnificent.  I would have loved to spend a whole sunny, clear day exploring the area.

After that, we were on our way to Dublin.  We had a great time during our two nights in Dublin (highly recommend Generator Hostel), but I must say that the Irish countryside is definitely the country’s best feature.  Born and raised in LA, it had been quite a while since I had seen so much greenery, and I still can’t get enough of it. We visited Kilmainham Gaol, a huge prison with a very interesting story.  Thankfully, there was almost no line that day, but the main part of the prison (I’ve heard that’s the best part) was closed for renovation.  It was still fascinating to hear the stories of the prisoners and learn some Irish history.  After that, we meandered around quite a bit and found some beautiful parts of the city.  We spent a couple hours in St. Stephen’s Green, kind of like their version of Central Park, Trinity College, and of course, the Temple Bar area.

We ended off the nights by going to their lovely bars.  This was definitely one of my favorite parts of Ireland.  As a musician, I absolutely love listening to live music, so it was such a treat that almost every single bar/restaurant we visited had live acts playing.   Sadly, after our two days in Dublin, Sarah had to go back to Spain, and I was off to my next destination (hint: Paris).

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Ireland the Land of the Green: Cork and the Blarney Castle

After my adventures in Porto and Guimaraes, I met up with one of my good friends that I met in Spain.  I was starting to wonder when my next mishap would be, as the whole Porto trip went without any problems.  But soon enough, my flight from Porto to Dublin was delayed for almost five hours.  Thankfully, they fed us some sandwiches and gave us water (yay Ryanair).  I was planning to meet Sarah in Dublin so we could ride the bus down to Cork together where we planned to stay for the night.  However, I told her to go ahead since I did not want her waiting around for that long.  I ended up arriving in Dublin very late and got to our hostel in Cork at 1 in the morning.  It was a dark and creepy walk from the bus station to the hostel, and it was one of the few times in Europe that I felt uneasy in a neighborhood.  Thankfully, nothing happened and I was safely reunited with Sarah.  The next day, we decided to explore a little bit of Cork and then see Blarney Castle which was a short bus ride away.  We had an excellent breakfast at Farmgate Cafe, recommended by some of the locals, and then bought lunch for later at the market.  Then, we set out for Blarney Castle.

Living in Los Angeles has its perks, but one thing I really wish we had more of is greenery.  With the recent droughts, California has been as brown as a lump of poo, so it was refreshing to see rolling green hills and expansive forests.  As soon as we got to the castle gates, I knew that I was going to love the rest of Ireland.  The grounds were absolutely stunning, and exploring them is something I still think about today.  I don’t know what the other castles in Ireland look like, but if they are anything like the Blarney Castle, I know that they are a must-see.  We got a map of the grounds and tried to see every inch possible.  There were rivers, fields, forests, caves, gardens, and of course the castle.  The flora was unlike anything I had seen before, and I felt like I was in some kind of fairy movie.  The pictures below don’t even come close to capturing all that we saw that day, so I hope you’ll be able to see it for yourself one day.

We were also able to kiss the Blarney Stone, something I had not even heard about until we saw signs for it at the bottom of the castle.  We traversed through the ancient stone passages until we reached the top of the structure.  There was a man sitting on the floor, and people were laying down next to him and leaning their heads off the edge of pathway.  We had no idea what they were doing so we wandered over to get a good look.  The next thing we know, the man is asking Sarah if she wants to go next.  We did not know what he was talking about, but Sarah said yes, and in a few short moments her head was leaning out over the edge, and she was kissing the rock.  I went next, but thankfully, I knew what to expect.

We had only been planning to stay a few hours at the castle, but we were there until the very close of the gates.   With all the walking and climbing we had done, we were starving, and we decided to just get dinner in this little town.  Living in Spain, I did not realize how cheap everything was compared to the northern countries in Europe.  Ireland was definitely one of the most expensive countries I visited, besides Switzerland (I can’t even imagine staying a few days in Norway), but it was completely worth it.  We walked into the nearest restaurant and ordered a wonderful dinner and some drinks.  We planned to go home right after dinner, but the locals convinced us to stay because a live band would be playing in front of the bar.  We could not resist spending a few hours in an Irish pub with a live band, and we ended up staying until the very last bus.  In that one day, Ireland had captured my heart, and I knew it would be hard for any other country to compete.  From the nature, to the locals, to the live music, and the wide array of drinks, I never wanted to leave.  Thankfully, we still had a few short days left in this amazing country.

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