Bushmills to Strandhill to Dingle

For the first time in a long time, I actually finished meal-prepping by noon on a Sunday. It’s a miracle. And for the first time in a long time, I am writing a second blog post with a few weeks of each other? Who am I and what have I done with myself? I wonder if I’m getting sick.

Last time I wrote about our time in Northern Ireland and what it was like being so close to the Causeway. Readers-writing that blog post made me miss Ireland so much. But even with an amazing blog post like that, I still can’t convince my wife to go back for a third visit in a row. Such is life.

After an adventure filled day at the Causeway that involved of a lot of walking (over 17,000 steps according to my Fitbit) we headed back to our hotel room to sleep because we had a long drive ahead of us to Strandhill in County Sligo.  The next morning we packed up the last of our things and spent a little bit more time at the visitors center to buy more tourist things. Then we headed off to Strandhill. I don’t remember a lot about that drive, I just know we were annoyed with the GPS and annoyed by the large car we had to deal with. We went to Strandhill on our first trip to Ireland and we were looking forward to staying at the same hotel again. And my wife was looking forward to trying to surf. We had no idea Strandhill was such a top spot for surfing on our first trip there. We made it to Strandhill with no issues and checked into the hotel. We stayed at Strandhill Lodge and Suites which isn’t far from the beach, has parking, and restaurants and pubs right by it. And…a view of the water.

Our 2nd time in Strandhill was not a disappointment. We were tired after a long drive so we went to the restaurant next to the hotel called The Venue Bar and Restaurant. The back of the restaurant is all windows so you have a view of the water. We enjoyed a nice dinner. I had fish and chips and my wife had a hamburger and we enjoyed relaxing and taking in the pretty view. We turned in early that night because…Angie was going to surf the next morning and I couldn’t wait to be a witness to this!


The plan in the morning was for Angie to have her surf lesson while I walked around the beach, taking photos, maybe grabbing lunch or a coffee. It is a bit of a walk (uphill) to the hotel from the beach but I figured if I got too bored I would head back up to the room. I went with Angie when she ‘checked in’ for her surf lesson. I felt like a mom, super concerned but also super proud she was doing something so far out of her comfort zone. I figured I would try to get pictures from far away, I didn’t want to be annoying and follow the group around and take pictures like a stage mom. So while she was meeting with the group, changing, and grabbing their boards I took a walk the opposite way to check out the beach and other various surfers in the area. It was busy that day, lots of people out even thought the weather wasn’t that great.


I walked and I walked and I walked that day. So many surfers and…so many dogs on the beach. I made lots of doggie friends that day which is always a treat for me.


I finally decided to head back to watch my wife do her surfing and then…we had a downpour. Luckily, I’m in Ireland and I’m not an idiot. I was prepared with a rain jacket with a hood and a cover for my camera. I decided then and there that stopping into a pub for lunch was a great idea. I forget the pub name, it was right by the beach (everything at Strandhill Beach is literally right on the main drag from the beach). I ordered a drink and soup. The soup was awful (I think they dropped an entire jar of cumin in the soup-I asked for vegetable soup but that’s not what I got) but the brown bread was amazing, as usual. And it got me out of the rain. Once it cleared up outside I headed back out. I walked down to see my wife and I was stopped by 2 German college students. They wanted me to take a picture of them. I wish I could remember their names but we stood and talked for about 30 minutes. They came to Ireland for school, would be there a few months, and were taking surf lessons later in the afternoon and were watching the current group and psyching themselves out. I gave them a pep talk and I think they felt better (and I did see them later in the day and they were in their wet suits and had their boards so I think my talk worked).

As for my wife? Well…she enjoyed her time in the water but came out to talk to me and told me a million times that surfing is a lot harder than she realized! She gave up on her lesson a little early but I was proud of her. She tried it and she can now officially say that she ‘surfed’ in Ireland!


Angie with her yellow surfboard


After her lesson we went back up to the hotel where she could shower and wash the sea off of her. We headed back down to the beach later for an early dinner. The restaurant isn’t open anymore so no point in giving the name. We enjoyed our dinner, we both had haddock and it was busy and the service was good so I am surprised the restaurant is no more. After dinner we walked on the beach again and checked out the surfers. I took a video of a surfer out there looking amazing and I posted it to social media and said it was Angie surfing and that she was natural. A few people believed me too! I felt bad when I had to own to my lie!

That night we didn’t do much, Angie was tired from her long surf lesson and I was tired from all the walking so we took it easy because we had a very long drive the next morning. Strandhill to Dingle is roughly 5 hours.

And we got lost. A lot.

I’ve already mentioned more than a few times we were unhappy with the car but the GPS may have been worse. It wasn’t updated at all. It was taking us to Dingle on the worst side country roads imaginable. Tiny roads with grass growing in the middle but luckily we only encountered a few other cars. When I finally had service I got my phone out and we used that instead but by that point we were almost in Dingle. As frustrating as that drive was-you can’t deny that the Dingle peninsula is. absolutely. gorgeous. If you go to Ireland-I swear to God, you have to go to the Dingle Peninsula. I’m not a religious person but that area can convince you there is a God. It is stunning.

Our time in Dingle was the best time we had I think the entire trip. I can’t wait to write about our 5 days there. A photo tour of the peninsula, good food, gorgeous pictures, amazing people. A drive to Portmagee to see Skellig. Our next trip to Ireland I just want to spend 2 weeks in Dingle and act like I’m a local.

More to come…


I’m back, did you miss me?

This entire blog mostly consists of Ireland. So why not come back after an almost 2 year hiatus to talk about Ireland once again? It’s been almost a year since our last trip there and every day that I am away from that beautiful country the more I miss it. Before our first trip there, we were told Ireland would get into our bones. I scoffed and thought “yeah, right”. Now I completely understand what these people meant by that. It’s the best country I’ve ever been to. I’m still trying to convince my wife to go for a 3rd time next year. Maybe this blog post will convince her.


When we started planning our 2nd trip to the Emerald Isle we agreed right away on one thing-We weren’t going to overdo it. We definitely overdid it our first trip, to the point that by the time we made it to Dublin for our final few days there we were exhausted and didn’t leave our rental for about a day and a half. So that was agreed upon right away. Another idea we agreed on was to spend more time on the Dingle Peninsula and more than a half day in Northern Ireland, near the causeway. So we did just that.

I’ll start with our few days in Northern Ireland. I’m not going to lie-it started out rocky. I’m not going to sugarcoat things on this blog-our first day once we arrive in Dublin was rough. When I booked our car rental (months in advance) I was very clear with Dan Dooley that we wanted a small car. My wife was doing the driving and we knew what to expect with the roads-we needed something tiny. So imagine our surprise the morning we pick up our car and they give us an SUV. Nobody would help us. The man who met us at the door didn’t even do a walk around the car-to point out any existing scratches/dings/bumps/etc. He didn’t even point out the car to us-we had to search for it. When we saw it was an SUV we went back and told him this was a mistake and he did nothing. We were stuck with this monstrosity. Here in the US we drive very small cars. We aren’t used to SUV’s even on roads in the US. So we started out aggravated. The GPS barely worked, it hadn’t been updated in years apparently. So the first drive (from Dublin to the Giant’s Causeway) after a night of flying was an exercise in patience. By the time we made it to the hotel I think I was near tears. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car! We had such a good experience with Dan Dooley our first trip but our next trip there I know that we will go with another company.

We decided to stay at the Causeway Hotel which is literally right at the Giant’s Causeway. It was the best decision we ever made. Staying at the hotel gave us amazing access to the Causeway. We could walk down early or late. We had what the lady at the front desk said was the best room in the house. It was off the end of the hotel, a view of the sea, with a big porch area just for us. The room was huge, a queen sized bed, a twin bed, tables and chairs, and a large bathroom. The hotel is a little outdated and a little rough around the edges but with that location it can’t be beat.


After eating dinner at the restaurant in the hotel (which was very good) we went for an after dinner walk even though we were exhausted. It is just so gorgeous there I am running out of ways to describe it. It’s just so wild and peaceful and picturesque. I’m so sad just re-living our time there because I miss it so much! We finally went into the room and slept for almost 12 hours. The next morning-our first full day in Northern Ireland-we wanted to go to Kinbane Castle. Never heard of it? Neither had I until a few weeks before our trip there-a woman in a Facebook group mentioned these old castle ruins that nobody really knows about. Of course we had to find it! There is a large parking lot with restrooms and picnic tables and then you have to walk down around 150 steps (and then walk back up those same steps so be prepared) to the castle. We had the place to ourselves. We stuck around for about an hour. The castle is barely a castle, it really is just some steps, and castle ruins and there are some breathtaking views.



After Kinbane we drove along the Causeway Coastal Route a bit. We wanted to go to Dunluce Castle but because the car was so large we were nervous about trying to get down the road. So we passed it up, kept driving, and then came across a large parking lot with views of the sea. We pulled in and looked to the right-and we had views of Dunluce Castle! That worked out perfectly.


We took in the views until a large tour bus arrived and and then we decided to leave. We headed into Bushmills to our very favorite restaurant-The Copper Kettle. It’s nothing fancy but it has good, hearty food, a nice staff, and its very clean and not expensive. We had a light lunch of soup and sandwiches and we were happy. We went to The Copper Kettle our first trip (a man working on the road outside of the Causeway gave us the recommendation) and we talked about it so much we knew we had to go back. Now almost a year later-I think we need to go back because I miss their bread!

After lunch and more driving around we decided to go to Whiterocks Beach. I saw a dog that looked like Lassie and he played fetch with me, I’m glad his owner didn’t care. Playing with a dog on a beach in Ireland-this is what dreams are made of.



Our first day in Northern Ireland was fantastic and again-staying at the Causeway Hotel was the best idea. It really is the perfect base if you want to explore the Causeway and the area.

The next day we decided to spend time at the Causeway and around the Causeway. We walked down, took in the view, went into the visitors center and bought some postcards and some artwork/books/mugs/touristy things. Then we decided to walk the trails. Allow me to brag here-Our first trip to Ireland I was very overweight and out of shape. A few months after that trip I had my gallbladder taken out and numerous issues after which really forced me to watch my diet and even start exercising. I’ve lost 50-60 pounds since then and I feel (and look) like a new person. So this 2nd trip to Ireland-I was fit. I was ready to walk for miles. And I did. We walked and walked. We walked the red trail, the green trail and the blue trail. We were out at the Causeway for hours getting some amazing pictures of the Causeway from above. It rained for a little bit but then the rain cleared up and the sun came out and we had perfect weather the rest of the afternoon.



My cute wife


Me-showing off my love of the Causeway AND my weight loss

After a long day of walking and taking pictures we headed to the Causeway after dinner to see the Causeway at sunset. Most of the people there were other hotel guests. It’s nothing like it is during the day-not nearly as busy and it’s pretty quiet. Everyone down there is looking to get that one beautiful shot at sunset. It’s stunning at sunset.


After a very long activity filled day we decided to head back to our room so we could get some rest. We were driving to Strandhill, in County Sligo, the next day. My wife was going to take a surf lesson-and I couldn’t wait to get photographic evidence of that! As we were talking back up the hill to the hotel we looked up and saw a hiker on the hill–they really wanted a stunning view of the sunset as well and I bet they got it. Whoever that person is-they are brave.


Ireland is a-calling…

Ireland gets into your bones. It seeps into your pores. You feel warm and fuzzy inside when you think back on your time there and all that you saw. You immerse yourself in all things Ireland. You download an app to your phone so you can watch Ireland TV. You download a music app on your phone so you can listen to live Irish radio stations.

Wait, am I the only one that does that?

My wife and I went to Ireland for 2 weeks last September. It was our ‘delayed honeymoon’. We flew into Dublin, drove to Belfast, then Bushmills, then Sligo, then Killarney then Kilkenny then to Dublin. Basically, we overdid it but it was our first trip and we learned from that.

So what is on our agenda for 2018? After a lot of thinking and planning and entertaining the idea of maybe Iceland or Croatia or France or Belgium-we chose Ireland-AGAIN!


Listen, I was excited for Ireland as we planned our first trip. But I had no idea that I would be SO enchanted with this beautiful country. We ran out of ways to describe the beauty of it. We started comparing it to famous supermodels. Was this area a Gisele or was it a Cindy? We would be driving in the countryside, turn a corner, and have the most magnificent views. There really should be signs on the side of the road to be careful when you come across these views. I was worried we would drive off of the road.


The plan this next trip (September 2018) is to slow down. We want to spend a few days in Northern Ireland and drive the Causeway Coastal Route. Then head to County Sligo and stay in Strandhill for a few days. My wife really wants to surf so that will be on the agenda for those days. We didn’t realize that surfing was a ‘thing’ in Ireland and Strandhill seems to be a good spot for that. From there we are going to Dingle and will stay in town and see the area from there. Let me just say-in all of the places we visited last year Dingle was my number 1 favorite area. Driving on Slea Head was a highlight. I’ve never seen a more gorgeous area in all of my life.


It was cold and windy and a bit rainy but that didn’t spoil our time there by any means. I wish we had more time there. I wish I could have explored Dingle town a bit more and photograph the colorful houses and spend some time in the pubs and the bookshops and explore. We took a boat tour and we were able to spot Fungie the dolphin and I was able to get some beautiful shots from the boat.


I really just can’t wait to slow down and see Ireland. Really see it. Talk to more locals. Sit in a pub or restaurant or bookshop/cafe and chill. We found an apartment we’d like to stay at while in Dingle. It is right in the centre of town. We can park the car and then just walk the town, walk down to the harbour, see Fungie, have beer in a pub and not worry about driving after. I want to be on Slea Head as the sun rises and as the sun sets.


If I can recommend anything when it comes to Ireland I’ll recommend this-really truly slow down. Don’t try to do it all. Pick a few areas and focus there. Talk to people, drink some beers (or in my case-some soda as I don’t drink), and do a lot of slow strolling around the cities you pick.

Most importantly-ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT. Ireland truly is majestic. I always use that term to describe it but it truly is. You won’t regret a trip to Ireland-EVER.



Belgium is more than just chocolate.

When you say Belgium the first thing that comes to mind for many people is chocolate. But Belgium is more than just chocolate (and waffles and frites). Belgium is beauty. Belgium is history. Belgium has been a love affair that I haven’t been able to get over and I probably never will.img_4206.jpg

When my brother backpacked through Europe and ended up in a little city called Bruges I couldn’t even find the city on the map. I knew very little about Belgium and I knew nothing about Bruges. But since he decided to fall in love with a Belgium-born woman and move there I knew I’d have to visit. Little did I know that this would begin my love affair with not just Bruges but travel in general. I will always be grateful to Bruges for opening up my eyes to a world many don’t see. I grew up (and still reside) in the Midwest. I wasn’t used to diversity. I wasn’t used to walking through a city and hearing dozens of different languages. I didn’t fully understand that as open-minded as I thought I was, I was actually very narrow-minded. I credit Bruges and travel for my eventual coming out. Bruges is where I came out to my sister-in-law. Bruges is where I eventually came out to my brother. Bruges is where my now wife proposed to me. Bruges will always have a piece of my heart.


There is something to see around every corner and some little known museum, shop, restaurant, bar. I’ve been to Bruges 7 or 8 times and every time I am there I see something I haven’t seen before. There are nooks and crannies that only the locals are aware of but luckily I have some pretty amazing guides to show me the unknowns.


While Belgium isn’t just chocolate I would remiss to say that I haven’t imbibed in the ritual of tasting some amazing chocolate. Go to The Chocolate Line where you can taste some of Dominique Persoone’s more…off the wall ideas. Or if you are feeling especially crazy you can snort a line of chocolate right up your nose. It’s like Studio 54 in the 70’s but with a much better high. FYI, I tried to google how many chocolate shops are in Bruges but I couldn’t find a definite answer. Good luck on your search for ‘the best’ but I would say in my opinion the best is The Chocolate Line. One thing I’ll say about any of the chocolate shops I’ve been in-everyone is extremely knowledgeable about the chocolate they are selling and they love to hand out samples. Happy eating!


One of my favorite subjects in photography is architecture. I can’t get enough of it. Photographing a city like Bruges is a photographers dream. I can’t get enough of the brick Gothic. I’m amazed every time I walk the city. And I definitely cannot get enough of the churches! We have some impressive churches in the United States but the churches in Europe are incredible. I could spend hours photographing them because around every corner there is something new to see.


While I could go on and on about just Bruges I can’t ignore a few other spots in Belgium. I have spent a few days in Gent and it is a wonderful city filled with (once again) amazing architecture, churches, even a castle! I’ve strolled along those streets and along the canal wishing I could pack up my life and move there because I really think I must be Dutch in a past life.

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The last time my wife and I went to Bruges we also took a day trip to Ostend with my brother. I had never been there before and I am glad my wife found the Atlantic Wall Museum because it was one of the coolest ‘museums’ I’ve been to. You go through trenches and bunkers with an idea of how the soldiers lived. It was pretty rainy the day we went which I think made for an even more authentic experience.

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We also spent an entire day Diksmuide where we saw a LOT of WWI memorials. We went to Dodengang (Trench of Death), Vladslo German War Cemetery and the Museum Aan De Ijzer. The Trench of Death is a small trench and bunker that you can walk through to try to experience what happened there so many years before. The cemetery is small but beautiful. It was a somber but moving experience.

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Then we went to the Museum Aan De Ijzer which was a really well done museum on WWI. It’s housed in this tower where you can go to the roof and you have a magnificent view of the area. From there you take the stairs down each level where there is different information on each floor. We were with 2 children and even they got a lot out of it. It was very informative.

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When visiting Belgium I really do recommend you see more than just Bruges or Brussels. Really try to explore other areas and get a feel of the entire country. I found the Dutch to be very lovely people and very patient with my very limited Dutch language skills.

But do not ignore Bruges! It may be small and I’m sure many websites and guide books only recommend a few nights but I’ve stayed for up to a week (multiple times) and I always find something to do.

And don’t listen to Colin Farrell in “In Bruges”. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.



The Cliffs of Moher and County Kerry

I’m going completely out of order with these posts but just work with me here. I go with what I feel most inspired by.

We started our Ireland trip with a night in Belfast, then to Sligo, then to Galway. From Galway we headed to County Kerry to see the Cliffs of Moher and then head to our cottage outside of Kenmare. We rose early because the drive from our hotel in Galway to the Cliffs was a few hours. We wanted to try to arrive at the Cliffs before it got too busy. As we were checking out of the hotel the woman at the desk told us to expect rain. Rain in Ireland, shocking right? But she said the sky looked like it was on fire which meant we’d have rain all day long. I am not Irish and I don’t live in Ireland, I figured I’d just believe her and leave it at that.

Road trips in Ireland are something else. By the time we were on our way to the Cliffs we were used to driving. We knew to expect twists and turns and sheep and rain and sun and everything in between. We took a few wrong turns on our way but it wasn’t too awful getting lost in Ireland. The lady at the hotel was correct about the rain though. It rained and rained. As we drove up the mountains, weaving around the turns (in my mind going too fast but we survived) the rain just kept coming. I was kind of laughing to myself and I just knew it would be a wet trip to the Cliffs. We finally found our way to the parking lot. The wind was ridiculous. We got out of the car and I swear we could have been swept away. I was trying to put my jacket on and I could barely get my arms into the holes, I thought my jacket was going to fly away and I’d be without a raincoat for the duration of the trip.


What. A. View.


We were fighting against the elements up there. I’ve never felt wind like that before. I actually thought my contacts were going to fly right out of my eyes. The rain was stinging us as we were walking up the steps. I took some videos and posted to Instagram just so my friends could hear the wind (@tripwithbrit if you feel the need to check out my Instagram posts).


My wife survived the Cliffs of Moher and lived to tell about it.

We walked around a bit, it was damn near impossible for me to hold my camera steady so unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures and the ones I did get weren’t great shots. But we still had a good time. Because of the early times plus the weather we didn’t really come across too many other tourists so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

From the Cliffs we made our way to Kenmare which took over 3 hours. We planned on grocery shopping in Kenmare then we had to text the owner of the cabin that we were close. We found Kenmare with no problems, stopped for groceries and headed to the cabin.

We had no idea the trip would take a really kind of shitty turn that day and into the night. We found the cabin without any real issues. But google maps didn’t do a good job of showing us just how far up into the mountains the cabin actually was. Neither did the couple we rented from. At certain points the only thing between our car and certain death was a tiny rickety fence. If we had known how treacherous the drive was up there we would not have rented it. The owners were lovely people. So sweet and helpful. They had chocolates and a card for us. They showed us around the cabin and then left. They live across the street from the cabin so it was nice knowing if we had any issues they were close.


The view from the cabin.

But, the cabin was not what we expected. The stove/oven was gas and the pilot light was out. And of course,  there were issues lighting it. As in, we couldn’t and had to get in our car and go across the street to have the owner help us. We finally got it to light so we could make dinner. But because we had so many issues with it we decided to make the pizza and the bread we bought from the store and just eat it as leftovers for the next few days. We settled in for the night, did some laundry, and relaxed. We had no phone service whatsoever. I couldn’t even connect to wifi calling. There was also no home phone. That made me feel a little nervous because if we had any issues we had no way to call out. Later in the evening I was walking around the cabin to just look around. They had framed photos all around. I picked one up, felt movement on my fingers and turned the frame over and what do you know. Spiders. A lot. Just hanging out on the frames, no big deal. My wife had the same issue near the router. Just so many bugs hanging out with us. Bugs caught in cobwebs throughout various areas of the house. Bugs stuck to the walls. Basically, bugs everywhere. We finally decided to go to bed. I hadn’t voiced my concerns to Angie and she didn’t say anything to me (yet). We went upstairs to go to bed. Bugs in the bedroom. The heat didn’t work in the bedroom. The temperatures that night were in the 40’s. Luckily there was a big thick comforter on the bed and we were able to go to sleep but neither one of us were very happy and I don’t know about her, but I didn’t sleep all that great that night.

We woke up the next morning and the plan was to leave the cottage early and spend all day in Kenmare. But I think we both woke up in pretty grumpy moods. She went to shower. There was basically no shower pressure (it was a trickle coming from the shower head) and either the water was scalding hot or ice cold. No in between. My wife has short hair, my hair is past the middle of my back. I was already annoyed at how long I’d have to spend in the shower trying to shampoo and condition my hair in a bathroom that wasn’t very clean with alternating hot and cold water. I asked my wife if it would be awful to leave the cabin and just get a hotel. I don’t rough it on vacation. I like a relatively bug-free place to sleep, with water pressure and a stove that worked properly and a place that is clean. She told me that was crazy, it would cost us too much money. I waited as long as I could to take a shower (in hopes there would miraculously be hot-but not scalding-water and water pressure). I went into the bathroom. Walked right back out to argue with my wife about a hotel and what do I see when I go back to the bedroom? My wife on her phone looking at hotels in the area. We found a cheap(ish) hotel in Killarney, booked it, and then I hightailed it to the shower. I don’t want to talk about that shower but we packed quickly, grabbed our gear and left that cabin and never looked back.


Quick stop in Killarney National Park on our way to our hotel.

Belfast/The Giant’s Causeway

When we started planning our Ireland vacation I told my wife that Giant’s Causeway was the number one tourist spot I wanted to see in Ireland. The majority of our trip was to be spent in Ireland but we knew we’d spend at least a day in Northern Ireland. We originally were going to fly into Belfast and then out of Dublin but we purchased plane tickets in and out of Dublin for around 500 dollars cheaper. My wife slept on the plane and we drove from Dublin to Belfast after an overnight flight. That wasn’t my first choice and I was nervous the entire flight over. I did not sleep. We got our luggage and went to the Dan Dooley counter. We booked with them because they have such a good reputation on travel sites and I was able to get a few personal recommendations from former high school classmates who had also traveled to Ireland. They aren’t expensive in comparison to other companies and I liked that it was an Irish company. We upgraded the car to a Diesel, it was a Volkswagen. A little bigger than we had planned on but it worked out well.

We made it to Belfast without too much trouble. There were a few moments that I wanted to scream. The streets are very narrow in the city. Luckily there weren’t a lot of people out and about (it was a Sunday) so that was a relief. I’m sure had we flown in Monday-Friday it would have been worse. We checked into Tara Lodge on Cromwell Street and allow me to gush about this hotel. There is a small parking lot (and by small I do mean small) plus street parking. We were able to snag a spot in the lot. We arrived at the hotel around 2pm so we were able to check in. Our room was lovely. It overlooked the street but even with the windows open we didn’t hear much noise. It was small but not too small and very clean. We took showers and then went for a walk. We had a taxi tour booked to see the political murals. That was basically the entire reason for staying 1 night in Belfast. We stood outside in the rain for almost 40 minutes and the tour guide never showed up. We were incredibly disappointed. They have a great rating on Trip Advisor so it must have been a fluke. Disappointed we went and got some food, came back to the hotel and went to bed. We had stayed up all day to make sure we were awake for the tour so we were exhausted. We both woke around midnight and were wide awake. We decided to each take a melatonin because we could not deal with jet lag when we knew we would be doing a lot of driving in the morning. That helped and we both fell asleep again and slept until the alarm went off.

The next morning we woke up fairly early, took showers, got ready, and went down for breakfast. The Irish can throw down some breakfast! There was a small spread on the bar but also a menu. We both ordered pancakes and bacon and, well, let me just say that I wish I could have that bacon every day. It was so yummy. The hotel isn’t very big and it was so quiet so we were surprised at how busy the breakfast room was. Oh, and breakfast was included in the price of our room. So a double score!

We went back to the room, grabbed our luggage and checked out by 8am. Our first stop was the Dark Hedges (Game of Thrones fans know all about this). Boy, were we lucky when we got there. We made it before any tour buses were there to block the view. There were 3 women leaving as we pulled up and we the hedges all to ourselves.


There is nothing quite like the Dark Hedges. They are mystifying. I only wished for some fog to really get the feel of them.


We didn’t stay very long because we still had an hours drive to Giant’s Causeway  We made it in good time, paid for parking, paid the entrance fee and took the hike down. We arrived semi-early so not many tour buses were there yet and the parking lot wasn’t even half full. Giant’s Causeway is everything I hoped it would be.


It really felt out of this world. Landscapes have never been a favorite subject for me to photograph but I think it is damn near impossible to take a bad picture in Ireland.


I knew ahead of time to wear sensible shoes because I thought it went without saying but please, wear good sturdy shoes. I didn’t trip once (which is a surprise) but it would be easy to do. I get a little shaky when I get too high up with nothing to hold onto so I didn’t do anything crazy on the causeway. There are workers stationed throughout to help you if you trip and fall. They will also yell at you if you try to climb onto rocks that are off limits. I saw it happen, please listen to them when they tell you to stop.


We stayed at the causeway for around an hour and a half to two hours. As we were hiking back up more and more people were walking down. We stopped in the gift shop and bought a few postcards, souvenirs, and a small piece of art that we are going to hang up somewhere in the house. As we were leaving we asked a street worker named Sammy where to eat nearby. He gave us a good recommendation right in Bushmills. A cute little cafe called Copper Kettle. We were not disappointed. It’s not a fancy restaurant by any means but it hit the spot. I had the vegetable soup with some wonderful soda bread. I liked the bread so much I wanted to ask for an entire loaf! My wife had (randomly) a baked potato with cole slaw and she said it was the best cole slaw she’s ever had. She liked it so much she found a recipe for it online and made it when we got home!

We left Bushmills to head to County Sligo. It was a long majestic drive. There were times I felt like we were on top of the world…


Somewhere in County Sligo


To be continued…

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

My friends.

We survived Ireland.

For 2 years we planned, changed plans, revised plans, and we made it. We finally made it to Ireland. We spent a fabulous 2 weeks, driving around the Irish countryside. Ireland is as majestic as you would imagine it to be. Driving along the narrow roads, feeling like we were soaring through the mountains, waving to passerby, praying for fog just to capture a brilliant picture. You see Ireland in movies, in photographs but until you are there and breathing it all in you have no idea. Before our trip, I had so many people tell me that Ireland gets in your bones, that you’ll want to go back again and again and what do you know? They were right. I will be breaking our trip up into parts. None of which will be in order. I had to start with my favorite area, an area we only spent 1 day in, but an area I can see myself retiring in.


On our way to Slea Head

The Dingle Peninsula.

It is the nothermost of the major peninsulas in County Kerry. Our way to Dingle was, of course, on Slea Head Drive. We woke early to drive from Killarney to Dingle. The first order of business though was to see Slea Head before the tour buses arrived. So we were on the road by 7am. We were staying in Killarney. It took us roughly 2 hours, mainly because we kept stopping to take pictures of the area. For future reference, when Google maps says it will take you 30 minutes to get anywhere in Ireland, I recommend you add another 30 minutes to that, you will stop for pictures-frequently.

I will admit to all of my readers that I did not drive in Ireland, my wife did. I can’t drive a manual, she can and it was cheaper than an automatic. So I had it good, I helped navigate (which wasn’t hard with a GPS) and oohed and aahed at the scenery while she tried to avoid driving off of a cliff while taking in the views.

While driving in Slea Head I was so amazed at the rough beauty of it. It was cold and windy the day we were there. Living there probably isn’t easy but it has its perks. There were times I felt like we were on the edge of the world. I was in awe.


On the edge of the world-Slea Head

There were parts of the drive where we would stop to take it all in and we literally couldn’t get our doors open because of the wind. I’d roll down the window, hoping that I could keep my camera steady. I so badly wanted to take beautiful pictures of this awe-inspiring place. If you want to feel inspired, go to Slea Head. You won’t be disappointed.


Photo from the car-Slea Head

After driving along Slea Head for what felt like hours, we made our way to the town of Dingle. What an adorable little town. Packed to the gills with tourists but we paid no mind. We had lunch at a little hole in the wall restaurant. I asked for vegetable soup, that is not what I got but I just ate some of my wife’s food and then we were on our way.


Dingle Ireland


Dingle, Ireland

We booked a boat tour to spot Fungie, the dolphin that meets the boats in the harbor. We went with the Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours, we booked them through the tourist office right near the pier. We were ‘guaranteed’ we’d see Fungie. We were not disappointed. Our boat only had about 8 people on it and I think that made it even more fun. Yes, we did see Fungie. A lot. He seemed to be teasing us. Other than Fungie, the views from the boat are outstanding. Incredible. Beautiful. Amazing. The boat ride lasted an hour, Fungie spottings throughout and incredible views. It was rainy and windy and cold but we had a blast. I think every single tourist on that boat was thrilled with the experience.


Blurry picture of Fungie-Dingle


The incredible view from the boat-Dingle


The view from the boat-Dingle 

I was sad to leave Dingle. I was sad to drive on Slea Head again, knowing we were leaving and wouldn’t return during the trip. I know that the next time we go to Ireland, Dingle will be a spot we stay in for a few days. One day wasn’t enough. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of that beautiful area of Ireland.


Slea Head



I made a friend on Slea Head