It was the luck of the Irish… IRELAND TRIP 2015

So June 18th Josh and I took off on a plane set for Dublin, Ireland. This was my first time 2015-06-18 13.49.31travelling so I was very excited. I made sure to grab a window seat to watch our ascent and arrival into Dublin. Gotta be honest, I was a bit nervous on the take-off, such a strange feeling. I just pretended that I was on a roller coaster and embraced it. 6 and a half hour flight was tough, we did sleep for some of it but with how active we both are it hurttt to sit that long.

We landed in Dublin airport at 8am (actually 3am our time) and made our way to our hotel. We couldn’t check in until 2 so we went on an adventure walk into the city center about 5km away, which running takes no time but walking 2 hours..whoof. Found some food and coffee and killed some time.

After check in we started to get in race mode, getting together our race kit – Skechers singlet/shorts, Skechers GoRun4 (both of ours race shoe of choice) and Honeymaxx. We packed our little running backpack and headed to Phoenix Park. What we didn’t realize was that Phoenix Park was huge and we didn’t know where the race started (neither did the locals!). So after about an hour of running around we found an obscure race tent and knew that was it. After warm-up we hid under the trees for shelter from the cold rain (forgot our raincoats of course) until the race started.

Dublin Pride Run 5k

In the weeks leading up to our vacation I found a race that was on the day we got there so we decided to run it; the Dublin Pride Run. The gun went off and we started our 5k race. Within a few steps someone fell right beside me, slipping from the rain. That always gets the nerves going, hoping you don’t fall too. I took it out fairly hard, my 5k philosophy – “run hard and hope you don’t die,” which I did. I had no girls to run with so it made it more relaxing to just push the pace and not worry about placing.

About half-way through our first 2.5k loop a herd of wild deer that roam the park came over to check out the race and decided to sprint across the path we were racing on. So memorable – just looking ahead and seeing 40-50 deer going full speed running alongside runners. As I came up to the pack, there was 1 deer still waiting on the other side of the path deciding whether they wanted to cut across or not. I actually had to slow down for a second for fear it would sprint into me! I rarely checked my watch but I knew I was on a fast pace. I was chasing a guy a few meters ahead of me to keep me from slowing the whole race. Onto the second loop I heard them pronounce my name and say I was from Canada which was cool! I kept pushing and before I knew it I crossed the line in 18:07 – a new pb! Clearly, running that after such a busy day, jet legged, lack of sleep and hungry – I’ve got a lot more in my legs for a 5k that’s for sure. Josh just jogged it in, only pushing hard enough for the win but an international win together was the icing on the cake that’s for sure. We joked as I talked about running hard and wanting to throw up afterwards!

Post-race was all smiles taking pics for the camera, meeting the locals, and then running away from the rain to find a pub! We came across Fitzpatricks and went inside to have a few pints and our first plate of fish and chips in Ireland.

Ireland Day#2 – Trinity College

After sleeping for 12 hours we decided to spend this day in Dublin itself. We went to Trinity College, the university in Dublin which was so pretty. We saw the Long Room in the Old Library which had the Book of Kells, the Guinness harp, and pretty sweet old ladders and bookshelves. We caught a game of cricket on the way out, stopped at the science centre, and made our way to another pub – The Long Stone. We had more beers and ciders along with Josh’s lasagna/fries and my smoked salmon pasta. We had a lovely walk along the water the way home.

Day #3 – Guinness

Today we tried to go to Wicklow but that didn’t workout so we went into Dublin again to explore the city. Today we went to the Guinness Storehouse, the old Guinness factory to see how it’s made. Some standout points of the tour were: the history of Arthur Guinness and his 21 children (imagine that!), the fact that water for Guinness comes from the Wicklow Mountains, the tasting room where we learned to drink Guinness (drink through the head, don’t sip), old memorabilia, and watching commercials from all over the world and see how they advertise differently. The best part was at the end heading up to the Gravity Bar at the top of the storehouse which overlooked all of Dublin. Me the lover of beer (*rolls eyes*) got myself a fresh pint of Guinness to drink at the Gravity Bar. The bartender even put a four leaf clover into the top of the foam! Fancy eh? We walked around the bar looking out over different parts of Dublin and I managed to drink half a pint – Josh was about as impressed as I was!

We looked up a cool pub to go to when we left the Storehouse and headed that way. The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Ireland – we had to go. The crazy thing about Ireland is how many pubs there are and the fact that they look tiny from the outside but are HUGE inside – this one had like 5 separate rooms and multiple floors! Josh and I both got seafood chowder which was delish and made the poor decision to get chips with it which were way too filling by the end of the meal. Of course as every meal in Dublin we had a pint with dinner – Josh had smithwicks and I had a bulmer’s cider (very close to somersby aka so good). I had a baileys cheesecake for dessert. We headed to the main part of town and stumbled across a well known pub on the way – The Porterhouse! The menu had 100’s of beers just endless options. Josh had a german beer that was 10.5%! I had “one hot summer” which was a cinnamon whisky ..ohh that was strong. We headed home through the temple bar district (tourist area), quick stop for gelato on Grafton street and walked through St. Stephen’s Green like every night.

Day #4- Newgrange

We were just staying in the city for the last few days and wanted to get out to see the iconic rolling hills of Ireland so we set out for a day trip. A tour group took us to Hill of Tara and Newgrange. Hill of Tara is kind of hard to describe so I’ll just copy what the website says:

Though best known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, the Hill of Tara has been an important site since the late Stone Age when a passage-tomb was constructed there. Tara was at the height of its power as a political and religious centre in the early centuries after Christ.”

It was an interesting area, definitely having a tour guide helped a lot. He explained that the King would light his signal fire from here to signal the start of the summer solstice and that would set off a chain reaction. He also described some of the history of the site about whom was buried in the tombs there. The Mound of the Hostages was a passage tomb (built 3,400 BC) which aligned with the sunrise at the midway point between the solstices. (This makes everything we build look so simple…). As an archeologist, our tour guide was not pleased when talking about why the Hill of Tara is so uneven due to it being excavated by British Israelists during the 20th century who thought that the hill contained the Ark of the Covenant. There were beautiful views from the Hill of Tara.

Onto the main attraction – Newgrange. We saw the beautiful countryside on the way there which matched everyone’s vision of what Ireland looks like – rolling hills, green, green, green. We passed Slane Castle which has a lot of history behind it and it’s where U2 has played many times. It was a beautiful old castle, nothing like we will see here in Canada.

We arrived to Newgrange and it was beautiful. From a distance you could really see the size of it. What is Newgrange? It is a passage tomb in Boyne Valley constructed over 5,000 years ago (c.3,200BC). It’s older than the Pyramids and Stone Hedge. One of the truly oldest sights to see. It is protected under Unesco as a Natural Heritage Site. The outside of the tomb was made of many layers; the base is made of 97 stones that weigh tonnes, the outside ring is made of water-made stones some from River Boyne, quartz from Wicklow (80km away) and granite from other nearby areas. The most impressive part of course is inside – we actually got to go inside and stand there for several minutes. We had to duck our heads to get inside as we squeezed through the passage a couple of meters until it opened up into the large part of the tomb. It was shaped like a cross and each point of it had these basin stones which is where the cremated remains and that person’s belongings would have been placed for the ceremony. But wait it gets cooler! The opening of the passage tomb actually lines up with the sunrise during the winter solstice where the light comes through the opening and will fully illuminate the entire tomb with natural sunlight. It think what hit us the most was the artwork inside the tomb alongside ancient graffiti. Seeing someones name carved into the stone and beside it 1820 just like we see today in our bathroom stalls – now that’s crazy. Show’s you how old it really is. Inside the tomb it really was quite large, the ceiling was made up of flat rocks that got smaller and smaller as they went up placed perfectly over each other in such a way that they are still watertight to this day!

When we got back Josh looked up a top rated restaurant in our guide book and we headed there. Fade St. Social had not one but two restaurants in it! We chose the tasting style and had a bunch of random dishes: “popcorn” chicken, truffle pasta, asparagus, crab bisque, cheese fries and salmon in a rich sauce. It was a much different experience, fun. As we left, Josh asked the waiter where he could get coffee (they were never open at night Dublin! only alcohol!) and he said turn right and that’s the 2nd best coffee shop in Dublin. Crazy good luck! We had a nice long walk home and stopped at a pub O’briens on our way home for a pint.

Day #5 – Wicklow

This was our most favourite day of the trip! We wanted to spend and entire day there but St.Kevin’s Bus service would only leave at 11:30 from Dublin and come home at 4:30. We decided we’d make it long enough. We headed into Dublin a little early for food – stopped at The Beehive for BLT’s, coffee, & a london fog :). We jumped onto the bus on time and relaxed as we headed to Wicklow (1.5hr drive). Well… relaxed isn’t really right..some crazy guy on the bus talking to himself and as the bus driver said “torturing” the other passengers, kept us on our toes the whole bus ride. Again, we saw the classic Ireland country side (with sheep and everything!). We could see the outline of the beautiful Wicklow mountains as we approached. We ran/hiked through Wicklow probably 30km going both directions. At one point we could see the countryside and at the other end we could see the beautiful rivers. We had to climb very steep and huge hills to get up there but the views were just breathtaking. We had such a beautiful day, in the 20’s (hot for there) and blue blue skies.

When we got back (pretty early I might say), we went to Ely Wine Bar for a fancy dinner and drinks. Found another coffee place, walked around the city streets and headed back home.

Day # 6 – Giant’s Causeway

 This was the longest but best day of the trip! We had to get up super early and head into Dublin to be picked up for 7am. The Paddywagon tours picked us up, luckily we got to sleep on the 2hour drive to Northern Ireland (which is still under the British wierd! They use pounds there not euros!). On the way there, we stopped at Dunlace Castle, Ireland’s most romantic castle for a photostop. Would have been cool to walk through it but not enough time. There was a cool underwater church there too! You could just see the tip of it reaching out of the water. We jumped back in and headed to Giant’s Causeway. It is a natural basalt column formation formed by an ancient volcano…though the irish have their own impressions on how it was made….

*Imagine this in an exaggerated irish accent like our tourguide*  One day Finn McCool wanted to go fight the scottish giant so he built the causeway to go over to Scotland. When he got there, he saw the giant from a far and realized that he was much bigger than he, so he ran back home to Mrs. McCool and asked her what to do. She decided they would dress him up like a baby to trick the scottish giant. When the giant came knocking on her door asking where Finn was, Mrs. McCool said he’s not here he’s at work, but you can come in for a cup of tea, which he did. As he waited for her to get the tea, he looked around a bit to see the “baby.” He asked Mrs. McCool who’s baby is that in there? She said that’s Finn’s, so he got to thinking if that’s the baby how big is he? And the scottish giant ran away to Scotland breaking the causeway on his way home so it didn’t reach Scotland anymore.

The Giant’s Causeway was beautiful. We first walked along the upper trail looking down at it. You could see the ocean for miles on one side, and green rolling hills on the other side. Breathtaking, beautiful, peaceful. We look a million pictures, and climbed up and down the causeway.

On our way home we stopped at The Dark Hedges, 500 year old white birch trees that were used in a few scenes of Game of Thrones (they filmed a lot in Ireland, you could even go on a GoT tour trip).

We also got to jump off in Belfast for an hour on our way back to Dublin. There’s a lot of history here with the protestants and catholics with wars between the two resulting in the construction of a Peace Wall at one point keeping the two parts of the city separate. We definitely noticed a different feel to this town. Our entertainment was this mobile bar with drunk guys dancing and hollering off the side of it. City hall there was pretty amazing, supposed to be the most expensive city hall ever built to show Belfast’s power and strength.

We got home and hit another pub, walked back through Grafton street for gelato, and headed home.

Day #7 – Dublin

Today was our last day in Ireland sadly. We started it with a day trip to Dun Laogahaire Pier that our buddy from Wicklow told us about. It took us about 9k each way to get there but was a nice scenic run. When we got back we got dressed up and headed into Dublin City. We went to a popular college kids spot for pizza & a pint for 5 euro (Lafayette’s). Pretty good! Then headed to get all the touristy gifts for everyone. Josh hunted out a pair of nice dress shoes for work and I found the much desired leather jacket. Other than that, we just enjoyed the views of beautiful Dublin, more gelato, another pub – The Porterhouse (same name different location!) where there were 100’s of beers, I got a girly drink the first time – strawberry daquiri. Walked back through St.Stephen’s Green for one last time then headed home.

Hopped back on a plane friday morning at 8am and arrived home at 11am (even with a 7hour flight – wierd time change!). And before we knew it we were home.

Travelling was just amazing, can’t wait to go to more places.

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