In March (March! Can we just pretend like the last 5 months didn't already come and go?) we jetted off to the Emerald Isle to fulfill
my a dream of visiting a country and culture I had been fascinated with my whole life. Being born on St. Patrick's Day with red hair and freckles made my journey to the homeland (even though I'm only about 1/4 Irish) feel every bit as necessary as it was exciting. We had ten days to see, taste, experience as much of the country, the people, the scenery as possible and we certainly did. When I'm excited about something I become a bit obsessed with it. I wanted to read and learn everything I could about everything- places, history, people, streets, restaurants- not wanting to miss out on anything.
Normally, I embrace spontaneity and surprises but with travel there are so many unknowns I guess being prepared helps me feel like we won't accidentally waste a minute or wish we had done something we didn't. Luckily, Dan experienced this aspect of my personality on our first international adventure to New Zealand when we lived out of a van, camping at some of the most gorgeous places around the North Island and fitting in quality time with our friends at their wedding and their home. It wasn't a vacation by any means- traveling rarely is- but we definitely came home from that trip with amazing memories.
But Ireland was the first trip we ever took with friends and I was paranoid about everything. I worried if the hotels were going to be less than anticipated (they all were, but I think that was more of an American-expectations-versus European-standards flaw) or the drive between destinations was going to be unimpressive (quite the opposite) or if it wasn't going to be the perfect Ireland we pictured (shallow, much?). I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to make this trip amazing but I ultimately had to accept that it wasn't all about me, that this was also a dream of the other three companions sharing our tiny rental car, that most of these worries were out of my control and to just go with the flow.
It ended up being an amazing trip filled with great memories and some really good stories we'll probably tell our kids one day around the dinner table. We survived- rental car, luggage, and friendships intact- and have 860 photos to prove it.
But for sanity's sake I've sliced and diced them down to a few dozen that capture my version of our 15 favorite things about our trip.
1. St. Patrick's Day in Dublin.
2. Pouring the perfect Guinness.
3. The sights and sounds of city streets.
4. Reading about monastic ruins and 9th century cemeteries. Hi Kevin!
5. Churches, castles, and forts... oh my!
6. Skeet shooting on castle grounds.
This is Ross. He is Arthur's Irish cousin. Such a cutie but made me miss our boys at home.
7. The Cliffs of Moher. Walking along the edge, ignoring trespassing signage.
8. Having great friends to share the memories with.
10. Exploring winding backcountry roads in a tiny rental car.
11. Colorful seaside towns and fresh fish n' chips.
This was taken when I was trying to teach Dan how to focus my camera lens. Bless his heart, this is the very first photograph he has ever taken of me that I actually liked. It may be because its in focus, or that I like the colors...or the fact that I'm not making the "our children will never know what their mother looked like because her head is cut off or out of focus in every picture her husband tries to take" face at him. I'm not photogenic, and he's no photographer (yet!)... so say a small prayer for this blog if you will.
12. Sweaters that still smell like sheep.
13. Local shops and markets.
14. Visiting with furry friends.
15. Stopping to explore every corner of the country.