Ireland was amazing. I didn't know how many shades of green there were. I wasn't expecting flowers to still be blooming in October. Fuchsia, dahlias, hydrangeas, and so many more were in bloom. It was gorgeous. I was also surprised by the size of the plants. It's amazing what great soil and plenty of water can do. Dahlias as tall as me. Hydrangea bushes that came up to me chin and twice my arm span. Giant fuchsia bushes and not the little ones I see in hanging pots around here.
Our tour was fantastic. Driftwood tours did a great job and I can't say enough about it. From accommodations, restaurant recommendations, lodging, activities, and how they set our group up I couldn't be more pleased. All 16 of us got along and had a great time. No one was ever late to the bus, and by the last day were all 10 minutes early to the surprise of our guide.
I took so many pictures and I am working through them all slowly. I did get some through Lightroom so I could enter the monthly contest for Vagabond. They narrow down photo submissions to the top 5 and the one with the most votes wins a prize. This month it's a hamper of chocolates from Skellig Chocolates. Of course I have to enter that!
Of course I keep getting asked about my favorite thing about the trip.
There were so many places we went that it's hard to narrow down in some ways what may favorite places were. The top ones that come to mind were not the major places like Blarney Castle or the Cliffs of Moher. Don't get me wrong they were fantastic and I would go back in a heartbeat, but the off the beaten track places were where I really fell in love with the country.
Meeting an old druid at Poulnabrone Dolmen who was making jewelry. I bought necklaces with Marshall's and my names in Ogham on them.
A surprise stop at St. Brigid's well and seeing all the memorials people have left behind with prayers for their sick loved ones and those who have passed.
Seeing cemeteries that will have a headstone from the 16th century feet away from one from 2017. They don't stop using the old cemeteries there.
The town of Dingle will always hold a special place in my heart.
Facing my fear of heights to climb castles. Especially Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone.
And I could go on and on.
There is only one real negative from the whole trip I can think of. Dublin was surprisingly dirty and had a lot of graffiti. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that. The city was nice, I felt relatively safe, and I had no issues. Aside from some things in Dublin that I didn't get to see this time, it won't be where I want to spend my time though.
My absolute favorite thing though? Without a doubt hand's down?
I was able to do, physically, everything I wanted to do.
Climbing castles, walking all day, short hikes, wandering after we got to our hotels at night, and so much more. I couldn't have done it a year ago. Even six months ago would have been a real struggle for me. That more than anything made me realize how bad off I was. But I have no regrets or guilt about how I treated my body. I am grateful for NOW. I'm fixing the issues. I was able to fully appreciate being fully mobile and full of energy. It's hard to comprehend how much mobility you have lost until you have it back.
I am still so proud of myself and I am still riding the high I have from all of that and thinking about all I accomplished personally on the trip.
There was only one day I said no to doing anything. We were going to Bantry House and there is a beautiful garden and overlook of the house and Bantry Bay. But the overlook is a steep stairway that is made of slate. The slate is slick as hell when it gets wet, and of course it was raining that day. I knew going up would be ok, but my knee was giving me fits going down stairs. There weren't any handrails. I took one look and said "Nope!" and headed inside. Laura went on her merry way up.
I do think that some of our tour mates thought we were mad at each other sometimes because we weren't always attached at the hip. It wasn't the case at all. We just knew when the other needed alone time and went our separate ways. We knew the other would find the bus or hotel or whatever when the time came.
Here's a few photos. I'm sure I'll post more here and there as I get them done.
|Fountain at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel|
|St. Brigid's Well|
|Heavenly Port at Dingle Bay|
|Rainbow over Killary Fjord|
|Slea Head drive, Dingle Peninsula|
|Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula.|