Those close to me know, I'm an American girl, through and through. Give me all the bald eagles, and American flags and Star Spangled Banners. I truly love this land I am blessed to call home. However, I'm also a firm believer that traveling does a few things. It broadens your horizons, creates incredible experiences/memories...and in the end makes you appreciate home all the more. Mark Twain wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." While that's a bit dramatic...the point is well taken. It's a matter of walking a mile in another person's shoes. Suddenly, it opens up a whole new world. Just ask Aladdin. See what I did there? ;)
I was blessed to be able to travel to Ireland while still in college, and I knew, without a doubt, that I had to go back. If there was only one place on earth I could live besides America...Ireland is it. Hands down. I mean, they are the butter capital of the world so, seriously, it's a no brainer. Just like any trip, a few tips can make things go smoother...but just like any trip, everyone's experience is different! So take what you like, ignore what you don't, and just don't tell me about it ;)
Tip 1 - Rent a Car. I read approximately 2893728369 articles on whether or not to rent a car in Ireland. You can definitely do it without, but it was well worth the freedom to me. One day we got lost, and ended up on the Wild Atlantic Way (pictured above.) That now ranks as one of our top five experiences there. It is literally otherworldly in it's beauty. On the other hand...they are NOT joking about the narrow roads. With stone walls on either side. Which leads me to tip number 2...
Tip 2 - GET THE BEST INSURANCE. Trust me on this one. We managed to make it through with no scratches, but there were times where the side mirror was literally scraping the ivy on the stone wall. More insurance = less stress. Also, skip the GPS. Unless you understand how addresses work in Ireland, kudos because I totally don't, it does you no good at all.
Tip 3 - Stay at B and B's. The prices are reasonable, the breakfast is huge and included, and you'll feel like a member of the family. Pictured above is the Newpark House in Ennis. It has tons of history, and a family style breakfast table where we met a charming German couple. And by charming I mean...the wife told us in an extremely dry voice, "I don't know why these Irish people are so damn happy. It rains here all the time. It rains in Germany too but at least we have the good sense to be grumpy." Hey, it takes all kinds, haha.
Kinsale - Kinsale is a coastal town in County Cork. Y'all. The seafood is incredible, the views are unreal, and the brightly colored doors make you feel like you're in a storybook. Seriously, doesn't that place look like the secret garden is on the other side?? Plus, Cork is the butter capital of the world...and they live up to the title. Reason enough to go right there ;)
Galway - They say it's a tourist trap...and it kind of is, to be perfectly transparent. But it's worth it because the shops and coffee joints are prime. Be sure to check out the original Claddagh ring makers, super cool little shop. Oh and last but not least...Ed Sheeran sings about "Galway Girls," and honestly, don't we all want to be in an Ed Sheeran song???
Ok people, I could go on and on, but I hope that's enough to get you started planning!