Ok, so this is going to probably be an epic blog post about our experiences of our travels in England and Ireland….but if you’re thinking of heading over there you might find this mildly interesting or maybe even a little bit useful. I’m also going to bombard you with photo’s too…because I can, and after all that’s half the reason why I went there. 🙂
I’ll start with Ireland since that’s where our trip started.
We visited some old friends in Dublin and they were so lovely, even lent us their little souped up Mini to tour the place with. This little car had some guts but it was a feat fitting all our luggage, and ourselves in it! My husband is very tall so I was surprised his knee’s weren’t around his chin, but he seemed to fit all his limbs in ok.
So let me tell you about Ireland. Irish people do not own bladders. Seriously, they do not need to pee apparently because there are NO TOILETS in Ireland! I foolishly brought my bladder with me and it was a major inconvenience for the majority of our trip. The amount of time we spent driving around looking for toilets was unbelievable!
One gardener in a park told me it’s because of the drug user problem there. Heck, we have drug users here in Australia too, but we still allow them to pee!
No service stations that we stopped at had toilets available to the public, parks were out, pubs were closed in the mornings and when we drove out on the country roads the hedges prevented you from finding a quiet little spot. There WERE no quiet little spots anyway it seemed because there was always a tractor coming along, or a potato truck, or a person walking their dog, or yet another car…..and the hedges? Oooh you’ll be hearing about the hedges from me!
Look at this picture. It gives me post traumatic hedge disorder.
I’m telling you, there is a PLAGUE of these things over there!
I had a very unfortunate incident in one place as we drove to check out some ruins. I REALLY had to pee. It seemed deserted, so I quickly ducked in on the side of the road next to the car. Before I even got back into my seat though I suddenly began to feel a horrible, painful burning sensation on my bottom…. which grew and grew in hot prickly intensity.
I began wailing to my husband “ I think I sat on some stinging nettles!” – which of course he found highly amusing. All I had to ease the sting was some apple cider vinegar in my suitcase. Handy stuff to have for many things, and as it turned out, although I smelled a bit like a tossed salad it DID actually take most of the sting away.
On one other occasion I found a discreet enough spot only to nearly have a heart attack and trip over my britches because an unexpected cow stuck its head over the fence and moo’d really loudly at me!
All very undignified really. A few portaloo’s round the place really wouldn’t have gone astray.
So we travelled from Dublin up to Belfast. Cities don’t do much for me but I will say this, Dublin was very quaint in comparison to Belfast, which seemed for the most part colourless and full of row houses and buildings. Belfast to me seemed like a very “grey” place.
We visited the Titanic museum in Belfast. It was a bit meh, to be honest. Overpriced really.
They like their flowers in Dublin – and most of Ireland. Pretty little flower boxes seemed to line every window, and especially pub windows. I’ve always thought of pubs as kind of blokey places, but in Ireland if you want to find a pub look for the pretty flowers. Or, just look for a corner, because almost every corner has a pub, most likely adorned with flowers, and no doubt blokes too.
I found Ireland to be a very quaint pretty place, perhaps even more so than the UK.
Accompanied by our friend we drove out to Glendalough- a Monastic site which has a very old cemetery . (about two hours from Dublin- worth a visit.) The history of these places is amazing and mind blowing and I just LOVE old cemeteries.
That tower, I believe, is over 1000 yrs old!
Nearby was a lake which we walked around and the reflections were so pretty as were the forest surrounds.
There really was no shortage of interesting and photo worthy spots in Ireland. You would only have to drive a short way before seeing some sort of ruin or pretty scene. The worst part of it was the sign posting. Ireland sucks as far as signs go. In fact we thought there was some kind of Irish larrikin running around sticking up signs boasting non-existent castle ruins, or walled gardens just for fun to confuse the tourists! And none of the signs had any indication of how far it was to the supposed attraction? Could have been in the next county for all we knew! Another thing too , especially in Northern Ireland was that some of the signs were in Irish….so you had no idea what they said!
Here’s one of my favourite castle ruin in Ireland. I won’t try and name all the castles we visited because 1 – I’ve forgotten the names and 2) Trust me, there is no shortage of them!
Ok, so here’s another… Blarney Castle where you are supposed to kiss the Blarney stone and receive the gift of eloquence. I wasn’t about to kiss a piece of rock that hundreds of others had slobbered on and I’m eloquent enough as it is, thankyouverymuch. Besides, you had to almost hang upside down over the edge of the castle to do it!
On my agenda of places to see was “The dark hedges”. A scene from Game of Thrones was filmed here. Not sure why they are called hedges because really they are tree’s. I guess they just like darn hedges so much that anything qualifies. We stayed overnight at a nearby hotel so I was lucky enough to get shots in very different lighting. The fog that rolled in the next morning was simply delicious and gave the scene a totally magical look!
I always imagined Ireland to be nothing but huge expanses of green fields and meadows so at first I was a bit disappointed that the Emerald Isles didn’t seem quite so Emerald. In fact there were places in the North where the landscape was very burnt orange.
But of course the more we travelled the more green we saw…
I had to laugh when our friend in Dublin told us that when his young kids had spotted some sheep near a cemetery with red markings on them they asked why they looked like that. He told them that at night the zombies come out of the cemetery and bite all the sheep.
Maybe a zombie smurf got to this one as well?
We visited the highest cliffs in Northern Ireland ( Slieve League cliffs ) – higher apparently than the Cliffs of Moher. We left it late getting in there after we drove from Belfast so it was quite late when we arrived. There was a gate at the bottom of a hill and at first we thought we’d have to walk up. Luckily we didn’t – and discovered you could actually drive up, because it was quite steep and a long way to actually get to the main car park lookout.
I spotted a little bird there on a rock who seemed to want his picture taken so I obliged and as I did so another tourist ran up to me and asked if she could “have that picture”. (Um, not really?) Something about her daughter being a painter or something. Too bad I couldn’t just teleport it off my camera screen into her hands.
We did a surprising number of things which involved heights in Ireland and I am actually afraid of heights so I don’t know how I ended up doing them. I suppose having a camera in your hand somehow quiets your inner chicken.
I did NOT like walking the rope bridge. ( Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge – Northern Ireland)
This was built to allow fishermen to cross the cliffs with their salmon catches apparently, many years ago. My husband kept saying “Why didn’t they just fish somewhere else?” A lot of hard work and effort to be dragging all those fish up massive cliffs and across precarious, in those days, a one roped hand railed bridge…. I’m glad there were two rope rails for us tourists, but I still could NOT look down between the wooden slats at the ocean below!
Then of course we did the Cliffs of Moher, which probably for me was my favourite spot out of all the places we visited in Ireland. Just breathtakingly gorgeous! Here again I really seriously had to reign in my inner chicken because there were no fences! When you walk around the tops of the cliffs – well you’ve got two options…There is a narrow goat looking trail for the brave and adventurous which is closer to the cliff edge and below it there is like a trench like path that wusses like me can walk – all the while yelling at stupid bloody husbands who think it’s fun to give their wives heart attacks imagining becoming sudden widows by walking on the more treacherous upper path.
Below is my husband walking ahead of me while I’m having panic attacks behind him.
We sat around for sometime waiting for the sunset. It was quite lovely just enjoying the view from so high up.
I took advantage of other tourists who plonked themselves in my way just as the sun went down.
Crazy people, sitting right on the edge like that! Where is her inner chicken???
We decided not to do the Giants Causeway as by the time we got there it was midday and sucky light for taking pics, throngs of people were everywhere and it cost money to go and see it, which we thought was ridiculous! Probably a nice spot just on sunset IF there were few people around but we decided to not bother. Instead I rather liked this shot of some hay bales I got near there.
Unfortunately due to time restraints we were unable to get to, and explore Kerry, which I believe is also another amazing place to visit in Ireland, but all in all for a ten day jaunt around I think we did well to have fit in as much sightseeing as we did.
I feel thankful that I did not wet my pants once.
Gotta love the Irish humour too… 😉
I’d go back and explore Ireland again in a heartbeat. The quaintness, the scenery, the history were all wonderful.
Things I wouldn’t pay to see or do again would be the Viking Museum in Dublin and the Cork city Gaol – museum. Both were overpriced and a bit ho hum.