So. 2 months later, here we are. I really have no excuses for myself.
BUT the time has come to remember with fondness of our time spent in Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK's red-headed stepchild). After the sleep-deprived and sun-filled whirlwind that was Iceland, we flew to Belfast and had the best frigging night of sleep in. our. lives. Hello darkness, my old friend! Oh, you beautiful blackness who lets us actually get a decent night of shut-eye, how we missed you!
Northern Ireland was actually pretty cool, if a little insane. As it so happened, we were in town the week before the Twelfth (12 July), which is their big Ulster protestation and celebration of leaving the Catholic church and officially uniting with the Crown. On this happy occasion, the friendly and welcoming Loyalists of Belfast build giant 5-story pyres all around the city and light them at midnight, burning the Irish flag, the Virgin Mary and any sort of residual Catholic guilt they might have been hanging on to. So fun! Happy Twelfth!
Aside from these mild hate crimes, Northern Ireland was really pretty and the normal people (who all leave town on this indelible moment in history) are incredibly friendly. We rented a car and braved the left side of the road in pursuit of some Game of Thrones action with the Dark Hedges, the Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Per the suggestion of a few locals, we also made our way to Derry (also called Londonderry, because the crown must be represented!), which was such a beautiful medieval city.
After Northern Ireland, we made our way south, for 5 weeks in Dublin. I know, it sounds long, but we're making this our life - we have to have some downtime! Dublin was cool, but the countryside was where the Irish charm was really prominent. In Dublin, we tried to get out and go on as many hikes as available via public transportation, and visit some museums, the Botanic Gardens, Dublin Castle (which is kind of a sad castle) and a few art galleries.
We then spent a few days driving around, enjoying the gorgeous views of Dingle (got to go to Dingle!), the Cliffs of Moher and Conner Pass. The real highlight of this weekend away was our hike up to Eask Tower, which gave us an expansive view of Dingle and an opportunity to goof around in the crazy wind.
Also, we stayed at an AirBNB in Mount Shannon, which had gorgeous views of Lough Derg and was close to the cutest village Killaloe. We also finally had our proper Irish cooking at the Kilshanny House in County Clare, close to the Cliffs of Moher. I would 100% suggest taking the extra 20 minutes to drive here instead of eating at the restaurants close to the cliffs. Mary and Aiden run the pub, and her food is literally to die for. Absolutely the best meal we at in Ireland.
The most surprising thing about Ireland? The cheese plates. Seriously, T and I have had our fair share of cheese plates, but these people know how to load one up. I don't know if that's a universal thing for Europe and America just screws the pooch on cheese plates, but you can be sure I will find out.
Also, how much everything cost to see! I'm sorry, did YOU create those geometrically amazing and scientifically mystifying rock formations that have lasted thousands upon thousands of years? No? You just set up a parking lot and ticket booth beside them? Boo.
All in all, Ireland was soft, serene and quaint. I don't know if we'll go back to Dublin for an extended period of time, but if we do make our way back to the Emerald Isle, I'm anxious to see more of the happy rolling hills and cheery countryside.