At the end of August, last year, I arrived in Dublin, ready for my two weeks alone in a country I knew very little about. I had to be out of the Schengen zone (26 European countries that allow easy international travel) so that I could spend more time in the EU, without overstaying my 90-day visitor visa.
All I really knew about Ireland was that it was very green, Irish people supposedly drank a lot of Guinness, and all that leprechaun lore. I had just spent ten days with my brother and sister traveling around England and Scotland. We went to Brighton, Edinburgh, and London and it was absolutely incredible. [Side note: I’m thinking of writing an article about Edinburgh.]
Back to the story. I spent the first two days in Dublin with my brother, then was left alone to travel. My favorite part of my time in Dublin was to see the Trinity College Library, which was used in the filming of Harry Potter. They also had an exhibition where they showcased a very old Celtic version of the Bible, which I found very interesting.
So my itinerary was to start in Dublin and then rent a car, where I would travel in a big circle around the entire company, staying in little countryside Airbnbs along the way. On August 29th, I rented a car from Hertz at the airport and headed up to Belfast.
Driving did not go very well. I had expected them to give me some basic driving laws, like speed limits and road etiquette, but alas, they did not. The whole time I was driving up to Belfast, about three hours, people were honking at me and flipping me off, which was rather embarrassing. In my defense, they drive on the opposite side of the road.
I got to Galway, after much trouble parking and navigating the city, and went to check in to my hostel. My card was declined. The payment didn’t go through. I checked my bank app and saw that I was $100 negative on my card. Hertz, who I had rented my car from, had overcharged me by $1,400. Long story short, they tried to scam me, so I drove all the way back to Dublin to return the car. I still took a few hours to look around Belfast. These are some pictures that I took.
I’m going to skip over the headache of completely re-arranging my trip, and get to the adventure. I spontaneously booked a day tour to the northern part of Ireland. We started off at the Giant’s Causeway, an area of 40k basalt columns that are said to be created from a dispute between the Irish giant, Finn MacCool, and Scottish giant, Benandonner. It was strange and beautiful; a place I will genuinely never forget.
Along the way, we saw a variety of crumbling castles, a few locations where Game of Thrones was shot (the Dark Hedges), hiked some beautiful green hills, and walked a terrifying bridge to a small island.
The next day, I took a six-hour bus to Galway, where I was set to spend a few days. I didn’t know much about the city, which was pretty much the set up for this whole trip, but I was surprised by how much I loved it. I found an adorable tea shop, where I had Irish breakfast tea and matcha walnut cake. I walked a man-made peninsula and was nearly knocked over by the sea that splashed up.
I would sit on the side of the sea and watch small boats sail by, occasionally testing my balance skills while walking on the edge. I wandered around some of the most beautiful and intricate bookstores I’ve ever seen, got lost in small neighborhoods to see what real Irish houses looked like, and met a cool French girl at my hostel. It was so relaxing.
As I was in Galway, I realized what was making my trip so serene. I was completely alone. It’s not too unusual for me, because that’s often where I start off. But I’m used to starting school and making friends. For the most part of the two weeks I spent in Ireland, I was alone. In fact, I barely spoke to anyone at all. It had a profound effect on my mood, elevating it into pure bliss. I learned to love being alone and enjoyed my own company.
Two days into Galway, I booked another day trip. This time I would be going to the sea. We took a ferry to an island called Inisheer, which was a very strange experience. There was a dolphin that came close to shore to let people pet it, a famous farting horse, an abundance of wild cows, and an airport that doubled as their graveyard. I even stumbled upon a beached ship, rusted and frail. I walked a trail of stone fences, where I pet multiple cute baby cows.
Oh, and most people on this island do not speak English, but Celtic.
What came next was a major nerd freak out. We took a boat to the Cliffs of Moher, which was featured in Harry Potter in the Half-Blood Prince. I am a massive Harry Potter fan; I even have a tattoo of a lightning bolt in his honor. Anyways, the cliff was massive and I nearly fell hundreds of meters into the water while trying to take a selfie but, boy was it worth it.
The last leg of my journey would be the most memorable. I took another bus to the Dingle Peninsula. Along the way, I genuinely saw the single most breathtaking views of my life. I was trying to be in the moment, so I didn’t take pictures. We went up and down massive hills, dotted with flowers, cottages, and cows, and passed the most beautiful waters.
Dingle would turn out to be my favorite town EVER. It was quiet and the locals were friendly. The kind of place that time easily forgets. They had world-famous ice cream, made from local sea salt, and an abundance of tasty pies. My roommates in my hostel were sweet and we hung out a few times.
What I enjoyed more way not only the way of life in Dingle but also the colors. Bright green and blue buildings, a deep blue harbor, and different shades of green everywhere I looked.
Before I knew it, my trip had come to an end. I spent a final night in Dublin, where I wandered along the canal, and then took an early morning flight to Brussels, where I stayed a month.
I had been skeptical about spending so much time alone, but it turned out to be the thing that made this trip so special. I hope to return to Ireland soon, this time to see Cork, Limerick, Killarney, and Kilkenny. I think I’m really starting to like all these small towns. All in all, this was one of my favorite trips. I love Ireland.
Have you ever been to Ireland? What was your experience? Leave a comment below!!