This past year has been such a whirlwind and now it's January 14, 2016. I started writing this on November 10th and life just kind of got in the way. I can't believe I've waited this long to tell you all about my very first solo trip! The way that this trip came about was kind of random and completely unexpected but hey, life is a journey and I'm definitely just along for the ride. So, stay with me and I'll explain how I ended up in Ireland, how you can to and why the Cliffs of Moher should be at the top of your bucket list!
I decided to go to Ireland on a whim. I had, before, planned a trip to Morocco with my flatmate - but something was telling me to not go. It's not that I didn't want to spend time with her or the other girls but I honestly think something was pulling me away from that trip. I was exhausted from school (because grad school is ridiculous don't let anyone fool you) and I just wanted some "me" time I guess + some fresh air. Being in a city all the time with the hustle & bustle can really get to you after a while and so I decided to take a solo trip, yes by myself, to none other than Ireland. I felt like it was the right thing to do for me at the time and I also felt like this was an accomplishment that I would look back and be proud about. I navigated a country by myself. I traveled by myself. It's pretty cool and Ireland made it that much cooler.
It took me about 2 hours to hike to the cliffs from the city I was staying in. Honestly, Ireland is the easiest country, that I've been to thus far, to navigate. Everything has a sign on it that tells you where to go and points you in the right direction. Quite honestly, I'm not sure why I ran down my phones battery to use Google Maps because the signs were perfect. *Note to self for next time*
When you reach the cliffs, you will be overwhelmed. Not only will you be overwhelmed from the hill you just had to climb and completely out of breath - but you will be overwhelmed by their absolute beauty. I've never seen anything quite so breathtaking before in my life - so I just stood there in awe of these amazing cliffs.
This was on my way to the cliffs and as you can see - everything is just SO green. Ireland truly is one of the greenest countries, I believe, and it just looks so healthy and the fresh air is amazing.
I joked before I left that I'm probably going to see a lot of cows and sheep and THAT I did! There were so many livestock it was hilarious each time I passed one. There's not really a whole lot of barriers between you and the animals, just a short wall, but it was just something else to watch/take pictures of on my long, long walk to the cliffs!
Oh, hi! I survived a really long hike and I'm at the top of the Cliffs of Moher - #nobigdeal. This, again, was my first solo trip and most people, when I told them, were like "wow, you're so brave to do that all by yourself" but I just believe that I was put on this earth to SEE it and to experience it and sometimes that's with people and sometimes that's without. Honestly, I would recommend seeing the cliffs alone. I think the distraction of other people and just taking pictures constantly takes away from their amazingness. I ended up just sitting for a while and journaling because I couldn't believe that I was in Ireland seeing the very cliffs that I had been obsessing over for months. It was a surreal moment for me.
I have been obsessed with Claddagh rings for as long as I can remember. I knew that was what I was going to get for myself while in Ireland and sure enough I did just that. I've been in a relationship for about 8 years and so, according to tradition, you wear it on your ring finger and the heart faces you. The story of the Claddagh is this: " The Claddagh's distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). The way that a Claddagh ring is worn on the hand is usually intended to convey the wearer's romantic availability, or lack thereof.
"There are a variety of legends about the origins of the ring. One tale is about Margareth Joyce, a woman of the Joyce clan. She married a Spanish merchant named Domingo de Rona. She went with him to Spain, but he died and left her a large sum of money. She returned to Ireland and, in 1596, married Oliver Ogffrench, the mayor of Galway. With the money she inherited from her first marriage, she funded the construction of bridges in Connacht. All this out of charity, so one day an eagle dropped the Claddagh ring into her lap, as a reward" (Claddagh Ring).
If you're in Ireland - definitely stop and get one of these ladies! Or gents! They have both :). It costs around €24.
I've started this tradition that when I'm in a different country - I send post cards to family back home! It's a fun little surprise for them - except I tell them to check the mail every time - and it's fun picking out different cards!
The town I was in, Doolin, was absolutely adorable. They are known for O'Conners pub which plays live music each night and has awesome food! They are also known for their vibrant, little buildings in the town center. The morning I was supposed to leave, I got up and walked down to the pier to see the ocean and boy was it worth it. It was absolutely gorgeous but absolutely freezing. If you are in Doolin, I definitely suggests eating at O'Conners & listening to the music as well as taking a visit to the pier!
I stayed at the Aille River Hostel in Doolin and it was the perfect little spot near the city center and the cliffs. I would highly recommend it! This was the inside of the hostel. How adorable!? I cozied up here and wrote in my journal and enjoyed a nice cup of tea. It was really the icing on the cake for my first solo trip to Ireland!
*This was not a sponsored post*
I will tell you ...... the biggest surprise for me was that RyanAir is an airline that you have to walk out to the plane to get on it (same for when you get off). They don't attach to the airport because it saves them money apparently. It was SUPER interesting but also kind of cool to be that up close to the plane! Just a little warning if you decide to fly RyanAir at some point and time!
The total length of my trip was around three days and it was perfect. I think that is a good amount of time for someone to pop in and see just enough of a certain part of a country. I wish, however, I had longer to stay because it really was amazing. Everyone in Ireland is so nice and everyone strikes up a conversation with you. I never once felt unsafe because everywhere I went people were asking if I needed help or how I was doing. You really learn a lot about yourself when you travel alone and don't have anyone else to rely on. It's kind of exhilarating + I love traveling anyways so it's always awesome.
*Busses are typically how you get around in Ireland so plan your time wisely with this part. Sometimes they aren't on time and sometimes they are - you just never know. I also had to fly into Shannon airport and ride to Enis and then sit there for four hours before I could head to Doolin. My advice? Just explore the city that you're in while waiting for the bus - it'll make time go faster!