- THE EMERALD ISLAND -
We can be clear from the start... When you think of Ireland you immediately think of two things: rain and beer.
And let me be as honest as I can... These are probably two of the things I hate most in the World. Personally, I really cannot think of something more dreadful than a cold rainy day and a drink more painful than beer... And that´s why when I was asked to join a trip to Dublin in the beginning of November last year I initially considered dumping it and skipping it without a second thought.
Dublin is definitely not part of the list of the most beautiful cities in the World... But the promised expectation of a four day road trip south of Dublin made me quickly change my mind. And looking back I´m glad I did it....
So on a cold November rainy day I landed in cold dark Dublin...
Dublin is a small town by Europe´s standards. With a population of about 500.000 people and with a metropolitan area where about 1.8 million people live, Dublin sums up to around one third of the entire irish population.
The city is divided in half by the Liffey River. On the South bank you´ve got the "old" and historical Dublin where the majority of the city´s (few) most known attractions lie. This is where you will find St. Patrick´s Cathedral, the Trinity College, the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin Castle, the Christ Church Cathedral and also the Guiness Storehouse.
Even most of the exciting nightlife spots are located here. This is where you will find the extremely popular Temple Bar on Fleet Street; the infamous street crowded with the well known Irish Pubs and where if you hang out for time enough you can also hope to enjoy its very famous street brawls. At least we did, and only ten minutes after arriving at Fleet Street.
On the North bank you will find the Financial Center as well as the town´s main commercial area. Dublin is filled with most of the major chain stores that you also find on every other european capital. If you´re into shopping head out to O´Connell Street or into Strand Street and you will not be disappointed.
In the end you will probably find yourself enjoying Dublin. It´s true that it lacks the charm and history of most european cities . Don´t expect to be amazed here as you are in cities like London, Paris, Rome or Vienna. It also lacks the sun and life of cities like Lisbon or Barcelona. But Dublin is cosy and welcomes you well. You can visit it on one day and it is definitely a rewarding and a calm weekend break destination.
Then, if not for anything else, at least enjoy it for the cultural cradle that the city is. This is the city where writing masterminds George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce were born. Dublin is also the birthplace of U2... The city must be doing something right, no?
So, lower your expectations and you will probably end up enjoying it a lot.
After leaving Dublin and heading South the first stop was at the dry, foggy and eerie Wicklow Mountains. The Wicklow Mountains are also the location of one of the most mysterious villages I have ever visited: Glendalough.
The next stops while roadtripping the south of the island would take us into Limerick with its incredible riverside castle and in the end all the way into Killarney National Park.
Killarney National Park is the biggest and oldest National Park in Ireland and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. It is known for its ecological diversity and beautiful landscapes. It is also home to one of the most iconic irish castles, the Ross Castle.
After spending a night in the Killarney Park region we started heading north through Ireland´s western coast. In here you are faced with a completely different landscape where small fishing towns give place to green plains and high cliffs that sit over the undomitable ocean. It is a rough beautiful landscape... The winds speak loud here; it gets deep into your bones.
Our next and ultimate destination would be the iconic Cliffs of Moher, Ireland´s most famous natural landmark. The cliffs stand at 214 meters height and rank among some of the world´s most beautiful landscapes. Somehow, in here you feel like you are both at the edge and top of the World with an infinite blue ocean spreading ahead of you.
Right in front of O´Briens Tower, Branaunmore stack seems like a dagger pointed at the bottom of the ocean at the mercy of the ocean´s onslaught. It is a sight to be remembered.
In the end, Ireland is an incredible beautiful island. The air you breathe here and its absolute quietness leaves you wanting for more and hoping to return here soon.
Below is my top of must-see places in Ireland:
1 - Cliffs of Moher
2 - Dublin Historical Center and the pub scene on Fleet Street
3 - Glendalough
4 - Killarney National Park and Ross Castle
5 - Limerick
6 - Galway
7 - The Dingle Peninsula
8 - The Wicklow Mountains
And I know... You all heard about the Giant´s Causeway and the Dark Hedges on Northern Ireland but unfortunately I wasn´t able to visit them. And if I ever return to Ireland, Cork, the Ring of Kerry and also the Aran Islands are on top of my must-see list. Time isn´t spoiled at the Emerald Island.
If you want to find out more about Dublin and this incredible roadtrip through Ireland´s roads you can have a look at the full gallery here or through the link below: