Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Birthday Adventure to Doolin, Ireland

So my sweet and loving husband took me this past weekend on a surprise birthday getaway to Doolin, a teeny town on the west coast of Ireland known as the traditional Irish music capital in the world. We started out our adventure by renting a car, which was an adventure all by itself, with neither of us having yet driven in Ireland (on the left hand side of the road).

Our favorite crisps and an awesome Dublin artist James Vincent McMorrow

Thank the Lord for Tom Tom!!!

With our handy Ireland Tom Tom we safely made it out of City Centre in one piece. I took the driver's seat being directed by my hubby, as I did not have a clue at this point as to where we were headed. Along the way, we stopped at various little towns off the freeway to scope out the used bookstores and charity stores (a favorite thing of ours... we love finding cheap treasures!) And let me tell you, we did! Ross came away with a sweet brown jacket and myself with two books. On one of our stops we found an adorable tea house for tea and lunch.

The first castle we stopped at

Ross pretended to be my knight and shining armor riding on a horse (in front of castle)

Once getting off the main freeway, we drove the smaller, and definitely more narrow country roads of Ireland. The craziest part about it was these teeny roads had the same speed limit as the motorways! There would be road signs reading, "Danger Ahead!" "Drive Slowly!" and the speed limit would still be 100 km (approx. 65mph). At points we were driving 40 km under the speed limit!

We finally arrived in the town Doolin which is right on the water. We watched the sunset go down over the ocean for the first time since leaving California. It was absolutely gorgeous weather the whole weekend!

Our first night, we went to the local pub within a 5 minute walk from our B&B to find the most AMAZING irish music! There was a group of 5-6 musicians having a jam session with there instruments and a Guinness in hand between each song. A flute, banjo, guitar, accordion, drums... (and a pint in between) all came together to create the most chill atmosphere. We really sensed a true taste of traditional Ireland, from the music at this pub to the amazing hospitality of Mave, the Irish grandma who ran the B&B.

The musicians' corner

The next day, we took the car out and continued to explore all the little towns surrounding Doolin. Exploring the small village shops and ruins of cathedrals, abbys, and *INCREDIBLE* castles filled our time. My absolutely favorite man-made sight was Dromoland Castle. It was straight out of a fairy tale! I don't know what it is about castles, but they put a smile on my face:) Saturday night we went back to the same pub for another great night of good food and music.

An abby ruin in Quinn

A sad face after finding out the castle was closed

My FAVORITE CASTLE yet... Dromoland!

Front entrance to Dromoland Castle

Lake in front of Dromoland

The first view of Dromoland as you drive up

The last day, Sunday, again was gorgeous weather! We saw the Cliffs of Moher (I know mom, we cheated and previewed a sight we are going to visit during your stay. They are amazing and we can't wait to go again!) They are massive cliffs that are absolutely breathtaking. These were by far the highlight of our trip (that is not man-made). Since I LOVED the castle, I had to make two separate categories of favorites!!!! On our drive home, we randomly stopped in a town along the route and stumbled upon a St. Patrick's day parade. You could tell it was the annual, small town parade will all the locals.

Cliffs of Moher

The parade

To wrap it up, Ross did good! He planned a fantastic and relaxing weekend that gave us a great opportunity to explore this beautiful country. I wish it could be my birthday every weekend!