Ireland Trip | Counties Wicklow & Wexford

After our first night in Dublin, we made our way to County Wexford for our next stop. We were in no hurry and decided to take the scenic route through Wicklow Mountains National Park. The drive was the best possible introduction to the incredibly beautiful Irish countryside we would be exploring for the next week of our trip, and I quickly realized Ireland is magical. Taking in all of those views, my heart swelled with a familiar warmth as though I had found a new home on the other side of the world.

We arrived in Wexford early in the afternoon and spent the day exploring the quiet little village lined with shops and stately old churches. We later checked in at the Ferrycarrig Lodge B&B and immediately made friends with the resident cat, Chips. This little bed and breakfast is like something out of a storybook between the kitty, the apple trees bordering the garden, and the clean white linens hung outside to dry in the crisp breeze. It is only about a mile walk away from a larger hotel, and the proprietor recommended we walk over for drinks and appetizers at the restaurant overlooking River Slaney. On the walk there, we crossed over the ruins of Roche's Tower House and stopped to watch the sunset from the perched view. Again... magic.

The next morning after our full Irish breakfast, we visited Johnstown Castle which more than satisfied my desire to see old architecture and manicured gardens, complete with wild wandering peacocks and lacecap hydrangeas in bloom.  *sigh* 

We hopped back in our little red rental car to make our way to Dingle and found some fun along the way... I'll share more on that soon! 

Our Little Ireland Video

I finished this video last weekend but never got around to posting it here. I have really begun to love making little videos like this... I know some people think it distracts from enjoying the moment if you are busy filming, and I used to agree. But recently I have realized how much I enjoy watching these videos later and reliving the moments. I really only film little snippets at a time on my iPad and then put it away to take the moment in. Plus, on this trip it was downright fun to work with Brent on our creative ideas for the video and set up beautiful time lapse shots together. The finished product is something I can watch when I'm having a stressful day at work and need to feel again that magical feeling that filled my heart while we explored little Dingle town, and remember how much we laughed and smiled together for two weeks while we explored Ireland. To me, that's priceless.

Home, home again

It has been a week since we got home from Ireland, AKA the best vacation of my entire life, and it has taken me this long to re-adjust to the time here and process all of my thoughts and emotions after such a wonderful experience. I'm still writing in my travel journal, editing the photos from my camera, and have slowly begun to plan how our little video will come together, but in the meantime I thought I would share some little random snapshots and details of our trip that I don't want to forget.

Here are a few little lessons I learned on my first international trip:

  • It is possible to fit everything into 1 carry-on bag for 10 days, including rain gear. (Should I share tips on how I did it, or is that totally boring?)
  • I apparently turn into a fire-breathing, verbally abusive MONSTER when I'm jet-lagged. Brent, you are a saint for not punching me in the face that first day. I love you!
  • Side note on the jet lag - it is totally possible to fall asleep while walking down a busy street.
  • Do NOT order a margarita in Ireland, even if it is on the cocktail menu. The server will laugh at you, then bring you a glass of chilled lime juice.
  • Being in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road also affects you as a pedestrian while crossing the street, which I learned the hard way by almost getting hit by a car... twice. 
  • Pack a few emergency tissues in your purse... it will be a lifesaver when you're making a pit stop at a poorly-stocked gas station in the middle of nowhere to do your serious business. 
  • I'm 99% sure bubble bath is not a real thing in Ireland, judging by the much needed long explanation and confused looks I got from the concierge at our hotel.

Here's a breakdown of what you're lookin' at:

  1. My first Guinness of the trip!
  2. This was the moment just before I took my first bite of one of the best things I have ever tasted: Beef and Guinness Stew (life changing!). I'm currently tweaking an at-home recipe to get it just right and will post it here thereafter.
  3. Brent and I at the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Storehouse, which has an amazing (almost) 360-view overlooking Dublin
  4. Our friendly B&B greeter, who Brent aptly named Whimbley (no idea what his real name is, but something tells me it won't be better than Whimbley, so I don't care).
  5.  Brent navigating our first big drive, from Dublin through Wicklow Mountains National Park to Wexford... with the gorgeous view out the window.
  6. Our second B&B greeter, Chips the Cat
  7. OK, so maybe I was a bit of a beast on day 3 as well. Apparently Brent wanted photographic proof.
  8. Full Irish breakfast! The white meat pudding was my favorite. 
  9. My new cow-friend at the Cliffs of Moher
  10. Windy, cold selfie at the Cliffs. Looks just like the pictures... the cows were more fun.
  11. Brent whiskey tasting in Galway
  12. My first experience with sticky toffee pudding, and I was quite pleased
  13. Drinking Jameson & Ginger at the Jameson Distillery in Middleton
  14. Stopped for a fun photo-shoot at the tower ruins in Wexford
  15. Cute flower shop in Galway 
  16. In front of the Lough Eske Castle, which we were very lucky to in stay for two nights!
  17. Happy feelings after walking through the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin
  18. Brent, doin' the 16-year-old new car pose by our darling little rental car
  19. Jack the dog. No explanation necessary... his face is everything!
  20. My last Guinness of the trip.

Weekend in Pictures

Last week I had a feeling if I left the weekend un-planned I would end up staying in bed for two days, binge-watching the new season of House of Cards on Netflix. Sometimes I have to save me from myself, so in the interest of making sure I got out of the house for a change of scenery, I asked my friend Loni if she was free for the weekend for an overnight camping trip. We looked around for anywhere that we could drive in 2 hours or less and camp overnight, and a little research online led us to Glen Ellen, specifically to explore the Jack London State Historic Park.  Petaluma is only a 25 minute drive from there, so it worked out perfectly to have dinner at Lagunitas Brewery and camp overnight at a nearby KOA. 

We were very excited about our plan, and in the end it really was a perfect weekend! We had a fun day outdoors, went wine tasting, set up our tents under a big rainbow, enjoyed dinner out with some rowdy people watching, and had a fabulous campfire breakfast on Sunday morning. I'll go through and edit my camera photos in the next couple of days, but for now here are the snapshots from my phone!

Sutro Bath Ruins

I have wanted to visit the Sutro Bath ruins for a couple of years now and while my mom was in San Francisco for New Years, I knew it was something she would enjoy exploring, too. I love little hidden places like this, so rich with history, but now just a part of the every day San Francisco culture.  People were out for their daily stroll, letting their dogs run free amongst ruins of what a century ago used to be a 3-acre public bathhouse with an ocean view.