It's been a year since my husband and I set off on our honeymoon. I will say, it is difficult to decide where to go for your honeymoon! I always pictured our honeymoon somewhere tropical, where we would spend all day in our bathing suits. Well, I traded that dream in for what my husband suggested we do ... which was visit Ireland and Scotland. At first I was a little frustrated, thinking ... why would you want to go somewhere that is cold and requires us to be bundled up! However, it was such a good choice, I wouldn't have had it any other way!
We landed in Ireland and took a taxi to our hotel (Cassidy's hotel) in Dublin. When we arrived, the front desk let us know that Greg had booked a room for 1 person. Being from the U.S. we thought nothing of it, since the standard bed size is always at least a queen for one person. Well... not so in Ireland! She informed us that we would be sleeping together on a twin sized bed in a tiny room (queue the honeymoon nightmares). Thank goodness they had an extra room available with a bed big enough to fit 2 people, although not by much! We walked to our room and I was shocked at how tiny everything was! The hallways were maybe 2 people wide, and the doorways were even smaller. The elevator could barely fit Greg and I and our 2 pieces of luggage. When we got inside our room we couldn't figure out how to turn the lights on. Being too embarrassed to ask for help, we tried for 45 minutes. Finally I went and asked. Apparently in Ireland (and other parts of Europe) you have to put your room key into a slot to turn the lights on. Who knew!
Our friend who is from Ireland later told us that the Cassidy's Hotel is older than the United States. Now wonder everything was so small! Apparently people were tinier back then.
After the hotel debacle, we decided that we needed food asap (it was now around 10pm). We went to Gallaghers Boxy House on the advice of our Irish friend. It was delicious. A potato lovers paradise. Although, I will say by the time I left Ireland and Scotland I was sick of potatoes, something I thought was not possible!
We didn't rent a car, but wanted to escape the city life to see the more rural parts of Ireland. We ended up taking 2 separate tour buses to different locations around Ireland. Our first tour was the Cliffs of Moher, Atlantic edge ocean walk and Galway. Of course the Cliffs of Moher were absolutely stunning. We were very lucky because it was a sunny day with not a cloud in the sky and we were able to see the vast expanse of the cliffs. Many times the rain, fog and wind make it impossible to enjoy the beauty of the Cliffs. The tour only allowed us about 1.5 hours at the cliffs. If we go back to Ireland we will definitely rent a car and stay at the cliffs for a few more hours. The hiking is incredible there.
After the cliffs we stopped at this tiny restaurant in a small village. They had 3 things on their menu, and Guinness (of course! Side note, Guinness is 100xs better in Ireland). The food was amazing. I don't think I've ever had better Fish n' Chips. One of my favorite things about the tour was listening to the driver tell us the history of Ireland and getting to drive through the countryside while he told us the stories. I knew so little about Ireland before I visited. I was inspired by the stories of survival and the strength of the people to keep their country independent.
The tour was gorgeous, but we were slightly exhausted. It was a 14 hour tour! We decided to explore the city of Dublin the next day on foot. We visited the touristy spots Guinness and Jameson (which were awesome, and I don't recommend missing them!). Then we ended the day at the Irish Whiskey Museum. Greg and I really grew to appreciate Irish Whiskey, which I can now say is my favorite. We tried about 12 different whiskeys. Our Irish bartender was AMAZING and hilarious. Plus we met someone visiting from Singapore and had lots of good conversation over whiskey with him.
Our next tour would be to Northern Ireland. We had to exchange our currency, as Ireland is independent from British control but Northern Ireland is not. We traded our Euros for the Pound. Everyday it rained, but I didn't mind it. The rain is kind of magical there, and it keeps everything so green. Our first stop was Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. I'm slightly terrified of heights so it was a little challenging for me, but I did it! I think our favorite part of this place was the walk to get to the bridge, it was stunning.
Our tour continued at the Giant's Causeway. What a strange but beautiful place. The folklore surrounding the oddly shaped stones talks about 2 giants feuding with each other. One in Ireland and one in Scotland. The "causeway" was the bridge they were building to reach the other. The same oddly shaped stones can be found on the coast of Scotland. Of course, Geologists say it was a result of a volcano 60 million years ago, but I like the "Giants feuding and building a bridge" story better ;)
After a long day of travel, the next day was more leisurely. On our bucket list was to find a great place for cocktails. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm crazy about cocktails! With the help of Yelp, we found one. The Vintage Cocktail Club came highly recommend. It's a speakeasy style bar and it was slightly difficult to find, as they have no signage outside. Our GPS led us here...
I'm not exaggerating when I say this... This place was BY FAR the best cocktail experience I have ever had! When you enter through that dark dingy door, you climb up a long, tight staircase and are delivered into another century. The decor is reminiscent of the 1920s (think Peaky Blinders). Everything is lit by candle light and a fireplace. The tables are made out of marble and gold. The curtains are lace and the seat cushions are made from fabrics decades old. You are given a cocktail BOOK. The cocktails are all listed by eras in history, starting in the 1400s. I had died and gone to heaven (bartender heaven).
We had 3 cocktails each, because we wanted to try as many as possible! Each cocktail came with ice that was hand cut out of a huge chunk of ice. The cocktails included ingredients like carrots, house made fig jam, gomme syrup, rhubarb tincture etc... If you are ever in Dublin, do not miss out on this gem! But make sure to make a reservation, as they fill up quickly and often won't allow people in without a reservation.
Our time in Ireland had come to an end, what an incredible 6 days! Next stop.... Scotland!