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Ireland

Doolin & Dublin, Ireland
In October 2018 we found ourselves in a funny an unexpected position. James had been chatting with a couple in the UK who were in search of a wedding videographer. They ended up booking us and after they signed the contract we planned our visit. James and I had been to the UK (for a very short amount of time) but were very interested in seeing Ireland – so we began brainstorming. We came to the final conclusion that we would fly to the UK, video the wedding, fly to Dublin for a couple of days and then head home. We booked flights and were getting so excited to see a new country!
 
Approximately two weeks before the wedding, James received a message from the bride that mentioned she was so excited about her wedding day that weekend and wanted to see if we needed anything from her. James and I looked at each other in complete confusion…she said this weekend…we have flights for next week. There was a lot of panicking and confusion and we found out that the contract had the wrong date by accident and that was the date we were going off of. We had to think quickly and ended up with James flying out to the UK for a couple of days to do the wedding solo and then would come back. We tried to get the flight reimbursed or even transferred but with no success, we decided to go anyway and see more of Ireland. Hey, you have to fly by the seat of your pants sometimes!
 
We flew in the UK, took a train to a different airport and took a quick flight over to  Dublin. When we arrived in Ireland, we rented a car to drive out to Doolin which is a small town just north of the Cliffs of Moher.
If you ever visit Ireland, renting a car is a little more complicated. Fortunately, we have a travel credit card which covers rental car collision and damage so this saved us a large chunk of money. We had a written letter from the bank with all of this information and this made getting the car a breeze. Another thing to note when booking a rental car in Ireland is that the rental itself is very inexpensive, but they put a large hold on your card (ours was 5,000 pounds) for damages that you get back when you return the car. Another tip, we grabbed a SIM card in the airport for less than 30 pounds that we were able to put into our phone and gave GPS and this was a lifesaver!
 
After a long day of traveling from San Francisco to London to Dublin, we hopped in the car and drove out to the other side of the country. This maybe wasn’t the smartest decision as we were driving on the left side of the road, in a manual car, after a long day, in the dark with very narrow roads. Spoiler, we arrived safely in one piece! That night we checked into our bed and breakfast and went right to sleep.
 
The following morning was slow moving, but we got up and headed downstairs for breakfast. This was our first stay in a bed and breakfast and it was the most quaint experience ever! We had traditional Irish breakfasts (with blood pudding – not my jam but gave it a whirl) and chatted with a couple from Scotland. We enjoyed breakfast and good conversation over tea while the rain came down outside. The owner of the bed and breakfast asked what our plans were for the day and we had mentioned the Aran Islands. She gave us great tips of where to hop on the ferry and that we could combine the ferry ride back with a boat tour of the Cliffs of Moher. She basically planned our day for us and we were more than happy with the day!

We headed down the road to the ferry and made our way over to Inisheer to explore.

We had a fairly rainy day but it was still so cool to see these islands as they hold a lot of the Irish tradition and culture. There was the option to take bicycles or carriages around the island but we opted to walk.

There were stacked rocks that acted as fences, it was something we’d never seen before. We made our walk to the Plassey Shipwreck and enjoying the views.

We came upon the Plassey Shipwreck which was a ship that washed up in 1960 and was now a rusty piece of art. The ship was huge and we were able to get up close and personal to explore.

The rain began to pick up and so we started to walk back and see An Tur Faire which is a tower ruin. James suggested we set up the tripod and get some photos together – we had fun posing in the rain and stealing kisses.

On our walk up the hill, we noticed a graveyard and decided to walk around a bit. The way people honor the dead is so unique and special – as dark as they may seem.

We made our way all the way up the hill to An Tur Faire. The building itself was really neat but this was also the highest point on the island so we had a great view of the land. James set the drone up to get an aerial shot – we made it quick as the rain began to pick up. 

We noticed the time and that we had to catch the last ferry off the island. We hustled down the hill and the rain continued to pick up. I saw a sign for a craft store and couldn’t help but stop in. The had all kinds of clothing handmade from Aran wool, everything was so beautiful. I saw a sweater on the mannequin and just fell in love. I tried it on and it fit just perfectly – SOLD to the soaking wet American! I’m still so happy I got that sweater, it was the perfect piece to remember this trip. We made our way back to the boat to take our tour of the Cliffs of the Moher by the sea!

The tour began and our boat made its way to the cliffs! The weather was rainy and windy and this made for a VERY rocky boat ride. I personally spent half the ride inside taking slow deep breathes and talking myself out of the seasickness. I was so sad I couldn’t enjoy the views more because it was stunning and a very unique way to see the Cliffs of Moher.

We were able to get some great shots and James stuck out the sickness to get lots of great photos. 

After the quick hour-long boat tour, we were on dry land – alas! We headed back to our bed and breakfast to dry off and take a warm shower (and a nap 🙂 ). Not going to lie, I had model my new sweater for James and ended up wearing it out to dinner. Aran wool is so warm and I am in love with this sweater. After we felt refreshed, we walked down the street to the local pub that our host recommended. The first order of business…a tall glass of Guinness.

They aren’t lying, Guinness in Ireland does, in fact, taste better. We followed a round of beers with squash soup and some traditional Irish stew. 

There was a live band playing and we sat in this pub for hours slowly enjoying our warm food, beers and good conversation. Normally when I think of a bar having a live band I think of a stage and lots of equipment. We noticed a couple of guys sitting at a table and playing instruments together. It was a very chill and fun vibe!

We usually aren’t dessert people but the server handed us the dessert list and we couldn’t help but be curious about the Baileys Cheesecake. I’m not kidding you, this cheesecake with Guinness was the perfect pair and this was hands down the best dessert I’ve ever had. Oh yum, I’m drooling just thinking about it! We enjoyed the music a little longer and wobbled our full bellies up the street and into bed.

We woke the next morning to another homemade Irish breakfast before headed out to see the Cliffs of Moher from the top of the cliffs.

We got so lucky as the sun came out for the first time in days! We were so excited to see these iconic works of nature and even more excited that we’d have a good clear view without storm clouds and fog. 

We parked in the main lot and made our walk around the cliffs. I’m not kidding, these were as perfect as the pictures make them seem.

It is hard to not get a good picture of the Cliffs, and we walked along the edge in awe. We kept telling each other “be careful” and “don’t fall” because seriously that 400-700 feet are very gut-wrenching. 

James and I were grabbing photos of each other when a very nice group of women offered to take pictures of us together. I’m so thankful they did because we got some of my favorite photos of us! 

We walked along the small trail and kept stopping for more photos and to take in all the Cliffs of Moher had to offer us! 

After taking in the views, we knew we needed to hit the road as we had a long drive back to Dublin where we were going to spend the last couple days of our Ireland trip. On our drive through the Irish countryside, we noticed this beautiful lake that was so still and we ended up turning around to pull off to take in the serenity

James grabbed some great photos and we couldn’t get enough of Ireland. We hit the road again only to stop again to take more pictures, we just couldn’t stop. There are sheep and cattle on every turn and I was so excited to get pictures of them!

We eventually made it into Dublin and checked into our Airbnb. We got a great little spot central to all the attractions we had on our list. We arrived very hungry and set out for food right away. We made our walk to the Brazen Head which is the oldest pub in Dublin dating back to 1198. We must have arrived at the perfect time because we got the last open table and it was right in front of the live band! This was one of my favorite parts of Ireland, the live music seriously made this place just perfect. We enjoyed hearty meals, Guinness and live music for hours. It was hard to leave because the vibe was so great here, but we grew tired and knew that tomorrow would be a busy day.

The following morning we headed out to grab food and sight-see before our tickets to the Guinness Storefront. After a quick bite, we saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The weather was perfect this cool morning and the sun rising made for amazing lighting. 

James was in a creative mood and kept posing me and he loves to somewhat embarrass me while I “model” for him. This would be the result of this moment haha!

After strolling around the city, we made our way to the Guinness Storefront where we unexpectedly spent the rest of our day.

We walked in and started our tour! We learned about the history of Guinness and the way they brew their iconic beer. They had a great display and interactive displays and it was easy to lose track of time in here! We got hungry and stopped in the cafe for some soup and chips before moving on.

We were so pleasantly surprised at how well done this storefront was as it kept us interested and intrigued the entire time. We made our way up the levels of the storefront and enjoying ourselves. We had tastings of different types of Guinness and took a seat in the tasting room. It happened to be International Stout Day and they had a band and traditional Irish dancers who got up on the tables and danced. It was SO cool!

We then headed up to the next floor which is where we got to perfect the pour of a Guinness. As we were waiting in line, James noticed this spot near the window where the lighting was stunning so I got some fun photos here – not mad at all that he loves to photograph me and I get these beautiful photos all over the world!

It was our turn to go in and learn how to pour Guinness. I had no idea there was an art to it and it was fun to watch James pour his favorite beer and get a certificate to commemorate that he learned the perfect pour!

We walked around the museum of advertising and saw how the iconic harp has evolved over the years as well so the different styles of advertising used by Guinness. 

We then headed up to the next floor where they had opened the first day of printing your photo on top of a glass of Guinness. We had to pay extra for this but it was so worth it! They had a photo booth and we took a photo together, walked over to the bar and watched as a machine lasered our picture on the foam of the beer.

We then headed up to the last floor of the Guinness Storefront which was a bar surrounded by glass windows with a stunning view of Dublin! 

We finished our beers and walked around the room seeing the view from every angle. We arrived right as the sun was setting so we were lucky enough to see the view during the day and the night. 

After a long day of drinking Guinness and learning all about the history and life of the beer, we finally left the Guinness Storefront. I’m not kidding you, this place is like a theme park for adults and there was so much to see and do here that we didn’t even realize we spent hours there.

We made the walk back towards the Airbnb to find dinner. Not before stopping in and grabbing some souvenirs and gifts for friends and family! We opted for a quaint pizza place where we shared a pie and laughs. We noticed that we weren’t far from Temple Bar and we wanted to be able to see the iconic bar. We didn’t end up going in for a drink due to time but it was a really cool looking bar!

We wandered around the city a bit more, capturing some night shots and reminiscing on our time in Ireland. The night came to an end as we had an early flight to catch the following morning. We loved Ireland and we only touched the tips of the iceberg. These just means we have to plan another trip to come back, drink Guinness and see more things on our list! 
 
Sláinte!
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