Look at that nose squish! That’s us, happy in Ireland… I miss it (+ the soda bread + the Barry’s Tea) already! But one thing we don’t miss is being cold… why? Because WE ARE STILL COLD! Which is why we have decided to reformulate our plans and head South…we’re thinking as far South as we can go… like Sicily! Next week we have plans to be in Holland for the tulips (SO excited!! post here), but we’ve been cold since February and for these Californians that’s ENTIRELY too long. Here’s our latest Vlog which will fill you in on our upcoming (tentative) #vanlife plans!:
We’ll see what happens and we’ll see where our #vanwithoutaplan decides to take us, but for now, let’s take you back to the Wild Atlantic Way, where the Spirit of Ireland roams free! (This post is a bit longer than most, but we promise, IT’S WORTH IT!)
The #WildAtlanticWay is to Ireland what the PCH is to Cali… but think rolling hills dotted with curious farm animals, mountainsides lined with ancient stone walls and hidden treasures so glorious you just might think you’ve found the end of the rainbow…
Are those photos breathtaking or what?! We couldn’t have asked the animals to be better models! This magically winding coastal road stretches over 1,500 miles along Ireland’s dramatic western seaboard, gifting us with some of the most enchanting scenery in the world!
At times this enchanting road was surrounded by so much beauty that it hardly seemed wide enough for 2 cars to pass… let alone all the cows and sheep we encountered!
Their adorable little faces never get old. “Baaaa”:
Based off the weather, we decided to start our journey along the WAW in the South, and headed North up the rustic coastline. We bounced all around, and while we couldn’t explore every nook and cranny, the sites we did see we will never forget.
Our colorful journey began in the tiny seaport town of Cobh (down near Kinsale), the last place the Titanic was seen before setting out to sea:
Notice the kitty on the roof below!: We walked around town, picnicked by the sea and made it a point to check out the Titanic Experience. Having seen the movie nearly 20 times (I had a crush on Leo as a little girl), learning about the 123 passengers who joined the Titanic at her last port of call just 3 days before she sank was extremely fascinating. (Note: There’s a larger museum in Belfast where the Titanic was built which focuses more on the ship. Post on that coming soon!):
There was so much to see and do in Killarney that the very next day we decided to rent bikes and rode 20 miles all over the National Park exploring Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall and Ross Castle, finally making it up to the top of Ladies’ View. Having nothing but the downhill ride back had this little leprechaun jumping for joy!:
The beauty that we discovered in Killarney only served as a precursor to the beauty that would find us on the famed Ring of Kerry…
Pink house + royal blue door + farm animals = I think I’ve seen this before in a dream. A day of driving around the Ring of Kerry brought us to the next amazing place, the little town of Dingle! We parked on Inch Beach for a night (free + GREAT surf) and woke up to discover that we were actually stuck in the sand! Video of Drew and a new friend digging us out using a “hurler” here. Once we were set lose, we headed out on what ended up being one of our favorite roads in Ireland! Slea Head Drive:
You can even hike/backpack (8 days-ish) the entire 111 miles of the “Dingle Way“!
While the Ring of Kerry seems to get all the press, we actually thought this drive had A LOT more to offer. From curiously friendly animals:
This cat, named Chester (written on his collar), joined us for an hour hike! One of the coolest cats we have yet to meet.To the endlessly rugged sea side views, walks and hikes:
We even saw the Gallarus Oratory, one of the most recognized buildings in the country! TIP: Don’t go to the pay lot, if you just drive up the road nearly a minute away (turn right instead of going to the car park), there is a lovely paved-stone path that gladly leads you to the hut free of charge:
Oh and we can’t forget about Dingle’s famous resident Fungie, the adored dolphin who has called this picturesque seaside town “home” since 1983! There are a ton of boat tours that can take you out to meet him, but we were lucky enough to see him along one of our cliff-side hikes! The townspeople even built a statue in his honor:
After loving Dingle, we ventured off towards the Cliffs of Moher to embark on our most cherished hike of the entire trip (full post of hike details + map here):
In search of some raw Irish tradition we headed to our next destination on the WAW, the medieval harbor city of Galway. Known for its bustling Latin Quarter filled with stone-clad cafes, traditional pubs that offer live Irish folk music and some of the kindest, friendliest, warmest of people, we easily made this place our home away from home.
We actually enjoyed one of our fave Irish date nights in Galway! After a hearty serving of harmonicas and Uilleann pipes at Tig Cóilí, we headed over to Vina Mara for a beautiful 3-course meal + wine pairing. It was a bit hard to find traditional restaurants that served much other than fish and chips or mushy peas (though we do love them), but here we were treated to a whole new level of Irish class:
Drew ordered a perfectly cooked steak while I enjoyed the savory vegetarian polenta:
AND THEN WE HAD DESSERT: A Baked Alaska aka. a tower of toasted marshmallow fluff cascading over a warm sponge cake topped with vanilla ice cream + The Triple Chocolate Plate aka. WATCH BELOW:
And THIS was the Baked Alaska:
Fully satisfied in SO MANY ways, but always in the mood for more nature, the next day we drove out of the city to the lesser-known of Ireland’s National Parks, the STUNNING Connemara:
Wildly undiscovered, we fell in love with the feeling of this place. The hike up and views atop Diamond Hill were definitely an added bonus:
As the road continued North and our days became numbered we truly came to appreciate all of the beauty and free-flowing kindness Ireland so freely gave. Expecting nothing in return, Ireland constantly poured itself all over us… and we don’t just mean the rain. The last of its gifts (for this trip at least) was the incredible, nothing-like-it experience of The Giants Causeway:
The only UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern Ireland, the Giants Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns formed by an ancient volcanic eruption that occurred some 50 million years ago! OR, according to legend, the columns are thought to be remnants of a causeway to Scotland built by the Giant Finn MacCool… we liked that version best.
The tops of the columns form stepping stones, otherwise called “biscuits,” that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. We hiked all around this incredible place, regardless of the rain, exploring and getting to know these unique, GIANT rocks. Be sure to watch our video below for the full effect!
Tip: To avoid car park fees, go early in the morning for sunrise and leave before the visitor’s center opens, OR leave after it closes 🙂
The Wild Atlantic Way is a place of limitless adventure where the captivating Spirit of Ireland will surely find and captivate you. For our Wedding, we had a few friends “honeyfund” an Irish castle stay for us, and while that would have been glorious in its own right, we just couldn’t seem to give up the freedom or views that traveling the Wild Atlantic Way by campervan afforded us: After experiencing Ireland for ourselves, getting to know the wonderful people and explore the so called “Emerald Isle”… we came to realize that the GOLD everyone claims to be at the end of the rainbow… is actually everywhere. (PS- Click here to watch our VanLife Ireland documentary!)