Friday, July 11, 2008

Ireland -- Recap

We're so glad to be going home. You know it was a good trip when you are ready to go home. Fourteen days is a very long time to be away, but it was a wonderful trip to a gorgeous country.

Discussing our favorite parts of the trip this morning at breakfast, we agreed that our family enjoyed the small towns and country-life more than the big cities. Ironically, we found more to do in towns like Doolin than in Dublin. That may be a factor of our exhaustion toward the end of the trip, but we really did enjoy the small B&B scene.

I ate my last Full Irish Breakfast, glad to see the last of those fat-rich calories. Tomorrow, I return to normal breakfasts of cereal and egg whites with wheat toast. I've felt rather like Robert de Niro in Raging Bull--I will certainly have my work cut out for me at the gym.

If I had to pick a favorite spot in a trip full of wonderful sites, I would probably choose Donegal, for its remoteness, its vast size, and raw beauty. Kinsale and Portrush were very similar towns, both alive with coastal activity. The Gaeltacht area of Dingle was truly unique and very peaceful.

Muckross takes the award for the best heritage site we visited, and the Prince August Toy Soldier Factory wins for best random find off the beaten path. Blarney gets the award for best castle, despite being very popular as a tourist spot (best to see it during the week).

And the special mention award goes to the National Stud for both the liveliest tour, the beautiful gardens, and for not inflaming my allergies despite having hundreds of horses. (The Stud is kept very clean, and my severe equine allergies thank the Stud for this.)

By the end of this trip, we've traveled 1,500 miles, spent $500 on petrol alone, eaten fourteen FIBs (more if you count my second helpings), slept in ten different hotels and bed and breakfasts (all of them excellent), and seen countless tourist sites. Oliver, our Opel estate car, was a champ throughout, suffering no major damage on the wee Irish roads.

It's been a great trip. I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a bit of driving and adventure. Irish Tourism was great in helping us with the bookings, and all the rooms were excellent--beyond expectations.

However, after fourteen very long days, I need a vacation to recover from this one.

Good-bye, Ireland!

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