For years I have been planning to take trips abroad only to have one obstacle or another impede my plans. December is upon me once again and I am planning my summer vacation, only this time I have a co-pilot to keep me from venturing off to anyplace but the place I want to be. We have decided on a three week backpacking trek through Ireland, on the last week making our way to Italy (unless we forgo everything and walk the Camino, I’ll keep you posted).
Instead of booking hotels and eating at fancy restaurants, we are going to forge our own way. There won’t be any guidedtours for us or luxury accommodations; that’s not to say we won’t visit touristy areas, we’ll just do it on our own terms. Weare going to buy backpacks, take only the needed clothes, guidebooks, find a road and see where it takes us, literally. My friend has done this before and tells me this is the only way to see Europe. After hearing her stories, I believe her. There is so much on my list to see but without a doubt I will visit the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs reach for miles with the ocean crashing into them. I want to be able to stand as close to the edge of the cliffs as I can. Being afraid of heights this may not be very close. But if I can, I will walk the path next to the cliffs until it leads me to O’Briens Tower. In the distance it looks like a castle but up close it is only a tower meant for tourists to discover. Still, I’m sure I’ll be taking many pictures.
O’Briens Tower will not be enough to appease me as I’m infatuated with castles and will be visiting many. Castles are everywhere in Ireland from being fully restored to partially left standing. I will be looking for the one with the moat made of water, hidden in the forest or one standing tall on a mountainside. As much as tours do not interest me, I can see myself paying admission to explore the Blarney Castle. One can enter the castle and walk its stairs and enter its rooms, peer out its windows and observe the breathtaking landscape. On the outside of the castle are the gardens that can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Not to mention kissing the Blarney stone. If there’s a frog in the area, I will be kissing the stone.
Everyone visits Dublin as it is the heart of Ireland, but I also plan to visit the small villages with pubs tucked away serving traditional food found in Ireland. The black and white puddings made of sausage, Irish stew and a Sambo (a sandwich made up all kinds of meats and fillings). I’m not a huge Guinness fan but I will definitely be trying one in Ireland just to see if the beer really is better there.
If time permits a visit to the Rock of Cashel found in the county of Tipperary. A beautifully built fortress that is made up of burial grounds and churches within its walls. It has a cathedral without a roof and next to it a round table. Cormac’s Chapel at Cashel is decorated with the oldest Romanesque paintings in Ireland. Of course there are many other places I’m hoping to see in Ireland like the Aran Islands with the stone fort or Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. The list is endless. The idea of walking the hills of Ireland with only a backpack is unsettling and exciting. With all the guidebooks and tips I’ll get along the way, I’m sure my friend and I will find our own hidden discoveries and if we’re not completely satisfied (I doubt that is possible) there is always Italy.