Unlike Ireland, my first impression of Paris was very much how I anticipated Paris to be. And after walking over 20 miles in one day exploring the city, I came to find that it was 10x more opulent than I ever expected it to be. Somehow in the back of my head I thought you’d wander around, see some old buildings, then some new mixed in, then a few more old. We literally did not see ANY new buildings (except from the distant view from the hill of Montmarte), and if we did elsewhere, they were incredibly well disguised. AND contrary to popular belief, all the Parisians we talked to were super helpful and quite friendly, or at least not at all snobby. Our hotel room was itty bitty but the price was perfect and it was quite well located – Grand Hotel Leveque. We only had an evening and a day here, but for me – it was enough. I am a small town traveler, big cities are not my style though Paris is 100% not to be missed and I would absolutely go back to explore more of the insides of all the beautiful buildings we passed – and to eat more food, definitely more food 🙂
Christy snagged this one out the window – love it!
Ireland – what to say about you. You were both exactly what I expected and NOTHING like I expected, all in the same moment and feeling. Christy and I saw only the southwest region of the country, no Dublin, no major cities really at all to speak of, so I think our Irish experience was a different one but beautiful in every sense. We arrived in Shannon, picked up our rental car and began the terrors of driving on the wrong side of the road for the next three hours, with a major case of jet lag. Christy drove and she’d be the first to admit, was not a fan of it. We drove and drove and drove some more, stopping in a charming little town, Adare, to walk around and snap our first pictures. As we continued our drive on roads that are no wider than driveways (complete with squeals of terror every time a truck or tour bus would pass us) we began to notice the countryside. Now it was a completely sunny day and not at all Irish feeling. We passed palm trees (oh yes, PALM TREES grow here) and pastel colored stucco houses, and were not entirely sure if we had accidentally landed in Jamaica. As we drove towards our final destination of Dingle – the coast came into view and was beautifully rugged and just stunning, but still feeling decidedly un-Irish. We checked in to our hotel, the Lantern Townhouse (highly recommend) and then wandered about town looking for a place to eat. Made it back to our hotel only to find out we had been locked out and hadn’t brought our key to get back in. I was out taking pictures by the bay so Christy was standing there all by herself trying to get the number to call the guy. Super embarrassing when he arrived and had to let us in…sorry, stupid Americans. The next day we got up early, had a yummy breakfast in the hotel and began driving the countryside (I drove from here on out) It was rainy and windy and cloudy and perfectly Irish. We had classical music playing on the radio as we drove by old stone walls, cows, sheep, and horses. We turned down yet another tiny road and found the most beautiful pastoral scene with two beautiful horses and the sun peaking through the clouds behind the hills. Took a few pictures here before heading back into town for lunch. Christy talked me into going to the Half Door restaurant (not sure why I needed to be talked into it) because it was AMAZING. Looking back it was my favorite meal of the trip. A tiny kitschy and cozy little restaurant. We started to drive out to Slea Head peninsula and found the most beautiful land ever made. The waves were just huge, winds blowing at gale force (60+mph) and it was perfect. We found a tiny place to pull off and got out to explore, bouncing along the peat and heather (ground cover, not people’s names…) We spent a good hour + out in the wind and wilds, sitting on the craggy rocks and watching the waves crash. We were sitting in the farthest western point in Europe, next stop over – Boston! After thinking the keys had fallen out of my pocket and were lost in the wild Irish countryside never to be found again and we’d be locked out of our car and stuck out there forever, I found them and we drove back safely, winding along the incredibly, unbelievably narrow roads. We ate at a great, homey little place and meandered back to the hotel. We were flying to London the next day so got going early and took the long road back to the Shannon airport, stopping in Askeaton for lunch and to see the ruins. Next stop – London and the English countryside!