We visited Ireland and their amazing culture for one glorious week and just got back on Sunday. I'll have a bigger post with photos and more detail, but all I'm left with are happy thoughts of good beer, amazing music and the nicest and friendliest people I've ever had the pleasure of being around. Ireland is truly a fantastic place for many reasons, the biggest being because of the people living in it. Everyone was so very friendly and open, and were interested in hearing our stories and learning about our lives. I also loved the witty humor that seemed to come so naturally to people there. If only I had that same talent!
We stayed in Galway, a college town on the Western waters, for most of the time and made our experience easy going by avoiding most of the tourist attractions (we did see one....more about that later!). I know that may sound strange, but my idea of a good vacation most certainly does not include sitting on buses or trains for hours to see a sight for just a fleeting moment. I also don't like the idea of hanging out with tourists the entire time I'm on vacation. I like to travel to experience the culture, visit with the locals and really get to know the place I am at. Thankfully my husband is exactly the same way. I do still enjoy doing tourist stuff and taking lots and lots of photos (just ask my husband), I don't want to be doing it 100% of the time. I also realized I am picky about which tourist things I see. Why check out a museum if I don't have much interest in what's inside? However, I would gladly check out a beautiful landscape or go hiking for the scenery.
For this trip, hanging out with the locals was hands down the best part of the whole experience. Let me rephrase that; it made the experience.
If you like to travel in a similar manner, I would suggest avoiding the touristy areas of Dublin when you go to Ireland. We stayed in one of the most popular areas for our last night before flying out, called Temple Bar, and while there were tons of bars, restaurants and good music, we heard American English the entire time. Why go to Ireland if you're going to hang out with Americans the entire time? Dublin has some great things to offer, but I wouldn't recommend staying there for your entire stay. Visit some of the smaller towns and explore other areas of the country. You won't be disappointed!
I'll have more soon to follow, but I wanted to share my initial thoughts after coming back from the trip while it's still fresh in my mind.