Ireland is a place I have often thought about visiting - the green rolling hills, the amazing people, the pubs. Before making plans to leave the UK, I decided based on a recommendation to do a tour. It's not something I do too often, but it is fun, if you have a great tour guide and a group of people.
I departed London on an afternoon and arrived in Dublin. Catching a bus to the hostel wasn't too difficult and soon enough I was settled in, ready to awake early to head to departure location. I wandered around Temple Bar, and other parts of Dublin to get a good understanding of the layout of Dublin. I caught an early night and arrived at the pickup location 30 or so minutes early. Upon walking to the bus and meeting our fantastic tour guide Lee, and leaving Dublin, the group had already started to bond and I am so happy to have met an extraordinary group of people. I would rate the trip as one of the best travel experiences I have ever had.
Leaving Dublin, we stopped along the way to a church where one of the famous saints of Ireland head is on display in a glass box, Plunkett. From there we travelled, to an old graveyard and onwards to Belfast, Northern Ireland.
By the time we'd reached Belfast, it was like we all best friends - an excellent group of Americans, Brazilians, Australians and New Zealanders. In Belfast we did what is called the Black Taxi tour, where we explored and learned the history of the Catholic and Protestant history. During this tour we also visited the Peace Wall, which is locked every night and separates the Catholics and Protestants, where you can view various inscribed comments by famous people and everyone who visits. I would recommend doing this tour. After a late night out in Belfast, we retired to the hostel and left early for Derry.
On the way to Derry we visited Carrick-a-Rede, know for the famous rope bridge, and the famous Giant's Causeway, know for the famous hexagonal basalt columns. Fingal Head in New South Wales, Australia, close to the Queensland border, also has a similar formation - whilst smaller, though not by much, it bears a very similar shape to the main rock formation of its namesake in Ireland. Arriving in Derry, we took a walking tour of the town to learn the history of this town.
After another night out, we left early the next morning to head further south, back to the Republic of Ireland and to the very picturesque town of Galway. Here more people joined out tour and others left. The new people who joined were just as fantastic and become apart of the group instantly. We spent time in the city commencing another walking tour and completed another pub crawl that evening. Tired, it was yet another early morning on the road south to Killarney.
Spending the night in Kilarney, involved exploring the city more followed by a horse and carriage ride the next morning to the Killarney National Park. Further adventures that day included visiting Blarney Castle, and kissing the famous Blarney Stone to obtain the 'the gift of the Gab' and the poison garden. Onwards, to Dingle - a beautifully small town, and eventually a little further up the road some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen - rolling green hills and golden light.
Crashing in a hostel with just the tour group, the next morning we departed for Dublin.
Saying bye was tough to my new friends, I'll admit, we all became great friends in barely 6 days. After another a few nights in Dublin, I caught my flight back to London where it was time to finally book that flight to North America, with of course, a stopover in Iceland.