Christmas in Ireland

Hello and happy March,

For this post, I’m catching up the timeline by going back to some of the adventures Cade and I had during our holiday trip to Ireland. Since flying home to see the family for the holidays would have been really expensive, we decided to do a little bit of traveling instead. And (maybe not so) secretly, one of our main goals with living abroad and being closer to mainland Europe was to do lots of traveling.

So, for Christmas we headed over to Ireland, a country I’ve dreamt of visiting for years now. Since we wanted to see several parts of the island during our trip, we decided to start off with a roadtrip that took us counterclockwise pretty much around the whole country. We started and ended our adventure in Dublin and rented a car, named Maggie Sue, to get us around.

After landing in Dublin, we first set off for Belfast, crossing over into Northern Ireland and checked out their Christmas market. Then, continued west the next day towards Slieve League. Next, we took off southbound towards Killarney National Park and the Rock of Cashel. We of course, included Blarney Castle in the itinerary so we could kiss the Blarney Stone and saw a medieval lighthouse before closing out the road portion of the trip by returning to Dublin.

Once back in Dublin, we set out to see the city for the next couple days, which included yet more castles and beer, even sharing a couple beers with locals over Christmas Eve night. We also decided to attend the Christmas church service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral where we listened to the beautiful chorus and the sermon on current events in our crazy world.

While I could absolutely go on and on about our 10 day trip around the Emerald Isle, I want to change things up and talk about some new experiences I had during this trip. Stepping out of your comfort zone, trying new things, and seeing new places is pretty high up there on my list of values, so I’m going to make it the star of this post.

Here are new experiences I get to add to the books thanks to the beautiful country of Ireland and why I find them to be important:

1. Driving on the left side of the road: Driving on the opposite side of the road really messes with your brain at first. It’s pretty hard to wrap your mind around, especially when you’re turning into the opposite lane you’re used to. This is something I thought would be super difficult and was kind of nervous about. And, the first couple of days were pretty hard, I’ll admit. I had to think about each and every turn, making sure I didn’t go down the wrong lane, and this was coupled with the narrow streets on Ireland.

Little did I know, but their streets, except the major highways, are really narrow and curvy. This was even worse when I realized that all the Irish drive through these narrow, curvy roads like they’re in a freaking rally race.

With all these factors, the first couple days were hard. But, the crazy thing is that by the third day it actually felt almost natural to drive on the left side. I also reminded myself that just because everyone else wants to go 100 km/hour (~62 miles/hour) on these little roads doesn’t mean I have to. I can go a speed I’m comfortable with and they can pass. This was one of those experiences that proved to me, while difficult in the beginning, you’re capable of difficult things and can actually totally adapt to them.

2. Trying blood sausage and haggis: I was hesitant to do this at first. I mean, blood sausage doesn’t really sound appetizing to me. But, I think accidentally trying blood sausage in Iceland allowed me to be less scared, so…maybe the moral here is that if you’re nervous about trying a new food just have someone sneak it to you and ask later. No, but in seriousness, I’ve learned throughout my years that food is very unlikely to cause any damage or make you sick, so just try it. The worse that could happen is that you hate it and never eat it again, but you’ve tried it and might actually find a new favorite.

3. Spending Christmas away from the family: This was definitely sad, to not see the family during the holidays. This was our first time away from the family for Christmas, so it was strange to say the least. I think this taught me two things – that I’m capable of adapting and having a new kind of Christmas, as well as, how important family is. It was very cool to experience some of the traditions that are celebrated in the UK, like wearing crowns and popping Christmas crackers. It was pretty funny to still be reading our Yule Lads book too, learning about Icelandic Christmas, while also learning about how the Irish celebrate. So, we had plenty of new experiences and memories that we’ll take with us.

With family, we learned how to prioritize and find ways to spend time with them from afar. It wasn’t as big of a challenge as imagined to make Christmas still feel special even from thousands of miles away. Family will always be with us, even if we’re not physically together, and this was such a big reminder of that.

Okay, so a travel post wouldn’t be complete without some cool pictures to show you where we went, so here they are:

As you can see there were beautiful sites galore, so much to explore, and plenty of beer to be had. We were so fortunate to have amazing weather while we were there too, especially considering it was late December.

With love,
Your Explorer