I didn’t think I would be wrapping up my Irish Adventure Posts a year+ later, but it just goes to show you that sometimes life takes over and interrupts writing (and blogging in this case). Well, truth be told, OTHER TRAVELING and MOVING TO ESPAÑA are also to blame. I started traveling extensively and had fresh ideas and stories from both my travels throughout México and Spain. . . which delayed the remaining Ireland posts more and more. But fear not, because I will wrap up the BEST OF our final 2 cities in Ireland: Drogheda (detour to Newgrange) and Dublin, and give a quickie tale about our 1 night layover in Britain’s capital city of London. . . and lastly, I’ll explain our experience with the “CHECK YOUR CHAPS” CAMPAIGN (you’re gonna love this story)!
Arriving in Drogheda late at night just to get a good night’s rest, we were grateful for our cozy and oh so comfortable B&B stay at the Drogheda Townhouse. (We HIGHLY RECOMMEND) I knew we would be heading to a nearby site the following day before finally arriving FULL CIRCLE back in Dublin for our last day/night in Ireland. . . and Drogheda was close enough to Dublin, fairly priced (breakfast included), and also only a 20 minute drive to our last important historical site in Ireland.
England has its Stonehenge and we discovered Ireland has NEWGRANGE! This Prehistoric Monument is older than most ideas, you know just a mere 5000+ years old. Believed to have been constructed around 3000 or 2500 BC, making it older than Stonehenge, this building is aligned with the Sun during Winter Solstice. Exactly at the Winter Solstice, light enters the opening in the building and Lights up the round stone interior. They re-enacted this phenomenon for us on our visit. You wouldn’t believe the sensation of being in such a tiny space (maybe only 10 people are allowed in the structure at a given time), with little oxygen, while it was pitch-black. . . waiting for something (as in olden times they waited for the Light at the Solstice). When a light simulating the sun finally illuminated the entire space, we exhaled easier, as all was well again. It was impressive. It was magical.
5000 years ago, they knew things
Like the Maya in México, these ancient people were gifted with a knowledge. Not discovered until the 17th century, and the exterior reconstructed so recently in the 1970s, I am grateful that we could experience Newgrange. The interior houses Neolithic carvings on the Stone walls, similar to these we could see on the exterior as well.
Also impressive, are the Huge Stones that were placed in the entrance of the structure, brought to this location from elsewhere, possibly transported by the River Boyne from many km away.
Remember the Heritage Card I mentioned forever ago, just €25.00 for Adults, and gets you into dozens of historic sites throughout Ireland. . . this Site is included. http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/midlandseastcoast/brunaboinnevisitorcentrenewgrangeandknowth/
You can also visit the smaller Knowth and Dowth sites (smaller structures nearby with the same characteristics as Newgrange). Check the website for Visiting hours, as Newgrange is closed a few days in December and Knowth and Dowth close sometime in Fall until Spring.
The best thing about spending your final day in Ireland is that ANYTHING GOES. . . While posing for a picture or two in front of the monument, I began feeling like a Child/free-Spirit. With that green grass looking mighty fine, “I just felt like running!” (FORREST GUMP ANYONE? One of my FAVORITE ALL-TIME FILMS) Momma actually didn’t capture the candid shots, but instead asked me to jump/run again like I had just done before, and I complied. I was in quite a silly mood, inspired even to Irish Jig dance. Just a great moment to connect with my inner child, to let her be free and in charge. The other tourists surely thought I was out of my mind, but at least I have the memory and these silly photos to remind me of the importance of honoring the child in me, whenever she demands it.
Even got some Hang Time, which happens to be one of my favorite fotos of the entire trip. We pressed on to Dublin, where we had some cold GUINNESS BEERS awaiting us. I had pre-booked our tickets for The Guinness Storehouse online at Viator.com, each ticket costing just over $20. The best part was that they had skip the line privileges, which was invaluable to us that day. You should have seen the line wrapping all the way around the building, and we just strutted right to the front. A Modern & Impressive museum/brewery/multiple-restaurant/multiple-bar/7 floors total. . . we enjoyed touring the Guinness Storehouse. We learned about the process of making the perfect Guinness, the ingredients and tools needed, and of course TASTE-TESTED the Final Product. Also included in the price of each ticket was one Pint of beer at the location of your choice. I mentioned that there were multiple bars here, one on each floor of the building at least. We opted to take our pints on the highest floor of the building, the 7th floor Sky Bar (great 360 degree views of all of Dublin). I couldn’t have been more thrilled to just unwind a bit and CHEERS my momma for an incredible mother-daughter trip. On a busy day, I hope you don’t mind standing shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of other Guinness fans. This bar was packed, so there was hardly any room to stand and nobody was in a hurry to leave. But I will say to you:
Sláinte! And here’s an Irish Toast (in English) for you to impress someone somewhere one day: “May you be in heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead”
With just a few hours left to see Dublin in the daylight, we headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There is a lot of history to soak in here, this Church having been Catholic at times, then Protestant at times, as well as a haven during war times. The 12th Century Gothic Cathedral is Ireland’s most important Church, perfect for those interested in architecture or history.
Sadly, time was running out for our Irish Adventure. We had Whiskey on the mind though! I mean, who wouldn’t? We wanted to take some back home to our friends and family after all (and taste some more), so we were lucky to come upon the only serious Whiskey Shop in the center of Dublin. I had spotted this shop while driving by a few times, and we arrived to a FULLY STOCKED selection of Whiskeys.
We got to taste test, we picked out a few bottles of our favorites and headed to dinner. The worker at the Whiskey Shop recommended the Porterhouse for our final night out, so we followed the directions given to arrive at the lively restaurant. Upon arriving, we realized this was the Restaurant we happened upon on our FIRST NIGHT IN DUBLIN at the start of our holiday. It’s great to have the Universe show you sometimes that life isn’t exactly linear, nor is time. We move, we flow, we arrive at the same place sometimes, but anew, with a bigger heart and more open mind. This is what Travel does for me. It opens me up to more of life’s gifts, to other perspectives, to people that I am supposed to meet and learn from. I am so grateful for each and every person in Ireland that shared with us: a conversation, a laugh, directions (much-needed usually), a smile, anything really. On one of our final nights, an Irishman said to us,
“We’re only a little country, a little Cork in the water.”
Of course Ireland could be considered small, a little country amongst other giant European countries. . . and as an Island, it’s like a cork floating in the ocean. I must say, this Little Cork will forever be in my heart. The 2 week adventure was one that cannot be repeated. Momma saw Europe for the first time through an IRISH filter and we Fookin’ Loved our Road Trip and entire experience together as Mother and Daughter.
A thousand thanks Ireland: Go raibh míle maith agat Éire!!
. . . HELLO LONDON!
What can you do with a short overnight layover in London? Well it turns out that after going to happy hour at our hotel to enjoy wine, fruit & cheese (free for the guests) that you don’t have enough time to see some of the most famous monuments in the city. But we were happy experiencing iconic Big Ben beautifully lit up at night and the London Eye (overpriced though/skip it if you are pressed for time or on a tighter budget). Even taking the Underground (subway/metro) was fun as my momma had never been on these trains before. Piccadilly Circus was the closest Underground stop to our hotel, and we had a lot of fun making Austin Powers references any chance we could, including posing like Dr. Evil throughout the city.
We were thrilled to have found Muriel’s in Soho for dinner. . . We shared a Yummy Meal here and topped off the night with English Tea and dessert too. It felt so right that we decided to go back for breakfast the next day before catching our flight. We were lucky to get the table for 2 with the fun garden swings (instead of chairs). Amazing! Sadly, we had to catch the Underground one last time to the airport. . . and here comes the “CHECK YOUR CHAPS” TALE at last!
Whilst in Ireland, in Kenmare to be exact. . . we were getting ready one morning in our B&B and watching a bit of local television. We were watching something like the IRISH (/British? god knows I don’t remember all the details anymore) “Good morning America”, a light hearted Morning News show before 10 AM, and in between a gossip story and possibly a cooking segment, a segment for the “CHECK YOUR CHAPS” Campaign came on. This involved a Naked Man (model), a doctor, and of course the Hosts of the Morning Show.
- WE didn’t know what CHAPS were (in British English of course). . . but we were about to find out
- NAKED MAN (model) begins to follow instruction by the doctor who step by step told him how to CHECK HIS CHAPS
- CAMERA ZOOMS IN on Naked Man checking his balls.
- CHAPS are BALLS (male testicles)
- The “CHECK YOUR CHAPS” Campaign encourages men to check for irregularities in their CHAPS that could lead to testicular cancer.
- MOMMA was shocked this was on regular television in Ireland. . . so was I.
*** My mom said something like “Man we are behind the times for not having a ‘CHECK YOUR CHAPS’ Campaign in the US”
I responded, “We are behind the times for not being able to show BALLS first thing in the morning on Television in the US.” Oh Europe. I learned so much during our weeks abroad. I must say, it was quite the Adventure and I’m grateful it was with you Momma.
All photos taken JAN-FEB 2015- ARIANA DEL RÍO
Looks like I will quite possibly return to the UK this summer and I’m very excited for this! Where should I visit in the UK? Leave suggestions below in the comment section. If you like what you have read, come back for more PORTUGAL and ESPAÑA posts coming to you every week (now that I have wrapped up the IRELAND posts).