Monday, June 18, 2018

This is 39 (Month 8, Check-in 2): A Solo Road Trip

During my trip here in Ireland I was able to cross another goal off my list: Go on a solo road trip that includes at least two nights away. While I really would have liked to have driven to Idaho or New Mexico (two places I'd like to explore), I knew that this trip would provide me with an opportunity to accomplish this goal.

To help ensure I followed through with the trip, in the middle of April I booked a B&B in a town called Allihies (pronounced Ah-luh-hees) after I was inspired by some photos on Instagram. The town looked super charming and cute and I knew it'd help me explore somewhere new within Ireland. The past couple of years, I've gotten a little lazy and have mostly stayed at Gene's with exploring just around this part of the country with short same-day trips. This goal helped me step out of that comfort zone and I'm so glad that I did it because I got to see a beautiful part of Ireland.

I set this goal because I just don't spend a lot of time by myself. I'm someone who replenishes her energy by being around other people. And even though I work alone from my home office, I'm always communicating with people and I tend to be fairly social outside of work as well. I was intentional with this goal. Even when I'm in Ireland, I'm still surrounded by a lot of people. I got some offers in the pub for some company, but I was happy to have the time to myself to just be, and see, and do.

The ride from Gene's to Allihies was a doozy. My directions were sending me here, there and everything and I'm pretty sure I was on the least direct way to arrive to my destination. Luckily, the last hour and a half was just unbelievably beautiful. Here are some photos I took while driving the Healy Pass:

And here are some photos of Allihies:

the yellow building is where i stayed for two nights

It was a quiet first night. I stayed in and used the night to take a pause from drinking and did some writing, reading and blogging. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the pub below. And fended off the thoughts of "I should just go back to Gene's tomorrow."

On Tuesday I was up nice and early (and sober!) and took a quick drive to Dursey Island, which is home to Ireland's only cable car. I've been wanting to do this for a few years but was too lazy last year and the year before to do the drive. I had no real plans beyond getting on the cable car, but as it turns out, I decided to walk the length of the island and back (nearly 7 1/2 miles in total). With no water and no food and no hat and I got a wicked sun burn.

The cable car only holds six people at a time. Local residents have priority. And it's a five minute ride. I got there early because I didn't know how busy it would be and ended up waiting about 30 minutes before I was able to get on. One farmer got on with 10 bags of fertilizer and no one else could go on with him. I had to laugh at that. Here are the photos I took of my day on Dursey Island (which has no shops, pubs, restaurants and very few homes):

this is the farmer who took the cable car alone with his 10 bags of fertilizer! i realized he had to walk to his farm to get his tractor so he could get the fertilizer back!

I had an incredible day walking by myself, talking with the few people I met along the way (including an adorable older couple, Fergus & Margaret) and seeing another beautiful part of Ireland.

Once back in Allihies, me and my sunburnt face got a bite to eat at the only restaurant in town (O'Neills) and then went back to the B&B where I crashed after a long day outside in the hot sun and on my feet. 

I was up early again on Wednesday for what I knew was going to be a long drive back to Gene's. I made a lunch date to meet up with my friend Jen (who I met on my very first trip to Ireland- she and my sister Kara worked together on the Jersey Shore during college summers) whom I hadn't seen for 10 years!

Before that though, and the reason I got up a little earlier than I wanted, was because I was taking the longer way to get there so I could go and see Eyeries (pronounced Eye-ra), which was promised to be another cute coastal village in West Cork.

I was totally unprepared for how absolutely charming Eyeries was. I stopped and took a handful of photos and was bowled over by how precious the place was. It will go down as the cutest and most colorful village I've ever been to in Ireland. Here are some photos I took:

From there I headed over to Cork, but not before passing through another adorable village. I actually drove through and a few minutes outside of town I was still kicking myself for not stopping to take photos. So I turned around and caught these photos of Ardgroom:

So cute, right? And really, so bright and colorful and cheery. I loved both of these villages so much and am glad I went the long way to see them.

My lunch with Jen was delightful and delicious and I loved meeting Harry:

Overall, it was a great three days/two nights away. I powered through the anxiety and discomfort of being alone. I resisted the urge to cut the trip short by a night. And I got to see some more beautiful places in this country I love so very much. 


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