May the mirrors of our minds turn instead into windows.
Simple Pleasure #3
Open windows that let the breeze make the curtains dance.
I made my first trip to Ireland over the past 4 days as a kick-off to my month in Europe. Aware that it might also be my last, I was eager to make the most of everything it had to offer. Given such a short period of time, it was quite difficult to get a sense of what Ireland was all about, or so I thought.
You can see it in the land. Fields richly carved by mounds of earth and stone, fences layed to keep livelihoods in tact; sweat and blood and tears collectively called hard work. The land tells a story as good as any ever told, if only you’re willing to listen. Flocks of sheep intermingle, displaying patches of colored wool that mark one group from another. Proud people are sharing their sense of heritage in so many different ways; a tough exterior and kindness within.
Dublin was the first stop. I tasted black pudding for the first time, toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral, poured and drank a pint of Guinness, and enjoyed the rhythm of the Irish Capital.
Outside of Dublin along the coast is a village called Howth, where we ventured for dinner at a restaurant named King Sitric. The food was fresh, locally grown and caught, and prepared with respect for the ingredients. I had the chef’s menu and was pleased with the different combinations of flavor I was presented with. The setting was comfortable and the service was friendly and welcoming.
We interrupted our drive from Dublin to stop at Newgrange, a World Heritage Site with mound-like tombs dating back 500 years before the pyramids at Giza. The tomb was impressive when you consider that its builders had to haul tons and tons of stone over nearly 50 miles of forest and river, then manage to get the stone uphill and arranged in an architectural wonder that lasts over 5 millenia. Slane and the area surrounding is quaint and scenic.
Made a pit stop to kiss the Blarney stone hoping for the gift of eloquence! I have to admit the idea of kissing a slobbery stone kind of disgusted me but, carpe diem as they say!
Cork was next on the agenda. We walked the streets and had a delicious meal at the Liberty Cafe before Brad and I dropped Erin off at the hotel and went to a few bars recommended to us by locals. We didn’t quench our thirst for traditional Irish music, but four pints later and I was ready for bed.
From Cork we headed to Killarney where we spoke with a very pleasant and helpful tourist information employee. The way he talked delighted me. We had lunch and drove through the Killarney National Park, stopping to snap a few pictures of a waterfall and other natural sights along the way. The scenery driving from Killarney toward the Ring of Kerry was quintessentially Irish and I savored it.
We arrived at the small Derrynane Hotel situated along the water and rocky face of the Ring of Kerry. After taking a short exploratory drive, we stopped to eat a lovely meal at a restaurant near a pasture of horses. The sunset was beautiful. The next day we headed toward the dock to board a boat that would take us to the World Heritage Site Skellig Michael. It was worth every penny spent. The view from the top of the 600 stone-carved Medieval era steps took my breath away more than once.
From there it was back to Dublin to catch an early flight back to Brussels. It was my first trip to Ireland, but hopefully not my last!
Simple Pleasure #2
Crisp, clean sheets.
Simple Pleasure #1
Adding powdered coffee creamer to a freshly brewed cup and watching it break up like a melting glacier.
Perhaps the best stories are the ones that are never told, but the ones that we seek to uncover.