Discovery comes in the most unlikely of places, and it comes spontaneously to those willing to fall off the beaten path for a while. Try the land of mysterious passages, literary legends and a people committed to celebrating everything. Ireland is a particularly attractive destination for those looking to enjoy the road less travelled but the real reason to go to Ireland for couples and individuals alike, is the craic. Craic is a Gaelic term, hard to define, but used often in Irish circles to describe the best in life: music that forces you to your feet, a room full of friends engaged in laughter, the cheers when a soccer match is won, squeezing the hand of someone you’re hot for, put simply - the organic nature of having a good time. The craic is much like falling in love, you only know it when you’re in it. Go find it, seek it out; discover your version of the craic in Ireland.
An economical way to do so is by taking the freedom trail, available via the Irish fly and drive packages
offered through various travel outlets. The package includes flights into Shannon or Dublin, a rental car (with maps), and vouchers for stays at hundreds of bed and breakfasts across Ireland, located in every small town and large city. Reservations for B&Bs can be made beforehand or as you travel. Rates can be found as low as $800 per person for a 6 night stay all inclusive for this trip. This simple way to go gives you the ability to set your own time table, to meander down winding roads through lush countryside where you are more likely to run into a flock of sheep crossing the road, than another car in your way. Gaze over haunting cliffs and castles on the hill, hand blown glass shops and one pub towns. Count your rainbows, kiss the Blarney stone, peruse the Skellig monasteries on the Ring of Kerry and down the day by recollecting over a frothy Guinness. Golf, fish, bike, eat and talk for hours at a tiny waterfront village. No need to limit yourself as in every town and city, there will be a B&B host to tuck you in, share the Irish charm and a hearty breakfast too. Go to Galway and Cork, Killarney and Kilkenny, Dublin and Doolin. Make new friends along the way. The possibilities are endless on the treasure hunt through the Emerald Isle.
Instead of a summer getaway, consider the more sensous seasons to plan your trip. Spring for blooms and fall for leaves are the best times to travel abroad. Crowds have dissipated, the weather is more lenient, and the pace of normal life is as much an attraction as the location itself.
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A few recommended discoveries in Ireland. Add your own:
The Cliffs of Mohr
: A visit to these majestic rock formations on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean is life affirming. As you stand peering over a gulley of fresh air and a raucous sea pounding against the base of the cliffs, your heart will start to pound. Multiple bird species form a party in the air, while the puffins waddle awkwardly on the ground.
Doolin: Tiny fishing village just 3K from the Cliffs. Known for its lively traditional Irish music and varied venues for such liveliness. The town sits under the watchful eyes of the Doonagore castle.
The City of Galway: “The bilingual capitol of Ireland," Galway (pictured above) is a renaissance town with it’s red brick roads, eclectic artwork, a wealth of authentic fare, and a happening night life With many B&Bs within walking distance of the action, this is a fine place to stay the night, or two.
: What’s a trip to Ireland without kissing the pissed on Blarney stone? Make a wish and run.
: Situated between two river banks, this mid size town, shadowed by a catch your breath medieval castle. Kilkenny, also known as the “Marble city,” is full of frolic. The townies here are known as “cats” and host an international comedy festival called the Cat’s Laugh in June. You’ll want to meoooowww with the best of em’.
Waterford Crystal Factory
: Take the tour to witness the creation of this world renowned craft maker of timeless keepsakes. The fascinating process will be revealed as you marvel over the crystal being blown and polished by hand.
Dublin: The New York City of Ireland. Loaded with hotels, restaurants, cathedrals, museums, and of course pubs, Dublin has much to offer. To get to know the real flavor of the city, engage in a self guided walking tour to get a sense of the historical significance of Dublin’s quaint streets and nooks. For free ipod walking tours: Tour Downloads
: Located on the West Coast of Ireland, this bilingual (Celtic living dialect and English) community is where it all began. Get a sense of the true Celtic culture by visiting the Heritage Center. Hop on a bike or horseback or hike along crazy cliffs, 437 varieties of wildflowers and the peaceful coastline.