Breathtaking and amazing Ireland
Ireland, definitely not a destination the average Nigerian would think to spend vacation. Six years ago, a travel friend said it was his favorite country to visit yet, I simply thought he was insane. Five years later, he decided to get married there, my curiosity won out, and I found myself on a three-week long solo road trip discovering the country. From the people, the food, the music, the wealth of culture, and awe-inspiring beautiful scenery, I found myself falling deeply in love with the country too.
With traveling so much, I sometimes find that memories of certain places get mixed up or forgotten. In Ireland, each place I visited left an impression on me, most of all, Achill Island. I stayed at The Valley House and spent my evenings sitting by the fire-place at its adjoining bar while soaking in the music the locals brought with them. While the small town was hauntingly beautiful, it was the warmth of the locals that made me feel at home and made me drag my feet when it was time to drive to the next town. On my first night in Achill, I sat in a corner with plans to work the night away on my computer.
As more people came in for drinks, I kept getting dragged into conversations that kept me at the bar till it closed. Every night after that, my laptop was shoved aside, and I allowed myself to be folded in with the music, laughter, and sometimes, ridiculous conversations. I even made an amateurish video of my short time there on my Youtube zeegoes channel that warms me up when I watch a snippet of my time there; peep my abandoned laptop in the video.
I also figured my taste buds would be bored by day 2 in Ireland, and packed some spices to make food in case a ‘rescue taste bud emergency’ occurs. What happened was entirely the opposite. For food, travelers need to add West Cork to your travel calendar and make sure to be there in time for the Taste of West Cork food festival in September! The insane amount of food my body consumed while in West Cork was ridiculous and defied logic.
Ever had the ailment where your taste bud is hankering for more but your stomach is saying absolutely no? I really struggled with this while in West Cork, but as a proper Nigerian, I was able to resolve my ‘grubido’ issues by asking for a take-away bag when my body couldn’t handle all the amazing food coming my way. I remember standing by a booth that offered the best freshly-smoked salmon and not knowing what to do with myself after. From an array of so many seafood and meat options, to nice cheese, to my multiple sips of gin made from milk; West Cork won the soul of my stomach hands down. In Galway, I ate the best of freshly shucked oysters and still day-dream of the experience. They even have an Oyster festival that falls around the same time as the Taste of West Cork, just note that food in Ireland is not cheap.
Thinking back on my trip, I probably pulled some illegal driving moves when my eyes needed longer than a glancing view while driving by amazing scenes. Drives that should have taken me 2 hours to accomplish took the whole day because I simply could not stop parking the car to take in the amazing views around me. I drove the Wild Atlantic Way, Slea Head Drive, Ring of Kerry and I really do not have the skill-set to wax poetry about how God took his time when creating Ireland.
In my lifetime of traveling, I have never seen grass as green as the ones in Ireland. It sounds silly, but that made me pause and do something a bit silly too. On my first day in Killarney, I rubbed my fingers against the grass to see if any color would come off. I know, I know, it sounds so stupid, but I could not resist it. If you have the time, do a google search of “Why is the grass greener in Ireland?” What I found made me feel assured in my sanity. Beyond trying to make sense of the vibrant green color of its grass, I walked along the Giant’s Causeway, found a private nook atop the Cliffs of Moher to picnic and watched waves of water beat against rocks endlessly while simply taking the time to reflect on life and just breathe.
I faced physical accomplishments when I climbed Ireland’s highest mountain, learned to dance like the locals, biked through Killarney’s beautiful national park, and walked more miles than ever in my hunger to see and experience the land. Most of all, I found Ireland to be the most therapeutic and calming travel experience for me. And unsurprisingly, I have visited again since my first visit.