I knew it wasn't going to be easy. On April 25, I flew from Seattle to Northern California for a visit with family before taking off on a 12-day trip to Ireland. Only weeks before, I learned that I would have to travel to Baja, Mexico for an opportunity of a lifetime. The problem? My travel schedule was already jam-packed, so I had to add Baja to the end of my trip, leaving the morning after returning to Seattle - after having been awake for over 24 hours. I questioned my insanity after booking, and when I saw that old phone booth in County Clare, Ireland, I started fantasizing about it being an instant transporter, a kind of "beam me up" sort of thing. Of course, unfortunately that doesn't exist yet, but the good news is that I obviously managed to make it through - and, in the end, the long journey was well worth it.
This was the first trip to Ireland in many years that I hadn't spent my first couple of days at my cousin's house in Dublin to rest up - the jet lag can be brutal and I'd only slept maybe an hour on the overnight flight. A friend from Belgium was flying in to meet me a few hours after I arrived, so I had booked a daylet hotel near the airport to relax and shower before having to drive. While that was a big help, driving was probably not the best idea in my condition, so thankfully my travel partner for the next few days took over.
Our first stop was Killaloe, the birthplace of Brian Boru. I'd meant to visit many times but had never made it, primarily to check out the heritage center to explore the history of the last great High King of Ireland who lived from 941 to 1014 AD, and a distant ancestor. While that didn't turn out to be much, the village was incredibly picturesque, and a spot I would definitely return to in the future.
From there, it was on to Portmagee to enjoy traditional Irish music - of course, as I mentioned before leaving, our visit happened to coincide with the 'May the Fourth' Star Wars Festival, which meant we were welcomed with this:
While we both had visions of Darth Vaders and Stormtroopers invading the place, it turned out to be a crowd that was there more for the music and dancing, though we definitely experienced a bit of interesting entertainment.
This visit to Portmagee was mostly spent relaxing and enjoying the scenery, though I couldn't resist taking a cheesy photo in the "snug" area of The Bridge Bar.
After leaving Portmagee, I was on my own. I headed to Dingle, another one of my favorite destinations in Ireland. The last time I was there I managed to find an amazing apartment right in town for only 50 euro a night through Airbnb. From there, it's fun just to walk through the colorful streets, and pop into the pubs to listen to some music, and a scenic drive on the Dingle Peninsula is always a must.
While Dingle is certainly a favorite, it does attract the tourist crowds so I was especially excited to get to Inisheer Island. The smallest of the Aran Islands is the place I can definitively say that is the spot I truly love the most. Partly because of the peaceful atmosphere and the stunning scenery, but equally due to the time I get to spend chatting with my South Aran House B&B hosts, Enda and Maria.
The wildflowers this time of year are amazing. I walked through the maze of stone walls - they were between the rocks, in the fields, everywhere... but those tiny intensely blue flowers were my favorite. After a stroll, I sat on the rocks near the beach that looks as if it could be in the Caribbean, and just minutes later I was greeted by Sandy the local dolphin. While I thought the 5 nights I'd booked here might be too much, it wasn't near enough, but by the time I said goodbye, I felt more relaxed and at peace than I had in a good while.
I boarded the ferry back to the mainland with a father and daughter, Michael and Caitlin, who'd been staying at South Aran House too, and gave them a ride back to Dublin where I spent my last night with my wonderful cousin Alice.
Up at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15th, I had a very long 24 hours or so ahead of me before I'd finally hit the hotel bed in Seattle. The first flight was to Reykjavik, Iceland where I had a 4 hour layover - long, but not long enough to get out and do anything. It was a big tease seeing that spectacular landscape below.
A 4 hour layover, an 8+ hour flight, and I was finally in Seattle again. After going through customs and taking the shuttle to my hotel, it was 7 p.m., 3 a.m. in Ireland, so 23 hours on the go at that point. Luckily, I slept like a rock and in the morning, it was time to fly to Cabo!
Back to that opportunity I mentioned earlier - the Airbnb host I'd stayed with several times before was in the process of building a house on his beautiful property and offered it to me for rent, for a cheap price - a short walk to the beach and to town in one of the most magical places in Baja: Todos Santos. I had to fly there to determine if it would work, and to get things finalized if so. As it turned out, it did not. After feeling so elated, it was a huge let down, but it turned out that it was all meant to be. I met a couple who also happened to be from Washington State, and ended up with a much better deal - and a rooftop patio for watching the jaw-dropping sunsets. Things seemed to flow just perfectly.
I have one more trip - Newfoundland for 10 days in June, and then, I'll be crossing the border the first week of July, on my way to a new life in Baja. While I'll keep on traveling from there, I plan to get settled and stay in my new home for most of the second half of the year. Expect lots of sunset pics.