The final month in review: part 4
Its been ten months and I am missing home, as much as I have loved this journey it is time to make a trip back home to Indiana. But that does not mean my journey is ending, actually its just beginning. Life itself is a journey and we must not take it for granted, put your heart and soul into every breath you take and relish every second you have on this earth. Let the journey continue!
Here it is, month ten in review.
If you remember I ended my last review blog in Cork, Ireland in the town of Ballincollig, with the Bourke family, and that is where this post will pick up. I stayed with my workaway family for a month, moving in with a family you have just met can really put everyone outside of their comfort zone but it is well worth it. There is a lot of trust required in arrangements such as this and I could not have asked for a better family to adopt me in. I was immediately included as part of the family and made to feel at home. It took a little warming up and getting to know each other when it came to me and the three kiddos, Holly, Ella and Gerald, but the month flew by and it was a sad day when we said goodbye, I received a video from the girls just the other day to tell me they missed me and think of me everyday. The feeling is mutual and I can’t wait for the day when I can visit them again. I also became very close with Liz who made me a friend and not live-in help. I spent my days helping with the house move from in town to the beautiful Irish countryside, playing and coloring with the kids, chatting with Liz, helping around the house, changing diapers and painting. And on my days off I explored Ireland! Liz was kind enough to drive me around much of Cork’s countryside as well.
I visited the picturesque village of Kinsale where we had a little barbecue overlooking the freezing cold water as Liz’s friend, Séad, went for a routine swim and I enjoyed a tranquil stroll along the clifty coast. I returned to Kinsale a few weeks later where I joined Liz’s mother, Agnes, on her weekly walk with her walking group. It was a lot of fun talking with these ladies and we enjoyed the most delicious seafood lunch after.
I took a weekend bus trip to Killarney National Park, which is FREE and GORGEOUS! My hostel was within walking distance of the park and did i mention it was a 18th century mansion and cost only $10 a night! I rented a bike and explored the park, I was pretty lucky and only got rained on for a few hours on the bike, it was beautiful in both rain and sunshine; rolling hills, plains, streams, lakes and mountains. I stumbled upon an entire field, I’m talking a few hundred, of Irish Red Deer!
Another weekend was spent in Dublin, I loved Dublin, it is a city full of character and colorful alleyways! Temple Bar (which is actually a street…full of bars) is alive with music, pubs and interesting people…mostly drunk. I stumbled upon a alley that at first glance is creepy as hell but, if given a second glance and not skirted past, is full of insightful wisdom covering its walls before opening into a small square of love, seriously the asphalt was painted in hearts! I also spent many hours waiting out the rain in the cutest cafe that sits under the railway and shakes as trains pass overhead, it has huge glass windows looking out onto a rainy Dublin side street.
Just outside of Dublin in County Wicklow, I took a bus through the countryside and into the Wicklow Mountains, this was one of the many beautiful places in Ireland I plan to return too, we stopped for selfies at the P.S. I Love You bridge, hiked to the Glendalough upper and lower lakes as well as the monastic site with one of Ireland’s remaining round towers and last but certainly not least was Guinness Lake also know as Lough Tay, it literally looks like a lake of Guinness. They had white sand imported from Italy to look like the foam on top as well as to really show the color of the lake. Though the color may lead you to believe the water is dirty or polluted they is not the case, the water in much of this region of Ireland is this color.
I joined the Bourke’s for a holy communion dinner on my last night in County Cork in Monkstown, after dinner to took the ferry across to the village of Cobh (Cove), known as Queenstown until the 1920’s. We drove around the cute little harbor town which is popularly known as the town the Titanic embarked from on its maiden voyage on April 11, 1912.
Upon leaving Cork I took a bus north to Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) to the city of Belfast, which is where home to the shipyard where the titanic as built, I was able to actual slipway the titanic was built on. I also saw the last remaining White Star Line ship, the SS Nomadic. Belfast is also known for its film and television studios, where much of Game of Thrones has been filmed among many others.
Northern Ireland is home to one of natures many wonders, Giants Causeway, which is thousands of hexagonal basalt columns formed by a volcano. They are amazing! I climbed around for a few hours taking a million pictures. The pictures really just do not do it justice!
Near the Giants Causeway is Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, a rope bridge connecting the mainland to Carrickarede Island used by salmon fisherman hundreds, its pretty cool walking across.
Who can visit Northern Ireland and not stop at the oldest distillery in the world! Actually, I could have but what the hell might as well. The oldest distillery by the way is the Old Bushmill Distillery.
On our way back to Belfast we made a pitstop to the Dark Hedges. Located in County Antrim, the Dark Hedges are a mysteriously beautiful and somewhat creepy tree lined road also know as the Kingsroad from Game of Thrones.
And then I was off to Scotland, I flew into the Inerness airport, which literally sits in the middle of a field. As the plane was descending all that was visible were fields and pastures, we glided in just over heads of the cattle onto the runway and I immediately fell in love. I just had this feeling that I was meant to be there. Inverness is a small town in the Scottish Highlands on the River Ness…also nearby is the famed Loch Ness and its mysterious monster. We (myself and a few friends from my hostel) rented a car and explored the Highland countryside with its many lochs and castles. We stopped to walk the remains of Urquhart Castle which sits off of Loch Ness and the very well preserved Eilean Donan Castle which sits on its own island, overlooking the Isle of Skye, where three lochs meet. Unfortunately upon returning the car we were were charged for damages to the car…damages that just happened to be in the exact same spots as previous documented damage. But karma is a you know what and I let them know exactly how I felt about their establishment, not that it did any good, but it made me feel better.
From Inverness I made my way to the Isle of Skye where I spent a week just relaxing in its crisp air and snow capped mountains. I spent an entire day laying in the grass overlooking the harbor and the mountains reading. When it began to get dark I looked up and was surrounded by water, I had read through high tide and did not realize. After a few moments of panic I found a small walkway that had yet to be submerged…lucky for me! I enjoyed a few really nice hikes as well as a tour of the island, where I saw all the highlights of the island such as the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock, Old Man of Storr, Cuillin Mountains, the Quiraing and Neist Point Lighthouse…well I kind of saw most of them, the weather was not the greatest and it was very foggy and rainy, but none the less breathtaking.
The last stop was Edinburgh where I met up with Jo (who you remember I traveled with in Thailand and Bali) and Anna who I met while walking the Camino de Santiago. Its always great to see familiar faces when you are traveling! The three of us hiked to Arthur’s Seat which is part of Holyrood Park and overlooks the city. It is extremely windy once you make it to the top, I was nearly blown off the “hill” a few times.
The night before Jo and Anna arrived was the Beltane Fire Festival! Seriously one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed. The ancient Gaelic Beltane Fire Festival is a pagan festival to celebrate the end of winter and birth of summer. An ancient ritual to celebrate fertility (both of the land and people…so you’d do well to abstain from sex on this particular night), the death of dark and birth of light. …Did I mention there were a lots of naked people
Anna was only able to stay for one night unfortunately but Jo and I explored the rest of the city, we walked the royal mile to Edinburgh Castle and took a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close, which are old underground streets, it was really neat.
And of course we had to eat Haggis, a mythical Scottish creature, really it is just sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with onion, oatmeal and some other stuff and enjoyed High Tea, you know the traditional tea, crumpets and finger sandwiches….not together of course!
And then I surprised everyone by returning home early! I was home for two days hiding out with a friend and my brother before the big reveal. Keeping this secret for two months was incredibly hard with my family asking everyday when I was coming home.
May the journey continue!