Throwback Thursday: Ireland – Connemara and a Return to Dublin

Where: Connemara, Kylemore and Back to Dublin
When: May 2013, part of our 10-day trip around Ireland
Hotel: Arlington Temple Bar in Dublin for our last two nights
Why the Connemara Loop and Dublin: After spending two nights in Galway, our trip was nearing its end. We had one more long day of driving planned – a loop around Connemara, which is located north of Galway. Connemara has a crazy landscape – from mountains to Peet bogs to oceanside – with quaint little villages all along the way. To be honest, by day 8, the car was getting slightly old – but what made the car ride worth it was Kylemore Abbey. The Abbey is so beautiful it honestly didn’t look real, in person or in pictures. After the loop, we made the two hour trek back to Dublin for a final two nights before the 10 days in the Emerald Isle came to a close. For the last day, we had put Brú na Bóinne, Hill of Tara and Trim Castle on our itinerary – but John and I opted out to explore more of Dublin instead (and because although those places seemed cool – the 2.5 hours in the car did not.) And the first time around, we really didn’t get a chance just to wander around so this was the perfect opportunity!

Our first stop out of town was to the Connemara Marble outlet store - some very nice goodies were found here!

Our first stop out of town was to the Connemara Marble outlet store – some very nice goodies were found here!

The Trip: The only thing I really wanted to see on the Connemara Loop was the Kylemore Abbey. Yes, the drive was beautiful but knowing that we had to get around the loop and then had two more hours back to Dublin made the drive a little rushed. Everything I have read suggests devoting a whole day – starting and ending in Galway – to truly enjoy the Connemara National Park. It was beautiful – as I have found is the case with most of Ireland – and the Abbey is worth it for sure!

This is exactly how the Kylemore Abbey looks in real life. It's almost like a cardboard movie set!

This is exactly how the Kylemore Abbey looks in real life. It’s almost like a movie set!

The grounds were gorgeous as well - the Abbey was surrounded by pretty mountains!

The grounds were gorgeous as well – the Abbey was surrounded by pretty mountains!

The Gothic Church - built in memorial by the original owner in honor of his wife.

The Gothic Church – built in memorial by the original owner in honor of his wife.

It's a good thing the trip was coming to an end - not sure much else would have fit in the trunk!

It’s a good thing the trip was coming to an end – not sure much else would have fit in the trunk!

Two hours later, we were back in Dublin! We opted to have a couples date night that night to get to spend a little time together. John had to fly back to the States from Ireland, and we wouldn’t see each other for a month, so we decided a little downtime was just what we needed!

Yummy dinner location right in the center of the Temple Bar area!

Yummy dinner location right in the center of the Temple Bar area!

After dinner drinks at the Long Hall - one of the recommended pubs slightly off the beaten path!

After dinner drinks at the Long Hall – one of the recommended pubs off the beaten path!

Our final full day in Dublin we decided to just wander – no maps, no itinerary, just see what the city has to offer. This is one aspect of traveling I am so torn about. I always want to go to the places I hear about and see pictures of, but I forget how nice and relaxing it is just to stroll – and how more often than not, you will find unexpected surprises! (Which is one of the reasons I really want to go back to Paris – but we will get to that!)

The Dublin riverfront - a mixture of old vs new

The Dublin riverfront – a mixture of old vs new

The memorial to the victims of the Irish Famine - quite unsettling actually.

The memorial to the victims of the Irish Famine – quite unsettling actually.

The Oscar Wilde statue in Merrien Square - Wilde was born in Dublin and his childhood house is directly across the street from this statue

The Oscar Wilde statue in Merrien Square – Wilde was born in Dublin and his childhood house is directly across the street from this statue

Another famous Dubliner - James Joyce, a favorite local author!

Another famous Dubliner – James Joyce, a favorite local author!

Loved all these side streets - they just looked so fun and inviting!

Loved all these side streets – they just looked so fun and inviting!

Molly Malone - whose song is the unofficial anthem of Dublin

Molly Malone (the statute, not the fake Leprachaun!), whose song is the unofficial anthem of Dublin

John Mulligan pub - definitely a local hangout. But it was great - and apparently pours the best pints of Guinness in Dublin!

The John Mulligan pub – definitely a local hangout. But it was great – and apparently pours the best pints of Guinness in Dublin!

Enjoying our relaxing day!

Enjoying our relaxing day!

Odd but fun statute - just make sure to check if it is dry! I had some wet jeans when I got up! :-)

Odd but fun statute – just make sure to check if it is dry! I had some wet jeans when I got up!  🙂

Pretty St Stephen's Green - a giant park in the middle of the city!

Pretty St Stephen’s Green – a giant park in the middle of the city!

Johnny outside another recommended pub - the Stag's Head!

Johnny outside another recommended pub – the Stag’s Head!

The next morning – it was time to go back home to Germany!

Goodbye Ireland - till next time!

Goodbye Ireland – till next time!

Final Impressions: Ireland was everything I had hoped! It was beautiful and fun and filled with pubs and friendly Irishmen. I had wanted to go for so long and was able to see everything I wanted to see and have since added a couple of things to the list just in case we make it back! Ireland was awesome and I’m so happy we – John, me, Jake and Renee – were able to make the trip together. It was definitely memorable!! 🙂

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