Ireland in 7 Days

Ireland, also called the Emerald Isle, is a country known for it’s wild natural beauty and friendly people, leprechauns and Guinness and of course, St Patrick’s Day. This widely popular holiday is a religious and cultural celebration of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is celebrated every 17th of March the day he was believed to have died in 461 AD by not just the Irish but in other parts of the world with a large Irish population as well.

When I was in the 6th grade, I represented Ireland in my elementary school’s annual United Nation’s pageant. I do not remember why I was “Miss Ireland”. I do not look Irish and I certainly do not have Irish blood. Maybe, it was just meant to be. But I was 5th runner-up in that pageant and memories of my younger self in that light pink lacy gown walking up the stage pretending not to be nervous I can still vividly recall.

Fast forward present time, I come to visit my adopted U.N. country at last! My mom laughed as I told her that my elementary pageant days was the reason why we were traveling to Ireland. Of course, the main reason was Guinness but that is another story for another day.

So what did we do in 7 days? We visited 5 cities and saw lots of interesting places in between. It helped that we mostly drove ourselves around. Here is a summary of the highlights of our trip. I will be eventually blogging about all the little details in separate posts. So, stay tuned!


  1. Dublin

To visit Dublin and not pay homage to the Guinness storehouse is a mortal sin. This is the number one tourist attraction in Ireland most sources claim. Even if you are not a beer lover, the experience itself is like no other as you make your way up seven floors learning all about the history of Arthur Guinness and his family and what goes into the making of every pint of this world famous beer. At the very top of this building, is the Gravity Bar where you will get a 360 degree view of the city while enjoying your free pint. Hubby swears the Guinness tastes better here!

If you are a history buff, you will surely geek out over this one. I have never heard of the Book of Kells until I did my trip planning. The Book of Kells is an ancient manuscript containing the four gospels of the New Testament written in colorful intricately designed calligraphy. Today, it is on display at the old library of the Trinity College in Dublin. It seemed like a pretty popular attraction so this got added to my check list. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the exhibits.

Coming out from the Book of Kells, you walk into the Long Room which is the main chamber of the old library. This is also Ireland’s biggest library housing over 200,000 books. I could feel my jaw drop the moment I walked into this great room and its’ hallowed halls.



We ended up our day in the Temple Bar area, a perfect place to people watch as we replenish our stomachs with food and drink. It can be touristy but sometimes, touristy can be fun. There’s lots of restaurants and pubs, some with live Irish music. You can also find all sorts of shops here.


2. Northern Ireland

The following day, we took the only bus tour in this trip to the Giant’s Causeway. We started really early in the morning at 645 and made a quick stop at Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, for breakfast and to pick up a couple of people. We learned some about the bloody history and political turmoils of this city and for those who are not aware (like I was), the Titanic was built here. Belfast is also not a part of the Republic of Ireland but of the United Kingdom.

We then proceeded to our next two photo stops. The Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will recognize this pretty neat tree-lined road in one of its scenes. As I am not, then I can only appreciate its natural beauty. These beech trees have been planted by the owner who lives at the end of this road over 300 years ago. Beech trees live only to be about a hundred making this one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

Tip: try to come early if you are driving by car otherwise you will not really get a good picture as hundreds of tourists in tour buses flock here. I ended up frustrated and took photos of its surrounding scenery instead!

Dunluce Castle, or rather what remains of it, sits on the edge of a rocky cliff. Stories tell of how part of its kitchen fell into the ocean after which, the owners left because they didn’t feel safe.

Dunluce castle

We spent the next hour and a half at the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO world  heritage site, where millions of years ago a volcano erupted and caused the unique geological formation of these interlocking basalt columns. The locals would like to believe though in the legend that says the Irish giant, Finn McCool built this causeway so he can fight with the Scottish giant, Benandonner but when he realized that the Scottish giant was much bigger than him, he asked his wife to help him. So his wife disguised him as a baby and put him in a cradle and dressed him in baby clothes. When Benandonner saw this massive “baby”, he realized that its father could be even bigger so he ran back to Scotland and destroyed the causeway. Yay for having a smart wife eh?!

I like the giant’s theory better.🙂


Our next stop was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. First built by Salmon fishermen in 1755, it is now managed by the National Trust. There is a fee to cross the swinging bridge. I was looking forward to doing that but unfortunately, the bridge was closed due to the strong winds that day. So we took a long walk around the area and just enjoyed the coastal views.

3. Cork

We only stayed overnight here so there wasn’t much time to really do anything but head on out to downtown and eat. Cork is Ireland’s 3rd largest city known for its culinary flair and cultural scenes. We made a beeline first to the English Market, Ireland’s most popular covered food market. It opened in 1788 and continues to sell fresh produce, meat, cheese, seafood and even chocolates! The Queen herself made a visit here in 2011 on her Ireland tour.


I have this fascination with markets when visiting different countries and cities. If I find one by accident or learn of one that is in the area, I make it a point to stroll through its stalls and observe the local people going about their daily business. Sometimes even sampling the local fare. This also makes for great photo ops.

St Fin Barre’s Cathedral is by far one of the grandest churches I have ever seen. I haven’t been to Italy or Spain yet which I’m sure have more bigger and grander churches but for now, this tops my list. This church was consecrated in 1870 and is Ireland’s most complete example of French Neo Gothic architecture.

4. Killarney

Killarney National Park located in the town of Killarney is Ireland’s first national park. It comprises more than 10,000 hectares of mountains, lakes and woodlands and Ireland’s only native herd of red deer. This was just a tiny sample of what our next day itinerary would be as the park is part of the Ring of Kerry, one of Ireland’s scenic drives.

The following day, we woke up earlier than normal to start our drive around the Ring of Kerry, a 179 km circular scenic drive around Southwest Ireland. This road takes you to some of the most stunning sceneries, quaint little towns and rugged landscapes. There are plenty of things to do here. You can drive around the ring in one day or go slow and stay for a night or two in one of the picturesque towns along the way.

5. Galway

Galway is a city located on the western part of Ireland and like every other Irish city, has lots of things to offer from shopping to hip places to eat and drink, local pubs and cute Bed and Breakfasts (Ireland is FULL of bed and breakfasts!). I would like to explore this city some more if only we had the time. Photo below was taken after we had a late lunch of rice and a couple of other Asian food as we were seriously having some rice withdrawals from eating Irish food for six days!

Spanish Arch, originally a 16th century bastion protecting merchant ships from looting. This is located on the left bank of the river Corrib and is close to the Latin Quarter on Quay street where you can stroll on its cobblestone pedestrian-only streets filled with pubs, boutiques, hotels, buskers and other quaint shops.


If visiting Guinness was my hubby’s reason for coming, this is mine – the Cliffs of Moher.  “They’re just cliffs”, says the hotel bartender when we asked him if seeing the Cliffs of Moher was worth it. I think when you are a local you tend to downplay the awesomeness of a tourist attraction. It’s either you’ve been there and not impressed or you’ve never been there at all. I’m not saying don’t trust a local’s opinion because surely they are a plethora of information but when your time is limited, you go with what you really want to do.

Let’s just say after Guinness, the cliffs are Ireland’s number two most popular tourist attraction. Easily an hour and a half drive from Galway, the cliffs are made from shale and limestone and are over 300 million years old. They stretch for 8 km along the Atlantic coast and it’s highest point is 702 ft.



There. My Ireland in a week.

I could say it was a very ambitious itinerary as we basically hit all the major spots in the country from the North to South, East to West. You might want to go slower and explore more off the beaten path places but with the time that we had, we had to do what we had to do.

Happy Exploring!


Hot and Cold in La Fortuna

After our three day yoga retreat in Santa Teresa, we took a six hour journey back to mainstream tourism. We like to mix and match our travels with equal amounts of off the beaten path and touristy stuff. Hey, it’s our first time in the country after all so why not enjoy its popular sights and attractions too.

Anyone who has been to Costa Rica has been to La Fortuna and its surrounding areas. From San Jose (the capital city), it is a quick three hour ride amongst beautiful mountain views. You will never run out of things to do in La Fortuna since it is the town where most everything is based. For the thrill seeker, this place is nirvana. I also found La Fortuna surprisingly clean and not very busy considering the amount of tourists that come every day.


Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s more popular volcanos with its near perfect cone. Situated in the Arenal Volcano National Park, it is only about 4 miles from La Fortuna. You can see its majestic presence looming over town like a watchful sentinel.

Hot Springs

Upon arriving at our hotel, we immediately went straight to a hot springs resort. The area, considering its proximity to the volcano has so many hot spring resorts, be it big or small, fancy or simple, expensive or cheap. Whatever your mood is for the day, there is a hot spring waiting for you. There is even a free public one beside a huge spa resort where the locals and the more adventurous tourists go. Why pay when you can go for free? But then again you don’t get the extra amenities that the resort offers. It really is all up to you.

The Eco Termales Hot Springs Resort was the perfect one for us that day because we wanted a smallish romantic hot spring experience without the large crazy water park crowds. It boasts of an almost all natural setting where the pool and its surroundings make you feel like you are in the middle of a rainforest. They also control the number of guests by assigning time slots on your reservations. So if you want peace and quiet and ultimate relaxation, then this is the place.

They only have five pools, each with varying degrees of hotness. I can only take the first one, pictured below. The rest was just too uncomfortable for my body, not even my toes could handle it.

This was the hottest of them all at 103 deg F.


They also have a cold refreshing pool just behind the others to give your body a chilling shock after being in the hot waters for awhile. No more than 30 mins in the hot springs was the rule. But once your body has acclimated to the heat, jumping into those cold waters can be freezing!


Cold Waters and Canyoneering

The next day we booked a canyoneering tour from Desafio adventure company. If you haven’t been on one before, you should try it at least once in your lifetime! If you love the outdoors, if you seek that adrenaline rush, if you want to challenge yourself, canyoneering (or canyoning) is the perfect activity.

We started out early in the morning, got picked up from our hotel and then proceeded to “base camp”. We got lucky there were only six people, including us, for that day. I heaved a huge sigh of relief. That means no long waits for everyone to be done.

The drive to the drop off point was super bumpy riding in one of their “jungle limos”. You have to grab a hold of something otherwise you would probably fall off your seat while your body sways back and forth as your ride navigates seemingly endless waves of rocky roads.

Once there, you get fitted with a harness and a helmet and the team briefs you for the safety orientation. After that, it is all systems go!

What exactly is canyoneering/canyoning?

It is trekking through a river, over rocks, boulders and fallen trees…


Climbing up and going down wet slippery rocks…


Rapelling down a 150 ft or a 200 ft waterfall… or more!

Jumping into a refreshingly cool pool of water…


And just enjoying the awesomeness of nature and each other!


It only took us about 4 hours and at the end, back at their drop off point, was lunch waiting for us.

Which activity do you think you would enjoy the most? The hot springs or the canyoneering? Ultimate relaxation or pure adventure?