The Skisters Do Ireland

June 30, 2010

Back in the US

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 3:50 pm

In case you were wondering, we did make it back to the States.  We made it to the airport and concluded our Ireland adventures with some real Irish coffee, which was quite tasty.  I still find it funny how many people were in the bar drinking beer at 9am.  Then again, we were drinking Irish coffee, which also contains alcohol, so I guess I can’t say too much.

After 12+ hours of traveling, we were ready to be home.  Not gonna lie though, I kinda missed waking up this morning and being in Ireland and traveling to another fun destination.  Guess it’s back to life and back to reality now.  We’ve got a lot of family in town for the next week or so for a family reunion, so that will keep us plenty busy.  I’ll be here in Ohio until Tuesday, then it’s back to good old H-town for me…which is when reality will really kick in for me.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our Ireland adventures…we definitely enjoyed experiencing it!  I have a feeling there will be future trips there for the both of us…

-Justine

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June 28, 2010

Bittersweet Goodbyes

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 9:59 pm

The past two weeks have been awesome, even with the minor downs we went through. I’ve seen what I’ve wanted to and more. Unfortunately, I didn’t come in contact with my ginger beard man, but I bet he’s waiting for me for the next trip I have here to Ireland. This definitely wont be my last. I think  I’ll have to start saving (which will probably take a couple of years) to come back again, even if just for a week. This was definitely the trip of a lifetime, and I strongly suggest everyone to pay a visit to this tiny little country because it’s absolutely worth it! Im quite sad to be leaving tomorrow, I’ll definitely miss exploring Ireland, but I can’t wait to get home to my bed and the loads of family that will be coming in this weekend to visit. I’m excited to see how much that adorable little nephew of mine has grown in the past 2 weeks as well (because I’ve been having dreams of him being toddler sized). And of course, I cant wait to see my mommy and daddy! DUR!

Cheers! 🙂

-Mindi

Day 13: Back at Square One

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 7:39 pm

Well folks, we’re right back where we started our journey in Ireland…in Dublin.  We’ve traveled all over this beautiful little county.

From Dublin, to Cork, to Killarney, to Ennis, quick stop at the Cliffs of Moher, then on to Galway, then the Connemara region, then Donegal, then to Northern Ireland for a bit of the Antrim Coast and Belfast, we have now arrived back in Dublin where we will spend our final night.  We have an early wake-up call to make our flight, so it’ll probably be a fairly early night tonight.

After driving in from Belfast, we got the car returned (with only a couple of minor scratches which will hopefully go unnoticed) and checked into our hostel.  We then set out to do a little bit of  walking around the city and getting a couple of last minute items.  Since it’s our last night in Ireland, we decided to get a couple of traditional Irish dinners.

Mindi got bangers and mash.  It’s a type of sausage and mashed potatoes.  She said it was quite tasty…and she now has a food baby in her belly.

I got a Beef & Guinness Stew which also came with mashed potatoes and a “crispy pastry” as they called it.  Mine was also quite tasty…and not too Guinnessy, thank goodness.

And of course our Irish dinners were consumed with beer.

While out & about, we (well, I) decided that we needed some more of these lovelies.


Yes, that’s right.  Cadbury Creme Eggs…and not at Easter.  They have them year-round here and I just couldn’t pass them up before we head back to the States.  They are chocolate eggs full of deliciousness, ya know?  And I may have already bought 6 of these at a previous point in our trip…but I definitely needed more.  They have  so many types of Cadbury goodies here…and none of them that we’ve had have been a disappointment.

As I said, I think it’ll be an early night for us.  We are semi-depressed that it’s our last night.  Which is why we drowned our sorrows in Irish comfort food, beer, and chocolate tonight.

-Justine

June 27, 2010

Day 12: Gorgeous Views in Northern Ireland

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 8:15 pm

Mindi and I took another stroll on the beach last night to watch the sunset.  How romantic, right?  It was definitely a pretty sight.  I hung out on the beach until about 10:45 while Mindi went back in to shower.  Crazy how light it still was even at 11:00 though.

After a run on the beach this morning, we set off for the Giant’s Causeway which is on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland.  We walked atop the cliffs for a bird’s eye view of the causeway.  It was a bit windy, but luckily we didn’t fall off.

Then we made our way down to where the rocks and water were for some more pretty views and a close-up look of the causeway.

The sky and water were just so blue, it was gorgeous.  After Giant’s Causeway, we set off for Belfast.  The man who owned our hostel in Castlerock had suggested taking the coastal causeway for a ways before heading more inland toward Belfast, so I took him up on this offer, knowing there would be more gorgeous views.  Along the way, I saw a sign for the Rope Bridge, which I had seen when planning our trip and wanted to do it, but didn’t really look into it much.  So, we obviously made a pit-stop for that.  So glad we did because this place looked like it came straight out of a magazine.

I walked the rope bridge, but Mindi chose not to.  She has a thing with heights.  It was beautiful (and not that scary) and I wish I could’ve taken pictures from the other side because there were more amazing views from there.

After the Rope Bridge, we finally hopped back in the car to get to Belfast.  Along the way we stopped to take some pictures.

The scenery was amazing the whole way and I’m glad we took that more scenic route, even if it may have taken a little longer…definitely worth it.  Here’s a quick video Mindi took of part of the drive.  And most of the drive had views like this.  Oh, and you may wanna turn your sound down because all you can hear is staticy music.

It was a beautiful day, for sure.  You may not know from looking at those pictures, but we got drizzled on for a short period of time.  At least it wasn’t a downpour and the skies turned blue again!  For anyone coming to Ireland, I would definitely recommend coming to the Antrim Coast!  I wish we had been able to spend more time there.

We finally made it to Belfast and to our next hostel, VagaBonds, which is near the University.  We walked around town a bit after we got in around 5pm, but most of the stuff was closed since it’s a Sunday.  We really wanted to go into this mall (second pictures below) because it looks nothing like a shopping mall to us, but it was closed as well.  Oh well, hopefully we will get to enjoy a bit of the Belfast night life tonight…at least that’s the plan for now!

We head back to Dublin tomorrow to return the car (hopefully they don’t notice a couple extra scratches on it…) and hang out for the day, then it’s back to the US on Tuesday morning.  I have mixed feelings about that…I’m excited to see everyone again, but not quite ready to leave Ireland.  Maybe you all should just come here instead!

See you in Dublin tomorrow…back at where we started.

-Justine

June 26, 2010

Day 10 & 11: Donegal & Antrim Coast

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 5:48 pm

Well we didn’t update you much yesterday, but we just kinda hung out in Donegal and looked around, then had dinner (??) at a pub.  Dinner consisted of chips (fries) and wine.  Dinner of champions.  Then we called it a night.

These pictures are from our night in Connemara of the sunset.  These were taken at about 10:15 pm.  It stays light here so late!  And gets light so early in the morning (like 4am!).  It’s a little odd.

These are the only pictures we took in Donegal.  St. Patrick’s Church and the river that runs through the city.

After another scenic drive, we made it to Northern Ireland.  More specifically Castlerock which is on the Antrim Coast.  Things in Northern Ireland are a little different than Ireland.  Northern Ireland is part of the UK, so they use pounds instead of Euros.  The speed limits in Northern Ireland are in miles per hour…which is fine except that the car only gives me kilometers per hour.  Oh well…guess we’ll just go with the flow of traffic.

We were quite pleased with our hostel.  It’s right on the beach.  And that would be the view from our room.

We took a little stroll along the beach…which was quite pretty.

We’re off to explore the city outside of Castlerock (Colerain) since there’s not much near our hostel besides the beach.

See you in Belfast tomorrow!

-Justine

June 25, 2010

Irish Breakfast and Connemara Region

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 2:26 pm

We just made it to Donegal from Leenane which was about a 3 hour drive. We’re not so far up in the mountains anymore, although the view was super nice, and I’m glad to be back around civilization. The connection in Leenane was way too slow so I decided to upload the pictures and video from yesterday now before we head out to explore Donegal.

We each had an Irish breakfast yesterday since we hadn’t had one yet and our hostel didn’t have breakfast.  Justine got the vegetarian Irish breakfast which consisted of 2 eggs, hashbrowns, beans, mushrooms, and toast.  Mine had bangers (a type of sausage), bacon, an egg, and toast.  We stayed away from the black and white pudding.

It’s hard to believe that we only have 3 more stops before we head home. This trip has gone by so quickly. I cant wait to get home and see my family (especially since the entire McKinney crew will be in town), but I sure hope I’ll get another chance to come back to Ireland at some point in my life.

-Mindi

June 24, 2010

Day 9: Bad Connection in Connemara

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 6:45 pm

We left Galway earlier today, after a traditional Irish breakfast, to head to the Connemara region.  We’re staying outside of a little town called Leenane and we are basically in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains and not far from the ocean.  I’m not complaining, believe me.  It’s quite scenic and on our drive in we had to watch out for the sheep that were hanging out in the middle of the road.  However, the internet connection is really slow, so we will need to wait til tomorrow to upload the pictures and videos we have for you.

So far we’ve explored the area a bit when driving in and also went to the beach nearby (gorgeous!) and hung out.  Not your typical beach day though…far too cold for laying out in a bathing suit.  We’re staying in a cozy little hostel (and I think we’re the only people that don’t speak French here) and they have a bunch of DVD’s and games, so we’re just gonna hang out here for the night and relax.  We got a frozen pizza for dinner at the gas station nearby…because that’s basically the only thing that’s nearby.  And even that is 6k away.  Hoping to go for a run, hike, bike, or something tomorrow in this rustic little area before we head to our next destination!

-Justine

June 23, 2010

Day 8: Cliffs of Moher…and more!

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 10:19 pm

Apparently I have become the writer and Mindi has become the photographer…

Today we traveled to the Cliffs of Moher as we made our way to Galway.  It was a fairly short, 30 minute drive to get there…well worth it for this natural wonder.

The Cliffs were quite large…just be sure not to fall off.  Especially when it’s really windy, like today.

After taking in our view of the Cliffs, we played with the cows that hang out by the Cliffs.

Then we continued on our journey to Galway.  We passed through some of The Burren, which looks quite different than the other parts we’ve seen of Ireland.

Once in Galway, somehow this happened…


That’s right, folks.  I got a tattoo.  I chose not to look until he was done.


It’s a Celtic double spiral (small and simple) on my left wrist.

Next up was Mindi…

She chose to get an outline of Ireland…also on her left wrist.

The Cooper sisters now each have a Celtic tattoo.  This is a vacation we will remember forever.

Time to go enjoy the Galway nightlife!

-Justine

Day 7: Farewell Killarney, Hello Ennis

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 12:03 am

Today we said farewell to the beautiful city of Killarney in County Kerry.  Here are a couple pictures of the outside and common room of our hostel there.  We enjoyed staying there…the French man running it was quite friendly and the rooms were quite large…especially compared to our previous hostels.

After I ran around Killarney National Park, we had breakfast at the hostel then hit the road for Ennis in County Clare.  It should have been about a 2 hour drive, but it turned into 3 thanks to the silly Garmin.  It put us on some crazy narrow and winding backroads that even the tiny Micra was having trouble fitting on.  These were, by far, the narrowest roads we have been on yet.  I am unsure as to how those are suitable for a two-way street.  After some cursing at Garmin for putting us on those ridiculous roads, we found our way back to civilization and more suitable roads…and finally to Ennis.  Our hostel in Ennis (shown below) is the nicest so far.  It definitely seems newer, they have a little cafe, large rooms, and super clean bathrooms.  Oh, and multiple plugs throughout the room (the other hostels had limited plugs)!

After checking in and having our lunch standard of a PB&J, we set off to explore a bit of Ennis.  It’s a fairly small town, by American standards, and we just walked around town for a bit, checked out the local (free!) museum, and stopped into a few shops…including a tattoo parlor.  Hmmm…you may see more about tattoo parlors in a few posts.  I also bought a new lens for Mindi’s camera.  All is now right in the world.

Not quite as scenic as the past couple of days, but a quaint little town.  After exploring, we came back to the hostel to relax and unload some of our groceries (more stuff to make PB&J’s) before heading to dinner.  We went to a Thai restaurant (yay peanut sauce!) then went to a local pub to check out an Irish band playing, have some Bailey’s cheesecake, and a cider or two.  We are now waiting for laundry to be finished so we can head to bed and get ready for another day of adventures tomorrow.  8 Euro for a load of laundry??  These Irish are crazy.

-Justine

June 22, 2010

Day 6: Beautiful Killarney

Filed under: Uncategorized — skisters @ 12:03 am

As most of you probably saw, the day began quite wonderfully with the return of the rental car keys.  Unfortunately, no one in Killarney sells the type of lens that Mindi needs for her camera, so we will look in the next town we arrive in tomorrow.  Luckily, she was still able to get some pictures of this beautiful place.  Killarney is amazing and I highly recommend you visit.  This is easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  Not sure the pictures do it justice, but at least they can give you a glimpse into the amazing Killarney landscape.

We set off this morning with the intention of hiking the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park.  However, after arriving, a friendly Irish gentleman talked us into riding in his pony and trap for a quicker trip.  So, we decided to do that.  It was a great little tour through the Gap of Dunloe with our guide and Molly (the horse).  Made our trip much quicker through the Gap of Dunloe (although I’d love to hike further up in the future) which left us with more free time in the day than planned.  We had planned on doing the Ring of Kerry tomorrow, but that quickly got moved to the top of our list to do today.  After filling up our gas tank (44 Euros…about 60 US dollars?!?) we were off.

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic route that goes through County Kerry and has lots of amazing views.  It’s 179 km (111 miles) of winding, narrow roads.  It took us just over 4 hours to make the trip.  It is definitely worth it for the awesome views that you will see.  You will see most of those in the video below.  There were gorgeous views throughout the drive.  After driving through the hills, turns, and super narrow roads on the Ring of Kerry, I think I am almost a pro at driving in Ireland.  Let’s hope I didn’t just jinx us there.

Mindi made another video of the pictures and videos she took today.  I think there were 180some pictures from today alone, and we clearly do not want to put all of those on the blog…but they are all included in the video.  The pictures move quite quickly (given how many there are and we didn’t want a 10 minute video), so feel free to pause at any time.  Hopefully it’ll give some idea as to how cool the Gap of Dunloe and Ring of Kerry were.  Enjoy!

After our day full of the outdoors, we went to dinner at a local pub, talked with some fellow Americans, then went and got some ice cream.  Tomorrow we will be going to Ennis.  The plan was Shannon, but after hearing from others, we’ve decided to check out Ennis instead.  It’s in the same general area, so we’re still on track to hit all of our destinations

See you in Ennis!

-Justine

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