Meet Marcos González the Picture Perfect Traveler

Marcos, hospitality professional, at Gaviota State Park in CaliforniaMarcos González and I have a lot in common. We’ve made reverse journeys across the Pond. While away from our home countries, we have lost loved ones. I founded Dreams Abroad while teaching in Spain. In my latest interview, I speak with Marcos, a traveler who swapped the North Coast of Spain for the West Coast of the States.

“Come home to paradise, come to Asturias.” This is the slogan of the principality’s tourist board. A green and pleasant land, this is northwest Spain. A rugged coast and majestic mountain range crown Asturias. The fare is of the hearty variety, made to satisfy the appetites of those accustomed to working outdoors. It’s Marcos González’s native terrain and while pandemic-enforced absence makes the heart grow fonder, he has embraced a new life in California as a hospitality professional.

You come from Asturias, land of fabada asturiana and sidra. What dish or drink do you miss most from your home?”

I miss many, but mackerel is one of my favorite ones! Undeniably, I do love cabracho cake too. It’s like a paté made with rockfish and it’s delicious. I am lucky to be from a country and a location with a rich, delicious, and varied gastronomy.

If somebody is planning a Spanish road trip, what are the unmissable things to see and do in Asturias?”

First, they need to hire me as a guide… kidding! Asturias is small but you will be surprised by the number of beautiful places that we have. Definitely, Oviedo is a must. Covadonga, Llanes, Somiedo… everywhere there is something beautiful to visit, from waterfalls, lakes, castles, caves, and beaches.

How much does being based in California (where over a quarter of the population speaks Spanish as a primary language) help you with adjusting to your relocation?”

Well, it’s nice to be able to speak my language. Nonetheless, I am fluent in English, so I don’t mind speaking one or the other language. I have lived in the UK and even in Ireland before, so the language is not a problem for me. The problem is for the poor Californians who have to understand my accent!

On your Instagram page, you describe yourself as a traveler, explorer, adventurer. Where was the first place you traveled to both in and outside of Spain?”

Good question… the first time that I went out of Spain was to Ireland. I loved it. In Spain… I would say Barcelona, I think it was the first city out of Asturias that I visited as a traveler.

Which country have you enjoyed exploring the most?”

I must say that I have loved exploring all of them, but I think France is my number one! I love France. As I used to live in Andorra, I was in France all the time! 

What has been your favorite individual adventure?”

I would say my trip to Hawaii. It was somewhere that I went by myself as a traveler and I had so much fun! Visiting Hawaii was a beautiful experience full of adventure. Kauai conquered my heart!

You work in hospitality. How did your accommodation react to the pandemic?”

Now I am a food and beverage manager, but I was a hotel manager in the past. We have followed all the protocols and we have been open and busy all the time. I haven’t taken any vacations since March 2020 and it doesn’t seem that I am traveling any time soon. Despite there being a pandemic, I have been working more than ever. I just wished that certain guests could have been more understanding and easier with us. Some people have been extremely rude and aggressive toward us during all this time, forgetting that we are doing our job and putting our lives at risk.

An open road in the desert in California

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the hospitality industry?”

I love the industry. My advice is to be ambitious and enjoy what you do. You should take advantage of the industry to live in different countries as I did. 

Which one photo that you have taken do you like looking at and why?”

There is a photo with my dog in Asturias that I love. First, because I love my dog and Asturias. Second, I took it when I started getting interested in the photography world.

When will you return back to Asturias to see your family?”

I don’t have plans yet. I am vaccinated and they are too, but I think that it’s risky. With everything that has been going on, I won’t put my family at risk. I can wait until I feel it’s safe. Sometimes, deciding not to visit someone is the greatest proof of love, don’t you think so?

We want our interviews to be as comprehensive as possible. After reading them, we hope you have got to know our interviewees as well as if you were introduced to them in person. Dreams Abroad targets the aspiring globe-trotter. Working in education and hospitality are gateways to travel. You can follow in my footsteps and in Marcos’. If you want to move, we hope our articles give you a little push in the right direction.

While Marcos is committed to securing residency in the United States for work purposes, his heart remains in Spain. Marcos looks forward to the day he can fly back to Asturias to reunite with his family. In the meantime, Marcos is traveling locally around California. He particularly likes visiting beaches and national parks such as Big Sur and Bodie State Historic Park.

If this interview has sparked something deep inside, make your way over to the Resources section of Dreams Abroad. Here, you’ll be able to explore our VLOGS where a colorful collection of characters like Marcos the traveler showcase what is important to them. This is also where you will find Recommendations that reveal the sites we like to turn to and enjoy reading in our spare time.

by Leesa Truesdell

An Irish Tradition: What’s the Craic with Irish Bars?

Every year Teasy would suggest going through the back of The Ramblers, one of the Irish bars you will find smack in the middle of northwest Ireland, to see how the living quarters had changed since she was a young woman 70 years before. And every year she would pull back. “I’m best remembering it the way it was.” This year, though, was different.

Con had laid out a tray for us in front of the open peat-filled fire… pota tae agus plata Bairin Breac agus im (that’s tea and barmbrack, buttered bread with raisins and sultanas). We were in mid-blether about the oul’ days when Teasy (a pet name for Teresa) upped suddenly from her seat, cleared her throat, and said she would take up Con’s invitation.

A twist of the door handle and two seconds later we were back in the early 1940s. “That’s where Mammy’s wooden dresser was, there, and up the stairs we had pictures on the wall.” “Mammy and Daddy’s bedroom was that one there, the boys had that room, me and Maura were in there, Breid and Ronnie there, a travelling salesman was in the last room at the end of the corridor, and the other one was spare.’’

Meanwhile, Back in the Modern Day

10 minutes later, we were back in 2018. I’d moved on to Guinness (more about the perfect pint anon), and she was naming the people in the pictures on the walls from when Mammy and Daddy ran McNulty’s Hotel, now The Ramblers InnBrockagh in Donegal is something of a time capsule, much like many a hamlet, or townland, in the northwest of Ireland. Little has changed in 100 years.

The Old Schoolhouse when you enter Brockagh is now a heritage centre named after an Irish patriot, Isaac Butt. It outlines his part in the Irish fight for independence from Britain. The centre also preserves various agricultural items and domestic heirlooms. Pictures adorn the boards to show visitors, including returning Irish from America and beyond, what life was like back in the day. You’ll also see the school’s first intake, Teasy and five of her siblings, beaming cheekily for the teacher and future generations.

Three brothers would emigrate to New York in the late 1950s and open their own bars. The last of them, The Irish Cottage, instituted in Forest Hills in Queens, only closed its doors last year, a casualty of COVID-19. Three sisters would leave for Dublin. One would marry into another proud pub family, the Tipperary Kennedys. They set up their business off O’Connell Street by the River Liffey.

Irish bars

In Dublin’s Beer City

The next generation is manning the pumps, in the now rebranded gastro pub The Workshop. And while the fare has changed and modernised, the secrets of the creamiest Guinness remains with John, Ciaran, and Tomas. They did, however, share that Guinness doesn’t travel well.

We all can’t be lucky enough to live in Ireland or visit. Nonetheless, the door is wide open to study and work here. And, in truth, there are Irish bars on every corner of every American town anyway. A typically red-headed Irish descendant trained in the skills of pouring the perfect pint lies ready to put their skills to the test.

Inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, Las Vegas, the Perfect Pint Experience is the crowned jewel of the newly-redesigned Guinness Store next to Ri Ri Ra. They will even send you away with a special certificate when you master the art.

The key is to pour two-thirds of the drink slowly at a 45-degree angle. Then, leave for a couple of minutes before filling the remainder. Finally, let it rest for its cloudiness to clear. And then drink deep. For the most authentic Irish bars, then Ireland’s your only man, as they say about the beloved ‘black stuff’ or ‘plain’.

Try a Guinness in one of Ireland's Irish bars

Irish Bars: Music in the Air

Dublin is a modern, vibrant European capital with cutting-edge restaurants and bustling nightclubs. Nonetheless, it rightly holds dearly the quirky Irish bars frequented by everybody. All the way from James Joyce and Brendan Behan to Bono and Phil Lynott.

O’Donoghue’s Bar‘s proud claim to fame is that it spawned the trad group The Dubliners, named after a Joyce collection of short stories. They performed regularly back in the day in its snug, a cosy corner of the pub where musicians traditionally play Irish music. Fiddles and a goatskin-frame drum, the bodhrán, which is rattled continuously with a stick, were the only tools they needed.

The music, the conversation, the laughter, and the drink all add up to what the Irish refer to as the craic. And while the official currency of Ireland is the Euro, the real currency is the craic by which all people will be judged.

It is the greeting you will hear daily: ‘What’s the craic?’ and it is how you or a night out will be measured. ‘It was great craic,’ ‘mighty craic’ or the best of all ‘the craic was 90,’ though why it should be that figure is lost in the mists of time.

Irish bars and their thriving music scene

Gravity Shifting at the Guinness Storehouse

Any of these too when applied to you is a ringing endorsement. Although, the worst thing that can be levelled against you is that ‘you’re no craic at all.’ Where the best craic in Dublin actually is is subjective.

Where it is not is easy to identify. Everybody who is an actual Dub, or an adopted one, will tell you to steer clear of Temple Bar. This tourist hub next to the Liffey should be avoided like the plague. And a plague it is too, of Bachelor and Bachelorette parties. At the same time, you can also double the price of a drink from what you will find elsewhere.

The Gravity Bar in the Guinness Storehouse in the Liberties area will afford you some of the best views in Dublin. You can walk through the long history of the stout and this historic company. It is exhaustive and you will truly deserve your drink at the end. Nobody is exempt, with former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama amongst those supping on Guinness there. Both popped up from their glasses with foamy white moustaches.

Jim Murty with former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe at the Guinness Storehouse, one of Dublin's many Irish bars

Hail Mary

Elsewhere, but still in the heart of Dublin, is one of my favourites: Mary’s Bar and Hardware Shop on Wicklow Street. Just off Grafton Street, Dubliners’ upmarket shopping street of choice, Mary’s recreates that staple of the Irish rural pubs. The traditionally split bar/grocery store look remains very much alive, although the old-fashioned tins are just for decoration. Think The Waltons if they hadn’t lived in a dry, non-alcohol town. What it does have, which is particularly distinctive, is interior access to a fast-food store upstairs. You can bring your drinks in and out of each and enjoy both with some trad music ringing out too.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

If your image of a quintessential Irish bar is of multiple rooms with barn-doors, fireplaces and an old cottage feel, then Johnnie Fox’s in the Dublin Mountains (OK they’re not the Rockies but we won’t quibble as this is officially Ireland’s highest pub) is where you want to go next. Johnnie Fox’s is a popular trip for tourists, and Dubliners alike, with minibuses regularly snaking up the winding roads to the bar for its Hooley (or party) nights. The kitchen is renowned for its fish dishes.

There is a stage too, where you can jig away to traditional Irish music and dance all night. I would highly recommend a bowl of its chowder. It is the perfect accompaniment for one of the best pints of Guinness I have had in Ireland. Don’t get lost, though, through its many bars. On second thoughts, that’s all part of the fun.

Jim Murty with friend at Johnnie fox's, one of Ireland's many Irish bars

Ireland’s two countries, North and South, remains something of a puzzle to man. It can simplistically be explained through religion, the Republic being predominantly Catholic and Northern Ireland mostly Protestant. Younger generations have become more secular and tensions have eased somewhat since the end of what they euphemistically called The Troubles.

What does unite the whole island, though, is the craic. The mantra ‘what’s the craic?’ will earn you a smile. It will also ensure a greeting no matter your religion in the North.

Belfast’s Crowning Glory

The accent is as thick as the Guinness you’ll drink in the institute that is the beautifully-adorned Italianate Crown in Belfast, or the Crown Liquor Saloon, to give it its posh name. It is a mere stroll from the Grand Opera House.

And should you be asked ‘Bout ye?’, then just smile. They’re really just asking about your general welfare. Relax, settle into your seat at one of the local Irish bars, order a Guinness, and you’ll soon be speaking just like them.

Irish bars

You may feel like you’re in a bit of a time warp as you walk through the capital of Northern Ireland. That is because you will be faced with murals of a finely-adorned and bewigged man on a white horse. He is the 17th-century King William of Orange, protector of Protestantism. A divisive figure, King William is a hero to some and a villain to others.

And Something from Game of Thrones

It’s actually best to leave old William to the locals. There are, after all, royal dynasties here less controversial and a lot more fun. Northern Ireland is a well-recognised location from Game of Thrones. Visit Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and have your picture taken by the wooden door in The Dark Horse across from The Duke of York. It and a number of other doors were hewn from the Ballymoney beech trees we all know as the Dark Hedges, some of which came down in a storm.

Jim Murty and his wife in front of a Ballymoney door in Northern Ireland

So, you will find plenty to drink to on both sides of the border. Enjoy the craic when you’re in Ireland. And sláinte, as they say in the truest of Irish bars.

Key websites: www.failteireland.ie, www.tourismireland.com, www.govisitdonegal.com, www.visitdublin.com, www.discovernorthernireland.com

by Jim Murty

Belfast and Game of Thrones Tour

This is part three of a three-part series. Check out Part One and Part Two.

We had spent the last five days getting to know Scotland very well. I can’t say I had been disappointed. Between Edinburgh and Glasgow, we had been enjoying delicious beer and whiskey, savory food, and, above all, beautiful sights. Now, it was time to head across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland and see what it had to offer.

Day 6 – Getting to Know Belfast

Our quick, hour-long flight on flybe brought us into Belfast early Thursday morning. We piled into an Uber and set off for our accommodation, Global Village Hostel. The ride was a quick twenty minutes into town (remember this for later in the story). It was way too early for us to check in, so we dropped our bags off at the reception desk and hung out in the common room for a bit to charge our phones and organize our day. I had booked us a walking tour of the city at 11:00 AM, and we slowly but surely made our way to the meeting point in front of Belfast City Hall.

Belfast
Belfast

 

The tour started off talking about the city’s importance in the shipbuilding industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which included the fabrication of the world-famous Titanic. We were shown a memorial dedicated to its unfortunate sinking before delving into a more serious discussion that still scars the city to this day: the IRA conflicts. I knew of these conflicts beforehand and how bloody they were, but the tour opened my eyes to just how bad it really was. We were brought in front of Hotel Europa, the world’s most bombed hotel. The stories our guide told us were unfathomable. He explained that for a long period of the time, all the windows in the hotel were boarded up because it was too expensive to keep replacing them every time a bomb detonated in front of the building.

Touring and Discussing Sensitive Subjects About Conflict

Hotel Europa
Hotel Europa

What’s crazier is what he showed us next to the hotel. Across the alley was an old opera house built in the 1800s. One day, a bomb went off right next to the building and tore a massive hole in the side of it. The opera house was going to be torn down due to the damage, but thankfully it received funding for reparations. Because the building was so old, the newer bricks they used to repair it did not match the original ones. Therefore, you could see an actual scar in the building of what was destroyed. It made the altercation that much more realistic.

We continued walking around the city and discussing the conflict. At some points, our guide had to speak quietly in order to not attract the attention of the locals. Some people were still very passionate about the whole ordeal and gave us some questionable glances. Our guide told us that he was once attacked by a passerby for discussing his viewpoint with the group. Usually the tours I go on talk about sensitive issues that occurred centuries ago. This was the first time I had experienced something so controversial that happened within the average person’s lifetime.

Lunch and Checking Out the Peace Walls

After the tour, we headed to a restaurant recommended to us by the guide called The Morning Star. I must say: I had some of the best mussels I’ve ever tried while there. I had no clue that Belfast was famous for its seafood. Although, I guess it makes sense, since it’s located near the sea. Not only did I scarf down the mussels, I even drank the broth they were in, not caring about the looks my friends were giving me. I wasn’t ashamed. It was just that good.

The peace walls in Northern Ireland.
The peace walls in Northern Ireland.

After lunch, we hopped in an Uber and headed for the peace walls. I was completely blown away by the sight of concrete walls separating neighborhoods. On one side, you could see houses hanging Union Jack flags, and on others, you could see the Irish flag flailing in the wind. Although the violence was over, you could still feel the tension in the air. The peace walls were all decorated in graffiti with messages displayed on them. It was easy to differentiate which neighborhood you were in by what the messages were. Some graffiti symbolized rebellion, which meant you were in a Catholic neighborhood; graffiti that supported the UK meant you were in a Protestant neighborhood. There were deeper messages as well with each group, but I recommend visiting to learn more about them yourselves.

Day 7 – Game of Thrones Tour

I woke up Friday extremely excited to go on the tour I had been most anticipating: the Game of Thrones tour. As a huge fan of the show, I couldn’t wait to see the many filming locations that occurred in Northern Ireland. A van picked us up at our hostel and drove us to our tour bus. Then we set off north. Our first stop was Carnlough, where Arya surfaced after being stabbed in Braavos and jumped into the canal. Afterwards, we headed to the Cushendun Caves, where Melisandre gave birth to the mysterious shadow creature. The guide showed us scenes before arriving at each filming location to refresh our memories and really get that feeling that we were actually in the show.

Coast Road Carnlough, Game of Thrones Tour
Coast Road Carnlough

 

Lunch in Ballintoy

We then headed into a town called Ballintoy to grab lunch at a Game of Thrones themed restaurant. Still fawning over the mussels I had eaten the day before, I ordered clam chowder and washed it down with a Northbound IPA. I still couldn’t believe how great the seafood was in Northern Ireland. After our stomachs were filled, we made our way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This bridge was where Balon Greyjoy was murdered by his brother, Euron. Also, in the surrounding countryside of the area, many seemingly miscellaneous scenes were filmed such as Renly Baratheon’s war camp at the beginning of the series. After crossing the rickety bridge and admiring the views of the coastal cliffs, we all boarded the bus again and headed for the Giant’s Causeway.

Rope Bridge
Rope Bridge

 

Walking the Giant’s Causeway

Although Giant’s Causeway wasn’t in Game of Thrones, it was still a really neat natural phenomena to visit. The site was made up of hexagonal rock formations created millions of years ago by an erupting volcano whose lava quickly cooled when it flowed into the sea. It honestly looked fake; it seemed like an architect had built the entire area. I had so much fun scaling the rocks and admiring the view of the adjacent cliffs and mountains. It’s definitely an attraction I recommend checking out.

sitting at rope bridge

Dark Hedges from the Game of Thrones

To end the Game of Thrones tour, we ventured deep into Northern Ireland’s countryside to take a look at the Dark Hedges. This is where Arya escaped King’s Landing with Gendry early in the series. The way the tree’s branches hovered over the road was hauntingly beautiful. It made up for the strong odor of cow manure that filled my nostrils. Gotta love farm life, especially on a Game of Thrones tour. If you’re ever in Northern Ireland and you’re a big fan, I highly recommend going on this Game of Thrones tour by Irish Tour Tickets.

Dark Hedges
Dark Hedges

Day 8 – Traveling Back to Edinburgh

Our trip was slowly coming to end and it was time to return to Edinburgh to get ready to head back home. I ordered us an Uber and set our destination for Belfast International Airport. Remember earlier when I said the ride to the hostel was a quick twenty minutes? Well, thirty-five minutes into the ride, I realized something was horribly wrong. Nothing looked familiar and I knew we weren’t on the highway for this long before, when we had arrived earlier. I looked at my email confirmation to see the airport code and realized it didn’t match Belfast International Airport. It turns out we flew into Belfast City Airport, not the Belfast International Airport.

Looking back, the panicked look on my face was probably priceless. But at the time, I was about to have a panic attack. Luckily, the Uber driver was cool with driving us to the right airport (I mean, he was getting more money after all). Nonetheless, for a moment, I thought for sure we would be stuck in Northern Ireland. Although, looking back, that wouldn’t have been terrible.

We Were Very Lucky

Luckily, we made our flight with twenty minutes to spare even with Andres having to go through security three times for not packing his liquids properly. Oddly enough, we were the first people on the plane. Can’t explain that one.

Back in Edinburgh, we again checked into Edinburgh Backpackers Hostel. Unfortunately, we weren’t upgraded this time, so we had to stay in a fourteen-bed suite. We ended up relaxing in our beds for most of the day to catch up on rest. The last few days were pretty hectic and had us on our feet. I really wanted to try the Dark Side Tour of Edinburgh since we missed it the first time around, but we were all too tired to leave the hostel again. Missing that tour was the biggest upset of the trip, but if that’s the worst thing to happen, I’ll take it.

Day 9 – Final Hours in Edinburgh

With our flight in the afternoon, we all woke up early to do some last-minute souvenir shopping and admire the city one last time. I bought myself a cool sweatshirt and some cool magnets for my family. I was very tempted to buy myself a kilt, but realized I probably wouldn’t look that good in one. Plus, I don’t think I could have fit it in my suitcase.

Since my last big trip had been by myself, I was really fortunate to experience a new destination with very close friends. We all had a blast and created some more unforgettable memories. Scotland and Northern Ireland are two very beautiful countries with so much to offer. There’s so much to learn and explore. What’s more, is that the locals are more than generous. We never once had a bad experience. I hope you enjoyed reading this series and have added these two countries on your list of places to visit. You won’t be disappointed in the least.

Edinburgh view
Edinburgh Castle

by Tyler Black

Appreciation to My Dad on Father’s Day

A Dad Appreciation Post

by Cassidy Kearney

When I first told my dad that I was writing for a blog, he asked me if I’d written anything about him yet. I could practically hear the mischievous smile plastered on his face over the phone. As soon as he appeared in my “What I Know Now,” he called me up and started bragging, loudly boasting to my mom about how he had was “in a blog, and [she] wasn’t! So, HA!” For Father’s Day, I thought I’d write a whole article just for him. And what better tale could I tell than our most recent adventures of Dad driving in Ireland?

ireland-travel-abroad-fathers-day-travel-car-ride-drivin-in-Ireland

Dad Driving in Ireland

In the summer of 2017, my family and I exhaustedly stumbled off of an airplane into the Dublin International Airport in Ireland. We zombie’d our way to the Enterprise kiosk and rented the biggest car they had. My brother, my sister, and I squished ourselves into the backseat after we shoved our suitcases into the back. As we looked up, we saw Dad getting in on the right side of the car. This was a particularly weird sight because Dad is never on the right side of the car (because he always drives)! We took a moment to look at one another and laugh to ourselves how weird this was. It was time to start our Irish adventure of Dad driving in Ireland.

ireland-town-fathers-day-travel-city-road

After a particularly stressful start of navigating out of the airport, we finally made it out to the streets of Dublin. The streets were narrow. We all wanted to press our faces to the glass but being on the wrong side of the road made it almost too terrifying to look out the window. They seemed so close. It seemed so wrong! We quickly forgot about how jetlagged we were due to terror.

User Failure

As we got closer to our hotel, we started circling around the block trying to find a sign. Unfortunately, every street around the hotel was a one-way street. Eventually, my mom got out to walk around and find it. There was nowhere to pull to the side and park, so we decided to keep driving in circles as we waited for her. After the fifteenth loop around the same block, Dad decided to get a little frisky and go up a few more streets. What follows was one of the most stressful events I had ever had in my adult life:

“Hey, lets go see what’s up the next block,” said Dad.

“Sure,” we said.

Dad stopped and attempted to turn the right turn blinker on. Instead, the windshield wipers scraped across the window with a loud “SCRRRRRRRGGGG.” We all leaped into the air and yelled, “AHH!” We started giggling about how badly we had scared ourselves.

ireland-country-side-fathers-day-travel-driving-in-Ireland

He attempted to fix his mistake, which then splashed water and caused more windshield wiping. He fumbled more and we all started cracking up. Nothing made sense in the European car. He threw his hands in the air and waited for it to calm down. Finally, the blinker was located. We turned right onto a one-way street going in the opposite direction. We all screamed for real. Dad ducked into the nearest street he could find. We still didn’t know if we were going the right way. Dad took the fastest way he could to get back to the block he had been circling for over 10 minutes. We collectively agreed that we weren’t ready to get frisky.

Narrow Streets are an UnderstatementIreland-castle-fathers-day-driving-in-Ireland

After exploring Dublin, we headed off on our Irish road trip. For the most part, Dad driving in Ireland wasn’t too bad. My siblings and I fought for the middle seat for the first time in our lives. Being near a window was too stressful. On the left side of the car, it looked like we were going to go careening into a rocky fence at any moment. On the right side of the car, it looked like we were going to go careening into oncoming traffic at any moment. The whole family held its breath with every passing car.

At some point on the journey, we found ourselves on a one-lane winding road to an abandoned castle. There were no speed limits and no way to see if there was a car coming around a nearly 180-degree turn. Every time there was a twist in the road, I could feel my hair turning gray. The journey seemed never-ending. We finally arrived and visited one of the coolest castles we saw on our trip. As far as we know, it didn’t even have a name. There was a trampled “trespassing” sign and a farmer charging people to hold his lamb at the entrance.

Driving in the Irish Countryside

A few days into our trip, we visited Galway. My sister and I picked up a pair of Irish whistles. Since we had started to feel a little more comfortable in the car, we tried to play as quietly as possible. This is extremely difficult to do, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Note: I had no idea what I was doing. Every blow into my new instrument would send a screeching pitch throughout the car. After about twenty minutes of trying to be quiet, I gave up. My dad never once said anything about my horrific whistle-playing, even as he navigated the Irish highways.

irish-whistle-music-ireland-fathers-day-travel

Our next stop after Galway were the Aran Islands, on the island of Inishmore. To get there, we had to leave our car and take a ferry over. But first, we had about four hours to kill. We decided to explore. We headed north and found ourselves driving through a forest speckled with gigantic wind turbines. The scenery changed as we crossed over a few bridges and began to get deeper and deeper into farmer’s territory. We were so deep that we hadn’t seen any sort of store in over an hour. The sheep no longer had fences. The simply roamed where they wanted and hung out next to the road. We had to stop as some sheep crossed to the other side. They were so close to our windows we could almost touch them.

While that was the last exciting adventure of Dad driving in Ireland, it’s a journey that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Driving in Ireland is something I would never want to do. Ever. We are so lucky that Dad put up with driving the whole trip because everyone else would have gone bald from the stress. The day before our flight to leave, he turned around in his seat with that mischievous grin and asked, “Does anyone want to try driving?”

We screamed in unison, “No!