Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels.
I’m quite excited about this week’s postcard, from Dublin and Cork, as I’m hoping it will help to convince my boyfriend that he ought to take me to Ireland for the weekend! For travel lover Julie Cao, who runs Always On The Way, currently lives in Oahu, Hawaii, the trip was a little bit more than the 40 minute flight from Gatwick – but the long journey must have been worth it. Julie, who comes from china but has lived in Hawaii for the past four years, is planning to travel round the world within the next few years (just like me) and has also travelled across the USA by Amtrak. Definitely check out her blog for more of her travel stories.
Read more: Get lots of travel inspiration in this round up of 22 of the best places to visit in Ireland via Teacake Travels. And if you’re headed to Ireland check out this fab guide to renting a car in Ireland for some really useful tips.
Welcome, Julie! Ireland must have been incredible – where did you go?
We didn’t have the most welcoming weather in the UK last winter, I’m afraid. How was it for your trip?
I went there in early October. It was sunny and warm in the city but when comes to the countryside, the wind is super strong. Be warned. Do not stand on the edge or you may get blown away.
Did you find somewhere good to stay?
I spent another three nights in Cork at Arron Hostel, the one located right across the train station. It was a lovely but almost an empty hostel. I booked a 4-bed dorm and expected to mingle with other travelers, but ended up having the entire room on my own for 2 nights.
What did you get up to?
Dublin is one of the most vibrant cities in Ireland. There are hundreds of pubs and bars there for visitors to hang loose and having fun. I went to the Temple Bar, listened to the Irish music and toured around the Book of Kells in Trinity College. In Cork I met a group of warm and friendly students from University College Cork while dining at a Chinese restaurant. They invited me to their house and we had a little party at night. It was superb!
Sounds fantastic! And you’ve already mentioned you headed out into the countryside…
I had a week in Ireland. I stayed in the city but spent majority of time on the country side. I booked three day tours with a local tour company Paddywagon. They took me to the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry and Giant Causeway, all of which are top-ranked destinations in Ireland. We drove along the Atlantic Ocean and stopped at local restaurants to sample authentic Irish food.
How is Irish food?
The food is yummy! I never had a bad experience of eating in Ireland. In Cork, I had the best breakfast in a restaurant called Casino. The breakfast was made of sausages, ham, eggs and toast. The sausage was incredibly scrumptious.
I also had an amazing beef stew in one of restaurants in Doolin. The beef was cooked slowly in a crock pot for hours with Guinness stout, potatoes and carrots, allowing distinct flavors melt together. It is a perfect lunch for chilly weather on the west coast.
Do you have a highlight from your trip?
The highlight of my trip is definitely the last day I spent on the Giant Causeway. I was supposed to depart Ireland on that day but I rescheduled my airline ticket just to experience the UNESCO world-renowned heritage site the first hand. The coast route to Giant Causeway is inspiring and stunning. I was astonished at variety of terrains including majestic cliffs, unspoiled oceans, uninhabited islands, and romantic castles. Postcard quality landscapes exist on every corner. I felt I was traveling throughout the ages.
When I saw countless basalt columns stumped into the Atlantic Ocean on the Giant Causeway, I quickly sensed the great power of nature. Every visitor I met was impressed by the natural wonder of this marvelous place. The stones are uneven, and the stairs are winding up to the heavens. I was suggested to stand on the top of the highest column. It was a bit challenge to walk on the slippery and jagged rock surface, but I am glad I made it to the top! Stood up there, I had this spiritual feeling of standing on the edge of the world and seeing the formation of the ocean back to the ancient period. It is magical.
Did you have any disasters?
As I hail from China and have lived in the US for years, I have to say driving in the opposite direction is challenging and not fun at all. When I make turns I always had the illusion of running into a car accident. I ended up giving up driving and use the public transport instead.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone planning a similar trip?
Take your time. Even though Ireland is a small nation, beauty exists in every twists and turn. It probably takes a year or longer if one wants to deeply explore the whole country. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend Ireland’s west coast to fellow travelers since it is rich in culture and tradition, unsurpassable romance, and glorious seascapes.
NB – all photos belong to Julie Cao