Last year I joined the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) World Summit in Namibia. It was an amazing experience, and gave me fabulous ideas for a new adventure tour that we plan to offer in last 2015 or in 2016. I decided to give it another go and I signed up for the Ireland Summit for 2014.
Day 1: Dublin
Since I had never been to Ireland, I decided to spend a few extra days in Dublin. I started out at the Grafton Capital Hotel, a cute little heritage hotel located in the heart of the gay area of town. The hotel could use some updating, but the prices were reasonable and the location was incredible.
This college neighborhood has a cool vibe, and plenty of young people making out with each other, which is always a nice sight to see.
While looking for the gay bars for nighttime entertainment, I stopped for a coffee across the street from The Dragon (an unmistakably gay bar).
The Dragon wasn’t open yet, so I just enjoyed my latte, and an authentic English scone. I am neither here nor there on scones.
For dinner I wanted an experience that was totally Irish. My mother used to make me eat this awful stuff that she called “shepherd’s pie”. I hated her version, but I’ve enjoyed it in Irish pubs in the USA. I heard that the Hairy Lemon was the best place to go for authentic Irish food. I read through the descriptions and I learned that “shepherd’s pie” is made with lamb and “cottage pie” is made with beef. I ordered the cottage pie. It came with Guinness of course.
It was delicious. I loved it. In fact, this might have been the height of my Irish eating experiences. Everything else for the rest of my trip kind of blurred together. Most everything I ate was made of bread or potatoes. I did have good salmon here and there, but was otherwise unimpressed with the rest of my Irish culinary experiences. But what the Irish lack in culinary diversity they vastly make up for in rich culture and heritage (and alcohol for those looking for that experience!).
Day 2: Into Ireland’s Heartland
I met up with my group, and our first stop was the Gaelic Games. We were there not just to watch them, but to be trained, and we were expected to participate in this Irish adventure. We had to learn the basic techniques of Gaelic Football and Hurling, and then things got aggressive.
I have never before played a game as fun as Hurling. It’s violent, it’s high speed, and it’s wicked cool. You get a helmet, a stick, and a ball that looks like a baseball. The rules are really convoluted, and the whole game reminds me of Calivinball from Calvin and Hobbes, where there really are no rules.
Bruised and sore, we continued into Ireland’s heartland, where they still burn peat to heat their homes, and the countryside is covered in relics from ages past.
I absolutely loved the old cemetery.
It was a tiring day and I was ecstatic when my head finally hit my pillow.
Day 3: Gola Island
This morning we got up early and headed to the sea.
The boats were very small, and the seas were very rough. The trip scared the crap out of me.
The island was eerily empty. Since the 1940’s the population of the island has been in decline. This time of year, we were literally the only people on the island.
We spent the day hiking around and saw some really amazing views. My favorite was this amazing ocean arch where the water entered with bone-crushing force.
When we got back to dry land, we visited a castle. Of course we did this…it’s Ireland, the country in which Game of Thrones is filmed!