With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I decided to draw some vacation inspiration from the luck of the Irish and explore Ireland for the first time. As a JetBlue flight attendant, I am fortunate to have the freedom to travel often. For this trip I wanted to tour a new destination that felt far away, but was possible to explore over a long weekend. Ireland perfectly fit the bill!
Who knew a trip to Ireland could be so easy? JetBlue's partnership with Aer Lingus makes travel to Dublin, Shannon and an array of other destinations across Europe fast and convenient. You can fly to Ireland or beyond through JetBlue's gateway cities, New York, Boston or Orlando, and your checked bags will automatically transfer through to your final destination. I opted to fly through the night so I could sleep on the plane. When I arrived in Dublin, it was time to start my day and embark on my wonderful Ireland adventure.
I always imagine what a new place will be like before I arrive, and Ireland was exactly what I had envisioned and hoped for. It was so beautifully green, and of course rainy and foggy too. I packed an array of outfits but in the end I only needed a rain jacket and my Wellies. Despite -- or maybe even because of -- the gloomy Irish weather, which only added to the old-world charm and romanticism, I had a wonderful trip.
After arriving in Dublin, I rented a car to drive the Giant's Causeway to Northern Ireland. The journey wound through many little coastal towns with beautiful seaside cottages. At points it was so foggy I couldn't take pictures of the scenic villages, and I'll have to keep them only in my memory. But the fog made the little villages feel even more remote and quaint.
Next I visited Belfast, trading small villages for a large city. While there, my favorite sightseeing outing was visiting the authentic Titanic landmark. The Titanic was built in Belfast and the museum takes you through the building of the great ship and its unfortunate history.
After Belfast, I made a trip to Larne, a famous coastal area. From there, I passed through more picturesque seaside villages and journeyed to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Ballintoy. The bridge, an historic landmark run by the National Trust, is positioned at a high altitude and offers amazing views. While I loved the adventure of walking across the bridge, other visitors wouldn't cross due to their fear of heights. Even if you just gaze up at the wonderful creation, it's a must-see destination.
Later, I visited Dunluce Castle, the remnants of a medieval castle. I was completely swept up in the history and romanticism of the castle and captured the most beautiful photographs. The scenery is so majestic and dramatic it turns even an amateur shutterbug's photos into professional-quality shots.
Then it was back down through the countryside, balancing the sea views from the first leg of the trip with beautiful green rolling hills. Many colorfully-dyed sheep populate the countryside. Their wooly bodies of pink and blue pop against the deep green background and create a gorgeous, colorful vista.
I also had a chance to visit the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, the city of Derry and the village of Bushmills and its whiskey distillery. Considering I arrived on Friday morning and departed on Monday, I truly cannot believe all the amazing places I was able to cover in such a short visit. Ireland truly is a navigable and magical place.
Visiting the building site of the Titanic, crossing the exhilarating Rope Bridge and basking in the romance of the Dunluce Castle were by far the highlights of my trip. The beauty of the landscape is awe-inspiring and, with so many historical places to see, Ireland is a trip you won't soon forget.
Remember when you travel to Ireland to train your brain to drive on the left side of the road. I absolutely recommend renting a car, but driving on the opposite side of the road definitely throws you for a loop at first. Also, a GPS is a must! With so many roundabouts, a GPS comes in very handy. You can get one at the local car rental facility.
The trip wouldn't have been complete without learning about those mystical creatures, the leprechauns. Also known as the "wee folk," leprechauns are relayed as being both friendly and cranky and enjoy good-natured trickery from time to time. Supposedly, if one of these mystical little beings befriends you, you'll have a friend for life.
As you prepare for your St. Patrick's Day festivities, remember that no Irish celebration is complete without music, singing and dancing. Sláinte!