Ireland / by Kendra Archer

We ended our stay in Ireland this morning bright and early as we boarded our flight for Portugal at 5:45am. This far in the trip Ireland has stolen the show. Since arriving in last week it has been the most exciting and invigorating chapter of our travels. As the week progressed both of us calmed more into our travel routine and I for one shed a lot of anxiety. As we're traveling, and as with all things in life, there is a conflict between what you want and what you think you need, or should be doing. Instead of simply enjoying what I wanted to do I was anxious I wasn't doing enough or not being a good enough travel buddy. I haven't particularly wanted to go out drinking, or socialize too much in the hostels. I've been really wanting to mellow out and relax. Slow it down.

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The week in Ireland saw a break as we both acknowledged we're simply looking to relax right now - it's okay that we're not having the "typical" european back packer trip. It's okay that we'd rather mellow out and go for afternoon tea and scones and catch a morning train to watch the sunrise. It's okay that we're not obliterated every night and trying to crawl back onto top bunks without falling (granted, I have done that many times, surely with many more to come). This trip is about making it what we, I, want and not what it "should be". It's been a bit weird to accept that knowing there won't be too many stories of crazy adventures and debauchery to take home, but more deep breaths and staring at landscapes. That being said, I write this on the plane to Portugal where we will be meeting up with my brother, then off to France again to be with my cousin. More likely than not adding to our group will revive my want to go out.

We spent a couple days in Dublin, then off to Galway where did a Cliffs of Moher tour, then to Cork for a couple days, back to Dublin for a Giant's Causeway tour including a one hour stay in Belfast. We did our best to reach every destination we wanted to hit in Ireland, and all things considered we did a great job. As short as this travel experience has been and considering the amount of hopping around we're doing, I'm taking notes for the future. As we pace through all these new places I'm absorbing the landscape and the feel, and planning for the next time. Ireland's coasts have been a dream and exactly what I imagined. I could spend hours roaming the hills and seaside with my camera. We lucked out with the weather all week, at the Cliffs of Moher we had constant rolling clouds over us with breaks of sunlight and at the Causeway an overcast but dry day. I would love to see all of these places at both dusk and dawn on a clear sky, what a sight. We've also been incredibly fortunate with timing as we stroll through all these tourist attractions in the low season.

Despite that, the crowds are still big so I can only imagine what a July or August day looks like. As we've gone through all these typical tourist spots we're both amazed by the faces and vibes we're getting off of others. Both at the Cliffs and Causeway, world renown places for their beauty, there are lethargic and sad eyes wandering. People look generally unimpressed, unexcited and just sort of strolling through to say they did it and get to the end.  Granted the two of us are quite the ridiculous combo as we feed off of each other's energy. At the causeway we bounced back and forth, up and down cliff sides, trails and giggled while half running through crowds of slow walkers. Side note, running in Blundstones is an interesting experience... I don't recommend it. I was a bit saddened to see so many people just simply not enjoying themselves - we were. At the same time however, I realize not everyone is as excited by nature...in the same way I've had to digest I'm not terribly excited by cities.

It hit me once we arrived in Cork, after a few days of on and off anxiety I just couldn't shake this tightness in my chest so naturally I went for a run. While running I took residential streets away from the centre and climbed up a beautiful hill with a look out. There weren't too many people walking around and I felt I could breathe again. The next morning we wandered the residential streets aimlessly exploring until happening upon what was an old prison - we didn't go inside, too creepy. Eventually as we made our way back to the centre and the streets started to pile up again, the tightness came back. I don't want to be here I kept thinking. Eventually we parted ways - I wandered some more and Lauren went to the Hostel to relax. As I walked further and further way from the centre, hugging the tree lined river I couldn't help but realize what I was doing. Getting away. I found a group of kayakers on the river rapids and watched them for a while then continued following the street hugging the trees by the water. Every pass time of mine involves seclusion and usually some solitude. Hiking, camping, running, getting away. I hardly spend time in Downtown Vancouver wandering or window shopping.. It's easy to realize at home that these are what fuel me when my life is based around the city, but while traveling I figured I'd love the big cities, I mean I did live in Paris and in Montreal. Then I started thinking back to living in Paris and how that felt.. tight and claustrophobic. As if there were no escape from the constant humming of human beings, at least Vancouver offers you the mountains in order to breathe again. 

Now it seems I'm not only exploring and learning new things in these different countries but learning things I never expected about my self... "doesn't like major cities, especially when slow/inconsiderate walkers are involved" who knew? All of that digested and put aside, Ireland blew me away. The scenery was incredible and seeing the cliffs and causeway were a dream come true. Ideas of future trips back keep popping in my head, less city time and more country time. Cycling around and camping would be an amazing and pretty easy experience considering the size of Ireland's "mountains". The landscapes we saw will stay with me forever, and truly lit a fire within me. It has been such a dream to have this time dedicated to nothing other than exploring and photographing. In the same way I've realized I'm not drawn to cities I'm again honing in on what I'm drawn to aesthetically and photographically. The cities don't inspire me, nature and people do. With all this in mind, we've got two more weeks ahead of us with plans of a road trip in portugal and eventually heading back to France.

It's 7:20pm at the hostel in Lisbon, we've napped a couple hours after arriving and hitting the town and sunshine. Having only slept 3 hours before our flight out of Dublin this morning it's been a bit of a rough one. My brother's had horrible delays and cancellations on his way to meet us from Bangkok, so I guess we've had it easy. Time to put our game faces on and face the world again soon enough. Many celebratory drinks are to be had tonight as we inaugurate our first night together as the three of us. Ireland, you were a beautifulI place and experience, now here's to Portgual.