10 Days in Ireland Series: Bike Rides, Unmarked Hiking Trails and Sleepovers on Remote Islands

Iz Elwood | Live the World

November 23, 2022

I remember Ireland's valley greens, high skies and eastern sun. But also its friendly locals, beautiful hikes and some rare but strong autumn showers. From bike rides through Connemara to sleepovers on the Aran Islands and unmarked hiking trails to the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland surprised me and enchanted me. This is the first part of my "1O days in Ireland" series.

Again, a travel on my own. No festival to attend, no friends to join for a weekend, no organised hikes to take me to remote places with a bunch of strangers. I was very much looking forward to embrace a short trip without forced companionship. Like a lone wolf, I loved solitude and what it teaches me each time. Just as much as silence is a meditation, solitude brings me back to myself. It clears my mind and heals my soul. My ten days in Ireland were indeed gonna become a huge inspiration for what my life has become ever since: Independent.

I had never thought of Ireland. I was meditating over going back to India, and thought a short trip before making major life decisions would be a good idea. A friend had gifted me the Michelin travel guide to Ireland for my birthday. I had never mentioned anything about wanting to go to Ireland so it came as a complete surprise, and as a duty to Mercury - the God of travels and transgression of boundaries. The fares were cheap, the country looked nice. I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but the idea made me fly to high skys. I was buying escapism.

I landed in Dublin at 7 am. I was exhausted. I hadn’t gotten any sleep. But “waking up” in the middle of the night to take a flight was well worth it. I took a shuttle to the city and walked to my Hostel "Kynlay House Hostel". It was a very well maintained place with a huge common area to sit, dine and relax. The dorms were comfortable and clean, and the biggest ones went for rates as cheap as 14€ a night (ideal if you’re on a budget or only need a place to rest and drop your bag before your next flight!).

I spent my first day in Dublin walking around the city and listening to the fantastic tales of a very young guide with ginger hair. He looked like Ron Weasley from Harry Potter, and his name was Ron. My favourite thing to do when I arrive newly in a city is to take a Free Walking Tour (especially the ones from Sandeman’s New Europe). The local guides are each time amazing, have wonderful stories to tell, and a touch of humour hard to miss. The guides work on tip-basis only and their mission is to give you the best tour of your life!

Our free walking tour of Dublin took a couple of hours. It was a sunny and beautiful day. We basically wandered everywhere and heard about everything: from the dirtiest place in the city - a spitting point in the shape of a heart - to the Dublin Castle, to Trinity College gardens and Library and past every other beautiful bit in the old town. I especially remember the bit of history about the war of independence between the Irish and the British, and on how the Irish lost the battle; they were too drunk to fight! I still consider it my best Walking Tour to date, thanks to our guide's vast knowledge of history and Irish humour!

The next days in Dublin were pretty relaxing. The city is big enough to offer some privacy, countless walks and unpredictable sceneries, like the Jeanie Johnston sail ship.

In the evening I lounged in the Hostel and cooked myself a 5-star dinner. It consisted of two cans of baked beans and a hot tea. I enjoyed it while I complained silently in my head on how expensive everything was in Ireland compared to home. I chatted late with the girls in my dorm; a girl from Canada and another from the USA. They wondered what was up with Belgium and if we had a civil war back when we couldn’t form a government for two years. I explained we would never fight "We get along just like the Irish and the British, we make enough beer to make everyone happy". Both had been traveling Europe for quiet a while and had no wish of returning back America. They gave me tips for my trip in Ireland. I took them all, and changed my whole plans. Tomorrow I was gonna leave straight for Galway, a 2h30 direct bus ride from Dublin, and make the most out of my ten days: Explore the the green lands of Connemara, the Ar[an Islands](https://www.livetheworld.com/post/10-days-in-ireland-series-bike-rides-unmarked-hiking-trails-and-sleepovers-on-remote-islands-4g2h) and the Cliffs of Moher. A journey through Middle Earth, Europe-style. It was gonna be epic!

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