Why Ireland is a dream come true!

Photo of Ireland by Manali

My recent work trip to Ireland which I thought was going to be all about getting some work done, meeting new colleagues, apartment hunting etc(If you have been following me on instagram, then you know I am moving to Ireland pretty soon!), was on the contrary what felt like a dream comprising of castles, cliffs, coastline, traditional villages, tap dance, Irish music and much more! People said there was nothing much to do in Ireland and a day should be enough to explore all of it. I beg to differ, a long weekend didn't seem enough to do everything that I wanted to and a day wasn't enough to drive everywhere I wished to, not that tiny after all! It was a dream come true to walk along the locations that felt like they were straight out of victorian era movies.

Northern Ireland is a part of UK and you require a UK visa. However, thanks to the British-Irish visa scheme, Chinese and Indian passport holders traveling on a short stay visa (business or tourist visa) can travel between UK and Ireland with either UK or Irish visa as many times within your stay without requiring to apply for another visa. Let me take you to a long weekend in NI and few other gems nearby. This tiny part of the country is more than just stunning, it is a dream come true and here's why!

A driving adventure across the border.

A walk by the canal!

Photo of Northern Ireland, UK by Manali

I love driving and have been checking some of worlds most gorgeous drives off my list! Driving in Ireland was enjoyably a different experience for me. After driving in Taiwan, this is my second favorite drive so far. The confusing exits by the roundabouts and familiarizing the right hand drive made up for one adventurous road trip! Luckily I got an automatic car that spared the task of dealing with the stick when I was already struggling to adjust to the right hand drive.

You'll notice a faint difference as you enter Northern Ireland, where the trees look dense and lush, street signs are in white and not yellow, the red street color and of course the British accent! The convenience of crossing the border hassle-free makes it one of the best weekend getaways in Ireland for me, already! I remember on my way back to Dublin from Donegal which is to the west of Northern Ireland, GPS took me through UK again. I stopped to get some coffee and breakfast, realizing I was in UK again much later! Driving here is a drive full of breathtaking views of verdant landscape, sheep grazing on the side, majestic coastline, charming canals and extensive sky.

Get mind blown by the outlandish beauty of Giants Causeway

At Giants Causeway

Photo of Giant's Causeway, Causeway Road, Bushmills, UK by Manali

Giants Causeway turned out to be the best start to my Road trip adventure. A strange rock formation due to volcanic fissure eruption causing the stepping stones to be all over the place leading from the cliff and disappearing into the sea. An enchanting walk down to the shore where the coast is obstructed by the stepping rocks and you can actually walk, climb, jump on them! I was stunned by the sight, it took a while for my eyes to accept that it's real and not a dream through my bifocals!

Watch the colossal waves of Atlantic Ocean kiss the shore near Mussenden Temple

Mighty Mussenden!

Photo of Mussenden Temple, Sea Coast Road, Coleraine, UK by Manali

Mussenden Temple definitely looks like a place that had a very interesting story behind its existence. The location of this temple which use to be a library back in the days is what makes it worth a visit. As I walked through the Coliseum and the Downhill home towards the Temple standing significantly tall right above the Atlantic Ocean, I could not resist the feeling of surreality and peacefulness. Just when I was leaning on the wall gazing at the beach here wondering if I could even hike down to walk on the sand, is when I saw people far away meandering watching the train pass by. Despite of the cliff erosion, there is a railway line running under the temple in a tunnel which was blasted in 1850s. It was one of those sights that made me loose my mind and left me out of words!

Get lost in the Dark Hedges

At the Dark Hedges!

Photo of Ballymoney, County Wexford, Ireland by Manali

Nestled amidst the prolific cattle grazing green fields of Ballymoney in Northern Ireland is this isolated tree canopy. It is believed that this tree tunnel was used as a grand entrance to welcome people by the royal Stuart family who were one of the largest landowners in the area. This natural phenomenon is an incredible addition to the country already blessed with abundant beauty. I got here early morning and had only few people around. I saw how well the darkness of this place was depicted in every picture on the internet, that is exactly what I was expecting. Little did I know the trees would be brimming with beautiful fall colors manifesting a vibrant side of it.

Dare to cross the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge!

And the view at the bridge

Photo of Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Ballycastle, UK by Manali

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge is the very definition of a precarious location. This tiny bridge joining the mainland to a tiny island of Carrickarede was build by salmon fishermen in 1755. A 20-30 minutes walk on the cliff from the parking lot to the bridge is one of the most tranquil walks. I was welcomed with the spectacular views of Rathlin Island and Scotland on the other side of the bridge. The sunset from here is to die for. If I were living close by, this would be one of my favorite places to take a stroll.

Time travel into Medieval Era in the Dunluce Castle

Near Dunluce Castle

Photo of Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, UK by Manali

This Medieval Irish castle dramatically built on the coastal cliff is one of the easily accessible ones that I stumbled upon, while driving to my Airbnb. The colors and the location of the Castle is mind boggling. I wondered how the MacDonell's lived here! At the edge of the cliff, breathtaking view of the coast, uninterrupted views of sunset. Ain't a dream come true?

Limitless views of Atlantic ocean while driving the scenic causeway coastal route highway

A Walk on the cliff!

Photo of Causeway Coastal Route, Main Street, Bushmills, UK by Manali

One of the most scenic drives in Ireland, Wild Atlantic Way being the other one! Driving on the cliffs was definitely new. Although there are a lot of tour buses options to get here, going on my own felt like an achievement and a precious experience. It gave me a distinct calmness and satisfaction of being in a different Country stemming from the feeling of familiarity. Creating new memories be it good or bad, gaining new experiences be it good or bad, being amazed regardless is where the sense of familiarity comes from. It me feel at home in a different country!

Control the urge of cliff diving at Malin head

Malin Head a.k.a Banaba’s Crown

Photo of Malin Head, County Donegal, Ireland by Manali

"Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it." ~Sylvia Boorstein

I only understood the significance of it during my hike to Banba's Crown, the Northernmost point of Ireland. I stood there stunned, almost believing it was a dream! The urge of peeping down to see the depth of it snapped me out of it. With the whole place to myself, I didn't want to be bothered, I wanted to just be. The cliff, the ocean and me❤️I carefully walked and sat at the edge gazing at the pace of the ocean kissing the crowns, only that moment mattered. It was a pure sense of mindfulness, being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes; being in the present without fearing it won't always be this way!

Reminisce the Irish culture in a small village called Doagh in Donegal

A Village like this, reminds me of India!

Photo of Doagh, Lagacurry, County Donegal, Ireland by Manali

Most parts of Ireland are known for its small villages, Doagh in Western Donegal is one of them. It is known for its Famine village preservation which is a small museum tour run by the locals. It illustrates the old Irish traditions and community living from the mid 19th century times right up to the present day. A guided tour of how the villages looked back then, their food, the potein making process, potein shots and its development with time was a great way of acquainting myself with Irish Culture. It is always fun to learn something new and if it is presented with an exhibit that's delightful and genuine, it is 8 euros well spent!

A secret hideout in the Isle of Doagh

Doagh Bay

Photo of Doagh Isle, Carrowreagh, County Donegal, Ireland by Manali

I went to grab some coffee after my village tour when I saw a bay in front of me. It looked very intriguing when I saw people walk on it. As I started walking towards it the view blew me away. And just like that I found my comfy corner in Ireland. The bay is nestled amidst the mountains and is rightly called the Isle of Doagh!

Stand at the edge of the world in Slieve league cliffs

I was surrounded by beauty that just made me want to jump and embrace it! I just embraced it :-p

Photo of Slieve League, Shanbally, County Donegal, Ireland by Manali

Slieve League is another mighty attraction in Western Donegal. These are one of the highest cliffs in Europe fulfilling your standing at the edge of the world moment. A walk from the parking area to these cliffs is truly experiencing the placidity of it. Get a coffee from the Ti Lunn cafe on your way and enjoy your time!

Hope for a low tide by Poolbeg lighthouse

That red color though!

Photo of Poolbeg Lighthouse, South Wall, Poolbeg, Dublin, Ireland by Manali

Taking a stroll by Pulbeg lighthouse was like walking into the ocean. The water gushing on the pathway, ships cruising around and a big light house right in front of you! I was surrounded by stunning views as I walked down the south wall. My love for peaceful walks like these especially after work or on weekends is unconditional. Captivating sights like these quadruples the joy of strolling around, leaving you satisfied.

Waiting for the much awaited move to Ireland to explore more of it. This blog is a sneak peak into the next epic ventures in Europe! Let me know what do you think in comments?

This blog was originally posted on The Inquisitive Robot.