1,000 miles of new places

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Wow, I have had such a busy summer so far. I feel like I’ve barely had time to keep up with my laundry, let alone keep up with my  blog. We’re still only halfway through the summer as well, and I have lots more activities and trips planned. A few weeks ago I spent an amazing few days at Vegan Camp Out 2017. I initially planned to camp alone, but thanks to the magic of facebook I joined up with a group of other ‘vegan lonelies’ and we all camped together. Vegan Camp Out was such an incredible experience, I would highly recommend it to anyone who is vegan or vegan-curious.

Before going to Vegan Camp Out, I spent 8 days driving around Republic of Ireland with a friend. I’ve wanted to visit Republic of Ireland for so long, mainly because my grandfather’s family originate from there and I’ve always wanted to see where that part of my family are from. In the end, it was a random and slightly drunken conversation in a pub that got me there. My friend, who was born in Ireland and moved to Wales when she was a small child, and I were having a few drinks one night and talking about how we would both like to go to Ireland. The conversation soon developed to plans of how we could drive around the country and camp along the way. Cork and Limerick, the two cities where our families are from, were on the list of must-see places to visit, along with Waterford because we have a mutual friend from there so said we couldn’t visit Ireland without stopping by her home town. My friend then started telling me about all the other places we could visit, which meant nothing to me as at that time I had zero knowledge of the geography of Ireland. Everywhere sounded amazing, though, and I wanted to visit them all too.

A few days later, my friend turned up at my house with a road map of Ireland and I realised that this trip was definitely happening. Less than 3 months later, we were in a car packed with camping gear heading for Fishguard ferry terminal. Now, I have to tell you at this point that we didn’t pick the cheapest or particularly the easiest way to get to Ireland. Taking a car on the ferry is expensive, although there are some special offers if you book in advance, which we didn’t. If you’re travelling on a budget, flying to Ireland or catching the ferry as a foot passenger and then hiring a car on the other side is probably a better option. As we wanted to take our camping gear, though, we decided the extra spend was worth it.

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The ferry journey between Fishguard and Rosslare with Stena Line takes just over 3 hours each way and, for us at least, the sailing was very smooth. From Wales, you can also sail from Pembroke or Holyhead. I did have a small chuckle at the choice of film they showed on the ferry journey over. They decided to screen ‘Sully’, a true story about a plane crash-landing in New York. I wondered if it was their not-so-subtle way to convince people to stick with ferry travel.

I try to keep an open mind and not listen to other people’s reviews when I visit new places. When I told people I was visiting Ireland, that was difficult. Everyone was eager to tell me what a beautiful country it is, how friendly the Irish are and how much I would love my trip. Even people who had never visited Ireland before had something to share with me. Incidentally, people also told me that the Guinness tastes much nicer in Ireland (apparently it doesn’t travel well), but as I’m allergic to gluten I was never going to be able to prove that either way. After everyone’s rave reviews, I hoped that I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

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Thankfully, and probably not surprisingly, Ireland was everything I had been told and more. Although I’d decided to take my own car over on the ferry, I was slightly concerned about spending my holiday driving. I can’t imagine a visitor to Wales driving around the country for a week and then describing it as relaxing and enjoyable at the end. Driving in Ireland, though, was an enjoyable experience. It’s a great way to explore the country if you want to see as much as possible, at your own pace, with the flexibility of being able to stop when and where you want. There are 3 types of road in Ireland – national, regional and local. They are all really easy to navigate, and everywhere is very well signposted. There are tolls on some of the national roads. The tolls are only a few euros, but I’d advise you keep some euros change in the front of your car so you don’t get caught out like we did. Rooting around through bags and camping gear in the back of the car looking for cash while you’re holding up the other traffic waiting to pass through the toll isn’t the most fun experience. Unlike my fellow drivers here in the UK, who would have responded to being held up by beeping their car horns and getting aggressive, they simply sit back, smile and wait patiently in Ireland. In fact, I’m pretty sure if they saw you searching for change for long enough, one of them would probably get out of their car and pay your toll for you.

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We didn’t have a definite plan when we arrived in Ireland, just a list of places we would like to visit. We ended up taking a circular route south, past Cork, and down to the South West coast taking in Bantry and Mizen Head. Then, we headed further up the west coast to Tralee and visited the Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry and Limerick. On our return to Rosslare, we travelled across country and stopped in Tipperary and Waterford. I’ll tell you more about all of these places, as well as sharing lots more photos, in further posts.

Useful Info

Return ferry for 2 adults in 1 car Fisguard to Rosslare cost us €405. If you’re taking a car from the UK, make sure your car has a green card and you’re covered for European travel on your insurance and breakdown cover.

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