We had the most excellent tour guide on our Vagabond tour of Ireland. Traveling small in the Vagatron (seen above) let us do all kinds of spontaneous things. For example, our guide simply pulled over on the side of the road in Connemara, and we all got out to look at a peat bog firsthand. I can’t remember which mountains those are in the background; there are a lot of mountains in Connemara. It’s a beautiful place to see up close.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Tour Guide
From Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara.
One of the best parts of our tour of Ireland was staying in some beautiful hotels, including Ballynahinch Castle in Co. Galway. In addition to having great views and food and the most comfortable bed of the trip, it also had some cool architectural details, like this awesome staircase. We got to lug our suitcases up and down this, and I didn’t mind at all.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend
From Connemara, County Galway.
My mom and I sat in the back of the Vagabond minibus (lovingly referred to as the Vagatron) several times, which I didn’t mind at all because there were some cool views out the back. There are lots of lakes and mountains in this area, and they looked wild and beautiful through the Irish rain and mist.
You can see the trailer with all our luggage behind us, and “Vagabond,” the name of the tour company, written backward in orange on the windows.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows
From County Cork, Ireland.
One of the interesting features of the grounds around Blarney Castle is the Poison Garden. As the name implies, the plants here are various poisons, including wolfsbane, mandrake, and ricin. There are signs basically warning you to enter at your own risk, and not touch anything!
Pictured here is common juniper, Juniperus communis, a very common ornamental shrub (especially common in Ireland, too). The berries are edible, but bitter. They have some medicinal uses, even possibly acting as a contraceptive or abortifacient. They are also thought to be toxic to dogs.
Remember, the poison is always in the dose!
Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!
From Dingle Peninsula.
This trip that I have been documenting in my Weekly Photo Challenges was an eight-day trip around Ireland that I took with my mom in 2015. This particular morning, we had been scheduled to walk on the beach in Dingle, but our tour guide had a better idea: a hike up a little hillside through some farmer’s fields to find some old ruins and a Famine graveyard for unbaptized babies.
We wandered past some ornery goats, some picturesque cows, and through tall, wet fields, all the while getting such lovely views as this one. I’ve often found that just doing some wandering is the best way to see and understand a place. I certainly came away with a great appreciation for Ireland!
Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust