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And thus begins my story of my life changing trip to Ireland last week. Bear with me, this is going to be a looong recap because I have a lot of pictures and a lot to say. But I hope you will read on because I would love to share my journey with you! And you should know the motto of the trip was “What happens in Ireland, stays in Ireland.” Take that as you will 😉

Bright and early on Saturday morning (after I had gotten all of 4 hours of sleep) I, my mom, my cousin, my great aunt, and my adopted “aunt ruth ann” (who is not really my aunt but like one to me) left from our little town of Spartanburg and made the journey to Charlotte, NC (hello Kath!) to hop on a plane to take us to the JFK airport in NYC. The most interesting part of that flight was that I ended up sitting next to a 19 year old boy from Russia who had been an exchange student in the U.S. He talked the entire flight. I know things now that I did not before.. and probably could have gone my entire life without needing to know. But it did pass the time.

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We then had a FUN (haha) layover in JFK where we amused ourselves by people watching. Believe you me, people in airports are QUITE entertaining to watch.

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(this would be my great aunt Peggy and a very unflattering picture of me)

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Then came to the flight to Ireland. It took 5 hours, not counting a delay and spending a lot of time on the runway.

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My cousin had control of the camera at this point and decided to take some candid photos of us to amuse herself…

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(I was NOT feeling very photo ready at the time)

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It wasn’t a bad flight but we had a lot of turbulence, which I actually enjoyed. My great aunt? Not so much. She had never flown before so it was pretty scary for her.

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I spent most of the flight listening to music on my “personal playlist” and trying to sleep… fail. Am I the only one who can’t sleep on planes no matter how tired I am?

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We were served some delicious (*cough* pretty gross *cough*) airplane food.

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Some sort of chicken dish with rice and “veggies,” bread, butter, salad, cheese, and a cheesecake type dessert that actually wasn’t bad.

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Being so far north most of the time on the flight, the sun never quite set but we had some amazing views..

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We arrived in Ireland around 6AM their time..

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You couldn’t see the ground that well because it was pretty cloudy but what you could see was AMAZING.

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We then said our farewells to our newfound friends on the plane (we ended up sitting next to people who lived in SC not 15 minutes away from where we live.. small world!!) and then headed to the car rental place.

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THIS is where it gets interesting.

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We (er, not me) had to drive a stick shift on the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road. But first we would have to make it out of the parking lot… which took a LONG time.

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We got in the car and then could not get the thing to move!! It was pretty hilarious though because we were all pretty sleep deprived at this point and ended up laughing until we couldn’t breathe. I’m pretty sure the people at the car rental place thought we were either insane, drunk, or just stupid… or all of the above. But it’s all good.

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And this was only the beginning of our adventures with the car. All I know is, thank goodness for the GPS.

However, even with the GPS, we had issues just getting out of the airport.

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I stabilized myself for the adventures ahead with this baby. I was also in major need of caffeine at this point.

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And I found the European version interesting… I noticed that many products over in Ireland had much more natural ingredients than the U.S. Now, Coke is far from all natural but still…

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We eventually made it out of the airport and toddled off to our villa, our home away from home.

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We enjoyed some amazing scenery on the way. At this point, I couldn’t believe that we were actually there.. in Ireland!

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The little town that our villa was in was called Adare (in county Limerick). It’s known as “Ireland’s prettiest village.”

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The “village” is basically built around the Adare Manor, which is this HUGE castle looking manor.

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Situated in the south west of Ireland, Adare is regarded as being Ireland’s prettiest and most picturesque village, and is a haven for those wishing to escape and unwind taking in its medieval surroundings. Situated on the river Maigue, a tributary of the river Shannon, Adare is steeped in history dating back to 1200ad. Adare has been the subject of many rebellions, wars and conquests, leaving behind a legacy of historical monuments. In the early 19th century, the Earl of Desmond, laid the plan for the existing streets and townhouses of Adare. These lands and dwellings were rented to tenants, under various agreements, some of which still exist today.

[source]

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It was truly a beautiful town, and the place where many of my favorite moments in Ireland were to be had.. in reference to the “what happens in Ireland, stays in Ireland.”

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We enjoyed a “continental” (which apparently does not mean free in Ireland… we joked we almost got arrested when we walked out without paying because we thought it was free… and they chased us down and demanded money… true story) breakfast/lunch/brunch at the Adare Golf Club.

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I was STARVING, so I had a bit of everything. Eggs, fruit, potatoes, cheese, cereal, milk, and lots and lots of coffee.

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We were then finally able to get into our villa… oh wow. I’d like to LIVE there. Shall I show you around?

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The living room…

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The kitchen, with marble countertops!!

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Future husband take notes… this is what I want my kitchen to look like one day…

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The sunroom…

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The downstairs “computer room,” which ended up being my room..

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The entryway and staircase..

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And other bedrooms and bathrooms…

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And the outside of the villas…

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After a short nap (I was currently running on 4 hours of sleep, followed by being up for over 24 hours = loony Jessica), we gussied ourselves up…

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And headed to town for dinner.

I know I took a picture of my dinner but my camera seems to have eaten it so I’ll just have to describe it.. We went to a local pub (which turned out to be THE pub of the trip… ) And I had a brie tuna melt. Basically, tuna salad on celibate with melted brie on top. With chips (aka fries) and salad. It sounds plain but it was out. of. this. world… and that trend continued throughout the trip.

Stay tuned for the rest of the re-cap, which includes how we almost died many many times, the fun that is roundabouts, Irish men, adventures in THE pub, and the best food I’ve eaten in my entire life…6

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