My Travel Resolution.
discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night

I was curious to discover just how much my visit to the Atlantic coast of Ireland would add to my experience. It was to prove an enlightening trip, yet also unforgettable for the natural beauty and excellent hospitality I found there.

When travelling it's always nice to beat the herd, so that you can visit exotic places with few tourists about. There's nothing worse than having to sidestep boatloads (actually, make that cruise ship loads) of tourists during the European summer swelter in an Italian city, or finding yourself walking in the road in London during rush hour, because there just isn't any room on the pavement in Oxford street.

Ireland Images

1. Galway

At last this week I was able to fulfill one of my dreams and see Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Ireland. One of the obligatory visits that you will have to make in your visit to the emerald country are the Cliffs of Moher and Galway. About 6 o'clock in the morning we began to prepare to go to the excursion. We in this case take some sandwiches, fruit and cookies. The meeting point with the guide was at 7:30 in the center of Dublin, specifically at the O'Connell Street.

The day was very rainy and something cold. So our expectations regarding time were very low, but we were with the best of attitudes. The important thing is to have left the routine. After 2 and a half hours of travel, we arrived at our first stop of the tour, Galway. Despite the occasional little nod, the journey was very entertaining with the little stories that our guide was telling us.

Despite having already been to Galway, our feeling of arrival was totally new. We arrived at the city at 10 o'clock in the morning, the perfect time to have a delicious coffee and breakfast. We brought our own sandwiches and we had a coffee at a café. We recharged energies and set off to explore the city. There was an endless amount of Celtic music, drum beats, face-painting, Guinness beer and Jameson whiskey, accompanied by the sun and the green wave.

Although we have been here several times, Galway never stops surprising us and more when you go with the family. The day could not be better, it was sunny and the temperature was nice. Galway is located is the county town of Galway on the west coast of the island. It is known as the bohemian city of Ireland, characterized by art and history.

You breathe art in every corner, and there is live music in each of them. The city is crossed by the Corrib river. We walk through its colorful streets, enjoying the urban art and the musicians that make the city even more beautiful. The stop in Galway was one hour and a half. It gave us time to visit some of its most important points like the Galway city museum, Galway market, Galway Cathedral and Hall of the Red Earl.

We returned to the bus to take the direction of the Cliffs of Moher, the place of most interest in Ireland in recent years. After an hour and a half, we arrived at 13:15 and had two hours to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The Cliffs of Moher is located in County Clare, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. They are the oldest natural rock structures in Ireland.

They rise to a height of 120 meters above the Atlantic Ocean at the point called Hag's Head and extend for 8 kilometers to reach a height of 214 meters. From the top, you can see the Aran islands, Galway Bay and the Connemara Mountains. It is the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland, so you can find small shops in ancient caves and a restaurant.

As we take our food, we take the opportunity to have lunch at the top of the cliffs. We could not be happier, since the last time we were there was too much fog and cold. With a smile from ear to ear and after having disconnected a lot, we head to Sligo. The trip lasted about 3 hours but they flew by with the stories that our guide told us. Even on the way back, he gave us a movie recorded in Ireland.

2. Sligo

A visit to Sligo Town and its surrounds in early summer or October will certainly help you beat the herd, with a cracking outdoor holiday also thrown into the bargain. Locals will confirm that October is one of the best times of the year to pay them a visit.

The droves of US tourists during the summer season also means that standards for tourists are very high, and you'll not believe the quality of coffee served in the most budget-friendly bed and breakfasts, which to my mind are the best places in which to lodge during your stay there.

The people are just so warm and also very welcoming. Sligo is a very charming and laid back town, built around the rushing Garavogue river that pushes out to the Atlantic. Sligo Town's also got some absolutely great restaurants, with 'Coach Lane' still sticking in the memory, and rated 4.5 on Tripadvisor. The locals are extremely friendly without being intrusive, and there's some pretty good shopping to also be had.

It's also the perfect place to start visiting the sights around Sligo County which are a hiker's paradise and more. Personally I was very curious to travel to Streedagh Strand, which was the scene of the Armada shipwrecks which feature in my novel. The sound of the bracing ocean winds are the only disturbance in an otherwise serene and peaceful location, which is after all the westernmost edge of Europe.

The hulking peaks of the Dartry mountains run alongside the coast, which are an incredible sight to behold and lead up to a picturesque spur called Ben Bulben. These countless mountain ranges also make for some great rock-climbing, with climbing for beginners.

If the story of the Armada survivors grabs your interest, you'll certainly be familiar with the letter written by sea captain Francisco de Cuellar, who managed to somehow make his way back home to Spain following his shipwreck in Ireland.

If you pull on your hiking boots you can visit many of the locations he mentions, starting with the ruins of Staad abbey further south along the coast, which is not to mention the great lakes in the valleys of Glencar and Glenade. It was here that de Cuellar was famously put to work by a ruthless blacksmith, until he was freed by sympathetic Irish natives of the MacClancy tribe.

Following the captain's footsteps will lead you north towards Lough Melvin, which was famously frequented by Charlie Chaplin, who had a house there. If fishing's your thing you can spend hours happily seeking to catch the Gillaroo (derived from the Irish for 'red fellow') trout, which is native only to Lough Melvin.

Yet if you want to keep to the De Cuellar trail, you can head to Rossclogher and walk along the banks of Lough Melvin, where you can observe the sole surviving keep of the MacClancy chieftain, a crannog (castle on an island) which sticks out like a finger of defiance in an otherwise calm and pristine lake, also home to many white swans. The best way to shadow De Cuellar's footsteps would be with excellent guide Eddie O'Gorman (who I had the great fortune of meeting during my visit to Sligo) of Wild West Irish Tours.

The architectural and natural sights are just endless, and making your way back to Sligo you can spot the huge cairn (Irish tomb) of Queen Maeve atop the flat-topped rise of Knocknarea, which stands alongside other beautiful bays of Sligo and Ballysadare where you can ride horses along the ocean. The house of Lord Mountbatten (who tragically also met his end there) can also be seen at the beautiful inlet at Mullaghmore.

Yet it's not all about hiking, and if surfing is your thing, you can pick up a wetsuit and board and join some of the other surfers hitting the waves at Mullaghmore, as well as Strandhill, Easky and Enniscrone. Windsurfers and kitesurfers can also be spotted on the ocean, and you'll sometimes also see them in huge lakes like Lough Allen.

If relaxing on a boat is your thing, you can grab a ferry to tour Lough Gill, with the captain reciting the renowned poetry of the world famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats, who spent his childhood in Sligo, even coming to think of it as his spiritual home. Yeats' tomb can also be visited at St Columba's Church, Drumcliff, a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture.

The more inquisitive visitor can also grab a boat while traveling Ireland even further westward from the Atlantic coast towards the island of Inishmurray. Three of the Armada's galleys (one of which bore De Cuellar) berthed in its inlet before they were battered upon Streedagh Strand. Inishmurray was the site of many historical pilgrimages over the centuries, with the remains of an early Monastic settlement still clearly visible.

Although you'll instantly feel at home in Sligo, there's also many other areas close by which are worth a visit. You may fancy a drive to the old garrison towns of Belleek and Ballyshannon, further north of Rossclogher, or even visit Fermanagh, once the seat of power of the Gaelic chieftain Hugh Maguire.

A southward jaunt to Ballymote Castle and Boyle is also worthwhile, but along the way make sure you park the car and make your way up the steep uphill track towards the legendary Caves of Kesh. Although the caves themselves are remarkable in size, the stunning view from them of Lough Allen and surrounds will endure long in the memory.

3. Londonderry

And should you find yourself as swept up by the Armada stories as I was, you could even journey as far north as Londonderry, after driving past the range of the Bluestack mountains (also great hiking territory) and past countless drumlins, stopping to lunch along the way in exotic and quaint villages like Letterkenny.

Upon crossing the border reaching Derry you should visit the floor of the Tower Museum dedicated to the Armada wrecks to the north of Ireland, where you'll find all items brought up from the sea including Spanish cannon, shoes, treasure chests, kitchen equipment and chairs, among others.

All of the above should take up at least a week of travel! And if you can find the time to fit it in, you might also want to stop by the mesmeric Giant's Causeway in Antrim, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

4. Belfast

Belfast is located on the East coast of Northern Ireland. Belfast has two airports that connect with the rest of Europe, but if you want to visit from neighboring Dublin, the best option is to take one of the buses, which leave O'Connell St every hour, Dublin and in just over two hours they leave you at Glengall Street, Belfast.

Start the day with an authentic Ulster Fry (a traditional fried breakfast). The Titanic, the tragic vessel of dreams, is at the center of Belfast's history and was conceived and created in the city. So do not miss the Titanic Belfast interactive center. Named the world's premier tourist attraction at the World Travel Awards, its gleaming exterior contains nine galleries spanning six floors that reproduce the height of the Titanic.

There are interactive exhibits, an underwater cinema and an exhibition on shipyards. Outside the building, stroll through the bleachers and the Titanic shipyard, discover the Titanic on a tour on foot or by boat, or you can even get on a Segway to see SS Nomadic and HMS Caroline. Get on the Tram tour that circles the Titanic Quarter neighborhood.

An icon of the urban landscape of Belfast, the City Hall is the wonder with a copper vault. Botanical Garden in South Belfast is a masterpiece of horticulture. And you can not come to this part of the city without admiring the impressive red brick architecture and magnolia trees at Queen's University.

Have you ever wanted to meet the only dinosaur in Ireland? Or look closely at an Egyptian mummy? With free admission, the Ulster Museum offers a succession of rare and wonderful snapshots of history. Relax for a while in the restaurant of the museum, and have a freshly baked coffee and scone to prepare for your next stop.

Crumlin Road prison is one of the most haunted places on the island of Ireland. Cave Hill Nature Park has views over the city. Its most famous feature is the rugged crenellated shape known as Napoleon's Nose, which was supposedly the inspiration of Jonathan Swift for his sleeping giant in Gulliver's Travels. We hit the gas and make our way back towards Dublin airport.

Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author