Slainte Ireland: Day 1 in the Green Isle

Slainte! We embarked on a journey to the green isle this morning and we couldn’t be more excited, nor more ready for a vacation. Mike has been working non-stop for the past 3 weeks, trying to wrap up two major construction jobs (literally working through weekends and past 7pm at night!). And while I’ve not been doing physical labor (besides helping dig for a deck and run the Colfax half marathon last weekend) my work has been insane. We are in full need of this weeks holiday for sure!

Harpoon Brewery, Boston
Harpoon Brewery, Boston

First stop on this journey: Boston. Our layover from Denver in bean town was over 5 hours, so you bet your butt we headed out and about. The public transit in Boston is top notch and we took the silver line all the way to Harpoon Brewery for free! Here we had a rye IPA, a levethian IPA, and a regular Harpoon IPA. Delicious! They served pretzels as well, so we popped some of them and had a blast. Needing nourishment before our over the pond journey, we headed to a seafood shack right outside Harpoon brewery & had some tuna wraps before hopping on the silver line back to the airport. A bit of rush hour traffic made for an interesting ride, but all was well and we got to our gate, meeting Mike’s mom, just in time to board.

After only 5 hours, we touched down on the green isle. It was a bit cloudy, so after we scooped up our rental and waited for Mikes sister to land, we jetted off into our Ireland adventure. First stop: the Cliffs of Moher.

Our accommodations were in Killarney, a mere 2 1/2 hours south of Shannon airport. The cliffs of Moher were a meager 40 minutes north. A perfect first day sight, especially due to the proximity. The win whipped as we got out of the car to ascend to the cliffs. After piling a few extra layers of clothing on, we headed up to the breathtaking views. Jagged edges, plunging drops, violent waves meeting the base of the cliff. We took it all in in awe. There were paths that took you dangerously close to the edge, where those who dared could peak over the edge. Truly spectacular and absolutely worth the drive.

Back on the road again, off to our digs. The boys drove the cars, thank goodness because the stick shifts paired with driving on the left side of the road was crazy after having traveled for over 18 hours. After about 3 hours in the car, we arrived and checked into the gorgeous Malton hotel. A beautiful old stone building, with lovely restaurant, grounds and staff.

My goodness, My Guinness
My goodness, My Guinness

A quick hour and a half cat nap and we were refreshed and ready to venture out. For dinner at least! The Kenmare fit our palette perfectly and the ambiance was beautiful! But the best was the food!!! Our meals were extraordinary and really set the bar for the trip. Quinoa salad, fresh hake, seafood platter. Plus, a new local craft beer was discovered: Killarney pale ale. Delicious!

With our bellies full, Mike and I ventured out to a local watering hole while the others headed back to our holiday home. Alan, Sarah and Mike’s mom were beat. The music poured out of the pub we popped into and we each had a pint of the black stuff (Guinness). A lovely first day in Ireland indeed!!

Sunday in Vieques

Since we didn’t arrive home last night until 10:30, sleeping in to 8:30 didn’t seem so decadent, more of a necessity really (can you tell we are not creatures of the night!?).

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Gorgeous!

Our craft beer breakfast joint wasn’t open, so the panaderia was our next stop. Unfortunately, they put jamon in yesterdays and today’s omelet, but I picked around it. A quick shop in the market for agua, nuts & modalla and were off to the playa navio in Sun Bay!

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We hadn’t yet been to this beach yet and the lagoon like shape welcomed us. Rocks enclosed either side and after a brief snorkel, we climbed to the right of the beach to scout a cave we had read about. We were able to climb down into the opening, but not able to step inside, for the waves were quite rough. The cave seemed to breathe in and out with the tide, spewing water with each exhale. Very cool!

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Mike decided to jump off the cliff to swim to shore, a mere 20 foot plummet. I walked the rocks as I had my phone for documentation purposes. After we got back from the cliffs of Navio, we snorkeled to the left, where a small reef hugged to corner of the lagoon. I got yelled at for not staying with Mike on the way back to shore, even though I had told him I wanted to head in and it was he who didn’t stay with me. It would be the discussion that would later bring our beautiful meal to a screeching end. Ahhh, the turmoil a life of leisure can cause.

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I read for quite some time and Mike lounged & drank medallas until our appetites reared their beastly heads and once again we headed to the wonderful Duffys for mojitos & craft beer. I had the hummus burrito & Mike did a repeat of yesterdays lunch: mahi tacos.

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The life of an islander is rough and we had grown sleepy so headed back to the casa for some rinsed relaxation. That didn’t last long due to it being close to sunset, so after a short laydown, we packed a cooler & headed to mosquito pier for a spectacular show.

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As the sun quickly slipped away, we chatted about how fleeting time was, quite literally disappearing in front of us.

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Our Next Course reservations were at 7:15, so we ran home to change & headed out. Unfortunately, the night turned sour with discussion of snorkeling do’s & don’ts, who was in the wrong for letting so much distance get between us in open water, how we won’t be snorkeling again…who knows why, in the middle of paradise, on a gorgeous night in a gorgeous place, such viciousness can hatch. Blame it on the alcohol mixed with fear of eminent danger in the ocean, sprinkled with the idleness of an extended vacation. Seems foolishly vain & blatantly pretentious in hindsight, to not appreciate every second of this and be thankful to be afforded the luxury of vacation.

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Hope everyone had a wonderful Sunday, that ended on a note of appreciation, gratitude, and most of all love.

Happy Friday from Vieques

Rise and shine!!! Alarm went off at 5:45 and we actually got up!! Out the door by 6:15 we headed North east (although we really wanted to be east) to watch the sunrise. While the sun was rising in the direct east, being awake early in this gorgeous spot made the jaunt completely worth it. The tide was out, so walking along the beach was magical in the early morning.

Sunrise in Vieques
Sunrise in Vieques

Our corner bakery was open so dos caf├ęs y creole omelets were ordered and consumed and we set off for the Punta Arenas Green beach. Being out and about in the early morning really has it’s benefits. No one on the road, wild horses are still absolutely everywhere, and no one around to ask you why you’re driving up a dirt hill.

 

Wild horses of Vieques
Wild horses of Vieques

Yes, Mike wanted to check out where this dirt access road led to. Proved to be some amazing views (and led to a telephone pole, very exciting stuff!)

Off-roading in Vieques
Off-roading in Vieques

The green beach was completely empty, except a small yacht down at the north end of the beach. We set up shop and hit the calm, warm water. The reef closest to the shore had amazing fish, Mike even saw a green eel! I caught a glimpse of a huge puffer fish (huge!!), trumpet fish, and a ton of other schools…too many to name! An hour or so after our arrival, locals from the big island came to share the beach…awesome crew with two beautiful golden retrievers (Hans Solo & Chewbacca). They gave us a great tip on a company that can take us out to an off-shore snorkeling tour-we’ll have to give them a call!

Bilis Restaurant, Esperanza
Bilis Restaurant, Esperanza

After several hours at the beach, we grew hungry so headed into Esperanza for some almurezo (lunch). First we made a stop at the islands oldest ceiba tree…375 years! Here I am doing my best tree pose. Doesn’t really compare.

375 year old ceiba tree!
375 year old ceiba tree!

Now we were hungry! I had heard good things about Bili’s restaurant and boy, it didn’t disappoint! Mahi bites, avocado salad and a Mahi wrap with fresh mint mojitos. Oh wow, it was all so good!

We chatted with a couple from Virginia and another from Mephis….the island is full of English speaking folks, all loving the island life. Everyone (locals especially!) has been ridiculously friendly, such a pleasant touch to being away from home and has truly mad our experience here awesome!

 

Post lunch, we thought we’d head to the Conde de mirasol fortress for some history. Plus, the weather has been 85+ degrees, an amazing temp, just have to limit the sun exposure for fear of burning! Unfortunately, the fort was closed, so headed back for some yoga (I did a 30 min flow) and a siesta (Mike rested his weary snorkeling bones).

Sunset on the pier
Sunset on the pier

Fresh from yoga & rest, we struck out for the sunset at 5:15, racing to get to the pier before the sun slipped away for the day. We made it and it was spectacular! With our Madellas, lawn chairs and front row seats, it was the best happy hour in town.

Coqui Hot Sauce
Coqui Hot Sauce

Dinner this evening was at the Coqui Fire restaurant. Amazing! Fresh seafood (tuna ceviche for an app) and amazing margaritas. The hot sauces were plenty, all having unique flavors and strong habanero taste. Mike got the red snapper tacos, while I ordered the blackened shrimp in a coconut mole sauce. Oh. Oh yes!!! With a sweet mango, coconut hot sauce to toss on, it was heavenly. And of course, we couldn’t pass up on the coconut cream cheese cake (homemade and most definitely the best cheese cake I’ve ever had!)

Our third full day in Vieques did not disappoint and we are heading to bed happy, full of amazing food, and ready for tomorrow’s adventure!

Happy Friday!!