Woodstock in Ireland: A Walk Through the Weird

River Nore Valley

The day started and ended unconventionally. A little blurb in the guidebook perked my curiosity to seek out Ireland’s very own Woodstock. Out of my way, I headed southeast from Kilkenny to the village of Inistioge. I meandered up Mt. Alto until I reach the pearly gates of the Woodstock Gardens. Pausing for a moment, I wondered just how a vehicle is supposed to travel through here. With a deep breath and a spirit for seeking out the weird on this day, I put the pedal to the metal. Once you pass through the gates of Woodstock Gardens, you have exactly 2 kilometers worth of utter panic that a car Continue Reading

Alone in Ireland in Photos

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

They joked about their ex-wives as I stepped up to the ring. I was about to let two crusty old men dangle me from a 15th century castle, all to kiss a stone whose surface probably belongs in a petri dish rather than a top tourist attraction. As I let the strange man hoist me upside down, I could see the glowing green earth below from an angle unknown to me. I was alone in Ireland, doing things I would have never considered solo activities before, including putting my faith in strangers to bring me back up from my big smooch with the Blarney Stone.  It would be an utter shame to miss out on Continue Reading

Trim, Ireland Wishes You Were Here

Trim Castle

When I reach the last few days of a trip, I tend to look at these remaining destinations with finality. On my way to the Dublin Airport, I decided to spend that finality in Trim, a place where many spent their own end. The small town just west of Ireland’s capital used to be a major player in the middle ages. Elizabeth I even considered placing Trinity College here. Home to the county jail, ironically Trim was where you could say the herds were also trimmed and thinned.   I check into my hotel just across from the Trim Castle, obviously the showpiece to this now snoozing town. The Castle Continue Reading

Connemara, Ireland Wishes You Were Here

Boat on the Connemara Coast

I turn the handle on a squeaky blue painted door in Clifden, hoping for a simple meal. That simple meal quickly turns into a complex conversation with the owner about the state of Ireland. As she laments the country’s recession, she says with a hope, “But it will get better.” Her words are simple, and yet so complex. Most worries are only temporary and believing in their passing is the best we can do. Post dinner and discussion, she bids me good luck on my travels and I enter the colorful streets of Connemara’s capital. Clifden decorates in brightly painted shops and restaurants, generally Continue Reading

Cork, Ireland Wishes You Were Here

Crumb and Coffee at the English Market

Driving into Cork, I noticed an abundance of high school students. And then, I realized I’m getting older. These are college students attending the University College Cork, home to around 7,000 students. Cork’s youth is apparent, even if a little more immature. You don’t sense age in this city, just pure youth and innocence.   A good day in Cork begins at the Old English Market, with no connection to the wood cleaner brand. I am delighted to find not bottles of wood polish but rather stall after stall of random goods. T-shirts and meats, delicious fruit tarts and vegetables, the market is Continue Reading

Kilkenny, Ireland Wishes You Were Here

The fool on the hill

A peat fire warms a pub in Kilkenny as The Beach Boys “Sloop John B” blares in the background, a song about wanting to go home. The woman next to the fire reads her newspaper and steals bites of dinner in between stories. Her glasses rest on the lower end of her nose as her plate of food goes flying due to an accidental elbow. She doesn’t bat an eyelash at her mistake and continues to read the evening news. I sit on the other end of the fire, eating crispy fish and chips. Suddenly I realize being alone in a pub is a good thing. You can observe the soul buried in her literature, the family Continue Reading

A Year in Travel

Loneliest Road

It is the eve of the last month of the year. December is a month I seldom travel. It is a month designated for family time. Each weekend seems to spur an event or occasion. It is also the final chapter of the year, a time for reflection. And on the eve of the last month of 2011, I couldn’t help but think back on my travels for the year, as many of us do throughout this time of ending and beginning. What I have concluded about my travels this year is that I learned something about travel I didn’t realize before. The realization comes after travel, when you are home reflecting on experiences. Continue Reading