This week is mid-term break for all students in Ireland. Like Spring Break for our North American friends, we enjoy a week off in Autumn with nothing to do but kill time until school starts up again. I'm only half joking, but it's true. I'm that mom who loves when school is in session. When it's out and we're all home and under the same room all week/christmas/summer, I go a little stir crazy and the kids go a little wild. There are many wii games, toy fights and time outs. And that's not even counting all the shenanigans the kids get up to. :)
So in honour of mid-term break, and to find something not-screen-based to do, Matt and I are planning a wee day trip for this week. When we remember how small Ireland is (just over two hours drive from Dublin to Galway; a little over 5 hours from Cork to Derry), we're amazed when comparing it to the days long road trips we enjoy (endure) in the US. Some of the most amazing natural wonders are within a half day's drive from our doorstep. That's pretty impressive, and overwhelming. How do we even decide where to go?
Our highly specific criteria?
- Must not require getting up and/or leaving early.
- Must involve playground or other such free-kid-friendly activity.
- Must be home within an hour of proper bedtime.
- Must enjoy only one meal out; bring food and snacks for any other meals.
- Must make memories.
Apart from that, anything goes. We load up on water, books, rain coats and wellies (you never know) and hit the road. And here's just a peek into some of the destinations we've already discovered:
1) Cliffs of Moher. This is kinda the proto-typical tourist destination of Ireland. We hit the Cliffs during our first go-round here, and though the weather was manic and the kids were more interested in the cows than the landscape, the clouds parted and a rainbow appeared just as we arrived. Though we could make this a day trip, there are fantastic B&Bs and other gorgeous sights to see. Including...
2) The Burren. Not far from the cliffs is this amazing moon-like landscape where the rock replaces soil and wild flowers grow from deep beneath the stoney cracks. For a family of rock scramblers, this region is the best. Wild and strange and beautiful. There are also several old ring forts and ancient tomb-like things to explore.
3) Avoca. The village of Avoca is found just within the Wicklow Mountains to the south of Dublin and is where the original workshop of the Avoca Handweavers is found. It is absolutely breathtaking in the autumn, with trees turning and the meeting of the waters and a great little village to go exploring in. Plus, any time you can enjoy tea and scones at an Avoca Cafe, you simply have to take advantage of it.
4) Belfast. When we first lived here, we were just an hour and a half from Belfast City. We would venture up north for outlet shopping, seaside arcade towns, and the aforementioned Chili's in Victoria Square. The city centre is easily walkable and I've heard it currently boasts a fantastic Titanic exhibit.
5) Lough Key. Tree bridges, lake and castle facade thingy. This was our last day trip before moving back to the US and it is where we're headed today. Can't wait!
Hope this inspires you to explore the natural wonders that may be just beyond your doorstep!