When we travel…we travel a little different than your average vacation goer. We base our destination on photos, (after all we are artists and overly visual artists at that).
You see, I’ll Google image and instagram hashtag my way around a country or city to see which places strike me as a must see. I then map out our route accordingly so that we efficiently make it to all the spots. We generally skip the museums and tourist hubs and opt for a more local experience.
Our trip to Ireland was no exception. Leading up to our departure I spent hours perusing Google images and finally settled on a path that would lead us around the bottom of the country, stopping in quaint little fishing towns, through the Ring of Kerry and drop us off at the Cliffs of Moher (which is a little touristy but so worth it).
We had been driving and stopping (a lot) for 5 days when my sweet husband turned 28. It was a big day, as we were going to spend the afternoon of his 28th birthday over looking the Cliffs of Moher and then enjoy a delicious meal near our bed and breakfast. And the best part…Nick had no idea about the Cliffs of Moher! This epic place was going to be a surprise!
We’re driving…and driving…sitting on a ferry…and driving some more. I get a little worried that it’s taking longer than I expected and Nick’s appetite is growing.
“Where are we going? I thought we weren’t spending the whole day in the car?” Nick said…multiple times ;)
“We’re almost there…I promise!” I would consistently respond.
And then we pull into the city of Galway and I exclaimed that we were in the city of the Cliffs of Moher! I began telling him all about the dramatic cliff carvings dropping 400 ft straight into the ocean and began looking around for signs.
“This place is flat Whitney, I don’t know how there could be 400 ft cliffs anywhere nearby.”
“No, I promise, I looked it up online, its close by. We just need to get some cold Guinness and ask a local which direction to head.”
“I think we’re in the wrong place, Whit…” He says starting to get a little frustrated.
“No, no, we’re fine. Stop here, I’ll ask the librarian.”
I leap out of the car, slip into the quaint little cottage like library and confidently ask, “Can you point me towards the Cliffs of Moher?”
The librarian looked up, a little confused.
“Uh, they’re that way (pointing south) by about 2 hours.” He says.
It was January…The sun sets at 5pm in in Ireland in January and it was just after 3pm…
We flew down the highway, in the direction we had just driven for 6 hours, back tracking by 2 hours and pull into a parking lot.
“It’s closed.” Nick says. The sun was setting…
“It can’t be closed, its a cliff.” I bark and run across the street.
We pull on our beanies, tighten up our jackets and run as fast as we can towards the edge. We had to catch the sun dammit!
And there it was. In all its glory. Red rock exposed and beautifully contrasted against the blue ocean below. They were one, the cliffs and the sea, their pure existence radiated power and sucked the air straight from our lungs.
We looked at each other. It was freezing. The sun was setting, the few tourists that visit Ireland in January were leaving. We looked around and hopped the fence. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who had to get as close to the edge as possible because we found a teeny tiny foot trail along the edge leading to a small peninsula that would only hold our two bodies.
We plopped down, cracked open our Guinnesses and watched the sunset on my husband’s 28th birthday.
It was a hell of way to get there…8 1/2 hours in the car that should have taken us 4…But sometimes its the long way, the frustrating path, and the wrong turns that lead us to the most beautiful experiences and places. I don’t think we would have remembered that day so vividly if we hadn’t overshot our destination, skipped lunch, been forced to turn around, race to beat the sun and drink a beer on an empty stomach while dangling our legs over a 400 ft cliff.
Memories are in the journey and often the journey enhances the destination. Have you ever taken a wrong turn on a vacation that ended in one of your favorite memories?!?