Learning How to drive in Ireland

After a great week in Iceland where Gate 1 was in charge of our vacation and we just enjoyed it, we were about to start a whole different experience in Ireland. We landed at Dublin in the morning, got our rental car and with GPS in hand we were off to go to the city. The excitement started going like three times around on our first roundabout after leaving the airport. That warm up my husband to be over conscious about driving on the right seat. Once in the city it took us a few loopy loops around the area to find a parking. Although we started to feel the pain of our adventure we were excited to walk around, eat in am Irish pub and get some traditional food.

After tummies we’re full we visited our first castle of this trip, Dublin Castle. We took a tour, I highly recommend, here I learned the difference between castle and palace. Dublin castle is two in one.

We fell in love with the city, the energy and the movement of people throughout the streets. But energy was exactly what we were lacking in the afternoon. We had a long day after traveling from Iceland early in the morning. Still we were needing to drive to Limerick that was the place we were staying, so we had 2 and half more hours to go. Around 5pm we left Dublin but leaving that area was a little bit stressful because of the traffic and our tension of not taking the wrong turn because for us was completely new driving on the right seat of the car. Once we got into the highway was a sweet drive. Beautiful mountains, tower ruins everywhere, lots of green view. We got to the hotel around eight at night, we rested well and the next day we were off to go. I will tell you what we did on the next post.

Enchanted by Castles Part 1

20131106-112455.jpgI live and work in a very touristic place, where the Cinderella Castle is a trademark, and people from all around the world wants to come and take a look to at this fantasy Castle and take pictures of the enchanted moment. But for me it goes in another way, I am drowning with passion and desire to discover the world, be enchanted by the real things that happen somewhere else and be a witness of that. Never imagined that my first pick, Portugal, was going to give me the taste of exciting real castles, palaces and even more. I did not just traveled over there, with every encounter with the majestic palaces, I was also traveling back in time. Wondering how these gems were able to be on top of mountains; I wondered about the absolute craziness of the decorations, gargoyles in some of them, the art and mysterious believes that were hiding within those walls or ruins.

In our way to Sintra, 35 minutes of local traveling, we sat in the train like any other Portuguese, in their everyday life errands. The difference is that they were probably going to work or running errands, we were going to find the treasure of the past that its hard to see in  modern Lisbon. Looking out of the window I see decorated walls with the famous street art that every city these day have (graffiti).  Buildings with poor painting look, laundry hanging on windows, in general, a look that is familiar in some city areas.  Leaving the city behind our view was decorated with green mountains, and from a distance now much closer to Sintra we can see resting on top of one of the mountains a fortifying wall of a castle.  While the locals are probably tired of that regular view for them, my heart started dancing with my smile of excitement.

A second after we put our feet in Sintra, everybody disappeared in different directions. Jorge and I stood in front of the station not knowing where to go. I was looking for people, crowds, tourists or a tourist office, but nothing. Our internal compass told us that we were going to walk uphill, we can see two castles on top of the mountain, sitting by each other like good neighbors. My GPS didn’t work there and we did not have a paper map. We walked wondering how we were going to get up there, following the streets signs, literally in a mission to find at least one castle. Finally the green mountains start showing us the life that lies within them, people, buses, shops, pastellerias and more suddenly popped out forming a cute little town full of life. To our right, another majestic building in the middle of the little town at the end of the street I saw the most wonderful words “TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER”.  Ahhhhh! a glorious celestial sound to my ears when I read those beautiful words. We entered, grabbed all the little guides of everything they can offer, we made the line like good tourists and waited for our turn to bombard the tourist guide with questions. Finally!!! We found out how to get to those ruins that we saw from the distance… The Moorish Castle!

I will tell you in the second part what you have to do, if someday you want an adventure in Portugal and be enchanted by the castles. Also I will share my pics and the end of our adventure day with the Pena Palace.

xamlinnette 🙂