If you ask any one of my family members about my personality, they would say I’m a homebody, a peacemaker, and that I normally stay in my lane. For this reason, I’ve never had the desire to travel. It seems overwhelming and frankly, like a lot of work. That’s at least what I thought until I traveled to Ireland.
A month before I was “supposed” to arrive, I got a phone call from my little sister (who has previously lived in Ireland). She asked me if I would join her on her yearly trip to Greystones, Ireland and I immediately began with my list of excuses. What about my baby…My husband will need me…We will have just returned home from the season…That’s too much…No way can I just pick up and leave my responsibilities for 10 days.
It was then when my husband stopped me and said, “Margaret, you need to go.”
That’s it. That’s all it took. I’m so grateful for that man. It was that simple push of encouragement that I needed and BAM, I was booked to leave for Ireland the next month. Mind you, I never do this. I was even shocked at myself for clicking “book trip” so quickly. But in the back of my mind, I was exhilarated and felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulders. I never thought I was an adventurous person. I someone who likes boundaries, but pushing them a bit (in my mind) was new and exciting.
We were traveling to Ireland in October, right when the chilly weather turns bitter for the winter, so warm clothes were essential.
Big, comfortable, puffy coat. Check.
Warm walking shoes. Check.
Scarf or ascot, if you want to try too hard to be European like me. Check.
Swimsuit…wait swimsuit?! Yes, I said it. Just trust me on this.
Jeans and pants. Europeans don’t wear leggings like us, American women. Do as the Irish Folk do and ditch your leggings!
Cute sweaters for your coffee shop picture that you will be posting on Insta pronto. Check.
Staple earrings for a touch of femininity. Check.
You truly don’t need a huge suitcase for this trip as you will be wearing your coat for a majority of the time. Bring what you need and leave space in your bags for the goodies you will most likely bring back from Ireland. Oh, and I brought my Beautycounter face oil to keep my face from drying out in the cold wind. Big win. Didn’t think it was essential, but it really came in handy. Don’t worry about a straightener or curling iron. Just put on a cute hat, braid your hair or let it down. The lighter the suitcase, the easier the travel!
I’m part of the Amazon Affiliate program and make a small commission from anything you purchase from Amazon. The items from Madewell, Jcrew and Eberjey are just a few of my favorites posted just for you. I don’t make commission from those! Enjoy.
Aer Lingus was having a sale when I bought my round trip for a whopping $400. They have sales often so join their email list to stay updated!
I flew from St. Louis to D.C. (90 minutes) and from D.C. to Dublin (7 hrs). I didn’t have much trouble on the 7-hour flight as I was able to curl up in a ball and sleep for a majority of it. *Perks of being 5’3”.* They provide you with movies, headphones, blankets, pillows and a delicious and nutritious mid-flight meal. I packed my GoMacro bars and kindly opted out of the airplane food.
There were open seats on both flights to and from Dublin, so I snuck to a seat with vacant seats surrounding it for a bit more sleeping room. I then turned on some white noise, curled up in my blanket and snuggled up with my winter-coat-turned-pillow. It was actually quite comfortable and thankfully I was able to sleep a bit. To Dublin, I go!!!
Embarrassing American moment: I hopped off the plane, went through customs and hustled to catch the next bus to Greystones. I was in line to grab my ticket and somehow forgot that American money doesn’t work in Europe. I truly have no idea how that slipped my mind. Don’t tell my Dad. It was my turn to pay for my bus ticket, so I whipped out my shiny American debit card and was kindly, or should I say sternly, reminded that I wasn’t in America anymore, “Sweetie, you’re in Euro country now. You need Euro’s if you want to do anything here.” Back inside I went, rolling my eyes at myself, in search of the Euro ATM. Oh, and I definitely missed that bus. No worries though, I just did some qigong to get my energy flowing as I excitedly waited for the next bus. To Greystones, I go!!!
Greystones is a quaint, beautiful coastal town in County Wicklow, Ireland. In 2008 and 2012 it was actually nominated in the Livcom Awards as one of the most “livable” places in the world. Having been there, I can say, they weren’t lying. I have never been to a more beautiful, joy-filled, buzzing little town in my life. I’ll explain it this way: You know you’re American stereotype of and charming little Ireland town with sheep on the hillside and countless spots for tea, pastries and bookstores…Greystones is exactly that, but better.
Greystones, Ireland is a town where I was able to escape my daily responsibilities and essentially live in an outside world. It was peaceful. It was calm. It was inviting and warm. I read and sipped tea for hours. I walked along the beach. I walked to every meal. I drank Guinness. My, my, was it magical.
Thankfully, I was with my sisters who are well-seasoned travelers. We hiked, ate and laughed our way through east Ireland together, but I will say most of my highlights resided in the beautiful town of Greystones.
1) Jumping in the Irish Sea. You mean the Irish Sea that’s 50º F and can put your body into hypothermia within minutes? Yeah. That’s the one. My little sister made a habit of it when she lived in Greystones and the way she talked about it, I couldn’t wait to experience it. Obviously, I was terrified as to how my body would react when I jumped into freezing water. Alas, in I went. The first few seconds were nothing short of shocking. Regardless of how many times I jumped in, feeling the freezing water will always take my breath away. Around the 30 second mark, I was able to slow down my breathing, smile and take in the amazing feeling of floating in the ocean while gazing up at the sunrise. I’ve never experienced a more majestic sunrise in all of my life. Overcoming fear, pushing my limits, staring at the bright, warm sun, all with my sweet sisters. It’s a feeling I will never ever forget.
2) The Happy Pear. The Irish folks who started the whole “jump in the Irish Sea at sunrise” thing are actually brothers, in fact, they’re twins. They have a fantastic vegan restaurant, an organic market, a few cookbooks (The No 1 bestselling cookery book in Ireland - for two years running), a fantastic Instagram account and from an outsiders perspective, they make the town of Greystones what it is. These two men, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, are joyful down to their core, they live to eat well, live abundantly and they spread happiness everywhere I go. Think I’m lying? Follow them on Instagram, @thehappypear, and you will understand what I’m talking about! We scheduled our days around our meals at The Happy Pear. Yes, it’s that good. Their decadent porridge after our Sea dive, mhmm. Their butternut squash lasagna, to die for. Let’s not forget their famous seed cookie that’s the size of my face and totally guilt-free. If you ever make it to Ireland, visiting The Happy Pear in Greystones is a must-do. You will not want to miss experiencing this little piece of heaven.
3) The Bray Head Hike. This absolutely stunning coastal path is a four-mile stretch that takes you from the coastal town of Bray to the beautiful town of Greystones. Now, my sister (the one who lived in Ireland), would have taken us on the paved path along the Irish Sea with a gorgeous view of the Wicklow mountains, but for some reason, it was closed. So, what did we do? We found a lightly trodden path up a mountain, over a fence, through thorn bushes only to find the most stunning views of the great Irish Sea with the little town of Greystones awaiting our arrival…at least we were hoping this path would lead us there. We passed a few locals on our way, which instilled a bit of confidence that we were headed in the right direction. The unknown was still frightening and for someone who likes to follow the rules and play safe, it was exhilarating. Four hours later, we walked back into our beloved town of Greystones and celebrated our adventure with some Guinness, the best way to celebrate in my mind.
4) Tea, tea and more tea. If you follow me on Instagram(@margaret.matheny, shameless plug), you will see that I’m mildly obsessed with tea. As you can imagine, temporarily living in a culture where they form their days around tea was an absolute dream. This past year I have been working on incorporating more stillness practices into my daily routine, tea being one of them. I try not to have any rules for my tea time. Whatever I feel like doing, whether it’s sitting quietly, chit-chatting, coloring, reading, journaling, I’ll give myself the time to do it. Imagine doing that every single day for hours! In a culture(America) where sitting still is deemed lazy and frankly unmanageable for most, being free of those pressures was lovely and addicting.
5) A Day in Dublin. Obviously, visiting the historic city of Dublin was on our list! After all, I do have Irish blood in me. Dublin was a completely different feel than our small town of Greystones, but the cobbled streets, the hustle and bustle of the city and the Irish pub music drew me in instantly. Shop after shop after shop! It was a dream. You bet we stopped in every mom and pop shop, every wine and cheese market and every European store we could find. The only thing I bought was a pair of navy corduroys because they made me feel European, duh. We also stopped at the Temple Bar, a historic Irish pub, to listen to some live Irish Folk music over another Guinness. It was heavenly, truly heavenly.
It has taken me far too long to write this blog simply because I couldn’t find the words to describe how wonderful this trip was. If you’re like me and you crave simplicity, beauty and happiness, this trip is for you. I’ve never been more at peace on vacation or dare I say I’ve never been more at peace for ten straight days like I was in Greystones. It’s a trip of a lifetime.
I will be back, dear Ireland.