Shockingly to me, it's almost a year ago that I was on my last European trip and about to visit Ireland for the first time since my childhood. With friends spending six months on one of the least known Aran Islands, either Inis Meain or Inish Maan depending on your preference, I dragged my husband and son over there for a week-long stay in a place that is otherwise not really visited by tourists. And as I had long predicted (yes, I did tell everyone "I told you so"!!), it was brilliant. I am a massive fan of going to off-the-beaten-path destinations and this was great. I'm reliving it today for you ... or is it really for me?
This was the incredible view that greeted me each morning from the kitchen of our friends' rented house on Inis Meain. They were away from the main village and close to the airport, and that meant the view made me feel like we were in the middle of nowhere and I LOVED that. Don't you think that kind of nothingness really revives the soul? It does for me, anyway, and I could have stared at this view for hours on end. In fact, I did.
And then there were the animals. Obviously my three-year-old son was impressed to see lots of animals around - sheep, cows, horses, donkeys, pigs, chickens and more - but I loved it too. It was pretty unique to see them penned in by these old stone walls rather than conventional fences, and because some of these fields were quite small the locals regularly rotated the animals to other areas and it was common to pass a group of animals on the road. There is something about having the humans being significantly outnumbered by the animals which appeals to me.
We spent a lot of our time on Inis Meain walking. It's the kind of island where you can walk nearly everywhere, as long as you have enough time, and are willing to put up with a fair bit of wind. I find walking in the wind utterly refreshing, and then there's that moment when you step back into four safe walls and everything seems so quiet. And so it was after our trek out to Synge's Chair, one of the spectacularly scenic spots of the island.
But even the best scenery and the most unique place in the world doesn't, for me, beat catching up with old friends on their new adventure. I have known Maria for close to twenty years but in the last decade we have rarely lived nearby. It was a true pleasure to visit her in her temporary new home, to spend hours catching up and having that feeling that it doesn't matter how often we see each other, we will always be friends. This picture shows her with my son on the beach beyond their rented house; it was so windy that the sand was constantly whipped into our eyes and we didn't stay long, but it was so scenic I couldn't ignore it completely.
I'm joining in with the Instagram Travel Thursday link-up this week - you can discover some other great travel blogs once they link up below.