Holidays must end as you know All is memory taken home with me —Natalie Merchant, “Verdi Cries”
While I was researching places to include in our Ireland itinerary, I kept coming across comments online to the effect of, “With 3 weeks and a car, you can see all of Ireland.”
All of Ireland? I have no idea what those people are talking about.
Over the course of 3 weeks, George and I did manage to visit a lot of the most famous and beloved Irish destinations. But we certainly didn’t get to all of them.
We had no time whatsoever for the northernmost parts of the country, for example the towns of Sligo and Donegal, or the sea cliffs at Slieve League. As for Northern Ireland (which is part of the U.K.), we never even considered trying to squeeze it into the mix.
Could we have covered more ground? Sure, if we were “checklist” travelers – the kind who zip from place to place, snap a few pictures, and move on. A lot of bus tours operate at that pace. And most of the suggested driving itineraries I perused online would have required us to check in and out of hotels so often that we would never have had a moment to settle in.
Hopping madly from place to place with no time to unwind is just not the way George and I travel. It never has been. We prefer to spend more time in fewer destinations, with fewer hotel changes. That gives us breathing room to venture beyond established tourist sites and shopping districts, to wander through parks and residential areas, and to take day excursions to lesser-known locales.
Getting off the tourist track and moving at a slower pace allows us to really get a feel for the local life and vibe of each place we visit. Besides, it’s a vacation. It’s supposed to be relaxing, not exhausting. How many times have you heard someone who just returned from a vacation say they feel like they need another one?
I don’t mean to sound like a travel snob. I realize that for many people, a trip to Ireland may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. And for a lot of those people, a whirlwind bus tour is not only the most efficient way to see a bunch of sites, but also the most economical. I don’t mean to look down on that kind of travel experience. All travel is good travel as far as I’m concerned. See what you can of the world, whenever you can, however you can.
But no matter how you visit Ireland, you can’t “see it all” in 3 weeks – or 3 months, or even 3 years. You could spend your entire life traveling around Ireland and you still wouldn’t manage to stroll down every village alley, walk every mile of coastline, meander along every desolate footpath. Ireland, like the world itself, is practically endless. To really see the world – I mean the WHOLE world – would take thousands of lifetimes.
But even if you can’t ever see the whole world, that’s no reason to stop trying! George and I intend to keep getting out there as often as we can, to discover as much of our endless world as we can. Including, hopefully, more of endless Ireland too.