When I asked Trish where she wanted to go for our honeymoon, she suggested "Ireland, Italy, Thailand or Fiji". They all sounded like wonderful places, so we decided to visit them all! To book the trip, we contacted the Travel Guru, Phil Overton. Phil does all the travel arrangements for No Fluff Just Stuff, so I'd worked with him a bit in the past. Phil agreed to help us out and I sent him an email with countries and dates to get the ball rolling. We asked him to book us a flight out of Denver on July 31, returning on August 23rd, just in time for Jack's birthday party.
The week before we were scheduled to depart, I received our travel book (with itineraries and tickets), and confirmed everything looked good. At that point, all we knew was the dates were correct and we had hotels booked. That weekend, Trish and I got married. On Monday morning, July 30th, we drove back from Montana, arriving in Denver late that night. The next morning we had our first fight as a married couple.
Me: "You can't bring your phone."
Trish: "I'm bringing my phone! What if there's an emergency?"
Me: "There's not going to be an emergency! Besides, everyone knows our hotel information."
Trish: "I'M BRINGING IT!"
Me: "NO!! If you bring it, I can't tell the story about traveling the world without phones!"
-- Deadlock stare for 15 seconds without blinking --
And off we went!
Rather than having checked luggage, we took carry-on bags only. No phones, no computers, and backpacks that only fit a few days worth of clothes. We dressed up in hopes of getting better seats on our flight to Ireland. It worked for getting drinks bought for us in Denver and Boston (our layover), but the guy sitting between us refused to swap seats.
We arrived in Ireland on Wednesday morning, July 31st. There we met our Irish Guides, Teres and Fergus. Fergus was the driver that Phil had arranged for us. He drove us across the country to Ballynahinch Castle, near Galway.
We were immediately impressed by Ballynahinch, especially when we learned it was a Fly Fishing Mecca. And our room at the end of one wing was just like we'd imagined a Castle Honeymoon Suite to be. We had dinner at the castle restaurant that evening, enjoyed a pint or two, and retired early.
The next morning, we were up and at 'em by 6am and went for a misty 2-hour walk around the grounds.
Then we scarfed down a delicious Irish breakfast, complete with mimosas and liver.
One of the things that amazed me about Trish on the fateful night I met her was all the things she liked to do. She mentioned fly fishing (shortly after tele-skiing) as an interest; my heart leapt. My Grandpa, Oliver Hill, a kind-hearted man from Montana, was an expert fly fisherman. He'd taught me a few things as a kid, and it was a skill my mother possessed.
When we learned there was an opportunity to go fly fishing at Ballynahinch, we signed up. There was a crowd of fisherman in the pub that morning. Telling tall tales and warming by the fire. We quickly picked up that the salmon were big.
"How will we know the difference between salmon and trout?"
"Salmon will bend your pole in half!"
The gear was located just outside Fisherman's Pub, so we got dressed, grabbed our poles and got a lift up the road. We opted for the guideless tour, which means getting dropped off on our own for several hours. Our arrival was greated with light rain, and fish jumping all around.
It was simply the best day of fly fishing we've ever had, and we didn't catch a single thing.
After lunch and a nap, we headed for Trish's favorite outdoor activity: horseback riding. It was pretty awesome, once I figured out how to keep my calves from getting pinched by the saddle straps when galloping.
After horseback riding, Trish found a cool shot of an old boat and we stopped for a pint at Joyce's Bar. The pub's owner gave us a ride into Clifden for some live music and we giggled with glee when he said we could take our Guinness to go. If you've ever been to Ireland and driven their windy, narrow roads, you'll know that drinking out of a glass pint while riding in a car may not be the best idea for your teeth.
The Friday nightlife in Clifden was perfect, lively music, delicious Guinness and open late enough for us to almost get in trouble. We made it back to the castle in time for a last pint at 2am.
The hotel staff woke us up the next morning so we had time for breakfast. In fact, they took our order over the phone and brought it to us. We savored the meal and our view one last time, packed up (which was quick and easily with hardly any clothes), and ventured to the entrance to meetup with Fergus. The drive to Dublin was filled with storytelling, jokes and laughter. Fergus was an excellent storyteller and made a lasting impression on us.
The Merrion Hotel provided our Dublin accommodations, right in the heart of the city near Trinity College. I stayed nearby in My Incredible Trip to Ireland two weeks before I met Trish, so it was familiar. The Hotel's Cellar Bar was our first stop after unpacking.
A stroll down Grafton Street was fun, as was the Double Rainbow over St. Stephen's Green.
We did a pub crawl that evening, stopping at O'Donoghue's and Toner's Pub before relishing a delectable meal at FX Buckley. The night drifted into darkness at Foley's and The Brazen Head. The Merrion greeted us with a 24-hour bar when we got back to the hotel and we quickly made friends with the bartender and the 20+ people that were up at 3am.
Saturday, we had the pleasure of sleeping in before meeting up with Fergus and our guide for the Guinness and Jameson Tours. The Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Storehouse was as crowded as ever.
The Old Jameson Distillery was equally impressive, and had a very entertaining distillery guide. We picked up a bottle of Midleton Very Rare on our way out. Since we were riding the train to Italy, we figured we had a week to finish before we had to deal with airport security.
We feasted at Pearl Brasserie that evening and turned in before the moonrise. The following morning, Fergus picked us up early and drove us to Dublin Port to get onboard the Hollyhead Ferry. Our departure was a bittersweet moment as we did spend a lot of time with Fergus, and drew to appreciate each other's company.
From Hollyhead, we boarded a train to Paris, with a brief stop in London. We arrived late to the W Paris, discovered we didn't have a reservation, but were able to reserve one on-the-spot when they let me use their computer. My wife, the photographer, has fond memories of Paris from the last two times we visited this wonderfully romantic city. We strolled down the street to the Madeleine so she could snap the shot she's always wanted.
Breakast provided by Angelina hit the spot, followed by a scenic boat tour along the Seine River. The Notre Dame looked majestic from the canal.
On Monday, August 5th we boarded a train from Paris to Torino Porta Susa, Italy.
As you can tell from this article, we really packed a lot in during the first 5 days of our honeymoon. However, these days stick in our memories as one of the warmest parts of the trip. The Irish people are so genuine, cheerful and loving towards us. It felt like a big hug, with lots of smiles and brilliant memories.
In the next article, I'll talk about our honeymoon in Italy and its wonderful food, fast cars, awesome tunnels and more incredible Trish Photos!