Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Rediscovering Ireland: Roundstone, Howth, Malahide


At the beginning, I did not give Ireland a fair chance. 
I was sixteen and uninterested in moving continents. 
After moving to Dublin, I learnt how beautiful a place Ireland could be but many of my travels around the country prior to that were not appreciated to its true extent. 

Thankfully this summer, due to my internship with Stint Ireland as well as having a newly found travel buddy, my explorations of Ireland can continue.


First stop, Roundstone, Co. Galway.
A quaint little town in the outskirts of Galway.
The buses bring you there from Galway city but thanks to Lorcan's mum, Therese, we got a lift!


The town was adorable with their pastel-coloured houses side by side.
Roundstone was lovely to wander around with my eye catching every single dog that was within my field of vision. Spot the dog, which I thought was a stuffed toy...until it moved. 


The views at Roundstone were absolutely phenomenal. 
So untainted, peaceful and just stunning.


Thanks to my personal guide, I was able to explore the fields, rocks, and wander through the great unknown while possibly and very probably standing out like a sore thumb.


I was not the only one standing out though. Every so often, a pile of snowman-like rocks could be found - looking so unstable and yet strategically balanced. An art in itself.


Watching the dogs roam free through the grass at an abnormal speed summed up the feeling I had in my heart. 
The cool breeze, the great weather, the peace, the quiet, the freedom - pure bliss.


So much so, I actually did something only an Irish person would do - Swim. 
With the water temperature hovering under 14 degrees - it was indefinitely, painstakingly cold. 
We jumped into the water with full-force and no regrets.
Screams were heard, numbness and adrenaline followed, but it was a heart-stopping adventure that I would gladly repeat.


Adventures can obviously never be complete without food. 
For those who know me well, I live to eat. 


There was a small stall in the middle of Roundstone's town which was manned by a Frenchman with freshly baked madeleines and chocolate fondants. My greedy eyes along with the power of influence led us to buy one of each to nibble along our exploration.


We even managed to scout out some blackberries nearby - eight to be exact.


However, one of my favourite experiences was preparing meals together.
The ease of cooperation in the kitchen was uncanny. 
Unspoken instructions resulted in complete complement of preparation.

caramelised shallots
medium rare steak
olive oil and mixed herb roasted baby potatoes
stir-fried broccoli with a little bit of everything


Photo opportunities were very much seized at Roundstone.
Beautiful scenery and a lack of people results in fun shots.


Next stop: Howth, Co. Dublin

Only a 20 minute train ride from Dublin city centre, the ease of accessing this place is unbelievably easy.


Exploring the coast of Howth is definitely something everyone should discover if you live nearby.

The photo, left untouched without any photo editing can barely give justice to its natural hues.


The purple hedges against the blues and greens along with the coastal breeze were just magical.


What is absolutely crazy is that so many people just had houses by the cliffs.
Imagine waking up every morning and looking out to the open ocean.


Thankfully we got a decent enough weather experience throughout the hike. It started off well and it began to rain halfway - leading me to resort to this.


With my lack of umbrella and rain jacket (obviously six years in Ireland just doesn't teach me), I resorted to using my cardigan as a head scarf to shield from the rain. Thanks to my brown skin I totally fit the stereotype of a Malay Muslim back home. No wonder I was always mistaken for being so when I was little.


A hot box of freshly deep-fried churros with a chocolate dip from the Howth Market gave us a sugar boost to complete the hike!


And like any other, photo opportunities became a thing. 
It's hilarious how a camera-avoidant human being can transform into an avid photographer with some influence. Obviously, I'm not talking about myself.


Third stop - Malahide Castle and Gardens, Co. Dublin

Similar to Howth, it's also a short 30 minute train away from the city centre! 
Together with some of the Stint Ireland crew, we explored the castle and its gardens on a very fine day.


A short 45 minute tour of the castle was given by a local guide who definitely conveyed his Irish humour across.


For some reason, this painting within the castle caught my eye more than anything else. 
 

The ticket which cost 8 euros per student gave us both the guided tour of the castle and access to its walled gardens.


Pretty in purple.


Maybe the reason my eye got attracted to the painting earlier was this guy. 
Peacocks were roaming the walled gardens which was interestingly placed right beside the Avoca cafe so you could enjoy your meal outdoors while having peacocks roam nearby.


Which is exactly what we did!

The theme seems to repeat itself.
A good day for Audrey consists of food, pretty views, adventure, photos and good company.

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