Ireland – The Emerald Heartbreaker

Ireland – The Emerald Heartbreaker

Written by: Hella Heiderich

In May 2019 I packed up my van, boxed up my big city life, and set out for a solo
trip through Europe. With a vaguely preplanned route on hand, I only wanted to
travel European countries I haven’t been to so far, see no city up close for months,
gather new experiences, and march to my own rhythm of traveling for once.
Onboard, I had my full-time remote job, loads of positive energy and the perfect
road trip playlist.

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After spending the fresher spring and early summer months down south, I was
headed towards the French coast and a ferry that would take me to a country I only
knew from a brief weekend trip to its capital and, to be honest, the Kerry Gold
packaging on supermarket shelves: the Emerald Isle.

Originally squeezed into my travel plans as a 3-week-adventure with a friend, who
lived in Dublin around the time I booked my ferry, Ireland, however, became so
much more than just a stop on the way for me. Starting with my friend being
successfully scared away by the Irish weather two weeks prior to my arrival, leaving the
island for a sunnier way of life in Spain, I found myself with a completely free
schedule to discover this new-to-me country on my own terms.
And what a ride it’s been…

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Deboarding the ferry in Dublin, I spontaneously decided to take a left and follow the closest road to the coast heading south. And let’s just say, that quickly became
my only “plan” while traveling Ireland: keeping close to the coast and driving on.

From the first moment on I couldn’t explain the feeling I had while following these
narrow roads and taking in those views around me…it’s simply been magic.
Sounds cliché, but there is no other word for it.

Almost everywhere my van took me, people just started talking to me out of
curiosity, wanting to know where I am from, where I am headed and share some
travel stories. I got invited to numerous pints all over Ireland, joined family
breakfast in the campervan next door, shared many glasses of whiskey around a
campfire in the Mourne Mountains, and was almost gifted a sheep farm up north by
its slightly intoxicated owner.

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I strolled public markets with people I met the day
before and by my second week in Ireland, I already had handwritten notes
covering the back wall of the built-in sideboard in my van, filled with favourite Irish
places of locals I met along the way.

Those became my compass for the upcoming
weeks, far away from the typical tourist routes and lonely planet must-see sights.
To say I was overwhelmed by Irelands spirit, its simplicity and yet richness in so
many ways would be an understatement. It became my biggest country crush yet,
even though it is a love you have to endure at times.

This special island sure is
rough around its edges and not the most typical country to enjoy a picture book
van life at. Yes, it does rain A LOT, this is not a preconception. And when
September came, I often wished for a van included fireplace (no, I do not have
auxiliary heating), to be honest. But if you are committed to the on-the-go-lifestyle,
this country just gifts you breathtaking experiences on a daily basis.

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Waking up at
secluded beaches, having a morning swim with the local ladies, and enjoying a
freshly brewed coffee by the sea before starting my day “at the office” quickly
became my beloved new routine, if you dare to call it that. I rediscovered my
enthusiasm for hiking spent remote nights in the middle of nowhere, climbed
many mountains along the way, and became addicted to the combination of wind,
wide views, and mystic colours.

My need for video call appropriate internet took me at least once a week to little
towns and coworking spaces, whereas the latter is frequently found in Ireland.
Coming from Germany, that really took me by surprise, as remote work is not that
common back home and pretty much non existing in rural areas especially. The

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rest of the week I could mostly function on using my mobile hotspot easily, making
the most of Irish wilderness while tending to my business tasks…only Donegal was
a bit tricky in that regard.
To cut a long Irish love letter short: what was supposed to be a 3-week-long-stop
on the way, became my last and longest stay in a country during my whole Europe
trip. After 2.5 months and a journey (literally) all around Ireland I had to return to
the continent, leaving with a smile and a heavy heart.

I was, and still am, so thankful
for the special time I spent on this magic island and can’t wait to be back…maybe
for an even longer period of time.

So, if you ever were in doubt about traveling Ireland, don’t be! Simply pack your
hiking boots, your best rain jacket and enough time to dive into those unique
experiences this island has to offer!





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