1,813 kilometers, seven days, six hotels, untold pints of Guinness, countless castles and innumerable sheep—that’s what a counterclockwise road trip around Ireland looks like. I’ll admit it was an aggressive itinerary we envisaged: from Dublin to Belfast, Belfast to Ballymote via the Giant’s Causeway, Ballymote to Galway via the Connemara Peninsula, Galway to Kenmare via the Dingle Peninsula, Kenmare to Kilkenny via the Ring of Kerry, and then Kilkenny to the Dublin International Airport. Sleep would be sacrificed for sightseeing, and sightseeing would be sacrificed for driving onward, ever onward, around the Emerald Isle.
But sometimes, particularly when you are compelled to see as much of a country as possible in a limited period of time, a frenetic pace is required. Prior to heading off across the Atlantic, I read an article in a travel magazine that encouraged its readers visiting Ireland to take the opposite approach. Go visit the Ring of Kerry, the author advised, but be sure to spend five days there. Maybe you can squeeze in a drive around the Dingle Peninsula, but be careful you don’t overdo it. Soak up Ireland slowly, leisurely, and contemplatively in one setting.
Of course, that’s sound advice for a certain type of person who wants to experience a certain type of trip. But that wasn’t going to be us—not this time, at least. My traveling companion and I were going to try to hit all of the highlights in one fell swoop with Guinness, beef and Guinness stew and Guinness-battered bread to sustain us. It was only during the final night of our trip, while cozied up in the corner of a Kilkenny bar as a band sang a lively rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” that a Galway native, upon hearing me recount all of the places we had seen the previous six days, looked me in the eye and said: “You’re crazy.”
For a detailed summary of the Road Tripping the Emerald Isle itinerary, see the full post in the Travel Itineraries section.
One of my favorite times to explore a city is at sunrise, when the streets are empty and normally bustling squares are silent save the errant garbage truck collecting its daily haul or the shuffling footsteps of a resident on their way to work. On a trip to Italy last spring, knowing that it was only a matter of hours before the narrow alleyways would be thronged with tourists and school groups, I set out to photograph the early morning light as it hit the iconic structures of Florence.
Dubrovnik. The name alone is enticing. It’s alluring—conjuring up visions of red-roofed buildings set atop rocky outcrops where a hungry Adriatic laps at their feet. It’s historic—the massive stone walls that encircle the city were first constructed in the 12th century. And it’s multifaceted—reminding you of the military siege that befell the city for seven months in 1991 during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
The city has long been a popular stop for cruise ships navigating the Mediterranean where, in summer months, throngs of tourists sporting sunhats, shorts and flipflops flood the narrow streets. The Stradun, the main thoroughfare running 300 meters through Dubrovnik’s Old City, transforms into the Autobahn where young and old alike race to buy ice cream cones and Croatia-themed beach towels. But as the afternoon fades and the day trippers depart, the city quiets down.
It only takes five minutes of walking through Valparaíso to determine that this place is more contemporary art gallery than city. Sure, there are cars and trolleybuses, sidewalks crowded with pedestrians and street dogs, restaurants whose patrons spill outside to have a cigarette and talk about the national football team, all of which are active participants in the city facade. Dig a little deeper, though—which is to say, feel your quads ache and your lungs burn as you purposefully lose yourself on the steep and winding streets—and your eyes will soon feast on a series of murals which transform city blocks into an urban canvas.
I’m not going to say I based the location of a friend’s bachelorette on a beachside, no-frills seafood joint I once read about, but I will admit I had margaritas and fresh ceviche on the mind when I reserved a house on Soliman Bay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Located 12 kilometers north of Tulum down an unpaved road that first leads through a mangrove swamp before turning to run parallel with the water, Soliman Bay is a tranquil slice of paradise in an otherwise overdeveloped section of Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Which is to say, you wouldn’t stumble upon it unless you went looking for it.
At the end of this unpaved road, after the houses tapper off and the mangrove swamp increasingly appears as if it is going to overrun the path you are on, you’ll find Chamico’s.
For a first-time visitor to Istanbul, determining where to rest your weary head in the sprawling metropolis of nearly 15 million can be a daunting task. Neighborhoods once considered too gritty and underdeveloped for tourists are now saturated with coffee shops, boutique hotels and art galleries—waterfront Karaköy near the Galata Tower and Kadıköy located on the Asia side of Istanbul being two of them. But if your visit is going to be UNESCO World Heritage site-centric as mine was, then there’s no better choice than the Hotel Ibrahim Pasha located a stone’s throw away from the Blue Mosque in the heart of Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s historic old city.