Lohort Castle Cork County Ireland Sunset December Wedding Photographer Vacation

The Castle.

When deciding we’d spend a day or so in Ireland I really just wanted to drive the countryside. Get off the highway and just drive. Seeing as much of it as I could see. Meg is OBSESSED with castles. I can’t even tell you how much so in words. I began looking through castle ruins that we could see on our day of driving. At one point I saw a photo of this castle. Actually just the entrance.I had to find it though. And I did. Then I kept it a secret from Meg. It’d just be fun to surprise her. A castle in the country that’s in ruins, sorta, with no one around or paved walkways around it or touristy. The only catch… it might end up being on private property. I guess I’d just find out when I got there.

That morning Meg woke up to a little bit of drama. And as much as she didn’t want it to show…. what was happening was hurting her. So we took our time that morning getting ready. Then it took a little time to find a place to eat since Irish don’t usually eat out on Sundays. We ended up having one of the best breakfasts of all time in an Irish pub! As we left breakfast Meg took care of things and put the events of the morning aside as I told her we were going to a castle somewhere in the opposite direction of our final destination. And we started driving out of Limerick on another cool, rainy day.

After driving in circles around the property we finally found a way in. I pulled up to a locked gate and parked our bright red car there with some trees separating us from the neighbors house. We sat there looking down the driveway with the entrance in the distance. What was our next move?

Lohort Castle Cork County Ireland Sunset December Wedding Photographer Vacation

There was no way we were not going down there. We quietly got out, grabbed our stuff and tried to quietly shut to the car doors and not disturb the neighbors dogs. Then squished through the gate swiftly walking down the path. If we got caught…. we could talk our way out of it. Right?

Meg was pretty much jogging towards the castle entrance and I swear her face had to hurt from the huge perma grin. I knew my girl loved castles but even I didn’t expect this much excitement out of her. And anything that had happened that morning was washed away.

I’m honestly not sure how long we were there. It was a long time. But at the same time, I wish we had stayed longer. We spent most of our time there just looking at it with our mouths wide open. It was so incredible. The entrance alone had us mesmerized.

We walked up. Laughed alot… cause what the hell, where are we?!! Took the same photo over and over and over. And then as we started to walk through the entrance Meg took off running back down the driveway yelling something. It sounded like she was saying “Someone is coming!” Which I thought…. then why the hell are you running towards them?!!  But really she was yelling “The sun is shining!” And we ran back out jumping in delight and rephotographing all of it as the sun set. Our only sunset the entire trip.

It was as if the universe was telling us this is where were meant to be. Life is good. I stood there watching Meg dance in the sunlight. Her journey and my own are similar in many ways. And, damn, they sure as hell haven’t been perfect. But they are our journeys. Ours to own. Ours to choose. Living to the fullest and happiness are choices. Ones that we choose, on a regular basis.

And for some it might sound crazy, but this moment was my favorite of the entire Europe trip. From the fjords of Norway to the Eiffel Tower and everything we saw in between… it’s this moment. Because it’s the small things in life that really make up life. Dancing as the sun shined through our hair, in the middle of the Irish countryside, in front of a real castle, just one of my best friends and I. That’s it. Til we make our way back there again….

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*The photos are a mix of mine and Meg’s from our cameras, GoPro, & iPhones. Ok, mostly from our iPhones!*

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Eurotrip Part 1 | Norway
Eurotrip Part 2| France
Eurotrip Part 3 | Ireland

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Cliffs of Moher Ireland Sunset Winter December Destination Wedding Photographer Vacation

Ireland. We only had 48 hours. We landed at 11am on Saturday and our flight left at 11am on Monday. So really outside of the airport we had about 45 hours. It’s so weird to think that’s all we were there. It seemed like we did so much and it ended up being my favorite part of our entire Europe trip yet we were hardly there.

Ireland wasn’t some preplanned idea where we said let’s go to Ireland. Once you’re in Europe it’s pretty easy to get around Europe by hopper planes or train. We booked our flight to Norway and then for a flight home just looked for the cheapest city to fly out of. Thinking it would be Paris or London. Turned out to be cheaper to hop to Ireland and fly home from Dublin. But there was no way we were just going to fly into Ireland to fly home. So we arranged it stay, just a little while. We told a bartender one night that there was no way we could just fly in and fly out and he replied “Well, ya. That would just be rude.” Indeed it would have been. Glad we weren’t rude 😉

I sorta fell in love with Ireland the second I saw it through the window on the plane. Our entire trip it rained. And most of the time it was that socked in clouds kind of raining. But as we flew into Dublin all we could see was greenery. And the sun was shining, welcoming us there. I think that Ireland loved me before I loved Ireland.

Dublin Ireland Flying Golf Course December Winter Vacation

Meg had little knowledge of what was happening on our trip. She wanted to be surprised the whole way. She didn’t even google the main places we said we were going. She was living for the surprise. For Ireland I had intended on getting off the plane, renting a car, and driving straight across Ireland to the Cliffs of Moher. Crossing my fingers we’d get there before dark and maybe even get lucky with a sunset. We’re in Ireland afterall, land of luck. Or something like that 😉  The flight over I had mentioned we were driving to the Cliffs of Moher. Finally Meg asked if they were similar to the Cliffs of MOTHER, she had really wanted to go there one day. Dots were connected that Cliffs of Mother is really Cliffs of Moher and her perma-grin began. The one place in Ireland she ever wanted to go to we were going to, as soon as we could get off the plane. Got our car and hit the road. Driving on the otherside of the road…. turns out I’m alright at driving on the other side of the car and road! We didn’t even stop for castles along the way, Meg’s favorite thing. We were determined to get to the cliffs. And we made it before dark, but not really a sunset. Still sooooo beautiful.

We rushed out there so excited to take photos. Jumped over the wall towards the cliffs to get more photos. And then we were yelled at and told if we did that one more time we were going to have to leave. Apparently you’re not allowed to jump over the wall. Although where we jumped the sign was a yield sign with a dude falling. That to me said be careful you don’t fall. If we had looked up or down the wall a few feet there were no climbing signs. OOPS.

Cliffs of Moher Ireland Sunset Winter December Destination Wedding Photographer VacationCliffs of Moher O'briens Tower Ireland Sunset Winter December Destination Wedding Photographer VacationCliffs of Moher Ireland Sunset Winter December Destination Wedding Photographer VacationCliffs of Moher O'briens Tower Ireland Sunset Winter December Destination Wedding Photographer VacationCliffs of Moher O'briens Tower Ireland Sunset Winter December Destination Wedding Photographer Vacation

Just driving around the view is soooo beautiful. The first night we stayed in downtown Limerick. We took a few minutes in our hotel room to relax and warm up after a freezing windy trip to the cliffs. In Norway nothing opened for dinner until at least 7pm. In France it was like 9pm if you wanted dinner. So we figured Europe eats late. We’ve got time to relax. And just before 9 we left the hotel to get some food. And nope, Ireland doesn’t eat late. Dinner is done by 7:30. I think they eat early to have more time to drink, I mean it kinda makes sense. And Pubs don’t serve any food after 7:30. After wandering for 30 minutes and seriously considering a visit to McDonalds we found a hole in the wall pizza place and devoured a fresh pizza. After only getting about 8 hours of sleep over 3 days in France we decided to have an earlier night that night. Afterall, Ireland was supposed to be the chill part of our trip.

Driving Ireland Country Roadtrip December Winter VacationDriving Ireland Country Roadtrip December Winter Vacation

Another fact…. Irish don’t usually eat out on Sundays. So took us a hot minute to find a place to eat. I’ve been dreaming about that breakfast since. A big Irish breakfast with tea in a pub. Oh, Ireland.

We didn’t have much planned for our second day in Ireland other than drive. And not on the highway. Although I secretly planned to take Meg to a castle or two. Meg is OBSESSED with castles. Her excitement around them is UNREAL and infectious. All she knew that morning after breakfast was that we were staying the night in Dublin, I was driving away from Dublin and trying to find some castle. But, here’s where I’m going to let you down a little bit. I’m not going to share the castle adventure with you right now. See I was trying to do something crazy and fun for my friend, but in return I realized something bigger. And that deserves a blogpost all for itself. Sooooo I’m gonna make you wait til next week to hear and see all about the castle.

Ok, fine….. a small preview! See… her excitement is unreal.

Lohort Castle Cork Ireland Country Sunset December Winter Destination Wedding Photographer Vacation

I could drive the country roads of Ireland for weeks on end. It’s so beautiful. Every town has the cutest little streets. And they were all lit up for Christmas and the holidays. Or as Ireland calls it…. Festive Season! And ugly sweaters are a real thing there. Not funny haha your sweater is so ridiculous. Like casual day wear with everyone wearing them. I was in Christmas heaven, I swear! We stopped in Kilkenny on our way to Dublin for dinner since it was close to 7:30. Decided to step into a local pub and grab a beer and dinner. Welllllll pubs don’t really serve food on Sundays. Who knew?! But the owner was awesome and quietly mentioned he had just come in that afternoon to make some soup for the next day if we wanted a fresh bowl he’d give us one. And there we sat. In a bonafide little Irish pub, watching NFL, eating fresh hot soup and drinking a Guinness. Which I don’t care too much for but I had a half link for sake of being in Ireland. The rest of the night I drank plenty of Kilkenny 🙂 And then we continued on our trip into Dublin. Parked the car and our stuff in our room and wandered the streets. Didn’t have to go far for multiple pub experiences, live music, conversations with cops, more food at a place called Elephant Castle…. marinate on that one….. And listening to those Irish accents and learning how bad American accents are and no one cares to have one haha.

Also take note that a beer in Ireland is a pint, not a 10 or 12 oz glass.  Also… they’re pints are bigger than our pints. By about 4 ozs.

After a late night out we once again had a quick nap and were up to head to the airport. Which was an adventure in itself. We didn’t really get there on time. I wasn’t worried at all. Dublin’s airport really isn’t that big so I figured we’d go through customs in New York. WRONG. Also rather than having separate areas of the airport for international to the US and the rest of Europe they don’t. So you go through security to go to the security again and then customs. Easy for me since I’m American and we’re headed to the US. Not as quick for Meg who is Canadian. Oh and the fact that the airline flagged her to be screened every time, even before boarding the plane at the gate…… We hadn’t even made it to customs when the monitors flashed final call for our flight. At which point we looked at each other and said well whatever, if we don’t make it at least we can eat, we were so hungry. But we made it someway, somehow. And then devoured every snack we could find in our bags.

I think I might have left a part of me in Ireland. It’s magical.  I can’t wait to get back there. Next time for more than forty-some hours.

If you get the chance to go to Ireland, go drive. Not on the highway. Just go get lost.

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*All of the photos are a combination of Meg & I’s from our camera’s, phones, and GoPro. But mostly our iPhones 😉 *

Driving Ireland Tipperary Country Roadtrip December Winter VacationDriving Ireland Tipperary Country Roadtrip December Winter VacationDowntown Kilkenny Ireland December WinterDublin Ireland Fly Delta December Winter VacationFly Delta Dublin Ireland VacationDriving Ireland Tipperary Country Roadtrip December Winter Vacation

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Mont St Michel France December Fog Wedding Photographer

France. Is kind of a blur.

So much happened in 3 days on about 8 hours of sleep. Honestly we didn’t put alot of effort into planning the France portion of our trip. Not that Meg and I make much of an effort when it comes to planning anyway. That should tell you how ready for France we were  😉  Meg’s sister, Steph, asked us to meet her in Paris. So we did. But we came a day earlier than her. We had our first hostel experience. Not bad. Aside from Meg and I’s bags generally explode when we get somewhere. There wasn’t much room for that there. But so fun to connect with other people traveling from all over the world. Although I think our roommates probably wouldn’t have picked us as their favorites. We’re aren’t the quietest. And we came in between 2am and 4am every night and somehow managed to be up and leaving for the next thing by 8am the next morning. Sorry people of the world. Sleep is overrated! Well on vacation it is.

Also my french vocabulary is really limited to Hi, My name is…, and thank you. Oh and oui. 🙂 But Meg who told me she knew nothing and cheated her way through french in school did really well on interpreting for us. I’m still impressed!

We flew into Paris late one night and Steph landed the next morning before we even finished breakfast, not that we ate early by any means. And the French Adventure began.

Starting with us walking most of the city. From the hostel to Notre Dame, down the river to The Louvre, to the Champs-Élysée for shopping, Abercrombie & Fitch models, french onion soup and macaroons from Ladurée.

Paris France Architecture December Vacation Wedding PhotographerParis France Architecture December Vacation Wedding PhotographerParis France Architecture River Channel December Vacation Wedding Photographer

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After a day full of walking we took a taxi back to the hostel to relax for a bit and get ready for dinner and the late night show of Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge was AMAZING!! If you go to Paris go to a show. Don’t just go to the Moulin Rouge for a photo, go to a show. So much fun. And we had lots of champagne during it. 😉

We actually rested too long at the hostel that we were hurrying to get ready and head up to Sacre Coeur for a view of the city and dinner before the show. We rushed through a delicious french dinner. Wine, escargot, steak tartare. Then we rushed out the door to make it Moulin Rouge and half way down the hill I realized I left my phone on the table at the restaurant. So I started running. In wedges. Made it to the top of the hill out of breath and stopped for a second to take a breath and I hear “MISS!” Our waiter Anthony had been running down the hill after us to bring me my phone. Anthony you are the best. I actually even yelled that. Meg and I are going back there for sure for more wine, escargot and beef tartare and to leave Anthony a HUGE tip.

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After the 11pm Moulin Rouge show Steph convinced us to get “one drink” at an “Irish” bar next to Moulin Rouge. Seemed silly at the time since Meg and I were headed to Ireland 2 days later. But….. now we’ll always have O’Sullivans. Clearly it was a great time as we were taking 4am selfies in the taxi!

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We had already rented a car for first thing the next morning to head out to Mont St Michel. A 4 hour drive each way. So after a nap we somehow made our way to the market for more bread and cheese and found us a taxi to the car rental. At some point that morning each one of us thought this was stupid and we shouldn’t go. But none of us voiced it. Thankful we didn’t as we wouldn’t have left Paris and Mont St Michel was incredible.

The car rental guys hated us as they weren’t going to let us return after hours and we didn’t want to drive in Paris more than we had to. Paris traffic is insane. And there are no rules. Normally this would be awesome, but if you could have seen us that morning you wouldn’t have recommended us driving anywhere, let alone IN Paris. The conversations that happened on the way to Mont St Michel are ones we’ll never forget. They’re the type that can only happen after a night of drinking and no sleep. I actually let Meg drive. I always drive. Meg hates driving and I don’t like others driving haha. But that morning. Meg pulled it together for the team. Which seemed fine until we got in the car. I began to reconsider the idea as she had a picnic in the driveway of the rental place. Although the looks we got from others coming in, renting their car, and leaving while we still sat there eating bread and cheese were priceless. Eventually we pulled it together and made it out of Paris. Paris France Driving

Driving up to Mont St Michel was amazing. It rained the whole day and driving through the tiny country towns we could start to see it in the distance in the clouds. Being December and it raining there was hardly anyone there as we roamed the small cobblestone streets alone. Exploring the Abbey. Stopping to take photos every corner. Each time we walked through a gate, or up some stairs was another sigh of OH MY GOSH! Where are we?! So glad we pulled it together and made it out there. The roadtrip home wasn’t one to forget either. Almost running out of gas and there aren’t gas stations every where in the countryside. Or really anywhere. Being so hungry we just pulled off a random exit driving in the dark what seemed forever away from the highway to a small town and stopping at a bistro to eat. Impulsive and spontaneous is our game. And the food was SO good. Honestly I still don’t even know where we ended up! Once again making it home at 3am with a 10:30am flight to Ireland the next morning.

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Truth. I almost left Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower. I mean, I saw it. From all over the city. Just didn’t go to it. I don’t know, I’m not drawn to seeing every monument or structure or tourist attraction. I’m all for making memories. And I’m glad we didn’t go until the morning before our flight. We managed to wake up after another nap of a night, get ready, pack our bags and get a taxi to the airport. But we requested a stop at the Eiffel Tower just for a quick photo. The driver took us RIGHT to it. We got out but we were WAY too close to take a picture. The rain continued as we started running down the street trying to get back far enough. Then some more to get a better photo. And then some more. As our taxi slowly followed us down the street haha. And from there we said bye to Steph and hopped back in the taxi. Our taxi driver asked us if he could take us somewhere, it would take one minute and would be beautiful. And we said yes. Well we said oui! He took us up a few streets over to an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower. And I ran through flocks of pigeons. The perfect ending to our French Adventure.

Then we were off to Ireland. Which happened to be my favorite part of the trip! Can’t wait to share that part with you! Til then…..

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Eiffel Tower Paris France December Vacation Wedding PhotographerEiffel Tower Paris France December Vacation Wedding PhotographerEiffel Tower Paris France December Vacation Wedding Photographer

*All of the photos are a combination of Meg & I’s from our camera’s, phones, and GoPro. But mostly our iPhones 😉 *

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Sognefjord Norway Stegastein Aurland Mountains Fjord

About a month and a half ago after a night of a few drinks Meg and I sat on the floor of her parents condo in Kauai Facetiming with her sister, Steph. Steph half jokingly said we should meet her in Paris in a few weeks. Without hesitation Meg and I, probably in sync, said “Yeahhhhh!! We’ll be there!” And so the Eurotrip planning began. We couldn’t JUST go to Paris. Not our style. There were discussions of stopping in Iceland or Norway first. Iceland, cause why wouldn’t we? Norway, cause we’re both VERY Norwegian. Ultimately Norway worked out the best. Don’t worry Iceland we’re coming for you, eventually.

I drove up to Meg’s parents house outside of Calgary the night before our trip and she flew in from Kauai. After a good nights sleep (the most we’d get for another 2 weeks) we had some breakfast, tried to pack as much as possible into our bags (including a tripod we would never use, but you know, just in case), climbed in the car and made our way straight to the airport and the bar for a drink before hopping to the otherside of the pond.

We started the journey in Oslo, the capital of Norway. It’s a cute little town with fun little streets all dressed up for Christmas. We had tried our best to stay up as long as possible to get on track with time but only made it til 8:30pm. Which inevitably had us up at 4:30am, wide awake. And hungry. All we had was licorice. So we started the day at 4:30am with licorice 🙂 Classic.

Oslo Norway Opera House iPhoneOslo Norway Downtown Opera House Karl Johan's Gate DecemberOslo Norway December Christmas Karl Johan's GateOslo was beautiful but we were itching to get to the other side of the country, fjord country. So the first morning in Norway we hopped on the train, The Bergen Railway. And went Bergen. The train ride was AMAZING!!! If you go to Norway, it’s so highly recommended. 7 hours of amazing views across the country. And with the sun rising at 9:30 and setting at 3:30 we didn’t miss a sunrise or sunset! Well really we only saw the sun rise as it rained almost our entire Eurotrip. Til Ireland… can’t wait to share that one with you. But watching the sun rise over the snow covered Norwegian countryside…. stunning.

Bergen Railway Oslo to Bergen Norway

Bergen Railway Norway Countryside December Christmas

I fell in love with Bergen. All of the tiny little tall houses connected to each other, winding staircases, cobblestone streets, markets and delicious coffee. Such an incredible little town. We rented a little apartment right in the heart of the Bryggen district. Had one of the best meals of our lives. A 7 course meal at a local seafood restaurant. Reservations are required, however in true fashion Meg and I managed to get in and get served, without a reservation. If you go check out Restaurant 1877. BOMB! And so worth $100 each, ha!

Bergen Norway December

Bergen Norway Bryggen December Night Christmas

Bergen Norway Bryggen December Night Christmas

Bergen Norway December Floibanen

Our last full day we rented a car. Not cheap in Norway but exploring for us requires a roadtrip. We just started driving. Through a million tunnels. And found ourself in an area that I think Christmas comes from, haha. Winter wonderland. Our rental car had great snow tires, thank God!! And then onto an overlook of Sognefjord, called Stegastein. So beautiful. And into the smaller towns below. You realize just how big this world is and how small you are when you stand at the bottom of a fjord looking up. But even as small as we are, we have the power to change the world. It’s surreal to just stand there.

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I feel like one of the luckiest. To have a good friend on a life journey so similar to mine, at similar times in life, that can pick up and travel the world with me. To dance around the world together. And not kill each other. There are just some people that no matter how much you love them, you can’t travel together haha. We’ve come to realize we’re perfect to travel with each other. We don’t have to talk every second. We’re up for anything, why wouldn’t we? We like the same music. We’re not that interested in touristy sites, we’d rather hit the road and just see what happens. If nothing, we always end with a great story and lots of laughter. After something incredible happens we just want to sit for a second (or an hour) and relive it while editing the photos we took of it, however long that may take. We can somehow get by with no sleep, as long as we have each other and a good playlist. I’m so grateful for her. May we continue to dance through life, even when life takes us down, the other is there with a hand to bring you back up.

This was a whirlwind of a trip and we moved at hyperspeed. Only a few days in each place. And next came France!!!  Wait for it 😉

Check out Meg’s version of Norway over on her blog!

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*The photos are a mix of mine and Meg’s from our cameras, GoPro, and iPhones. Ok, mostly from our iPhones.*

See our next stop, France, HERE!

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