Jeff and I took our belated honeymoon in February to Norway and Ireland.
Last April, prior to our engagement, I found a $280 round trip flight from New York to Oslo on Norwegian Airlines, a budget international carrier, through theflightdeal.com. I jumped at the chance, booking two tickets before I’d done any research. It turns out that Norway, along with most Scandanavian countries, is very expensive.
The remedy: Jeff found two roundtrip tickets from Oslo to Dublin, Ireland for $50 each! Sold!
We decided to use this trip that we’d already booked as our delayed honeymoon (we were married November 14, 2015 in a small ceremony at the Anna Scripts Conservatory on Belle Isle, Detroit).
We flew on a budget carrier Spirit flight to Laguardia Airport, where we had a 12 hour layover before our outgoing flight out of JFK to Norway. I convinced Jeff to take a bus and subway to Midtown, where we walked to Rockafeller Center, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and all the way South to One World Observatory (13 miles total!). He’s always up for an adventure!!
24 hours later, we arrived in Oslo for a 24 hour stay. We walked around town, spotted trolls, saw the Nobel Peace Center, the Royal Palace, and the Oslo Fjord riverfront. We ate reindeer steak and Norway’s national dessert at the Cathedral Cafe on Karl Johan’s Gate. We stayed the night in the newly renovated Oslo Central Hostel. It was a great introduction to beautiful Norway!
For the next leg of our voyage, we flew into Dublin and rented a car. It was our first experience driving on the left hand side in a car with the steering wheel on the right side (actually, Jeff drove everywhere! Ladies, I’m so lucky!!).
We drove to our first stop: charming Cabra Castle in Kingscourt, County Cavan.
We were greeted by medieval suits of armor and a crackling fireplace. We signed into the creamy paper guestbook and were then given a complimentary upgrade to the largest Suite (thank you honeymoon!). I felt like I belonged in Downton Abbey! It seems fitting: Jeff proposed to me in a castle and we were spending our honeymoon in a castle!
We took a walk around the castle grounds in the wind and light drizzle and warmed ourselves up with a snack of Hearty Hot Pot (my favorite meal of the trip!) and our first Guinness. Not typically a fan of stout, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious Irish Guinness is. Jeff says it doesn’t travel well, and he’s right! It tastes completely different in America. I’m craving an Irish Guinness right now. I’ll settle for some Irish soda bread with Irish butter….
Dinner was included with the room, and featured a five course meal. We chatted with the local Irish couple sitting next to us, and found out that they were also on their honeymoon, having just been wed that weekend. Conversations seem to flow so naturally with the Irish.
The next morning, we ate a full Irish breakfast at the castle, took a hike past emerald green pastures filled with cute sheep, and drove toward Northern Ireland, which is actually part of the United Kingdom, complete with red telephone booths and the British Pound currency!
We drove through Belfast, past the Titanic Quarter, and along the Causeway Coastal Route. We stopped at the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge and the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Giant’s Causeway. Both were spectacular.
That night, we found a small boutique Downshire Hotel that was featuring live music. We took the advice of the nice gas attendant in a smaller city called Banbridge. We checked into their last room, and stayed out late in the packed bar enjoying (ironically) American covers.
Saturday, we drove to Kilkenney, a quaint town that is home to the Kilkenney Castle, 13th century Canice Cathedral and its Round Tower. We climbed the 121 stairs up the ancient, narrow round tower for a gorgeous 360• view of the town. We rewarded ourselves with a tasting paddle at the original Smithwick’s brewery.
The next morning we drive to Blarney Castle in County Cork. We were one of the first visitors and were instantly charmed by the expansive flowering gardens, elegant emerald grounds and the empty Blarney Castle. We climbed the battlements to the top of the Castle and Jeff and I took turns being lowered by men to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. I can’t imagine how so many before us kissed the stone without the safety bars and assistance!
We stayed the night at the Metropole Hotel in Cork, where we were upgraded to the Lady Laverly Suite (very fancy!) simply because I told them that we were on our honeymoon. The desk clerk said that she’d get married just to stay in this suite!
The next day we drove to Killarney National Park where we hiked to nearby Torq waterfall. Every surface was covered with brilliant green moss. The West side of Ireland is so scenic and we’ve already vowed to return for a longer visit.
We continued our drive until we reached Dingle, the town that Jeff’s great-great-grandpa lived before coming to America. Dingle is my favorite place in Ireland! It’s a cute, colorful town that loves it’s resident dolphin named Fungie who lives in the Dingle Bay. We stayed with a charming couple (who may be distantly related to Jeff, as Helena is an O’Connor, but it’s a common last name here) in their An Capall Dubh (the Black Horse) bed and breakfast.
After driving the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, we went out for drinks and a live Trad Session that left me grinning from ear to ear. We also visited the famous Dick Mack’s scotch bar. You can’t enter a pub in Ireland without making friends!
We did our laundry and then hit the pubs, including but not limited to Hogans, historic Palace Bar, International Bar and later, Temple Bar. Again, every bar found us local friends and Jeff talked soccer/football with each.
Unfortunately, our time in Ireland was over. The warmth of the Irish people made up for the cold and rainy days. We can’t wait to return.
We flew back to Oslo, and we took the national Norway in a Nutshell tour. We took the scenic train route from Oslo to Bergen, where we spent two days hiking and enjoying the waterfront. We took the funicular to the top of Mount Flø, and then hiked back down through local neighborhoods. We also visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen.
Next, we boarded a train to Voss and a boat to Gudvangen, where we then travelled through a fjord to Flåm. We spent the night in Flåm in the Flamsbrygga Hotel overlooking the fjord. Best morning coffee spot ever!
The following day we took the famous Flåm Railway back to Myrdal and then took the train back to Oslo.
Our time in Norway seemed short but very, very scenic.
We enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon filled with beautiful sights and welcoming people! Jeff and I are very blessed!