Constantin Gerlach & Laura Droß are the Berlin-based photographers and founders of ONTHENORWAY, an online magazine focused on exploring travel destinations in the north. Their latest adventure? Road tripping Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. They share their tips for what to see, do and (of course) eat.
A year had passed since our trip to Norway and we could feel it in our fingertips: It was time to hit the road again. Our destination not as far north, but even further away from our hometown of Berlin. After a 2.5 hour flight, we arrived in Dublin, Ireland.
Our plan was set. We picked up our eco-friendly Mini Cooper in Dublin. We were very excited to drive the Countryman Cooper S E ALL4, plug-in hybrid, for the first time.
Our first destination was the coastal town of Kinsale in the south. It serves as the official starting point of the WAW, or the Wild Atlantic Way, that stretches 2,500 km along the western coast of Ireland. After our Norway trip we were well prepared, and in terms of fast-changing weather conditions, adventurous hiking trails and windy nights by the sea, Norway and Ireland could very well be siblings.
We'd crossed our fingers and were quite lucky: most nights our tent (no rooftop tent this time, but a classic camping set up) remained dry, and most mornings we could enjoy our coffee directly by the beach or amidst beautiful Irish greenery. Even on the more unpredictable days, we could pitch our tent, have our supper and snuggle inside before we heard the first raindrops falling on our "roof."
But before you are desperately disappointed: We did experience the real Irish weather one would expect! For three days we stayed in an incredibly lovely old mobile home and felt trapped in a movie scene, surrounded by lush greenery and paper-thin walls that seemed to fly away in the nightly storms, we edited our photos, drank coffee (and whiskey) and felt cozy and secluded from the rest of the world. Until the storm moved on, and so did we.
Apart from stunning mountain passes and wild Atlantic cliffs and shores, there is one specific quality about Ireland: the Irish. We could hike a mountain and feel like the only people on the planet and drive miles and miles through the countryside without seeing another car or meeting another soul (except sheep). But as soon as we met someone, may it be a pub owner in a small town, a peat cutter literally in the middle of nowhere or old fishermen by the sea, they all displayed genuine warmth, shared their stories and homes with us and made it difficult for us to leave them behind in order to get back on the road.
For three weeks we followed the Wild Atlantic Way and made it to Sligo. There are roughly 400 km left for us to travel, as well as Northern Ireland, once we return to the Emerald Isle.
Hints and notes for your trip to Ireland:
- SEAFOOD. Chowders. Crabmeat. Fish n' Chips. Mussels. Go for all of it.
- Support the local markets. Whenever you are lucky to find a backyard market, take your time to stroll – you won't regret it. They are not only lovely to taste the local products and find nice presents to bring back home, but they really are places of lived companionship, and you will make special memories.
- Skip the Ring of Kerry — it's overcrowded. Instead, go inland.
- Explore the countryside. Go hiking, biking and swimming!
- Take your swimsuit, but also woolen socks, hiking boots and your sunglasses. You'll need all of them!
- Try Irish craft beers. You'll be surprised at how many small breweries you find in villages. (But don't forget to enjoy a Guinness or two.)
- Don't order a large beer. It's called a pint.