So I am a travel writer. I do a job that many people dream of. I travel the world, visit exciting places, then I sit down and write about my experiences. Live through the moment once again in front of a computer screen, to bring back to life the sounds and smells and colours of a destination. My job is to make you want to go to new places.
It’s a glamorous job, one that you have to describe to strangers at dinner parties because sometimes for them it’s hard to wrap their head around it. A job that is so exciting that I always feel the need to justify it because it just sounds too good to be true.
But being a travel writer is not just about lazing in a hammock by the beach with your laptop on your lap. Truth be told, it’s hard work. In particular when you go to a destination that people want you to write about on a day where you should have better stayed in bed.
You see, being a travel writer is like dancing a waltz with a partner. If your partner is not a good dancer on the day, you have to cover for them. You have to pull the weight for two to ensure you stay in the rhythm and don’t ruin the dance.
On the day that we visited the Cliffs of Kilkee in Ireland, I found myself in exactly this kind of situation. The Cliffs had broken a leg, so to speak, and I was trying to dance for the two of us.
But that was ok, because it’s my job. I didn’t expect sunshine to suddenly appear to make it easy for me. This was Ireland in October, after all, and I am aware that everything else would have been out of character for this country. It was a challenge but when you know how you can easily find happiness even in situations like this. Let me show you.
Ain’t no Sunshine in October
It was autumn in Ireland, and that’s the season where you have to be very lucky to get clear skies and some sunshine. So don’t expect it. Prepare for rainy weather. Ditch the umbrella, it won’t work here. The coastal winds might tear it to shreds anyway or send it flying over your head. Put on waterproof shoes and a windproof jacket with a hood with strings that you can pull tight under your chin. Brace yourself, and take the first step.
I know it’s a broccoli kind of day but trust me, it’s going to be alright.
The Cliffs of Kilkee were a bit of an off-the-beaten-path destination on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Most people would want to visit the Cliffs of Moher, even though you had to pay and you would have to share the views with lots of other people.
However, just a couple of kilometres further down the coast, Kilkee offered just the same jaw-dropping views, all for free and without the crowds.
The Stunning Cliffs of Kilkee
The easy cliff walk led by Martina from Emerald Irish Tours took us past a small beach and up the cliffs to some of the best views of Ireland. Even if the sun wasn’t out, the appeal was there. And believe it or not, it was as Irish as it could be.
On most days, Ireland was not a country of blue skies. It simply wasn’t. You might have gotten a patchy day of clouds and sunshine, but this was not the Mediterranean.
Instead, it was a country where a walk along the coast would feel like a baptism of some sort. It was invigorating, cleansing for your soul.
As we began our guided walk from the outskirts of town and to the Cliffs of Kilkee, the forces of nature were in full action. The tugging and pulling of the salty air. The shrieks of the seagulls, as they held onto dear life in the steep rocks. The gushing and foaming Atlantic Ocean, as it washed around the stone with brutal force.
The skies were dark and hazy, a big rainy cloud that stretched from here to the horizon. Rain was our constant companion on this walk, slowly draining us from head to toe. The cold water seeped through my sleeves and around my hood into my sweater’s neck.
I was trying to take pictures, but the lens fogged up or got wet, blurring the vision. Inclines were so slippery that we all needed to hold onto the rails to pull us up the hills.
Happiness is all About the Mindset
Where to find happiness in a setting like this? You are cold and wet, you can’t hear the guide as you keep on falling behind, battling to keep the water out of the camera. Deep inside, all you want is to go home and back to bed with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Truth be told, if it hadn’t been for the job I wouldn’t have been here in the first place.
I started to feel cold and miserable. And with a sigh I wondered how on earth I should write about this place in a way that others would still want to come and visit.
But there was one thing I learned about life. It was all about the mindset. You had to embrace situations like this and flip them around. See the positive things. Notice the details.
The details: The colourful guerrilla knitting attempts of the locals, for example. They warmed my heart and made me smile.
The statue of late actor Richard Harris as a young tennis player along the way. He used to live in Kilkee, and his statue had also been yarn-bombed by the local community.
Then the scenery: The beauty of the rocks, as they formed natural auditoriums and deep channels. The majesty of the spectacular cliffs, making us all feel so incredibly insignificant in the great scheme of things.
What you made of it: Find humour in this situation too, because there was plenty. The green grass that covered the black rocks. It looked like an unruly hairdo. The way we all appeared in the gale winds like oversized Teletubbies. The warm feeling of companionship as we all grinned into the camera for a group selfie in the highest spot where the winds were the worst.
Delicious Rewards in Front of a Warming Fire
And here is another way how you can enjoy a situation like this. Reward yourself. After all the cold and the rain that washes away your stress and your worries, treat yourself to some warmth and comfort and food and sweetness.
Find a place that is as welcoming as a home, such as award-winning Long Dock in Carrigaholt. A gorgeous country pub with mugs hanging from the ceiling, each one of them with the name of its owner on the bottom.
Take off that jacket, stretch your feet out in front of the fire and warm yourself up on the inside with a drink.
The hostess greeted our soggy group and immediately welcomed us with a glass of warm whiskey, watered down and spiced with an orange peel and a clove. Perfect to get the chill out of our bones and to ease us into the festive meal that awaited us a few minutes later.
Even here at the Long Dock, the Atlantic Ocean was never far. Seafood and fish dominated the dishes, hot and cold. Salty and fresh, bursting with flavour. Chowder, creamy and sweet, served with a buttered slice of Irish soda bread. Big mussels, juicy and soft. Crab salad, the claw with a delicate coconut taste.
The dishes kept on coming and in the end we needed to declare defeat, dried up, warm and content.
We finished off with an ice-cream from the backyard ice-cream parlour. As I had learned by now, the Irish love ice-cream. And if there was one food that really spreads happiness, even on a cold, wet and miserable day, it’s ice-cream.
In the end I think I danced the dance pretty well for the two of us. The Cliffs of Kilkee were gorgeous and are a must-do in the area, some might say even better than the Cliffs of Moher. Even if the weather was not cooperating, it been quite the experience, so don’t worry if you wake up to broccoli weather.
P.S.: Just so that you know, I adore broccoli, so this was just a lazy figure of speech.