In today’s blog, we are going to play catch up from July 2021. Let’s go!
We found ourselves at an aire near Mont Saint Michel in France that has a dump station, potable water, and electricity for a small fee. The kids didn’t mind being in a campground-like setting because having electricity means they can play Minecraft or Roblox on our laptops. One of our laptops is pretty old and thus doesn’t hold a charge on its own so they can only use it in situations like this.
We were on the fence about visiting Ireland. Because we were waiting to see if borders would finally open up to tourists, we couldn’t buy ferry tickets ahead of time for a discounted price. We didn’t want that to cause any future regrets so we bit the bullet and bought a ferry ticket. I think it was around $900 for the five of us in an overnight cabin on the cheapest route. Cats were free.
Ireland required all unvaccinated people to get a PCR test for entry. Since Dan and I were both vaccinated, only the kids had to get tests done. None of us had to take any tests since the pandemic started. This was the first for anyone in our family. The kids didn’t enjoy it but did what they had to do. This is at a drive-thru test site at a hospital. Our van was too tall to drive-thru so we walked thru. Ha. All the tests were free for them during this time. Not sure if it is because they are EU citizens or if it was just free at this time.
We made out way to a beautiful wild camping spot in La Hague, France, not too far from the city of Cherbourg where the ferry departs to Ireland.
It was a safe place for the cats to roam. Plenty of places to hide and far from the road.
A walk on the beach pebble was a little difficult for the cats.
I love when they find themselves rubbing against my legs.
Wish we could stay at this place longer but we have a ferry to catch the next day.
We chose to take Stena Line From Cherbourg, France to Rosslare, Ireland because it had the best price and it did not charge extra for pets.
We had to show our EU (Croatian) IDs, covid certificates for adults, negative PCR tests for kids, EU pet passports and they scanned both cats’ microchips. Everything went smoothly until we were told that our ticket was not paid for. WHAT? Even though I paid online and got confirmation of payment, I guess the credit card was eventually declined without notification. Because we used our US credit cards, I believe it was an issue with us having to sign for payment which no one in the EU does. After some back and forth, the agent worked some kind of magic and our US credit card was accepted.
These are our cabin keys.
Pets are not allowed in the cabins on this ferry. You have an option to pay for a kennel or keep them in your camper. We chose the latter to make it less stressful for the cats. We were allowed to check on the cats twice, once at 10pm and once at 10am. In order to get our camper, we had to be escorted by an employee and had 10 minutes with the cats.
Some people chose to leave their dogs in their vehicles as well. During those 10 minutes, lots of dogs were being walked and I’m guessing taking care of their business on the car deck. These puddles were from the thunderstorms we were sailing through that night.
Our four-person room with a private bathroom and shower. The top bunks were folded away when we got here. The two youngest kids shared a bed.
Lots of movies to pass the time. The girls and I took motion sickness pills and no one got seasick… until our rescue ferry from Morocco to France last year.
We left food out for the cats which wasn’t the smartest move. One of them ended up throwing up kibble on our bed.
And hello, Ireland! Country #36 for the family.
Our first time driving on the left side of the road. Thanks for the reminder, Ireland!
A quick stop to get local SIM cards. 20 Euros for unlimited data for one month.
We looked online for a “quiet” wild camping (boondocking) spot not too far away for our first night in Ireland. As you can see, it wasn’t as quiet as we expected. Lol. This is Hook Lighthouse.
We found a nice grassy spot away from large groups which was perfect for us.
It’s summer and sunny and the ocean is cold but that didn’t stop the kids from acting like locals. In the water, they went.
Because of the proximity to the street and the number of vehicles here, this wasn’t a great place for the cats to run free. We took turns walking the cats which they pretty well on but we haven’t been backpack training them so thought we would try today.
It didn’t go so well because they just wanted to be free as we walked through fun fields and paths.
So back on the leash, they went. We’ll try again another time.
It’s impossible to walk two cats at the same time so I always have a helper with me.
Mila seems to volunteer the most to help out with this job.
Parked on the cliff. The grass above is so squishy to walk on.
Not a bad place to see our first Irish sunset.
In the morning we packed up and decided to make our way towards Dublin before we drive the Wild Atlantic Way.
We ended up parked under eucalyptus trees at a cool little pub called The Golden Anchor in Castletown.
We ended up befriending our neighbors who taught us how to properly pour a Guinness from our can. Not only that, he had a waitress bring Dan a real Guinness pint from the pub. It was such a nice surprise and the kindness of all the Irish we met didn’t stop there.
Dan and I ended up at the pub in their outdoor seating area and shared a pint with our new friends. It was such a treat to hang out safely with people again.
The next morning we decided to start making our way closer to Dublin. We actually ended up at this pub because the forecast said rain for the next few days. So we thought we’d hunker down. We learned quickly from our new friends that Ireland is famous for its upside-down weather and rain in the forecast shouldn’t stop us from doing things.
Ava helping walk Toby while we pack up the van.
He’s was mad about the leash and pouting so she covered him with leaves and grass. Ha.
On our way out from the pub, we ran into a new friend that we met last night. He was out on a joyride on his vintage motorcycle.
It’s difficult to park in a city with a van of this size so we usually find something just outside of town. There was a paid marina lot next to the public train that would take us directly into Dublin.
Masks on. Let’s go.
Luckily for us, the train was pretty empty. If it was packed, we would have not taken the train at all.
We didn’t have a real plan for Dublin. Just going to walk to a general area and see where the day takes us.
Ok, we did have one plan. We wanted to eat burritos. Ha. We found a place that was like Chiptole that hit the spot for us Mexican food-loving travelers.
Lots of Google buildings here.
I made them pose in front of cute bars. In pre-pandemic times, a visit to Dublin would have been awesome but it really wasn’t the right time to be here. I know we would have wondered about this city if we decided to skip it.
A swan and their baby on the way back to the train.
I spy with my little eye… our van.
And off we go again, hopefully to find some nature.
Or these two will destroy our van more than they already do.
Thanks again for following our family’s adventure. And a special thanks to our patrons for their support 🙂
Until next time,
Here are the vlogs that Dan created that accompany this portion of our trip to Ireland.