Hugo's has one of the strongest, traditional Irish menus in Dublin , and I couldn't think of a better way to get vacation started than a lamb dish, complete with a side of potato terrine. Like clockwork, we woke up at 5 A.
Since most things don't open until 9 at the earliest, Rob and I went on a walk around St. Stephen's Green, to St. Patrick's Cathedral , and ended up back around Grafton and Exchequer street. For breakfast, we popped into Le Petit Parisien , for a light French breakfast before we embarked on 10 days of traditional Irish fare. The cafe is cute, with bistro music playing all times of the day, and art that will make you feel like you're in Paris.
I recommend getting there when it opens to avoid a major line. The Old library at Trinity is considered one of the prettiest in the world, and you simply can't miss it. For more history do you get the theme of my family vacations? It's a quick tour and the gardens are worth every dollar. For our final stop in Dublin, we grabbed a taxi over to the Irish Museum of Modern Art for a truly fantastic experience. If you love modern art, this museum is, in my opinion, one of the more underrated modern collections. After all of the busy travel, I was pretty excited to hop into our rental car and head to the coast.
For this trip, we opted for a rental car so we could travel around more easily, but buses are also a great option, especially if you don't feel comfortable driving on the other side of the road! The Northwest Coast of the Republic is fondly known as the Wild Atlantic Way, due to its picturesque beaches nestled among the mountains. While all of Ireland is truly stunning, especially given its lush green lands, the northwest is largely undeveloped.
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Tourism isn't as popular there, due to more unpredictable weather, so 10 days in the countryside was the perfect antidote to our chaotic L. Waking up on what felt like the other side of the world was perfection. The air was fresh, I heard the cows in the backyard, and I settled in for a cup of coffee and some bridal magazines at the kitchen table I'm getting married next year.
The owner and chef, Laura, left her job in Dublin banking 3 years ago to pursue her passion for baking and cooking. The HardyBaker is nestled in the surf town of Bundoran, and along with the local surfers and workers, foodies from all over have come to enjoy Laura's award-winning food. I always go for the avocado smash, complete with homemade onion bacon jam, but you can't go wrong with the breakfast bap or chicken sandwich either.
After a quick two-mile walk around the rougey an oceanfront loop , we went to Parkes Castle to see the lake and manor that inspired some of William Butler Yeats' poetry. For dinner, we stopped at The Courthouse , a Sardinian restaurant in the middle of the small town of Kinlough. Although the town where it's located is less than a block long, the restaurant is considered one of the best in Ireland.
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After another slow morning, we drove south to Lissadell House, the former home to Constance Gore-Booth, an Irish revolutionary, and her sister Eve, a poet and suffragist. On the way to Sligo, a major town known for its literary history, we visited William Butler Yeats' grave and tea room, a yearly trip my mom insists on making she's a professor of Political Science but an all-around literary nerd in the best way possible.
Once in Sligo, we walked around old shops and enjoyed the larger city benefits that aren't readily available in Bundoran. About 15 minutes up the coast is Strandhill, a surfers inlet with some of the best food, farmer's markets, and views. For our final step of the day, we hiked Benbulbin mountain to see the ruins of an old plane that have been there for nearly years.
The views were simply incredible, despite the treacherous trip it took to get there 10 miles! After what I would call the world's most exhausting hike, I decided to treat us to a spa day at Northern Ireland's newest spa, Finn Lough. Finn Lough is famous for its "bubble rooms," which are suites completely hidden within the forest that have degree views of the surrounding Lough Erne.
For the spa, they created several different hut stops that are completely private for the experience: a salt bath, hot sauna followed by lake dip, aromatherapy sauna, hot tub overlooking the lake, and a relaxation room. I seriously couldn't recommend it more. Searching, hoping, hurting but eager to support. Each other. Because it hurts. Our losses.
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They hurt. So much.
So in honour. Of every single hurt and loss we have suffered. In honour of Levi, of all your loved ones you have lost. Lets keep doing this. Let's beat epilepsy. To ebb our pain and fight epilepsy. To one day uncover the brilliance that will END epilepsy once and for all. I also want to say a huge thanks to our sponsors, prize donors and special guests, Alex Kopacz and Anthony Farnell. For those of you who do not know me, I am Katie Woudstra.
Now that we have come to 7 years of doing the run I look back and see how much we have progressed, pushed through and learned from throughout the years of doing this event.
It makes me, without fail, overwhelmed with gratefulness and love for those who have made this possible, especially Trudy Pogue and my mom Geri Woudstra. Together you have all truly made this event not only a yearly thing but also a family and a community days of the year to support and love one another through the good and the bad. However, when it comes time do our run every year I am so often with a heavy heart, pushing myself each time to speak on my greatest heartache and having a nagging reminder of not only my own struggles but especially those of so many, TOO many others living with or have lost their lives to the Monster of Epilepsy.
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This is why we do our run, to help uncover the brilliance that will one day weaken the Monster of Epilepsy enough that a cure will be found. Thus far our efforts have begun to weaken it and that feels good. But of course we must always push forward and do what we can. Last year on August 18 th , after over five years of remaining seizure free, I had a grand-mal seizure and once again I was stared right in the face by the Monster of Epilepsy. I will not claim to truly know each of your personal stories, your journeys or your heartaches. I am so sorry for those of you that have had epilepsy barrel down your "door.
Truth is it takes time, time to heal, time to understand how to move forward, time to breathe. So give yourself time in these seasons. Even when you do not feel it quite yet. It will be there.
Now I will just briefly read you a note I wrote down for myself just after I had my seizure in August: "This is a season. This is temporary. You are not alone, remember this please. Each inhale breathing through the pain, and exhale letting go a little bit of it at a time.
You ARE resilient. We love and appreciate you all so much. Life changes so very quickly.
One moment we are chugging along doing our mundane routines and then, boom! A surprise hits. Sometimes an absolutely amazing surprise like a loved one coming to visit from out of town or maybe a smaller gesture of surprise like flowers from someone you love.