Sunday, April 24, 2016

Castles & Cakes: County Galway, Ireland

To celebrate my 26th birthday, I rented an Irish castle. 

Yes friends, an actual castle. 

This castle, to be precise: 





This beauty is an Airbnb. I originally found it on a list of the best Airbnbs in the WORLD, and when I saw it was in Ireland I lost my shit. I've wanted to stay here SO badly, for so long, but as you can imagine, this bad boy is booked solid months in advance. 

Here's where the creepy part comes in. Remember last year when I rented a tree house? That was also an Airbnb that was booked up for months. However, about a month before my birthday I noticed they had one single opening, and it happened to be my actual birthday - so I booked immediately and spent my birthday BBQing and hot-tubing in a forest. 

This year, I kid you not, the EXACT same thing happened. I was searching for birthday ideas, and decided to check and see if the castle had any openings. Magically, they had ONE free weekend within a six month period...my birthday weekend.

Seriously you guys I don't know how or why this happens to me but I'm not gonna question it. Thank you, universe!

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, so Joey and I hopped in his snack-filled car on a Friday afternoon for a cross-country road trip, from Dublin to Galway, which took a grand total OF: 2 hours. 

Ireland is TINY, in case you didn't know.  

When we arrived, I was immediately giddy. This place seriously lived up to my princess dreams. Even the front door is magical: 



(It might be because I was freaking out too much, but I did not get any castle photos that truly did it justice, so click here to see a photo that shows how truly majestic it is!)

We said our hellos to our lovely hostess before putting our things down and grabbing a quick bite at a local pub so we didn't have to leave the castle for the rest of the evening. When we arrived back, there was a seriously gorgeous sunset spreading across the castle grounds: 





The castle lies on 3 acres of land, most of which is lush forest-y goodness covered in daffodils: 




Once the sun went down, we went inside to properly explore the interior. Our rental included access to the top 3 floors of the castle. The first floor included the kitchen, living space, and...bathtub: 



(The bathtub is underneath a trap door and is HUUUUGE! Also notice the sweet aquarium and massive DVD stash!)


(I didn't really get any good shots of the kitchen area, but this is the main living space. Please take note of the seating options. It's a lot bigger than it looks in this pic!)


The next floor was the bedroom, which is a gorgeous vaulted loft: 



(Quirky yet tastefully decorated, complete with working fireplace and tons of candles. Super romantic and lovely.)

When we woke up the next morning (my birthday!) we explored the third floor, which is actually a parapet! Kind of difficult to navigate, as you can see: 


But the views we woke up to were absolutely worth the bruises I got climbing around this thing:





Did I mention this place comes with a freakin' TRAMPOLINE? I saw it and died of happiness. I've wanted a big trampoline since I was a kid, I LOVE them. So we started our day with a little bounce in our step: 


Before heading out to somewhere freakin' epic.



This majestic beauty is called Ashford Castle. It's a hotel in County Mayo, about an hour drive from the castle I rented in Galway (it's my birthday and I can OD on castles if I want to, okay?!)

I booked Joey and I an afternoon tea date at the castle. Considering the cheapest room in this place is like 500 euro, their afternoon tea is amazingly well priced for what you get. They give you a legitimate TOWER of sandwiches that can't even fit on the table, plus endless tea, cakes of all kinds, champagne, and amazing homemade scones. It was in the most elegant room I've ever seen that had gorgeous views of the grounds. Sadly I didn't get any good photos of the inside (I was too busy shoveling food down my throat like a lady) but I managed to capture a sneaky moment during tea:


Once we had properly stuffed ourselves, we took a stroll along the grounds. Ashford Castle is situated right on Lake Corrib, which is stunning in itself.

 
(Pretty much the view we got from our tea!)
 

 (Looking elegant AF in my jeans and furry jacket. I promise underneath my darkness I wore tea-appropriate attire!)



Ughhhh it's so heavenly, I want to jump into these photos and re-live my day!

After a solid two hours of taking selfies and exploring the castle, we head back to our own castle to relax, watch movies & eat cake for the rest of the night. Another lovely birthday for the books, I'm a very lucky girl. 

The next morning we had a loooooong sleep. I woke up on my first day of being 26 to the most beautiful afternoon ever:


We made breakfast (lunch, really), took a walk outside & then packed up our things to head back to Dublin. Overall an incredible weekend that I'll cherish for years to come.

If you're interested in renting this castle, you can find it on Airbnb by clicking here. It is definitely in the middle of nowhere (which I found to be very relaxing), but there are tons of things to do all within an hour drive! Ashford Castle is just one of your options. That being said, I could not recommend both castles more, seriously an incredible experience!

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