Sarah Wagner, one of our writers, got out on the road with Trafalgar last month to experience the delights of Ireland.
We caught up with Sarah after her trip to find out some of her favourite moments, and here’s her account.
What trip did you go on and what was your itinerary?
I went on Trafalgar’s Irish Highlights trip. I joined the group on day five and enjoyed Killarney, the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty, Limerick, Galway and Dublin.
How did you find travelling alone, but as part of a group?
I felt a little apprehensive about joining the trip on day five, because the group already had five days to bond. But I needn’t have been worried about feeling like I was crashing someone else’s journey.
Even though people were travelling in couples and small groups, everyone was super-friendly and made the effort to be sociable. We were one big group and we enjoyed the experiences together. I also felt like I got a nice amount of ‘me-time’ though, too.
What did your Travel Director do to make your trip special?
Our Travel Director was Valerie Foley and she couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. Joining on day five, she made a special effort to welcome me and introduce me to the rest of the group.
Valerie knows Ireland like the back of her hand, and her local knowledge shone through when she introduced us to hidden treasures throughout the journey. One day she even took us for a surprise cream tea.
What really struck me is the way that Valerie added a real personal touch to our trip, like weaving in her own stories as she told us about local history. While we were on the coach, she would read out poems which brought what we were seeing to life.
Did you enjoy any exclusive-to-Trafalgar experiences?
I’ll never forget the Be My Guest we experienced at Catherine Fulvio’s farmhouse, which is set in the middle of beautiful countryside.
Catherine cooked us a delicious three-course lunch in her home, which doubles up as a cookery school and restaurant. It really felt like we were her personal guests, and she regaled us with stories about her life while we enjoyed our food. She was a real character.
What surprised you most during your journey?
I’ve been to Ireland four times (including Dublin) for all different events, but this is the only time I got a true feeling of what it’s like to be Irish.
Galway is where my great grandparents are from, so it was cool to feel like I was going back to my roots. I even toasted them with a pint of Guinness in a local pub.
Ireland’s renowned for its hearty but simple cuisine. What was your favourite meal and why?
It was definitely the lunch at Catherine Fulvio’s. She cooked up a medley of soups to start, including carrot and coriander. The home-made breads they were served with were delicious and perfect for dipping.
The main dish was chicken, mash and roasted vegetables – very simple but the flavours were amazing. And because we were eating in her house, which is surrounded by her vegetable patches, it just felt really real. We got to experience how local people dine.
The dessert was divine. It was a cake with fruit and almonds – a little like a frangipane – served with home-made ice cream. My mouth was in heaven!
If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of Sarah, check out our 7-day Irish Highlights trip. Or share some of your favourite moments of Ireland below.