Have you ever wanted to go to Barcelona? Who wouldn’t, right?
With it’s unique Catalan culture and language, the Mediterranean Sea, and ancient history, this is an international destination for any traveler.
What about Dublin? I mean, another astounding YES, right?
Most of us have enjoyed a pint of Guinness and have been told by pretentious friends that, “It’s so much better-tasting when you drink it in Dublin.”
This modern metropolis ties centuries-old tradition together perfectly to form a major global hub of the arts, technology and history.
“How on Earth could this happen?” you might ask.
Well, it just so happened in these two spots, that the towns themselves and the immediate surrounding areas turned out to be hidden gems that we had no idea about prior to arriving. These sits especially, have really revealed to us the notion that living like a local offers so much more than wearing the tourist hat.
These attractions are what we envisioned when we signed up for pet-sits in the greater metros of these iconic cities. We were delighted that these sits were three- and two-week-long stays, as we had plans to regularly explore every nook and cranny with our pets. And despite not being right in the city center, both locations offered easy and quick train rides downtown.
So after our combined five weeks in the two cities, we ended up visiting a grand total of 1-TIME.
It feels as though, now, that if we had focused on Barcelona & Dublin exclusively, we would have missed out on broadening activities, like experiencing an annual fire festival (we have the burn marks on our clothes to prove it) in Sant Pere de Ribes with newly-found friends, or immersing ourselves in live Irish folk music while celebrating Good Friday with a pint for the first time (www.pioneeringpetpals.com/blog/aoine-an-cheasta-to-you) in a quaint coastal town.
The City of Tarragona was a short train ride away and offered fantastic glimpses into ancient Roman life in the forms of a greatly preserved amphitheater, city walls and an impressive acqueduct, which citizens relied upon for their water consumption, bathing and cleaning. This city was truly a sight to behold and we were even able to take Harry on the train with us!
Moreover, a really introspective experience in County Meath came in the form of Newgrange, an ancient Neolithic burial and ceremonial site. To the untrained eye, this area might just look like a big hill or mound, but once you get up close, you can see the near-impossible feat our ancestors of 5,000 years ago took to create such an awe-inspiring marvel.
Three generations of work in the making, these early Irishmen used their ingenuity and brute strength to move several-ton boulders from miles away and assemble them into an architecturally-sound passageway and chamber.
Here, they carved beautiful designs in the stone to honor the remains of their loved ones who were set to rest amidst the chamber. It was here where their spirits would dwell until the winter solstice, when the dawning sun would rise and perfectly slip through the only window of the structure and run down the passageway to the chamber, where the sun god would extend his hand to the waiting souls and take them up to Heaven (our tour guide demonstrated this by turning all of the lights out inside and used his flashlight to mimic the sun, which that alone gave us chills).
But really, the accessibility to trails and parks enabled us to take our dogs-at-the-time, for long adventures that we all really enjoyed. From seaside cliffs, national parks and a religious Mecca in Montserrat, to sheep-populated fields and seals bobbing in the bay in an old Viking town, these are memories that we will certainly hold dear, and we like to think that Harry, Eli & Kim will, too.
Don’t get us wrong, we ended up visiting both Barcelona & Dublin and absolutely loved them. Everything we mentioned previously about both holds true and then some, and will certainly make it a point to return.
However, being lucky enough to be situated in such ideal locations for a good length of time enabled us to really explore and find out about these magical areas of Spain & Ireland, that sadly (or maybe not so sadly) many travelers will not get the opportunity to visit.
And to do a lot of these things with our furry friends really makes it that much more special.