ipsy Glam Bag Review: December 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, let’s dive into the final Glam Bag of the year. This gold sequined bag even came with some bonus items!

Nude Beach Eyeshadow in “Bootylicious”

from theBalm Cosmetics

Photo of Nude Beach Eyeshadow in "Bootylicious" from TheBalm Cosmetics
$36 for Nude Beach palette; theBalm Cosmetics

theBalm eyeshadows never fail to disappoint as far as color and longevity. I don’t tend to by them, though, because most of the shades I like are only sold as part of a palette, and I’ve already got more palettes than I know what to do with. “Bootylicious” is a beautiful dark brown shimmer that looks lovely on its own or as a transition shade. Like every other theBalm shadow I’ve tried, it applies smoothly with no fallout, and the color payoff is fabulous. If you want this shade, you’ll have to snag the Nude Beach Palette, which is a mix of 12 shimmer and matte nudes.

My Rating: 5/5

Glitter Flip Liquid Lipstick in “Infamous”

from Ciaté London

Photo of sample size Glitter Flip Liquid Lipstick in "Infamous" from Ciate London
$19 for .101 fl. oz.; Ciaté London

Matte liquid lipstick in a gorgeous berry shade? Yes, please! Add glitter? Ehhhh… I’ll admit the color holds up better than I expected, and the glitter doesn’t transfer as much as I thought it would, but I’m still dubious about how much I’ll actually use this. The website claims that it looks matte until you press your lips together and then it “flips” to glittery, but when I swatched it on my hand, it was glittery from the get-go. This might look great for holiday parties, but the jury’s still out.

My Rating: 3/5

Tapered Blending Brush 35E

from F.A.R.A.H Brushes

To be honest I’d never heard of this brand before, and I couldn’t find this brush shape with this exact handle on their website. This brush has a nice weight and balance to it, and the (vegan) bristles are super soft. It can be used with powder or cream eyeshadows, so you’re covered there. If this brush is any indication, F.A.R.A.H delivers a great quality for a reasonable price point. Definitely worth checking out.

My Rating: 5/5

Arch Arrival Brow Definer in “Taupe Tom”

from Sugar Cosmetics

Photo of Arch Arrival Brow Definer in "Taupe Tom" from Sugar Cosmetics
$12.99; Sugar Cosmetics

I never used any eyebrow products until about a year and a half ago, and now it’s the part of my beauty routine that I get the most compliments on, which I find funny. I’m lucky to have naturally full eyebrows with a natural arch, but they wouldn’t look nearly as great without the help of my aesthetician (love you, Lina!) My brows just have a couple of spots that can use some filling in. When I have the time, I contour with a brow powder duo. If I’m in a hurry, I just use a pencil. This particular pencil is iffy. The wedge shape is interesting, but I had to press so hard on my arm just to swatch it. I guess that stops you from going overboard and looking like Groucho Marx, but it left some red marks on my arm. We’ll see how it goes. This color is a pretty good match for me. It only comes in one other shade, Jerry Brown, which is for “medium to dusky” skin tones. Both are currently sold out on their website, so there must be a lot of fans out there.

My Rating: 2/5

Relax! Propolis & Honey Soothing Cream

from Hey Honey

Photo of sample size Relax! Propolis & Honey Soothing Moisturizer
$42 for 2.2 oz.; Hey Honey

I tend to really like skincare products with honey in them. It’s so fabulous for your skin, and Hey Honey is such a great brand. This moisturizer has a very subtle scent to it, nothing crazy. It’s also nice and light, so it left my skin feeling moisturized, yet velvety smooth and soft, not saturated.

My Rating: 5/5

Dew Pot in “Fine”

from Laritzy Cosmetics

Photo of Dew Pot in "Fine" from Laritzy Cosmetics
$20 for .12 oz.; Laritzy Cosmetics

If you’ve been counting, you’ll notice that ipsy included 6 items this month as a holiday gift! This gorgeous shimmery cream highlighter is as subtle or as in-your-face as your heart desires. I love that it’s not glittery. Wear it on its own or over your favorite blush!

My Rating: 5/5

Bonus Item: Eyeshadow Brush

from Inmo Cosmetics

Photo of eyeshadow brush from Inmo Cosmetics
$45 for 12-piece set; Inmo Cosmetics

I had some points that were about to expire, so I cashed them in for this brush. You can only get it as part of Inmo’s 12-brush set called “The Essentials,” but it seems like a decent quality. I’ll be honest, at first glance I thought it was a matching brush for the F.A.R.A.H brush, but it’s not.


This month’s bag had an average rating of 4.2. It’s nice to end 2018 on a high note! How did your beauty subscriptions turn out this month? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Meet My Newest Obsession…

Hey, y’all!

Sorry for being a little absent lately. We’ve had visitors, the holidays are always busy, you know how it goes. On top of all that, though, we’ve added a new member to our little family…

Meet our new fur baby, Shorty! She’s a 10 month-old Chiweenie (Chihuahua/Dachshund mix), and we’re totally in love with her. We found her on Craigslist of all places and picked her up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Over the past few weeks we’ve been getting her settled into our home and her routine. She’s a total cuddle bug and fits perfectly into our lives. We’re quickly forgetting what life was like before she came along. ❤

We’re still working on things like not barking at the next door neighbor (we live in a condo), and she certainly has that Dachshund stubbornness, but she’s really smart (sometimes too smart haha). She’s lucky she’s so darn cute! 🙂 We’re getting her spayed on Friday, which won’t be fun for any of us, but it needs to be done. At least we’ll have the whole next week to stay home with her and give her extra love.

Bonus: she was already completely house trained when we got her, and even after staying home alone for whole 10-hour workdays, she hasn’t had a single accident.

Bonus bonus: she loves wearing outfits! 😀

Things we’ve learned so far:

  1. If you are a doting pet parent and search online for the annual cost of a dog, multiply it by AT LEAST 2. Maybe that will change as we get all of the initial costs out of the way, but for now, I call BS on those numbers.
  2. Having a dog that sheds makes you do laundry a LOT more often.
  3. Dogs are like kids in a lot of ways. The first one we noticed was that we won’t be getting to sleep late for the foreseeable future.
  4. The second way we noticed dogs are like kids: they will try to eat anything that they can get into their mouths. Thankfully she seems to do well with leaving things like shoes and electrical cords alone.

I’ll try to do a better job of keeping up with the beauty stuff that I love, but this puppy is such an adorable distraction. ❤ Any puppy parenting tips? Tell me about your fur babies in the comments!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

ipsy Glam Bag Review: November 2018

November is here! This month’s bag was a super cute purple with black hearts. Check out the 5 products I got inside!

LOCK IT Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner in “Pearl Brown”

from L.O.C.K. Color

We know I’m a sucker for liquid liner, so that’s one drawback with this one, but the gel formula holds up nicely all day long. While I appreciate that I don’t need a sharpener for this pencil because it twists, I don’t like the fact that it’s not very precise. The color is absolutely gorgeous, though! Depending on the color of your eyeshadow, it reads as a deep copper or as a bronze with a hint of metallic olive. It’s great for fall.

My Rating: 3/5

Microfiber Dewdrop Sponge

from Juno & Co.

I haven’t been using a lot of liquid foundation lately, but I wanted to give this sponge an honest try, so I set my Laura Geller Baked Balance-n-Brighten aside. I really wanted to like this sponge, but I couldn’t. The velvety texture didn’t give me anything close to an airbrush finish. I had to go back over with a regular sponge to smooth things out. It didn’t do much better on my concealer, either. On top of all that, the texture made it difficult to clean. Pass.

My Rating: 1/5

Always On Liquid Lipstick in “Out Loud”

from Smashbox Cosmetics

Photo of sample size Always On Liquid Lipstick in "Out Loud" from Smashbox Cosmetics
$24 for .13 fl. oz.; Smashbox Cosmetics

This color is absolutely perfect for fall! It’s a deep orange that ipsy claims is universally flattering. I usually find Smashbox’s formula to be a little drying (I like Too Faced’s Liquid Matte better,) but I didn’t experience that this time, and the color payoff is really nice. It never became truly transfer-proof, but it managed to last a whole work day without needing to touch up.

My Rating: 4/5

Strictly Curls Miracle Treatment

from Marc Anthony True Professional

Photo of Strictly Curls Perfect Curl Miracle Treatment from Marc Anthony True Professional
$17.21 for (6) 1.01 fl. oz. jars; Amazon

I wasn’t super impressed with how it felt after blow-drying when I used this product the first time; I don’t think I used enough of it. The second time, though, my hair felt much smoother and softer. To be fair, I don’t have curly hair. It’s more randomly wavy. Have any of my curly haired gals tried it? What did you think?

My Rating: 4/5

Extraordinary Translucent Setting Powder

from Ciaté London

Just like my highlighter overload lately, I’m feeling a bit of a translucent powder overload from my beauty subscriptions. This one didn’t do anything to wow me. The jar size is so tiny, and it left my skin feeling a bit dry in some areas. It has a very fine consistency, so it did a decent job under my eyes to set my concealer, but it didn’t brighten my eyes like my Becca powder does.

My Rating: 2/5


This month’s bag had an average rating of 3.5. How did your beauty subscriptions stack up this month? Let me know in the comments!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Ireland Adventures Pt. 7: The Journey Home

Hey, y’all!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the north and weren’t ready to leave. All good things must come to an end, though, so it was time to start making our way back south to head home.

Day 11

Marble Arch Caves

We checked out of Donegal Manor and headed back towards the Enniskillen area to visit the Marble Arch Caves. It was a lot of small windy roads, but we were fairly used to them by this point. We arrived at the visitor center about 15 minutes before the next tour was scheduled to begin. We were disappointed to learn that because of the recent rainfall the water levels inside the cave had risen enough to down the boat tours, so we’d only be walking it. Not a huge deal, so we bought our tickets.

The caves were beautiful and the tour guide was very informative, but I have to admit that it paled in comparison to Carlsbad Caverns. I don’t necessarily feel like it was worth the admission price, but that’s just my opinion.

Travel Tip: It’s important to note that the Marble Arch Caves are not wheelchair or stroller accessible, and you have to climb about 150 steps to exit the cave.

Pollnagollum Cave

After leaving the Marble Arch Caves we drove about 30 minutes to another part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark to visit Polnagollum Cave. This is another GoT filming location from Season 3, where it served as Hollow Hill, the hideout for the Brotherhood Without Banners. It was absolutely beautiful, and I’m not sure why there was a gate blocking the well-defined path to the mouth of the cave. Sigh. I wouldn’t mind going back to explore the cave when rain hasn’t caused the water levels to rise so much.

Back to Dublin

It was time to keep making our way back to Dublin to fly out the next day. On the way we detoured to Newgrange, but it had already closed for the day. Another one for next time. We checked into the Travelodge near the airport, which we’ll never stay at again. They tried to charge us for parking, and as Jeff put it, it was basically a clean “roach motel.” Lesson learned.

We went to gas up the rental before returning it the next morning, and grabbed some dinner. Ironically, here we are in Ireland, and the most convenient thing we can find is McDonald’s, which neither of us have eaten in years. The menu didn’t seem much different, but we’re no experts.

We made it back to the hotel to re-pack our suitcases and get situated for our early-morning wake-up.

Day 12

Homeward Bound

IMG_2553

We had to get up pretty early so that we could get to the rental car place by about 6am. By the time we dropped the car off, we had driven exactly 2,131km around Ireland. We got to the airport a little after 6, and honestly waiting to get our boarding passes and check our bags took longer than anything else. Security didn’t make us take off our shoes, but they were definitely picky about the definition of a “quart-size” bag for liquids. After going through regular security, getting our VAT refunds, going through U.S. pre-clearance, and U.S. Customs, we made it to our gate just in time to start boarding.

Our flight took off a little behind schedule, but we were sharing a row with a friendly woman named Siobhany, who was traveling from Belfast to Vegas for her friend’s hen party. It turns out a lot of people from Belfast will take a train to fly out of Dublin because it’s more convenient. In Dublin you go through customs before you leave; if you fly from Belfast, you don’t go through Customs until you arrive in the U.S., which is tricky if you have a short layover.

We had a short layover in Newark, NJ, and we had to literally run from one end of the terminal to the other to make sure we caught our flight. We landed in Orlando around 3:30 and got a Lyft home. After 14 hours of flights and airports, we were home and missing Ireland already.

IMG_E2556
A beautiful gift from Odette & Liam

We’d love to go back to explore the places we missed: the Arran Islands, Torry, Bunratty Castle, the Wicklow Mountains, Binvenagh Mountain, and many more. Maybe we’ll get to drive the entire Wild Atlantic Way one day. Hopefully someday we’ll have a chance to explore more of Northern Ireland, as well. This honeymoon was perfect for us. Instead of drinking on a beach all day, we were active and exploring nature and history together. It also didn’t hurt that the weather was nice and cool. 🙂 If you ever have a chance to visit the Emerald Isle, don’t miss it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Yes, Oh Yas! November 2018

Hey, ya’ll!

November’s theme was “Girls Can!” Keep reading to see what was inside.

*Note: prices listed as photo captions are what I found on the respective product websites. Retail values listed below my descriptions are what was listed by Yes, Oh Yas!

Unicorn Tears Liquid Highlighter

from Beauty Creations

Photo of Unicorn Tears Liquid Highlighter from Beauty Creations
$14.99 for set of 6; Beauty Creations

To be honest, I’ve never used a liquid highlighter like this before. This one was really pretty; I just applied a couple of drops to each cheekbone and blended. I’m still partial to a regular powder or pressed powder highlighter, but it’s always good to try new things!

Retail Value: $17

Brow Lift Brow Highlighting Pencil

from Sormé Cosmetics

Photo of Brow Lift Highlighting Pencil from Sorme Cosmetics
$9.58; Amazon

I get a little annoyed when a Sorm&#233 product is included because they don’t have their own website that you can buy from. I was able to find it on Amazon for much cheaper than Yes, Oh Yas! claimed. It’s similar to the Chella brow pencil I got a couple of months ago; its creamy formula blends really nicely. I don’t really prefer one over the other.

Retail Value: $22

BK40 Deluxe Badger Oval Shadow Brush

from Crown Brushes

I’m not usually a fan of natural bristle brushes; I definitely don’t prefer them. I have to admit, though, that this one feels really nice and does a great job of applying eyeshadow with no fallout. Its size and shape lend well to doing an all-over color when I’m running late in the morning, but it’s still small enough to do some eye contouring, as well. It’s a very affordable price point, so if natural bristles aren’t a deal-breaker for you, I’d certainly recommend it.

Retail Value: $19

Brilliant Highlighter in “Swirling Pearl”

from Mirabella Beauty

This highlighter and I didn’t start off so well. When I took it out of the mailer envelope, it had completely detached from the pan but at least managed to stay intact:

It’s a gorgeous color, but between YoY and ipsy, I feel like I’ve been getting highlighter overload lately. I’m also disappointed to say that I contacted Yes, Oh Yas! after opening it, and I haven’t gotten any response at all. 😦 Anyway, this highlighter is currently on sale for $10, so get on it!

Retail Value: $42

Lip Contour Palette

from Aesthetica

Photo of Lip Contour Kit from Aesthetica Cosmetics
$24.99; Aesthetica

For lippie lovers, this is like Christmas–6 lip colors, 4 lip liners, and a lip brush! Lips aren’t my thing. I tend to stick with a neutral liquid lip that will stay most of the day. If I had to pick just one makeup item to wear, it would probably be my pressed powder foundation or liquid eyeliner. (Sunscreen is skincare, so it doesn’t count. 🙂 ) I swatched these colors, and they didn’t seem to be long-wear, plus I didn’t see myself carrying this palette around for touch-ups, so I gave it to my friend Danielle, who I know will give it a good home. She’s the reigning queen of lipsticks. ❤

Retail Value: $45

Total Value: $145*

*If you go by the website prices, the total comes out to $82.06 (I didn’t use sale prices, and I divided the liquid highlighter price by 6, since it’s normally a set of 6.) For $14.99 + shipping that’s still a heck of a deal!


What goodies did you get this month? Tell me all about them in the comments!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Ireland Adventures Pt. 6: DIY Game of Thrones Tour

Hey, y’all!

A good night’s rest helped us recover from our Slieve League adventure. Jeff and I are big GoT fans, and we figured we were so close to Northern Ireland and several filming locations that we’d make a day trip out of it.

Day 10

 

Mussenden Temple/Downhill Strand

The first stop on our list was Mussenden Temple in Co. Londonderry, which is apparently one of the most photographed buildings in Northern Ireland and was about 2 hours away from our hotel in Donegal. Mussenden Temple overlooks Downhill Strand, a seven mile-long stretch of beach. Downhill Strand was the filming location for Dragonstone in Season 2 when Stannis Baratheon rejected the Seven Gods of Westeros and let Melisandre burn their effigies.

We weren’t able to go into Mussenden Temple, but we were able to walk through the ruins of the castle that once stood near it, and we traipsed around the surrounding estate.

Portstewart Strand

IMG_2370

Just 15 minutes down the road from Mussenden Temple was Portstewart Strand, also in Co. Londonderry. This acted as the coast of Dorne in Season 5 when Jaime Lannister and Bronn go to bring Myrcella back to King’s Landing. There wasn’t much to the beach, so we basically snapped a picture and left. The town of Portstewart was pretty cute, though.

The Giant’s Causeway

 

About 30 minutes from Portstewart is the Giant’s Causeway (not a GoT filming location.) On the way we stopped at Dunluce Castle. We didn’t feel like paying admission to see some ruins, and we were eager to get to our next destination, so we didn’t stay.

The Giant’s Causeway is in Co. Antrim, and is a beautiful stretch of coast that features some really interesting basalt rock formations.

Travel Tip: Unless you really love those audio tours or you’re super curious to go inside the visitor center, don’t bother paying admission. You can do a self-guided tour of all the trails for free; you just can’t go inside the visitor center (don’t worry, the restrooms are located outside of the entrance.)

We spent about 2 hours walking various trails and taking in the surrounding beauty. The folklore surrounding the area is an interesting read. The weather was overcast, but it managed not to rain at all until we were almost back in the car.

Ballintoy Harbour

 

About 15 minutes from the Giant’s Causeway is Ballintoy Harbour, which was used as Pyke in Seasons 2 and 6 . The nearby beach was used for the scene where Theon was baptized into the religion of the Drowned God in Season 2. It also doubled as Dragonstone in Season 4 when Melisandre burned Stannis’ bannermen that wouldn’t stop worshipping The Seven. Talk about multi-purpose!

The Dark Hedges

 

We tried to visit the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which is only 5 minutes from Ballintoy, but they had just closed for the day. That will have to be for next time, too. The sun was starting to set, so we made our way to the Dark Hedges before it got too dark.

PSA: the road says no vehicles, and there’s a parking lot right across the street. For the love of all that is good in the world, “no parking” applies to you, too.

We parked across the street and took the short walk over. (Supposedly that parking lot is just for the hotel, but it was practically empty and no one gave us any grief over it.) The Dark Hedges at dusk were absolutely beautiful. The rude, entitled, and inconsiderate tourists spoiled it a bit, but we got some nice photos. The Dark Hedges were used as the King’s Road in Season 2 when Arya Stark was disguised as a boy on her way to join the Night’s Watch.

Heading Back

It was time to start making our way back to Donegal. We stopped at the Bushmill’s distillery, but they were already closed. As strange as this is going to sound, alcohol may have just saved our lives that evening. After stopping at Bushmill’s, we walked across the street to see if the convenience store had any hard cider. They didn’t have any, so we hit the road. Not far from there we came upon a bad car accident that had just happened minutes before. If we hadn’t made that extra stop, we might have been right in the middle of it.

After making it back to Donegal Town, we picked up dinner at the kebab place again and started packing up to leave the next morning. The end of our trip was looming closer and closer, and I wished we could hit the pause button.


Up Next: The final post–the journey home.

Love,

Sarah xoxo


If you’d like to be notified when new posts go up, please subscribe to Balanced Life Beauty.

Instagram: sarah.elizabeth614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Twitter: @SarahLiz614 (You can also click the icon at the top of this page.)

Yes, Oh Yas!: Get 3-7 full-size beauty products worth $65+ delivered to you each month for $14.99 + shipping. Use coupon code SARAH614 at checkout for 10% off your first box!

Ireland Adventures Pt. 5: Co. Donegal

Hey, y’all!

The last post left off in Dublin/Dunboyne; now it’s time to head north!

Day 8

We enjoyed our last complimentary buffet breakfast and checked out of Dunboyne Castle Hotel. If we had stuck to the Fly & Drive package we purchased from Gate1 Travel, this would have been our day to fly home, but we decided to add on a few extra days to explore the northern region. Now that we were driving to Donegal instead of driving, we went ahead and added me as a driver (plus we had to extend the rental), which meant a short detour to the rental car place before hitting the road.

Enniskillen

Google Maps told us that the most direct route from Dublin to Donegal would take us through a little bit of Northern Ireland. Since that means crossing into another country, we figured that would mean an experience like crossing the border from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico. We were prepared for a passport check, car search, etc. What did we end up getting? A sign letting us know that speed limits would now be in mph. I don’t even remember seeing a “Welcome to Northern Ireland” or “Leaving the Republic of Ireland” along the way. Talk about low-key haha.

Enniskillen is in Northern Ireland and was about our halfway point between Dublin and Donegal. It seemed like a good place to stretch our legs. We had talked about detouring to the Marble Arch Caves nearby, but we had gotten a later start than we intended, so we decided against it. We found a place to park and walked to the main part of town. Along the way we found St. Michael’s Church, which was beautiful, and we picked up some freshly baked bread and a few other assorted goods at Leslie’s Bakery. (The “sourdough” bread ended up just tasting like French bread, but it was tasty French bread.)

Donegal Town

Once we got back on the road, we turned on the car radio for the first time. I really wanted to hear some true Irish music. We finally found a station that was completely in Irish, and I had to laugh when I realized that the song playing was Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” being sung in Irish.

Donegal Town is an adorable little town with a population of about 2,600. We were so excited to finally be far away from all the tourists and their gigantic tour buses! We arrived around 5:30 and got checked into Donegal Manor. I can’t recommend this place enough. If you’re ever looking for a place to stay in the area, you won’t be disappointed with this one! They offer baking classes if you contact them ahead of time, and the room was so spacious and comfortable. Of all the places we stayed, Donegal Manor offered the best value for your money by far. Breakfast wasn’t included with our stay (€10 per person), but we didn’t really mind because we just went to the Aldi in town and bought sandwich ingredients, since we already had fresh bread. Looking at a map from the hotel’s front desk confirmed our decision to drive to Donegal instead of fly: Donegal Airport is nowhere near Donegal Town–it’s about an hour north.

We had a low-key night because we were going to be hiking Slieve League in the morning. We thought we had a pretty good idea of what we were signing ourselves up for.

Day 9

Slieve League

Slieve League is the less-famous sister of the Cliffs of Moher, but it’s 3 times taller (just under 2,000 feet), making them some of the tallest cliffs in Europe. When we were reading about it online the night before, we saw that there’s a shuttle on most days, a visitor center, a restaurant, and a fairly easy walk to the top. We plugged Slieve League into Google Maps and hit the road (it was about an hour from where we were staying.)

It was misting rain again, and as we got closer, the wind picked up, but with a shuttle to look forward to, we didn’t mind. We had our rain jackets and waterproof hiking boots, and we were ready to go.

Travel Tip: If you want the easy breezy Slieve League experience, go on a clear day and have your GPS take you to the town of Teelin, where the Slieve League Cliffs Centre is located. If you want a more challenging experience, plug in “Slieve League” or “Pilgrim’s Path” and be prepared to do what we did…

The GPS led us to a cattle gate, which we passed through to end up on a one-lane road that wound part of the way up the mountain. The “car park” we found was basically just a sandy area big enough for maybe 4 or 5 cars to park. We realized at this point that the Pilgrim’s Path and the Cliffs Centre are nowhere near being in the same place (that’s what we get for not paying more attention), so we started walking. The road keeps going further up the mountain, but there’s not much space to park further up, and you eventually reach a point that no cars are allowed past. We were officially on the Pilgrim’s Path, and it was raining, windy, cold, and foggy. The trail was sandy but fairly easy until we reached a point warning that only experienced hikers should proceed. We figured we could handle it and wanted to get a good workout in anyway, so we kept going. We also were just too stubborn to not make it to the top.

After the warning sign, the path definitely changes. Instead of being a well-defined trail, it becomes rocky and uneven, with lots of muddy/boggy spots in between the rocks. Every so often there’s a rock or post that’s been spray painted yellow to let you know you’re still on the path. Despite the terrain, we saw sheep all over the place, which meant we also had to keep an eye out for sheep droppings as we walked. As we got higher, the wind got stronger, and the rain started to soak through my waterproof jacket. I also made the mistake of wearing jeans, so those were soaked. Jeff managed to step ankle-deep in a boggy spot, so his waterproof hiking boots now had water inside of them. We figured we’d made it this far, there was no point in turning back now. The wind was helpful when it blew at our backs because it gave us some momentum, but when it blew in our faces, that was less helpful. We finally reached the top, where the path ends. The winds were blowing so strongly that we had trouble standing still, so we didn’t get too close to the edge. Because the fog was so thick, we couldn’t see the ocean below. We could hear the waves and taste the salt in the air, but all we saw was fog, so it literally felt like we were standing at the edge of the world. It was breathtaking, despite the fog, and we felt really accomplished, but I wish the weather had been clear.

If it had been a clear day, we might have continued on to One Man’s Pass, but that will have to be for next time. We made our way back down to the car, and this time I managed to step in a boggy spot, so now we both had water in our waterproof hiking boots. Lovely. By the time we made it back to the car, we had hiked about 5.6km and were absolutely soaked to the bone. Jeff’s rain jacket had kept him mostly dry, but mine eventually couldn’t win the battle against the persistent rain. We both poured water out of our hiking boots before getting in the car. I don’t get cold easily, so in the 15 years we’ve known each other, this was the first time Jeff saw me truly teeth-chattering, full-body-shivering cold. He didn’t think it was possible haha. Our Slieve League experience wasn’t the adventure we expected, but it was a memorable one nonetheless.

Glencolumbkille

Co. Donegal is located in a very large Gaeltacht region of Ireland, meaning that Irish is the predominant language spoken. After finishing our hike at Slieve League, we planned to visit the Glencolumbkille Folk Village, but it turns out that it’s only open in the summer and on Halloween. Next time. When we went to the town center of Glencolumbkille (“Glen” for short), it was pretty quiet. (It was a Sunday, so it wasn’t too surprising.)

We ventured into a pub hoping for food, a bathroom, and a warm fire, but instead we found complete silence. There were half-finished beers sitting on the bar, jackets hanging on chairs, but there wasn’t a single soul in the building. It was like the rapture had happened, and the silence was creepy. We wandered a few doors down to a small bar that was totally packed, and we could hear people singing at the top of their lungs. It turns out the local football team had lost a championship match the day before and were on a 2-day bender. They had been at the pub, but they don’t like the owner very much, so they just left (hence the half-finished beers). They were very friendly and welcoming, and they were eager to chat with us when they found out we weren’t locals. (PS: One of the songs they sang was “Teenage Dirtbag”–in English. Is this song still a big deal in other parts of the world?) Anyway, this bar didn’t serve food, so the football players recommended a place to eat that was about 10 minutes away in Carrick. If we weren’t so cold and hungry, we probably would have stayed and drank with them a while. They were a lot of fun.

The food at Hegarty’s was good, but they had fairy lights in their fireplace instead of an actual fire. Boo. We drove back to our hotel, and I’ve never been so excited for something as simple as dry clothes in my life! Later we met up with my friend Odette and her husband, Liam. I met Odette during my summer internship at the English National Opera during college, and we’ve kept in touch over the years. She and Liam live in Buncrana, which is also in Co. Donegal, northeast of Donegal Town. It was wonderful to catch up with them!

Afterwards we stopped by a place across the street to get some kebabs for dinner. So yummy! We took them back to our hotel and were glad to finally relax. We were exhausted!


Up next: Our self-created 1-day Game of Thrones tour through Northern Ireland!

Love,

Sarah xoxo


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