I look at this photo, and it makes me smile. (Don’t they all?) This one though — it’s special. This picture was taken on the last walking day of my holiday in Ireland with my dearest friend, Christy. Christy’s my partner in crime! For reals. She lives in Seattle, and I live in Las Vegas. We started traveling together a few years back, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such an awesome, inspired travel friend. She’s just crazy enough to want to go on all the crazy adventures I want to go on, too!

So, like I mentioned, this picture was on the last walking day of our vacation. We were in Northern Ireland at the time. The last day was freezing and windy, and the weather was starting to get to us. It was one of the longer walking days. I want to say it was 15 miles. But maybe it was only 12. You know how hindsight makes every walk seem miles longer? Yup.

We had just visited Dunluce Castle. Outside the castle was a little cafe. We stopped for hot chocolate because…well, because it’s hot chocolate. And it was cold. And who passes up hot chocolate at a little cafe outside an Irish castle? While sitting in front of the fireplace at the cafe, we met a couple that told us about a surfing competition up the coast a bit (I think they may actually have been in the competition, if I remember right). It just so happened that we were headed in that direction, and that beach was along our route.

Are there seriously people crazy enough to surf in this frigid weather? That was pretty much our conversation as we continued to walk.

Crazy fucking Irish. Yep, they were just nutty enough to hop in the ocean on such a glacial day.

But we loved it. We loved watching the trembling surfers as they stepped out of the ocean and into the ice-cold air. We suddenly felt rather warm in comparison to their dripping bodies.

We laughed. We smiled. We hurriedly walked to maintain our own warmth. And, of course, I stopped to take pictures about every five feet (which kind of negated the speed and what little warmth I had accumulated). It was a beautiful day. It was one of the most magical trips I’ve ever been on. And I would return to Ireland in a heartbeat (for reals!).

p.s. If you’re interested, I HIGHLY recommend the company that handled our trip. It’s a small company, and they provide lots of personal attention. It was a self-guided walking holiday. They provided maps, gave us all the details, booked the most awesome accommodations, suggested the best restaurants, and scheduled to have our luggage transported while we walked from town to town. Seriously. They’re amazing. Hillwalk Tours Ireland. I can’t say enough good things.