The following story will resonate with some of you more than others. Flying out of the London airport a few weeks back, I walked by a store that had the new Kindle Touch for 99 GBP(about $155), less than I remembered seeing advertised on the UK Amazon site. I had been thinking about getting an e-reader for our travels so I decided to just go ahead and buy it without the usual research...a rare act of shopping spontaneity on my part! But that night, once we had internet again, I checked the US Amazon site and found that the Kindle (with some unobtrusive advertisements) could be had for only $99. I immediately had buyer’s remorse and thought that maybe I should just carry the kindle in its packaging until we flew out of Dublin, where another of the same store would let me return it.
The Aran Islands off the coast of Galway were a rocky, wet mess. But the cold and wind were rewarded with this view of the sea cliffs there. No guardrails here so keep your feet steady....
So I went through the arguments in my head. By having the Kindle now I can test it out without having family ship it from America, which is a pain for them anyway. Also Neda and my mother-in-law Nadia might want one as well and this would give them a chance to look at it without shipping it overseas first. I decided I would just keep the Kindle and not worry about returning it just to save a few dollars.
My spiritual mentor ;)
But as our trip continued through the UK and Scotland, I still hadn’t opened the Kindle and had brought the question up to Neda several times as to whether I should keep it or not. Even though I had made the decision and reviewed the pros and cons, I was still having trouble letting go of the fact that the Kindle could have been had for about $55 less. Finally, in Galway in Southern Ireland, when I brought it up one more time to Neda, she said something very wise to me. She said, “Sweetie, why don’t you just make that $55 your spiritual practice. Consider it a payment for learning to let go of the other possibilities that are torturing you and to accept what is.”

Hiking through the Gap of Dunloe was a highlight of our trip
What sage advice from my spiritual partner! It is so important to find those situations in our lives that we have difficulty accepting and practice with them. In this case, the actual situation was as close to meaningless as possible and I was still making myself suffer over it! 
The best view we had of Moher
Further opportunities for acceptance were provided throughout Southern Ireland with what is sometimes a traveler’s bane and sometimes an ally: the weather! As we traveled south from Derry to the port city of Galway, the clouds darkened. Our day trip to the Aran Islands was cold with intermittent spitting rain the whole time. The next day we headed to the Cliffs of Moher, where an enduring fog made this our best picture! We only had one day to see this wonder of the natural world, but the weather just didn’t want to cooperate. We could rage against the situation, but nothing would change in the end. Only accepting the situation would release us from the suffering of what could have been. I do understand that there are friends and family in our lives struggling to accept much more difficult situations than paying a bit too much for an electronic device or having bad weather. For them the issue of acceptance is even more difficult, though I think ultimately it is still the only path to relief from suffering. 

Adare Manor was stunning
Luckily, Southern Ireland didn’t continue to test our acceptance of inclement weather. Instead, as we traveled down to Limerick to visit Iain’s friend Irina, the weather took a turn for the better. Irina, a local in Limerick for the past 12 years, generously took us to the best sites the region had to offer. On the first day we hiked through the Gap of Dunloe, enjoyed amazing views of the Ring of Kerry, and had a pint in the tidy town of Killarney. We also visited the beautiful gardens at Muckross House (set within Killarney National Park) and had lunch overlooking a ruined castle. 

The Cliffs of Ballybunion were a wonderful non-touristic alternative to our rained out day on Moher!
The blaskets on the edge of Dingle
The next day we visited the beautiful Dingle peninsula, which has sweeping views of distant isles, hidden beaches, and the friendliest dolphin in history. Fungie, the Dingle dolphin, has lived in the bay of Dingle for nearly 30 years. While most dolphins migrate to warmer waters during the winter, Fungie enjoys the attention of the tourists too much and stays in Dingle the whole year (he is not fed by humans or domesticated in any way). It was a lot of fun to spot him popping out of the water to greet us as we cruised around the harbor. Unfortunately, the company running the tour puts 4-5 boats in the water at once during high season, limiting how much Fungie can do. But Irina’s friend caught this video of Fungie really performing when just one boat was out this past winter. After Dingle, Irina helped us make up for not seeing the Cliffs of Moher by taking us to Ballybunnion, where the local cliffs and rock formations are spectacular and completely non-touristic.

Fungie pops up to say hello - as he has been doing of his own free will in Dingle Harbor for 30 years!
We left Southern Ireland for a short stopover in Hahn, Germany, where we visited the cute town of Kastellaun for some Germany beers, a ruined castle and a beautiful hike through the local woods. Now we head back to Bulgaria and wait for our friends Christie & Brett to arrive so we can pay the hospitality forward with a tour of our country!

To see the pics of Southern Ireland click here:

To see the pics of Kastellaun click here:

in memorium
Our friend Iain from Northern Ireland just informed us that the family's beloved dog, Jack, just lost his battle with cancer. Jack was full of personality and made the lives of those around him better. He will be missed. All our sympathy to Iain, June, and John.

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