It takes a moment to find it, the entrance to the Morrigan’s cave. Growing above it is a hawthorn tree, upon which ribbons are tied. In the mud at my feet is a guttered-out candle. A place of magic, a fairy tree with tributes on its boughs.
The biggest surprise right now is the temperature. When I first set out to explore the Philippines, I expected tropical heat, along with stunning white-sand beaches, warm seas, and swaying palms.
Golden light bathes the promenade. Huge acacia trees lean toward the Visayan Sea, some covered in a green creeper called manaog ka irog (“come down my love”). Townsfolk are strolling or sit on benches catching up on the day’s events. Kids play a last game of volleyball on the small stretch of sand near the Press Club, and fishermen haul in their small boats.
On a sunny day, Ireland is the most beautiful country in the world. Bog flowers bloom, lush meadows invite you to hop their lichen-covered stone walls, and the seas of Europe’s Celtic fringe take on the character of the Greek Aegean: shimmering turquoise, blue, and aquamarine. Nowhere on earth is better to be. And being here is easy…at least in the summer months, when daylight stretches toward 11 p.m. and birdsong heralds twilight.
If you need to escape, Ireland is for you. Just drive, cycle, or walk in any direction and pretty soon you’ll come upon some green fields. But if you really want some peace and quiet, consider an island off the coast. Ireland’s western coastline is dotted with inhabited islands connected by ferry. The most famous are the Aran Islands, off the Clare-Galway coast, linked by fast ferry (around 40 minutes, $28 roundtrip) from Rossaveal in County Galway.