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By Nathan BorcheltView

As someone who attempts to travel beyond the expected, I tend to cringe whenever dreaded travel clichés creep into my in-country experiences. But my disdain for the predictable utterly dissolved after my Ireland vacation last October.

And not just because of all the Guinness.

Well, actually the Guinness did play a part (to say nothing of Black Bush whiskey — neat, please), but really it was the people and the landscape that proved intoxicating during my weeklong foray in Connemara in western Ireland.

Starting in the small port town of Clifden, I joined up with a motley crew of like-minded travelers and travel writers (as well as the folks from Connemara Safari), and we spent the better part of five days exploring the isles off the west coast.

We spent the day hiking and cruising from island to island via fishing boat, then hiking some more before hitting the local pub (because there’s always a local pub — even on an island with only 160 inhabitants), and crashing in small B&Bs.

Throughout, the people were gregarious and easy-going, the Guinness like nectar from the Celtic gods, the smoked salmon and champagne pure heaven. And as the clichés of the Emerald Isle go, each night evolved into sing-along celebrations, the color green has forever changed, and I simply have to get back.

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Nathan Borchelt is a travel writer and managing editor of The Away Network. He hopes to embarrass himself by singing "Old Main Drag" — poorly — at an Irish pub several more times in 2008.

Tagged: Europe, Photo essay

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