Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We're On Our Way Home


Alarm went off at 6:45 and we groggily got up and got ready for the last round. Anne was up and ready with our morning porridge. It's probably a good thing we are leaving. Any more mornings with three course breakfasts and I won't be able to fit into anything! My dear husband on the other hand has not only eaten his fair share but most of mine on many an occasion. Oh how I envy his gene pool!

It was raining and quite blustery when we hugged Anne goodbye at the door and pulled out into the morning Galway traffic. We got a jump on the morning rush and once we were out of the city, it was a straight shot to Shannon airport.  The sun was shining brightly when we got to Shannon. Dropped the car off with a perfect score. Good thing we bought all that insurance. Shannon airport is quite small and very civilized.  It's never easy getting psyched to go to the airport but at least the smaller ones are a bit less stressful. Apparently,  the US TSA has teamed up the EU to make immigration better! We'll see.

We got our correct seats this time and the flight was fine.I have to say that going through US customs on the other side did seem more efficient. Even though there was another line to wait on in Ireland, it wasn't as crowded as what we usually have to go through in the US. Plus once you collect your bags you are out of there.

Landed at Logan and it was rainy and cool. It felt like we never left Ireland. Our driver picked us up and we were on our way home by 2pm.  So we have arrived home safe and sound. No injuries, didn't lose anything, although we had a couple of close calls. The bags are unpacked, the clothes are in the washer and it is finally time to relax. Thanks to Diane & Tim who kept the plants alive yet again.

As always, it is wonderful to see the world, but it also feels so good to come home. No plans for the next adventure but stay tuned.


Till next time....

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Biking on Inishmor


Today is our last day, so we are determined to make the most of it. The weather was doing the usual thing, cloudy, windy, maybe some sun every now and then. Hit the road pretty soon after breakfast and headed for the Aran Islands Ferry. Good thing we left early, because Geoff went a bit too far. When we were driving down, what appeared to be a one lane dirt road, we realized it was time to turn back. No worries, made the ferry with time to spare.

The seas were a bit rough. Half-way through the 45 minute ride, they started handing out plastic bags. Some folks were turning green. We had a fine time. It felt like a Disney ride. Arrived on Inishmor at around 11:30. There are lots of different ways to explore the island, walking - too long, bus - too boring, buggy - too smelly, biking -- yes that's it! Walked over to the bike rental, grabbed some mountain bikes (I did think twice about an e-bike, but decided that I wouldn't be a wuss). It was cloudy and windy when we started out but it really wasn't too cold.
Inis Mór  is the largest of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay in Ireland and largest island off the Irish coast with no bridge or causeway to the mainland. The island is famous for its strong Irish culture, loyalty to the Irish language, and a wealth of Pre-Christian and Christian ancient sites including Dún Aengus, described as "the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe".
The terrain was up and down, mostly up for the first leg. Our first stop was at the beach for photo ops. We found it interesting that anywhere along water, whether it is the river walk or the beach, there are life preservers at the ready.  From there it was up to the top to the famous fort. There was a huge group of German kid
s on bikes who were leaving the beach when we did. We let them go ahead, even though we weren't looking forward to meeting them up at the fort. No problem, they all stopped to get ice cream. We never saw them again. We parked our bikes in the lot and walked up the stony path to the fort. More beautiful views.
Dún Aonghasa (anglicized Dun Aengus)[2] is the most famous of several prehistoric hill forts on the Aran Islands of County GalwayRepublic of Ireland. It lies on Inishmore, at the edge of a 100 metre high cliff.
A popular tourist attraction, Dún Aonghasa is an important archaeological site that also offers a spectacular view.
It is not known exactly when Dún Aonghasa was built, though it is now thought that most of the structures date from the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
On the tourist map there was a marking for the Red Bull High Diving site, Serpent's Lair, that they used in 2014. Wonder if Andy was here. Up at the fort we walked around till we found a quiet spot to have a snack that we brought -- the leftovers from the smoked salmon shop. As we sat, we watched the sun finally coming through the clouds. It was a beautiful ride down with the sun shining. Stopped at Seal Lookout only there were no seals. The tide was too high. Did find a friendly horse, however. It was a leisure ride back into town. I have to say with all the people who were on the island on one form or another, we were pretty much by ourselves all day. It was great.

Collected our discount coffee and croissant, compliments of the bike rental place, at the SPAR - the supermarket. Turned our bikes in and walked down to catch the 4pm ferry back. It was packed. Fortunately, we got two aisle seats next to two couples traveling together from Canada. Great conversation - made the ride go by fast. Geoff was talking to his Canadians about Trump and asked them what will they do if Trump wins and we all start crossing the border. "Oh, we have a solution for that" what? "We're gonna build a wall!"  They never said who was going to pay for it though.

Arrived back on the mainland and got the car. Riding back now. We have a dinner reservation at 7pm. at Kai. It is touted as being having the best food in Galway and it is a 5 minute walk from our b&b. Got back, chatted for a while with Anne and made plans for an early breakfast tomorrow. Showered, dressed and made it to the restaurant approximately around 7. This place is very small and very popular. It is pretty much off the tourist path. In fact, the two ladies sitting next to us wanted to know how we even knew about the place.We got into a lively chat with them and they left us (me) their half bottle of wine. Thanks! Most of the patrons were locals. There was one Japanese couple on the other side of us who found the place in their Japanese guidebook. They strayed from their tour group.

The food was absolutely fabulous!  What a great way to end a wonderful day and travel experience. We have had such a great time in Ireland. I would never have imagined it all. We have fumbled our way without a guide or guidebook and have just enjoyed the scenery, the culture, the history, and most of all the people. It has all been quite lovely.

We have are all packed and ready to go home -- most of all for the laundry!  Early breakfast at 7:30 and then we are out by 8 am.



Next time... Home, Sweet, Home

On to Galway


Couldn't leave Ireland and not see one castle. It just so happens that Dunguaire Castle is right down the road from where we stayed last night. We were out by 10 and were one of the first visitors. It is a fine castle and has a nice shop. We were fortunate because today was the last day it was open. They are closing tomorrow.
Dunguaire Castle has the most picturesque location at the shores of Galway Bay near Kinvara in County Galway. The castle comprises of a 75 foot tower and defensive wall against a stunning backdrop making this castle – the most photographed castle in Ireland!

Dunguaire Castle was built in 1520 by the Hynes Clan who were a prominent family in the area since 662. In the 17th century the castle was passed onto the Martyn clan of Galway who remained in the stonghold until 1924. It was Oliver St. John Gogarty, a well known surgeon and writer who bought and restored the castle and made it a meeting place for literary greats like George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, J.M Synge and W.B. Yeats.
The sun made its way out as we got to the top of the tower. And has managed to stay out all day. We arrived at our b&b in Glaway a little after noon. Anne, our landlady, got us settled in a larger room than we booked (no xtra charge - she was feeling good today). Good thing because we have to repack to go home -- but no going to think about that now.

With yet another new map in hand, we set out to explore Galway. Our lodging is just the other side of the Wolftone Bridge which goes directly into the city center. Very nice walk. Guess what? Lots of shops.  We did find a yarn shop - the only one we have seen since we have been in Ireland - you would think with all this wool there would be yarn shops all over the place -not so much. Picked up a skein for Amy and that was all the shopping we intended to do. What will we do for another day?

We wound our way around the streets and found tourist information. A very helpful young woman helped us plan our day tomorrow. There are a couple of options all based on weather. We are hoping to take the ferry over to Inishmor Island, part of the Aran Islands, and rent bikes.

With that settled, we had a bite to eat and did more walking around town. Tried to follow the tourist map with the numbers but it seems that they have turned everything into a shop or bank if they could. Case in point, Lynch Castle.
At the junction of Shop Street and Upper Abbeygate Street is Lynch's Castle, a 16th century castle which was heavily altered in 1966 when it was converted into a bank. The exterior preserves some of the few remaining Irish gargoyles as well as the arms of Henry V11, the Lynch family and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare. The stonework of the windows is of good quality. In the ground floor, historical material dealing with the castle is displayed. 
We also came across Browne's Doorway.
A doorway and first-floor window of one of the many fine 16th and 17th century houses which adorned the city has been re-erected in isolation on the north side of Eyre Square. It belonged to a house of the Browne family which formerly stood in Lower Abbeygate Street. 
And a bust of JFK
A bust of US President John F. Kennedy stands in the Eyre Square park. The park is also named after him, and it was erected on the spot from where he addressed the people of Galway on a visit in 1963. JFK received a phenomenal welcome in the city and was made a Freeman on the same visit. Galwegians consider this visit to be one of the most important events in the history of the city, because of the very strong connections with the United States and the fact that Kennedy was proud to proclaim his Irish ancestry. Following his visit, Galway Corporation updated and modernised the park and renamed it John F Kennedy Park, although it is widely known as Eyre Square. 
Making our way back, we came upon the Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch, which is located on the banks of the river Corrib, was built in 1584. It was originally an extension of the famous city walls, designed to protect the quays. The Spanish Arch is, in fact, a misnomer, as there is no proven association between the Spanish in Galway and the building of the Arch. In the past it was known as The Blind Arch and it is located on the site more appropriately known as Ceann na Bhalla (The Head of the Wall).  

Took a lovely leisurely stroll around the promenade and headed towards our neighborhood. Got back to the room and rested up before dinner. Headed back out around 6:30. Took a lovely stroll down the river walk. Then it was time for oysters. Popped into Cookes and tried a dozen of their rock oysters - these are pacific oysters that have been transplanted in Galway.   Ian, our fabulous waiter, took us on a tour of this 15th century building - not everyone gets the tour. Wonderful building with a great medieval fireplace. From there it was onto Martines for their native oysters. We met a lovely young woman from Springfield whose father came from New Bedford! Had lots to talk with her about.

Headed up the road a bit and popped into the Spanish Arch  Hotel. A terrific Irish group was performing. We listened for a bit and then went off to find some real food dinner. Found  simple place for fish and chips.  On our way back, we popped back into the Spanish Arch Hotel to listen to the last couple of tunes from the group Grian. Great crowd and lots of fun.

Walked back over the bridge. Decided to go to a local music joint, Crane's Bar. This was a total jam session. It started out with three people and by the time we left there were eight people playing. We sat with a couple from Liverpool. Had a good time with them. This place is in our neighborhood and it is very local. A great find! What a great way to end the evening.

Setting the alarm tonight. It is way past our bedtime and we have to catch a ferry tomorrow.


Next time... Biking on Inishmor

Sunday, September 25, 2016

To The Cliffs of Mohr


WOW!! Sunshine! We were up and out by 9am. Wanted to make the 11:30 ferry from Tarbert to Killimer. Took the Conor Pass out of the Dingle Peninsula. The views were incredible, especially since the sun was with us today. The drive was very narrow, in some spots one lane twisting and turning down the mountain. We got a look Mt. Brandon with a bit of a cloud overhead.

Driving towards Castlegeorge, we spotted some beautiful beaches. Geoff decided to stray from the path and head down to Castlegeorge and the beach. Still plenty of time to catch the ferry. The beach was gorgeous! Maybe now we can do the Jerry B. ceremony. The shore was calm, spilled some on the sand and immediately a wave came up and took him. We didn't even get wet. Geoff looked down and there was a beautiful piece of sea glass. We had our noses down to the ground collecting glass and stones, when it started to rain. As we started going back to the car, we were greeted with a sight I have never seen before in my life! A full rainbow with one end fading off into the water. Simple majestic. The rain was still coming down and we were acting like giggly kids. Yes, Jerry is very happy here!  Three local women walked down to this lonely beach. I asked "Did you see the rainbow?" I got several nods. "Bet you see this all the time". The reply, "It's our reward for the rain".

It was time to press on, but what an incredible stop. Driving along, the rain and sun were taking turns with each other and meanwhile, the rainbows were coming and going. Fortunately, they were on my side so I could take some photos as Geoff had to keep driving if we were to make the ferry. We made it on to the ferry at exactly 11:30. What timing! Saw a few people that we had met during our stay in Dingle. I guess everyone has the same itinerary. We'll probably all meet up again at the cliffs. The ride across the Shannon River took 20 minutes. We are now still driving down The Wild Atlantic route.

Stopped off at Cooney's in Quilty for lunch, in honor of Ilana and Liam's friend, Cooney. He also owns a bar/restaurant in Charlestown, MA. We wondered if the Cooney's were related but our Irish Cooney had no relatives in MA. Too bad. Ate our soup with a great view of the ocean. We pressed on to the Cliffs of Mohr.

As usual, we opted for the path less taken. We had passed a sign that said Car Park - Cliffs of Mohr Walk. Hummm??? When we got to the Cliffs of Mohr Visitors "Experience", we took one look at the pilgrimage of people going up to the cliffs and turned the car around. Headed back to the car park sign and turned down the road. After driving for what seemed like forever up and down a winding road, we came to a small parking lot in the back of someone's house. Two euros to park and off we went. It was 800 meters to the start of the walk. Oh what a walk it was. We were so fortunate that the sun was out. The winds were fierce but the air was not cold at all. I'm not quite sure the photos do any justice to what we have seen today. There were absolutely no Americans on this trail at all. Barely any people to begin with but absolutely no Americans - they must all be at the visitor's center.

We came across a gathering of folks with long sticks do funny things to the ground. I asked one man what they were doing and he said "I'm doing too much if you ask me!".  Come to find out that they were hare hunting. They were pretty funny to watch. We made it pretty close to the visitors start line and then we turned around. Time was moving on and there was one more place to go before looking for a room for the night. Saw yet another rainbow on the drive out! No pot of gold at the end however.

Our last stop of the day was Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna. We watched a short video of the history and preparation of their smoking techniques. A little taste of salmon and we were hooked. Got a small package, some smoked cheese, and crackers for a roadside picnic by the sea. However, getting out of Lisdoonvarna was a bit tricky. It was the annual LGBT Matchmaking Festival. I am not making this up! The streets were crowded with cars people and all sorts of activities. We finally got out of town and found a quiet spot by the sea to enjoy our salmon picnic. Lovely

Rolled into Kinvarra at around 6. We were both wiped out and we stopped at the first place we saw - The Kinvarra Guesthouse. It is in the middle of a very small town. It is more hotelish than b&b but there is a full breakfast and it is a large room and clean. Wait a minute, there seems to be something a bit off with the bathroom. Oh yeah, we don't have a wheelchair! After we looked around a bit, we noticed that we were in a handicapped room. I felt like I was in a
hospital. Called downstairs and was told that we could change to the family room down the hall. OK, walked into this room, yes, it has a regular shower, but I felt a bit like Goldilocks when I noticed the three beds. We had a good laugh over that and then went to dinner.

There seems to be one restaurant in this town so that is where we went. The Pier Head - just to let you know there were a ramp going up to the door instead of stairs. We are beginning to wonder about this town. It was lively and the food was ok but the Guiness keg or tap was on the fritz. One would think that is sacrilegious anywhere in Ireland. Finished up and walked back to our room. Only one night here and move on to Galway for our last two nights on the Emerald Isle.

What a fantastic day this was. Riding through rainbows, hiking the cliffs of Mohr - yikes...


Next time... Galway

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Dingle Peninsula


Woke up to another windy cloudy day. While having breakfast, I did notice that there seemed to be a break in the clouds -- could it be? will there be sun?  A woman at breakfast said today "There's no bad weather, there's just bad clothes". Ain't that the truth!

Got some information from out hostess,Orla, about where to stop along Slea Head Drive or the Ring of Dingle. Checked the forecast and, if you were to believe it, there was some clearing between 10 and 2 when the rain starts again. Before we left, we asked Orla to make dinner reservations for us for Out of The Blue restaurant tonight. It is suppose to be the best place in town. With all that done, we headed out.

It was a mixture of sun and clouds - we'll take it! We were driving down the coast when I spotted a radio/cell/satellite tower half way up a mountain. "Look at that, they didn't put it on the top." We thought about that for a minute and said "This is far enough, we won't make it down to the pub if we go up any further!"

Our first stop was Dunbeg Fort. Not much left of it now. It was the views that were most impressive.
An ancient site, archaeological excavations have shown that the fort was primarily occupied between the 8th and 11th centuries AD, when it was defended by a series of ditches and earthen banks as well as a substantial stonewall (Barry 1981). These defensive features cut off a small, triangular peninsula, which is defined by sheer cliffs that fall steeply to the Atlantic below.  The interior of the fort contains the remains of a large stone-built house, as well as a souterrain (an underground passageway) and  it is likely that other structures once existed, but were lost during earlier storms and cliff collapses. Originally the fort was probably home to a local lord or noble.
Across the street is the Stonehouse Restaurant set near the famine cottages. A bit of irony here.
The Famine Cottages were built in the mid nineteenth century and originally housed the Long and then the Kavanagh family in Fán, Ventry County Kerry. The cottages were located on the lands of the Earl of Cork who was landlord for some of the lands in the area. The family lived in this house during one of the worst famines to strike Western Europe – The Great Irish Famine. Due to its remotenss and poverty West Kerry was one of the regions that suffered greatly during the Great Famine. 
Next were the beehive forts.
The collection of beehive houses at Fahan is said to be the most remarkable in Ireland.The date of the Fahan clochán is uncertain, since stone huts with this design have been built from Neolithic times to the twentieth century. Some of the earliest may have been built by hermit monks. However, it is thought that most of the clochán in this grouping dates to the twelfth century, when Norman invaders forced farmers from more prosperous areas to move to the marginal lands of the Dingle Peninsula.
Our next stop was the Great Blasket Center. A memorial to the people who survived on the island. They were a small community of 100. Eventually, the remaining 22 had to be evacuated.
They were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Irish-speaking population, and today are part of the Gaeltacht. The inhabitants were forcefully evacuated by the government to the mainland on 17 November 1953. Many of the descendants currently live in Springfield, Massachusetts,and some former residents still live on the Dingle Peninsula, within sight of their former home.
A bit further down the coast was the setting for Ryan's Daughter, a TV show way back when. Yesterday we had lunch in the pub that held the press conference for the show. There was a great walk down to the beach. We thought it would be a good Jerry B. moment. Well, Jerry wanted no part of it! The first attempt,was the waves coming up on the rocks. Well the wind was blowing in the wrong direction and I wound up with him all over me! I was mortified. We then decided to get down on the beach, closer to the sand. No sooner did we get down there when a wave came and grabbed us! Shoes, socks, pants - all wet!  That was it. We got the message.

Back in the car, with the heater turned all the way up in the hopes of drying out, we kept traveling
along the coast. Stopped off where we spotted a bunch of other cars that had pulled off the road. Apparently, everyone was hiking up the big hill. We thought it might have been the Star Wars set but nobody seemed to know. The challenge was getting across the mud fields from the car up to the somewhat dry path that lead to the top. Well, if I was wet and salty before, now I was wet, salty, and muddy! At the top, the vista was stunning. The sun was still playing hide and seek, and the wind was howling. But it was gorgeous! Coming down seemed to be easier or we were more experienced.

Still weren't sure if that was the Star Wars set, until we spotted a sign further up. Popped into a pub and asked. "just turn left at the corner - the big open field is where they were". So we visited the big open field. This is the new Star Wars movie and is not out yet.

Time to get something to eat. Followed a road down to the sea. Another pub, another soup - this time French onion - very yummy. It was 2pm - it was raining! After lunch, we charted a course back to the b&b. Got in around 3.

For anyone deciding whether to do the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula, I would choose Dingle. There is a better vantage point for the views and there is so much more to see and do. There were several trails that we would have liked to have done had the weather been better. Even so, we found it much more user friendly that the Ring of Kerry. Of course, if you can do both, go for it!

Dinner reservations are for 6:30. We got into town around 6 and walked around. Went into the Music Store and inquired about their concert tonight. We were hoping to go there after dinner. Apparently, they were all filled up with a Rick Steves tour. Well, say no more, we were out of there. The sun was out so I took some town shots until it was time for dinner.

We were very excited out going to Out of the Blue, since we heard so much about it. It turned out to be a French restaurant and all in all the fish was not that good. We tried the local oysters. Very different than what we have back home, still very good. The main dinner fish, however, was pretty tasteless and Geoff thinks his was not even fresh. The vegetables were amazing and the wine was also very good. In the end, we expressed our concern to the waitress and they manager took the wine off the bill. Very nice of them.

From there we headed down the street to one of the local pubs ordered some dessert and I had an Irish coffee. This place was jumping. It was great watching and listening to everyone.  Finished up and decided to head back to the b&b. The weather had turned and the wind was howling -- no walking the town tonight.

We head to the Cliffs of Mohr tomorrow but not sure where we will stay over. We'll see where we end up after that.


Next time... To The Cliffs of Mohr

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Ring of Kerry


Woke up to an Irish morning – clouds, sun, rain, and repeat plus today we have very strong winds. Definitely not a biking day, so it’ll be off to the Ring of Kerry. Had Irish porridge for breakfast. It was brilliant! Absolutely delicious – plus you could plaster the walls with it if you had to, it was that thick. We chatted with the hostess about the best way to drive the Ring. She suggested going clockwise because all the buses go counter-clockwise. If you go clockwise, you see the scenery going down. She couldn’t quite understand why everyone else goes the wrong way! She also recommended going to Valentia Island.

Packed up the car and we were on the road by 9am. We took her advice and although some of the road we had done yesterday, the rest was new and  beautiful – even if the skies were a bit grey. The sun is having a harder time coming out today. For all the talk of busy roads and lots of traffic on the Ring, we really didn't encounter too much. Not sure if weather had something to do it with or not.

It was time for a coffee break, so we stopped in Waterville and dropped into Peter’s Place Café. This place looks as if it could be owned by my good friend Nicholas and fit right in with the P-Town crowd. Met Peter and his dog Patch – she’s a real charmer when it comes to tourists – doesn’t bother with locals at all. Geoff explained to Pete that there is a Waterville in Maine. Apparently the two Watervilles have a shared history.  Had a great visit and a good cup of coffee with very relaxing music.
The town’s name in Irish refers to the river in the case of “The Little Whirlpool”, or “The Sickle” refers to the shape of Ballinskelligs Bay on which the town sits; the name however has been transplanted onto the lake with the Irish name being Loch Luíoch or Loch Luidheach. The Butler family built a house at the mouth of the River Currane in the latter part of the 18th century. They named their house and estate Waterville. The village that developed on the estate during the first half of the 19th century was also named Waterville. Cyrus Field happened to be from Waterville City, Maine, USA. It was he who decided to locate a cable station of his Commercial Cable Company just outside the existing village in the 1880′s in the townland of Spunkane. The cable station brought much activity to Waterville and increased the town in size.
We crossed the bridge to Valentia and explored as much as we could of the island. Took a very winding road down to the candle shop. There we met another odd duck. “Awfully windy out there, I’m surprised to see you, surprised anyone would leave home”. We bought a few items, played with his electric cars and said our goodbyes. From there we took another turn down to the lighthouse.The seas were storming. Decided it was time to get back to the mainland. The car ferry takes you back over for 7 euro. The sun was trying desperately to come out but in the end the rains won out. We crossed the bay in pouring rain. 
For a small island, Valentia certainly makes its historical and cultural mark and it is worth noting that there are still native Irish language speakers on the Island as well as a strong tradition of music and dance.  We are also internationally renowned, it was from Valentia Harbor in 1866 that the world’s first transatlantic cable was laid, stretching an incredible 1,686 nautical miles to Newfoundland.
We are now traveling up the other side of the Ring of Kerry and there is not much to see but fog. Oh well. Geoff is doing great driving. These roads are so narrow and winding. You know it is narrow when you’re side mirrors fold up as you pass a car! And did I mention that the speed limit is 100km! As someone said last night: “It’s a limit, not a challenge!” I have to say between the one map we got from the rental agency and the Garmin, we seem to be doing pretty good with directions. Haven't got lost yet.  The roads are very good and, for the most part, easily marked.

We are having a wonderful time even in the raindrops. This is exactly what we wanted to do. No ruins, no churches, no lectures – just countryside, sheep, cows, and wonderful people. It is a pure joy talking to folks. And we haven't lost or misplaced anything in a couple of days. 

Stopped off at a pub along the road for a bite to eat. Just had the best seafood chowder I have ever tasted. I was interested in the art that was hanging up. The waitress gave a complete history of the local color of the people, the town, and the artist. As we were leaving town, we noticed a smoked salmon shop - stop the car! Went in but we really couldn't see much of the operation.

We have finished the Ring of Kerry and are now on our way to the Dingle Peninsula where we’ll spend the next two nights. It is still raining only not as hard. Found the b&b, checked in and resting up before dinner. We have sheep out our window. That's sooo Ireland!

Drove around town tonight in the rain. We walked for a bit trying to find dinner. Took a chance on a very local looking pub, Brenner's. Some of the best fish either of us has ever had. I had blackened salmon and Geoff had pistachio crusted hake. So fresh, so good. The place even came with its own local leprechaun. I would have loved to have gotten his picture - but I thought it would be a bit too rude. As we were leaving, we noticed there were people streaming in and heading towards the back. I asked the waiter, what is going on? "Oh, there is a concert tonight in the old church across the street and they don't have a bathroom, so they all come in here at intermission!"  What a hoot.

The pictures today are not as spectacular as I had hoped. The weather had a lot to say about that. Unfortunately, according to the weather report, it may not get much better while we are in this country. Going to bed thinking sunny thoughts.

Next time...The Dingle Peninsula 


Thursday, September 22, 2016

On to Killarney


Finally got our first Irish breakfast. Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with brown bread – yummy! Food here is great and you don’t have to pay for extras like in Dublin. Bread was extra and one night Geoff asked for hot sauce – it came in a pitcher and cost a euro!

One other note I would like to make, as long as I am talking about food, way back in Naples – we found out from our cab driver to the airport in the morning we left, that the aquaculture in front of the castle is for mussels. That’s why the mussels were ever so good there.

Ok, back to today. First thing we did this morning was make reservations for the next two nights in Killarney just to be sure we have a room. The skies started out cloudy as we walked around town
after breakfast. Took a few parting shots, did the Jerry B. thing in Kinsale Harbor and then we hit the road. Once again it took us twice around the town to get out. We decided on taking the coastal route. The sun was shining bright and the scenery was beautiful. Stopped in Bantry for a walk about and a coffee.

Back on the road, we drove a ways down the Beara Peninsula and then cut across on Healy Pass. Absolutely fabulous. We stopped for a photo op and there was a guy from Texas standing there with Irish music blasting from his car. We just took in the views and listened to the music. I made a little video.  What a treat. Started down the mountain and the rains came. We are now making our way through the raindrops and greenery to Killarney.  

Riding through the National Park, we stopped for a scenic overlook at Ladies View.
Ladies View is a scenic point along the N71 portion of the Ring of Kerry, in Killarney National ParkIreland. The name apparently stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit.
Arrived at our B&B by about 5pm - more stairs. Yesterday, the first thing we did was rearrange our stuff so that everything we need is in one duffel. We left the summer and biking stuff in the other duffel in the car. Makes life a lot easier since everywhere we go there are stairs.

Ventured out to see the town and to grab some dinner. Town is about a 5 minute walk. We strolled along the streets and made a
point of going into Buckley's Bar for our friends Jim and Elaine- got a very warm welcome and chatted with the bartender some. Finally we settled on Cronin's Pub for dinner. Wound up sitting next to a bunch of New Englanders - one of which had a Pats sweatshirt on -- GO PATS. Not going to be able to watch them tonight - far too late for us.

Back in the room, we have decided to leave Killarney for Dingle tomorrow. Originally we had thought we could bike here but the weather is very iffy and the town is crowded and very commercial. Instead we might drive the Ring of Kerry if the weather looks good. We booked two nights in Dingle - hopefully away from the maddening crowd -- we'll see.

till then...


Next time... On to Dingle