Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ireland Day 5

A majority of today was spent in the car as we were headed from Killarney up to Galway. We took pretty much the same route that I took a couple years ago. This included a stop to Ballyhahill where our relatives lived back in the day.

I considered heading East over to Limerick as I've never visited the city, but decided to opt for the ferry from Tarbert to Kilrush instead to cut down the driving time. Luckily the rain stopped by the time we got to the ferry so we could walk around on the ferry trip.

It started raining again on the drive up toward the Cliffs of Moher so I was worried that it would be raining when we got there. Luckily there were a couple breaks in the rain when we were there, but patience definitely ended up being a virtue picture wise at the Cliffs. After spending time in the gift shop it cleared up enough to get some decent photos.

Final stop was the Amber Hill Guest House in Galway. I stayed here for two nights on my last trip. It's a cute little B&B style place in the Salthill section of Galway.

Ireland Day 4

We've been packing every day full so far on this trip and today was no exception. We decided to stay one more night in Killarney rather than packing up and looking for a hotel in Dingle. This meant that we would do both the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula in one day. We started through one of my favorite parts of Ireland - Killarney National Park. Driving through there I just wish I had more time to go hiking through the park.

We stopped in a few of the interesting photo locations along the way and took a detour out to Valencia Island. I was hoping to find a geocache out there, but couldn't quite find the road that take us to the geocache so we headed down the road. After a quick loop around the Ring of Kerry we headed north to the Dingle Peninsula. Inch Strand (beach) allows cars to drive so of course I had to take the rental car for a spin on the beach. Every bit of the Dingle Peninsula was beautiful and I can tell why people say it's their favorite. We ended up having really great weather for the day trip. We stopped in Dingle at Murphy's Pub for dinner before heading back to Killarney.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ireland Day 3

I'm currently sitting in the lobby of the hotel waiting for a few pictures to upload. I'm wishing the hotel room had wifi so I could just set it up to upload while I go do something else. Hopefully the next hotel, I will be so fortunate.

I'm sore from today. I probably would have been sore from the horseback ride yesterday but I decided to add to it by hiking up to Ireland's highest point. Corran Tuathail is one of the Macgillycuddy Reeks in County Kerry. I had wanted to climb it last time I was in Ireland, but there wasn't enough time. This time I made sure to plan enough time. It was well worth it and I couldn't have asked for better weather for the climb today. I have to admit, about half way up the section known as the Devil's Ladder, I strongly considered turning back. Going up the Ladder was fine, but knowing I had to come back down had me a bit worried. It was a very steep, skree filled rock scramble section of the climb. I was warned by other hikers that it was dangerous. Luckily I ran into some other hikers that showed me another route that I could come down that would be much easier. I decided to move on since I really wanted to say I stood on top of Ireland.

The cross at the summit was a very welcome sight. I enjoyed taking a few minutes to look for a geocache at the top and explaining to some locals what my Sounders scarf was for. They were quick to ask if I had gotten to see David Beckham play when I said it was for my favorite MLS team. I didn't tell them what a prima donna I had thought he was, but just that he was fun to watch on the field. Walking down from the summit I became known as "The American" and word traveled quickly that people (including the other American making the climb today) needed to talk to me. I enjoyed the fact that hikers earlier had told me not to take the "Heavenly Gate" route as it was aptly named as a trip to Heaven was found more easily on that route - later to have a nice older Irishman tell me that I should take that route. I thought he had enjoyed talking to me up until he told me that. :) The "easier" route down was still steep and narrow, but every bit of it was worth it.

Now I'm hungry.

Ireland Day 2

Day two of the trip feels like ages ago. I do remember waking up earlier than I probably wanted to after getting some much needed sleep. I was okay with getting up early as today my mom and I would head to Tralee to visit the Equestrian Centre there. Mikey and Alice, our wonderful guides, took us on a fun horseback ride. We started on the beach, and headed down to the city of Camp. I wonder if that's where my friends the Camps come from? Maybe not. Anyway, we took a horseback stroll through the village up the hillside where we got some great views of the area. We came down a really fun trail through the trees and across a stream and finally ended up back at the beach. This is where I got to take turns galloping my horse Monster (his personality didn't fit his name) up and down the beach. Definitely a fun experience.

After this we headed back through Killarney and then down through part of Killarney National Park. We ended up at the town of Kenmare. Another cute little town - of course that's what I remember about my last trip here - the towns are all cute.

We finished up the day at the Laurels Pub with a pint of Guinness and I had the lamb stew. I don't ever get tired of Irish Stew.

Ireland Day 1

So I haven't had the best opportunity to keep up with this blog on the trip due to lack of internet in the hotel room and then just plain lack of time. Guess I'm having too much fun! Now I have to remember what fun I was having on Day 1. I decided to take my mom on a very similar first day trip that I had last time. Mind you, this was after about an hour of sleep on the plane and then about an hour of sleep the previous night. I was amazingly awake considering the lack of sleep over the previous two days.

The weather was pretty foggy most of the day, but that didn't stop us. What did stop us were things like visits to the Rock of Cashel. I love driving the road to the Rock of Cashel because you'll see nice farm fields and then you come around a corner and there's an impressive view of a very impressive castle. The city of Castle is equally as impressive, though we just drove through. The next mission after that was to head down toward Cork and on to the city of Cobh (pronounced Cove). The reason I picked this city was because it's where the Titanic set sail from a few years back. It was a cute little town well worth the visit. Finally I decided that my mom didn't already have the gift of gab enough, so we were off to the Blarney Castle so she could kiss the Blarney stone. We'll find out in time if she was given the gift.

Final stop of the day was Killarney where we headed straight to the hotel. After a much needed bath, my mom and I both grabbed dinner and a pint of Guinness in the hotel lounge. I forgot about the fact that they offer you either a pint or a glass most places here. Why would one want to order just a glass? Pint all the way.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And so it begins. Ireland adventure take 2. This time my mom is with me. This time I was smart and planned for a longer trip. This time I will make a loop around all of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I'm currently standing next to an outlet in JFK airport as my phone charges. I'm hoping to sleep on the flight to Dublin rather than play on my phone but just in case I'd like to know it's fully charged.

Already there's been excitement on the trip. Upon arriving at the gate at JFK we were told there would be a short delay before deplaning for a small security issue. After seeing cops as soon as we got off the plane I figured somebody was going to get a special escort off the plane. Sure enough the two guys from the very back row of the plane were being escorted away in handcuffs. A few minutes later I saw someone who looked very familiar. She was wearing sunglasses in the airport. Not a very good cover for a girl who was up for an Oscar just a few days earlier. Michelle Williams passed by my mother and me with her cute little girl. I still get sad when I think about that little girl's father (Heath Ledger) being gone.

A couple more hours until my flight. There's an Irish Pub in this section of the airport. I'm tempted to grab a Guinness before I go so I can remember how much better it's going to taste in Ireland tomorrow.

Thursday, February 3, 2011