Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ireland: Days 3 & 4 - Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Cahir Castle, Rock of Cashel, and Dublin

We woke up on Saturday morning and had breakfast at the Woodlawn House before heading out for the day.  It was our first breakfast at a Bed and Breakfast and it was great.  They had cereal, fruit, yogurt and really good homemade bread that was STILL warm!  Oh my goodness it was good.  During breakfast we were able to order hot breakfast if we wanted but we chose to just have cold breakfast.

Our main goal for the day was to see the Ring of Kerry.  The Ring of Kerry is a 110 mile tourist loop around southwestern Ireland.  It has several sightseeing spots and other things you can stop and look at along the way.  Several tour buses take groups around the loop but the roads are so narrow all of the buses have to go in the same direction because two buses wouldn't be able to pass each other if they were going opposite directions.  The owner of our bed and breakfast recommended that we go the opposite direction of the tour buses so we don't get stuck behind one.  Jake had already read that we should go clockwise so it was good to know we made the right decision.  The only problem was that then we had to pass buses.  The "speed limit" on the road was 100 km/hr which is about 62 mph but we averaged about 30 mph because the roads were so narrow and very curvy.  There wasn't a shoulder on the road and sometimes the line marking the edge of the road disappeared under trees and rocks that were along the side of the road.  The blind curves were an interesting addition to the drive along with several parts of the road that were so narrow that only one car could pass at a time.  Like I said in the first Ireland post I was thankful we paid for the extra insurance on rental car.
Once the video starts around 6 seconds in you'll see two road signs on the left showing you a curvy road and that the road narrows.  About 2 seconds later you'll see a small round sign on the left giving you the speed limit . . . 100 km/hr or about 60 mph.  And Jake might have hit a small branch towards the end of the video :).

Our first stop of the day was the Ross Castle.  We just walked around the outside instead of doing a whole tour.  The castle was on a lake which would have been really pretty but it was SO windy and it was raining so we didn't stay around the castle for long.
It was so windy and rainy when we stopped to see the Ross Castle.  I tried to take a picture of the umbrellas breaking in the wind and Jake's awesome hairdo thanks to the weather.  I was very thankful I brought my long black raincoat for this trip.

The second stop was the Torc Waterfall.  We hiked up a small mountain for about 15 or 20 minutes and saw some great views which would have been better had it been a clear day but even on a cloudy day the waterfall was really pretty.

The Ladies View was our next stop which gave us a great view of Ireland.

We drove the first half of the ring before stopping for lunch in Waterville.  We took a few pictures but it was SO windy and cold that I didn't want to be out in it much which made the scenic drive not as fun as it could have been.  We heard on the radio that storms were coming and that there were gale force winds.  We didn't see much on the second half of the scenic drive around the Ring of Kerry.  We stopped at Inch Strand (beach) and saw a wind surfer but we didn't stay long.  We had such great weather the first two days in Ireland and we were really bummed that the day we could have had great views the weather was so bad but we learned a valuable traveling lesson.  Travel tip #127 if you have a scenic drive schedule on a day with a horrible weather forecast change your plans.  The trip isn't worth it if you can't see much and the weather is bad enough that you don't want to get out of the car.
Here are a few pictures from our scenic drive.  The tree trimmer was a little bulky and I was thankful we passed it on a straight part of the road but the trees and bushes are so close to the road it is definitely necessary to make sure they are trimmed.  Jake also took a picture of me in the car since I didn't want to get out at every scenic pull off that he did :).

After we finished the cold and windy scenic drive we made it to Dingle and found the Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast.  It even had a sign so we knew it was the right place :).  We hung out for a little while before walking into town for dinner.  We had dinner at The Chart House.  It was pretty good but a little fancier than we were expecting.  We rushed through dinner a little bit because I wanted to get some ice cream at Murphy's which we saw in Killarney but we weren't able to try it there because it was already closed.  We made it to Murphy's before they closed and grabbed some ice cream.  While we were there Jake recognized a couple that also happened to be on the Trinity College campus tour our first day in Dublin 3 days ago.  I asked them if they were on the tour and we started chatting.  They seemed really nice but it was strange being so far away from Dublin and running into them again.

Our next stop was to find some good Irish music at a pub.  Most of the music didn't start until 9:30 pm and it was only 8:00 pm so we walked around and looked at the closed stores on the street to kill time.  We did walk through a grocery store just because I find that interesting now that we live in a different country.  The grocery store in Dingle, Ireland looked more like what I'm used to in the US than the ones in Sweden, although they are pretty similar as well.

While we were walking around Dingle we realized that for most of this trip we weren't getting to the city we were spending the night in until around dinner time which meant most of the shops were already closed.  Then we would leave the next morning before some of them would open which didn't really allow us much time to explore that city.  So we made a mental note that next time we go on a trip we should try to plan to get to our destination city for that day in the mid afternoon so we can walk around the shops, grab ice cream and take in the city before it starts to close down for the night.

We asked a few people where they recommended we go for music and they gave us a few ideas but they mostly said that we could just walk by some pubs and we should be able to hear the music and to go into the one that sounded good to us.  And that is what we did.  We went to two different pubs.  The first one had two guys playing guitar and accordion while they sang.  The second pub was pretty crowded but there someone played a guitar and someone else played what looked like a bagpipe but he used both of his arms to pump up the bag and press out the air.  

On our last full day in Ireland we drove from Dingle to Dublin which should take about four hours but we had a few places we wanted to stop and see on our way.  Before we headed to Dublin we backtracked a few kilometers to see Inch Strand (beach) again since the weather was so bad yesterday when we drove by it.  There were several pull offs along the side of the road which we stopped at just to take in the view.  It was pretty and it reminded me of our trip to California last summer when we drove along the coast on Highway 1.  

I drove from Dingle to Cahir so that Jake could take in the scenery since he drove all day the day before.  We had lunch in Cahir before touring the castle.  One thing we did on this trip that was really helpful was we added the top 2 or 3 restaurants for each city we were driving through that day so if we stopped there to eat we would have a few suggestions.  It turns out I get really indecisive when I'm hungry which isn't a good combination.  We had the Lazy Bean Cafe written down for a lunch idea and it was really good.  We both had sandwiches and I had a mocha to go which was perfect on a cool afternoon walk around the castle. 

We arrived at the Cahir Castle right at the beginning of a tour so we went along on that for about 45 minutes.  Then we were able to explore the castle on our own.  It was a neat castle.

After the castle we headed to the Rock of Cashel which was only about 20 minutes away.  My uncle recommended we see this and it was really neat.  The weather was getting quite windy and a little bit cold but it was sunny so we didn't really have much to complain about.  We were able to join another tour group to hear about the Rock of Cashel and then we walked around on our own.  We also visited Hore Abbey which was at the bottom of the hill.  To get to the Abbey we walked through the grass on the hill of the Rock of Cashel and we walked by some sheep.

We walked around the remains of the Abbey before heading back to our car.
We finished driving to Dublin after stopping in Cashel.  We stayed at the George Fredric Handel Hotel in Dublin on our last night.  The hotel was really close to lots of pubs but they didn't have parking at the hotel.  We had to park at a church which was about a 5 minute walk up a hill but thankfully once we parked our car we didn't need it again until the next morning.

We had dinner at the Old Storehouse which got great reviews.  There were two guys playing guitar and singing right in front of us which was fun.

I wanted dessert and they didn't have anything that looked good so we left around 9:45 to find something sweet to eat.  On our way out we noticed we weren't actually at the Old Storehouse, we were at O'Flaherty's which was connected to the Old Storehouse but wasn't the exact same place :).  We asked a guy who was closing up at Starbucks if he knew of a place with good desserts.  He suggested we try the VCC which was an unmarked building up the street with VCC written on the door.  We were supposed to knock and they would let us in.  You could say I was hesitant but we did it and we lived to tell about it :).  I had a brownie with ice cream and Jake had a drink.  VCC stands for Vintage Cocktail Club.

We headed to the airport the next morning and arrived in Stockholm around 4:30 in the afternoon.  One thing we tried on this trip that we hadn't done before was that we used packing cubes.  You just divide your stuff into different cubes and then put those in your luggage.  They worked really well since we moved each day to a new place.  We didn't have to think much about packing our bags we just loaded up the cubes and put them in the bags and we were ready to go.

 We had a great time in Ireland and Jake is already talking about going back.  If you want to read about our first two days in Ireland they are here and to read about Ireland questions and answer click here.

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