Friday, July 31, 2015

In Dublin's Fair City

Our final two days in Ireland were spent in Dublin; a city I've been to once before.  We didn't feel the pressure to do any sightseeing but I did want to take Joe to see the Long Room of the Old Library in Trinity College.

 My favourite room in the whole wide world.

 Pretty much...

 We went to see the musical 'Once' last night.  Before the show started, the audience was welcome to go onto the stage for a drink.  And 15 minute before showtime, the actors/musicians all came on the stage to perform a few ditties for us!

 I'm on it!

Things are always happening in the Temple Bar district of Dublin!

One of the great pleasures of exchanging homes is meeting the nice folks who lived in your house while you lived in theirs.  We met our new Irish friends Haulie and Ann for coffee this morning at the Dublin airport.  Lovely, lovely people.  We hope to meet again.

Our final pint and plate o' bacon and cabbage in Ireland.

We have spent over three weeks in Ireland.  Each day was an adventure and it didn't really matter if the sun shone or not.  We saw incredible beauty at every bend in the road.  The people, the scenery, the stout, the food and the history all exceeded our expectations.  We will be back. 

Thanks, Ireland!  You were grand.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kinsale And County Cork

We quickly got over our disappointment about our trip to the Skellig Islands being cancelled due to inclement weather.  A friend of mine e-mailed and said that she too couldn't go to Skellig Michael because Star Wars was being filmed on the island.  She quoted American tour guide Rick Steves, "Getting onto Skellig Michael is like jumping from a trampoline onto a skating rink."  Okay then, maybe I don't feel so bad now.  And an Irish woman we met told us of 2 people dying within a week of each other in 2014 by falling down the steep steps.  So maybe it was a good thing we didn't get to go.

The final stop on our 6 day road trip was Kinsale.  A beautiful little town with lovely, lovely people and over-the-top seafood.

Tired pooch.

No matter how humble or grand the building, everyone has flowers on their windowsills.  And I mean everyone.

'Victualler: a person providing or selling food or other provisions.'  People, we need to bring this word back into usage!

San Antonio B&B.  Our home-away-from-home-away-from-home for two nights.  
A 300 year old vicarage in Kinsale.

I am a sucker for ancient stone cottages.  Especially if they're painted cobalt blue.

Kinsale harbour and a fine feathered friend.

Just in case you did not understand that you couldn't turn left the first time.

Joe has never met a publican he didn't like.  He asked Mary O'Neill if he could buy a Beamish glass from her.  "No son, I'll just give you one."

Colourful Kinsale.

This is what two way roads look like in Ireland.  :)

There is something special about having a pint in a 325 year old pub.

More cuteness in the stone cottage department.

So many bright colours.

I think there may be some 'Joe's Cafe' copyright infringement going on here...

I don't know who this guy was, but man he had big ears.

Joe's second sweater purchase of the trip.

Beautiful Kinsale Harbour.

We decided to go for a drive one afternoon to Cobh (pronounced 'Cove').  We even got to take a little car ferry across the harbour!

A six minute ferry ride.

Cobh Harbour is very deep as you can see from this cruise ship docked right up against the street!  Cobh was the last port-of-call for Titanic before she left for the U.S.A.

We stopped in at The Rob Roy for a pint and some afternoon music.

This young harpist played beautifully at the Rob Roy pub.

When we got back to Kinsale later that evening, we decided to take in the local music scene.

These guys at Kitty O'Se's pub were terrific!  So much energy.

The band even asked Joe to do a spoon solo!

This morning I woke up to my 57th birthday.  Unbeknownst to me, Joe had organized a little surprise party in the breakfast room of our B&B.  While I was tucking into my soda bread and blood pudding, Jimmy (the proprietor) came in with a birthday cake followed by a bottle of Spanish cava that we shared around with the other guests.

Make a wish!

Partying hard at 9:00am with Nancy and Dennis from Dublin.

If you ever find yourself in need of a place to sleep in Kinsale, please give San Antonio Bed and Breakfast a ring.  Jimmy is a very attentive host.  We had a wonderful time under his care.

And right on cue, the rain began to fall as we approached County Galway's border.

What a great road trip!  Spending six days in the south was wonderful.  I can't believe we have been in Ireland for 3 weeks.  And that our stay is quickly coming to an end.  I'm gonna savour these last few days in this beautiful, beautiful country.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Portmagee And The Skellig Islands

Inch Beach

We left Dingle in the beautiful morning sunshine.  We were so excited to be heading to Portmagee!  We took our time driving the Wild Atlantic Way because there is so much to see and do along the way.

 This man was painting local Irish scenes at the side of the road.  We stopped and I bought one.

This is the painting I bought.  But why did he have to write the price in blue INK at the top of it?

 Dog and donkey waiting on the side of the road for their next photo op.

Ten years ago, Joe had seen a National Geographic documentary about Skellig Michael; the 7th century monastic settlement perched on a small, rocky island just off the Irish coast near Portmagee.  He was fascinated with it and once we landed in Ireland booked us passage on one of the boats.  We were set.  Joe even bought himself a proper raincoat so he didn't have to suffer the humiliation of wearing another one of those vinyl rain ponchos that we wore on Inisheer Island.  Me, on the other hand, had one of those crappy rain ponchos in my pocket in case of rain.

We arrived in the tiny fishing village of Portmagee as giddy as school children.

 A very prestigious award to win.

 The view out our B&B bedroom window at 4:00pm on Saturday.

 The view out our B&B bedroom on Sunday at 8:00am.

Halfway through breakfast it was announced that the boats would not sail to Michael Skellig today.  Our faces fell.  We were so disappointed!  We quickly packed our bags and headed out for a quick tour around Portmagee and Valentia Island before leaving town.  

 The highest cliffs in County Kerry.
 Beautiful landscape.

More high cliffs on Valentia Island.

We were told to go up Geokaun Mountain for a 360 degree view of the area.  We looked up and saw that the peak was clear.  By the time we drove to the top of the hill, it looked like this:

This was NOT worth 5 euros.

We were still feeling sad about our excursion to Skellig Michael being cancelled.  This is what we were supposed to be seeing:

What a mystical, magical place!
Instead we saw this:

The closest we got to Skellig Michael.  For today, at least.

Oh well!  Better luck next time!  Off to the south of Ireland and the village of Kinsale.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dingle, County Kerry

Dingle Peninsula

When we left Agnes' B&B in Limerick she told us the best way to get to Dingle.  "Take Conor Pass and go down into Dingle that way."  We gladly took her advice and it was a gorgeous drive.  Although it is not for the faint of heart.  The winding roads are just wide enough for one car, never mind two.  There were many times I couldn't look when another car was approaching.

The beauty of this island makes my heart ache.  The sight of these incredible coastlines makes me stop and stare with my mouth hanging open.  I have gasped so many times my throat is sore.  

 I can't get over how quickly the weather changes in Ireland.  Especially in the mountains.  One minute your view looks like this...

 ...and the next it looks like this!

 The twisting road is so narrow that you can't see around the next bend.  And if a car is coming towards you, good luck!

 Descending Conor Pass into Dingle.

 Dingle Peninsula

 Dingle Peninsula

 Dingle Peninsula

 Dingle Peninsula

Seeing all that beauty made us thirsty!  So after dinner we headed to Dick Mack's, a pub with old world charm.  And raucous charm at that. 

In the old days, Dick Mack made shoes and belts here in addition to running a bar.

 We sat in the 'snug' with our new friend Johnny and his wife Judith (taking the picture) who were visiting from Cork.

 Joe was livin' it up with the locals.  Good grief, these guys were fun.

 Early morning view of Dingle Bay from our guest house.

 Why can't we get porridge like this in Canada?  With brown sugar, cream AND Drambuie.  Now THAT'S what I call breakfast!

 Downtown Dingle

After breakfast, we packed our bags and reluctantly said good-bye to Dingle.  What a great 24 hours we spent there!  We are already talking about when we're coming back.

Next stop: Port Magee and Skellig Michael!