Friday, May 27, 2011

Cliffs of Moher

Saturday began the same as all the rest, stuffing ourselves with a delicious breakfast.  We departed Dingle and began our quest for Doolin.


When we arrived at the ferry crossing, we were alarmed to discover the charge would be €18.  Money-savers that we are, we opted to take the more scenic route and avoid the toll.  Along the way, we were happy to find several ancient castles.

Glin Castle



Castle in Askeaton



Bunratty Castle

Once we made it to our destination, Atlantic View B&B, we were starving.  We ate lunch at Stone Cutters Kitchen, a family-owned restaurant just up the road.  I had the meatloaf, served with a salad and chutney.  Austin had mussels.


We would've eaten outside, except Austin forgot his jacket (again), so we only got to enjoy the sunshine for a moment.  After lunch, we dropped off our laundry, then explored town for a little while.


I could've died and gone to heaven, right there in that shop.  Nevertheless, we had more sights to see!

 We hiked up to the Cliffs of Moher.  The view was absolutely breathtaking, and definitely worth the trip to see.






We could've stood there for hours, watching the waves crash against the rocks.

We were slightly amused by this sign.  Notice how many people are trespassing beyond the cliff, where there is no saftey guardrail.  Of course, that would explain the accompanying sign, in memory of those who've lost their lives at Cliffs of Moher.

 

We retired back to the B&B for a cup of tea and cookies.  That evening, we went out for dinner at Fitzwilly's in Doolin.  We shared the Irish lamb stew, and it came with a giant bowl of potatoes.  We laughed, finding it strange that a stew which already contained potatoes would come with a side of potatoes and bread...the Irish love their potatoes!

After dinner, we ran into the Houstonians we met at the B&B we'd stayed at the night before in Dingle.  They were a married couple enjoying a vacation to Ireland, and happened to have a similar itinerary as us.  Since Doolin is an incredibly tiny town, it wasn't surprising that we bumped into them.  The four of us walked over to O'Connors Pub and enjoyed a lovely conversation and drinks.

We went to bed, giddy honeymooners reflecting on another amazing day in Ireland.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ring of Kerry

To catch up on the rest of our honeymoon recaps, go here: 1, 2, 3.

On Good Friday, we woke up ready to explore the Ring of Kerry.  It is a tourist route that starts in Killarney and circles the southwest coast of Ireland, approximately 110 miles.  We decided not to travel the entire Ring of Kerry, instead we went to Valentia Island, the locals' best kept secret (tourist buses cannot take the ferry).

The views along the Ring of Kerry were unmistakenly beautiful.  However, the weather was a bit uncooperative, raining on-and-off throughout the day, but the sun burning off the fog resulted in some amazing images.
  

After crossing over to Valentia Island, we began driving on Skelligs Ring.  We passed an ancient graveyard.


The roads were as narrow as the miniature car we were driving, and we were surrounded on both sides by stone walls.  Zipping up and down hills, my stomach lurched, not knowing what lie beyond the next turn.  The wet roads and drizzling rain didn't help the matters.

We reached a Slate Quarry at the end of the main road, but we didn't explore much due to the rain.



Turning onto a tiny backroad leading to the coast, Austin took the turn a bit too soon (coming from the wrong direction) and we got stuck in the mud.  He had to strategically back us out of the corner we were in without coasting forward into the stone wall.  It was nerve-wracking, but we made it.

I took a video of us driving on Valentia Island to give you an idea of the experience.

video


It was cool seeing the coast of Ireland, although it wasn't quite the same type of beach most honeymooners experience!

We headed back towards Killarney, stopping back by the B&B to pick up Austin's leather coat he'd accidentally left in the wardrobe.






We drove to Dingle town, our resting place for the night.  We arrived at Harbour Nights B&B at around 2 pm and checked in with Kathleen, our very kind hostess.

For lunch, we ate at Out of the Blue, a romantic seafood restaurant within walking distance.  I ordered the delicious sea bass, Austin had calamari.  The lunch portions were rather small, but the food tasted great.


The sun had come back out for the afternoon, so we hopped back in the car to see Slea Head, about a 30 minute drive.


In the picture above, I had just set the camera's self-timer and plopped down, cracking my tailbone on the stone bench.  Austin was laughing because of the hilarity of the situation - I was forced to smile for the camera, even though I felt like crying from the pain.


We made it out to Slea Head right before the rain returned.  As we were getting out of the car, we spotted a Jack Russell Terrier - we happily greeted her, both of us had been missing Dozer tremendously.

We ventured up the hill, but the chilling wind and rain made it impossible to endure for very long. 


That evening, we took a walk around town.  Since it was Good Friday, most of the pubs were closed, and there wasn't any live music or alcohol being served.  It made for a quite evening.  For dinner, we shared fish and chips and a bowl of french onion soup.  More importantly, for dessert we devoured a slice of sticky toffee cake with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Another day of bliss, over in a flash.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hiking the Gap of Dunloe

Catch up here!  Part one, part two.

We awoke to the aroma of a traditional Irish breakfast, consisting of two sausages, two slices of ham/bacon, a poached egg, tomato, baked beans, and a basketful of toast.  Accompanying breakfast was the choice of tea or coffee, along with orange juice.

As we filled our stomachs, we discussed our options for the day's activities.  I had narrowed down the possibilities to either a tour of the Gap of Dunloe, or driving the Ring of Kerry.  Noreen recommended the Gap of Dunloe, which sounded better to us rather than another day in the car.

The tour bus picked us up from the B&B at 10 am and dropped us off at Kate Kearney's Cottage, the starting point of our 7-mile hike.  Again, there was the option to ride a jaunting car, at a cost of €20 per person.  We both preferred walking, as it was cheaper and a better opportunity to stop and enjoy the views.


We took 330 pictures throughout the day, and probably could've taken more if we hadn't been so busy walking 7 miles.  At the beginning of the trail, there were a couple of horses peacefully napping in the morning sun.

We crossed an old arch bridge between the first two lakes, called the Wishing Bridge because wishes made upon it are destined to come true.



The weather was perfect for an outdoor adventure, a gentle breeze keeping us cool during the two and a half hour walk.





The Gap of Dunloe is a mountain pass that was cut by glaciers and is surrounded by five lakes.  It has an elevation increase of 500 foot across the 11km route.


I was in love with all of the baby sheep!


 We discovered several abandoned cottages and ruined houses.  There were also several newer occupied homes and a church near the end of the trail.



We drank from the streaming water coming off of the mountains.  The water was ice cold and refreshing!




 When we reached Lord Brandon's cottage, we purchased a bottle of water and waited for the boat ride to commence.  The tour guide gave us an hour long boat ride around the three Killarney Lakes.

  
 


When we arrived at this 300 year old bridge, the guide asked us to get out of the boat so he could cross underneath it.  The weight of all the passengers was too much - the depth of the water was incredibly shallow.




The boat tour ended back at Ross Castle, where the tour bus was waiting to take us back to our B&B. We had lunch at a deli - Austin had fish and chips, I had a grilled chicken pesto panini.

Later, we enjoyed some live traditional Irish music at O'Donoghue's Pub, followed by a late night pizza.


 It was a truly remarkable day, definitely one of our favorite memories from our honeymoon.



Next up: Ring of Kerry.