Monday, November 17, 2014

The luck of the Irish - Ireland's west coast

When Sam told me he wanted to visit the Irish countryside when we were making our list of destinations, I secretly kept pushing this trip off.  All I've ever heard of Ireland is that it's beautiful but usually cold and rainy.  Eww.  My top vacation of choice is always the beach and sun, which my sun-reflecting husband always endures.  Love him.  So, for his birthday month trip we visited his top travel destination on our list.  

I'm not sure how this happened and can only chalk it up to some good old Irish luck,but we had gorgeous weather in October.  Couldn't have asked for bluer skies with the occasional sprinkle that led to double rainbows.  Instead of a pot of gold we found stones with the first Celtic crosses, real wool yarn, cliffs that were breath-taking, and of course every thing fried and beer!  I fell in love with this country to say the least and can't believe I was dreading coming to this island.  Not to mention the cute B&B's.  No more continental German breakfasts for us.  Homemade eggs, pancakes, sausage, coffee, and everything a normal American breakfast would entail.  
  1. Ryanair to Kerry, Ireland. 
  2. You need to rent a car to travel this gorgeous country.  Much cheaper to buy from other sites when compared to Ryanair "deals."  We bought the $50 insurance because driving on the wrong side of the road makes your brain freak out.  
  3. We stayed one night in Killarney, one night in Dingle, and one night is Doolin.  Loved the B&B's in Dingle and Doolin.  Stayed in more of a hotel in Killarney that could have had a nicer receptionist but otherwise was perfect.  
  4. We went from Killarney to Dingle to Doolin, and looking back it might have been better to make the long drive upon arrival because you are much more excited to see the countryside than on the day you leave.  
Killarney -
I had no clue what to do in Killarney other than drink Guinness and eat.  Can't go wrong with that, right?  We mainly stayed here because it was close to Kerry, and we knew we wouldn't be up for a 3.5 hour drive in the car after our previous night's Oktoberfest in Stuttgart. Luckily we brought some pretty cool friends along on this trip and they suggested we go out to Kerry Woolen Mills.  This is a historic wool mill is one of the last mills left in Ireland.  My friend Heidi is super into yarn and has high hopes on making her own yarn out of I think what you call pre-yarn?  I can't even begin to think about how that works, but I have no doubt that she will do it!  And then maybe she'll make me something?  Hint. Hint.  Hehe just kidding!

I don't even knit and I was excited!  Look at all that real yarn in gorgeous colors!
After the boys almost went crazy from spending way too much time in the wool factory, we went for a small hike to see a waterfall.  You could spend the whole 4 day weekend hiking in Killarney!
Couldn't get enough of the green moss

Obligatory Ireland Guinness photo-op.

Dingle Peninsula - 
We took a half day to do Slea Head Drive.  There are a ton of sights to see, and my favorites were the Reasc Monastic Site, Gallarus Oratory, and Kilmalkedar Churchyard.  We stopped to eat at The Stone House Restaurant for lunch along the way too.  That evening we were lucky enough to see one of the oldest and greatest uilleann pipe musician at O'sullivan's Court House Pub.  Uillean pipes are bag pipes inflated by the elbow.  It was an awesome experience.   Dingle is a great place to pick up souvenirs too - women be shoppin'... and eating ice-cream at Murphey's (shhhh don't tell the boys).    But this is a must do.  It reminded me of Jeni's ice cream back in C-Bus!  

Dick Steve's Slea Head driving tour 
Can you see the uilleann pipe?
Doolin -

Our hotel in Dingle was located on Conor Pass, so we took it up to see a view of Dingle, and made the treacherous ride down the other side toward Doolin. I really wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher, reads "more" not "mo-hair" if you're one of my southern friends.  Or is that just me?  Remember friends I'm a scientist not a writer!  These cliffs are jaw dropping and I'm so glad we were able to see them from the bottom by boat and from the top.  No need to purchase your tickets early.  Our B&B owner, Kate, called down to see if tours were still going out for the last time (5:30ish), and we bought tickets at the port from O'Brien Lien Cruises.   On our way back to the airport we planned to go to the visitor's center and run over to take some pictures from the top, but then we found out they were charging a ridiculous amount to just see the cliffs.  So, we went a little further up the road (Doolin towards Kerry airport) and saw a sign for a walking trail to the cliffs.  After winding down some farm roads we came to a parking lot and paid 2 Euro to park, then we walked about 15 minutes and came to the cliffs.  I wish we had more time to explore, but we were pressed for time to make our flight.  Sorry I can't be more specific on the location, but I found this walking tour, which leaves from O'Connors Pub every morning at 10AM.  Looks fun - let me know if you do it!  During our night in Doolin, we enjoyed live Irish music, the best fish and chips, and drank all types of Irish beer at O'Connors Pub!
Cliffs of Moher by boat
Happy 18th Birthday, Trevor.  Miss you and wish you could have seen these one day, but we know you were with us in our hearts.  XOXO

Cliffs of Moher from the top
It was so sad to leave this beautiful country, and I am forever a fan of Ireland!  I'd even go back if it was rainy ;).  
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