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Being in Ireland: Day 4

Overview

  • Ate breakfast
  • Departed for scenic drive and the Blaskett Center
  • Stopped at a local golf course for a group pic
  • Stopped at Inch Beach for a photo opportunity
  • Stopped at Dingle Peninsula for another photo opportunity
  • Saw a few rainbows along the way
  • Stopped and toured the Blaskett Center
  • Returned to Dingle for lunch
  • Saw part of a May Day parade
  • Ate fish and chips at Harrington’s
  • Had free time to browse and shop in Dingle
  • Departed for Killarney
  • Arrived, was given 2 hours free time before dinner
  • Shopped and walked around a bit, then retired to room to catch up on email
  • Ate dinner
  • Retired to room to take a soak in the whirlpool tub and rest

Detail

After eating breakfast, we all got on the bus and left for a long scenic drive along the coast. Four people had apparently decided to stay behind and relax. Though the thought occurred to me to do the same, I didn’t think about it that long. For a person traveling by bus, there wasn’t much to do in Killarney except rest in the hotel and shop. Killarney is mainly a tourist town, and it shows. On the way out of town I took some photos of Saint Mary’s cathedral, where Mom and Liz went to Mass last night.

We hadn’t even gotten out of Killarney before two things happened. One, we started to see a lot of rally teams and cars. That was rather cool, and made me seriously think of Top Gear. The other was that Pat announced that we were going to stop at a local golf course and have our group picture taken. I kinda rolled my eyes at this at first, especially when Pat told us that the picture was going to cost us like €8-12. Nuh-uh. I’m not buying that, especially since the guy used a camera that didn’t look all that professional, and he only took two shots. I will look at the shots in the morning, but I’ll likely skip it.

But the good thing was that the course was gorgeous. I was able to snap a few shots that I really hope came out. The water, the trees, the mountains…. Quite pretty. So it was an annoying group photo, but good photo opportunity.

After that we got on our way again. The weather went back and forth between cloudy and rainy. The roads we travelled were narrow. Very narrow. While it was technically a two lane-road, there were many spots where there was hardly a foot on either side of the bus. But Pat is a experienced driver and he navigated it all quite well. I think we even applauded him at one point, since we didn’t think a bus could actually turn like it did.

And let me tell you, all of the fuss with the narrow roads was worth it. The road went along the coast, and showed us some of the finest scenery I have ever seen, even with the strong winds and the freezing air that was occasionally laced with rain. Pat stopped here and there (for instance at Inch Beach and the Dingle Peninsula) to let us out so we could take pictures. My hat was in constant jeopardy of flying off, never to be seen from again. But then….

….the weather cleared up, and my jaw wanted to drop. What I saw was Ireland at its best. Pat made mention several times that weather looking as fine as it did was not common, and if it had stayed raining we would have seen nothing like what we did. Actually, he specifically said we’d likely have seen “nothing at all”, since mist and fog would have obscured pretty much everything. We just got lucky to be out and about when things cleared up. I just hope my photos come out well, because words aren’t enough. The scenic tour was good before, but now it had turned into awesome. This had reminded me why I wanted to come to Ireland, and why I had been willing to pay so much to do it.

At the midpoint of the drive we stopped at the Blasket Center for a tour. The tour was….interesting. It really was. And the history of the area, all about the authors who lived in some of the harshest conditions who taught themselves Irish/Gaelic because it was forbidden at the time to be taught in schools, was truly interesting. And the Center and surrounding area is beautiful. But….

….putting us in a dark room and showing us a film for 20 or so minutes wasn’t exactly a good idea. Mom thought the film was wonderful. I’m glad she did, because I slept through at least half of the film, and from what I’ve heard someone in the front row was snoring. Come on, people still suffering slightly from jet lag and (for some) a night of drinking? A warm dark room is just a invitation to a nap. Also, once again when the official tour was done we had something like seven minutes left, so there wasn’t really any time to look at the rest of the Center. I snapped a couple of picturess of the actual Blasket Islands and then had to head back to the bus. I kind of wish I could have spent more time there; perhaps I would have gotten more out of it. Oh, well.

We drove along more scenic roads on our way back to Dingle for lunch. On the way Pat had to slow down, because there was a horse in a pasture beside the road that was just posing for all to see. And then another decided to go for a nice roll. Both were great photo opportunities (and the second one was hilarious). But we made it back to Dingle… where we were stopped at the edge of town due to a parade (which Pat didn’t know was going to happen). We never did exactly find out what the parade was for, so we assumed it was for May Day.

It being 1:30 again before we got to lunch, I was starving. Pat had told us there was a great fish and chip place in town called Harrington’s, so I decided to eat there.  Once in the restaurant my jaw dropped again, but this time not in a good way. The cheapest fish and chips meal was €12 (About US$15). Ugh.  I’m not a cheapskate, and I’ve paid a lot before for a meal, but $15 seemed like a lot for fried fish and french fries.  But I was there, and Pat had recommended it, so I ordered the cod fish and chips. I thought to myself, “This had better be the best damn order of fish and chips I have ever eaten.”

Well, they got lucky. It was awesome. Flaky, melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy…. This was one great piece of fish, and the “chips”, while not that special on their own, went perfectly with the fish. I had half of it with malt vinegar, and half with tartar sauce. I didn’t care quite as much for the malt vinegar part, but it was still very good.

After the meal, I left the group and walked the town. I still had about 40 minutes left of my lunch hour, so I went into various shops and stores. I was disappointed when I found that the local wool clothing store had a sales on scarves… and I couldn’t find one I liked that was actually made in Ireland. Call me weird, but in the middle of wool country I’d prefer something made from the local wool. Technically I did find some stuff later that was made completely locally. Heck, it even came with a certificate of authenticity. It was also bloody expensive, like €70+ for a small sweater. So far I just can’t come to terms with buying one at a high cost. Perhaps I’ll find a good deal somewhere, but right now I’d prefer not to fall into that tourist trap.

After the shopping, we got on the bus and left Dingle. Pat has a rule that if people are late the last person either has to sing a song or take off their clothes. The guy who was late, a 50-ish year old guy with a good sense of humor, decided that he couldn’t sing. He was down to shirt and pants before he finally stopped (at one point swinging his belt over his head), and by that time I thought Pat was going to drive us off the road for laughing. He said that in his seven years of being a tour guide no one had ever taken the “take your clothes off” option till now.

We left Dingle and headed toward Killarney. I did get some more shots of the beautiful scenery on the way back, but my head started drooping along the way. I know I must have dozed a couple of times. My body just isn’t used to this schedule and it’s taking a while to adjust. But we got back into Killarney and were given a couple hours this time before dinner for shopping and etc.

I decided to go out shopping, at least at first. I went up to the local outlet mall and looked around, but the only things that inspired me cost more than I wanted to pay or, in the case of a candy store, didn’t seem likely to survive the return journey. Since we still had a few days left, I decided to leave things for now. I then came back up to my room for a little bit of rest and to catch up on email.

Dinner was, surprise surprise, another buffet. But as noted in my eating notes for the trip, at least the food was different, and in regards to the lamb, quite tasty. Afterward, seeing as tomorrow is going to be another early-ish start, I decided to go upstairs for a nice soak in the whirlpool tub and to write in my journal. :)

Now, to prep my bags for tomorrow morning and get some sleep.