Know what keeps it so green? ...
14.05.2009 - 15.05.2009 -10 °C
We've made our first excursion in Ireland. After arriving (delayed) from Paris at 10pm Wednesday night, we managed to navigate our way from Shannon airport to Adare Manor in the dark, on the wrong side of the road, with no incidents. Or so we thought. When we got up Thursday morning (at 10am, after 10 hours of sleep recouping from 36 hours since our last sleep) we found the trim piece missing from the passenger side mirror. None of us remembered hitting anything, but we certainly had some close calls along the narrow streets. So we were faced with the quandary, our very first morning, of reporting damage to Dan Dooley Car Rentals. Upon further investigation, however, we found evidence that this was pre-existing damage. Phew!
So we began our morning by going into Adare Village and finding a cafe still serving breakfast, where we were invited to share a table with a red-haired lady from Co. Kerry who served as an orientation guide to Ireland over an Irish breakfast of eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, toast, and tomato. With full bellies and better spirits, we hit the road for Dingle, about 90 km on the Southwest corner of Ireland. As we drove the darkening clouds turned into a smattering of rain. Inhibited some of the panoramic views, but it keeps the place green!
We arrived at our B&B, Pax House, the #1 highest reviewed and most referred B&B in all of Ireland, and were greeted by John, the personable host, and Rio, his doggy in a cone Elizabethan collar. As soon as we dropped our bags, we braved the weather and walked the 1km into town to warm up in Murphy's pub for dinner. Over the course of the evening we warmed up in 5 of Dingle's (pop. 1500) 43 pubs, including Dick Mack's, a shoestore/pub with patrons passing around a guitar to play tunes; An Droichead Beag (The Little Bridge) where we celebrated our anniversary with a pint and read the "Rules of a Happy Marriage" posted on the wall and enjoyed traditional bodhran music played by the very same musician on the Rick Steves video; and Foxy Johns, a hardware store/bicycle rental/pub, where a local character tried to sell us a Rolex and taught me the Irish for "Thank You", "Excuse Me", and "Kiss My Arse!". Unfortunately, the 1km walk back to the B&B was in a full blown storm, luckily the wind (and rain) was at our back "helping" us up the hill.
This morning we saw a glimmer of hope as the sun tried to break through the clouds, so we went on with our scenic tour of the Dingle Peninsula, stopping at the historical ruins of the Iron age Dunbeg Fort, prehistoric Fahan beehive huts, and the 7th century Gallarus Oratory. We quickly learned that paying 4 admissions fees for duplicate pictures of dilapidated ruins was adding up, so we designated one person to pay admission and take photos at each site. After all, our favorite sights of the day were free, and not listed on the tourist map: the Dunquin Pier shown on postcards with sheep being herded up the narrow switchbacks next to the crashing surf and jagged rocks, and the Kilmalkedar church with its graveyard full of celtic crosses and views of sheep pastures down to the bay.
After what felt like covering miles and miles of panoramic peninsula and stopping for photo opportunites all day, we were suprised to find we were only 15 km outside Dingle at the end of the day! We came back into town for a quick fish and chips and delicious seafood chowder dinner, followed by Guinness ice cream at Murphy's to fortify us for the dusk drive back to Adare.
The weather cooperated today, although blustery, and the forecast is for stormy weather the rest of the week. We always seem to bring this weather with us when we travel. It's nice to have travelling companions this time though. Tonight we're staying in our Villa at Adare Manor, and tomorrow driving up to Galway for the Saturday market and overnight in Doolin for more traditional music. Not to worry, there's only 3 pubs in the whole town, child's play.