Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1922: Coasting Through Ireland on Pints of Cider
By Green Dragon from FL, Spring 2011
Page 16 of 21: Thursday, May 26th: Since When Have I EVER Refused Alcohol??
We were 'fetched' for our breakfast at the appointed time, and followed Marianne up through the front room, upstairs, past the kitchen and into the dining area. It had a lovely view of the bay, but was only separated from the kitchen by a half wall, so it was rather odd, as Marianne didn't have much to do once we were served, so she sort of watched us. The food itself was delicious – yogurt with granola, fresh berries, full Irish breakfast. She had on some music in the background, it sounded like James Galway.
After breakfast we headed off along the road to Connor Pass, as the sky was a bit lighter now (though it still had storm clouds in many places). This was a scenic view we missed our last trip, as after the long and laborious drive up from the north side, there was so much mist and rain that we could see exactly nothing from the vantage point on the top.
This time proved to be just as windy, but clearer. We waited a bit at the top for the sun to slip into the occasional openings in the cloudy cover, but when it did, it showed sparkling green views of a lovely landscape, well worth the wait.
We headed down the north side to find Brandon Point, and found Brandon Beach instead. We continued on – this part of the peninsula didn't look like it had very much tourist traffic, and we got a few odd looks as we drove through. Brandon Point was also lovely, but with the cloud cover we couldn't see much in the mists. There was one other car-full of tourists, and we played leapfrog along the scenic spots, each getting out to take photos, and pass the other, and then reverse the order.
I think the north road of Connor Pass is wider than it was five years ago. Yes, there are bits that are very narrow, but I remember a lot more of it being so. Perhaps it's just that there was no deep, thick fog this time, making time stand still and teeth stand on edge, expecting a big truck to come around a bend at any moment. However, it wasn't all too bad this time. The south road, to Dingle, is definitely wide and easy to travel.
We went on along the south Dingle road towards the Celtic Prehistoric Museum. This was a great stop – a man from the US settled here and set it up, and has been here 13 years. He's made the house into a great little museum – each room dedicated to a different part in prehistoric Ireland. There were many artifacts, including cave bear bones, mammoth tusks and skull, Celtic jewelry artifacts, goddess figures, tools and weapons from the Neolithic age. There was also a very odd structure that looked like a dressmaker's mannequin with a boar's head on it. I did not question it.
There was a lovely little gift shop as well, that sold some antique bits, like bottles and coins, as well as locally made handcrafts. This is where I found a knit cap to purchase, and a hair toggle made of leather. I highly recommend this stop!
We went along the road, past Dunbeg Fort (it was covered in buses) and the beehive huts. We stopped a few times for somewhat misty sea views, but ended up at Slea Head in the almost sun. The sun was very reluctant to show its face today, though the rain was also rather reluctant to come. It did drop here and there, but very small bits.
Slea Head is the scenic high point of Dingle, in my opinion. It has a lovely beach, dramatic black diagonal rocks jutting out of the surf, and a gently sloping peninsula pushed into the sea, surrounded by smaller green islands. On a sunny day it is a bit of paradise. Even on the overcast day it was lovely – less so with the idiot tourists that were out climbing the jagged rocks in the high winds, but still lovely.
We passed on Blasket Island, given the weather, but we found a lovely beach to enjoy, Wine Strand. Of course, there were about a dozen or so really old, run-down looking holiday campers parked along the dunes, evidently for rental. There was a sign that asked to keep this 'area of beauty' free of junk and trash – right next to one of the worst looking campers. Very nice.
We found the Gallerus Oratory farther along that road, and once the coachload of tourists left, we had it to ourselves for a good 20 minutes. A group of school kids were coming towards it just as we were leaving, so we once again felt blessed by the Tourist Gods.
On to Killarney for some sightseeing and an early dinner. We found a parking spot and went searching for dinner. First, we needed more cash – but where were the ATMs? The clerk at the petrol station said they 'lined the streets' in Killarney – liar! There was one lonely ATM with a line of seven people waiting to use it, but at least there was one. We went in to several different places, searching for food – all of them weren't currently serving, as it was that magic hour when breakfast wears off and the pubs are closed for food. We went into the Laurels, O'Connors, O'Somethingelse, and then found a real restaurant – Trevand's. I had some yummy fishcakes and V had a chicken tikka wrap. It wasn't the best food in the world, but it was tasty enough, and it was fuel. I couldn't finish my bottle of cider, so I offered it to V – "Since when have I ever refused alcohol?"
After our late lunch, we did some more shopping, posited on the lack of ATMs, short shopping hours, and the general acceptance of a lower level of convenience than we demand in the US. V found a collapsible walking cane for her husband, and was happy as a clam.
We tried to drive up the Gap of Dunloe afterward, but were stopped by a jaunting car driver, who said drivers were no longer allowed up the road unless you were a resident, due to an accident with one of the ponies. We decided to head towards Ross Castle instead, and enjoyed its lakeside views. Too much wind and rain to climb up Torc – so back to the B&B we went. We stopped at Inch Strand on the way back, as the shifting sunlight through stripes of storm clouds made a wonderful dance on the long, shimmering strand of sand.
We headed back out for some pints once in Dingle again. We found the Courthouse Pub this time, and they had pints, WiFi, and trad music. I chatted with a couple Scottish tourists for a bit, and we noticed that our two bartenders looked a bit like Snooki and Horation Hornblower – a very odd combination! The music was very good, many of the tunes were ones the Chieftains do, I think there were four musicians playing.
Back at the B&B, the Internet kept cutting out on my iPhone. I would have to go into the hallway and hold my phone up in the air to capture signal again, and that might last five minutes, or a half hour before cutting out again. V's iPad had no problem with it, though – so my phone was just less powerful, but I knew that.
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