November 5: Galway/Connemara

Today we did a good bit of driving,  just taking in the sights and enjoying the landscape.  We tried to stay on more rural roads, close to the coast. 

We saw random ruins (houses,  castles,  churches,  etc)

. . . happy (I choose to believe,  lol) animals . . . 

. . . the beautiful black and brown sand beach at Fanore (The river that empties into it creates these beautiful designs in the sand) . . . 

. . . a random church on the side of the road . . . 

. . . the church of Cashel, (which we thought had served as the inspiration for the church at Kilmarkedar that we visited yesterday.  We now think it was a DIFFERENT church of Cashel) . . . 

. . . the cemetery behind the church of Cashel (which is up a steep narrow one lane gravel road; the road is fairly new.  They used to carry the coffins up by foot,  on their shoulders.  There is a grave of a young man from Ireland who served in the US Marines and was  KIA in Vietnam) . . . 

. . . and some great scenery,  including very rocky areas with huge boulders on either side of the road . . . 

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November 3 & 4: Cobh to Tralee to Shannon

We left Cobh and worked our way over to Tralee. We did not take the scenic route over, because I really wanted to drive the Dingle Peninsula and figured that we would have enough time in the afternoon.

A glitch with the cell phone (turns out that the unlimited talk and text is ONLY to other Vodafone phones, so we ran out of credits to call our hotels). This was an issue, as we had to call our B & B to get the address the day of our arrival. We took care of the phone, and then got to the B&B.

Something happened when we made the reservation, and it went through for only one person. We have been trying to keep our lodging for this leg of the trip at $50 – $60 per night, which when you split it two ways is very reasonable. She wanted $85 because there were two of us. She was very nice about it, it was a miscommunication, but we did not want to pay that much. We cancelled the reservation through Expedia, and found a hotel that offered twin beds (which she was unable to do) and breakfast for $69. For short notice on a busy Friday night, we were fortunate to find it. 

By the time we sorted it all out, it was too late to enjoy the drive in daylight, so we really didn’t see or do anything on the 3rd.

On the 4th, we set out early for the Dingle Peninsula. I have often heard it is the most beautiful drive in Ireland, and it did not disappoint! We had a couple of spots of mist and rain, but most of the time that we wanted to explore, we had dry weather and blue(ish) skies.

We stopped several times to take photos; on one of our stops we came upon the beach where they filmed some of the scenes for Far and Away in 1992. It starred Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, and there is a plaque on the beach commemorating the scene.

We saw the Gallarus Oratory, which is a stone beehive hut (clochan) that is over 1200 years old. It was likely used as a place of prayer, and was built with stone only, no mortar. In spite of its age and lack of mortar, it remains waterproof. Amazing!

We next visited Kilmarkedar Church, which is a ruin of a Romanesque church from the first half of the 12th century. There is an alphabet stone and an old sundial stone there, as well as a graveyard. Some of the graves are within the last 20 years or so, so it is a living cemetery.

We finished the day at Durty Nelly’s, a well-known pub in Shannon. Dinner was good, and we are now ensconced in our hotel room,  planning on what we want to see and do tomorrow.

Scenes from our drive around the peninsula . . . 

The town of Dingle . . . 

Stained glass from a small church on the side of the road . . . 

The beach where they filmed Far and Away . . . the wind was ferocious today, so you can see the size of the waves. It reminds me of the Black Rocks in Marquette, Michigan when Superior decides to show her brawn!

The Gallarus Oratory, and Kilmalkedar Church

Scenes from Connor Pass, as you drive over the mountain on the peninsula . . . 

October 31 – November 2: From Edinburgh to Dublin and beyond

On the 31st, we had a Halloween party to attend (kid friendly, late afternoon). We had a nice time, and started our good-byes.

We packed as much as we could that night, carefully weighing our suitcases so that we didn’t go over. We had 25 kg each that we could take; I planned to take the two smaller suitcases in my name, Kelly the larger one in hers.

On the morning of the 1st, we finished last minute packing and tucking. One of the things that we love in Scotland are these cheese and pickle peanuts (sounds gross, but oh so yummy!). Kamy had been looking for them for us, and found almost 40 bags of them. We finally figured out that if we were checking all three suitcases, we each could have still a carry-on and a personal item. So, we dug out my small backpack that I carry. It folds itself into its own small pouch, so when we are not using it, we pack it into one of the suitcases for travel. We filled it almost full with peanuts, and took it as a carry on. We’ll have to figure out something for the trip home, but I think we are working on a plan.

We got checked in early for our flight, no mishaps or misunderstandings. The 1 hour 15 minute flight was uneventful. We cleared immigration, and headed over to baggage claim. That’s where the “fun” began. They put the suitcases out, none of our three came out, and within five minutes, turned off the conveyer belt that sends the luggage onto the carousel. Ruh Roh. We asked a worker there how one would know if they have sent all of the luggage through, and she said if they have a time listed for the last piece of luggage, that means they are done. They had a time listed at our carousel. We went over to baggage claim office, and there were two others from our flight. It turns out that the plane was overweight, so they had to take off five bags. Three of the five were ours. We filed our claim, hoping to get the bags in the morning. 

Next on the list was a SIM card for my phone. We would be using a rental car, and would need to be able to use Google Maps for navigation, as well as be able to contact the hotels if we had any issues or questions prior to arrival, so we needed a phone number and data. $30 later, we have unlimited talking and texting for a month, as well as 5gb of data. The last item on the list was to pick up the rental car.

We rented from Budget, as it is a name we know and recognize, and of those names, they had the best price. We have a four door with a hatchback, manual transmission, unleaded gas. The cost was only $50 for the week. Fuel here is about $6.50 a gallon, so good mileage is a must. They offered us the collision insurance, we declined. Kelly had verified with her credit card company ahead of time that it would be covered if we paid for the rental with her card. The agent was really nice, and explained that we might want to double check with them to be sure, as there are a handful of countries that credit card companies usually exclude with this coverage. If we were to have an accident, whether it were our fault or not, we would be on the line for a €1500 deductible. Since we declined the insurance, they took over $1800 deposit on her card, which we would get back from the credit card company.

We got out and on the road with no difficulties. We drove to our hotel in Waterford. Most of the hotels we booked with Expedia, trying to keep the cost around $50 – $60 per night. This was a Travelodge.

Since our luggage had not arrived, we had nothing to take in, and had bare bones for the night. I had put all of my toiletries in my checked bag (which I almost never do). Kelly had hers, but no toothbrush. We used the shampoo and conditioner from the shower, and bought a cheap toothbrush to share for the night.

By the time we got checked in, got our groceries, and made our dinners (sandwiches), it was late, so we really did not go out and explore anything that Waterford had to offer. This part of the trip is really about enjoying the countryside, anyway, so we got in some beautiful scenery on the way.

We were up at 9:30 this morning, the 2nd. We had double checked with Kelly’s credit card company, and indeed, they did NOT cover Ireland. If anything happened, the deductible would come out of our pockets. We called the car rental agency to add insurance, and we had to take the car to one of their offices so that they could look the car over for damages, and have us sign new paperwork. The insurance would cost an additional $150 for the week,  or three times the cost of the rental itself. 

Since we were headed to Cork, we decided to do it at the airport there. We had breakfast at . . . I shudder to say it . . . McDonald’s. I NEVER eat at US chains when I travel, but it was just the most convenient thing to do.

The drive was beautiful, and after we took care of the car at the airport, we plugged in directions for a little farmers market that we had read about. It is held right outside the entrance to a large shopping center. We wandered through it, enjoying the sights and smells. So many of the stalls were food oriented, kind of like a collection of food trucks without the trucks. We bought a feta salad and olives at one stand, and are keeping them cold in the trunk of the car for tomorrow.

After another round of grocery shopping (and the purchase of an electrical adapter, as mine will not work here), we found our way to our hotel. We are staying in Cobh, which is a small island in County Cork. Our hotel was built in the 1860’s. The harbor here is the second largest natural harbor in the world, and the hotel is such a cute place! Our room overlooks the harbor, and there was a big cruise ship here when we arrived.

Cobh plays a role in two boat disasters: they were the last port of call for the Titantic before they sank. It was also the site of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Our hotel served as a military hospital for the survivors that they found.

We got checked in, but still no luggage. They were supposed to bring it here and leave it. I called the airline, and they said it would be here by 7 this evening (it was, so since it arrived more than 24 hours late, we will be reimbursed €60 from Aerlingus for each of the three bags). We went for a walk, with Saint Colman’s Cathedral our first destination. It sits atop a hill, and we climbed a series of steps and ramps to get to it. It is still a very active church, with a large local parish. It is French Neo Gothic in architecture, being built in the 1800’s. It took 50 years to build it. It is beautiful inside, as well as out.

We walked down the main road for a bit, venturing in and out of shops. We both feel that we could stay in this town, and in the room that we have at our hotel, for a few days and be perfectly content.

Dinner was a nice meal in the bar attached to the hotel, and now we are relaxing and planning our day tomorrow. Our drive will take us by Killarney National Park, which I have been to before. It is a beautiful area, so we may visit there on our way, and tour Muckross House. We will decide in the morning. We are headed to the Dingle Peninsula, so that may be a drive we would prefer to make instead of the park.

Pics below:  Bobbing for apples, and enjoying the “doughnut” game at the Halloween party.

Our first Irish sunset . . . if you can see through the bugs on the windshield.

Our hotel room in Cobh, and the view of the harbor from the window.

The monument to the victims of the Lusitania.

Saint Colman’s, outside and inside . . . 

This is all beautiful mosaic . . .