“There’s a whole world out there to explore.”
While traveling continues to move full steam ahead, I’m loving every single minute, but still adjusting to the juggling act.
Being on the go…
Resting when possible (I’ve become a pro airplane/train napper…)
Embracing the exhilaration…
Acknowledging irresponsible decisions…
Knowing when it’s time to just be quiet…
With that said, documenting the whirlwind hasn’t been as timely as I would like, but let’s jump back in, shall we?
I thought I had seen the Emerald Isle’s most beautiful coast line.
I was wrong.
Joel and I arrived early Thursday morning and met his parents who had just finished touring the northern counties.
First stop - a drive from Shannon to the small village Adare for a quick coffee/tea break. It was en route, convenient, and adorable, but certainly not a must-see destination.
Side note: I made sure to proudly point out all the “Casey” shops, cafes, and stores along the way.
Then it was on to Killarney, our adventure “hub”, to unload and refuel.
A traditional pub, along with a traditional irish seafood chowder and traditional Irish Guinness, fit the bill.
Oh so traditional.
All set to be one with nature, we ventured to Killarney National Park, a stunning park featuring foggy ranges…
It’s very own stairmaster.
All topped off with a castle, a.k.a. Muckrose House.
Before we knew it, we had gone 8 miles (give or take). Beautiful scenery will do that to you.
We returned to Killarney…
And popped into Bricin for dinner, which with the ambiance and exceptionally warm service felt more like being at a friend’s home. (Image below from their site.)
They’re famous for their “Killarney Boxty”, which is a Celtic pancake/meat dish and carries with it the local rhyme:
“Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can’t bake boxty sure you’ll never get a man.”
We had big plans for Friday.
It was time to explore the Dingle Peninsula, once cited as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’ by the National Geographic and voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by Trip Advisor.
Not too shabby, eh?
The route to get there was pretty easy on the eyes, too.
Once we arrived in Dingle (an hour drive north west of Killarney), we picked up a couple of bikes and began the 40km adventure around the coast.
Just as the rain arrived, we stopped for lunch at Skippers, a quintessential cottage serving seafood plucked straight from the sea a couple steps away.
We loaded up on oysters (a local delicacy. I had no clue Ireland was such a hotspot for oysters, but makes total sense.)
Scallops with their roe still attached, a vision I’m unaccustomed to, but one that is salty and yummy and oh so good.
And mackerel with dijon sauce. One word - heaven on a plate.
Seeing at this was such a quaint little place, credit cards were a no no. We didn’t have enough Euros and with no sign of life for miles away, the owner suggested we simply “drop off” the money in town later.
My jaw hit the table and I looked at him only to mutter “That is too nice. How does a person like you even exist?” Such sweetness and trust is quite a lesson.
Fortunately, he also gladly welcomed an alternative, our melting pot of bills - dollars, pounds, and euros.
The rest of the Dingle Peninsula went a little something like this…
A Game of Thrones-esque cliff….
Making friends with the local sheep.
And photobombing rams.
And coastline as far as the eye could see.
We ran into a wee bit of a hiccup along the route and had to switch from bike to car, but I’m tremendously thankful we did as the uphill finish looked treacherous.
Europe Hotel was just the ticket to revive our weary legs and thirst for Irish whiskey.
The foggy mist remained over Lough Leane in Killarney (meaning “Lake of Learning”) as we tucked in for the night ahead.
Eager would be an understatement to describe my feeling about getting into their brown bread, an Irish staple I had to have at every single meal.
I was eager to follow the Irish saying: “Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A cold pint and another one” so we curled up in their library to enjoy some traditional Irish music (or “trad”, as they call it) and warm up by the fire with Jameson.
Saturday was all about the Ring of Kerry, the extremely popular driving route on the peninsula just south of Dingle.
Spoiler: I think Dingle is better, although Ring of Kerry does put up a strong second half.
Per usual, we befriended our fair share of livestock.
But it was windy.
As in, really, really windy.
In fact, staying in the car was the preferred course of action.
Lest your forget what Irish roads are like, here is example A.
Dontcha just love the one lane curves?
We went off the official “ring” to explore St. Finian’s Bay and Valentia Island, one of my favourite parts.
Remember what I wrote earlier about a “strong finish”?
But the wind remained in effect.
Lunch was fish and chips and cider in one of the only handful of town along the loop.
Six hours later, the ring was complete and there was only one way to round out our last night in Ireland.
48 hours later, I left the Celtic island with even more luck of the Irish.