Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for June, 2019

Killarney C(K)aper B- The Pastorale

Another sleep in. So unlike me. Perhaps it was all of the partying last night!

My name today was Eamon Kelly (see below).

We had another great breakfast at the B&B and then parted ways again.

Anna was to do a guided tour of the Gap of Dunloe, the Black Valley (Anna found out it is so named because it was the last place in Ireland to get electrical power), Lord Brandon’s Cottage and then a boat ride through the lakes and rivers of Killarney National Park returning to Ross Castle.

I, on the other hand, was to do a “challenge” bike ride east of Killarney. The topography was to be much different from yesterday. More rolling, quiet lanes and farmlands. Less mountainous and less scenic. Interestingly though, I would gain more elevation on this tour.

The weather started sunny but soon some clouds and rain rolled in. I had to get the rain gear on again but thankfully it did not last more than 20-30 minutes. I did not take a lot of pictures. I got into touring mode and just looked and smelled as I rode. I did pass through a small village Gneevgullia with an interesting statue to a poet born in that parish (Eamon Kelly) and more religious statues (there are a lot of these in Ireland!).

The kilometres melted away as I drank in the pastoral views. I love cycling. Some of the road sections were bone-jarring but I would take this any day over vehicle traffic. I quickly rode through Rathmore but did not stop. I later found out from our B&B proprietor that he was born very close to that town.

Some sections of the road on this tour felt like being on a roller coaster with short, steep climbs and then windy fast descents. Too much fun!

About 12 km out of Killarney I took a side tour past Lough Guitane and enjoyed more twisty roads until I arrived back in Killarney National Park. I went back to the Muckross House thinking I would grab a bite to eat but it was too busy with tourists. I rode back into town and finally had a late lunch at a local French Patisserie- the Petit Delice. I had a lovely prawn salad and a vegetable lunch croissant. Delice!!

As I got back early, I decided to get back on the bike and visit Ross Castle and then bike through this side of the Killarney National Park. Very relaxing! I ran into Anna again after her tour and she was off to find a pint and shop a little.

It is our last night in Killarney and tomorrow we head off the Kenmare. I loved Killarney for it’s beautiful National Park and the wilder mountain passes and hidden quiet valleys. The town is busy and very touristy but it is a great place to base your self out of to explore the beautiful countryside.

We tried to have dinner at the Bricin Restaurant and Boxty House but it was fully booked for the night- disappointing. They serve a local potato pancake as a main course which is unique to this area. We will look for it elsewhere as our journeys continue. I remembered a small restaurant off High Street on one of the side lanes. We found it again the Stonechat Restaurant. Luckily they had one table for 2 but we had to be out by 8 PM. No problem! We both ordered the lamb shank which was huge and very tasty. We then walked around town relaxed. We stopped into a local bar and noted a bunch of fellows fixated on a TV screen and so we watched our first hurling match. Very interesting. We did not really understand all of the rules but it was definitely a fast paced game. Just for your information, Cork bested Waterford! We enjoyed some Irish Coffees at Gabys and as we were leaving Anna decided to be dramatic and broke one of the glasses! The barman was most understanding. We decided to retire earlier tonight and returned to our B&B.

It’s hard to believe tomorrow was our last stop on the bike tour portion of our Ireland trip. Time flies when you are truly enjoying yourselves! Now it’s on to Kenmare.

Killarney C(K)aper A

Another good sleep! I must admit, I felt a little tired after yesterday. This likely accounts for me sleeping in today. However, Anna decided I felt like Finn O’Malley today!

The breakfast at our B&B was freshly made and substantial. They really do mean breakfast! Anna had oatmeal with Baileys Liquor. Try it- I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Everything was served hot (and I do mean hot). The coffee was particularly good. This B&B also had the best shower. Instant hot (and I do mean hot) water that was anti-low flow. Ah………!

Anna’s and I paths would again diverge today. She wanted a day off the bike and would do a walking tour of the Killarney National Park, Ross Castle, St. Mary’s Church and Cathedral, the Franciscan Friary and then the town. I would cycle out to the Gap of Dunloe, then descend into the Black Valley (sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) followed by a climb up to Molls Gap and followed by a final descent down a portion of the Ring of Kerry returning to Killarney.

The ride up the Gap of Dunloe was steep but grew progressively more scenic. It was not busy which was great. A good portion of it is really encouraged mainly for walkers, cyclists and jaunting carts. It looked like it was going to rain but didn’t. There were great views all around.

The descent down the other side was fun but you had to watch your speed as there were wet sections and horse droppings. If you fell it would not be pretty.

The Black Valley was likely the finest section I cycled through to date. A wonderfully quiet and picturesque lane which undulated part green fields, lovely stone cottages and small waterfalls. Any fatigue I felt earlier melted away.

The climb to Molls Gap was steep again but eventually conquered. I was surprised when I found out Kenmare (our final stop on this bike tour) was only 10 km away. I was going to have lunch at the Gap but there were too many people from a bus tour at the restaurant so decided to ride on. The descent from Molls Gap was on smooth road and delivered nice views of the Killarney Lakes below. Along the way, I stopped at Ladies View, the Torc Waterfall and the Muckross House.

Before I knew it I was back in Killarney and ran into Anna (not literally!) along High Street. I was quite hungry so we stopped in at a cafe for a very good latte and a slice of Guinness Walnut Bread. Guinness can do no wrong!

It was back to the B&B to work on this blog posting and to relax before our evening “on the town”. We had a great dinner at Gabeys Seafood restaurant and then headed back to our B&B to be picked up and driven to a performance of “Celtic Steps”. This was a performance of Irish song and dance at the local raceway. Our cab driver was late but did eventually arrive and whisked us down to the venue. We grabbed a pint of local Killarney Blond Ale and thoroughly enjoyed the energetic performance. Both the musicians and the dancers were top notch. The cab was right on time to take us back to our B&B but we then decided a nightcap was in order and we proceeded back to town and I chose a bar that was holding some chaps 40th birthday celebration. Oh….those were the days my friend! Why not crash it? We tried to fit in and enjoyed the finger food but after one G and T headed back to our B&B for a well earned sleep.

Dingle to Killarney

We had a reasonable sleep but not as good as the night before. I was up earlier than Anna to finish the blog as I had technical glitches the night prior.

I know you are dying to know……my name today is John Sheahan.

We packed up and then had another great breakfast at the Greenmount B&B. We were sorry to leave it as our host, Gary, had been so gracious. We remembered this B&B had been upgraded at no charge when we booked.

Our itinerary today was quite different compared to previous days. Anna was to have Patrick, our guide, pick her up at 10 AM and then drive her to Milltown to cycle the remainder of the way to Killarney. I was to cycle the entire way.

After our goodbyes, I headed off sure the route was along the main highway. I finally looked at the GPS to see it was warning me “off course”. I had already cycled 2-3 km so I had to backtrack to the tourist office to pick up the route start again and then re-attempted the route. I had a good laugh when it re-directed me back to the B&B we had stayed at and then took me along the road right in front of it!

Anna and Patrick apparently had some problem getting the e-bike into the van and had to resort to taking off the front tire. I guess neither of us had “clean starts”.

My initial route was lovely to start. Narrow, quiet lane ways with lovely views. I cycled through surrounding rows of fuchsia bushes dotted with foxgloves.

I eventually came back to the main road but thankfully crossed it to take a cul de sac road to Minard Castle. It had been heavily damaged many years ago and never repaired. It was located by a very rocky beach known as Storm Beach.

I then was reconnected to the main road for fast cycling past Inch Beach. I stopped for a few photos as the beach looked huge especially with the tide out.

The next stretch just had to be ridden through as quickly as possible. There were not any worthwhile sights and the road was a major highway. I ramped up my speed and let her rip! I eventually reached Castlemaine. A rather nondescript village but I was hungry and saw a bar (Griffen’s) so I stopped. The place looked like it had seen better years, but, I decided to risk it. I walked into the bar with full cycling gear and 5 older Irish gentlemen literally stopped slurping from their Guinness glasses and looked at me wearily. You could have heard a pin drop! I broke the silence by saying the only thing I though they would want to hear- “I’ve been cycling a ways and thought I would stop in for a pint of Guinness”. Smiles suddenly erupted and before I knew it they were all chatting with me and asking me how the roads were and offering sage advice. I breathed a sigh of relief and took another risk “do you have a bar menu?”. The bartender replied in the affirmative and gave me a menu with 5 short options. I was now committed and decided to order a chicken dish I had never heard of before- Goujons. It took a long time to come but when it arrived I was very pleasantly surprised. They were herb breaded chicken pieces fried to perfection with a sweet sauce and if I say so myself a sweet salad. It was inexpensive but probably the best value and really tasty meal I had in Ireland thus far. The proprietor was definitely tipped!

Back on my steed, I rode through Milltown and then had another very pleasant but hilly 18 km stretch on a ridge line as I approached Killarney. It started to rain quite heavily about 12 km out of town so I stopped to put rain gear on. There were many beautiful old churches and ancient graveyards along the way.

After the ridge line ended there was a very steep descent into Killarney. As I arrived the sun came out and I found our B&B quite quickly. I found Anna waiting in our room. She had a pleasant day with Patrick and rode the final 20 km into Killarney from Milltown. Once she arrived in Killarney she got a tour of the town

highlights and a lot of useful information from Patrick. He lived within 7 km of town so it was convenient for him to meet with Anna again.

We got settled in our B&B and then walked around town. It was much more of a tourist town than Dingle. There were many “lanes” off the main roads. We also found a beautiful Franciscan Abbey.

We had a nice dinner at Treyvauds and then hit the pub scene again at Husseys Bar which had a “snub” room up front! We ordered a pint of Guinness for me and a pint of Murphy’s for Anna. We had truly transitioned to being Irish!

As we were enjoying our beer, we noted a local Irishman talking with two acquaintances. Try as we might we could not understand him with his very thick Irish accent except for the universally understood F*** and Jesus Christ which happened to be about every third word spoken!

It was back to our B&B to get a good night’s sleep. I was looking forward to the Killarney area because of it’s National Park, beautiful lakes and mountainous terrain! Would it meet our expectations?

The Dingle Loop

We had the best sleep ever! Perhaps going up Connor Pass yesterday had some role to play? We planned for a very leisurely morning as we only had about 50 km to cycle.

Oh….. my name today is Harry Clarke (of stained glass fame). Anna’s choices are becoming more esoteric.

The breakfast at this B&B was fantastic. We were delayed a bit afterwards by some technical glitches trying to download pictures for the blog posting from yesterday. I finally got it done and we packed up.

It had rained through last night and we could hear rain on and off as we were preparing but I still put sunscreen on. Anna asked “are you feeling optimistic?”. I was.

We started to cycle out of town full of anticipation for the famous Dingle Loop. Patrick, our guide, had stated that this could be the highlight of the trip.

We thought the tour would keep us on the Slea Head Drive the whole way but soon we were directed to a side lane. It was so quiet and passed through lush and pastoral farmlands.

It started to rain quite heavily so it was back on with the rain gear. Eventually we did back to Slea Head Drive and the views grew progressively more stunning. We couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The clouds started to clear and we suddenly saw an unusually bright orb in the sky…….the sun surrounded by blue sky. Yeah!! It was off with the rain gear for the rest of the ride.

The road was narrow and built into the cliff side with precipitous drops on our left to the turquoise coloured sea below. We passed an ancient Celtic Farmhouse Museum, an old wall fort, some original famine shacks and ancient Celtic beehives. We almost stopped in to “pet a baby lamb”!

Soon the Blasket Islands came into view. Stunning! We were at Slea Head and within 1 km of the Blasket Center I left Anna to take the intermediate route back. As soon as I left her I wondered about my choice as I had a 12% grade climb. I eventually got to the top and then stayed on high, quiet country lanes. Fantastic. There was quite a bit of climbing but eventually a lovely downhill section exiting by a stunning church in Ballyferriter.

I passed by a pub (no way, in Ireland) but decided just to head back to Dingle. It was fast and fun cycling. I had adjusted my seat higher this mornings and had it exactly correct. The legs felt good! Before I knew it I was back in Dingle.

Anna would take longer to get back so I parked the bike and walked back into town for a well deserved latte and minestrone soup. Yum!

I took a few more photos in Dingle and then walked back the long way to the B&B.

Anna eventually returned with a few purchases. She had seen some lovely pottery and original art pictures and was intent on purchasing same prior to our leaving Dingle tomorrow.

We walked into town and had one of the best meals we have ever had at Doyles Seafood Restaurant. The seafood linguine was amazing. We finally had our Dingle gin there as well. Afterwards we went to Foxy John’s pub and hardware store (yes, it’s an Irish thing) for a pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale as we listened to a local Irish musician.

Finally, we returned to our B&B for a glass of red wine and drank in our final sunset. It was off to Killarney tomorrow. Could life get any better?

Connor Pass Conquered!

We did not sleep well in Limerick! I am not sure why. I was up at 1 AM, then 3 AM for 2 hours and then I drifted in and out until 7 AM.

Who are you (today?) who, who, who who……! I am Connor Collins!

A quick shower helped and then we had a nice breakfast at the hotel and took our bags down to street level where we were greeted by Patrick, our guide support/driver. He was very pleasant and punctual. We started off 5 minutes before our appointed time. It was raining quite steadily in Limerick though as we drove out from the city.

Patrick was an ex-policeman working for Lifecycle Adventures for just a year. They had just started tours here last year. He kept us entertained and informed unto we reached Camp our start off point. We met our “bike guy” there and after about 30 minutes we were ready to ride! It was still raining. Anna loved her e-bike right away dispensing with some of her trepidation about this tour. The ride started very easily which was great for Anna. We did find a good place for Anna to pray for good luck on the upcoming tour!

She looked strong and comfortable. As we rode the rain got heavier but our lunch spot soon appeared Tomasins Bar.

We had a really great lunch meal here with hot and hearty soups and a filling main course. Now, back on the bikes! After about 5 km my route detoured from the main route. I was heading off to Brandon Point to get an extra 20 km in while Anna would proceed directly up the Connor Pass to get to Dingle before me.

As soon as I turned off the main ride I knew I was somewhere special. The road became a rolling lane with stove bridges and pastoral surrounding farmland. Gorgeous. I passed a lovely church and then had a steady climb to Brandon Point. It was windy but I had the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean before me. I stayed for a little bit entertained by sheep dogs herding sheep. The newborn lambs were very cute.

It was a nice ride back down to the main road and then time for the main event- Connor Pass! A steep climb 7.7% grade for 5 km. I took several layers off for the climb. Thankfully there was not too much traffic on this single track pass road. The crest of the Pass soon appeared! Success! The views were spectacular. It looked dark and foreboding though.

The next part was fun. A 10% downhill for 7 km straight into Dingle. The stinging rain drops and constant braking took some energy. One did not want to fall here.

Dingle was like a jewel in the distance and soon I was in the heart of this lovely, tourist town at the Visitor Centre. The GPS track ended here, but, I then remembered I had not written down the name of our B&B! Thankfully, I had a Dropbox file named Ireland 2019 on my phone with the name of our accommodation- the Greenmount Inn. I used Google Maps which got me there in no time.

Anna has already arrived and seemed to be enjoying a long, hot shower. She eventually emerged from the bathroom and I asked her how things went? She said fine…..but, with one little incident. What incident I asked? Apparently at the start of the climb to Connor Pass she didn’t quite get the gearing down on the e-bike quite right and then couldn’t get her foot out of the basket in time before she fell onto the ground in the lane of traffic! She had difficulty getting up but a nice woman stopped and asked her if she needed help. At that point she she was able to get up somewhat scraped and cut on her right lower leg. To her credit she soldiered on and got to Dingle. Initially concerned, my thoughts turned to admiration for her fortitude. Good on her.

Our B&B was beautiful and even had an honour Bar! Gary the owner was very nice and a bit of a joker. When Anna asked him for the WiFi password, he started to recite a complex Gaelic but after several unintelligible consonants developed a devilish grin and laughed. Anna thought he was serious.

We went into Dingle for some great seafood at the Fish Box and then crossed the street to tour the spectacular St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Church. We had dessert at Murphy’s Ice Cream Bar (produced from the local Kerry cow- a rare, indigenous breed) and then walked back to our B&B to enjoy a glass of red wine looking through panoramic windows on Dingle Bay as the sun set.

Needless to say we were delighted by Dingle! The Dingle Loop was tomorrow and is one of the most spectacular cycle roads in the world! We could hardly wait as we drifted off to sleep.

Galway to Limerick

I think I lost some points with Anna this morning. I awoke on our last day in Galway absolutely convinced it was 7:15 AM. I hit the shower and came out ready to face the day. Anna sleepily said “why are you up so early”? I said “whatever do you mean my dearest”? She said “it’s 5:15 AM you idiot”! Oh my! She got the puppet out and we went over the intricacies of telling time!

My name today was Paddy O’Donnell! It just happened to be the name of the street our hotel in Limerick was located on!

I laid in bed for about 45 minutes and then got up to do an early morning walk as Anna pondered my demise as she could not get back to sleep.

It was a beautiful morning and I explored West Galway, the South University Campus and the Canal Pathway system.

When I got back to the hotel we went down for a nice hotel breakfast and then headed out for some shopping.

The original store we planned to shop in was closed but we found another with the identical items. We did not make it over to the Aran Islands yesterday but their merino wool sweaters, scarves and hats were easily available in Galway. Free shipping back to Canada was offered so we took advantage of the offer and before we knew it a good part of our gift shopping was done.

We continued to walk around Galway taking in our last experiences including a tour of the St. Nicholas Church and shopping at a craft sale just outside the church.

We then had a nice espresso before heading back to the hotel.

We packed up quickly and then walked the 3 minutes to the Galway Train Station. Our train to Limerick did not leave for another 90 minutes so it was back to the Meyrick Hotel Bar for a Galway Hooker (get your mind out of the gutter!) and a Guinness. Anna picked up a couple of bags of crisps for the train ride as we could not locate any shop willing to sell us a couple of bottles of Prosecco at a good price!

The Train ride allowed me to catch up on blogging as Anna read up on our bike tour.

We arrived in Limerick and used Anna’s phone GPS through TripIt to direct us to our hotel which was apparently 8 minutes away. We were directed to the middle of a block with no hotel in sight! We did find a small sign at that location that listed Georgian Limerick which was not the hotel. After some web searching we determined the booking was under the wrong name in Expedia. The correct name of the hotel was The George Hotel and when this was entered we found our way quickly and thankfully it was close to our incorrect location.

We settled in and then went to a local pub Flannery’s- established in 1889- and had a nice pair of ales to relax. This was truly a classic neighbourhood pub!

Next it was off to the Glen Tavern for a great pub meal and then a walk along the Shannon River.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped into the Savoy Hotel for a nightcap but to our horror they had never heard of a whiskey smash so we “settled” on a pair of Old Fashioned’s. While we enjoyed our drinks we were serenaded by Nancy Sinatra and our new favourite song “Summer Wine” (Google it!).

Finally, it was back to our hotel bar (I know, it sounds like we have a real problem here doesn’t it?) to finish off the night with an Irish Coffee.

Our bike tour starts tomorrow so it was an early night. Anna is a bit trepidatious. Will it all go well?

Cliffs of Moher and the Burren

We both had a great sleep and awoke refreshed. We had a nice breakfast at our hotel and then simply walked across the street to our pick up point for our tour to the Cliffs of Moher.

My name today you ask? Why it’s James Lynch (he hung his own son from his manor window just to prove a point, hence, the word lynching).

The large tour bus was waiting. As we boarded Alan, our tour guide, informed us the ferries to the Aran Islands were cancelled due to high winds. Instead of going to the Islands we would be taken to a local cave for a tour.

Alan was very entertaining and informative as we travelled through lush, green countryside. He told us of the great famine the people had endured during the 1800’s and the effect it had on the country, people and the Irish language. He explained the reason behind the famine walls we saw along the way. There were examples of thatched roof cottages and even a famine cottage.

We were travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way on narrow roads that barely accommodated the large bus we were on.

We passed through the Burren and stopped to appreciate the limestone formations and additionally noted the very strong blowing winds.

Before we knew it we arrived at the Aillwee Cave. We were taken down in 2 groups for about a 45 minute round trip. The guide was excellent and very entertaining. Aillwee Cave is a cave system in the karst landscape of the Burren in County Clare, Ireland. The name Aillwee is derived from the Irish Aill Bhuí which means “yellow cliff“. Privately owned, it forms part of the Aillwee Cave and Birds of Prey Centre attraction. The temperature is constant throughout the cave system at 10 C. The bones of a long dead bear adorns the entrance.

After our caving experience we were taken for lunch in Doolin. Doolin is known for it’s musical heritage and as the gateway to the Aran Islands. We had a fantastic lunch run by the “Soup Nazi”. Fish pie and seafood chowder was greedily consumed. Anna bought a nice Claddagh ring on sale which made her very happy.

We rode on to the Cliffs of Moher. This is the second most visited tourist site in Ireland after the Guinness Storehouse. When we exited the bus we were almost blown over (really) by gale force winds! The Cliffs are breathtaking and are sheer vertical faces that climb up to 230 m above sea level and extend for 8 km! Seabirds nest along the cliff walls including Guillemots and Puffins. There is a very long walkway (20 km) that travels along the cliffs and connects Doolin to Liscannor. Needless to say with the wind we were not going to do this walk. We did walk up to the high point for some photos. It was quite busy but apparently not as busy as it is in July when about 250 buses visit daily!

We spent some time in the cool visitors center which is built underground in the hillside to not detract from the surrounding landscape.

We got back on the bus and had a lovely drive back through quiet Countryside including an interesting descent of Corkscrew Road (it exactly lives up to its name).

We got back to Galway and tipped (much deserved) our driver/guide with money and a 80% cacao chocolate bar (a bit of a story) which brought a smile to his face.

It was off to the hotel to chill (it’s such a hard life) and then to walk around Galway and find a dinner spot. The latter proved to be quite difficult as it was so busy! Most restaurants were full. We did find a nice pub with very good seafood (Anna’s choice tonight).

We went back to our hotel bar for a nightcap which was very quiet. The bartender looked absolutely bored. Anna was impressed with him though. Two young lads (somewhat drunk) came in trying to get more liquor even though they clearly had enough in numerous other bars they had likely visited that same evening. He refused to serve them and they left without incident. Anna gave him a big tip which brought a smile to his otherwise steely demeanour!

Galway has been a great experience. We were to leave to Limerick tomorrow but not until early afternoon. We had some shopping to do for gifts.

Green and Grey……. Galway!

I awoke earlier today than Anna and decided to head out for a walk. No particular destination. It was a lovely morning and I had slept well so I was full of energy. It had been a rather slothful previous 2 days so activity was warranted.

What’s my name (an homage to Deadpool)- it’s Colm Farrell!

I decided to find Phoenix Park as our cabbie had mentioned how large and beautiful it was. There was also a Bloom Festival going on in the park that weekend. I proceeded to walk down a side road from our hotel and quickly found Heuston Train Station 1.15 km from our hotel (thank you GPS watch!). Fantastic! This would be our departure point from Dublin today to Galway. It was well within walking distance.

I quickly saw the Bloom Festival signs and followed them until I reached the entrance to the park. Phoenix Park (Irish: Páirc an Fhionnuisce) is an urban park lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 11 km perimeter wall encloses 707 hectares (1,750 acres); it is one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the 17th century has been home to a herd of wild fallow deer. The English name comes from the Irish fionn uisce meaning “clear water“. The Irish Government is lobbying UNESCO to have the park designated as a world heritage site. In 2018 it was named the Best International Urban Park.

During my walk I saw many waterfowl including a pair of swan with 6 newborn goslings, said fallow deer and numerous joggers and walkers. The Park was huge! The walk took longer than expected, but, I eventually returned to the hotel to a slightly worried Anna.

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and a very reasonable check out time of noon. We walked through the Irish Museum of Modern Art grounds to get to the Hueston Train Station. The parklands were being prepared for the Forbidden Fruit Festival. We got to the train station early and walked around but we were almost run over by two strapping lads pushing some heavy stocking carts. At the same time our eyes fell on the word Prosecco on one of the boxes and we of course followed them to a local shop. Said Prosecco was on sale (a great deal) and 2 bottles found their way into my luggage (of course I paid for them). We then celebrated our find with two half pints of Bulmer cider at the Galway Hooker (a hooker is a type of traditional Irish boat and not what you were thinking) because Anna saw some men drinking said libation and liked the colour, a tangerine orange. It was delicious.

Our train was boarding soon so we headed off to the listed platform 7 only to find out 10 minutes prior to departure that the train was on Platform 5. We made it! We were off to Galway.

I named this blog posting green and grey because that explains Ireland’s scenery and weather. Beautiful, lush green landscapes with grey, overcast and often rainy weather. We observed this as the train transported us the two and a half hours from Dublin to Galway. It gave me time to catch up on the blog and download some photos. A pleasant journey augmented with a bag of onion and cheese crisps. Anna loves saying that word!

We arrived in Galway and got to our hotel on the edge of Eyre Square within 4 minutes. Just before we arrived at the hotel I turned to Anna and stated how remarkably smoothly all was going when my heavy rolling duffel bag abruptly slipped out of hand and fell on my right foot! As the Irish say- don’t be too proud!

The Victoria hotel is currently being renovated and thankfully, as it is a bank holiday weekend, there were to be no workers banging away during our stay. It is a very quaint, boutique hotel perfect for our purposes.

We enjoyed a bottle of our stash of Prosecco and then hit the town spying out the shopping district and looking for a restaurant.

There were so many Italian restaurants! I am not sure why? The city itself is lively and full of stag and stagette destination groups who like to party. This was a new phenomenon to me but luckily Anna explained it to me.

Galway is known for its Gladdagh rings and Isle of Aran sweaters and we were on the hunt! We found a great sweater shop and planned to return to shop prior to departing. We also found a nice Italian restaurant for a meal. We visited the Latin Quarter and the Dock Road and then decided to finish the night with a gin and tonic at the Hotel Meyrick. I went to the bar to order the local Galway gin with elderflower tonic water and when I turned I was shocked to see my chair occupied by an Irishman chatting up Anna! I had to remain Colm (get it!) as I approached our table. The fellow, named Colm, was attending one of his friend’s stag party in town and decided to take a break from all of the partying and come to a quieter bar! He openly admitted he was drunk but was happy to talk to a pair of Canadians. We had a wide ranging, somewhat disjointed but very entertaining conversation before we saw an opportunity to diplomatically leave his company as he insisted he buy us a drink. We left him in the good hands of a woman at the bar!

We made our way back to our hotel with Anna’s keen sense of direction and retired for the night. We were looking forward to our tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher tomorrow. The departure point was directly across from our hotel at a funky Hostel voted the best in Ireland. It had some cool murals in it’s stairway.

Dublin Daze……

Just to be clear, we did not sleep on the overnight flight from Halifax to Dublin! It does not matter how tired we were, we simply could not sleep on airplanes. I did, however, listen through my entire “relaxed” playlist. I also had a rather annoying seat passenger to my left who kept encroaching on my personal space. Thankfully, the flight was just shy of five hours.

For your information I am Seán O’Reardon today! An Irish writer apparently.

We arrived unrefreshed in Dublin and early too. Security was a breeze and the border officer was so nice. A great introduction to Ireland!

It was too early for the Airport shuttle, so, we just grabbed a cab. Our cabbie was David Cunningham and he was most helpful in trying to teach us a little Gaelic which we failed miserably at.

We arrived at our destination- the Dublin Hilton- and dropped off our bags (after a little reorganization) and had breakfast there.

We did not plan very much today as it was a transition day and we were tired. However, we decided the Guinness Storehouse Tour was a must. It was only a 20 minute walk from our hotel, but, is was rather confusing to find the entrance. The brewery is massive and clearly a popular tourist spot!

The tour involved climbing 7 successive flights and along the way learning the history of and how Guinness is made. Four simple ingredients but quite a complicated process. The barley must be roasted at 232 C exactly and the final colour is ruby red and not brown of the famous ale. We also learned about the founder and his 9000 year lease on the brewery lands and his wife who bore him 21 children (not all survived)!

The highlights of the tour were the tasting room (the whole point of attending and the proper temperature to drink the hallowed ale at which is between 5-7 C) and the Guinness Academy where we learned how to properly pour a pint (5 steps to the perfect pour). We enjoyed our perfectly self- poured pint upstairs at the Gravity Bar where we enjoyed a panoramic view of Dublin. Anna got a bit of shopping done at the ground level gift shop and then we made our way back to our hotel.

Along the way back we stopped in at St. James Church (est. 1724). Anna needed to ask forgiveness for her many sins!

We got back to the hotel and found out our room was ready early for an early check in. Yes!

As soon as we got in the room, I launched myself on the bed, and according to Anna, I was fast asleep with jacket still on within 2 minutes. She figured it out after having a conversation with me for 5 minutes and wondering why I was not responding! We were both so tired from two overnight sleepless nights. What a great treat. An afternoon nap for about 5 hours!

We finally got up and decided to have dinner at the hotel as we did not want to venture too far.

We had a light meal and then went for a quick walk around the local grounds and then went down to the fitness centre for a swim but found out it would close in 10 minutes so we passed. Instead we decided a visit to the lounge for nightcaps was in order and I introduced Anna to the delights of the Whiskey Smash. We grabbed 2 glasses of Prosecco with fresh strawberries and retired to our room. Lovely!

Before we fell asleep, we planned our travel route from Dublin to Galway and booked our Galway tour (the Cliffs of Moher) for this upcoming Sunday. Tomorrow was a travel day and we figured a good night’s sleep would get us back on track for the next stage of our Ireland adventure.

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