Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Photos! Day trips and pretty places in Ireland.

Had a bad moment, password was changed and I couldn't remember what it was. The nerves! But it's all good now.

We recently had a few more day trips away from the house, as our niece from the Netherlands came over for a visit. Her opinion of Ireland: "It's very different to the Netherlands. But beautiful." They all find the roads a bit dark at night, everyplace over there has street lighting, but Ireland is very very dark.

Our first day trip was to County Clare, to see the Cliffs of Moher, the Rock Shop and to trot over to Kilfenora to meet up with some artisan chocolatiers and sample some of their new wonderful Mayan Magic Chocolate - they had a lovely white chocolate with goji berries and a lemony aftertaste, it was truly sublime and I have a bar of it in the fridge which I am saving for a special moment .... naturally while there we got several different bars, I personally quite like the caramel, and want to try some other flavours. After Kilfenora, we returned to Lisdoonvarna and then headed through the Burren via Corkscrew Hill, a fun drive, and then meandered slowly towards home via the coast road, and stopped off for a lovely dinner in Lahinch, yummy fish and chips. No need for dessert.

The second day trip was to Dingle Peninsula, and we headed over the Connor Pass - I know I've driven it before but I couldn't remember what it was like, and once I was on it I remembered why I couldn't remember it - obviously the road is so narrow and so tightly perched on the side of the mountain, that it's a bit hellish unless you're calm, relaxed and well-rested. No matter, I let the Other Half do the driving, seeing as I'd driven us there before. It was a lovely clear day so of course the views were stunning.

Dingle town and harbour from the Connor Pass

We had a little mooch around the town - I will never get over how much it has changed since I was first there in the 1980s, but it's good to see that many of the landmarks are unchanged, although sadly the Bridge Bar, known locally as the 'Droichead' appeared to be for sale, oh well. And then we found a little place where we could get a nice healthy lunch (quiche and salad) before heading out around Slea Head and the Wild Atlantic Way - apparently the PR crowd in the tourist board have spent the past year marketing the knickers off that coastal route that goes all the way down the west coast of Ireland, from Donegal to Cork, complete with big blue zig-zag line as the logo, and you have to hand it to them, they did a good job all things considered. The Other Half wanted to follow the WAW route around Slea Head, and it took us through parts of the peninsula I'd never seen before. 

Seagull admiring the view to Iveragh

Slea Head and the Blasket Islands

As you can see from the photos, the sea was quite calm, calm enough for us to spot some dolphins swimming off Dunquin, very near where the photo on the bottom was taken. 

We headed home, stopping on the way for a bite to eat in Tralee, and found a great Chinese restaurant there called the Rose Garden, located on Rock Street, and were the only people in sitting down to eat there, but apparently it's very popular with locals for takeout. The food was very tasty, I'd recommend it. (Note to self: Trip Advisor next.)

The third day trip was to Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe. Earlier in the summer the Other Half and I went out onto Valentia Island, which was stunning, and I'd hoped to get there again, but not this year. But we did go for a lovely walk down along the gap, laughing at the tourists hoping to drive it. I drove it years ago, in poor visibility and rain. Never again. It's just about wide enough to fit a good-sized wheelbarrow, so two cars trying to pass each other out is HILARIOUS. No. I am never driving down there again. But it's wonderful for walking, cycling, and if you like horses, riding. Of course you're asked if you'd like to ride in a jaunting car, basically a horse-drawn carriage. Moll's Gap is a valley created between the mountains during the last Ice Age, and has beautiful reedy lakes and lush vegetation on the valley floor, but as you go up, the trees turn to grass and eventually it gets barer until you have rock. And it's wild. We were metres away from a doe grazing with her fawn, and they were wary of us but didn't mind us taking their pictures. Later we saw another deer grazing with some ponies in a field beside the road. 

Pony and deer grazing together, not a bother

The little river between the lakes in the Gap of Dunloe

That evening we demolished pizzas in Milano in Killarney, we'd earned them! Nothing like a good walk to work up an appetite. 

The last road trip was to the south-east, to visit my Mum and meet up with some friends. Oh yes, we had a walk, this time up to the Mahon Falls, in the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford, which as always was a bracing walk, one which I have done on Christmas Day a couple of times. It's about a mile each way from the car park to the actual waterfall, and so many people find they want to start climbing up beside the falls to the top. I've done it myself, and on a clear day you get the most marvellous views, but we didn't on this trip. The gang of us went off to have a meal nearby, and then it was time to go home, this time along the Blackwater valley to Fermoy, and on home. Needless to say we all fell into bed and slept soundly ... 

The Mahon Falls, in the Comeragh Mountains, County Waterford

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