Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eire: the land that is green

Shinae and I actually planned out our Ireland road trip before we respectively left for our travels. We knew it was going to be a go-go-go trip seeing that we were spending 5 nights in 5 different places. But that is how we roll. We did the same in Peru too!

Our path according to google maps. We started in Dublin then made a western loop.


We reunited at our Dublin hostel. Shinae was coming from St. Petersburg, Russia, and I from London. There is nothing like the joy and relief of meeting a good friend in another country! With no cell phones, you just never know, but things always seem to work out.
In the streets of Dublin.
Brrr. A bit chilly in this country.

We had one evening here so we grabbed dinner and walked around and saw Trinity College. It was a nice enough city though we really came to get out to the country side and see green!

Day 2: To County Clare

After picking up our rental car at the airport, and me adjusting to driving on the left side of the road, we started west to County Clare.

Our ride! A trusty Note.

I drove the whole time while Shinae was the best navigator, entertainer and snack feeder. I felt like this is an "adult vacation" since we rented a car, and it was in Europe.

First stop on the road ...

Bunratty Castle and Ireland's oldest pub, Dirty Nelly's.

After my friend, Eliza, told us about Bunratty and we saw that it was enroute, we had to stop here for lunch. In fact we liked it so much we stopped 3 times! OK, so we may have gotten a little lost on the roads.

Cliffs of Moher

Here she is in all her majesty. I admit that it is fairly impressive, but it wasn't ALL that. We enjoyed it and then pressed on in search the Burren, which is described as a rocky lunar landscape. But its precise location was a little unclear. While driving, we kept wondering "Is this the Burren? It looks rocky. Wait, is THIS the burren? Hmm.. How about this?" But when you finally reach it, you will know!

Jumping for joy at the burren!

Admiring the geological formations.

I have never seen anything like this before! It was pretty awesome with all its' bizarre rocks. And we had it practically all to ourselves to explore as it was late in the day thanks to our many detours.

Poulnabrone Tomb that is 4,500 years old
Say what?!?! Now that's pretty old. So what if it was a little smaller than we originally expected.

After driving and exploring from 10 am to 8 pm we were happy to settle into our hostel in the cute little town of Doolin, and hit up the pub.

Dinner at Mc(somethings) pub

Here I fell in love with beer bread. We had delicous meat stew and the freshest cesar salad. I also had my first and only Guinness. When in Ireland ... do as the Irish? I'm not a big beer drinker now, but 10 years ago I didn't drink any beer at all in Belgium and Munich. It really was a shame, so I had to redeem myself. I must admit - this Guinness was quite smooth and yummy. Great texture!

Day 3: To Beara Peninsula
The next day we stopped at the local Saturday market for breakfast and headed out to our next destination at 11am. We decided to pass up the more touristy Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula for the secluded Ring of Beara.

We lunched and explored here for a few hours at Kilarney National Park en route to our destination. Ireland is indeed beautiful and green.

At last we reached our targeted town of Eyeries at around 7:30 pm.

Eyeries is a picture perfect colorful town.

It even won a silver (but not a gold) medal in the Tidy Town competition. Yes, you read that right, the TIDY town competition. Love it.

Hiking along the coast of Eyeries.

I was great to go on this night hike. Yeah, it's probably around 8:30 pm here and the sun is not quite setting yet. Thank goodness for the LONG days. It ensured that I never had to drive in the night.

Rocks with crazy stripes encountered on our hike.

We decided to each choose one to take home. Above were Shinae's 3 contenders. I think she went with the middle one.

Ah, is the sun finally setting? It was just us and the sheep.

Day 4: Exploring Beara some more, then off to Kilkenny ...

The next day we wanted to take a cable car to hike the desolate Dursey Island where there were no shops and very few inhabitants. Alas, our plans were thwarted because of a special Sunday mass on the Island so the cable car was devoted to that. Instead, we rode the cable car there and back for 4 Euro then hiked around that tip of the Beara Peninsula.

Where did the precious sun go? So windy... but we found lots of sheep!
Shinae and the sheep coexisting peacefully together.

Shinae and the cliff over the ocean.

Shinae up high on the rocks!
This might have been our favorite hike we went ventured on.

They are probably thinking "What are these crazy girls doing?"

We were probably debating if they were 2 sheep or 2 rocks. Sometimes it was hard to tell from afar with all the fog! By the way, there are no good pics with me and the sheep as I tended to scare them all off. Oops.

Beep beep sheep!

Apparently we were supposed to share the road with cars in the opposite direction and sheep. A lot of the country roads were tinier than this - barely wide enough for our tiny car. There was no "left" side of the road to stay on.

Cahir Castle - Castle #2
On our way to our next destination, we enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies here.

Rock of Cashel - Castle #3
It was our favorite as it was half-fallen down, and not beautifully restored.

At last we arrived at Kilkenny around 7ish.
A street in Kilkenny, a medival town.

"You can't persuade him black is white."
Shinae looked this saying up online. Much more profound than the usual "Guinness for strength" adds we saw.

Watching the Irish band, the Kilkenny's, perform in .... Kilkenny!
We went in partly as a joke, but it turns out they were rather good!

Day 5: Relaxing in Kilkenny then back to Dublin

At last we woke up not having a full day of driving ahead of us so we took our time exploring Kilkenny during the day.

Wow... who consumed this much Guinness? Not me!Kilkenny Castle (castle#4 and final one).
It was restored to 18th century times so it lost its medival charm but it had lovely lush green grounds where we had a very meaty lunch.

Then we took a leisurely 2 hour drive back to Dublin. We were sad that Ireland was over, and our traveling was over too.

A note on the Irish: They were soooo friendly!!! They went out of their way to help us. Their directions were extremely precise, such that we never really got lost. And when we did, this nice man stopped to ask us where we were trying to go, then led us most of the way there! This definitely made our trip enjoyable - being able to communicate with the people in English and the people being super-friendly! A rare combo in our travels.

It's about the journey, not the destination. I definitely believe this saying in many ways and it was indeed true for this leg of the travels. Almost everyday we were on the road and exploring for about 10 hours to get from point A to B. Shinae and I had a blast and Ireland is a beautiful country.

Shinae and I are super thankful that we got to travel together again!
No matter what life throws at us, we will always try to take adventures together.


caroline said...

Carter says, "I love auntie. I love the sheep. I love the sheep in the road. I like the sheep in the grass. I like the car run-a over."

sharock said...

your first guiness and last?

Angela said...

To Carter: I love you too. And I also love the sheep so no no no. We don't want to run over the sheep! Did you know I also saw some blue painted sheep and red painted sheep? What color would you paint your sheep?

For Sharlene: Yup, I only had one guinness the entire trip! I had a smithwick ale the second time and that was quite tasty.