Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ireland - Day 4

Our fourth morning was an early one.  We woke up in Blarney area and hit the road.  We had a lot of driving planned for the day and wanted an early start. 

One of the most popular site seeing activities in Ireland is the west coast.  There are mountains, cliffs, vegetation and the see.  The three most popular spots are:
  • Ring of Kerry: This is a drive around a "peninsula" on the southern most coast
  • Dingle Peninsula: Another driving expedition
  • Cliffs of Moher: a view spot
We didn't have time to make all three so based on internet forums and guide books, we decided to eliminate Ring of Kerry (RoK) from our plans.  It takes approximately 2hr+ hours to drive RoK; since we'd already planned for approximately 5 hours in the car, we didn't want to make it any longer.

To start off, we drove from our hotel, Blarney Golf Resort, to Killlarney.  It took a little over an hour and a half. Ben drove this leg. It involved several narrow and winding roads, but nothing too too crazy. Besides, the scenery along the way was gorgeous.

We had decided to stop in Killarney because good books said it was a cute town.  The only downfall was that it was rainy and early when we got there.  We had considered trying to rent bikes here, but due to the weather instead we stopped in a bar for coffee and to make a plan.

We ended up agreeing that we wouldn't drive RoK or to spend time browsing the streets and streets of shops, but we would drive a few miles to Lady's View, which is a lookout point. The spot got it's name based on the gushing of beauty it received from Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting when they visited in 1861. Even despite the haze and drizzle, beautiful it was.

Ladies' View; Killarney
His Nordstrom Anniversary sale raincoat came in very handy!


At Ladies' View, there was also an adorable coffee shop/pub/store.  We cozied up here while waiting for some of the rain to pass over (they had free wifi).

After the pit stop, it was on the road again to Dingle; about 1.5 hrs from Ladies' View.   One of the benefits to having our own car was that we could stop whenever we pleased, wherever we pleased.  So, once we started getting closer to the coast and stumbled upon a beach, we decided to pull up, park and enjoy the scenery. 

 Part of the reason we'd decided to do Dingle instead of RoK/Killarney was how cute everyone said Dingle was.  It was an adorable little fishing town.  An old man on the street asked us if we needed help and we asked for recommendations.  He guided us to what looked like the most expensive restaurant in town.  After deciding it didn't look that appetizing, we decided to find another spot and ended up at what was the fish and chip place in town, Harringtons. 
They only take cash and by the time we left, there was a crowd out the door.  I can see why.  I had first fish and chips of the trip and it was delicious. 
 Rick Steves' Ireland 2012 book has a Dingle walking tour, which we followed to learn some of the history and cites of the town. I mean really, how cute is this? 

And of course, leave it to us to find the brewing company in town.  Dingle Brewing Company opened in July 2011 and makes just one lager, Crean's, for the time being, but it was a fun stop ($6e for a self-guided tour and a pint). 
This pose was Ben's idea
 If the brewery stop was for Ben, then Murphy's was the stop for me.  An international award winner ice cream shop. Yum!

 After spending two or so hours in Dingle, we decided to get on with the actual drive around Dingle Peninsula; except we didn't.  Sean, our GPS, miss guided us.  We ended up driving about half of the peninsula (we never made it to the north) before getting turned around.  By the time we realized what had happened, it was getting late and dark so we decided to hand onward to Limerick, which is where our night's hotel was, still 2.5 hours away.  However we did in some neat views before getting semi-lost:
From there we drove to Limerick.  We'd heard from people, internet and guide books (especially the fact Limerick isn't even Rick Steve's guidebook, at all!), that Limerick is to be avoided unless you have a specific reason to go.  My Fodor's book said something along the lines of "Limerick is overrun with gangs".   With this in mind, our plan was to just sleep in Limerick and nothing more.  Thus, we stopped in Adare, a cute town about 20 miles outside of Limerick for dinner.

We got Chinese at an unmemorable restaurant (a nice change from bar food though) before checking into Absolute Hotel and Spa, which was definitely the nicest hotel of our trip.


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