First thing’s first: I totally lied in yesterday’s post. There is no way I can finish this week without writing absurdly long posts or skipping bits. True, there are bits that aren’t critical to the story, but then again this whole story isn’t critical, so if I’m setting the threshold at the things you “need to know” I should go delete the whole run and start blogging about the NSA leaks.
No. No, that wouldn’t be right. I’m so close! Right. So, the previous night (technically this is a post-script to “Day Fifteen”) we made it to Galway and checked into the gorgeous Hotel Meyrick. Classic, old-world appointments, no contemporary blah-blu here. Remember, months ago, when I mentioned how Lisa was shameless in playing the honeymoon card when making reservations? She hit the jackpot here, where we were upgraded into a phenomenal suite for the first two of three nights (big wedding on the weekend, couldn’t be helped). It was divine. We snuck down to Eight, a casual restaurant Lisa found through Chowhound… wow, I think I just mentioned Chowhound for the first time; Lisa should write about that site, it was her dining Bible for this trip… and it wasn’t bad. Most notably, we completely reworked our itinerary while we sat in their window, looking out at the docks. See. we were beat. We’d been having a great time, but we had a couple days’ hard driving ahead of us and were really feeling like we’d had enough of the road for awhile. Plus, and Lisa disputes my recollection of this, I feel like we were warned off of heading toward Giant’s Causeway, our last major tourist stop, because of some nutty motorcycle rally or some such. The roads were going to be clogged, no treat, plus all the inns and restaurants along our likely route were going to be absolutely swamped. So, we bailed. We worked out a few days of leisure time where we were before making our way back to Dublin for the finale. And so, we began to spend one day too many in Galway. Continue reading “Day Sixteen: Pressing Pause in Galway”
Our fifteenth day is defined in three ways, listed in no particular order: our visit to a 1,000 year old abbey, our completely serendipitous stop at a sheepdog demonstration, and the Burren. We are pathetic/ecstatic enough animal lovers that the sheepdog demo rates higher up on our list of trip favorites than it ought to, but what the hell it was our honeymoon and we’ll enjoy what we want. :p
When we left Doolin we entered the Burren almost immediately. It’s not a specific place so much as a region; a type of landscape called “karst.” It comes off as alternately a wasteland and a lush garden. The soil is quite rich but is riddled with essentially infinite stone, such that huge amounts of work have to be done if you want to make any sort of use in an agricultural sense. On the other hand, the land and weather make an exceptionally long growing season for grass, meaning that herds can graze happily for an extended period. There is also an incredibly diverse ecosystem of flowering plants, which has led to a unique boutique (tra-la!) – The Burren Perfumery. Now you, too, can smell like a karst! Continue reading “Day Fifteen: Mad Max 4 – the Burren”
I have joked about the roads in Ireland, and I have ranted about the roads in Ireland. This was a day when I had to respect the roads in Ireland, the way a lion tamer respects the dinosaur that just crashed through the circus tent and is clearly attracted to the sound of a whip-crack. Here’s the reality: the Irish just don’t need many roads. There are towns, and within those towns are whatever roads are necessary for the conduct of business. Then there are one, MAYBE two, routes to get from point A to point B. In this case, we had the option of taking (you’ve heard this story before) the highway from Dingle to Tralee (a waypoint on the way to Limerick) or the other route. The scenic route. Well shit, we came all this way to see stuff, and they’ve even gone to the trouble of naming it “the Conor Pass,” so we gots to go. Do I have to mention that today’s episode is brought to you by Comprehensive Rental Car Insurance(tm)?
I swear, we had an omen. A chance to turn around. The picture to the right? We were on this road less than 30 minutes from when we set out from Dingle. We leave, we take a right at a T-intersection, and we start to climb the hillside… and we’re immediately on to the classic one-lane road. If you click on the photo you can get a better look at the camper coming along. Those particular vehicles are ubiquitous in Ireland, the favored vacationing vehicle for natives as well as Europeans of all stripes. If I had to guess, there’s probably a pull-over spot just behind the 1st bend in the wall on the right, which is where we probably dove in and waited for them to pass. If not, well, one of us did some backing up at that point. You may be wondering to yourself why I don’t remember the details. The mistake you’re making is in thinking that this was “the time” that we had such an encounter, instead of the multiple-times-a-day that it did. In any case, we ignored this omen and pressed on, gaining elevation and making for the Conor Pass. Continue reading “Day Fourteen: Long Day’s Journey Into Doolin”
We had a second full day on the Dingle peninsula. I won’t lie, having done the Slea Head Drive the day before I sort of felt like we had taken a good sample of the place. I mean, you could spend a month ANYWHERE and not see the same thing twice if you were willing to dig deep enough, but on a time budget you have to draw lines. Still, I was curious. I had found a website online pretty much by chance for Danny Sheehy – he does no marketing and, in fact, asked me at one point how I had even heard of him to call. When I told him I found him via his site he honestly looked surprised. “Oh, that thing? Forgot I had it.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. I found the site for Danny and got in touch with him – he offers customized walks featuring “[a] poet, a farmer, an author, a fisherman… a man at home on sea or land;” him, in other words. I showed him to Lisa, and she said “sure, what the heck.”