Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cork County, Killarney and The Dingle Peninsula

Friday held our last morning in Dublin City. Erin and i had such an amazing time here, checking the sights, meeting the people, and quenching the drunk-hungries with late night mcdonalds runs. Dublin is a bustling little city, steeped in so much history. Everyone we came across was so friendly and fun-loving...it was beautiful. Ladies, check it: fur warm-weather handbands are happening. Don't say i didnt warn you.

We picked up our rental car at dublin airport and started on our way to Cork. I was curious to find out what driving on on the opposite side felt like (and a little worried) and truth be told, it isnt a big deal at all! Easy peasy. You get used to it pretty easily. Dont get me wrong though, roundabouts are another story...

So we finally get to cork county and find our hostel. We were told there was a very nearby carpark that we could use, but of course we drove right past it and found ourselves on one the steepest streets we've ever driven on, just about straight up and down. The houses were so beautiful and colourful though, so i was happy for the detour. 

Erin and i visited the shopping district of downtown cork and took a bunch of pictures of the colourful buildings. Before heading back to the hostel we checked out mother jones flea market, which was down the street. It was decent, but i didnt find anything amazing. There seemed to be a lot of old hippies there :)

To sum up Cork County, it was quite uneventful, save for playing cards with some hostel mates at the end of the day. Supposedly the nightlife is quite good, but we stayed in without a sample. Once we headed back to the room to prepare for bed we realized we were surrounded by crazy loud guests staying in other rooms, and were privy to the sound of some drunk yahoo peeing out of his window. I def heard that stream, y'all. We were off the next morning.

Next up was Killarney--what a sleeping giant of a town! We arrived mid-morning to some sort of community walk, which made getting around a little more stressful. Even more people in tracksuits than we've seen so far (which has been a lot, especially men walking around dublin city... So classy!). Our hostel Neptunes Inn was the best yet! We met our first canadian, a sweet, funny lady named Chris. We were her first Canadians she's come across as well, and she had been travelling ireland since December. It was only us three in our room, and we had an ensuite bathroom. Living it up in Killarney :)

We set out for Killarney National Park with plans to see the abbey and waterfall-- little did we know what a trek we were in for. We first stopped at Ross Castle, which admist some flooding was still pretty cool. Someone was feeding the ducks there so there was quite the commotion while we were leaving. The wind had picked up like crazy so the birds were having a hard time flying, and we were mildly worried of them being blown into our faces. Slight detour back to the car, and we still have our faces. Hurrah!

The National Park was exquisitely green. It was all grass, mossy trees and flowers. In January, people! Here was where we saw the first rainbow of the Ireland trip, which appeared on our walk about towards Muckross Abbey. The trek was so long, I figured that the abbey didn't actually exist, and was actually an abbey that only dwelled in our minds when we had found ultimate enlightenment. So when it appeared, Erin and I were quite pleased with ourselves, to say the least. The abbey itself was beautiful. One room held a yew tree which sprouted above the abbey walls, and the building was partially surrounded by a small, concentrated grave yard. That, combined with our first rainbow was enough to knock our socks off. 

We were pretty lost from there, seeing no signs for Muckross house or Torc Waterfall. (Side note: See all these capital letters I'm using? It's cause I'm writing the rest of this post on a real desktop computer :) I asked a fellow the way and he pointed us up a steep hill (one of many), which we took until we could follow the signs. We hit Muckross house at what seemed the brightest point of the day. The sun shone off the house, and although we didn't get near, it was a beautiful spectacle. We were headed for the waterfall.

Well, lemme tell you: our calves and butts haven't been the same since this fateful day to the waterfall. We walked down many roads, traversed over fields and through forests, and passed over countless babbling streams on the way to this damned waterfall. It seemed to be just one more kilometer until we would reach the end, and we just kept going because we had been so far already. We were worried that it would take so long that our walk back would be in the dark -- something for which we were not mentally nor emotionally prepared. But we kept trekkin', and trekkin', and finally we found it. 

It was a waterfall. 

We started the trek back, this time down the outer road of the national park, which we found was part of the Ring of Kerry. We were so tired and our calves and butts were achin', which we figured was because we walked a total of around TWELVE KILOMETRES that day! It was intense. Even though we were so tired after, I felt a bit accomplished, only wishing that we had known exactly how far we had to go, or had driven our little baby car (my nickname) to the car parks at each sight. that would have been smart, right? All in all, it was an experience for sure, and the views were incredible. What a beautiful national park! We felt if anything, we deserved several pints that night.

We hit the supermarket for dinner, which is always a wise choice because it's comparatively so cheap to eating out. Chicken Kiev, anyone? Eating like princesses! We also grabbed some cider, which we were consuming whilst we met our next friend, Andrew from Australia. Really nice dude! He didn't seem to have anything to do or anyone to do it with, so we met him at the pub later on. We hit a few that night, ending with a club where a man and an acoustic guitar was performing a bunch of newer hits and a bunch of classics. Talented, he was! A chance to dance, at least. Killarney as a town is not really my bag. I didn't care for any of the stores and it seems quite small town, but man, once the nightime hits, these people are down to party. The highest heels, the best track suits.So much fun. the next morning we said goodbye to Canadian Chris and started off for Dingle.

How can I express my love for Dingle? There are no words. 

Okay, there are some. As soon as we arrived we were entranced by the colourful shopfronts and fishermans wharf. We got our own bedroom at the hostel, which was unfortunately SO SO COLD. We basically slept in all our clothes. After getting settled we hit the town, and almost immediately, a really old man came up to me and spoke to me mostly unintelligibly. All I got was, where are we from, and follow me, back door to a pub. Now, in some instances this would not be a good thing to do, and the look on Erin's face was telling me exactly this, but I was way too curious not to follow. Well, he opened the door, and there it was, a typical Irish, dark, musty, dusty, wood-covered pub, with 4 really old men drinking pints at 11 am. We laughed for a million years! But we were in search of lunch, specifically some local fish and chips, so we gracefully took our leave. We found delicious fish and chips at a pub almost at the end of the road at the wharf. We also found our new favourite place in Dingle, Murphy's. This is an icecream shop that originiated in the town, and is all made by hand with fresh local ingredients. SO GOOD! 

After our jaunt in the town we prepared for our drive around the Dingle Peninsula via Slea Head Drive. There is a way via Conor Pass, but this route was too treacherous for us. Slea Head Drive is described quite perfectly as:

A beautiful 25-30 km loop that can be taken by car or bicycle (most of the time is spent taking pictures, climbing on rocks, and walking on beaches). The loop runs along by bays, beaches, mountains and rocky cliffs (Wikitravel)

Boy, was it! We got out of the car so many times to take pictures and dance jubilant Irish jigs we got whiplash (and little baby car was probably so pissed at how many times we stopped and started), and just kept saying WHAT, OH MY GOD and THIS IS CRAY repeatedly. The drive was still really intense, but we handled it like pros. Yep... Slea Head Road is a definite MUST while you're here!  Back at the ranch (Dingle town) we went to a few more shops then headed back to the hostel to get organized. Cue breakfast for dinner and falling asleep with my finger pointed on my iphone, which Erin said would one day be imortalized via oil painting and hung in galleries. I most definitely agree.

Until next time, readers.


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