In Dublin the 2 guys at Sixt car rental who served us were funny and friendly, which turned out to be typical of the Irish we met. Great sense of humor. One mistake, though: told us to use diesel, definitely not unleaded petrol, or we would ruin car. Fortunately, gas cap said "Unleaded", which is what it needed. Diesel would have ruined it.
Bob test drove manual transmission using left hand as required (automatic would have cost about $1,000 more) in cul-de-sac, then we drove onto Motorway. Shirley was the "gps unit" and tour guide who made the trip possible. Ireland, like England, finds it often pointless to put up street signs, or label roads as they are on maps, but Shirley guided us successfully throughout.
Drove to Phoenix Park Travelodge (we stayed there 3 nights). Nicest young lady at the desk. We found out she collected Euro coins, hoping to get one from each country, currently missing Slovakia, which we looked for but never found for her. Then we walked a total of about 3 miles to get groceries at SuperValue store. Then totally vegged out, watched a bit of TV. Here is Bob posing in veg out mode.
Walked around checking out souvenir shops, bookstore, etc. Hit the grocery store again - Tesco. Walked over the Liffery River, saw swans, then visited Trinity College, which is a very small campus. Saw the Christ Church Cathedral, built in 1030 AD and St. Patrick's Cathedral, built in 1192 AD.
We ate lunch at Kathmandu Kitchen (Nepalese & Indian Restaurant 18 Dame Street - we are pictured below in the restaurant), which was very nice and we highly recommend. When Shirley tasted the tea with cream, it immediately brought back memories of a bicycle trip she took 30 years ago around Ireland (part of a world wide trip hitting Africa, Europe, North America, New Zealand, and Australia).
We then wandered around awhile before we finally discovered the bus stop that would get us back to the motel, where we simply relaxed for the evening.
Decided to walk outside of the park for a bit, saw neighborhood homes (typically duplexes with small yards), and lots and lots of political signs because elections were coming up. While staring across the street at one sign, a lady drove up, rolled down her window, and said that was her sister and we should vote for her.
Ate at the Bombay Pantry take-out restaurant, which had a couple of stools at a counter facing out the window, where we sat and watched it drizzle for a while. Then we shopped for groceries, caught the bus, and went back to the Travelodge.
Drove then to our Waterford Travelodge, then walked into town center. Saw quay, wharf, walked along river, visited shopping district, then back to motel.
Then we drove to Tramore, where we stopped at a pub/restaurant for lunch - the Raglon Road and Esquire Restaurant. Bob ordered fish platter for 2, which was on special for 30 Euros. Out came a huge, beautifully presented, dish of every sort of fish and shellfish in their shells. Everything, except for interspersed vegetables, tasted awful. All the food was completely cold, as if it had come right out of the refrigerator. Some of the food was definitely going bad. Shirley ate a few bites, Bob ate a bit more, but not much. He finished off all the vegetables. Both agreed it was the worst meal we had ever been served. We refer to it as the "old and cold special". Having said that, the ambiance was good, a bowl of soup Shirley ordered tasted quite good.
We walked around the town, stopped at SuperValue to pick up some actual food. There were few people on the streets with the off again, on again rain. Drove back to our Waterford Travelodge.
Returned to Waterford and decided to catch a movie - Godzilla, which we found a bit disappointing.
Visited the Waterford Crystal Show room. The Travelodge staff had told us the original factory/showroom had gone bust and now there was the smaller one downtown. There were some nice pieces of course, ranging in price well into the tens of thousands of Euros.
Came back to Ballycotton and ate a pleasant lunch at the Bayview Hotel, sitting on a sofa. Walking on the way back to the car, we spoke with a (typically) funny, pleasant Irishman, probably around our age, then met 4 of his sisters, one of whom said they came from a family of 16 children.
Back at the motel in Cork, someone mistakenly set off a fire alarm. The staff frantically turned it off, but once activated, it kept going off every 2 minutes or so for about an hour before someone could come fix it. The husband of the manager had to stand next to a control panel, wait for the alarm to start again, then re-set it.
Visited Blarney Castle and gardens. Bob kissed Blarney Stone, giving him the gift of gab. Getting up, then down, the castle to the Blarney Stone, involved a steep, winding staircase going up and down castle towers. Much ado about difference between blarney and baloney. Blarney is being pleasant, complimentary, and misleading in order to get your way. Baloney is much less pleasant. Then we visited a poison garden (which included marijuana plants), a fern walk and other gardens along a stream. On the one hand pretty, but on the other hand a feeling of Disneyland - a manufactured, pretty, tourist draw.
Ate lunch in Blarney at the Lemon Tree Cafe.
Ate at the Farm House Cafe. Later, Bob took a video of wildlife - a crow busily finishing off the remains of a Subway meal.
Had to detour in Kenmore and take another route to Killarney. While driving part of the ring of Dingle, had a chance to video a bus coming through a tight, one-lane tunnel. Except for the tunnel, the road as you can see, is relatively wide for Ireland. Other parts have no shoulders, are still narrower, and have hedges/cliff edges instead of the shoulders. While waiting for the bus to pass, Bob spoke with the nearby sheep, as he often does with animals. At one point we stopped and got down to beach, where Bob got his shoes wet.
Finally drove into Dingle and had to ask where the Dingle ESK View B&B was, then ate at the highly recommended/rated Out of the Blue restaurant. Average, yet expensive, food. Then we attended a folk concert at the St. James Church, which was very nice. Learned that the Irish had re-designed the bag pipe so it was inflated by using the legs. The music, particularly by the older, more experienced performers, was just enchanting. There was also a young man and woman who sang and played guitar. She was a street musician.
Then drove Slea Head Drive for a bit (ring of Dingle), which we thought of as "thrills, spills, and chills". At one point the road was not wide enough to allow a charter bus coming from the other direction to pass, so it stopped next to a place where Bob could pull off onto a small, dirt opening beside the road. The bus started by, then stopped, there was some loud discussion, then Bob realized there was an SUV directly behind him which could not pull forward onto the dirt enough to let the bus by. So Bob pulled forward several inches, the SUV pulled forward, and the bus was just able to get by the SUV.
Ate in Dingle at Murphy's Pub which was very, very good. Then found Murphy's Ice Cream Parlor, which sold addictive ice cream. We started with the smallest cup, split between rum/raisin and raspberry sherbet. Decided we had to get another small one just of rum/raisin. Server sold us that, but commented that her favorite, even better than rum/raisin was a coffee ice cream. We ate the rum/raisin, but decided to get a taste of the coffee, which was free. Then we got a small serving of the coffee and escaped from Murphy's Ice Cream Parlor.
In the evening, Bob drove into Limerick to see the just released movie Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise in a time travel movie. Bob liked it a lot (as did critics and audience on rottentomatoes.com, particularly seeing the role at the beginning of the movie where Tom Cruise plays a sleezebag coward and does it well).
Took the bus into the city center - Eyre Square, then walked along quay. Guys were playing soccer in kayaks. Later, a ball falls off the wall into the inlet and a guy gets in his kayak on the wall and then drops off the wall, a fall of maybe 10 or more feet. Got a video of it. Also saw swans and their offspring.
Next stop was Connemara Nature Park, which had Bog Road. Midges really like boggy areas, so that walk was cancelled. Fascinating bit of info from visitor center - much of bog land was created by humans when they cut/burned down forests thousands of years ago, after the last ice age. Bogs replaced the forests. We then did stop at an actual, working bog. Saw peat bricks and layers of bog strata. Pretty neat. Took a while to find our way back to Galway, but we made it.
Back at the B&B we were moved to a different room to accomodate the mother of the owners (Yvonee and Liem), who had taken over. The new room was very nice, probably the best place we stayed on the trip. Yvonne's mother was Maureen, who told us her kid's cousin owns a bar in San Francisco, The Irish Bank, just off Bush Street. Ronan and Emily own the bar and are first cousins to Yvonne.
Maureen, who was married to a sheep ranch owner, was able to explain to us finally a question we had about sheep - why are some of them painted with either red and/or blue spots. It was for ownership purposes because they sometimes graze on areas that are common with other ranches. Ear tags are also used.
Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
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