A Travellerspoint blog

Dingle to Dunquin

sunny

We started the day with a stroll around Dingle, taking in all the sights - the icecream shops, the water, the American tourist in an Anzac hat... It was also the day of the Dingle triathlon, so there were lots of fit and energetic looking people floating around.
The weather was kinder to us today - sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine! The heat did make the hills rather hard work, all the more so because the heat was just so unexpected. We found a shaded spot to stop for our morning snack - Dingle smoked cheese and Tuc biscuits. Not a bad little picnic!
Ventry was the first stop along the way (a mere 9km from Dingle), and we stopped here to check out the pottery shop and have lunch. Lunch did take rather a long time to arrive, but was worth that wait.
Our yellow man markers directed us down onto the beach, past a pushy horse who tried to eat us as we went by. The beach was glorious - vast expanses of sand, brilliant blue water, and sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine! Simon tried to teach me to skip stones, but I'm afraid it's not a talent that came naturally to me.
Once we got off the beach and into the farmland, there were two almost-catastrophes. The first was that Neville wandered off down the wrong path and we nearly lost him, the second was that Simon got an almighty blister than looked like it might cause amputation at the knee. I'm happy to report that not only did we find Neville, we also provided Simon with sufficient bandaidage that amputation was not required. And so we continued on...
We climbed up through steep paddocks and watched a sheepdog demonstrate its prowess in mountainous terrain, and then a donkey befriended Simon and tried to play nudgies with him. The scenery at this point was breathtaking (or maybe that was just the hill?) but the terrain was pretty hard on our knees and ankles.
We kept thinking we didn't have far to go, but would then come across a landmark that indicated to us that we were actually a long way from our final destination. Even though it wasn't hilly anymore, I definitely needed a Mars bar to get through that bit! To add insult to injury, the cemetery wasn't where it was supposed to be, AND our route took us the long long long way around town.
It was such a relief to walk through the doors of our B&B, and an even bigger relief to be in bed a few hours later.

Posted by Buccas 00:38 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Dingling along

rain

Today we woke up to the news that Scotland had said 'no' - finally, the wondering was over. But the wandering was still happening!
Breakfast featured juice in wine glasses (classy), and then being given directions by our host, which were promptly turned into a song (down there, turn right, first left, first right).
We walked along in typical, humid, Irish weather... wait, what?! It was really muggy in the morning (Darwinites would probably cope just fine, but I was less comfortable) and at that point we cursed bringing anything long-sleeved or warm in our suitcases.
We met two of the most vicious guard dogs on our way - tails wagging ferociously, tongues licking vigorously and aggressive circle turning (not unlike Chuck). Thankfully their owner was able to calm them enough for us to pass by unharmed.
Min Ard castle and the storm beach below it was the first landmark along the way. Amazing views - tripod worthy. Here we sat and enjoyed the views (and the warmth) for quite a while, until the rain kicked in. Ah Ireland, that's more like it! A few showers had been forecast, but this was more than a shower. Deceptively soaking rain, we all got completely saturated in five minutes. There's only so much Gore-tex can take, apparently, and this was it.
As we tramped along in the rain, we used the warning call of 'car' as required. At one point, I was about to say 'car' until I turned around and saw that the source of the noise was actually a horde of cyclists. They were fairly well mud-splashed, and we stood aside to let them pass. And then more of them passed. And still more!
As we continued, Belinda continued taking photos. One particular sheep was unimpressed by this and told her off in no uncertain terms.
We climbed more stiles than I can remember, and came across Lispole which was less directly-on-the-path than we had imagined. The rain kept falling, and we kept walking - at a 'cracking pace', according to one farmer on his excavator.
Eventually we arrived in Dingle and checked into our B&B, and were promptly mothered by our host. Wet clothes off, exploring shoes on!
We found Dingle to be full of tourists (pfft, tourists!) from all sorts of places. We did a spot of souvenir shopping ourselves, and bought the town out of Deep Heat and similar products. The pharmacist could not believe just how Irish Pat's name was - maybe he could have passed himself off as a local if he'd attempted the accent?
We managed to get a dinner reservation at An Canteen which was lucky, because while we ate people were being turned away left, right and centre. Tiredness was overwhelmingly present but we soldiered on to Dick Mack's, where we were very impressed at the quality of Irish whiskey. Then it was on to Kennedy's - more of a house than a pub - where Belinda was given a rather generous serving of Glenfiddich and I tried the Dingle gin. Next stop - Dingle Pub for live music from an accordion + guitar duo. The guitarist in particular was exceptionally clever and versatile. Eventually though, the need to sleep won out over the need to have a good time - for the girls, at least. The boys stayed out a bit longer, but were denied the opportunity of a kebab. Dingle - done!

Posted by Buccas 00:21 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

On the pole in Annascaul

sunny

As we made our way to breakfast this morning, we heard the dulcet tones of The Corrs dancing up the stairs. Really Ireland, really?! Our lovely host all but force fed us breakfast (yoghurt in particular) and was concerned that we hadn't eaten enough to prepare for our walk. She did reassure us that it was an 'easy' walk, but we weren't convinced. Apparently we are the youngest Australians ever to stay in her establishment - walking holidays in Dingle obviously not the norm amongst 25-34 year olds. I had to force myself to keep a straight face when Simon's question about her shift at the bar last night was answered with information about the sheep fair in town today. Just smile and nod, Simon, and stop asking questions!
We eventually left a bit later than usual, due to excessive talking on our host's part - only saved by the telephone ringing. After grabbing supplies at the shop (and translating capsicums into peppers), we were on our Dingle Way.
The day started with some uphill walking, but made all the more bearable with views of rolling hills and blue skies. I'd never seen so many fuschias and blackberries (aka Wine of the Future) in my life! The track flattened out and we went through farmland - TVHC met another caterpillar (hunger status: unknown) and Belinda was told off by a sheep for taking its photo. There were cows, horses, cats and even a donkey who took a liking to Pat. We lunched by the beach at Inch, which could easily have been transported to Ireland direct from Australia. And then before we knew it, we were in Annascaul! Didn't even need the Mars bars to get us there. By 3.30pm we were checked into our B&B (cruelly located an extra kilometre out of town, up the hill). That left plenty of time for faffing and then exploring the town.
We sampled the local wares - Dingle gin, and Tom Crean's beer. It all met with our approval, and then we were ready to be on the pole. The South Pole Inn, that is. Excellent hearty meals, and hilarious cupboard opening onto 'the South Pole', in honour of Annascualian Tom Crean's history as an Antarctic expeditioner. Classy.
One episode of 'Make my body younger' and a game of Monopoly later, it was time to rest our legs ready for another day of walking.

Posted by Buccas 13:40 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Setting up Camp

semi-overcast

Look, I know that The Corrs are one of Ireland's most well known musical exports, but do they REALLY have to be on the radio every single freaking time we get in the car? Today's answer to that question was a resounding YES.
Team Buccas started the day by taking Emma to the airport to begin her long journey home, while Team O'Bennett headed to the Titanic Quarter to complete their exploration.
We then began the long drive from Belfast (in the north east) to Camp (in the south west). This is a journey that I'm sure no sane Irishman would do in one day, and certainly wouldn't wait until lunch time to start it. But for us Australians, that kind of distance was nothing. Well, almost nothing.
We skirted around Dublin and her roadworks, and Belinda thankfully had euros to get us through the toll booth. Not sure what would have happened if we hadn't had the money...
Lunch stop was going to be in outskirts of Kildare, until we discovered that their idea of a cafe was Starbucks. No thanks! We continued into Kildare proper, where Macari's delivered some of the best pizzas and kebabs. Excellent choice! It was then that Alison and Belinda FM really kicked into action, featuring cameo appearances from Neville, TVHC, Titanic Duck and the Titanic Sock Puppets. I think Simon and Pat were rather hoping that we would fall asleep...
We stayed awake all the way to Camp, though, navigating the old-fashioned way. With a map. Made of paper (google that, if you don't know what it is). We were warmly greeted at our B&B by Kathleen who seemed to have more trouble understanding our accent than we did hers. Had a hearty meal and a brew at the pub across the road, before lounging in the sitting room and reflecting on the day.

Posted by Buccas 08:11 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Belfast birthday party bonanza

sunny

Happy birthday to Emma! We celebrated with a diverse selection of Belfast adventures. We started with a black cab tour of the murals and memorials around Falls Road and Shankill Road. Our guide, Sean, answered any questions we had and helped us attempt to make sense of the long, long history of unrest and conflict. Hard to believe how recently it became a 'peaceful' city. Can you imagine having a 45 foot wall in the middle of Melbourne to stop people killing one another?
After that, it was time for a look at the lighter side of Belfast. Birthday lunch was at Same Happy, as recommended to us by last night's waiter. And what a recommendation it was! We had a huge selection of Hong Kong and Thai style foods, plus neverending cups of tea. We had been warned that the service may not be overly friendly, but that it would be worth it for the food. I was quite happy with the service - the waitress assumed we were all students and wanted to know what we were studying! It's been awhile since someone thought I was young enough to be at uni...
With full bellies we trundled off to the "let's surprise Emma" component of the day. After all our 'hints', I think she was quite relieved to find out we were only doing the segway tour of the Titanic quarter! Neville and The Very Hungry Caterpillar took to segwaying rather easily, putting the rest of us to shame. Let's just say that some of us could listen to the Titanic tour information, and some of us needed to concentrate more on the act of segway. Belinda must have looked the best in her fluoro safety vest and helmet because she was stopped for a photo - at the top of a ramp, no mean feat on a segway!
After that bit of silliness, we strolled around the Titanic Quarter and basked in the sunshine. The Titanic Museum looked glorious against the background of a bright blue sky - Emma's wish for birthday sunshine was definitely granted!
Dinner was at a bistro near our apartment - again, you just cannot beat the friendliness of Irish people. They were amused (and a bit confused) when we tried to explain our evening's activity (Escape - again!), but then it was our turn to be confused when we tried to find the place. Confused, and a bit cautious, as it was located in the Protestant area of Belfast - Union Jack flags everywhere. I know two Catholic boys who would have quite happily turned around and walked away, but I was sent ahead and managed to make in there alive. The lady running the show was exceedingly friendly and talkative, and seemed very excited to be running her escape/wedding planning business from the big warehouse she was in. She was definitely the entrepreneurial type - her baby had even been paid to be 'sacrificed' in an episode of Game of Thrones!
Anyway, I am pleased to report that we managed to 'escape' this time - even if we did have to get her to put the batteries back into one of the clues. We deduced 3 of the 5 code numbers using sheer brain power and brilliance, and Simon worked the other two out using persistence and a trial-and-error approach. Freedom!
After that, we hurried out of Protestant-land into somewhere we all felt comfortable - a bar. Desserts all round (had to do something cake-like for Emma), and a cocktail and 'shorts'. The music sounded promisingly 90s-esque from upstairs, but downstairs the distinct lack of d-floor was disappointing so we called it a night.

Posted by Buccas 07:53 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

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