Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Castles and Cowpies

Exploring an abandoned castle
The next morning we woke up super early to hit the Ring of Kerry.  The guests last night convinced us that this sight was not to be missed and they were right.  The road was narrow and windy.  We stopped at a local fishery and bought some fish (couldn’t get any fresher), we explored a vacant castle from the 1300s, had lunch in a pub, and did some off road hiking to the top of a hill to get the whole view.  The burger I had at the pub was AMAZING local Irish beef stuffed with bri topped with a tomato and arugula, oohhhhhhhh yea.
That evening we arrived at Laura and Cory’s next job which was with a family where the mother was Irish and the father French.  They had two tweenage girls and they had made a cake to welcome us.  They gave us a tour of their amazing property complete with a hoop house and goats.  We talked over cake and tea about the problems that face youth in Ireland, US and France (alcohol was their largest concern). 
A cowpie surrounded castle
The next morning Maureen and I got up early to hit the road for Dublin (at this point our car smelled like mildew and we couldn’t figure out why).  As we drove north we stopped in Cashel to explore yet another ruined castle (this one from the 1100s).  In my excitement to explore the ruins I stepped in a MASSIVE cow patty (I should’ve been looking out because there were over a 30 cows in the field).  Maureen reacted with great laughter as I tried to remove the shit from my foot and flip flops (now the car would smell even worse)!!!!!  We carried on the road to Dublin and found our hostel dropped off our luggage and went to the rental car agency.  Of course being Sunday it was closed and we continued our adventure to the airport.  Several roundabouts later we arrived there and finally got rid of the car.  We arrived back at our hostel and the smell had followed us to our room (I promptly tossed my sneakers). 
Look who we ran into in Dublin
We then headed out to find dinner in Dublin.  Aside from the bombdiggity burger the food in Ireland had been very disappointing and we were craving a really good meal.  We walked to Grafton street, stopping in an amazing sprits store that sold mini bottles of whiskey from each of Ireland’s counties.  We then made a loop of the area restaurants wanting to make the best choice for dinner.  Boy did we choose well!  We shared a caprese salad with massive stacked tomatoes with generous portions of mozzarella, cured meat with arugula and Parmesan

 and an entree of lamb and hummus.  Amazing, plus they had wine and after endless pints of beer it was pretty awesome. 

Irish pubs and Cliffs

So after a night of sleeping in the mansion’s back yard on Achill Island, we got back in the car and continued to drive south.  We first stopped in the town of Keel out on the island to see the beach of course there were 100s of sheep, about 55 F and sand blowing like bullets.  I have now been on a beach with cows and a beach with sheep, who would’ve thunk. We jumped back in the car and headed south to Galway.  Once we got to Galway we parked the car and tried to find a place to stay.  We ended up at a small youth hostel were the manager agreed to do our laundry!!!! So with our clothes taken car of we headed out for the evening in pursuit of some live Irish music.  With a steak and Guinness

Music and a Beer
pie in our belly we headed to the oldest live music pub.  Where a bango player, a fiddler and a accordion player had just sat down to play.  Several people brought their instruments to the pub in hopes to join in on a jam session with them.  We bellied up to the bar for some pints of Guinness (or Murphy’s pick your poison) and enjoyed a listen.  An older gentleman grabbed our hands and we danced a jig or two.  The place began to fill up with listeners, another band member came late to join and the leader of the band urged him to make his way through the “foreigners” to get to the band.  Laura asked me how he knew that we were foreigners, I really didn’t know but I guess we don’t look Irish.

The next morning we went on a quest to find Cory and Maureen Irish sweaters, we combed the shops for the perfect hand knit Irish sweater.  After many shops and fashion shows we found the ideal fit and style and headed off down the coast to the Cliffs of Morh.  Wow want a magnificent sight, it wasn’t as deep as the Grand Canyon but with the blue ocean swirling below it was amazing.  After a long walk along the coast and a token ice cream cone we continued even further south. 
The View of the Cliffs
We had read about a Glamp ground (glamour camp ground, yea it’s real look it up) on the world wide web and wanted to check it out.  When we arrived  about five dogs and cats greeted us (there were not people)  they followed us around like the pide piper as we gave ourselves a self guided tour.  There was a peaceful wood heated yoga studio, pre erected tents with wood burning stoves and fancy beds, a wood heated sauna and an outdoor kitchen.  It was pretty cold outside and we were pretty far away from the “Ring of Kerry” we decided to continue further south.  An hour later we arrived at the car ferry and were alerted that the last sailing had occurred.  We drove back to the Glampground, stopping along the way to try and find closer accommodations to no avail. When we arrived back at the Glampground, Kevin the owner gave us a tour and even showed us where the fairies lived!!! We made dinner outside and visited with the other guests (who were super excited about Glamping arriving in Ireland).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Yeats, Giants, and Bloody Sundy

After spending a great weekend in Chicago celebrating my friend Dr. Bartos' graduation at the Lederman's house.  I set out on Euro trip 2013.  Recieving an  email the day of my departure that I should pick up our rental car at the airport in Dublin and meet my friends at the hostel they were staying in, in downtown Dublin.  I quickly looked their hostel on the world wide web and took at screen shot of how to get there. 
After a flight to Paris and a prop plane trip to Dublin, on the bumpy trip I scribbled the directions on the plane's barf bag and scoured the map from the LP.  After the plane landed I lined up for immigration.  After several questions I headed for the rental car line.  An hour and a half later I was in my VW right hand drive left hand shift headed to Dublin.  Of course right out of the car park there was a freaking roundabout, as if it isn't bad enough to be on the wrong side of the road driving stick!!!!!  I survived and didn't even stall.  As I exited the freeway I scoured for street signs (chanting in my head STAY LEFT)  that several minutes later I found were tiny small signs located up on the buildings.  After a hour search  I abandoned the car in an area that I knew was close to the hostel and headed out on foot.  I quickly found the hostel and meet my friends Laura and Cory who had been traveling the world for the past 10 months.  I had missed her soooooo much so it was great to see her.
Car Feery
After we reunited we packed up the car and headed up north to a former priest's bachelor pad.  Four hours later after a grocery store stop to grab a chocolate bar to bribe the neighbor to give us the keys.  We headed into a cute cottage with a view of the ocean and the sound of the cows mooing.  First on the order was a visit to the local pub where of course our barkeep

 knew our host. We talked about life in Ireland and then retired back to the cottage.
Signage near Bloody Sunday Memorial

Murder of young adults standing up for their counties rights.  We then walked around the walled city and retired to a pub to listen to some Irish tunes.  We headed back to our cottage (STAY LEFT) and went to sleep. 

Beverage of Bushmills
The next morning we headed to the west coast where the road ended on the beach we drove across the beach to the connecting road and drove along the cliffs in the shadows of abandoned castles and churches while sheep scampered across the road.  We had lunch at Yeats Memorial Building and then headed out to the largest rock grave (which is really a 1.5 km uphill that is an inspiration for some Yeats poem).
We are now at an old mansion on the island of Acell that has a full pub and tons of working wood fire places.