Friday, April 20, 2012

Southern Ireland (Part 1) 2010


I heard from a friend of mine, who also happens to be my travel agent, that the best way to see Ireland is to plan nothing and just wing it.  So that is exactly what we did. When a travel agent who works on commission tells you not to pre-book something, you know you can trust his advice because now he is losing money.  Best advice ever!  If you ever need a travel agent, let me know and I'll hook you up with a great one!
Who's driving????

We flew into Galway on what Nikkiy refers to as "a toy plane with a lawn mower engine".  The only thing we had planned other than that flight, was a rental car.  No hotels, no mapped out drive, NADA!!  First order of business........pile all 5 people and their luggage into this tiny "SUV" and learn to drive on the wrong side of the road....or at least the airport parking lot!

 After a LOT of screaming and a whole bunch of accidental shrub trimming, we were off.....until we hit the first roundabout!  Galway is a very small town.  Not exactly hard to find your way around in, but poor Nicole had Mike navigating, and three backseat drivers screaming "CURB" for the first 45 minutes of the drive.  I think we got lost at least five times before we found our way to the city center of Galway.  At some point, I stopped watching because being on the wrong side of the road was freaking me out!

We stayed the first night in Galway as we arrived rather late.  So that meant that it was time time to eat some fish and chips then  find a pub to grab a pint and listen to some live Irish music. 
Nikkiy, Nicole and Myself outside Tig Coili in Galway

We found a cute little place.  This was a few years back, but if my memory serves me correctly it was named Tig Coili.  This is the pub where I became the butt of all jokes for the remainder of the trip. 

As we were sitting drinking our pints of the local brew, I started chatting up a couple of the locals.  Mike and Phil (two of the guys I was traveling with) were listening in on my conversation with this really cute old dude with the strongest Irish accent.  I was struggling a bit to understand what he was saying, I'll blame his accent as we all know it could NOT have been the fact that I was a few pints deep in beer.  Mid conversation this guy stops, and tells me clear as day "You have a back built for digging up potatoes!"  WHAT?  Is that a pick up line??  I think Phil shot beer out of his nose and Mike might have fallen out of his chair, as I responded to the old dude "If I was your wife, you would starve!"
Cliffs of Moher

Me at the end of the Cliffs of Moher
We called it an early night, and got rested up for the following day of hiking at the Cliffs of Moher.  We got extremely lucky as there was not a cloud in the sky.  The perfect day for a hike!  The Cliffs of Mohr actually has a cut off point, where you should not trespass past because it is private property, however there was a very distinctive trail that lead directly past that point, so of course, we continued on to the end.  Best decision ever!  Along the way we stopped and ate a picnic lunch from a local shop we ran across driving to the Cliffs that morning.  Once we reached the end of the hike, there was a beautiful view from a burned lookout point.  Most people did not go out this far on the hike, so It was nice to get away from the tourists for a little bit.  It was very peaceful and other than a little near death experience for Phil who almost toppled over the cliff, it was one of my favorite days in Ireland.

Our miniature SUV - AKA Clown Car
After we left the Cliffs of Moher, we headed farther south toward the Dingle Peninsula.  We made it as far south as Tralee before we ended the day and called it a night.  We found a cute little hotel called Meadowlands Hotel just off the road and Nikkiy haggled them down to about 80€ which is a steal when you're splitting it five ways.  If you are ever in Ireland and need a place to stay, look for this chain.  They do a fantastic job. We took this trip just before the busy travel season, so we really got some great steals on rooms.

Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
The following day was a driving marathon!  We drove around the north side of the Dingle Peninsula all the way from Tralee to Dingle by lunch.  Dingle is a cute little port village who's mascot is a metal statue of a dolphin named Fungie.  

If you noticed the book Fungie has in his mouth, you will be happy to know that you might see that book a few more times.  It is a book that my friend Pete asked me to bring on our trip.  It's his "traveling" book that he sends to random countries with friends and has them take pictures of it is odd places.  The rule of this game is that you must flip the book open to any two random pages (all of which have vulgar words on them) then take a picture at the landmark this happened at.  Fungie's book says "Cooch Wad" which is actually rather mild, so I don't mind posting it here. 
Phil and I just hangin!

After Dingle we continued on our driving marathon to the Ring of Kerry.  Driving and stopping at some beautiful views along the way.  The scenery is amazing on the entire drive around the coastline.  It really was just a great day of hanging out with friends and seeing the beautiful scenery of Ireland.  
Drombeg Stone Circle

 We finished this day outside of Killarney at another cute little Meadowlands hotel.  Tomorrow, we start the day at Nicole's fake Irish Stonehenge, some roadside abandoned castles, and a few more Pint's of beer that lead to a remake of "My Posse's in Kilkenny".

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