Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ireland Day 9 &10 Belfast

With only 2 days in Belfast we had quite a bit to fit in. We checked into the Europa Hotel, a beautiful hotel which was  the most bombed hotel in the world!!!!  Something like 36 times!!!

Across the hall from us was the Hilary  Clinton suite where she stayed when she visited Belfast. We walked over to the St George Market which is only open on Sundays and took a look at all the crafts, antiques and food. 

Then off to the Titanic Experience. This was the birthplace of the Titanic.  This museum takes you through the shipyards, walking the decks, the sinking of the ship, the stories of the survivors until the discovery of the remains and into the depths of the ocean. It was very well done and worth visiting.

We stopped off at The Crown Bar,  the most famous bar in Belfast. It was right across the street from our hotel and was like stepping back in time. It has ten differently-shaped cozy and elaborately carved wooden boxes for small groups to drink privately. 

I had a Jameson Whiskey and ginger ale with lime! More about whiskey later when we have our whiskey tasting with Rachel of "Rachel’s Irish Adventures". 
We went for dinner here the 2nd night but it wasn’t really that great and the service was quite terrible, so definitely not a must to do but you have to check out the bar. 

The next day we had a political tour...soooo interesting and a must to do!

There was unrest between Nationalist and Unionist citizens over the partition of Northern Ireland, which named the Republic of Ireland an independent state in 1921, with Northern Ireland under British control. Violence erupted between some citizens who wanted to reunite with Ireland and citizens who preferred to remain under Britain.

This violence continued until the 1980s and still to some extent even today. During the conflict, paramilitary groups, both Republicans (Nationalist) and Loyalists (Unionist), emerged, spreading violence across Northern Ireland, with almost 2,000 murals erected depicting these conflicts.
This tour took us to visit the murals and give us a peek into this very turbulent time in history.

Bobby Sands was a member of the paramilitary group the Irish Republican Army and a member of the UK parliament. He led the 1981 hunger strike and died in Prison Maze while on strike.

Falls Road and Shankill Road, Belfast
The most famous of the ‘peace walls’, as they’re now known, divides the Falls and Shankill Roads in the western part of Belfast.

It runs for several kilometres and is interrupted at several junctions by enormous metal gates across roads. At the height of the troubles, these were used as security checkpoints. Today, some of them are still locked at night to control movement.

Union Jack flags hang from houses and poles on the street. Ropes tied across the main street proudly display flags with the British colours and images of the Queen are everywhere.

It’s impossible not to know the loyalty of the people who live in this part of the city. On the other side of the walls you don't see any of these flags.

 Despite all the troubled past, Belfast is a city that is definitely worth visiting. 

Penny and Dan

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ireland Day 7 and 8 Dublin

Today we departed Killarney and took the train to Dublin.  We had to transfer trains in Mallow but we just got off and waited on the same platform for about 10-15 minutes.  It is quite simple but if you have difficulty managing your luggage yourself (there was no assistance), this may prove be a little difficult.  There wasn't much room on the train for the luggage and some bags needed to be lifted up on top of a large heap. 
Upon arrival, our local host Damien was waiting with his Monograms sign.  He had prepared a list of things to see and do in Dublin and even marked each of our city maps highlighting it all.
After a tour to show us the lay of the land in Dublin, we stopped for about 1.5 hours to explore on our own and pick up some lunch before going to the Gibson Hotel for 2 nights.  We had a delicious sandwich at the Kilkenny store which has a restaurant on the top floor.

The Gibson Hotel was not right in the city centre but has a tram lightrail  right outside the door which transports you downtown in about 15 minutes.  We bought a 1 day Flexi pass for 7.3 Euros which allows you unlimited travel.

A Sheep reading the newspaper in the Gibson Hotel lobby
They were filming "First Dates", the TV series, at The Gibson. It seems this is where the whole series is filmed! We were in the elevator with some of the guys who seemed a little nervous. We have never seen the show so don't really know a lot about it.

"Sphere With Sphere" at Trinity College

Waiting to get in to Trinity College (better to go very early)
The next day we set off for Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library.
After viewing the Book of Kells, you go up some stairs where you enter the Long Room and it is then that your jaw drops!!!! Thousands  of books are towering above you in beautiful wood bookshelves with wooden ladders perched throughout providing access to the very top books.
The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room; at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books and is claimed to be one of the most impressive libraries in the world.

Marble busts line the Long Room. The busts are of the great philosophers and writers of the western world. By the way, they are all of men, connected with Trinity College.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Molly Malone (Cockles and Mussels) -She has been groped so often that the bronze hue is wearing off of her bosom (check out the image below before it wore off LOL.
Here is the song

Musicians Everywhere - Harry Fennell

We decided to visit Temple Bar in the afternoon as we heard it gets very crazy at night with  thousands of people. We had a Guinness and started talking to a couple who asked us where we were from. It turns out they were from Saint John, New Brunswick where Dan is from and lo and behold this man who was a police officer,  had gone through police academy with a friend of Dan’s who  actually was his roommate when he lived in Saint John. They knew so many of the same people. It just shows the world is a very small place.

Free hugs outside The Temple Bar (I got a group hug)

We felt like having Italian food for dinner  and I used yelp to find the closest Italian restaurant. Rosa Madres was just a block away and was the best meal we had so far. 
Back to the hotel using our flexi pass!

Tomorrow we are off to Belfast but instead of traveling by train we will be driving.  Seems there’s some engineering being done on the train and everyone has to get off midway with their luggage and get back on buses so they decided to make it easier for us and just transfer us all the way by minibus.
Penny and Dan

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Ireland Day 6 Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry

Torc Falls Forest
We knew this was going to be a long day as the Ring of Kerry is a longer drive than Dingle.
I am not sure if we preferred The Dingle Peninsula  more because we had driven it first or it just didn't have the same amount of places we could pull off the road to view the landscape. Michelle, our local host in Killarney, was also recommending the Dingle Peninsula tour over the Ring of Kerry. Both are amazing though so what ever you decide will be good:) 


For what it is worth we drove the ring in a clockwise direction. The buses drive counter clockwise so the theory is if you follow the buses you won't come face to face with them and it is easier to follow the buses. We didn't do that. We wanted to see the Kerry Cliffs which the buses don't go to so we figured if we started off very early and go to the cliffs, we would miss them. It actually played out that way! So we didn't meet many buses at all.

The blue route is the regular route and I added the green arrows where we deviated and went to the Kerry Cliffs and Valentia Island. The deviation was worth the drive and actually was the highlight of the day of the Ring of Kerry.
There was an admission fee of 4 Euros each. You need to walk about 10 mins from the parking lot and it is pretty steep with about 4 lookout points. These cliffs are actually 300 feet higher than cliffs of Moher and far less touristy - maybe not as dramatic but definitely worth a look.

The Kerry Cliffs
The Behive Huts
We ate at Portmagee at Smugglers - great fish and chips and then drove over the bridge to Valentia Island and took the ferry back to the mainland at Knight's Town  and continued our Ring of Kerry drive from there. 

Before returning to our hotel we decided to visit Torc Waterfalls in Killarney National Park. It was late in the day with a mist in the air. The waterfalls were so pretty and the trees were so tall and majestic and covered in moss. Everything was just so neon green - a piper’s music added to the atmosphere- it was mystical.

Next Stop Dublin!
Penny and Dan

Friday, August 9, 2019

Ireland Day 5 The Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head Drive

The Dingle Peninsula
We rented a Budget car in Killarney.
Mix driving on the left side of the road, add gearshift on the left, combine it with narrow roads then add some cliffs, then cyclists here and there and now drive on a couple of the more stressful routes your first time out - the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry and what do you have... a teensy bit of stress!!!!

Me - Dan, you are a little close to the bushes on the left (passenger side)

Dan - would you rather hit a truck or kiss some marigolds?

Me - I will kiss the marigolds

Dan is really good in these driving situations so I am really not worried especially because the Budget guy gave him this handy-dandy bracelet.

He also gave me advice on the best porridge to have here in Ireland - Flahaven-  and in fact he advised me to buy a few bags to take home with me. I saw the alarm in Dan’s eyes.
Off we go to Dingle!
This is scenery that is absolutely stunning. Wild flowers blanket the sides of the road, the mountains frame the sea and sheep and cows dot the pastures.  We watched waves crashing into the craggy rocks and we breathed in the salty air.  This is what travelling is about.

We stopped at inch beach where hurling was being played and there was a class taking surf lessons. Inch beach is a 5km long sand spit jutting into the sea between the outer Dingle Bay and inner Castlemaine Harbour overlooking magnificent Iveragh and Dingle Peninsulas. Inch has a huge beach and this area is great for all types of water sports including Surfing, Kayaking, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing, Hangliding and Fishing. There is also Sammy’s restaurant with a great view and we heard the food was good too but we didn't eat there.
Along the roads, Hydrangeas were fighting for more space. I work so hard to nurture my hydrangeas back home and here they were in copious amounts just filling the gardens to the brims. 


Slea Head Drive, one of Ireland’s most scenic routes, takes you on a journey through historic sites, small villages, famous Hollywood film locations with close up views of the world renowned Blasket Islands and distant views of the Skellig Islands  (Where Star Wars was filmed) on the south western horizon.
Thought I would do some knitting with fresh wool!

The Slea Head Drive (Slí Cheann Sléibhe) is a circular route, forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, beginning and ending in Dingle. The route is clearly labelled by road signs throughout its length. The Slea Head Route is most enjoyable when done slowly over a number of hours allowing time for the many interesting stops and detours along the way. 

Ancient dwellings
A very hard working sheep herding dog
We spent about 8 hours from the time we left Killarney to returning back and travelled in a clockwise direction to avoid meeting the large tour buses that frequent the route during the summer. Part of the Slea Head cliff road is very narrow and single lane only so can be a little hairy at times especially when there are cyclists and walkers.
In Dingle

 What an an incredible day...

Tomorrow The Ring of Kerry

Penny and Dan


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...