Saturday, May 18, 2013

Monday, May 13th

    We woke up to a bit of a soft day in Ireland. A soft day is generally one that involves  rainy precipitation in some form or another.  The word “soft” is applied to a drizzle, or a downpour. It depends if you mean it a bit sarcastically if you say it when it’s raining in an outright heavy storm. Yeah, real soft then.
    Breakfast was wonderful, again. The Russel B&B is run by a fisherman and his wife. So breakfast options include the fresh catch of the day or smoked salmon. We got the two kinds and shared it this morning in order to try it. The smoked salmon was actually not dry at all, and extremely tasty. There was also toast and brown bread (made by her neighbor) to accompany the fish.  It was a serious breakfast, but a great way to start the day in my opinion.
    We wandered around the town of Dingle a bit. I found a little bookstore that I could have spent most of the afternoon in, just off the main drag. It had shelves reaching from floor to ceiling of books, and then stacks and displays in the center. In the back of the shop was a small café, which made staying there more tempting. We shopped at a few other places before stopping by the information building to stockpile our supply of maps and then grocery shopped for lunch supplies (a good choice). I managed to swing by to stop for a scone (fresh from the morning, she was making them while I was perusing books this morning) and a cup of tea. The lady who was running the shop is French, but had the quiet gracefulness that reminds me of one of the ladies I work with at the Y. when we were done with the scones, my sister made the comment that a small piece of chocolate would be perfect. All of a sudden, she came by the little table with a small sauce bowl with a few chocolates in it for us to have. J The whole bit was an accidental great start to the afternoon.

Dingle Peninsula
    We followed a road and drove around, stopping at various historical sites along the way. We may have accidentally missed a couple.  There were the beehive shaped buildings from the stone age, with their thick walls and perfectly aligned rocks. It’s incredible how long these structures stood. There were the remains of a church and a fort along the route as well, but the absolutely best part was the ocean side view. We pulled over to this little area that looked up on these cliffs that the waves were slamming into. Watching the wave build size and then crash into the shore line and its high rocky pieces that had broken away from the main cliffs, we wondered at how much force was behind the breaks in the wave. The ocean spray would shoot high up into the air, and water would stream down the sides of the rocks, returning to the ocean that sucked it all back, just to heave forward again. It was incredible.

                Lunch was on this outlook (inside the car). The wind constantly roars on the shorelines, so being outside with food would have been difficult. Then we could see the clouds building up, and as the rain moved towards the land, the Blasket islands that were so clearly visible, vanished behind the downpour. The ocean went from a colorful mix of blues and greens to an angry slate grey in this transition as well.
       Shortly after the rain, the sun came back out again, and after driving a bit, we saw a trail that wound around boulders and soft, mossy growth to the top part of the high cliffs we had just been admiring. This way we could look out onto the Blasket islands as well as the little beach area we had just been at. Pictures galore.

                Continued driving north, we had every intention of stopping shortly after, but instead caught a ferry over to the next side and drove into Doolin for the night. We didn’t make it there until we had a few wrong turns, ended up on glorified cow paths instead of roads, and had our gps tell us the destination was a in the middle of the ocean. Right. All worked out though, we asked a farmer for directions who got us back on track, assured us we were nearly there, and told us where to go for a pint to relax upon arrival. Morale was boosted.
The first B&B we stopped at was full, as was the second, but we were directed to the red house next door, where the father ducked over to let us in, since his son (the owner of the red house) was at a meeting and couldn’t.  See, the parents owned the horseshoe B&B next door, his sister owned the first one we stopped at…. The family was clearly good at the business.
   By the time we got to O’Conners, they had just  finshed serving dinner at 10:30, but I suppose the desperate look in my sister and my eyes sparked the generosity for them to whip up some fish and chips. Thank goodness. We have been eating pretty late the whole trip, because it is light out so late 10:00 it is just after twilight and the stars finally start coming out after that!
      There was a small band of 4 men playing, and the music was beautiful and upbeat. Including the flute player who was extremely talented at playing the spoons! We were excited about Doolin, because we heard the area was known for good music. After just a pint though, we went back. The road had no lights, as roads don’t here, so while we walked to our B&B not far from the “main” part of town, we had our first realization of how DARK that truly is. Walking into a rather dark and not small B&B that seemed rather empty, and rattled a bit with the wind was a little intimidating and spooky if I say so myself. Had a  cup of tea and curled up under the many blankets though, that certainly helped.
 Castle tower right outside of Doolin along the Atlantic coast.

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