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Friday, September 28, 2018

Ireland Day 8 - Back to Dublin

We took our time the next morning (following the proper checkout procedures) and were soon on our way south.  We didn't have a big hurry for the day; the initial thought was to be back and see the Guinness Storehouse and food options.  By the time we did get back and check-in to the AirBnb that started out our trip, our research showed that in order to visit the restaurants at Guinness you still had to pay the entry fee.  Seemed like a waste.

So we opted for more local eatery fare around the corner.  A short walk from our place was Arthur's Pub - a polished menu with great atmosphere and live music on most evenings.  

After dinner it was time to head back and begin the packing process.  Hard to believe we were back and almost nearing departure!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Ireland Day 7 - Carrick-a-rede/Causeway/Dark Hedges

The next day we had great ambitions to visit the Giant's Causeway, the Carrick-a-rede bridge, and end up north of Belfast near Cushendun.  Before leaving Londonderry/Derry, though, a quick shopping walk was planned though we didn't realize the day was set for festivities instead.  August 12th each year in Derry is the Apprentice Boys Parade, which marks the end of the siege of Derry in 1689.  Every shop was closed and all restaurants shuttered.  In fact, the marching bands walked right by our window:

Luckily we were able to exit the city in good order and make our way toward the Giant's Causeway.  It's a bit of a walk to get to the rocks once you park but we didn't mind the exercise.  And the views:

The bridge was up next on our list, though after checking we realized there were new processes in place for being able to see and walk it.  You have to reserve a block of time in advance - when we arrived it was going to be several hours to wait.  We opted to continue on but divert toward another option - the Dark Hedges!  I'm a Game of Thrones fan, and if you're familiar with the show the Hedges are famous for where Aria is leaving King's Landing at the end of Season 2 (Road to Harrenhal).  We did our best to take pictures that were close.

Our AirBnb was in the country and we found it fairly quickly based on the directions given.  It was a tight space for us to park the car but we liked the 'cottage' style rooms and a chance to decompress after a day of walking.

We stopped for dinner on the way to our place - the small town of Cushendun has a great place for a quick bit, Mary McBride's - perfect for light food, cider, and/or beer.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ireland Day 6 - To Londonderry/Derry

The trip from Westport to Londonderry/Derry was going to be the longest single drive during our trip, but I think there was a measure of excitement for us knowing this would be an area never seen before.  In fact, I was looking forward to observing how the countryside changed as we transitioned from Ireland to Northern Ireland.

Before we left, though, we couldn't pass up some pictures of the area:

Our first stop was in Sligo for lunch - it was a great day to walk and a local passerby recommended O'Brien's Sandwich Cafe for lunch.  We were glad we stopped!

After our break, we continued onward with a short stop near Drumcliffe to see the burial place of W.B. Yeats.  St. Columba's Church is a step back in time:

Arriving to Londonderry/Derry was so smooth we didn't even realize we had crossed the country border.  Directions to our AirBnb were simple - the river location was fantastic.

Dinner for the evening was at The Gate Bistro - we tried to stop at Fitzroy's to start though our reservation request was not received and the wait time was far too long.  Thankfully we were seated right away and our dinners were excellent.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ireland Day 5 - Galway/Westport

Our travels today took us further north and west - one spot we needed to drive through was The Burren.  Located in County Clare this is a wide environmental area that is unlike the other green areas of Ireland.  There are many rocks and hills, with much of the area temperate compared to the south and east.  I couldn't take pictures while I drove through but the landscape was notably different and quick picturesque.

The main city at about the halfway point of our day's drive was Galway.  We intended to stop since Quay Street is known for excellent shops, music, and overall atmosphere.  For lunch we grabbed a quick bite at 1520 Bar before further exploring the street - loved the activity and energy!

We also found the city walls...which are partly located within a mall.  Such history all around ... while you grab a coffee and have a snack.

One church highlight from our walk was St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church - amazing stained glass:

Our stay for the evening was another AirBnb located near Glassillaun - noted as a cottage, this was amazingly close to the beach with another excellent wood stove.  We once again had a fun time driving on some single lane roads but found it in good order and grabbed a bit to eat from a local eatery in Leenaun.  And so many sheep all around!  In fact, we think some actually got loose unless they were out intentionally.  Another day complete!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ireland Day 4 - To Adare and the Cliffs of Moher

We had some time before leaving the area, and couldn't pass up some more time in Dingle for shopping...and seeing Fungi!  Fungi, ala the Dingle Dolphin, is a bit of a celebrity in that you can get on one of several boats and head out into the bay where Fungi will swim along with you as you collectively navigate the harbor.  He was a good sport for our boat!

We also enjoyed doing some local shopping and seeing some of the sights.  There is so much activity in this town and the sun was wonderful!  Soon we were on the road to our next stop - Adare.  And we had some amazing views of the peninsula along the way:

Adare is billed as Ireland's prettiest city and we were very impressed by the small shops and churches.

Ever since our first trip, I've been excited to be able to visit the Cliffs of Moher.  We were sufficiently rained out last time - this trip the weather was cooperating nicely.  The wind picked up once we got to the area, and so we checked into our next AirBnb (another amazing location in Ennistymon) before making the drive over.

The views...were simply breathtaking.  And I got over a bit of my issue with heights to walk the edge (oof).

For dinner, we wanted a local Irish pub experience and couldn't pass up waiting for a table at McGann's in Doolin. Excellent food, great cider, and fun entertainment!  

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ireland Day 3 - Killarney/Dingle

We were up earlier today in order to make a tour that we had booked which would take us through Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe.  Everything we had read in advance about the gap was true: small one lane throughout, beautiful landscape, and incredible views.  And...who wouldn't want to go through the gap via trap horse?:

Our tour was booked through a Tripadvisor recommendation and was a half-day tour. I'd highly recommend this as an option since it gets you back in time to still continue on with other sightseeing.  The process to book was quick and meeting up with our tour was fairly straightforward with a coach picking us up and taking us back to our car.  As you can see from the pictures, it was a bit overcast and cool with occasional rain but that didn't stop us!

For our evening stay we chose an AirBnB on the Dingle peninsula that had an excellent view.  More seafood was on our mind for dinner - we tried the Boatyard Restaurant and once again had a delightful meal with many good ciders.