Day 6: The Ring of Kerry

Boarding the kelly green Paddywagon Bus with a giant leprechaun head on it at approximately 8:20 this morning, we set even further west then we were when we awoke and headed towards the Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry was our destination. I’m sure my friend Wikipedia will give you a better description, but the Ring of Kerry is a twisty, curvy, super duper narrowly thin stretch of road that loops around all of the most amazing views you could ever dream of when visiting Irelands west coast. It’s said that this same loop was taken by the Vikings back in the day when they were being buttheads and invading Ireland.

We started our day in Killarney or as Mike, the 2nd singing tour guide we’ve now had, calls it, ‘Larney.. Killarney, and so many other towns and villages we’ve visited, is bright and full of color even on the most rainy of days like today. I wonder if this is intentional? I guess Ireland gets rain 225 days a year, on average. I think I’d need a bright colored door and even brighter painted home as well if I lived here. Or rather, when I live here.

We had a handful of stops today. Some, we had enough time to take in our surroundings. And unfortunately some, we did not. Our driver stopped in the village of Sneem, the town that sells a lot of ice cream. No joke. While most of the bus lined up for some Irish Cream (I swear, I didn’t mean that to sound as bad as it does), I wandered around in the village park looking for a 4-leaf clover. I picked a few 3-leafers; I’m not sure I’ll be lucky enough to score a four but I have a week left!

My first view of the Atlantic Ocean, actually any ocean, was at a stop somewhere along Dingle Bay overlooking the peninsula and Inch Beach. We pulled along side the road where a local man was sitting with his goat, weaving Bridges crosses. To some, water is just water. The ocean looks the same as Lake Superior and Lake Superior looks the same as Lake of the Woods which looks the same as the Mississippi. To those people, I’ll proclaim fake news all day.

The views I had today of the Atlantic Ocean looking over Dingle Bay and then again in Waterville and Ballinskelligs Bay were next to none over and over in such a short time. One panoramic view isn’t like the other and no shot (or video) I could ever take would do it justice without being there yourself. The small islands that are scattered around the big island we’re viewing from have so much history; most of which is untold to tourists like me. It was all just so incredible.

The last stop of the day was Killarney National Park, home of the Torc Waterfall. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love exploring the state and national parks in the States and today was no different in Ireland. The only park stop on the tour was the waterfall specifically so I didn’t get a chance to explore much but we did have a short hike of about 200 meters up to the falls from where we parked. By the time we arrived, the rain was coming down again (I’d been off and on all day), so the dirt incline was a little on the slippery side. But the hike up there in the rain was so worth every second of “ope!” I whispered to myself as I almost took a misstep. Have I mentioned that waterfalls are probably my favorite thing in this world? I hope you enjoy my photos from today. 🙂

Day 5: No, Nay, Never!

We’re running a little low on energy today. I think it’s a mixture of getting used to the time change, the various activities we’ve been partaking in, and the ever-changing weather.

Today was a semi-travel day. We made our way early this morning to bus stop 325 otherwise known as 704X by the locals. Good thing we listened to the GPS and not the front desk dude at checkout!

The walk to the bus stop was about 15 minutes and we crossed over Lake Liffey for the first time by foot. It’s even more beautiful while walking at our own pace vs the pace of the tour bus yesterday.

The ride to Cork was about three hours. I’ve always been cool with long rides as long as I’m not the one in the drivers seat. I planned to read and/or write a little bit; look through the photos I’ve taken, etc. My body had different plans. I’ve never been one to be carsick but I was getting queazy from the drive today and I fear it’ll be a recurring theme for the rest of the trip. Closing my eyes helped but it wasn’t until we arrived in Cork that I began to feel better. Anyone have tips to prevent this from happening?

We walked a few blocks to drop our luggage off at Jury’s Inn on Anderson’s Quay and then ventured out to explore the quaint streets of the city in what is known as the Rebel County for a bit before ending the day early and taking some time to relax at the hotel. Perfect timing too because it’s been a rainy and blustery day today. It sounds like we were on the tail end of Storm Ali in and around the entire southern portion of Ireland.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish songs that we’ve heard on our trip so far. It’s been stuck in my head all day and I hope it’ll bring you as much joy as it brings me!

Day 4: 2B anyone? Or not to be.

Our first truly full day was packed with more options to do than time to do it; something that’s preferred in my book. I’d rather have too many things than not enough.

We hopped aboard our aptly named Hop On, Hop Off City Sightseeing Tour and were greeted by the singing tour-guide I remember seeing on the brochure. Jackpot! Declan was his name and covering Elvis Presley perfectly was his game.

Declan, the tour-guide, was wonderful. He displayed the Irish kindness and humor you read about and even though it was his job to go through the talking points of the tour, we learned a bit about him as a person, as well. His wife died of cancer a few years ago and his daughter was recently diagnosed with the same sickness but she’s thankfully doing well and is strong. Declan also made reference to growing up in Dublin and how he’d suppressed a lot of the horrible things he’d seen, up until recently. He mentioned the frustrations and annoyance he had with the Pope paying a visit to Dublin a couple of weeks ago and how he worked through it among other topics. Even providing the struggles he chose to share with a bunch of strangers, he had the most delightfully jolly of personalities. It just goes to show that no matter who you are and what is behind you, it’s our choice to make the most of every single day. If I learn nothing else in life, I hope I’ll always remember Declan, the songbird of his generation.

We hopped off at a few places today. First, was Dublin Castle. We toured the main part of the Castle, The State Apartments and The Castle Gardens. Construction on Dublin Castle began in 1204 and was finished around 1230. A timeframe that I can’t even make sense of. Until now, the oldest buildings I’m sure I’ve ever seen have probably been homes built in the late 1800’s.

The Castle is just as intricately designed as I imagined it would be, both inside and out. There’s a grand staircase leading to a formal dining room. The actual name of this room is The Portrait Gallery. I should have counted the seats and the paintings, but I didn’t. Beyond the dining room was the Throne Room. Queen Victoria sat in the throne when she visited the Castle as did Kings before and after her. The last time a monarch sat in that throne before Irish independence was a few years short of the first World War.

There was a long hallway and some additional rooms in the area that we toured. They are mostly used now for displaying various mediums of artwork which I enjoyed taking in. We then made our way through the Castle Cafe and meandered around the The Castle Gardens basking in the beautiful and (per the locals, unusually) sunny day.

After leaving the Castle grounds, we walked a couple of blocks up the hill to see Christ Church Cathedral and Dublina. The cathedral was under some sort of construction in the front of the building and service was in session so we just went ’round the outside. The cathedral is connected to Dublina, a stop that turned out to kind of be a dud. We pulled the typical tourist card and were like “Oh, lets check out this super cool looking building and learn about the Viking and Medieval history of Dublin.” Meh. I did decide to hike up the 96 steps for a good view overlooking the city. The guy at the front desk talked me into it. #doitforthegram

We also hopped off at Guinness for a quick look around. I tried it, guys and gals, Guinness.. And I’m not a fan. I didn’t expect to be either but you know what they say: “When in Rome!” Or rather “When in Ireland, do as the tourists do!” Why do I always give into social norms? The walk around the Guinness Storehouse grounds were worth checking out though.

Without question, the best place we stopped today was Glasnevin Cemetery. The cemetery holds over 1.5 million graves and as morbid as it may sound, is absolutely breathtaking. Any photo I could take wouldn’t give you nearly the scope of the feeling you get when visiting the cemetery. Both my mom and I enjoy going to cemetery’s; I think we always have. I used to visit my grandpas grave a lot in Warroad growing up and we did a Ghosts and Graves tour of Minneapolis a few years back.

The O’Connell Tower overlooks the entire cemetery and beyond. Although it seems obvious that it’s the focal point, it’s just a small part of the grounds. There of dozens upon dozens of crypts and mausoleums that have been on display for hundreds of years and thousands of family graves that seem to be intertwined together. I could have spent an entire day here, if not more, providing we had the time.

Tomorrow, Cork. Are corks made in Cork? That is the question.

Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself.. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tomorrow ’tis the day my mom and I embark on our 3rd mother-daughter trip! When my mom turned 50, she super informally announced that she wants to see all 50 states before she dies. Providing that she’s going to live to 100 (she knows this for sure), that meant at least one state a year. Obviously, she’d already visited a couple of pockets in our country because one, she’s been on a trip or three with my truck-driving dad and two, she’s not a hermit. The math isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun story. 50 states in 50 years.

Our first year, we knocked off five states and in our second, five more! The third year, we decided instead of a “ma and Or” trip, we wanted to get our family together for a mini-vacation. So, instead of another road trip, we swooped up the rest of the fam and spent just about a week up at the Zippel Bay Resort in Lake of the Woods.

This year, we are resuming our travels. We’re going bigger this time. The 50 state goal is still one of both my mom and me but we decided to reach a little further this year. We’re breaking free of the single-continent life and jetting off to a new land, or two rather. Ireland and Scotland!

There are a handful of reasons why and how we picked our destination this year. Around this time last year I had just announced, what had then been, a very important date. I had been engaged about nine months and had been 51 weeks from the big day. Fast-forward a couple more months to the holidays and the story was very different. During the most difficult time in my life, my mom and I were having a conversation about our yearly trip; where were we going to go this year? Which states?

I’m failing to remember the exact moment that Ireland came up but Éire has been my number one bucket list destination for as long as I can remember. And when I brought it up, my mom said YASSS. Okay, maybe not actually YASSS, but pretty close. Quite honestly, the entire world is on my bucket list but the Emerald Isle, for so many reasons, is a bright and shiny green star right at the tip top. It might have still been a dream at the time of our conversation but it was one I was ready to make a reality during an otherwise Boulevard of Broken Dreams time in my life.

Stay tuned for more on our mother-daughter travels in the coming days and weeks! Yes, weeks!

-XOXO, Ori