Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tues May 30 - Dingle Peninsula

Breakfast at the Abbey Lodge and then in the car ride to do the loop around the Dingle Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry is the famous one, but the locals say the Dingle loop is the best, and less busy.
First stop was Inch Strand which is a weird spit of land that almost crosses the bay. It is one giant sandy beach and in the high season they surf there by the looks. It was somewhere close to low tide so the beach was easy to walk.
We stopped in Dingle which is wicked quaint and walked around. These little towns are soooo cute. And the Irish folks are very friendly and have a wonderful sense of humor. And almost no chain / franchise anything. Each little town has it's own coffee shop and pub.
Then on to Slea Head loop which is a small road that runs the perimeter of the peninsula. Back to Dingle and split a fish and Chips for lunch and chatted up the guy running the stand. He started 15 years ago with just a little coffee shack and added the fish & Chips a few years back.
Business is good with he tourist season getting longer every year.
Back to Kalarney, dinner at Sceal Eile, ice cream at Murphy's, which is a big local chain (ice cream was so-so). We had a long chat with a local on the street while a local comedic musician serenaded the street with anti-Trump songs. Sounds like they do not like their government much either, and they think ours if just crazy. I'll stay out of politics..

Mon Apr 29 - Gap of Dunloe

Dinner at 8 and Deb set up a taxi to take us to Kate Kearney’s Cottage which is the starr of a mountain pass called the Gap of Dunloe. It is 11km to walk over to the other side and catch a boat back to Kalarney. You can also have a guy with a two wheeled cart and a horse take you over, but we walked. It was really really windy, head wind of course, left over from the big storm the day before. We did not get wet, but the wind was ferocious. It took us about 3 hours to get to the boat landing and what a lovely three hours it was. Drop dead gorgeous views everywhere. A few bicyclists, a handfull of other hikers and a handful of cars going over the gap. Lots of sheep of course.
We had coffee and tea while waiting for "the lads" to get the boats ready to go. There were three boats that all leave at 2pm. They are the only ones that go this far up into the lakes and they hold 10-12 people each. A father and son run it with a third guy (looked to be an uncle or something). Their family have been running these boats since the 1930's or something and they were a riot. We laughed the entire 1.5 hr trip back to Castle Ross. Awesome, awesome guys.
The father gave a lift back to the hotel and we drove to nearby Kenmare to a place called Davitt’s. Long philosophical chat with the musicians as they set up. We stayed through the first part of their set and then headed home. We parked the car and walked into town for a couple pints and more music at the Grand. Walked back to the hotel and crashed.
We were told that they just started a zero alcohol policy with driving which means if they detect any alcohol, you are fined or taken in. The reaction is lots of people do not drive if they have had just one, and some kind watch it closer. They seem to all think it's a good idea, but as one guy said "but we're Irish".

Sun Apr 28 Kilkenny to Kalarney

We only stayed one night in Kelkenny. Breakfast at the Zuni Hotel (very nice) and then headed toward Kalarney on more back roads (Google set to no highways, no tolls). First stop was Rock of Cashel which is another ancient ruin, church, fort. A very witty Irishman gave a nice guided tour. He claims if you can reach your arms around the Cross of Saint Patrick, it will cure flatulence. I'll report back..
We continued on to Kilarney and got dinner at Quinlan's which is a popular fish & chips place right downtown. Kilarney has about 14,ooo folks in it and like all the towns here, most everyone lives in the village, not sprawled out like home (thanks to the car). Lovely to walk to everything you need. We are staying the next three nights here at the Abbey Lodge which has really nice people working there. Tourism is a big part of their business and we are here as it just gets going so "everyone is fresh" as one guy put it later in the week. They are not sick of tourists yet.
After dinner we walked to the Castle Ross which was a half hour walk. Another castle with lots of history (which I can't remember now). While it would be great to research things more before you go on a trip like this, questions you never though of come up while you are here. So lots of research after the trip, since we are always too pooped to do it each night. Deb has a list.
A local old guy on his bike gave us directions through the town forest which is a series of trails back to town, very busy with walkers and bikers. We came out downtown and stopped at The Grand Pub for pints and music. Chatted up a couple from California. Pleasant evening all around.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sat Apr 27 - Dublin to Kilkenny

Wicked good sleep and if I hadn't set my alarm, we would have gotten up who knows when. Jetlag is a drag. We were suppossed to meet a friend's daughter but she had train problems so we missed her. But we had some great coffe and met some great folks at he 9th Degree coffee shop down the street. We checked out of the hotel by 10:30 and drove to Glendalough, which was an old monastery where a guy named Kevin (later Saint Kevin) lived a hermit life, meditated, probably fasted (not much up there for eats..) and started a monastic community (which kind of ended the hermet thing). Today there is a Saint Kevin Ice Cream truck up there so he has come a long way.
Ok, funnies aside, this is a beautiful spot. And really old. And Ireland has done a nice job protecting it and keeping it neat and tidy. Being from the states, it hurts my head that there is this much history here. Thousands of years.
We took lots of pics here and then continued on to Kilkenny. Google maps did an awesome job of sending us down tiny back roads.
A brief summary of the roads here. The M roads are the big 4 lane roads and we told Google not to send us down there. Next are the N roads which are two lane, pretty skinny and speed limit of 100 kph (62 mph). The R roads are next down and are really really skinny and sometimes the center line disappears and you have to "call it" when someone comes the other way as to whether you are going to stop and let the other guy pass, slow way down and wiggle past, or just pray and go for it. And last on the list are the L roads which are all paced but mostly single lane roads with pulloffs (mostly) so when someone comes the other way, one of you finds a pulloff and waits for the other guy to go by. It all seems to work, but it required real focus, all the time.
We continued on to Kilkenny, checked into the Zuni hotel, shuffled the car around to the correct car park, and found a pub which was supposed to have live music, but the musician either did not show up or the owner cancelled. Still had a great meal and one of the funniest waiter's yet. Great guy, lots of fun, big tip. Another great local beer (Kilkenny) and Deb found a new favorite cider.
We spent the rest of the night strolling around Kilkenny getting our bearings. Lots of wedding related parties going on. These people know how to have fun!

Thurs&Fri Apr 25&26 - Boston to Dublin

Our flight was 9:30 at night so we spent the morning taking garbage (romantic eh?) to Williston since our town garbage is every other week and between schedules and mud season we were a little overdue and di not want to leave it another week or two. So loaded the RAV with our luggage (and garbage) and stopped first in Williston ($20 worth!) and then south to go to Lebanon NH where we would get the bus to Boston. We do not like driving to Boston and the Darmouth Coach does a great job, nicely run outfit. We stopped for lunch at Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex (never been before) and it was great. Then a search around Lebanon for ice cream (we are on vacation you know) and finally found some in the Home Depot parking lot??
Bus was right on time and whisked us to the airport, right to the terminal. Those guys are great.
We had a few hours until our plane and between people watching and a couple of good books managed to kill the time nicely. We flew Delta, six hour flight direct to Dublin, and we got a real meal for dinner and a light breakfast even, just like in the 1970's! Nice job Delta.
We landed in Dublin, went through the non-EU customs que, got the luggage, then a Mazda 3, black with the steering wheel on the wrong side. A little larger car than I had hoped for (I would rent a go-cart if I could get one). The EuroCar guy was great. I slept some on the airplane but Deb did not get much sleep. I had downloaded Ireland on my offline Google Maps so we just punched in the hotel and Deb and the nice Google lady got us through pretty heavy traffic right to the hotel. Thank God for Google!!
I have driven on the wrong side before in Scotland years ago but starting in Dublin traffic as a warmup was completely crazy. Shift with the wrong hand, 6 speed manual, digital everything (and no idea what all those numbers on the dash was for), mirror in the wrong place, No tach and a quiet engine so no idea what gear I was in or supposed to be in (I found the tach two days later). Bu, no bumps or bruises and safe landing at the hotel. We decided to have an hour nap and then go hit the city.
After the nap we woke (Friday Apr 26), we walked, got our bearings and went to the Little Museum which was a quick and comedic history of Dublin. I still do not understand the history of Ireland / Northern Ireland / England and who dislikes who and who did what to who when, and it turns out, most of the people I talked to were not too clear either. More research required later.
Lunch at Tang which was kinda earth crunchy (just like home) but good stuff. Salads and wrap kinda things (that should narrow it down). The another little nap, and then we went to the Old Store House which had live music and Irish dancing (a young woman who danced and then sat at the bar over and over.). Guinness stew and shepard's pie, good hardy Irish fare. And pints of cider for the lady and good Irish beer for me. They have quite a lot of variety (and Guinness of course).
Finally it was late enough to really go to sleep for the night (Friday night).

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Return trip Bisbee AZ to VT

Map of the trip home from Bisbee to Vermont

Monday, February 4, 2019

2019-02-03 Sunday - First day in Bisbee AZ

First thing I wanted to do is map the entire trip out so we don't forget what we did and where we went. Wow, what a crooked path, but those are always the best. We get tips about things to do and see as we go along.

It felt great to sleep in this morning. Deb found a few things in a store down the street so we could have coffee and tea this morning. Bisbee really has no large grocery store. My back is still a little stiff, but not bad so a few days R&R are in order. I suspect it was sitting in a car for two weeks that was the problem, but I'll find out on the way back when we blast back across in half the time.
Our place is very comfy. To get to our place you either climb 95 steps up (I counted) or about the same up to a high street and then walk down the street. Bisbee is an old mining town where at it's peak it had 9900 people living here so they built houses on all the side hills. I'll bet their high school track team kicked butt with those kids getting all that exercise all those years.
Being the weekend, there were tourists (us included) walking around the shops. It was not really that busy with people and you can park anywhere on the street with out a problem. Saturday night we walked up to a bar/pizza place and chatted with a local guy who taught at the high school and is now retired. From what he told us and what I have seen other places a lot of hippies moved here in the 1960's and 70's and never left. Small enough (5500 pop) where most folks know each other. I am guessing tourism is their big business. Sierra Vista is the big town (with the big grocery stores) so it's kind of like us in Starksboro with Burlington nearby.
I slept in and started reading one of the few books that I brought (the back thanked me). Deb spent the morning walking the route of the Bisbee 1000, which is an annual race they do around town where you climb 1000 steps on a route that goes up and down the hills through the neighborhood. She is leading a walking tour in Georgia in a couple weeks and is worried about being in shape enough for it. I did a few hundred steps today to stretch my back out and check out the town. Temperatures are in the 50's, maybe 60 and it is mixed clouds. The air is dry and when the sun comes out it warms you up nicely.
We ran over to the big grocery store toward Sierra Vista and stocked up on stuff so we can eat meals in our place which has full amenities (stove, laundry, all the usual stuff).
Then it was SuperBowl!! Everything happens TV wise, earlier since we are 2 time zones away. Someone told Deb we have to go to "Tables", the restaurant / bar down the street whith the biggest, most es (word?) TV's to watch the superbowl. We sat at the bar with an army guy from Boston and a couple from Cape Cod and the Ram's fans sat on the other side of the room, we so had two cheering sections. Gotta say, not too exciting game, but an enjoyable evening spent chatting with folks and watching the game.
We walked back up the street which was pretty much empty since the weekend folks went back home, leaving the town pleasantly empty. Nice intro day to Bisbee.