I find myself this evening sitting in a little hostel in the most enchanting fishing town of “Dingle” on the Dingle Peninsula – SW coast of Ireland. I am completely in my element here…but I get ahead of myself…[addenda – I am now in Doolin one day later…sitting in a little hostel:]
Yesterday found me in Kilkenny – a town that even in the off season seems to be awash with tourists. It’s pretty cool though, castles and a river and an ancient cathedral complete with a tower that of course I had to climb – many flights of stairs that really more resemble ladders. You literally have to use both hands to climb up safely. The view was great – overlooked the whole town .The most eventful thing that happened in Kilkenny yesterday was that I got lost VERY lost. Even with a map. Which might be why I am google maps biggest fan. I wish I had invented the GPS or at least I wish I knew who did cuz I would kiss their feet and throw roses at them.
Really, though, several things were really fun. I “discovered” – happened upon – no, wait. I actually successfully navigated my way there using my map – anyway “there” being a medieval pub originally run by a woman accused of being a witch in the 1300’s. She fled to England but one of her assistants was burned at the stake. It all was most interesting with low stone archways and little unpredictable rooms. The hostel I found myself at was attached to a bar where a great band played. My fellow drinkers wound up doing a bit of jigging and fun was had by all.
I intended to leave rather early but my snooze on my alarm turned into over two hours later. I kinda wandered around looking for someone to turn my keys over to and inquired whether I was too late for my promised breakfast. Oh no, no, no…not only was I not too late, but I proceeded to get waited on hand and foot by a guy who used to dance with Riverdance and Lord of the Dance for about 13 years and still performs several times a week there in Kilkenny. I wished I could have seen him dance. He seemed please or at least mildy amused when I told him my friends and I used to be obsessed with Riverdance and even put on our own performance just for kicks.
Soooo, remember the rental car? ah. and remember this is no ordinary rental car – it is a great behemoth of a diesel Volvo – apparently the last automatic in all of Dublin – or so you would think with what I payed for it. Maybe American girls are the only ones unable or unwilling to drive manual. Well, everything was going along swimmingly. I had evolved swiftly and magnificently to driving The left side of the road, and the hundreds of roundabouts till BAM!! I hit a curb turning left. My tire immediately blew, discombobulating me enough that I hit my car again, bashing in my mirror to smithereens. I was quite shaken. And it was raining. Fortunately I was in a town and quite literally about 200 yards away from a tire garage of all things and this extraordinarily kind young man changed my tire in about 10 min and helped jerry-rig my mirror back together. So, you see, there is always a lil something to be grateful for.
Trepidatiously, I continued venturing forth, eventually arriving in Dingle. I was immediately charmed beyond words. Just give me a marina with ropes and fishing vessels and blue green waters, colorful houses and I’m in heaven. Throw in a few mountains, some baby lambs frisking about on the hills, some hard cider and this girl is quite deliriously enchanted. So, yep, that’s Dingle.
This morning I started fairly early on the scenic drive around Dingle Peninsula called the “Slea Head Drive”. Absolutely astoundingly beautiful – and varied!! Sunlit plains and hills to dark craggy cliffs and rocks jutting out from the ocean, peaceful cottages and narrow curvy roads. Did i mention NARROW curvy roads alongside cliffs. Yeah, me and the Volvo.
A few hours later, I thankfully arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. That place you see in every advertisement, textbook, book on Ireland…yep! I was so excited! I couldn’t even decide which way to start – there’s hiking to the left and right. Of course, like an excellent photographer, I made my decision based on the sun:) It was an exceptionally beautiful day – I feel ridiculously spoiled. Almost every day has been warm and sunny – for at least part of the day.
Tomorrow I may ferry over to the Aran Islands and take a look around – bike maybe. Rick Steves – my travel god – who I now take with a grain of salt -says that it is definitely WORTH GOING TO. Well, he may be right.
Some side notes/lessons:
- Traveling, while it may look glamorous (and it IS a lot of fun) is NOT for sissies. If you don’t have a sense of humor and thick skin, best just to stay home. I tend to stress too so I need lots of reminders on this one. 🙂
- “Bad” things do happen – its inevitable. But you know what I was thinking – the same exact stuff happens at home. It just seems more dramatic when someone is traveling.
- Don’t put stuff in your pockets. I’m learning some organizational tips the hard way. Lost cash and lens cap so far. not. Nice.
- The world is huge! and people are friendly! (sometimes the other way around too!) Grab opportunities when they arise to see a part of the world you’ve always wanted to! Just do it – to use the overused cliche.
Anyway, I’ve become quite addicted to Irish pubs…so I shall be off in a bit for some more pints and live music. It must be good for me because I normally never like to stay out late and it’s now my Irish norm:)