29 June 2010

County Kerry, Ireland

There is something about Ireland, the people, and the history that's mesmerizing. Once I am there, I never want to leave. If I were the bumper sticker type, mine would say "I'd rather be in Ireland." I would move there tomorrow if I could work it out.

So, finally, after 10 years, we went back. We've been wanting to do a long distance walk for a while, and Ireland was perfect since we could walk town to town, shower every night, and get hot meals cooked by someone else! We chose the Kerry Way because very little of it was on road, and it's one of the most beautiful areas in Ireland (we hiked in Connemara 10 years ago).

This is us 10 years ago on our honeymoon to Ireland. Another hiking trip.

All said and done, including walking around towns, we walked slightly more than 150 miles. The trail was harder than we anticipated, and after four days of carrying our own luggage on our backs, we arranged to have it sent ahead of us. We should have done this from the beginning - our feet would have thanked us.

We got lucky again and had mostly sunny weather. The food was fantastic and the people wonderful. We heard some excellent music, both traditional and contemporary (with an Irish twist).

Trips like this hypnotize you. We moved to Portland, OR after spending a sunny afternoon in the city - everyone was in a good mood, out, laughing, drinking, enjoying life. So, before moving, we'll be going back to Ireland sometime in the winter just to see if everyone is in such high spirits then.

Here are some pictures from this trip:

This is us after three days of walking on Rossbeigh beach near Glenbeigh.

Ross Castle near Killarney.

The lakes near Killarney - and the mountains we have to walk across in the distance.

old abbey ruins

jaunty cars lined up outside of Muckross House. We mocked and mocked people riding them....and then took one for the last 5 miles... But, in our defense, we had already walked that part of the trail three times. It was the most expensive form of transportation I have ever paid for - the horses must be fed on muesli (and have personal assistants to pick out each raisin).

the trail signs, and walking (before we got smart and shipped our bags ahead)

B made a new friend. She came galloping (if cats could gallop) up to him, and followed us for a bit - I was worried we'd have to bring her home with us.

We took a detour on a shorter walking day to visit Derrynane beach. The water was Caribbean-like in color (but much colder), making us wonder, again, why we don't live on an island. Ireland, like other islands, has its own time. Nothing happens before 10 or 11 in the morning, and everything is a little slower.

Sneem and Kenmare.

Kenmare was my favorite village on the walk. It was colorful, alive, and not for the tourists. We also had the best meal of the trip there at Mulcahy's Restaurant - the seafood was unbelievably fresh (the last time I had such fresh fish was straight off the boat in Key West), and everything was prepared beautifully.

One advantage of walking so much is that we ate whatever we wanted. We may have eaten our weights in full Irish breakfasts each morning. I opted for a lighter breakfast one morning and was sorry just a few hours later. After 5 hours of walking, the pub that was supposed to have food turned out to be under new ownership. The soup and brown bread I was planning for lunch turned into small packages of peanuts and some biscuits. At least there was beer.

Rainbow over Cahersiveen. We took our rest day here. There were lots of things to see in the area, but we could not make ourselves walk the extra miles to go visit any of them. So, we enjoyed the town, and spent the afternoon reading.

And this was the typical beer situation in most pubs. Sad. We usually drank wine with dinner. Even the nicest restaurants had excellent wine selections from all over the world, and lots of choices at reasonable prices. There are some craft brewpubs in Ireland, and at some point, sooner than 10 years from now, we will be going back and touring all of them.

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