FUN-travel Ireland: Galway – Connemara – Howth

October 3, 2011 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel Ireland: Galway – Connemara – Howth 

Day 13 – Monday, September 26 – Galway to Connemara – cloudy, windy, warmer – turns to light steady rain – Depart 11:45

Ashford Castle

  • 1st stop – Ashford Castle – restored Victorian (once owned by the Guinness family) rents some of the finest rooms in all of Ireland – Quiet Man filmed here too
  • 2nd stop – Cong Village – Quiet Man cottage –  Cong Abbey early 1100’s Gothic & Romanesque
  • 3rd stop – Westport for lunch – feeling dodgy so only eat a wee bit of soup & cheese bread
  • 4th stop – Kylemore Castle & Gardens – neo-gothic design built 1860 by wealthy man for his bride – majestically situated at base of mountain & lakefront
  • 5th stop – Ballynahinch Castle to spend the night – built 1384 means “household of the island” – completely isolated in the middle of the forest – absolutely breathtaking! & our 1st time sleeping in a castle
  • 6th stop – in the pub for beer – still feeling dodgy & pass on dinner

Cong Abbey

FF (FUN-Fact)– Evan our waitress from Nimmo’s suggested we stay here

Day 14 – Tuesday, September 27 – Connemara to Howth – cool, light rain, low clouds & fog

Kylemore Castle

  • Take a short walk along river after breakfast – depart 10:30
  • 12:30 – stop for cappuccino
  • Good road to Dublin & arrive 3 pm – map not clear & stop for directions – on way to Howth (8 miles northeast of Dublin) stop @ Honda dealership for side mirror – they call Renault dealership & part is there – they are one exit past the airport – WRTC2BSL! will get it tomorrow

WRTC2BSL – What are the chances to be so lucky!

  • Go to TI (tourist information) for map – pick King Sitric to stay as owner is renowned chef – get a room –  big bummer – restaurant’s closed on Tuesday
  • FUN-food – Joan from King Sitric recommends Ivan’s – mussels in cream, garlic & wine (like a light chowder) Gambas (prawns on steroids) in chili garlic sauce w/real french fries! SA Pinotage quite nice

Howth Harbor

FF – “midges” small flying insects – have to keep window closed after 7 pm (very prevalent in Scotland)

Day 15 – Wednesday, September 28 – Dublin to Glasgow – wake to blue skies, full on sunshine & unseasonably warm!

Ballynahinch Castle

  • Depart 10:45 – arrive Renault dealership 11:15 – replace plastic mirror molding 80 euro – OUCH!
  • Depart 11:40 & head to airport for 4:10 flight
  • Check out Duty Free but not allowed for flights in the European Union – Kevin educates us on Irish Whiskey – even gives us 2 different taste samples! Jameson 18 yr & Red Breast – Buy Middleton’s Barry Crockett Legacy – still a good price even w/o duty free – can’t buy it in the states

Myth – GPS from car rental is all you need to find your way around Ireland
FUN-damental Truth– Buy the Complete Road Atlas of Ireland if you want to know where you are going – told by tourists GPS doesn’t always know one way streets

Myth – your credit card (Am Ex, Visa, MC) will cover the insurance deductible on your car rental
FUN-damental Truth – no credit card I know of  covers any extra insurance in the Republic of Ireland – buy every bit they offer you for peace of mind!

Michael the Emcee during Competition

  • Highly recommend Rick Steve’s travel books! Saved us a bunch of money (which we used to pay for the car repairs)
  • BTW total spent on car repairs 140 euro – extra insurance would have cost 168 euro – savings 28 euro and frankly not worth the frustration, aggravation & stress!

Myth – all Irish people are very nice & go out of their way to help you
FUN-damental Truth – they are & they do!

FUN-travel Ireland: Galway Day 3 & 4

October 3, 2011 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel Ireland: Galway Day 3 & 4 

Day 12 – Saturday, September 24 – Galway – Oyster Festival – windy, cloudy, cool, turning warm & sunny

Oyster Queen & her Court

  • 1st stop – 10:45 Meyrick hotel – (told by Michael to be there by 11:00 as there will be a surprise)
  • 11:30 Festivities start & surprise is Michael is Emcee of the event – WRTC2BSL!
  • Oyster Queen & her court of 2 young girls open the event w/mayor of Galway
  • 11:45 – parade start & consists of  – N. Ireland Friendship band – local school band of children playing flutes & drums and shaking pom poms – too cute! – oyster shucking contenders carrying their country flags, stilt walkers in colorful dragon like costumes & 2 very old cars
  • Delightful walk thru town with parade to Oyster Festival (feels like the good old days, no barricades, no police)
  • Arrive Oyster Festival Tent – Included in 80 Euro pp – a Guinness, half dozen oysters, cold seafood platter

Who Will Win?

  • Festivities include an Irish band on stage – then Irish dancers perform – then the 16 countries vying for Oyster Shucker Champion tape up their hands

    Xavier Celebrates

  • After 3 qualifying rounds winners are announced & Xavier from Belgium wins the triple crown! Best in time, best in plated presentation, & overall winner (shucks 30 oysters in 3:45 minutes)
  • Best weather we’ve had so far (or I’m just getting used to it) so go outside – at picnic table meet woman from Scotland, woman from Belfast & man from UK – have lovely chat – approached by German TV newswoman who wants to film us – asks why we are here & if we like oysters – #1 answer is “we’re here for the craic” & don’t really like oysters
  • Take break at 5 pm – walk in town & have Pub stop for Guinness & Bailey’s/coffee
  • FUN-food – Martine’s – Thai style mussels w/lemongrass, rack of lamb w/au gratin potatoes, more Bailey’s & Coffee & Irish Coffee

FF (FUN-fact) – The Irish are addicted to their Craic – pronounced “crack” a term meaning fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation

Day 13 – Sunday, September 25 – Galway to Connemara – windy, breezy, partly sunny (feels warmer)

  • After breakfast take short drive up to Connemara
  • 1st stop – Quiet Man Bridge (1951 John Wayne & Maureen O’hara filmed here)
  • 2nd stop – Oughterard for cappuccino @ The Bistro

  • Back to room for nice nap
  • Walk to dinner at Galway Country Club (fish & chips, stuffed mushrooms, baked brie – mediocre) because it’s on the way to see Trad on the Prom – 2 hour Riverdance show – VG!

    Quiet Man Bridge

  • Shortly before leaving feeling  very hot & sick
  • Walk home in cool breeze & still feel ill

Not so FF – have never been so sick in my entire adult life! Best guess is tartar sauce! We ate the exact same thing (since we always share) and Chris didn’t eat that

FUN-travel: Ireland – Dingle to Galway

September 29, 2011 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Ireland – Dingle to Galway 

Day 9 – Wednesday, September 21 –  Dingle to Kilkee – cold, windy, thick low ominous clouds & fog w/occasional rain bursts turning sunny

Dunguaire Castle

  • Depart 12:15 – Take 30 mile one hour drive of Dingle peninsula
  • 1st stop – Beehive Huts – mysterious stone igloos clustered together w/in circular wall
  • 2nd stop – view of Blasket Islands
  • Head out northeast route – arrive Tarbert 3:25 for 3:30 ferry
  • Stop in town of Kilrush for coffee @ Buttermarket Cafe – Ann suggests Murphy Blacks for dinner
  • Arrive Kilkee 5 pm and find 40 euro parking ticket on car from Kilrush – had no idea you would have to pay to park in such a dinky, little town (that’ll never happen again)
  • Stella Maris Hotel – 90 euro (also suggested by Ann & conveniently across the street from Murphy Blacks)
  • FUN-food – Murphy Blacks – St. Tola goat cheese salad drizzled w/honey, steamed Garrigaholt mussels w/butter & wine, pan fried halibut in lemon butter w/au gratin potatoes & carrots, Dandelion wine 95% shiraz & 5% reisling – VG! (very good)

FF (FUN-facts) – we like it when the only high rise you see is a castle!
Not so FF – realized we lost a hubcap and have deep scratches on car from bushes & cut trees hugging the sides of narrow roads

Cliffs of Moher

Day 10 – Thursday, September 22 – Kilkee to Galway – windy, cloudy, cool, sprinkles – depart 9:45


  • 1st stop – Cliffs of Moher – 10:45 – dramatic cliffs soar 650′ above Atlantic for 5 miles
  • 2nd stop – Doolin – 12:00 boat ride of cliffs cancelled – next one @3:00  won’t work – have latte instead
  • 3rd stop – Dunguaire Castle – 1520 4-story tower house sits in the bay surrounded by swimming swans
  • 4th stop – car repair shop to replace hub caps – sent to Car Parts Warehouse who replaces hubcaps (40 Euro includes tip to put them on with ties) – sends us up street to body shop to fix scratches
  • Arrive Sea Breeze Lodge B & B in Salthill 4:30 – 2 miles from city center – Freddie the owner upgrades us to king bed and gives us each a Guinness – What are the chances for such good luck!

FF – Today is Arthur Guinness Day and you get a free pint if you are in the pub by 17:59 (the year it was founded) Great gimmick, huh?

FUN-travel: Ireland – Kinsale to Beara, Ring of Kerry & Dingle Peninsulas

September 25, 2011 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Ireland – Kinsale to Beara, Ring of Kerry & Dingle Peninsulas 

Day 7 – Monday, September 19 –  Kinsale to Ring of Kerry – cool, windy, rainy, 50’s

Parknasilla Resort

  • Depart 10:15 – drive back roads to Beara Peninsula
  • Arrive 12:30 – drive takes 2 1/2 hours on windy, narrow roads w/hair pin turns – landscape consists of barren & rocky  to thick forests  & edged w/rocky cliffs – thick low lying rain clouds & fog shroud the hills & mountains
  • Stop in Kenmare for latte & snack – another very cute town w/vividly colored shop fronts!
  • Arrive Parknasilla Resort 4 pm (majestic Victorian hotel built in 1895 in 300 plush acres of a subtropical park overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean) no reservations & get huge room w/breakfast for 99 euro – such a deal! luck of the Irish is with us!
  • Dinner @hotel – salad, scallops w/bacon & black pudding, halibut (good but not  as good as Crackpots)

FF (FUN-facts) – Ireland Tourist Information offices have been invaluable for maps, getting directions and finding lodging

Staig Ring Fort

Day 8 – Tuesday, September 20 –  Ring of Kerry to Dingle – cool, windy, partly sunny w/occasional rain bursts

  • Awake to spotty sunshine – Depart 10:30 – drive 120 mile loop Ring of Kerry
  • 1st stop Staig Ring Fort – circular stone walls built sometime between 500 B.C. and A.D. 300 w/o mortar – about 80′ across, walls 12′ think, 20′ high
  • 2nd stop Portmagee – see “Best View in Kerry County” for 8 euro – take 10 minute walk up to dramatic coastal cliffs
  • Arrive Dingle 4:30 – find Bambury’s B&B for 80 euro – town feels traditionally Irish
  • 1st stop Foxy John’s Pub for Guinness and Carlsberg (for me) – full of locals
  • FUN-food – Blue Zone Jazz & Pizza Bar – Greek Salad (loaded w/lots of veggies & lettuces) & spicy chorizo, red pepper pizza – YUMMY!

Best View in Kerry

FF – Ireland is home of the very rare Red Head & Blue Butt Sheep – LOL! (they color them on various parts of their bodies for identification)

FUN-travel: Ireland – Dublin – 3 days

September 17, 2011 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Ireland – Dublin – 3 days 

Day 1 – Tuesday, September 13 – arrive London 2 pm – depart 6 pm – arrive hotel 8:30 pm – windy, cold

  • FUN food find! Hugo’s – smoked salmon salad, chips (fried potato wedges) & mussels – Dan our waiter suggests the Butcher Grill for our next meal

Day 2 – Wednesday, September 14 – Hop On Hop Off Bus Highlights – partly sunny, windy, high 50’s

  • Guinness Storehouse – Ireland’s #1 tourist attraction – 250 year old brewery turned into 7 story interactive visitor experience – Gravity Bar, top floor w/360 panoramic views of city & includes a free pint of Guinness!
  • Kilmainham Gaol – Dublin’s Jail opened 1796 – executions by hanging (quite the local entertainment) and firing squad prevalent – housed many political prisoners
  • FUN food! Butcher Grill – rare ahi tostados w/avocado salsa, oysters, grilled yellow tail on horse radish mashed potatoes – when asked, Ivor our waiter suggests White Friar Grill for our next meal

FF = (FUN-facts) – in 1759 Arthur Guinness paid a 100 pound deposit for yearly lease of 45 pounds, for 9000 years

Day 3 – Thursday, September 15 – Hop On Hop Off Bus Highlights – partly sunny, warmer, 60’s

  • Dublin Castle – built on spot of first Viking fortress – very well preserved 13th century city wall and moat visible from underground portion of tour
  • Old Jameson Distillery – highlights – free Jameson drink! & Chris picked to be Official Whiskey Taster and earns highly coveted personalized certificate (it really is smoother than Jack Daniel’s & Johnny Walker Black
  • FUN food! White Friar Grill – bone marrow and Ox tail w/green salsa, duck shepherd’s pie, side of greens (yummy beans & peas) – our waitress suggests Ochos Tapas – FUN ladies at next table suggest La Bodega for our next meal

FF – street addresses very confusing so directions given by the closest Pub (across the street from Smyth’s Pub)

Day 4 – Friday, September 16 – Walking Tour Highlights- rainy, cool, low 60’s

  • #29 – 1794 fully restored 4 story Georgian home
  • National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology – includes Viking Age, Medieval period 1150 – 1550, recently found bog bodies from the Iron Age

Dublin Castle

  • FUN food – picked La Bodega based on first impressions – great choice! bean salad, mushrooms in garlic butter (just like escargot) lamb stew & mussels in white wine & garlic

Myth – have heard that Irish (& UK) food is not very good
FUN-damental Truth – we have no intention of having a bad meal (we don’t consider ourselves “Foodies” but can’t fathom 4 weeks  of boring food or wasting calories on something we don’t like)