Wednesday 1 May 2013

Ireland: Day Nine - Tralee, Dingle and Killarney

I managed to get on wifi this morning, but had to camp out in the lobby. It turns out today in Ireland - May 1st - is the first day of summer. I sort of feel that that is wishful thinking! Also, last night (April 30) is considered the most superstitious day of the year here. It's the night when the fairies would come out and be mischievous - but these would not be friendly fairies, rather ones that would burn down your house or play tricks that resulted in you losing your animals/livestock. I guess we are lucky we made it through! Apparently it is custom to get up very early today and chase the fairies away.... Hopefully none of us are cursed due to not knowing or adhering to the tradition.

We had breakfast at the hotel and rather then it being the usual buffet, hot foods were ordered off a menu. That was a nice change since I tend not to do the hot buffet.

Our guide has an expression he uses often - "the only difference between a tourist and a hitchhiker is a few minutes", so as such the group tends to be pretty good about getting down to the bus on time. We started our day with a visit to the Kerry Museum in Tralee. This is said to be "a voyage back through time" as its a small local museum that deals with local history - medieval through to around the 1960's or 70's. Truthfully, I found this incredibly boring and a waste of time. I found myself thinking today should have been the day I skipped. It was a lot of wax figures, written information and photos but is very information heavy. It was more like a textbook then exhibit. It chronicled the local area through time. They also recreated the smells that would be in the streets at the time... It was hard to take. I used their wifi for a few then headed to this beautiful park on Denny Street that was across from the museum. It was gorgeous... Large trees hundreds of years old, beautiful cherry blossom and amazing sculptures and art work. I came across a group of schoolchildren dressed as monks practicing for a school event so I chatted with them for a few moments. They were very happy to be outside and not in class! It was such a large, spacious and peaceful park.... If we lived nearby definitely a place I would drag Brian to for a picnic.

The town of Tralee is beautiful. Very old streets that wind around and are made of stone. Lots of cute little shops and tea rooms. I definitely notice how many tea rooms there are around Ireland. It seems everywhere we go there is one and I even saw one from the bus that was in a garden center.

We paused for a moment to get a photo of a monument in memory of the men/women killed when the Irish were fighting each other just after the war. This one was honoring one instance that was particularly brutal in the 1920. It's unfortunate just how much fighting and such have occurred between them. It's hard to comprehend at times.

Afterwards we continued for a tour of the Dingle Peninsula, "an area rich in antiquities ranging from Iron Age stone forts to beehive huts". We stopped for a bathroom break in Dingle before carrying on to look at some scenery around the Blasket Island and Slea Head. I found myself a little worn of bus drives so I opted to stay in Dingle since the group was coming back here in a few hours for the lunch break. Another woman from the tour - one of the back of the bus trouble markers/behind bar photo comrades - heard the drive was very narrow roads with steep drops and also opted to stay. The tour guide tried to talk us out of it because of the "beautiful scenery" ahead but personally he's said that a bunch of times so I was set. The bus left us and we set off. I keep falling asleep on the bus, so it was great to be outside and getting fresh air.

I had heard of a local police chief who has free tours to tourists when he was free. I looked around for him, but he must have been out on another tour. Its unfortunate as that would have been fun. Dingle is a really cute, seaside village. There is a local dolphin - Fungie - who has lived here for 30 years (actually the anniversary party for him was on the weekend). You can do dolphin tours and 9/10 times see him. I debated it; but opted to take the time to walk around. I've been on the bus enough, I don't need to spend time on a boat where I would likely get seasick.

Daniella - the other woman - and I wandered around looking in the shops and enjoying the nice day. It was sunny with a cool breeze and no need for jackets. We wandered into a local restaurant for lunch. As we were finishing up, the group returned and dad and a few of the others joined us. We hung our for a bit and then wandered back to the streets.

I really loved this town! Everyone was so friendly and with it being near the water it was a perfect setting. The only thing that would have made it better was if I could have seen the dolphin! Daniella and I had fun, and ended up being the only two that stayed behind.

While I was in Dingle, the rest of the tour got to see views of the Lakes of Killarney from great heights and go into these little beehive type huts/homes. Apparently it was really interesting to walk through them. I saw some photos and they looked cool, but I liked my afternoon.

We stopped for some photos of the Dingle Bay which looked like an awesome place to walk along the beach. We have a new driver for today since our guide can't drive more then a certain number of days in a row. Truth be told, I will be happy when Eamon (the guide) is driving again. This guy breaks a lot and goes pretty fast. I felt like I was on a ride. Someone described it as being similar to Wonderlands Mindbuster coaster. My cousins and Brian can attest to just how much I dislike rides... Needless to say I was;
A) Glad I stayed behind in Dingle
B) Happy to return to the hotel
C) A very unhappy passenger for most of the day. He was okay for most of the morning, but his driving just kept getting worse. At one point I seriously felt like I may be sick.

Tomorrow I am skipping the tour and opting to stay in town. The tour is spending a short time in the village of Kenmare. And then going to a farm for a tour and lunch. My plan is to swim first thing in the morning, walk into town (it's 5 minutes away all on main roads) and wander around there for the day. The hotel spa had a deal on that I booked... So I will do that in the late afternoon. It's the perfect way to relax and take a break. Despite it being a vacation, it's been crazy busy so it's chance to unwind. Plus if I don't, I will only have about 2 hours in Killarney. I'd rather take my time and explore rather then feel rushed.

When I got back to the hotel I felt awful from the drive so I spent some time relaxing in my room rather then going to the pool. At dinner I opted to forgo a main and just have soup. Afterwards the group was heading to a comedy show at a pub, but I wasn't up for it. Plus I had made arrangements to help two fellow passengers with their iPads. Seriously, word is growing about Chantal's Free Tech Support. Mid-lesson the guide called me over to help him do something. Dad and everyone left, leaving me some free time which I am spending thus far in the lobby using the wifi. Crazy story - I finally met two of the new passengers and they were from a small town a few hours away. They mentioned the town and how I likely didn't know it, and I mentioned my friend Matt was from there and I did. They turned out to know his parents - what a small world!

Lastly, one woman on the tour has nicknamed my father and I --- Sweetpea and Trouble. In case anyone is wondering, I am Sweetpea!

Photo One: The Monument
Photo Two: beautiful statue in the Denny Road Park
Photo Three: Denny Road Park
Photo Four: Me at the park (I like my hair!)
Photo Five: Apparently I fell asleep and everyone got off.. And dad got a photo.
Photo Six: Giant Penguin outside the Dingle Aquarium
Photo Seven: Dingle is also apparently the Ireland's only place to get a chili dog.
Photo Eight: Dingle
Photo Nine: Dingle
Photo Ten: A statue of Fungie
Photo Eleven. Dingle
Photo Twelve: Town Donkey
Photo Thirteen: Dingle
Photo Fourteen: Dingle
Photo Fifteen. Dingle
Photo Sixteen: Dingle
Photo Seventeen: Dingle Bay
Photo Eighteen: Dingle Bay

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