Monday, September 29, 2014

Éire vol2 day six

Bunratty Villa B;B with our rental car
20th July. Bunratty Villa B&B was a really nice place to stay, they made us feel really welcome. Breakfast was delicious. We were able to choose from buffet and then order our main dish. I chose pancakes. Yum. First time I have eaten them with maple syrup. They always do that in movies, overflow a stack of pancakes with a lot of syrup so I got to try that out. Served with fresh berries.
Trinitarian Monastery

Our next stop was Adare, a cute village some 15 km from Limerick. Called one of the prettiest villags in Ireland. Thatched roofs like in Renvyle, but houses were colourful. We visited the Heritage centre, saw the local school and wondered around the streets. There is a beautiful park and castle but not open for looking around. Most of the colourful houses are either shops or cafes. Luckily we were not that early so most were already open and we got to peek inside.

High Cross
The Rock of Cashel
Slowly heading back towards Eastern coast we stopped in Cashel to see the Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig). At the time it was being partly renovated so it had these big sheets covering some of the view. But what was visible was stunning. Rock of Cashel is also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock. Visitors were offered to listen to local guides introducing the Rock and its history. Very nice experience.

Another Rock that was on our way was The Rock of Dunmase. Oh, the road leading to the ruins was again so great, so narrow I had to hold my breath to keep the car thinner. Luckily there are pockets just for letting cars pass. This is one thing I did the entire time being in Ireland. When ever I drove one of the narrow roads (and except Aran day we had them constantly) that could not possibily let an approaching car pass I always took notice of the pockets to see how far I would have to reverse. Being on the wrong side of the road. But fortunately the traffic on our visit (in these particular places) was very mild. So, Dunmase is a former defensive castle now ruins made possible to visit free of charge and enjoy the surroundings. The view from the ruins is amazing. You can see so far and the nature is stunning.
Wicklow mountains
So finally it was time to head towards Glendalough (Gleann Dá Loch) and Wicklow National Park where lay our one but last b&b. Wicklow mountains made their appearance as we got closer. Driving in the mountains is heavenly. I could just gaze at the view but I also have to take notice of the road and oncoming traffic. We stopped in a viewing point and looked down at the valley wandering that there were houses below. As it turned out Riversdale House B&B, where we were spending the night was located just there. After having climbed up the road to Cliffs of Moher with out 1.4 car that nearly died on the way, my friend was ready to leave our car on the higher road in case we did not make it up again. Though that scare turned out to be in vain.
Riversdale House B&B
We got settled in and made our way to Glendalough monastic settlement. Riversdale was once again so beautiful with a marvellous location and a walking distance from the monastic site. There were one of the steepest mountainsides I have seen, all covered with trees. Impossible as it seemed. It was as if trees were growing on a wall. 
The round tower and St Kevin`s Church
Glendalough was founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. The site is well preserved consisting of a graveyeard, High Cross, The Round Tower, St Kevin`s Church, The Gateway, The Cathedral
The Cathedral
The High Cross
St Kevin`s Cross and my fingers :)
and so forth. You are also able to walk by the two lakes (Upper and Lowe lake), hike on the trails and in the mountains. Again one place so worth visiting again if ever back in Ireland. Oh, this time I was able to get my hands around St Kevin`s cross, one thing I did not manage during my previous visit.
On our way back I saw an enormous snail.

Green woods between The Lower and The Upper lakes

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Éire vol2 day five. BD :)

July 19th, my 30th birthday.
As a tiny tradition on my birthday while travelling (which has happened quite a lot of times to come to think of that), I get up early and take a walk. Although I had already taken the Moher trail I went there again. The previous night had been sunny and I wanted good pictures in case it was raining on my birthday morning. So again I took the now known track and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Doolin Hostel

Breakfast was the same as the previous morning.

Doolin stalactite
As we did not have any timely visits my friend suggested we visited the Doolin Cave (Pol an Ionain) which we did not have time for earlier. Tom lead us back to the cave but it was still too early to be open. So we ended up being back on the coast to admire the limestone and the Ocean.  But soon enough the visitor centre was opened and our guide led us down the caves speaking about discovering the cave and its history. We got to see the 7m stalactite which was quite impressive.

Cliffs of Moher

The Hag`s Head

Cliffs of Moher
Add caption
Our day continued with cliffs of Moher, this time starting from the visitor centre. We agreed to spend three hours by the cliffs and meet up when the time was up. So I explored the trail leading right (got to the point where I had reached starting from Doolin), sat on an edge and let the time pass. Only to discover I should have enough time to reach the other end (Hag`s head not Liscannor). So I made my way towards that direction. I cannot express how gorgeous the view is. Once again the weather was splendid. Just walked and took in the presence. I did nearly reach the Hag`s Head. I got nearly to the end but saw our appointed time was approaching so I made it back.

Slowly making our way to Bunratty we had lunch in Liscannor. Liscannor is a lovely small village.

 Then came Ennis. We had plenty of time since we did not want to reach Bunratty too early. So what are girls to do? Go shopping of course :D Well, Ennis was the only town we were in when shops were still open. We had been in Galway but it had been too late and besides, we had not though about that. But when the opportunity presented itself, why not? Got some candy for my people back home. And found a discount store to stack up on baking supplies. Finding that shop was marvellous.
Bunratty castle
Our day ended in Bunratty, we were sleeping in Bunratty Villa B&B. Oh, what a gem! The hostess was so nice. Not to mention the B&B was absolutely adorable, so pretty, clean and comfortable. Birthday deserved a dinner out. Bunratty itself is quite a small town. We had dinner in a pub next to Bunratty Castle. Yum. And ended the day with reading in a comfy chair.

Éire vol2 day four

July 18th. Day of the Aran Islands. Well, we visited Inis Mór (Inishmore) not all of them but still.
Breakfast was a bit lacking even though I normally do not eat that much for breakfast in the first place. As it was a tad rainy, we drove to the port. My friend had already booked and paid for the Doolin2Aran ferry ride to Inis Mór so we only had to get on board. On our way to Inis Mór we got to see cliffs of Moher, but we also stopped in Inis Meáin (Inisheer) and Inis Oírr (Inishmaan). Which led my friend to worry that we had taken a wrong ship. But we arrived to Inis Mór safe and sound. She had also booked us a tour of the island so we had to find our guide for the day and our tour of the island could begin.
Inis Mór

Inis Mór is the biggest of the three Aran Islands. When visiting Ireland and have a day to spare, then definitely worth visiting. We took a guided tour but it was also possible to rent a bike or walk. Though walking would not give so much time to see around.

As we were first on the small bus, we got the first row seats which was nice. Our guide (whose name unfortunately I cannot remember) was wonderful. He was very informed, knew how to communicate with people, was funny and helpful. We were taken across the stony island. When Burren (and the west coast) was stony, Inis Mór was even more so. Limestone is a part of the landscape. Low stone walls and limestone everywhere.

Dun Aengus
First, we were taken to Dun Aengus, a semicircular stone fort that rests on a cliff`s edge. The cliffs were just as impressive as the Moher. The coach couldn`t take us to the top so we were able to walk. If only I would have had more time to enjoy the surroudings. The weather was also so good.

 Back in the little village (?) next to the visitor centre we ate lunch and were on our way back to meet the coach that was waiting next to Kilmurvy Beach.
Na Seacht dTempaill

Then we were taken to Na Seacht dTempaill (seven churches) near the village Eoghnacht. There are actually two churches still standing despite the name.  In the Middle Ages Na Seacht Teampaill was probably the most important pilgrimage destination on Inis Mor.

 Driving back we took a tiny break somewhere by the coast but I cannot remember the name where.
Then there were the seals. And that concluded our tour of the island. Would have liked to have more time. Most of the people from our tiny group were taking another boat so they had an hour to spend in Kilronan but our boat was to set off so we did not.

Moher walking trail
Cliffs of Moher
Back in Doolin I had some time to take a short walk on the Moher coastal trail. As the kitchen was closed at nine and I wanted to have dinner I had two hours. Got a lovely view of Doolin reaching the beginning of the trail. The sun was still shining so the walk was simply breathtaking. I move fast otherwise I never would have made it that far. I saw some people on the way.  One of the things I miss about Ireland is saying "Hello" to strangers. Anyway, the trail by Moher was well marked. The beginning had cliffs but they grew more and more higher as the road went on. Every turn revealed something amazing. Finally I reached my destination and just sat there on the edge watching the cliffs with my mouth open I suppose.If only I would have had more time.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Éire vol2 day three

July 17th. The day began in Galway, again in Asford Manor Guesthouse. Looking out from our window, it seemed to drizzle again but when we actually got outside it stayed dry. And it turned out to be the warmest day during our trip. Took a short walk to Galway train/coach station and saw the railway bridge.

Our day continued towards the Burren and eventually Doolin, where we were staying for the next two days.

Dunguaire Castle
So, first stop on our way was Dunguaire Castle following N67. But it was too early to be open, so we simply walked around the castle and took some pictures. Dunguaire Castle is well preseved, at leat from outside.

The Burren National Park
Before reaching the starting point of Burren National Park walking trails, I had planned to find Cappagh Kennedy megalithic tomb but as it turned out, I had inserted incorrect coordinates to Tom. I do not have a smartphone (or anything that could help) so I couldn`t find them online being out there. Instead we reached a gate (at the time we did not know we had the wrong coordinates), opened it since a road went on. Parked our car and tried to search for the tomb. But what was not there was the tomb. By that time a lady came down the hill walking her dog. I asked about the tomb and she said we had passed Cappaghkennedy village but she had not heard of a tomb being there and she lived in the area. So instead we climbed the little hill as we were already there and got breathtaking views of the Burren. 

Smiling man in Burren National Park
And the Burren was our next destination. At home I had so much trouble trying to find the coordinates for the  walking trails. Everyone explained how to get there using road and when to turn where but I needed cooridnates. Miraculously I had managed to find the precise ones. As Tom did not lead us via the big roads, it was such a pleasure to see the country, the houses, narrow roads with zero visibility (don`t get me wrong, even though it was a struggle to drive, I would never have exchanged the route). So, we reached the crossroads marking the start of the trails. I got changed in the car as it was so hot. And we were on our way. Unfortunately we did not walk the entire trail but as much I got to experience was amazing.

Leamaneh Castle
Next stop was Leamaneh castle. We had no problem finding it. The castle was surrounded by a fence so we did not get any close. But.. someone was making his tour. I had the courage to ask if we could possibly get any closer to the castle. He gave me the code to the gate and we were inside :) Oh how happy that made me.
Carron Church

Leaving Leamaneh we headed to Poulnabrone dolmen (well, you cannot be in Ireland and not see the Hole Of Sorrows, can you?). On our way we spotted a stone church and went to get a closer look. Carron Church is one of the examples of stunning historical sites that made our trip special. It was so beautiful, a church made of stones, surrounded by a small cemetery. 

Poulnabrone dolmen
Poulnabrone dolmen, one of the most photographed sights in Ireland? Again one of the things I had seen before but this time got to see without the time limit. And actually managed to get a noise-free photo. The Burren landscape is one of the wonders that captivated me about Ireland. Limestone itself is not that special (it is widely used in Estonia as well) but the landscape it has formed in Ireland is magical. 

Then we visited Aillwee Cave. Left our car in the park and walked up to the visitor centre. As it was so crowded we had to wait quite a long time. As the ticket only got us past the entrance gate. For someone who is not that particularly interested in buying souvenirs there was nothing to do. The cave itself was worth visiting, a bit chilly but what else to expect from a cave?
The Black Head
On our way to Doolin we took the coastal road (R477) from Ballyvaughan. Ohh.. what beauty. Compared to the roads we had taken earlier the day (while driving in Burren) that road was so wide. The ocean, low stone walls, sheep. One of my favourite roads there. Took the time to stop and look around. We passed The Black Head, walked on the coast and enjoyed the wonderful day.
 Before reaching Fenore we visited a pub. I had never been in a pub before. Then came Fenore beach, people were swimming. In that cold water. Swimming. I couldn`t resist, so I took my flip-flops off and stood in the cold water letting the waves reach me. What a feeling.

We also wanted to visit the Doolin cave but it was closed by the time we got to the area so we left that out. We did know the visiting hours but decided not to rush and sacrifice other experiences.
Doolin caravan park
Finally we reached Doolin. We were to stay in Doolin Hostel for the next two nights. When we got to the parking lot behind the Hostel is was packed. I was terrified I would have to reverse out but a man indicated a spot. I did the unthinkable (third day in wrong side traffic, new car), reversed into the lot with first try. I was so proud of myself :D We got out luggage and checked in. Our room was in a building across the street from the main building (Fisher house). Room was meant for four, it had tow bunk beds. So both of us got our own bunk bed. Room was nice but without any luxuries (television that is). We decided to take a walk to the port. We found another caravan park. Then had the opportunity to use the kitchen and headed to bed. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Jensen Ackles

Jensen Ackles
I have been catching up on Supernatural. At some time I started from the very beginning and reached unil .. the beginning of sixth (seventh) season (?) but then there were no new episodes and I took a break. At the beginning of this summer I thought to catch up again. Re-watched the fifth and sixth seasons and now I am in the middle of eight. So, here is a new drawing of Jensen Ackles.

Éire vol2 day two

July 16th began with a drizzle. We had thought to go for a short walk if it was dry. I wanted to get a noise free (without people that is. Impossible as it turned out) photo of two Vildes (Eduard Vilde and Oscar Wilde) sitting on a bench in Galway. But as it rained we decided against it. And we were staying in Galway for two nights after all.

Had breakfast (continental buffet. We were able to order Irish breakfast as well), reversed out of the teeny-tiny parking space (being on the wrong side of the car) and started our day. Oh, the first experience of the day was refuelling. Nice lady from Avis had instructed me our car used unleaded petrol and that was to be a green pump (whereas diesel was black). So I found a petrol station on our street, inserted the green pump (black pipe with green end) and started refuelling. Suddenly, I don`t even know why, I panicked thinking I had used the wrong one. Went inside to ask for reassurance and was so relieved I cannot express. The thing was, both pipes were black but unleaded had a green end and that got me confused.
Turf in Maam Cross

Anyway. Tom lead us out of the city and we headed for Connemara. First stop was Maam Cross (didn`t remember but I had been there also), a hotel and a lake. I did notice cut turf left drying on a field. Never seen that up close.

We continued towards Leenane (Leenaun) on R336, stopping where ever we found something we liked (the reason I wanted to give up travelling with a tourist group - freedom). Picturesque views.

Leenane (Leenaun) is a small lovely village on the shore of Killary Harbour (one of the only three fjords in Ireland). Tourists were wandering about and once again I felt overjoyed not being trapped to a group. Driving a few hundred meters farther there was a viewpoint overlooking the fjord. The tourist bus came some time after us and the guide said to me: "Everything was wonderful and then the tourists came." :D

We continued on N59 and made the turn to Connemara loop that led towards Renvyle. First we
wanted to see the Renvyle thatched cottages but for some reason I had given Tom the wrong coordinates and we drove past them. I did see the white houses with thatched roofs but thought: "Tom says we are not there yet, so there must be a bigger place ahead" and continued driving. We found ourselves behind someone`s garden.

Renvyle thatched cottages
Next came Renvyle Castle. The road there was amazing. I am sure I am going to repeat that throughout the entire trip, but the roads and that nature ohh.. Stunning. Took some pictures, sat on the shore looking at the Ocean.

Our way to Letterfark fortunately took us back to the thatched cottages so we were able to stop there after all.

A group of French students
The same students ;) and a gorgeous view on my way up
I wanted to climb the Diamon Hill in Connemara National Park. We had some trouble finding the visitor centre. Actually not hard to spot at all but I saw a sign pointing to the centre and made a turn too early. Road leading to the centre was filled with cars, nevertheless we drove up hoping to find an empty space but this time with no luck. So, I parked our car and we trudged back up. The information signs said it would take approximately 3 hours for the round trip (Upper Diamond hill trail is 7km long. Ascent 442m)  I begun my clib up and agreed to meet my friend back down since she took another route. I did see the sky was overcast (and the day had had rain on and off) but I ignored the warning and did not wear a jacket on my sweatshirt (:D). The way up was amazing. I like to walk fast so it did not take nearly as long.

The summit of Diamond Hill
And the summit offered gorgeous pamoramic view across Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, the Twelve Ben mountains. But the clouds refused to leave and some time later it began to rain. Actual rain not the drizzle that welcomed us in the morning. It rained the entire way down. And since I did not have a jacket I got soaked. I was worried about my camera but luckily nothing happened. It was an amazing walk. I am a bit sad that the clouds cloacked some of the view but other than that I loved it. As it turned out it was the only time it rained during our time in Ireland.
For some reason I had exchange clothes in our car (being farsighted as I am) and I was able to get out of the wet clothes and enjoy rest of the day.

Kylemore Abbey
Next stop was Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey used to be an international boarding school run by Benedictine nuns. The school was opened in 1923 and the last students of Kylemore Abbey sat their exams in June 2010. This means it was still a school last time I was there (2009). The Abbey and its surroundings were beautiful. We ate a delicious soup and were on our way.

Our plan was to take the Sky Road and for the last stop of the day we planned to see Barna Woods (if we had time and it was still sunny). Once again I took one turn too early and we ended up in Clifden eco beach and caravan park. It was the time of the tide. We just sat there looking at the Ocean. I am so happy for making this wrong turn. Pure beauty.

And since the Sun was still shining we headed to Barna Woods. Ohh that light! Green trees, sunbeams shining throught the branches. Magical.
This ended our second day. Tom lead us back through Galway centre as I discovered. Went walking in the city and tried to capture Vilde & Wilde alone but no such luck. But we did discover an .. acrobat (?). What a show he gave! Such control over his body. The way he started his performance led us to doubt whether it would be worth to watch. So glad we sayed to the end :)