As I mentioned in Monday’s brief post, Justin and I spent last week in Ireland. Neither of us had ever been before and we had such a great time. We stayed mostly in the South/Southwest and we were able to fit in a bunch of sightseeing, exploring, hiking, and drinking Guinness.
Our trip began on Saturday with a relatively uneventful day of travel (luckily, since we don’t have the best track record). I say “relatively” because our connecting flight from Heathrow to Cork tried take off early, which resulted in Justin and I running through the airport, sweating and dragging our bags, while listening to them announce our names over the intercom and tell us that we were holding up the flight.
I know what you’re thinking: it wasn’t trying to take off early, you dummies were just late.
But no! Our boarding passes said that we would be taking off at 10:15, but by that time we were 35,000 feet up and being served beverages. Those tricksters.
We landed in Cork around 11:30pm and went to pick up our rental car. I admit that driving in Ireland was something that kept me up at night going into the trip. Irish law suggests (some would say “mandates”) that you drive on the left side of the road. And the steering wheel is on the right side of the car and they’re all manual transmissions AND the roads are narrow and filled with rotaries, around which you travel in the opposite direction that one would in the states. As frightening as all of that sounds, I was even more frightened at the thought of being a passenger in the car with all of that going on. Not only do I suffer from the occasional bout of motion sickness, but according to Justin, I also suffer from the occasional bout of screaming-at-the-driver-itis. Since the likelihood of getting in an accident while driving was pretty even between the two of us, the likelihood of me barfing all over the place was much higher, so by default, I drove.
Looking back, we probably should have splurged on the GPS that came with the rental for an extra $70, but we were filled with an adventurous optimism and we figured our instinct would lead us to our hotel.
It did not.
After a quick (not true) trip through the Cork clubbing scene and some light (also not true) screaming, we stopped and asked directions and tracked down our hotel.
We got a great deal on our trip through Expedia, which is the only reason that we were able to stay at a hotel as fancy as the Hayfield Manor.
We were kind of out of our league there but we got more comfortable as the days went on and soon enough things like the doorman in the top hat, the rolls Royce out front, the aviary on the grounds and the turndown service were old hat.
We never actually took advantage of the turndown service so we’re not really sure what it was, but from what we gathered, they tuck you into bed and give you a candy. The hotel was really lovely, the people were really nice and the bar and restaurants were great. Unfortunately we didn’t realize until our last day there that you could have your breakfast brought to your room, but at least we got to feel super fancy for one morning.
The hotel was about a 10 minute walk to town and a short drive to some pretty neat sites, so we were pleased as punch with our decision to stay there. We took advantage of our close proximity to town to do some exploring on Sunday. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and is built on the River Lee.
Cork is home to universities, tons of shops, restaurant and pubs and beautiful churches and parks. There are even a few forts and a brewery that brews Murphy’s Irish Stout.
We grabbed some breakfast and then the rest of the day was spent getting a feel for the city and planning the next few days. We had both picked a few things that we wanted to do while we were in Ireland with the help of a guidebook and a detailed list and map from my friend Kathryn, so we had some ideas for activities. We mapped a few things out, figured out what sites were close enough to one another to combine into one day and which would need a whole day for themselves.
On the docket for Monday was a road trip to the town of Dingle in County Kerry. The route to Dingle went through some beautiful countryside and farmlands and tackling the narrow roads was a great introduction to what we had in store for the rest of the day. Dingle sits on (wait for it) the Dingle Peninsula, which is an incredible drive with breathtaking scenery (provided you can stomach the windy roads). We started in the center of town and followed Slea Head Drive and spent the next few hours taking in the scenery and stopping at different beaches and historic sites.
We saw the only rain of the whole trip on this drive. The fog rolled in and everything looked so dramatic and even more beautiful.
Shortly after that picture was taken, a bee stung me. I thought it was kind of rude.
We were pretty hungry after all of that sightseeing so we headed back to town for some lunch.
Crean’s is a beer brewed in Dingle and it’s delicious. We headed down the street to Murphy’s Pub for another Crean’s and then topped off lunch with some ice cream from (you guessed it) Murphy’s Ice Cream, as recommended by my friend Kathryn – smart girl; our favorites were Honeycomb and Dingle Sea Salt.
We really loved Dingle and we would love to go back some day.
Well, this post is already long enough, so I’ll save other Ireland recaps for later on in the week. Thanks for reading!