Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Ireland honeymoon, part two
Friday morning (the 28th) we woke up for our first Irish breakfast. They don't play. Sure you can have your normal Continental breakfast with cereals and breads and fruit and yogurt and stuff but if you're hardcore you have a traditional breakfast. This means eggs, tomato, sausage, and bacon (which is a weird cross between our bacon and ham but not like Canadian bacon...I know, it's hard to describe). If you're lucky you can also get white pudding or black pudding. Both are sausages but the black contains dried pig blood. Yum. No, not really. I wasn't a huge fan of any of the sausages but did try them all. The Hubby enjoyed them.
After breakfast we drove from Galway to Rossaveel so that we could take the 40-minute ferry ride to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. It's a 9x3 mile island that's very rural and like "old Ireland." You can tour the place on foot or bike or in a horse drawn carriage or van. If you go there, don't try to walk it. There's too much ground to cover in the hilly, incredibly windy area. Also? If you're prone to motion sickness (or even if you're not), leave from Rossaveel. It's a shorter trip than from Galway. Let me tell you, I've been seasick maybe once or twice in my whole life but this was the worst. There was no barfing but I needed to be still once we landed. This delayed us a bit.
Once we got going we visited the Aran Sweater Shop where I bought a traditional Aran sweater. The Hubby got a jaunty little cap. We picked up a few pastries from the grocery store and headed to what ended up being a vacant seal colony. We saw some ruins and landscape and houses and stone fencing. It rained off and on (never very heavily) but was so windy that you dried off almost immediately. Like I mentioned, there was too much ground to cover so we ended up trekking over a private road to get to the other main road and head back to the ferry landing. The boat trip back was MUCH better.
Then we were off to Clifden, further west. The land in this area (Connamera) was my favorite. It was so green and hilly and there were little lakes and forests. Just beautiful. The night before, I had read in one of our travel books that you may encounter a stray sheep or two along the roadways. Well, The Hubby was driving and I was enjoying the scenery. I pointed out something that I'm sure was picturesque off to our left. We were both admiring it and then I look ahead. "Sheep! Sheep, sheep, sheep!" Hubby was looking all around, everywhere except for DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE CAR. We stopped in time. No sheep were harmed in the making of our honeymoon.
When we decided on Ireland, I figured we should spend at least one night in a castle. There were a few options and the one we ended up getting was in Clifden. On the way there, however, we stopped by Ballynahinch Castle (our first yet unavailable choice). It was probably nicer on the inside than Abbeyglen where we stayed. But Abbeyglen felt more castle-like on the outside.
Abbeyglen certainly wasn't short on customer service. We had a great greeting by Brian, one of the owners. He addressed us as the "bride and groom" or newlyweds. He gave us free champagne and let us take a plateful of the dessert buffet to our room following dinner. Our room was in one of the turrets so it was about twice as large as most. We had our own little gas fireplace and a canopy bed.
We slept in on Saturday morning and had breakfast before we checked out of the castle. We walked around the small town of Clifden and then headed south. We stopped at our first "real" castle, Aughnanure, that was used for defense. The structure was restored but nothing was inside. It was interesting to learn how the architecture and building placement helped the people defend themselves.
After that, we headed on through Gort and Ennis and Limerick. I got to drive for the first time (no incidents other than freaking out The Husband). Our destination that evening was Tralee. When we got back home, I asked The Hubby where in Ireland he'd want to live if he could. He said this place. It's not too large of a town but has everything you'd need. And it has the International Rose of Tralee festival that we missed by about a week. Our B&B of the day was The Willows, ran by Mary and Tim. She was very chatty and informative and he was a handyman. He had restored their home/B&B and was nice to talk to as well. Mary recommended dinner at the Grand Hotel and we listened to her. It was a really good meal. We took dessert to go (also very good) and took the shortcut through the park to head "home."
Up next? Church, the Dingle Ring, and a little bit of Blarney...