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Ireland Trip Report

Tampa, fl
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Ireland Trip Report

Greetings from Ireland 2012

Day One

Salutations from rainy, cold, beautiful Ireland. I am writing to you from the lovely Blue Door B&B http://www.bluedoor.ie/ A cozy, warm and friendly B & B, in the heart of rustic

Wexford, Ireland. It is a 200 year old Georgian House. We arrived this morning, bleary and achy, my darling, adventuresome husband, oriented himself to the Irish way of driving. A cute, little sporty, golf cart sized, scarily exceeding the weight limit, Hyundai was given to us, with a HANDSOME lean on a credit card, and a promise of our first born. Frank strapped himself into the passenger seat as we know it, and begin muttering to himself, with equal parts courage and insanity (think of the lion from the Wizard of Oz) assuring me, as I regretted the Valium that was buried safely in my suitcase ,for the flight home. Actually, I could not be farther than the truth, he was quite comfortable, and with the exception of an awkward round about, and some minor leaning to the left, he was off like a pro. I sat there, in the seat we know as the drivers seat, in a haze of disorientation, exhaustion, and panic. Not the best navigator.

But, as we rolled along, the luscious greenery, autumn foliage, interestingly thatched roof

houses and curious sheep in the far off pastures, I began to relax. The sun squinted through the abundant bushes, playing hide and seek and sedating me in a peaceful lull. We arrived a little after 2 hrs., as the windy roads, were slow with snail moving farm equipment, and dizzying turn abouts. Our destination for three days, Wexford, Ireland.

Every year, at this time, to our amazement and excitement, this community holds an

International Opera Festival http://wexfordopera.com/ . As we were planning our itinerary,

we knew this was something we had to include. So, we are here with thousands of other,

who share the same love and passion for Opera. What a treat! We were greeted by Steven at our B&B , darting off with our bags, with his sing song Irish pleasantries. We took a long hibernation and then set out to get to know this adorable, storybook town.

We walked along the narrow, winding streets, past colorful store fronts named O'tool's and

Doyle's. We walked in the brisk, cold DRY weather, until our tummies started to grumble.

We decided on a delicious Indian Restaurant named Spice http://www.spicerestaurant.net

We had an amazing dinner of spicy, hot, aromatic indulgent Indian dishes from appetizer to dessert. The waiter was excellent, the restaurant was elegant and comfortable and

appeared very popular.

After our scrumptious, sinful meal, we did a little more brisk walking in search of some

Ireland nightlife. We stopped at cute, little pub named Maggie Mays

http://www.maggiemays.ie/. There was a lively band with 30 somethingers enjoying their

start of the weekend. We got a cozy table, a cider and a beer, and enjoyed the

entertainment. A friendly gal came up to us spontaneously and made inviting conversation. Not wanting to push our luck on such a lovely evening, and barely recovering from 24 hrs. of travel, we called it an early night.

I hope you enjoyed my first day, tune in for more tomorrow.

Happy bloggin' trails to you....................

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland 2012

Day 2

Fifty Shades of Green!

Yep, you all got your nasty, naughty fifty shades of grey to entertain you-well, I got fifty shades of lovely, Irish green,baby. So, let's start at the beginning, shall we? I awoke in bundles of Irish linens, mittens on hands, and 2 layers of clothing on body-shiver me timbers, this place is cold. But, don't get me wrong, not complaining. I got warm, sticky, humid all year round in Florida. We saddled up to the extroidanairy breakfast offered by our B&B. There was a lovely cold spread, and a wonderful hot Irish breakfast. I got the vegetarian version, one egg cooked to a dare say--perfection, 2 crispy hash browns, tasty mushrooms , a cooked tomato, tangy baked beans and a potato waffle. Yes, I said POTATO. As if a waffle could not be more perfect. I set them all up in an assembly line, and pondered over the brilliance over all these items on one plate. Frank consumed the carnivore version, curiously munching on the blood sausage. We made interesting conversation with the other patrons in the room, a friendly, German couple, and a gentleman who sponsors the Opera Festival. We discussed opera, foreign affairs, tipping, and swapped traveling tips.

We set out in our little bumper car sized golf cart, that I must admit Frank has gotten quite equipped at. Our destination for the day was Kilkenny http://www.kilkenny.ie/eng/. A medieval town, known for its castle. The drive there was marked with beautiful, breathtaking landscape (hence the Fifty Shades of Green). Luscious green pastures, dotted with cows, rolling hills, picturesque scenery, as we ascended our way up to a higher altitude. Frank whipped around hair-pinned turns with the precision of a race car driver, almost clipping the hedges on the narrow streets. He has totally mastered driving on the opposite side of the road, and we only found ourselves on the wrong side once. Me like an annoying parrot, chirping at intervals, "think LEFT" , quoting our Alamo rental car salesman's sterling words of advice.

We arrived at Kilkenny- a hair rising, nail biting, hour later and made our way through the very populated streets. There was a street festival in progress, with food stands, selling local yummies and delicacies. We window shopped, toured the grounds of the castle, which dates back to the 13th century. We stopped for lunch at Kyteler's Inn http://www.kytelersinn.com/. The building is from the 14th century, and has a creepy tale of a witch who once lived there. The stone hearth fireplace crackled, as we dined on pub grub. We made our way back to the car, as the Autumn air was warmed by the unseasonably bright sun.

As we drove back, we had a classical musical station entertaining us. The theme was music from movies. As Frank snaked his way around curving angles, with creative cautionary signs displaying danger, the theme from Jaws and Close Encounters of The Third Kind piped in the speakers. As hedges whizzed by me, at warp speed, piano notes clanged as if in warning - SHARP TURN AHEAD. Frank accelerated his speed to the rhythmic notes of the instruments. It was an adventure for the senses.

After a brief rest, we headed out in our finest atire, to the Wexford Opera Hall http://wexfordoperahouse.ie/ for the performance of L'Arlesiana Opera. The hall was modern with good acoustics. The performance was well done, with interesting twists and turns in the plot. It was a dark story line, fitting for Halloween. We saw our friendly German couple from this morning, caught up with them, as they were Opera buffs, and helped us solve the mystery of the Opera. The die hard snoberoos of the Opera world were in full force, with flowing gowns, fur coats, tuxedos, and I even spotted a gentleman smoking a pipe. It is a different world than we are accustomed to , but to each his own, this is why we travel to experience new things. All in all, this is not a negative comment, just an observation, and did not take away from an enjoyable event.

After the Opera, we grabbed a late night snack at a fast food joint, and made our way back to the room. I hope you are enjoying my blog, as I love sharing it with you all. Tune in for more tomorrow.......

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland 2012

Day 3

By Nook or By Crook

~By Land or By Sea~ The theme of today

Today was a spectacular day filled with savage winds, pummeling rain, sea gusts, and tumultuous waves. We started off with another sublime breakfast cooked by our Host Steven. He makes a mean fried egg, and I declared to him during breakfast service -that I had been dreaming of that fried egg all night. As a true proud Irishmen, he turned bright red and stated , that was his finest compliment. I am not sure Frank had the same love and fondness for his scrambled eggs, as he kept silent during my serenade.

After a belly full of buttery happiness, we got in our Mr. Bean mobile, and set out for the Hook Peninsula. We traveled about 1 hr. out to the sea, driving through skinny streets that skirted the Ocean. The weather was- as I had expected, rainy, grey, and harsh. But, I had prepared myself for this- as this is Ireland in October.

Our first stop was Fort Duncannon, http://www.duncannonfort.com/ built in 1588. We walked the grounds, that overlooked the sea, as rain came down. We then made our way to Hook Lighthouse http://hookheritage.ie/. It is Europe's oldest working lighthouse dating back from 1172. We stopped in the small café and had a much needed hot chocolate and sweet treat and warmed up our chilled bones. From there we circled around the peninsula, stopping intermittently along the way at ruins that dotted the coastline. We were blown away by a church dating back to the 13th century. The stone remains, and architectural skeleton of the building remained. There were grave markers, every which way, and we trespassed behind the forbidden sign and curiously- but respectfully poked around.

As we winded around the ring of Hook, we stopped at Curracloe Beach. Its the beach that was used in the filming of Saving Private Ryan for the Normandy Invasion scene. We ran along the water, reenacting Chariots of Fire. We drew hearts in the sand, we were the only two people on the beach, as I yelled at the top of my lungs and declared my love for Frank, for there was not a soul around. The white sea caps, lapped vigorously on the jagged rocks, piles of sea weed collected on the shore, and the salty, wet air pelted our faces.

Back in town, we went to a local pub for a late lunch/early dinner. The pub was hopping with family gatherings, from infants to grandparents. There was a rowdy soccer game on the television, with vocal patrons yelling at the screen. People appeared in no rush to leave, relaxed in the mix match of chairs, beer in hand, enthusiastically reunited with family members, although they probably saw each other a day ago. It was a homey setting, and truly embraced and captured the pub feel I had been craving. We got some hot, thick creamy soup to warm up our frozen bodies. Nice, dark salty brown bread accompanied that. We followed that with Fish and Chips for Frank, and a fairly healthy vegetable plate (minus the 3 servings of potatoes) for me.

On the way back to the hotel, we ran into an eccentric artist, that goes by the name "The Devil", whom we chatted with at breakfast. He owns a local gallery there, and circled us into his show room. He was quite inebriated, very jolly, and completely unintelligible. But, nonetheless, we remained polite, until we found a quick breakaway, as he was distracted by some other sap. Oh, the interesting people we have met! All part of the journey.

We rushed back to the B&B to get ready for the Opera. This evening's opera was called Le Roi Malgre Lui. Our seats were very interesting , as we were directly over the stage, mimicking the grumpy, old men from The Muppets scenario, except we were sideways. Although, the seats were awkward, the Opera itself was amazing, and possibly one of the best we had seen. The costumes were illuminating and hypnotic,, a mosaic of colors and brightness. The singing, penetrated my heart, the opera was funny, the scenes were hilariously chaotic, a cross between Monty Python and Madame Butterfly. We ran into our German couple, from the B&B, catching them up on our adventures. They are truly lovely people, with exciting lives, and we have really enjoyed their company. Again, the people you meet along the way.....

We ended the evening early, as we are checking out tomorrow, with more adventures to come. I have enjoyed sharing my travels with you all thus far. Please stay tuned.....

Happy bloggin' trails to you..............

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland

2012

Day 4

"A traveler without observation is a bird without wings." – Moslih Eddin Saadi

Hello, my faithful followers. I write to you from the lovely guesthouse Garnish House http://www.garnish.ie/ in Cork, where we will be for 3 days. Its been a delightful day, but before I go on- I have to just put out there, although, I am here in Ireland, having a grand ole' time, my concerns currently lie with my family in NJ , who are being battered by a very scary storm. So, my heart is heavy, but I feel a duty to the curious traveler, to share my journey.

We enjoyed our final breakfast at Blue Door B&B in Wexford, said a fond farewell to our German friends, and our fabulous host Steven. We made our way to Ardmore, a seaside resort and fishing village. (This actually was a total misguided, but fortunate mistake. Our intention was to go to another place, but took a wrong turn.) We took a fabulous walk, along a cliff, it was about 3 miles, and took us about 90 minutes. We ascended the cliff, with breathtaking views of the sea. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with a brisk chill in the air. Along this trail on the cliff, were ruins that were places of worship, dating back to the 5th century. Every year in July, pilgrims make this journey. The trail weaved around the perimeter of the cliff, with heart-pounding heights. We passed families with tail wagging dogs, all cheerful, with a friendly greeting, as we snuck by each other on the narrow trail.

Our radio on our car had suddenly died, so on our way to the Guesthouse we swung by our rental car company and the friendly and accommodating attendant fixed the radio, washed our car, looked up our destination for us, and made entertaining banter the whole time. It is the little things along the way, that make the difference.

Coming into Cork, I get the impression, it is similar to most large European cities. Our accommodations are across from the University Cork College, so there is a young, vibrant energy that penetrates the area. We were greeted by our hostess, led to a comfortable room, with a fire burning in the fireplace, handed a tray of tea, and freshly baked scones, sweetbreads, jams and marmalade. We sat by the fire and relaxed, enjoying the sweet indulgence.

We set off on foot, getting our bearings and the lay of the land. Cork is interesting in structure, as it is an island, and pretty much anywhere you go- the River follows you. We settled on a popular, casual pizza place called Milano http://www.milano.ie/. Not 4 star, but tasty and satisfying. We then stopped in a local bar, Thomond http://www.thomond-bar.20m.com/ for a cider and some Irish tunes. We heard an enjoyable version of Danny Boy, but then the singer went onto to sing Garth Brooks and Adell. Not your traditional Irish music, so we left after a little bit.

Tune in tomorrow for more adventures..............

Happy bloggin' trails to you.............

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland 2012

Day 5

Gluttony, lust, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.”

Vanessa Edwards quotes

During this trip, I am working on each one. I have hit at least 3 in these 4 days. Well, glad to see you all made it safe through Hurricane Sandy. This morning we had quite the treat, and hit at least 2 on my above list. A beautiful buffet breakfast was served to us, by our wonderful host. Here is the menu: (This was all available! I encourage you to skip to the bottom)

Fresh fruit juices; Home-made natural yogurts; Selection of cereals & grains including Our specially combined nut & grain muesli; Local Irish cheeses; Variety of berries; Fresh fruit salad or hot stewed fruit with figs & apricots. Toast, homemade bread & scones are served with your breakfast. Freshly cooked porridge oats, smothered in fresh cream with a little honey or Irish whiskey or Baileys Irish Cream. scrambled, fried, poached & boiled eggs & hash brown, potato waffle, sautéed potato wedges and or beans. Traditional Full Irish Breakfast with bacon, eggs, sausage, Irish puddings, mushrooms, hash brown, tomato & home-made potato herb cake. Florentine Omelet (spinach, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes & cheddar) Savoury Omelette (tomato, onion, pepper, mushrooms, cheddar).Oak smoked salmon and dill Omelet Fresh herb Omelet Brioche with a medley of scrambled egg, tomatoes & mushrooms.Eggs poached or scrambled garnished with smoked salmon. Eggs en cocotte with cheddar topping Fresh salmon & dill tart with sautéed potatoes. Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine. Delicious & Nutritious: Homemade Lentil Ragout with Sausage & Eggs of your choice. Warm tomato cases filled with egg topped with melted cheese & mushroom. Fresh avocado with scrambled egg wrapped in smoked salmon.French toast with bacon, buttered mushrooms & grilled tomatoes.Vegetarian Rissoles served with baby potato wedges & cheese topping.Warm vegetarian pancake filled with tomato, mushroom, pepper, onion & topped with cheddar cheese.Soft & fluffy Italian Ciabatta Melt Tuna, sweet corn, onion & cheddar Ham, tomato, basil pesto & cheddar Melted under the grill. Poached or grilled fish of the day served on lemon-butter sauce Irish cold platter with Blarney ham or Oak smoked Irish salmon &

coolea cheddar cheese, tomatoes & crisp apple slices.Home-made natural yoghurt with Irish honey & nuts.Cinnamon & ground nutmeg flavoured buttermilk pancakes served with fresh fruit & Irish honey or syrup. Cinnamon toast with glazed fresh grapefruit wedges. French toast with fruit salad and syrup or honey Fresh mixed fruit filled pancakes. Trio of pancakes Banana & chocolate Fresh Apples & cinnamon Plain pancakes with lemon, honey or syrup

Unbelievable, right? Frank was quite taken with the porridge with Baileys Irish Cream. The presentation was elegant, with fresh baked goods, home made jams, and personalized service. It was a little overwhelming. I am sure by day 3, we will be snapping our fingers, and making special requests. We made our way to the Crawford Art Gallery http://www.crawfordartgallery.ie/ specializing in Irish Art from the 19th century. The admission is free. The building itself is quite interesting looking, but the art is scant, and we moved through the collection fairly quickly. On a side note of interest, I did get stuck in the shower, unable to figure out how to open the door, fearing the maid would find me, Frank rescued me, and again, I found myself locked in the bathroom at the gallery. It took some time, and strategy- but eventually I made it out.

After the gallery, we sat outside at Costa (Ireland's wannabe Starbucks--not even close). We sat out in the cool air, as the sun started to warm up the day, people watching and relaxing. We then walked around the labrynth of city streets, criss-crossing bridges, as the city started to swell with people. We picked up a light lunch at a local market, eating it in the room, while making further plans for the day. We got in the car and drove 5 miles to Blarney Castle http://www.blarneycastle.ie/. Although, the distance was short, the streets were all narrow, and required a car to move to the side as the next car went. It was slightly daunting and annoying.

We took a glimpse of the castle, not either one of us wanting to "Kiss the stone", after reading Rick's Steves depressing view on this matter. We also felt neither one of were in need for "the gift of gab", which is apparently the payoff after you kiss the germ covered, lipstick coated, DNA encrusted piece of rock, while dangling dangerously high, in a precarious position. Across from the Castle, was a large shopping plaza called Blarney Wollen Mills. It was all things Irish (and overpiced). We looked around and picked our way through items, but in the end, no purchases made (cheaper on Amazon). Frank called that a successful shopping trip.

We came back to the room, with greasy, unappetizing fast food. A regrettable meal, but after a breakfast of delicious indulgence, we forgave ourselves. We are now going to go for a long walk, to make up for our Gluttony.

Stay well, and we will meet again tomorrow.................

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings From Ireland

2012

Day 6

IRISH BLESSING

May you always have walls for the winds,

a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,

laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,

and all your heart might desire

And, its another lovely day in Ireland, and our last in Cork. Today was a glorious day. We started off with another breakfast extravaganza. A hot, tasty omlete for me and french toast for Frank. So many choices for breakfast, I find it difficult to choose-I do much better with boundaries. But, tomorrow will be our last breakfast here, so I will allow myself this pampering of sorts, although I must admit I am completely sconed out and suffering from carb overload (totally my own doing).

After the caloric feast, we got in the car and drove to Kinsale http://kinsale.ie/. Kinsale is a medievel fishing port. It is a seaside resort town, with ecletic shops, and known for fine cuisine. We stumbled upon a friendly gentleman named Dermot Ryan conducting a walking tour, who allowed us to join in. http://www.kinsaleheritage.com/ . He was engaging and captivating, discussing the backstory of Kinsale, the impact and importance this region had, including many major historical events. He had us spellbound with his detailed accounts of The inquisition of the sinking of The Lusitania, and The Civil War of 1922. Kinsale is also the home of Eli-Lilly, the makers of Prozac, so they call this "the happiest place on earth".

After the walking tour we walked around the colorful, artsy village, stopping at an outdoor farmers market, specializing in local, artesian home made fresh foods. We did a little proactive planning for dinner and purchased salty and tender olives, tomato flavored bread, velvety, tangy goat cheese, sweet, flavorful roasted peppers, hand made soft pretzels, and soft, melt in your mouth cookies. We walked around the town, window shopping, contributing to Kinsale's economy, making conversation with all the friendly shopkeepers.

We stopped for lunch in a charming restaurant named The Old Bank http://kinsale.ie/old-bank-house/ . We had some hot soup and sandwiches, enjoying the downtime. After lunch, we walked to the water, where sailboats were docked like toy soldiers, parked for the winter. The sun was beginning to peak out from behind the gray sky as birds squawked over head. We made our way back to the car and drove just a couple miles down the winding road to Fort Charles http://kinsale.ie/charles-fort/. A star shaped fort dating back to the 1600s. We perused the area, exploring all the nooks and crannies in this concrete monster after a lively attendant gave us an informative tour. There was commentary, of surpizing interest to me, on the harsh daily life of a British soldier.

We came back to the room, set up our delicious picnic of goodies, while watching bizarre British game shows, followed by a walk into town to burn off some of this vacation consumption. Calling it an early night for on the road tomorrow to our next adventure.

Thanks for tuning in.......

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland

2012

Day 6

Kilarney

Well, let me get this setting just right for you all. I am in an old, antique, I am guessing 19th century chair, smack in front of a crackling fireplace. We are staying at Cahernane House Hotel http://www.cahernane.com/, our home for the next 3 days. I urge you to check this site out, so you can fester in heated jealousy and hatred for us. It is a Manor that dates back to 1877, deep in the Kilarney National Forest. Arriving here was a spectacular journey , that left me in awe of God's beauty. We left this morning from Cork, pleased with the B&B, but ready to move on. We took a scenic route, passing along Bantry, a seaside resort, stopped for a photo op, and moved along, towards our destination. The road was curvy, surrounded by overflowing foilage, plush trees, and for nearly the entire ride, we were the only ones on the road.

We passed a sign that said WARNING-SHEEP CROSSING! And, as if on cue--sheep were everywhere along the narrow road, peering curiously around the jagged rocks. We continued our voyage, stopping for a rest at Molly Gallivans http://www.mollygallivans.com/shop.html. In front of the shop, is a statue called a Druid. It represents the first settlers that inhabited the area 6000 years ago. The shop contains a walking trail, that represents life as it were back in those times, including roosters, sheep, pigs and a particular donkey that was quite taken with me. The trail faces the Barra-Bui mountains, and gave beautiful panoramac views of the area. I picked up a couple of knick-knacks, concluding that this was a well-worthy stop, stretching the legs, learning something new and befriending a donkey. (Just thinking about him, makes me miss him).

We winded our way around, with the most magestic scenery, really words do not encompass the beauty. I have come upon a writers block with words to describe the magnifcent wonders. We stopped several more times along the way, snapping pictures, as the weather changed dramatically, from chilling rain, to bright sun, back and forth, a bipolar weather pattern.

We finally arrived at our hotel, surrounded by mountains, lakes and woodlands. Our room is one for the books. I feel as if I am staying in a museum, adorned with antiques, plush linens, ample space, a bathroom with a sunken tub, and a large shower, heated floors, and a view of the pasteur, with tranquil sheep dotted throughout. As soon as we got here, I declared, I am not leaving this place. Except, if the sun comes up, then I will walk through the peaceful grounds and gardens. But, alas, it is very cold, rainy, and not walking weather. So, I am rushing through this blog, so I can immerse myself in that luxorious bathtub, and vegitate.

But, first, to finish my story.... so we checked into our impressive room, and head to the restaurant called the Cellar (aptly named, because it is in the celler). Cozy and warm, with plush leather chairs, brick walls, and softly playing music. We sat by the fireplace and had hot, considerably over priced, under flavored lunch/dinner. Finishing the meal off with sticky toffee, an Irish/English delicacy of sticky, gooey sweetness.

Stay tuned for more action tomorrow...............

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland

2012

Day7

Killarney

"Following the light of the sun,we left the Old World."

Christopher Columbus

Well, strap your comfy jammies on, get a nice cup of cocoa, let me tuck you in , with a lovely Irish bedtime story of discovery and exploration. Today after a elegant fireside breakfast, sitting by the window overlooking the splendid grounds of the Cahernane Hotel, we feasted on a fancy spread of delicate cheeses, exotic fruits, hand squeezed orange juice, and all the other goodies we have had along the way. We set out very early, as the sun was out, no rain in site, and we were fueled by motivation, intrigue, and a croisant or two.

Our first stop was Ross Castle heritageireland.ie/en/south-west/rosscastle/, a 15th century castle. We walked around the dewey grounds, fresh from a light sprinkle. The inside was closed, but the castle faced the water, with spectacular views. After the castle, we made a spontaneous decision to do a horse jaunting tour www.killarneyhorseandcarriagetours.com/ . This is a guided tour with a jarvey (a driver) and a horse drawn wagon attached. The jarvey (Patrick) and his lovely companion Diamond, took us to several of Killarney's highlights including: Muckross House http://www.muckross-house.ie/, a mansion from 1843, with impressive gardens, the winding nature trails of Killarney National Park http://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/ with spellbinding views of the Lakes of Killarney, and with an impressive end at the Torc Waterfall vacationkillarney.com/Torc_waterfall_killarn… Standing at the waterfall, I made note of all the senses I was using. My eyes took in all the abundant nature, the lush green overgrowth,with the white, foamy water falling down the jagged rocks. My ears took in the thunderous roar of the water, as it made its way downstream, my face felt the cool, dampness that hung in the air, and my nose smelled the grassy, moist vegetation. Along the way, Patrick gave us commentary in his interesting and lively accent, in between speaking softly to his co-pilot Diamond. The experience was well worth the 35 euros, and one of the main highpoints of the trip.

After the equestrian adventure, we on a wim decided to go to Dingle, http://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/ . About 40 miles from Killarney, (takes about an hour and half) it is a seaside, fishing village. The town is colorful and artsy, but the real action is in the scenic drive. We first stopped for lunch at The Half Door http://www.halfdoor.ie/home.html. A cutsie, cozy seafood restaurant, known for its fresh lobster. Frank chose his little fellow (who we actually saw brought in fresh from the Fisherman) and waited in anticipation for his culinary splurge. I started with cream of leek soup. Hot and creamy, with some dark irish bread. Frank had a spicy (needed an emergency dose of Tums later) Lobster Bisque. I also had a dreamy caeser salad, with some lovely hot vegetables. Frank ate his lobster with all essential tools like a pro, it appeared like a lot of work, for a little bit of food, but he seemed pleased. We took a short walk through the town and went back to the car to set off on our penisular adventure.

The drive towards Slea Head Drive http://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/sleahead.html was abundant with mountainous views, the sea below, as waves crashed into the rocks. We went through the tiniest, curvy roads I have ever seen. As we barely drove by other drivers, I felt myself sucking in my tummy. As the road got narrower, only one car could fit through the space, and smiling obliging drivers, would pull over to let you through. We paid 2 euros to see a prehistoric religious beehive, they are huts made out of large stones, dating back from the 1200s. They were essentially prehistoric condos. The fact that they still remain, and are in fairly good condition, is pretty amazing, since here they are tearing down the local diner that's 20 years old. The huts were situated on a very steep hill, with oblivious sheep flanking both sides. A quick photo op, that also included a beautiful rainbow that went from mountain range to sea (no cost in that-that was free).

We made a couple more quick stops, one with a ramshackle hut with no roof (and a prehistoric beehive) for sale. Frank contemplated the purchase, as we mentally constructed a plan, where he would charge for the beehive, and I would have a world selling hummus line that would make us independently wealthy. The rain pelting on our face and sheep turds littering the lawn, shed some reality on that one.

We made our way back to the hotel, with little traffic and still some light calling it an extremely successful day.

The trip is winding down and only a couple more days left -so continue to tune in.

Love and sheep turds,

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings From Ireland

2012

Day 8

Killarney

Ring of Kerry

“When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.”

Richard Alfred Milliken (Millikin) Quotes

Source: Groves of Blarney

We are slowly approaching the final days of the trip. I have enjoyed this country so much, the culture, the food, the people, the agriculture, the glorious hues of green, those darling sheep, the music, the beer, and the beautiful coast line and sea, that greeted me every day in different ways.

We had a scrumptious breakfast of porridge, so creamy and decadent-how could this possibly be for breakfast? We started out early, as we had a big driving day ahead of us. We were driving the famous Ring of Kerry http://www.ringofkerrytourism.com/. I suggest, if you ever visit Ireland and do one thing----this is the one thing you do! The Ring of Kerry is an established route around the Iveragh Peninsula. It can be taken in either direction, but the tour book suggested counter clock-wise to avoid going against tour buses, since they go counter clock-wise, and the route has the narrowest of streets we have encountered. The ring is approximately 112 miles, and takes about half a day.

Along the way, some of the most captivating scenery lies around each turn. Around one bend, mountain and coastal scenery, turn a corner, a different weather system awaits you. We went from sunny skies, to sleeting rain, howling wind, to forceful winds, and back. We made a couple stops along the way, pulling over several times just to take in the breathtaking views. We took a long walk along the water, in a town called Waterville http://www.visitwaterville.ie/ . This may be one of the most beautiful things I have seen on this trip. We walked down a sloping road, with the crystal blue Atlantic Ocean below us. Sandwiched between the road, nestled on the protruding rocks were vocal sheep and peaceful cows. The white capped sea shimmered on the bright sun(one of the few times the sun emerged) as the waves crashed into the black stone below. There was not a single human being in site, not a car around, the only sound came from the sheep, and the whisper of the wind. Between the solitude and the silent stillness, I found a happy place that kept me warm as the chilly winds whipped my face. I broke the silence, only to share my thought with Frank-that only the two of us have shared this one moment together. This moment was ours.

We stopped along the way at a most unique, ceramic place originalkerry.com/producers/… nestled in a secluded place, off the side of the road. The owner Cara Turner, has her home and workshop there. Leading up to her studio are cute little ceramic angels and creatures, welcoming you to this creative world. She was very friendly, introducing her beautiful dogs Sandy and Rosie, and allowing us to use her bathroom. We made some rather affordable purchases, made friendly chit chat and went on our way. A black cloud was looming overhead, as we made our way to Staigue Fort kerrytourist.com/details/staigue_fort.shtml. At this point, the weather had severely turned, with sleeting rain. We ran to the fort, (which is known for the being the best preserved in Ireland), took a couple snapshots, then darted back into the warmth of the car.

We drove through bucolic, villages as the road curved, and at one point, I felt like we were on a wild mouse roller coaster. Frank maneuvering that wheel with precision and ease, as our bodies took gforce turns. After 8 hours on the road, we made it back to the hotel, had a light snack and a much needed nap.

After our rest, we headed out to downtown Killarney for dinner. We ate at a lovely establishment Gaby's Seafood Restaurant. A cozy restaurant with a nautical theme, with excellent service. We dined fireside, nearby the lobster tank bubbled. Frank had a lovely cold seafood medley with all sorts of tentacles and eyeballs suspiciously checking me out. Frank cracked, slurped, tackled, and munched with zest. The only vegetarian item on the menu was consumed by me- a creamy pasta dish with hearty mushrooms. After dinner, we returned to the hotel, as the rain is pummeling down outside.

Tune in tomorrow for the final blog.

~Brooke and Frank~

Greetings from Ireland

2012

Day 9

Malahide, Ireland

The rose and the shamrock

Will always remind me

Of lanes in the hills

That I left far behind me.

E. GARY BROOKS

Its been a day of rain and travel. We left from Killarney this morning after filling our tummies with that delightful porridge, soaking in the last of our elegant dwelling. We commended our host for the unforgettable stay, and went on our way. The rain was coming down pretty hard, but Frank was a champ, navigating with the best of driving skills, through the difficult waterlogged, soft shouldered, flooding puddled streets.

Our destination and halfway point was Rock of Cashel heritageireland.ie/en/…. The Rock of Cashel, a medieval group of limestone buildings, dating back from the 12th century. We leeched onto an interesting tour, where a perky redhead offered enlightening facts and commentary about the Rock. We toured the grounds, which had beautiful views of the valley below, and Athassel Friary in the distance (the ruins of a monastery from the 12th century).

We continued straight through another 2 hrs to Malahide, a darling town 5 miles from Dublin. We are staying at a small B&B http://www.evergreendublin.com/. We were greeted with enthusiasm and a hot cup of tea by our host Olive. We acclimated ourselves to our new digs, although not a manor, as our place in Killarney, it was warm, clean and most important, close to the airport for tomorrow.

We went into the lively downtown, and dined at a warm and inviting establishment Sale e Pepe http://www.saleepepe.ie/. The place was hopping with families and well behaved children. We had some hot, flavorful soup, and a unique vegetarian dish for me, a pasta dish for Frank. The food was interesting, good service, but a little overpriced. After dinner, we took advantage of the dry weather, although chilly, and walked through the quaint, tree lined neighborhood for some much needed exercise.

Tomorrow we fly out of Dublin. Before our flight we plan to visit Malahide Castle http://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/. A castle dating back from the 14th century, nestled on 250 acres of park land and it is only 2 miles from where we are staying.

I would like to sum up my top 10 on our Irish Extravaganza:

10) Being Frank's navigator and side kick

9) My fried egg from Steven at The BlueDoor B&B

8) Running on Ballinesker Beach with Frank pretending we were Chariots of Fire

7) My pretzel from the outdoor food market in Kinsale (and Frank's cookie)

6) Indian food first night in Wexford

5) Opera in Wexford

4) Our tea and scones in Cork upon arrival

3) The glorious cliff walk in Ardmoore

2)The jaunting horse and buggy ride in Killarney

1) Walking in Waterville, during Ring of Kerry

***These are my opinions and my opinion's alone. The views expressed here does not reflect Frank, or anyone else. (No animals were injured during production of this blog (except, a lobster or 2)

I have really enjoyed sharing my thoughts, travels and insights with you all. We will meet again in Prague in March. See you soon.

~Brooke and Frank~

Orlando, Florida
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1. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Hello fellow Floridian. Nice report. Was your trip taken in 2012?

Western Ireland...
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2. Re: Ireland Trip Report

I can see why you didn't kiss the Stone, you already have the gift!Delighted to see Wexford get such a lovely mention.

Tampa, fl
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3. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Hi to both of my repliers. I loved Wexford. Yes this trip was in 2012. But, I was recently reliving it and I thought I would share.

Dayton, Texas
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4. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Enjoyed your trip report. You have a gift for bringing the trip alive. I plan to travel to Dublin May 2015.

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5. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Thanks for sharing!

Dallas, Texas
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6. Re: Ireland Trip Report

What a lovely, well-written report. Thank you for sharing. I will be in Ireland in July, and your post left me smiling!

Tampa, fl
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7. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Thanks Guys. I love Ireland! I am glad you enjoyed.

Bay Roberts, Canada
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8. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Brooke, it was a pleasure, and certainly some wonderful entertainment, to read your report. We have 39 more sleeps before covering some of the same grounds as you and Frank did, so I'm so looking forward to such places as Waterville.

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9. Re: Ireland Trip Report

Jamieof- Have a wonderful time. I am thrilled you enjoyed it.

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10. Re: Ireland Trip Report

A friend and I are leaving for Ireland and Scotland in two days. Thank you for the valuable information and your top ten. I hope we can arrange the horse wagon excursion. Maybe you can help me with a small problem I'm having. I have read all of the forums on getting international calling cards to call home in the states, but am totally confused. Swiftcall, uniontelecard, unlocked GSM phones, Skype....Did you call home and if so, what did you use? Thanks so much.