Monday, August 8, 2011

VistaBreak Stop #2 - Killarney, Ireland

On Saturday we left our rental home in Fanore and headed further south to Killarney, at the head of the Ring of Kerry.  We went from tiny village to quaint little town and it shows.  Not only is it significantly more populated, there is more to do (aside from hiking) and more places to do it in!  However, there is something to be said about the peace and quiet we had surrounded by limestone hills, horses in our backyard and a beautiful beach just minutes away and very few people to have to share it with. 

But at the same time since it's my first trip to Ireland it's also nice to see some other areas and Josh had not really spent any time in County Kerry either. It took us about 3 hours to get here from Fanore and that doesn't include our stop for lunch. When you look on a map it realistically looks like it should maybe take about an hour but with how windy these roads are, it's just not feasible. Of course, Josh is kindly not doing 100 km/h on them like he could so I suppose we could have gotten here faster. I just prefer all in one piece!

As we drove south you could tell when we left the Burren area of Western Ireland. No longer were we seeing hills made of limestone and the livestock grew further with few between rather than every property having cows, sheep and horses. Yes we still saw them, just not as much. And everything became much greener. Of course it was also raining while we were driving so it was greener and wetter, if that's possible. I know I've complained about the weather but I've got to do it again - it's warmer in Barcelona in the winter time than it is here in August!! Ok, I've gotten that off my chest for one more day.

View as we drive... a little blurry

We stopped for lunch in a cute little town but unfortunately half of it seemed to be out of business. A sad sign of the economy I suppose. It was a delicious lunch though in a cute pub and then we were off again to get to our hotel in Killarney.

Cute town

More of said cute town

And a little more

Castle in cute little town - only did a drive by

We arrived in Killarney around 4ish and I just fell in love. Such an adorable town full of life. We immediately saw a country fair going on (in a large parking lot but it's a fair nonetheless!) and tons of shops and pubs/restaurants. Unfortunately our hotel was about 2 miles outside the city center which meant any time we would want to come into town we would have to drive (though we did find a great huge free lot which is nice). The hotel is so-so though I did manage to get a free upgrade from a family room to a family suite... can't say it's significantly better but the boys have their own room so we're happy. They have a great huge swimming pool and kids area for the boys so they are very happy.

My techy saavy kids waiting for the room to be ready - Liam with the iphone and Aidan with the ipad

And because there was a swimming pool, the kids had to go in right away yesterday. The beauty of it is that the water was like bath water. At least til you went into the hot tub because after that the water felt freezing! Liam actually started to swim (with a bubble) which was great - he was in the little kid area so it was never more than past his belly but the fact that he picked his legs up off the ground and was attempting it was yet another huge step in the right direction with him. And Aidan, of course, is a fish and he loved every moment of jumping and swimming that he could take!

After the pool we cleaned up and went out for dinner in town. We ended up at a great restaurant where I had the best steak I'd had in a while. After all, we're in cow country right? The boys have loved their chicken goujons (fingers) which in most places have been homemade and fabulous unlike most places in Barcelona or at home in the States. All the restaurants give huge portions for what you pay for which is great too. Josh has been loving the seafood chowder here in Ireland and gets it for pretty much every meal. No seafood chowder in Barcelona!!


Killarney again... does not do this cute town justice

All in all it was a great start to our 3 days here in Killarney. We stopped at a bookstore on our way back to the car and the kids were thrilled to be in an English bookstore - where of course we bought a number of books that we'll now have to haul to Greece and then back to Barcelona, but the kids came back happy and tired so it was worth it!

Sunday the kids slept in (finally!) and it was pouring out so we weren't sure what to do. Josh and I actually both had a lot of work we needed to catch up on (yes Josh needed to do some work while on his sabbatical - he's not working per se, but needs to at least be up to date on what's going on at work) since we'd been pretty much internet-less for the last week. The kids put up a small fight about going to the kids club but they were 2 hours Josh and I really needed this AM to get stuff done. And they ended up loving it and can't wait to go back again.

Despite the rain, after lunch we went to go on a harbour cruise in Keldare, just west of where we were staying. The cruise took us along the Kenmare River in between the Beara Peninsula and the Iveragh Peninsula (also known as the Ring of Kerry). It was pouring by the time we got on but the boat was covered so it wasn't a huge deal (though it was pretty cold!). We got to see some seals lounging on some rocks and swimming in the water as well as a few castles. All in all, a great time!

Driving thru the Killarney National Park on our way to Keldare

Cool tunnel

View from cruise boat

I spy a seal!

More seals!

And more!

As you can see, it's pouring out but you can still see the seals!

Seals swimming

A quick ray of sunshine on a rainy day

The first castle, currently on the market for 15 million euros

Liam wanted the castle in the picture

Castle #2

When did Aidan get so big?  Coffee with breakfast and rather than hot chocolate he opted for tea on the boat.  Of course he may not get so big when all this stunts his growth!

Little islands

Sun is trying to come out

View towards the Atlantic

Town of Kenmare

On our way to Kenmare we drove thru the Killarney National Park which is beyond stunning. Especially when there is rain in some spots and then sun shining on a few of the mountain peaks. We noticed a sign for the Torc Waterfall which I had seen in my guidebook. We decided on our way back to the hotel to brave the rain, which somehow miraculously stopped as we pulled up into the parking lot and check out the waterfall. Thankfully it was only about 200 meters from the parking lot so we didn't hear a lot of whining about tired feet and legs along the way, if anything it was an adventure and the boys loved being out in nature!

We saw this a few times - some sheep had gotten out of their fencing and were roaming the roads

At a scenic spot

Same shot different angle

And again

Liam as we walk to the Torc Waterfall

He kept edging quite close to the ledge!

And Josh and Aidan were right on the ledge!

Finding secret pathways

The waterfall!

Josh got right into the rocks to take these pictures

I warned him if he fell in to just save the camera and he was on his own!

Mommy and her boys

Aidan took this picture... I think I look pregnant, I assure you I'm not.  I think I need to hit the gym again come September!

Mission accomplished!! 

After a fabulous dinner (yes another steak for me!) it was time to turn in.  All of us were pretty exhausted from the day and we look forward to our last full day here today, Monday, before we head to Dublin on Tuesday. 


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