Saturday, March 22, 2014

kinsale to the stone circle to baltimore to mizen head to kenmare... the adventures continue :)

You can't stay in Ireland without starting your day with a lovely cuppa! (Or at least without being offered one...)
Our trip was off to a phenomenal start. I can't tell you when I first dreamt of visiting Ireland... I honestly think I've actually always dreamt of living in Ireland, but who knows where this life will take me, perhaps there's still time! I had been to Dublin a few months previous and had an absolute ball, but we were only able to visit and explore for a mere 12 hours... and, if I remember correctly it was from like 6am to 6pm - woof! All that to say, our first 12 hours in Kinsale was my dream come true. 

Every person we came in contact with was crazy kind. People would ask us questions with sincere interest and we'd end up running into them later and they'd recall everything we'd spoken about... there came a point where we'd be walking down the street and people would wave from across the street and say, 'Hey! It's the American girls, Amanda and Lauren!' 

I'm not even exaggerating. It was wonderful.
The lovely array of food to choose from aside from our lox omelettes Chrissie cooked up.
Tom and Chrissie were the first lovey's we encountered. On day one they gave us the run down of the best places in town and how to get around and filled us in on their family gossip and the people they'd had visit just the night before. We woke on day two to find this vast array of cereal and museli and fresh fruit and cheese and yogurt. Chrissie insisted we start with our cuppa and something from the table while she whipped up our lox omelettes. 

This pattern continued as our trip went on and worked out perfectly! We'd eat a large, late breakfast, snack in the afternoon, and find a local hot spot for dinner. 

Tom and Chrissie get visitors from ALL over the place, we used Rick Steve's book for a lot of the great ideas and stops during our trip -- it was fun to see that he and his family visited and kept in contact with them as well!

Only the most wonderful hosts in all of Ireland.
Although we were sad to leave Tom and Chrissie and their lovely conversation, we had an agenda to keep! ;) In other words, we had places to explore, miles to cover!

If you're ever planning a trip to Ireland, I suggest hiring a rental car. We had so much freedom in our explorations and such a satisfying trip because we were able to break up the day with stops anywhere and everywhere!

To buffer the drive-time, we had essential tools to keep us in the best of spirits: Fox's ginger creme cookies, the melodies of Bob Marley and Michael Buble, and tips and guidance not only from Rick Steves but also from Amanda's impeccable research and organization.

Each road trip requires certain tools... these were the requirements for this trip: Fox's ginger cremes, Rick Steves' guidance for stops and deals, Bob Marley and Michael Buble, and Amanda's impeccable organization.
Our first stop away from Kinsale was at the Drombeg Stone Circle. Just about 30 kms from Kinsale, Drombeg was easy to find on our way towards Sibbereen and Kilarney. 

Drombeg is one of the better known stone circles in Ireland and was probably part of a small settlement. The circle dates back to ~150BC/150AD, although in the center of the circle pieces of potter and a pot containing human remains that have been carbondated to 800 or 900 BC... Crazy! 

Isn't she gorgeous?? Doesn't this look like I ripped it right out of a Gap catalog?

Stone Circle.

Another stop we made on our travels was in a little port town called, Baltimore. Although the town was lovely, there wasn't too terribly much going on, so we just passed through... 
Baltimore, County Cork

She's awesome.
One of the destinations in our planning was Mizen Head - it was meant to be an all-weather experience and a MUST-SEE... it's located on a spectacular edge of high cliffs with swirly Atlantic Ocean tides surrounding it. The Mizen is knowns for it's wildflowers and sightings of wildlife, dolphins, whales, seals, gannets, kittiwakes, and choughs... Unfortunately, not only were we there during a drought, the Mizen Visitor Centre was under construction. So, no dolphins whales, gannets, kittiwakes, or choughs this visit. We were able to befriend a few darling cows. One of my favorite things to do.

Another reason we'd hoped to make it to Mizen and it's Visitor Centre is that just south of it is the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse, Ireland's Teardrop. This was the last landfall seen by many emigrants to America and one of Marconi's first telegraph stations. So, lots of interesting things!

Are those not the most incredible colors you've ever seen?!

Almost to Mizen Head! Quick photo op!

If you have the option of hiring a rental car... or not... I suggest going for it. We were able to do so much of what we wanted to do whenever we wanted to do it with this bad boy. This was honestly the most perfect trip.
I just love cows.
Made it!

I can't tell you how many pictures I have like this. :) They never get old!
Home of the coldest loo in the history of going potty anywhere but the Arctic Tundra.
Double stone bridge, cool!
Don't you just love their verbiage?? :)
The view from our B&B in Kenmare.
We arrived to Watersedge B&B only to find this fun little note welcoming us in. We made it! While in Kinsale, our new friends, John and Danny, had mentioned that the very best fish 'n chips in all of Ireland was in Kenmare at Wharton's Traditional Fish & Chips

The locals never lead you astray. 


Unfortunately, we'd decided before we left to taste our way across Ireland with fish 'n chips and were constantly disappointed as this was our first stop. We spoke with the man working that night and he informed us that all of the fish is FRESH cod (never frozen), the chips are hand cut, the batter and tartar sauce are made perfectly right there too... it was an economical meal and the staff was friendly (of course, we're still in Ireland).  

Absolute perfection.

After our phenomenal meal, we managed to find a local pub with traditional Irish music... even an accordion! We deemed that we were crashing someone's first communion or something as there were whole families on the dance floor and a large cake on one of the tables. It was very quaint and refreshing.

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