Ok… I’m in love with HDR. What’s HDR? It’s a way of processing digital images. It stands for High Dynamic Range. The idea is that you take 3+ pictures of the same thing. Like these three:
Category Archives: Ireland
Let’s go over today and the previous two days:
Friday, leave Cork, Ireland and go through security, they require that I dig out my umbrella and prove it’s a real umbrealla; land in London, Heathrow and somehow manage to skip customs and immigration.
Saturday, leave Heathrow and go through security; they randomly test my liquids. Land in San Francisco. Of course in SFO they not only ask me to remove my glasses so they can compare me to my passport photo, but they decide to randomly go through my luggage! I’m glad I had all my underwear in a little zippered cube!
Sunday (today), leave San Jose and get to go through security one last time. I’m wondering what will happen this time? I’m beginning to think I’m flagged in some security system?
So for Friday through Sunday, these airports: Cork, Heathrow, Heathrow (again), San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle!
I promise, just this one last post about the price of gas over here.
Our rental car in Ireland was a small-ish (at least by U.S. standards) Chevy Epica. The car looked like this:
While Patrick added gas sporadically as we drove around Ireland, we were down to less than a 1/4 tank when he filled up right before dropping the car off at the airport in Cork.
To fill up the tank: 72.43 euros, or about $116. So no complaining about gas prices back in the U.S.!
All together, two rental cars, one for Stonehenge in the U.K. and one in Ireland where we drove around a lot more, and assuming that the euro and pound exchange rates are about the same, we spent $272 on gas while here.
We left Ireland this morning and flew by Aer Lingus back to Heathrow, London. The flight was nice and uneventful and short – only about 1 hour. It’s basically take off, climb, then descend and land.
Aer Lingus is interesting though – or at least the flights I’ve been on have been. Patrick, Amber and I have used the same suitcases and same backpacks for our 2009, 2010 and now our 2011 trips. In 2009 we also flew Aer Lingus.
2009 flying from Heathrow to Dublin I was told that my carry-on suitcase was too heavy and would have to be checked, so it was. Patrick and Amber carried their suitcases on.
2009 flying from Dublin back to Heathrow, all of our carry-on suitcases were fine and none needed to be checked.
2011 flying from Heathrow to Cork we were told that all three of our carry-on suitcases were too big and would have to be checked, so we did.
2011 flying from Cork back to Heathrow, all of our carry-on suitcases were fine and none needed to be checked.
Where’s the consistency? Other than flying toward the east the rules are little more slack?
And, Aer Lingus charges for everything – even water during the flight. If I recall, it was 2.50 pounds (or was it Euros?) for a bottle of water. No thanks.
Here’s the view as we landed at Heathrow. Somehow we managed to get back into England without going through customs either – I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt us! LOL
And of course, an obligatory “ohhhhhhh, the clouds are so pretty when you fly so high” photo:
Wow. Our last full day in Ireland. We’d really done everything we wanted to do, so we drove north looking for some off-the-beaten-path things to see. We went through Tralee and drove around the east side of Tralee Bay. We passed through Ardfert, Ballyheige, Ballyduff and then looped back down through Listowel and returned to Tralee.
It was a bit of a “bust” day. Many of the sites we wanted to see were being renovated or were locked up because it’s still “off season”. Anyway, we prevailed as the winds BLEW again. At one stop it was so windy I could not get my car door open and Patrick had to hold it open against the wind for me. Near one beach the sand was actually whipped up high into the air and it felt like we were being sand blasted. Each time we got out of the car it was a great relief to get back in and out of the incredible winds. [Amber just checked and in Tralee the winds were gusting up to 51 mph!!! Yeow! That's classified as a tropical storm!]
Amber and Patrick had Burger King for dinner! I snitched two of their fries and had a wonnnnderful egg salad sandwich (aka “smashed egg sandwich”) back at our townhouse.
It’s kind of sad, but I’m really looking forward to the little Cork airport, because they have a Starbucks!
Just some random tips that I want to share – and to remember if there’s another trip in my future.
Things That Have Made Our Trip Nicer
- Don’t bring your best clothes. I have a white bra that’s gradually turned a nice shade of dark gray (I’m now calling it “silver”) with repeated washings.
- Learn to enjoy wrinkles. Doing your own wash? Expect lots of wrinkles. Worried about how your clothes will look in photos? Use lots of close-ups instead.
- Take comfortable clothes. We each packed 3 day’s worth of clothes for the entire trip. We wear the same things over and over again, so they’d better be easy on the body.
- Bring odor-eater shoe liners. Not necessarily that your feet will stink (but they might!), I’ve been replacing the liners in my shoes once a week. We do a lot of walking over here and ahhhhhhhhh – new squishy liners feel great.
- Plan what you’ll do, but don’t be rigid. The weather and special opportunities may cause changes in your plans. Enjoy them!
- Keep one camera ready at all times, set on “automatic”. Sometimes you just have to grab the camera and click.
- Bring a shopping bag that squishes into a small shape. Grocery stores here charge for cheap-o plastic shopping bags so it’s just easier to bring your own. I think in Dingle I was charged 0.16 euros, or about $.25 for one plastic bag. Our fabric shopping bag plus a backpack has worked for us every time.
- Be prepared for rain. Have a hood on your coat, have a way to dry off your camera lens.
- Know how to use your camera and practice before your trip. During your trip is not the time to miss a great shot because you were trying to figure out all the dials and gadgets. Even worse is if your camera’s settings get messed up and you cannot set them back to normal.
- Bring a small, collapsible insulated bag. We freeze water in a little plastic coke bottle overnight and throw that and perishable food in the little insulated bag so we’re ready for lunch on the road. We usually take our own cheese and water and buy fresh baked bread while we’re out.
- Bring a few sticky notes – you can tear them into strips and use them as bookmarks in your travel books and maps.
- Bring something small to do. I brought a little sketch book and pens and work on zentangles when it’s super early in the morning (like now – 6:00 a.m. and Patrick and Amber are still asleep). Patrick has games on his cell phone. Amber plans our route for the next day.
- Be prepared to walk – a lot. And be ready for stairs – a lot. Someone back home reminded me that ADA stands for the American Disabilities Act – and that it’s not a world-wide thing. So true, so true. We’ve seen very few people out and about with even canes, let alone walkers or wheelchairs. It seems like it’s “walk or stay home” around here. There are few curb cuts for wheelchairs, few elevators, no buttons to push to open doors, etc. In London if you use the underground – just remember that it’s often “underground” – which means flights of stairs and long walkways connecting one line with another. Wear comfortable shoes!
- And while I’m on the topic of shoes…if you’re planning on going out in the country and seeing the sites (highly recommended!) bring shoes with good grippy soles. You’ll be walking on gravel, dirt, pavement, rocks, etc. and usually they’re uneven and slippery.
- Look where you’re walking. Surfaces are very uneven and some stone staircases have been worn down to a slope after years of use. Staircases are often steep, narrow and have shallow steps too – my shoes often don’t fit well and I have to step down sideways. Concrete seems to be the walkway material of choice – and it’s hard on the ol’ feet.
- If you have a very strenuous/physical day planned, do it near the end of your trip. That way, if you overdo it and end up with blisters, strained muscles, sore knees, etc., it won’t affect the other important places you want to visit. As an example, we rearranged our trip so that we climbed the 500+ steps to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral near the end of our time in London, and only had walking around the British Museum (for the second time) left for the next day.
- Try something new! I’ve been eating sushi, “double Gloucester” cheese, Irish brown soda bread, Amber and Patrick had Guinness stew last night.
- Eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies. It’s a little expensive, but still cheaper pound for pound that candy bars. There are so many sweets here it’s easy to end up with a grocery bag full of new kinds of chocolates, candy, pastry, etc. I don’t know how the folks over here stay so thin (well yeah, I do – everyone walks everywhere!). We’ve been eating lots of grapes, apples, bananas, and sometimes even strawberries or raspberries. Tesco makes some great hummus – so I’ve been enjoying that with carrots, broccoli or cauliflower.
- If you can, cook some meals in. It’s expensive to eat out (15 euros for Guinness stew, or about $24. My small bowl of soup and bread the other day was 4.50 euros – or $7.20). Some of our favorite meals on this trip have been simple versions of soft tacos, spaghetti with garlic bread, fried egg on toast, eggs and refried beans on tortillas.
- Buy some familiar comfort food – I still buy Diet Coke over here and Amber and Patrick traditionally buy Pringles when they’re on the road (pricey here at $4.80 U.S. a can in the quicky marts!)
- If you’re a Splenda addict (who, me?), bring packs with you. While everywhere there seem to be packs of both white and brown sugar, often there’s no sugar-free options.
That’s it for now. I’ll add more things to this same post as I think of them.
One reason we rented an apartment while in London, and a townhouse while in Killarney is that it gives us a central location and “jumping-off” place for each day’s adventures – no packing and unpacking all the time. One other big reason is that both came with a washer/dryer.
Rick Steves says that launderettes in Ireland are usually not self-serve and instead you drop off your wash in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon, washed, dried and semi-folded. It’s 10-12 euros per load ($16 or more). I know Amber asked about washing 1 pair of jeans at our Holiday Inn near Stonehenge and it would take a day, and cost 10 pounds ($16).
Instead, we use the washer/dryer where we’re staying. It’s an odd arrangement though. First, who wants to lug a bunch of soap and dryer sheets with them while on vacation? Instead, we use Purex sheets that are like thick dryer sheets – but they’re both soap and dryer sheet combined. Don’t ask me how they work, but they do. And the washers here are very small so you can use ½ sheet for a load.
As for the washer/dryer – be ready if you plan on using one here. First, the controls are confusing, so it usually takes some experimentation to get them to work. Second, it’s just 1 machine. Yup. The washer and dryer are the same appliance; there’s one machine that does both the washing and the drying. Third, it’s small. We’re doing wash every night. Fourth, it takes forever. A typical load, start to finish takes 3+ hours. And lastly, the clothes are never really dry. The instruction for our machine here in Killarney say that it dries clothes by condensation (?). I really don’t know what that means. When I think of condensation I think of beer ads that have condensation on the outside of the bottles. Every morning we take the clothes out of the machine and lay them all over the place – chairs, tables, over doors, (most places do have a drying rack) and by nightfall everything is finally dry. In other words, don’t plan on washing something and taking it right out of the machine and wearing it.
Did I mention that the washer/dryer always seems to be in the kitchen?
Since I was a youngster, my mother has made a dense, dark quick bread we called Graham Bread. The main ingredient was graham flour which (I think) is a special grainy flour ground from wheat – it has nothing to do with graham crackers so I’m not sure where the name comes from. You can buy graham flour in the U.S. – it’s made by Bob’s Red Mill. My mom’s bread was sweetened with light molasses and had a ton of raisins and sometimes walnuts. It’s de-lish, trust me.
When I had soup the other day in Kenmare it came with “brown bread”. It tasted a bit familiar and I realized it’s very similar to my mother’s graham bread – just no raisins or nuts, and a bit less sweet.
When we went by the Bread Crumb Bakery in Kenmare (again) yesterday, I bought a loaf of their Brown Soda Bread. Yup. That’s it. I can’t wait to get home and start modifying my mom’s recipe to make it again.
Great with soup, great toasted with some butter too. Even Amber’s close to swooning over it.
Patrick wanted to make sure you were all aware of the effects of Guinness beer:
Up and on the road by 9:00 and heading south toward the Beara Peninsula. It was stormy, windy and raining again, but our other choice was to sit in our apartment and get bored – so off we went.
We drove south again, back to Kenmare. And yes, we stopped and Patrick bought another chocolate muffin at “his” bakery.
We continued south and got to the Beara Peninsula, described by Rick Steves as a “distant third choice after the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula”. After driving around it for a while today, I think he may be right. Sadly, the road around the peninsula is *very* windy, narrow, and with tall bushes/trees growing on both sides. All this combined with the bad weather made for little chance to see the views of Bantry Bay. What little we did see was dramatic and rocky, but I have to admit that I liked the Dingle Peninsula better. It was interesting to see more trees than normal and even ferns growing on the road side. Rhododendrons were in bloom and everywhere. Some were so huge they were arching over the roadway!
I can now say I’ve gone around all three: the Baera Peninsula, Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula (specifically the Slea Head Drive). Check that one off my bucket list!
We did stop intentionally in the little town of Eyeries on the north coast of the peninsula. It’s known for its brightly colored buildings – which was true! Still, the town was very small with one windy street and that was that.
After Eyeries we continued on the rest of our loop and stopped at a nice viewpoint. The rain stopped long enough for us to run out and take some quick photos.
One interesting moment in our Beara Peninsula drive – we were stopped by what we at first thought was a police motorcycle, blocking traffic from entering the main road. We heard sirens and people whooping and hollering. We’d heard that Obama was visiting Ireland but we couldn’t imagine *what* he’d be doing on the Beara Peninsula. We were laughing pretty good when the peloton of bike racers flew by, instead of an Obama motorcade.
Back to Kenmare and we managed to *not* stop at the bakery – LOL. We did stop at a local stone circle which was so close to Kenmare we’re wondering now why we didn’t see it in 2009. But, after sites like Avebury and Stonehenge, it was really small and not inspiring. It was basically a “go-in, take-picture, go-out” kind of place.
We made it back to our apartment by 3:00 and I think we’re ready to have a quiet afternoon/evening.