. He is a very hard working and friendly guy, it just always took me a second or two after he was finished talking to process what he said. But at least we could understand him.
Jess and I started our Dingle experience by walking along a hillside to an old smaller castle near a beach called Minard Castle. The beach near the castle had tons of massive rounded stones (most of them bigger then me) shaped by the waves. When storms hit the beach, the waves and wind pile the rocks on top of each other. There were only a couple other people there. From Minard, we got a ride from an Irish couple vacationing in the area to Dingle. Very nice of them. We are finding that the Irish are generally very friendly. It helps a lot that we speak the same language though, but just about everyone will give you a wave as you go by or say "how you do?" and if you want, they are happy to have a conversation. We spent most of the afternoon walking around Dingle, seeing the town and harbour. We found a place to rent some bikes for 24hrs, and planned on riding them back to the hostel, and then using them the next day to see the main attraction of the Dingle peninsula, the cliffs on the Slea Head trail. The 16km back to the hostel was a nice test for riding on the road, and proved to be quite the workout, but very scenic. The Irish are very good at sharing the road with bikers and pedestrians, but it still took some getting used to for us. We also did a traffic circle going the opposite way, so much fun! I must also say I am very proud of my wife for doing such a good job on the bike! We were a little hesitant to rent bikes after our last episode in Slovakia, where we ended up taking our bikes home on a bus, but not this time, Jess made it all the way
! (Because the seat wasn't crappy!) Back at the hostel, we met tons of new people. A lot of French and German people come to Ireland for their vacation. It is beautiful, close, and they can get cheap flights. We also met a Kiwi couple who were going around Ireland playing music at different pubs. One night they teamed up with Martin, a French violinist, and played at a local pub in Annascaul, near our hostel. A bunch of us from the hostel went down to watch them play and watch the gold metal light weight boxing match between an Irish lad and an English lad. The Irish guy lost and got silver, but it was still fun to see. A couple of days ago, Katie Taylor won gold in the woman's boxing, and has "captured the heart of all of Ireland." Everyone adores Katie, and has been talking about her ever since. It is cool to watch the Olympics through an Irish perspective, but I have no idea how Canada did.
Brian advertises free shuttle runs to various places around the area, because the hostel is off by itself a little bit. However, we quickly found out that his time schedule is a bit loose, and if he tells you a time and adds "or so" on the end of it, don't expect to be leaving at that time. But we did eventually get a ride to Ventry with our bikes we rented the day before, to start our bike ride along the Slea Head trail at the edge of the peninsula. This was a huge highlight for us! We have been to a lot of cool cities, but what always amazes me the most is the splendor of the natural wonders! The road climbed gradually from Ventry as the cliffs became higher and higher, and the view became more and more spectacular. Shear black rock faces with waves crashing against them at the bottom, and bright green vegitation growing on absolutely ever place it could
. We were high enough that if a cloud would go by, it would engulf us and look like heavy mist. Then the cloud would pass, and the cliffs would be lit up by the sunshine. We could take in the sights and feel the wind all the more on our bikes (good thing it wasn't raining) as we followed the winding path along the cliffs. We stopped at Dunbeg Fort, which was built in the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. The nearby wall defences however, date back to 580 B.C. and some of the stone beehives to 2000 B.C.! The view from this fort was particularly amazing. Once we had gone pretty far down the cliff road, we biked back to Dingle to return our bikes. So much easier, because most of it was downhill. The next day I made a trip from the hostel to the nearby Inch Beach. Jess sat this one out to recharge for our hike later to Annascaul Lake and do further research into our trip to England. Inch Beach is supposed to be one of the nicest beaches on the peninsula. It was very nice, and once again, the sun came out at just the right time while I was in the water. The 5km hike was also very beautiful, and I was joined by an unexpected companion. A border collie on a field saw me walk by, jumped out of the bushes and joined me for most of the trip. I was delighted with the company, but a little worried he wouldn't find his way home and someone would think I kidnapped their dog. I named him Buddy. Just before the beach Buddy ran ahead of me and I turned the corner to see two older ladies holding Buddy by the collar. One of the ladies was Buddy's owner. Apparently Buddy loves going to the beach and he siezed the opportunity to come with me because he wasn't tied up. Buddy didn't make it to the beach, but I was glad to have the company. Mother-in-law, please tell Bridget she has NOT been replaced as my favourite living dog
. That title belongs to her. I joined back up with Jess, and after lunch we set out for the beautiful Annascaul Lake. This hike was even more beautiful then the one to Inch Beach. A bit trickier to navigate though. The lake is nestled between two rocky mountains that were covered with sheep. If we looked closely, we could see sheep way way up just about at the top of the mountain. Two farmers were herding about a dozen of them on the road as we passed. Close behind them were three sheep dogs keeping the sheep in line. Bridget would be in her glory here! We got a ride back from a lovely English gentleman who had moved to Ireland. He told us the Lake was not that well known, and he only found it by accident. He also said he would love to see the Rocky Mountains in Canada. They look amazing...Indeed they are amazing, kind English gentleman.
We chillaxed in the evening by watching the Olympic Closing Ceremonies and said our goodbyes then, because it was up early the next day to catch a bus to Galway. It's going to be hard to top the Dingle Peninsula!
There is a reason why Ireland is so green...Because it rains sooo much! But if you are lucky, there are a few rare days where all that green can be enjoyed in beautiful sunshine, showing ever so much more the splendor of Ireland and the handywork of our Creator! And guess what we were lucky enough to experience on the Dingle Peninsula?...Rain :( Just kidding, we did experienced rain, but only in evening when we were inside. During the three days we went around the peninsula, we had sunshine at the exact right times! It was wonderful! We stayed at a hostel called the Dingle Gate, which was 16km from Dingle itself. When we got to our hostel, we were greeted by two roosters and a lot of hens. One hen had quite a few little chicks following her around everywhere. The owner of the hostel, Brian, has been running the place alone for seven years now. It is a campsite as well as a hostel. Brian is from Dublin, and apparently people from Dublin try to move their mouth as little as possible when they talk (so we heard from Irishmen/women outside of Dublin)