Day 2-The Slea Head Loop Dingle Peninsula

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End May 30, 2009

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Flag of Ireland  , County Kerry,
Sunday, May 24, 2009

In two, just as wonderful as day one, only colder...much, much colder! We had a good night's sleep and a pleasant breakfast overlooking the Dingle Bay.  Thought we'd kicked the jet lag in the hiney, but shortly after breakfast settled in, my body called a general strike and refused to do anything but sleep...for three hours! Kip napped too, but he also managed to get in a soak at the outdoor hot tub overlooking the ocean.

We spent the next six hours driving around what is known as the Slea Head Loop. It is an incredibly scenic coastal jaunt around the penninsula. We visited an old stone fort built on a cliff-face and toured one of the beehive hut sites. (The bee-hive huts were, as far as I can tell, used as defensive positions, residences, and in some areas, seclusionary houses for monks.) They're called beehive huts because they're built of stone and resemble beehives sprinkled throughout the hillsides.  Aside from being an interesting historical feature, they're also notewothey because they were built up to two-thousand, five-hundred years ago with nothing but mortar! And many are still standing today. Wow.

There were little herds of sheep everywhere! In at least one case, a lamb lept right atop the stone fence in front of us and just stared inquisitively as we drove by.  Speaking of driving...yet another day of counting our blessings for rental car collision insurance. Much of the roadway we drove today was no more than 12 foot wide and these are considered to be two lane roads. We drove 20kph under the ridiculous speed limits but most of the locals didn't.   We're growing a bit apathetic about sideswiping a bush here and there or whacking a side view mirror into its "tucked in" position. Haven't seen a car in Ireland that doesn't have dents and dings all over it. AND, we've finally figured out that even though we have an automatic, it is still necessary to shift gears. Yesterday we tried to figure out why and mused at the strangeness of that. Today, Kip drove as I controlled the gears and we hardly had to speak of it. I figure the Irish are simply promoting teamwork.

We drove past some wonderful sheer cliff faces, saw the Blaskett Islands from afar, and went to our first two pubs. (I'm wondering if the movie, "The Secret of Roan Innish" was filmed with Grand Blasket Island in mind. The story is strikingly familiar as is the scenery.) Our first pub was somewhere along the penninsula and was a beautiful little place with great wood and brass decor. I had the roast pork special (served with "two kinds of potatoes and veggies"...turns out the two kinds of potatoes were boiled then mashed, and just plain boiled.) It was very good though. Kip had a hamburger and we shared a very tasty bowl of fresh seafood chowder...homemade and delicious. But the important news is that I had my first Guinness Stout in Ireland and can officially confirm that the stories are true! It really IS better in Ireland! It had less of a metalic, tinny taste and some clearly pronounced, toasted malt flavors. The head was firm and creamy and the foam did as it should by sticking to my glass until the last drop was surrendered.

We stopped along a stretch of sandy beach and enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing upon the shore. We also enjoyed the company of a friendly little black lab who had his own frisbee and was eagerly lopping along the beach encouraging visitors to throw his frisbee for him. I got a couple of pictures - he was so adorable. 

In the evening, we enjoyed a brisk walk through Dingle - a very quaint, bay-side town. We stopped into a pub for a delicious plate of sticky toffee pudding - could be the best I've ever had - and a Bailey's and coffee (decaf, of course!) It has been so much fun to listen to all the Irish and English accents; we haven't seen very many Americans, which is a cool feeling. However, in the, "It's a small world category," we did run into a gal at a pottery store today who was going to school at the University of Kentucky and living in Lexington. Wow. In this part of Ireland, much of the signage is still in Gaelic, which has made life interesting. It's not as bad as Greek, where the alphabet is also completely different, but can still be a bit of a challenge, especially when you're flying down a 3 foot wide road with a 18 foot wide Winnebago coming straight at you and you're trying to figure out whether to take the first exit off the round about or the third. I think I may have even spoke some Gaelic today, inadvertantly in a moment of panic.
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