Published: November 9th 2008November 9th 2008
Arm (rest) Wrestling
Karma's a cruel man...
I see Ali left off at the train to Cork. I have to hand it to her, she verbally painted her hefty 12-year old co-pilot in a fair light but here's a picture to do him justice! And the funny part is, we actually conned (well, Ali shoved) some poor local out of his seat claiming, "We have 'reservations' for those two seats!" …that was totally incorrect. Confused and abiding by the irrational American's demands, the poor guy wandered around and luckily found another seat. Apparently this train constantly overbooks; people were stuck sitting on the floor, in-between cars, for the 3+hr journey, but not us! (Phew)
As we pulled in to the station at Cork, Bryan, an Irish friend of mine that I met while traveling the Galapagos (the "odd-couple" bunkmates on a first-class honeymooners yacht -a whole other story) was waiting to pick us up. After a great meal in Cork and a slumber party at his place we're on our way out the door again on our 500km mad-dash around the Irish countryside, including the "Ring of Kerry."
The Ring of Kerry is a 130-mile ring-shaped section of 'authentic' winding backcountry roads that stitches it's way
through some of the world's most beautiful natural landscapes. The 'Ring' starts & stops in the large tourist town of Killarney, but "knots" it's self in Bryan's hometown of Sneem; our destination for Saturday night.
Evidently the roads were a little too authentic for Ali, as she didn't appreciate her backseat spot inside the washing machine to Dingle! Fearing more than a 'green face' listening to Ali's external monologue of "Don't throw-up, Don't throw-up, Don't…," this Toyota-tour bus took successive breaks to air her our and keep this a hurl free ride.
All this stopping allowed us to stumble upon different important sites such as the Prehistoric Irish fort called 'Dunbeg' (circa 500BC) built into the hills (PICTURED) and later, some 'Beehive Huts'; built and inhabited between 500AD-1,200AD these ancient houses were erected entirely out of stone without the aid of mortar, giving them their unique shape (PICTURED).
Please note Ali's fashionable yet dysfunctional choice of footwear for the all-day hillside climb. Still, she doesn't stop to complain… I'm tellin' ya, this girl's tough as nails!
Other highlights include:
- Ali perched on the memorial of 'FUNGEE', the legendary Dingle dolphin! Yes, Bryan was a
little embarrassed as we did our best impersonation of clueless American tourists! (we've got this 'act' down pat)
- The rich hues of green covering every corner of the countryside contrasted with the rugged yet warm black cliffs that plunge into the Atlantic. We actually exhausted ourselves trying to say "Oh, this is so beautiful, look at that… look over there… oh, this is incredible!" - Words just can't do this scenery justice.
- Another interesting note is the importance of the 'Irish Pub' - While they'll always serve up a cold one, that may not be their primary source of income - Comical examples to us, included; The Bar & Hardware Store, The Shoe Store & Bar, Clothing-Apparel & Pub, Convenience Store Pub.
We made our way around the bay by nightfall to set up at Bryan's Grandfather's holiday cottage in Sneem. Pulling up to this sleepy town, we noticed that the lights to his place were on, definitely odd for a house that was supposed to be empty. Bryan slides in to investigate as he hears a faint rustle of activity. By the time Ali and I follow him in, we find full beer cans
Welcome to Dingle
You can see the 'Hardware Store & Bar' on the right, next to Alison.
all over the kitchen table… a few pints still fizzing from a recent pour. Scratching our heads, Bryan discovers that the back door is wide open. 10-minutes later three 15-year old kids, pale as if they just saw a ghost (or maybe that was just an Irish thing) come peaking in to inspect the scene.
Turned out to be Byran's youngest cousin and two of his little buddies… the poor kids' hearts were still beating out of their chests from their frantic flee. The little guys managed to scale a 6-foot fence and ran 4-blocks in under 20seconds. Ha-ha… Welcome to Sneem!
Highlights of Sneem:
- Cheese, Crackers and Cocktails (well, pints) at "Riney's Bar" - Bryan Riney's family bar. The dinner was a product of the restaurants in town being closed and the convenience store connected to the bar, run by his aunt, still being open.
- Special guests at Sneem's newest 30-year-old's Birthday Party at the 'Blue Bull Bar' across the way. We rocked it out 'til the wee morning hours when I asked the 30-yr-old’s Mother to dance. Something that I thought would be a sweet gesture, as she was buying our drinks!
No pictures of this one, so envision a 55yr-old 5ft-4 burly Irishwoman who was more excited about the party than her embarrassed daughter. Now picture me getting manhandled around the dance floor to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”… Byran & Ali blatantly laughing as this woman tosses me around like a rag doll! Apparently, chivalry is dead in the town of Sneem
The next day, Bryan takes us on an insider's tour of his town and the rest of the Ring of Kerry, which we agreed looked a lot like Patagonia (Aubrey - What are your thoughts?!?). Before heading back to Cork on Sunday night, we make our way down south to Kinsale, for a quick meal in the culinary capital of Ireland. The next morning allowed for some shopping and strolling hours in downtown Cork before boarding our Cattle-Class Coach back to England.
Clearly Ireland is an remarkable place, and 6-days was only a tease. We’ll definitely be back for more!
Copy & Paste this link to see our Driving Route through Southern Ireland:
There are more photos below