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Published: November 8th 2014
Let me start by saying today was a very long day. Along with that, today was the best day I've had yet on this trip.
I began my drive of the Ring of Kerry this morning without a real itinerary, just a list of potential landmarks I could stop at if I felt like it. Gap of Dunloe
wasn't on the list, but I turned off the highway when I saw the sign anyway, and made my way into the most beautiful and majestic place in the world, the Purple Mountains, MacGillyduccy's Reeks, and the Black Valley.
After I stopped to photograph the Gap, my GPS said it was barely over an hour to the next city if I wanted to continue on the route I was currently on. So, instead of turning back the way I'd come, I decided to take the scenic route.
This truly is the most beautiful place on earth, and I had it almost all to myself. While the roads were narrow (only 1 car lane wide with no shoulder most of the time) I was able to go at my own pace and stop
whenever I pleased to take photos.
I was so caught up in the magnificence of the land, I didn't take note of my GPS. Let me say I am very familiar and comfortable with the iPhone Maps app - it adjusts your ETA based on your speed; if you're going slower than the speed limit (say, stuck in traffic) it pushed out your ETA, if you're going faster, ETA is shorter. Super convenient. My vacation-package-provided GPS does not do that. The hour estimate was solely based on the posted speed limit - 80kmh. There is no way anyone in this universe could a: get up to that speed on these roads unless they had a death wish, or b: maintain that speed for more than 3 seconds. So, my hour drive through the mountains actually turned into closer to four. The first 2 hours were amazing, spectacular, breathtaking, brilliant - I could go on… The last 2 hours left something to be desired. By that point, I was tense from driving on the curvy roads and the landscape had lost some of its brilliance. Don't get me wrong, it was still pretty, just not the same as
the first half.
I was relieved when I finally made it through, though nervous to learn how far along the Ring I'd actually come. I did have a destination to be at later, and I had no idea if I had enough time to get there or if I would be 'allowed' stops on the way.
Thankfully, I had plenty of time to make a few stops. I even pulled off the road again in Cahersiveen to take a look at Ballycarbery Castle. It didn't appear to be an actual tourist destination (no parking lot or signage), so I just pulled over to take some pics. I also ended up on someone's private property and I swear they sicced their dog on me. Thankfully I hadn't gotten out of the car and it was also muzzled, but the woman let go of its collar when I went to turn around and it chased around the car and barked at me ferociously until I was far enough away. Yikes.
Oh yeah, I also stopped at a gift shop in Waterville and picked up a cheap "Traditional Celtic Irish Music" cd to listen
This was growing on top of the mossy ledge of the bridge.
to in the car. It was much more enjoyable than talk radio and the other stations that play the same music as back home; helped lighten the mood too.
I made it into Kenmare with more than enough time to walk around and get dinner. It's a small town with a main 'square' that's actually a triangle, it's kind of neat. I had dinner at a pub on the main street called O'Donnabhain's, and sat right next to the roaring fireplace. It was super cozy and very relaxing after all that driving.
Well, tomorrow I'm off to Blarney in County Cork. I'll probably visit Blarney Castle, but I'm not keen on kissing the Blarney Stone. I'm afraid of heights, and, gross.
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