Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ireland Guide pt. 3

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Hello again from your friendly neighborhood (amateur) travel guide! I'm here to share a few more of my memorable Ireland experiences with you, as well as to offer some advice for your own travels. I always get made fun of in my family for offering unsolicited advice... So I guess the blog is a good depository for it all!

The third portion of our trip took us through Galway to the Dingle Peninsula and then to Kenmare and finally back to Dublin, which will be the last installment of my little collection Irish travel tips.

Dingle Peninsula - 2 Nights

Stayed: The Alpine House, a larger B&B that felt more hotel-ish than most of the other locations except the Waterloo in Dublin. Personally, the appeal of a B&B has to do with the family running it and the amount of personalization and comfort that you desire. It's less impersonal than a hotel, nicer than a hostel, and hopefully has hosts that serve you a warm breakfast along with travel advice or local banter. Some hosts are more removed than others, and the hosts at the Alpine House fell into that category.

Ate/Drank: Dingle is a little more touristy than some of our other stops, so there wasn't much in the way of authentic shopping. My brother, dad, and I did go on a fun pub crawl though - we were on the hunt for trad music, and my brother and dad were arguing over whether Murphy's or Guiness was better (I don't like either, but when in Ireland...). Everyone had advised us to go to Dick Mack's - but I advise you to skip it. Although the pub may have a fun atmosphere, it is too crowded with tourists to enjoy. Go to O'Sullivan's Courthouse Pub instead for a warm, cozy feel and beer and liquor from local breweries and distilleries.

Activities: Pub crawl. Walking on farm paths near the town of Ventry (I made some bovine friends). There are some ancient ring forts up there that tribal groups would use as a vantage point to spot incoming enemies or predators. The nearby town of Castle Gregory has some water sport options, but only if you're interested in donning a wetsuit. I wasn't.

View of Dingle Bay from hills behind Ventry
Eat Mor Chikin?

Kenmare - 2 Nights

Stayed: The Shelburne Lodge was absolutely amazing. Before she passed, my grandmother loved coming to Kenmare and had formed a relationship with the couple who run the lodge, Tom and Maura Foley. Their hospitality was unmatched, the rooms and beds tastefully and personally decorated. The breakfast? Phenomenal. Worth the splurge, and within walking distance of the town.

Beautiful gardens behind Shelburne Lodge
Ate/Drank: By the time we got to Kenmare, we were sick of eating out all the time and tired of spending huge amounts of money on food. Tom and Maura's son owns a pizza/bistro in town called Pyro, which was good and a nice break from burgers and meat.

Activities: You absolutely should head to Gleninchaquin Park and walk one of the loop trails (of varying difficulty, check in with the owners before hiking). The park is actually a working farm with several hundred sheep on the premises - so when you're looking off amazing viewpoints at the lakes and green valleys below, don't mind one of the rams making a little noise here and there from right behind you :) I got to feed a lamb warm milk and watch an old-fashioned sheep shearing without the crowds that typically accompany such an activity. Gleninchaquin was also a treasured space for my grandmother when she would come, so the park held special meaning for my family.

I loved Kenmare - It was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me. It doesn't feel as traditionally "Irish" as some of the other cities, but comes with phenomenal scenery and views nonetheless.

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