Day 9: The Ring of Kerry

October 10, 2010 17:21 – 17:21

We’re at the Gleann Fia Country House B&B in Killarney, County Kerry, in Ireland. It’s a beautiful property with a stream running through it. We can hear the gentle sound of babbling water from our room. This morning greeted us with eggs, bacon, toast, and a variety of other choices in the dining room. Tomorrow, though, we’ll need to specify whole wheat and scrambled.

After breakfast, we headed out to Killarney National Park to see Muckross House and other sights. Musckross House, which doubles as the visitor center, is a huge mansion, of chateau proportions.

From the back, it’s kind of big and ugly.

From the side, it’s a little better:

But, from the front, it’s a different story.

It’s not too shabby from the other side, either.

A couple of young visitors were enjoying the side garden.

Don’t eat the berries!

The area was filled with a variety of sculptures.

…a well-manicured hedge.

And some nice flowers that posed for us.

For lunch, we decided to try the cafeteria at the national park. Karen had the seafood pie—which she loved. I had the lasagna bolognaise, which while not the worst I’ve ever had, was close. Keeping in mind that I do not like the taste of curry at all, now imagine curry-flavored lasagna. Enough said about lunch.

Leaving the park, we hit the road to the Ring of Kerry trail. It’s a road that goes around the Middle and Lower Lakes, and the winds down to the Kenmare Inlet. The roads are narrow and twisting. The speed limit is 100km, but most drivers have a hard time doing even 60. At times, you have to essentially stop to let busses or other too-wide vehicles pass by. But, the views are more than worth it. It was a bit hazy this morning, but a lot of the beauty came through nonetheless.

Arriving at Kenmare, I of course wanted to see the Druid stone circle. Personally, I think the stuff archeologists say about ancient artifacts is pure bollocks. I think that the ancients got drunk on mead, and said, “Hey… let’s play a trick on people thousands of years from now. What say we get some big rocks, put them into a circle, and let our descendants go crazy trying to assign meaning to them?” Here I am, putting the finishing touches on one of the circles:

The stone circle at Kenmare has 15 stones, with a big rock in the middle. This particular group—one of many in County Kerry—is surrounded by a circle of trees that make it difficult to photograph the entire circle.

And, here’s the stuff that archeologists made up about the rocks:

For “ritual and ceremonial purposes”… How could they possibly know that? It’s pure conjecture. Personally, I think it was an elaborate practical joke played on us by our ancestors.

Leaving Kenmare, we next traveled to Sneem.

Yes. TidyTowns. I wonder if there was a bowl competition, like the Rose Bowl… and, okay. Enough TidyBowl humor.

First thing I saw in Sneem was this:

If they aren’t palm trees, they’re doing a darned good impersonation. Can you impersonate trees?

In the center of Sneem, there were a number of sculptures—all quite tidy.

The first main square is lined with colorful houses and stores.

There were lots of people taking pictures, so we didn’t feel all that conspicuous.

Sneem River Bridge, built in 1810, has some spectacular views.

As if the view weren’t already pretty enough, the flowers are a nice added touch.

And more palmesque trees, of course:

With the brightly colored buildings & palms, I thought I was back in Puerto Rico.

Some people were willing to take considerable risks for pictures. Not me. I asked “Is he brave or crazy?” His friends said in unison “Both!”

So, there’s the Kerry Way, which isn’t the same direction as public toilets. But, both are welcome. People from the U.S. don’t quite understand basic human needs. Everywhere in the U.S., you see signs saying that restrooms are for patrons only. In Virginia, a recent governor closed almost all of the rest stops along the interstates in a BS gesture to show he was trying to save money. What does it save if we alienate tourists who need to pee, and so hurry along to NC, MD, or WV in search of an open rest room, and spend their money there instead of in Virginia? All across Europe, however, there are public toilets wherever people go (by definition, I guess). We in the U.S. could take lessons in restroomial hospitality.

These restrooms, like most public restrooms I’ve seen on this (and other) trips to Europe, were clean, functional, and safe. Most even have hot water! Try finding hot water in most “public” restrooms in the U.S.

One local place advertised:

Too bad we’d already had lunch and it was too early for dinner.

On our way back to Killarney, we stopped at a craft shop. There were more marvelous views:

And yes… that’s a sheep.

Once we reached Killarney, we needed to do a little banking and shopping, so we parked in a large public lot. I started to pay for the pay & display, but a local reminded me that today is Sunday, and therefore free (as are all bank holidays). After visiting an ATM at the local branch of the Ulster Bank, we stopped into a conveniently-located grocery store that was just about to close, and managed to buy what we needed. While we were stopped and parked, we decided to go ahead and eat. This place looked pretty inviting:

That’s our server out front taking a break. He reminded me of my nephew, Tommy. For dinner, we both had the roast beef—a couple of thick slices of prime rib, over mashed potatoes, stuffing, and roasted potatoes—covered with beef gravy with roasted carrots and parsnips. We each enjoyed a pint of Harp to go with dinner. It was all delicious. While we ate, we enjoyed the talents of a local musician who sang and played. As the sign says: Live Food – Music Served! That is what it says, right?

After dinner, we strolled through a mostly-closed-for-the-evening shopping mall. It had about a dozen or so restaurants, including one specializing in Mexican tapas. I think they’re confused. But, the menu offerings did look appetizing. There was also a little gallery, with a very nice painting visible from the storefront—On the Road to Santiago, by C. Casora (priced at €600). I think Karen & I need to travel that road to Santiago sometime. We’ve never been to South America. Maybe our next trip.

Tomorrow, we head over to the Dingle Peninsula, and then up to Galway. We swapped our plans for today with those for tomorrow because of today’s clouds & rain. It’s supposed to be sunny and 16C tomorrow.

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