Our trip to Graigue / Dunquin
on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
April 11-20, 2008
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Saturday, April 19 and Sunday, April 20
Our last day! We got up around 8:30, had a quick cup of coffee and some toast, and started tidying up the cottage. There is a 50 Euro charge if it’s left in a disorderly state and we didn’t want to pay it so KC did the dishes while the rest of us stripped the beds and emptied the trash.
At 10:00 Rick, Colleen, and I walked down to Philomena’s to meet her pets. Sadie, the dog, is adorable and super friendly, begging for petting every time you stop. She scarfed up Colleen’s leftover sirloin and rolled over for belly rubs from both of us.
We rang Phil’s bell and she came right out and took us to the pasture next to their house to check out the new foal. We kept our distance as the mother was still protective. It’s a beautiful foal and huge – I can’t believe that a week ago it was inside that tiny pony!
Philomena’s house, up the road from the cottage:
Philomena’s dog, Sadie, in heaven:
Philomena’s new foal (6 days old) and her mother, Leah:
It was getting late now and we had a long drive ahead of us so we reluctantly said goodbye and made our way back to the cottage. Given the time, we decided to give Athlone a miss. We intended to drive the car to the hotel and unload our baggage before returning it which meant we could bring along a box full of the leftover food, beverages and other miscellanea and do our final packing at the hotel.
We got on the road around 11am. I was getting a headache so I nibbled on some mixed nuts and took two Advil. We dropped by Dingle Crystal on the way out so that I could say goodbye since I hadn’t had a chance to do that Friday. Sean asked me whether I’d made it to the pub the night before and when I told him that I had, but had been forced to leave early, another woman in the store informed me that shortly after we left two other musicians had arrived and that the group had then played non stop until 6:30 A.M.!!!! If I’d known that, I would have sent KC home and asked him to pick me up in the morning.
KC appeared, realizing that he hadn’t said goodbye either, and after hugs all around, we piled back in the car. I was sitting in the front again and took some pictures of a few other things I didn’t want to forget. The different colors of the houses, and of the doors in particular, are important as they are used to describe where something is, as in, “the second yellow house from the corner, with the blue door.” Some of the houses are very brightly colored – red, purple, calendula, and blue -- but we didn’t see any after I realized I wanted a shot of them.
GARDA are the police
In this shot you can also see the way each house is painted a different color:
Remember the charge for a full tank of fuel, at a jacked-up rate, that had been on the rental car agreement? Well, KC really was determined to return the car with no gas in it and was closely monitoring the fuel gauge. Using the car’s reichweite (range) display and comparing it to Rick’s estimate of the remaining distance, he refused to stop for fuel until the car was almost empty. The first time we stopped, they rang up what they thought was 10 liters but when KC went in to pay for it, he discovered that they’d only put in 10 EUROS worth. At 5 euro per liter (about $7!) that was about one gallon!
The next time we stopped, they put in another 10 liters, and the time after that, 4.5. So in total we filled the car up once after our trip through the Connor Pass, once after the trip to Cork, and then put in about another quarter tank on the way home. The car was getting about 30 mpg which was pretty good given the fact that it would seat 6 people or 4 people and luggage.
We stopped for lunch at the Devon Inn in Templegalantine, just past Newcastlewest. KC and I ordered the toasted sandwich (mine without ham on brown bread, his with ham on white), Rick ordered a BLT, and Colleen ordered a chicken wrap. The toasted sandwiches were very good although the one in The South Pole Inn was better, Colleen adored her chicken wrap served with pesto, brie and roasted red peppers, and we think Rick liked his BLT although he was surprised to discover that “bacon” in Ireland is more like the thick Canadian bacon we get in the US, not the thin crispy slices we’re used to.
KC, fed up with my constant picture taking while he was eating:
Press here for more pictures of the food on this trip (a new window will open).
Lunch was quick and we were back on the road in no time. As we got closer to Dublin, the fuel reichweite was getting perilously close to ZERO but KC refused to stop for gas. We all suspected that this would be KC’s “Look Ma” – the black diamond run in Vail where Colleen was sure she was not going to get out alive – and Rick, not wanting another Look Ma on his record, refused to hang with KC. He knew that he’d be walking with KC to the nearest station if we ran out – and it was a cold day, 9 degrees Celsius -- but he kept repeating that the driver was responsible for managing the fuel!
I trust KC completely, and if this had been his car, and familiar, I wouldn’t have worried, but when the reichweite read ZERO and KC didn’t stop, I have to admit that I WAS concerned and pointed out every fuel station we passed! KC wasn’t watching the reichweite readout, though, he was looking at the gauge and it still showed 1/8 of a tank. If he’d seen it fall suddenly he would have stopped but it never did so he kept going.
KC started joking about the possibility that the people who rented us the car were monitoring our fuel consumption remotely, intent on screwing us out of half a tank of gas by forcing the reichweite to display zero when there was still plenty of fuel, and saying things like, “zey vill NOT get avay vit ziz” (in a German accent to match the display on the car) -- he had me in stitches! My PSOM…
Reichweite is German for range – how many kilometers left in the fuel tank:
As we got closer to the airport, with the low-fuel light now glowing bright red, we realized that we didn’t know where the hotel was! KC was confident we had enough fuel to get to the hotel but we surely didn’t have enough to drive around looking for it so, after passing the Radisson and several others, but not the Hilton, when we pulled into the airport and saw the sign for the rental car return, we decided to drop the car off and take the shuttle. The fuel gauge read 1/16th of a tank!
Another car was being returned right before ours and KC overheard them giving him a refund for the fuel he still had in his tank so, in retrospect, it might have been cheaper to return the car full! The car passed the return inspection in spite of the beating it had taken driving against the brambles on the sides of the roads. We loaded our stuff onto 2 carts, including the box of food and the bags of stuff we didn’t have time to cram into a suitcase, and went to wait for the shuttle.
The gas gauge when we returned the car – 1/16 of a tank:
Off to the shuttle – this was the baggage we took for the entire week:
Waiting for the shuttle to arrive:
It was a good thing we decided to take the shuttle as we NEVER would have found the hotel. We had actually passed the exit for it long before we started looking. It only took the shuttle 10 minutes to get there and the drive was a nice one through the back roads. We checked in and went to our rooms. My headache had turned into a migraine so I took a Zomig. Ten minutes later we convened in Rick and Colleen’s room to consume the rest of the cider and Guinness and make plans for the evening.
Our room at the Hilton, Dublin Airport :
No one was enthusiastic over the 20 minute / 20 euro cab ride into the city, even though Colleen was willing to do it since she “felt bad that I’d missed the music in Dingle the night before”. I explained that nothing could ever make up for that so we decided to have dinner in the hotel and make it an early night. We had to be up for a 7:45 shuttle in the morning and wanted to have time for breakfast before we left.
For dinner, KC ordered a ribeye, I ordered the baked salmon (I had hoped to get the sweet potato and spinach curry on the room service menu but it wasn’t available), Rick ordered Toulouse sausage (similar to a frankfurter, we were told) and Colleen ordered the chicken. My salmon was delicious – the Irish really know how to cook fish – and Rick enjoyed his sausages, but Colleen thought her chicken was bland – she hadn’t noticed that the description read “poached” -- and KC was less than enthusiastic about his steak. He still prefers corn fed beef to grass fed.
We’d ordered a bottle of Cotes du Rhone with the meal (it was very nice) and for dessert KC and I shared a passion fruit Bavarian cream and Rick and Colleen shared a fruit tart, both of which were very good. We went back to our rooms and agreed to meet for breakfast at 7am.
KC, blinded by the flash when I took one last picture in the hotel dining room:
Back in the room we took out our travel clothes for the next day and packed the ones we were wearing. We snuggled into bed and KC watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix while I updated my journal. At midnight, we turned out the lights but I had trouble sleeping because the room was so warm (are you seeing a pattern here?). I turned down the heat and did eventually fall asleep but slept fitfully and woke up tired.
Sunday, April 20.
We showered (after KC figured out how to get the water to come out of it) and went down for breakfast. Breakfast was a buffet so KC loaded up his plate with meat and I loaded mine with mushrooms! I also had a croissant with brie that was delicious. I passed on the coffee because there was no cream (I’d forgotten that if you want cream with your coffee you have to ask for it).
Somehow, the time slipped away and suddenly we had to rush! We brought our bags down and KC went to settle the bill while I supervised loading the bags in the shuttle. The shuttle driver was itching to leave – he had two other passengers – so we said goodbye quickly and were on our way.
At the airport we breezed through check-in (they didn’t charge us for the 1.5 kilos our bigger bag was overweight) and security, picked up a few boxes of chocolate, and looked for the Aer Lingus lounge . We found it eventually, on the second floor. The elevator up is located off the main drag next to the Old Clock bar. The lounge was comfortable and we were able to find a large table on which to fill out the VAT forms.
Half an hour before the flight was supposed to board we went down to the gate, stopping at the VAT refund counter on the way. We had expected it to take longer than the 5 minutes it did so we sat at the gate and waited to board. I was surprised that there was no immigration and asked where it had gone. They told us that they had eliminated it the previous May.
We had the same seats on the return flight that we’d had on the way in – the two in the center. I had several glasses of wine with dinner and my migraine started to return (too much wine?) so I took another Zomig and lay down. I did manage to sleep and the pill had done its work when I woke up several hours later.
We landed on time and sprinted to immigration, quite a feat as we were at the farthest gate in the terminal! We whizzed through and were pleased to see that the bags were already spilling onto the carrousel. We located ours and went through customs.
Since we told them we’d both been hiking where sheep had been grazing they ushered us over to the Agriculture area where we were asked to remove our shoes so that they could sanitize them. Ten minutes later they were handed back to us, scrubbed clean. We wondered how many people lie about where they’ve been to avoid being singled out by customs but neither of us wanted to be responsible for bringing in something that would wipe out the US sheep population and were more than willing to spend the extra 10 minutes required to insure we didn’t.
The soles of our shoes, cleaned by the agriculture department on our return:
We called the car as soon as we were outside, there was hardly any traffic all the way home, and we were there at 2:00 p.m., 1.5 hours after we’d landed! While it had been cold and dreary when we left, a week ago, it had been warm and sunny while we were gone and now the grass was green and the trees were starting to leaf out. I was pleased to see that the magnolia tree in our front yard was still in bloom and that we hadn’t missed it.
Our magnolia tree in bloom when we returned:
One of the first things I did after we unloaded the car was go up to KC’s office to see whether the maps I’d given him to put in his carryon were still there. Low and behold, there they were, right where he’d packed his carryon!
Although we’ve only been home for 3 days we’re already planning our next trip! KC still wants to get to the top of Brandon Mountain and the end of Inch Beach, and I did not get my fill of the music. We’ll be going in April again because we LIKE the brisk weather. And – KC just made the decision -- we’ll be staying in this cottage!
Press here for 2009 travelogue.
Added on October 14, 2009:
I started this page shortly after we got home while everything was still fresh in my mind. I worked on it literally every waking minute until Wednesday evening -- it took me 3 solid days to complete, much longer than the one from the previous year -- and I continued to update it for nearly a month after that. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to send me your comments, corrections, and suggestions. You can email me by pressing the button at the bottom of this page.
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Last Revised: October 19, 2009
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