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Our trip to the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Nov 4-14, 2010

Return Home via London, England

The Posting of The Guard

Page 1: Prep and Travel to London.
Page 2: Fri – Drive from Shannon to Dingle and Cottage.
Page 3: Sat – Dingle, Michael, and John Benny's.
Page 4: Sun -Storm.
Page 5: Mon - Storm.
Page 6: Tue – Inch Strand.
Page 7: Wed – Climbing and Set Dancing.
Page 8: Thu – Glanteenassig.
Page 9: Fri – Shopping.
Page 10: Sat:Mon – Return Home via London.
Original, all-on-one-page version.
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Saturday, November 13

When we got up this morning there was still no hot water so KC deduced that the pilot light had gone out on the boiler. While he went down to see whether he could re-light it I emptied the dishwasher and put last night's dishes to soak (yes, I know, I should have done that last night). I called Phil to find out what we owed her but didn't get through.

KC and I discussed what we should do on our last day. It was raining but there was no wind to blow the rain clouds away so the rain never stopped. KC had been unable to find the pilot light so I called Phil again for advice and I did get through this time. She said, "Yes, there was a pilot light," and she told me that Alec would be right over to fix it as KC would not be able to figure it out. She would be along, too, to sort out the bill.

KC had gone back to the utility room so I went down to tell him that Alec was on his way and Alec walked in! They worked on the water heater (a state-of the art high-volume unit) – a spanner (wrench) was required to turn on the pilot -- and then had a long discussion on alternative energy and the economy. It seems to be the same everywhere – politicians are corrupt, the economy is in the dumper, and alternative energy is coming down in price but still too expensive.

Alec and KC in the boiler room

We went inside and had coffee while we waited for Phil. We then had coffee with Phil while she regaled us with stories of the area – like the fact that she rode her bike 10 miles into Dingle every day as a 13-year-old to attend school, and that her mother would WALK into Dingle every Saturday to bring food to her children who were boarding there. I won't repeat them all here because they were long and involved but they were so interesting that we lost track of time. Phil "left" three times but we kept finding new things to discuss!

Our updated list-of-things-to-do:

Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)

By now it was 2:30 and still raining so we decided to stay in today and leave Killarney and the Ring of Kerry for next year. I gave the ponies the last of the carrots. Dιaglαn, Phil and Alec's son, was working on the shed today and told me that the horses needed to loose weight and would soon be moved off the grass. Was he trying to tell me not to give them carrots? From now on, I guess I should ask first!

KC heated up the potatoes from last night, I had the leftover stew. I started to get another migraine so I took 1/3 of a Zomig with a cup of coffee and had the last of the sticky toffee pudding. I felt better around 4:30. At 5:30 I went up and started packing. At 7:30 I came down for dinner – leftovers again – and made sandwiches for our road trip tomorrow from the last of the bread and cheese. We played cribbage which I WON!

EOD cribbage score: KC=11 BH=8


Sunday, November 14

Our flight left from Shannon the following morning at 8:00am so we set the heat to go on between 2:00am and 4:00am and set our alarms for 3:00am. We were in bed by 10:00pm. The next morning, we wrote a quick note in the visitor's book (why do I always leave that until the last minute?!?) and were on our way at 3:40am.

It was pitch black when we left and there was almost no one on the road. To keep myself awake I started counting cars: we passed between 40 and 50 but only 8 were going in our direction. Most of them were between Tralee and Limerick, the shortest leg of the trip. We had forgotten to fill the fuel tank yesterday and were running low but there were no stations open at this time of day so I wondered what we would do if we ran out….call emergency services, now that we knew their number? KC said, no, we'd find the nearest station and sit there until they opened.

Fortunately, we didn't need to do that. The Hertz lot at the airport was closed and there was a sign on the gate instructing us to return the car to the short-term parking lot which was right by the entrance to the departure terminal – nice! We got there exactly on time, 5:45am, and breezed through check-in and security (we did a lot of breezing this trip, didn't we?), and then had a coffee in the cafι while I filled out the VAT refund forms (why do I always leave them until the last minute, too?!?) We dropped off the forms and went down to the gate area.

Aer Lingus departure lounge

We had lots of time and it was cold down there so we played one game of cribbage which KC won. At 7:20 we lined up, walked up the stairs to the plane, and took our seats. We were in the exit row again but this time we knew the drill and stowed everything overhead without being asked to. In the air, we bought drinks from the sky cafι with the last of our change and consumed the last of the sandwiches. KC read and I updated my journal. One hour later, we landed.

We waited a loooong time for our bags and ended up with one of those luggage carts that will only go sideways. We found a cambio, changed our last 50euros into British pounds, and grabbed a cab to the Marriott County Hall , in the former County Hall building across from Parliament and Big Ben and next to The London Eye, an enormous ferris wheel. The cab to the hotel was almost $100!!!

What a posh hotel!

Our room at the Marriott County Hall

Look at all the counter space in the bathroom!

A complimentary umbrella in the closet next to the minibar!

The unusual arched windows (and the London Eye right outside them)

The view (yes, that is Big Ben)

We checked in, dropped our bags, and then went right down to breakfast. I wish I had taken pictures of the common areas of the hotel – there were arches everywhere, lots of richly carved wood, and gorgeous. We both had the breakfast buffet and it was supberb. KC had eggs, bacon and potatoes; I had eggs and smoked salmon. Today was Remembrance Day (similar to our Memorial Day) and they observed two minutes of silence at 11am. Big Ben – which was right across the river – rang at the start and the end.

Breakfast Buffet eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, smoked salmon and, in the second pic, cappuccino

After breakfast we went upstairs to change and watched the Remembrance Day Parade on TV. It seemed to be behind the Parliament building, which was directly across the street from us, but it never occurred to me that that would mean mobs and mobs of people.

We had planned to spend the day in the British Museum but, in the cab on our way to the hotel, we had seen the line snaking out the door and around the block so we gave up on that idea and decided to just walk around. We ended up in a THRONG of spectators who had been watching the parade, which WAS behind the Parliament building. It was truly awful – crowded, slow-moving, the ground littered with trash, and lots of people were smoking.

Map of where we were:

KC managed to maneuver us out of it and into St. James Park , London's oldest Royal Park, which was wonderful – towering maples with leaves a big as a man's head, willow trees with their branches dragging on the ground, and ducks and geese looking for a handouts.

St. James Park
Look at the size of the people compared to the size of these trees

And the leaves, almost a foot across

We crossed over the Blue Bridge (above), with Buckingham Palace on one side and Whitehall on the other, and walked around to The Mall, the Queen's ceremonial route from Buckingham. We arrived in time to see the posting of the Guard!

Posting of the Guard

We walked up to Buckingham Palace (we saw someone exiting Marlborough House in a Rolls) and then high-tailed it back to the hotel because I had to pee!

Panorama of Crossing the River Thames

I had been wearing my hood up until now – it was raining steadily – but got a hot flash and threw off whatever I could. We had the complimentary Marriott umbrella with us but it did no good and I got drenched. I arrived at the super posh hotel looking like a drowned rat and barely made it to the ladies room. I'm sure they thought I was a bag lady, crashing the joint!

We went upstairs, I cooled off, and then we went wandering around the hotel playing cribbage. First we tried the (exclusive) Executive Room where the coffee was undrinkable; then we went down to the hotel's Rotunda Lounge where they had an extensive menu of unusual cocktails. We were in heaven! We each had three different ones (or 6 unique drinks in all) and they were as beautiful as they were delicious.

Cocktails in the Hotel's Rotunda Lounge
(I'm trying to remember how those lemons were suspended in that drink on the right…
I think they were threaded on a pick which was narrow enough to be hidden when the glass was full.)

I was feeling the effects of the alcohol so we ordered some food (fried squid for me and chips for KC). We continued to play cribbage and I ended up winning three rounds to KC's one. The score was now KC-12, Barb-11. I was still behind but I was closing the gap! At 5:30 we paid our tab ($100!) and went back to the room. KC fell asleep while I updated my journal.

The lounge we had been in for so long was full of Easter lilies, which I am allergic to. We tried to sit as far away from them as possible but I came upstairs with a migraine so I took 1/3 of a Zomig. KC had work to do so I took a short nap and then watched a fascinating program on the white Alba truffle.

When KC finally finished working we dined on the cheese and crackers the hotel had given us because of KC's status in their Rewards program and played two rounds of cribbage (we won one a piece). We repacked our bags slightly for the final leg home and ordered tomorrow's breakfast: a duck-egg omelet for me, pancakes with caramelized bananas for KC, and coffee with full-cream (not milk) and honey. The food here is really good and I don't trust the food on American Airlines so I wanted to fill up here before we left.

We had arranged for a car to take us to the airport at 7:00am so we ordered breakfast for 6:00 and were in bed by 11:00.

EOD cribbage score: KC=13 BH=12

Return home

Monday, November 15

Our breakfast arrived at 6:00am sharp and the coffee was very good but my omelet was overcooked and cold (and tasted just like chicken eggs, not duck) and KC's pancakes were very dense and heavy. We made our way downstairs at 6:55 and I used the ladies one last time while KC paid the bill. That awful breakfast was 36 pounds!

Room Service Breakfast

The ride to the airport was uneventful. We had a little time to spare, and some extra change, so I bought Linda some Smarties and we sat in the Admiral's Club until boarding time.

The movie selection on the return flight was not as good as on the inbound one – neither Avatar nor Star Trek – so I watched Sherlock Holmes and LOTR II. KC also watched 2 movies but I don't remember which ones. He ate the meals, I didn't. We left and landed on time but there was a HUGE line at passport control. The only ameliorating factor was the adorable beagle they had patrolling the line. Watching him made the time pass quickly.

Our car was waiting for us and we were home by noon. I should have started working on this web page right away, as I've done for every other trip, but the house was a mess and our cleaning crew was scheduled to come on Wednesday so I spent the next two days getting the house ready for them. No, I do not clean for them, I tidy. Right after that, I started preparing for Thanksgiving (we were hosting it this year) and after that I went right into the Christmas rush, so early January was the first opportunity I had to get it up.

I don't think I've forgotten anything crucial (I will add it if I find that I have) but I put this up in record time so I know there are both grammatical and spelling errors. I will correct them as I find them.

When we first got back, I felt like we had taken it easy and not done as many thngs this year as in previous trips and that the travelogue would be shorter, and easier to compose. Hah! It ended up being the longest one to date. I guess those few extra days which enabled us to relax inbeteween our excursions really made the trip more relaxing. The only drawback was that KC had to work so much of the time. So, although we enjoyed being here at this time of year, we won't be coming back in November until after KC retires!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog – I hope it helps you plan your next trip to Ireland!

EOD cribbage score:
KC=13 BH=12

(NOTE TO SELF: All the forms I filled out specified “no customs stamp, no refund” and I had seen no place in which to get a customs stamp so I wrote to their Chamber of Commerce and was directed to this WEBSITE (www.revenue.ie) where I discovered that (1) only those goods worth over 2000 Euros needed a customs stamp, (2) there are drop boxes inside the terminal where you can place those envelopes to avoid having to send them in and (3) you can have your receipts notarized in the US if you are unable to get a custom's stamp. All of this was good news. Keep in mind that it will take 2-3 MONTHS for your refund to be processed. I JUST got mine, two months after we returned. )

Page 1: Prep and Travel to London.
Page 2: Fri – Drive from Shannon to Dingle and Cottage.
Page 3: Sat – Dingle, Michael, and John Benny's.
Page 4: Sun -Storm.
Page 5: Mon - Storm.
Page 6: Tue – Inch Strand.
Page 7: Wed – Climbing and Set Dancing.
Page 8: Thu – Glanteenassig.
Page 9: Fri – Shopping.
Page 10: Sat:Mon – Return Home via London.
Original, all-on-one-page version.
Press here to return to personal picture menu.

Most of the maps I posted here were created using screen caps from MapQuest and Adobe Photoshop. I found that MapQuest had more detail, especially in the shoreline, than Google. But, neither MapQuest nor Google was detailed enough for our nature hikes so those maps I created by scanning the Ordnance Survey maps we use when we were hiking and then photoshopping the scanned images together. Please do not rely solely on my maps if you travel to this area -- buy your own Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps they are invaluable.

Things to do next year:
Dingle Whiskey Distillery
Dick Macks
Ogham stones outside Dingle – where are they?
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OOAKFolk, Inc., and artist Barbara Healy are not affiliated in any way with the original manufacturers of the dolls pictured in this site. No photograph, text or graphic on this site may be copied without written permission from Barbara Healy. Copyright © 2004 OOAKFolk, Inc.

Last Revised: January 14, 2011
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