Sunday, July 19, 2015

Last Day in Dingle

Today I went on an archeological tour by mini-bus where I was able to see a good bit of the route I would have walked had I continued on the Dingle Way. 

More Dingle Town

So Dingle has been all about rain & music. It has been like attending an Irish music festival where you can always get a good seat.  Tomorrow will be my last day  in Dingle and then I head back. Here are a few of the musicians I saw/heard during my stay here. I have tried to post some videos, but so far no luck. Maybe when I get back to my high speed internet, I will be more successful. I want to say that this a fantastic country to visit: remarkably friendly people everywhere, glorious music, beautiful views when the rain & fog clear, and the best place ever to drink lattes, eat scones and read Irish literature in cafes. If you have not been here, start making plans to do so. It's a marvelous country.

Here are some photos of the town itself which has a lovely harbor as well as delightful galleries, pubs and a multitude of cafes and bookstores.  I could definitely come here again.

Dingle Town, Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

Arrived in town of Dingle by bus today where I will spend the remainder of my holiday. Have been perusing cozy bookstores, getting laundry done, and noting how much traditional music there is here every night.  Tonight I will go to a paid concert at the churches and perhaps find some pub music after that.  At this moment, I am enjoying one of my new Irish addictions: seafood chowder made primarily with salmon and accompanied by delicious "brown bread."   Weather is overcast, but no rain. Will go by tourist office to see about walking (or bus) tours to take in the coming days. And I still have a bit of room in my oversized rolling duffle for a bit of shopping. This country is such a pleasure to visit: not just lovely countryside, but amazingly friendly people.  My bus driver chased me down for several blocks to me provide directions to my B&B which he had not known when I initially inquired.  Particularly great for solo travelers; I find myself in conversations throughout the day. All is good.

Nothing quite as luxurious as a really good hot shower (best of the trip so far) and cozy long johns after getting a thorough soaking while hiking.  I decided that I would do some or (unlikely) all of the next stage of the Dingle Way (Dingle to Dunquin) since my feet are pretty much healed. I can state with certainty that my "totally waterproof" jacket is not & that was also true of my waterproof boots.  It's not that the rain was particularly hard (as is often true in TX & NM) but that it continued unabated all day.  I eventually had to circle back & get a taxi because I could not locate either a waymarker or path off the beach & there was a stream too deep to cross. So this was at sea level & I would have been a bit freaked if this had occurred in mountains in the fog.  Having no way markers and no idea which way to turn occurred on a few occasions on the Wicklow Way.  If you had not been carefully following your progress in the map (like was frequently the case for me) it was nearly impossible to determine where exactly you were and which direction to head since the path was so circuitous that a compass is only added to the confusion.  A few times I missed the waymarker, but other times it simply was not there. I was not the only person to have to retrace their steps because they chose incorrectly.  In spite of my complaints about the markings, this was quite a delightful day walking in rain showers on the beach. Certainly a much easier route today than any day in Wicklow. Might just hang in bed and read Irish short stories. 

Dingle Peninsula - Annascaul

                  Map of Dingle Peninsula with portraits of local celebrities
                Playful paintings on a building of unknown purpose on way out to     Annascaul Lake

This would be my last day before Dingle Town where I continued on my previously planned route.  I had to cancel other B&Bs because they could only be reached by walking; buses only ran one day per week (giving a good idea of how isolated were the locations.)  Today was the first "Irish weather" day of rain & wind, but I, of course, loved it.

So after leaving Camp Junction, I took the bus to Annascaul where I spent the day hiking to Annascaul Lake. This is a "wee town" as the Irish would say, but which is famous for one of its past residents, Tom Crean, an Irish seaman who was a member of three major expeditions to Antartica including Scott's Terra Nova Expedition (ending in the death of Scott and his polar party) as well as Shackleton's Endurance expedition. After Shackleton's ship became stuck in the ice and sank, the crew spent months adrift on the ice and undertook a journey in lifeboats to Elephant Island. Upon reaching South Georgia, Crean was one of three who made the first land crossing without maps or proper mountaineering equipment. After these perilous voyages, he returned to his native town of Annascaul where he and his wife opened the South Pole Inn pub (photos to follow.)

I took comparatively short hike out to Annascaul Lake while enjoying the mist and listening to medieval music from the Camino.  Now eating pizza & maybe pub music later. Life is good. 
                       Statue of the explorer located in the village square.

                 Sign outside the restaurant/pub that Crean & his wife founded.
Photo of the explorer seen all over Dingle Peninsula.  There was also an entire exhibit dedicated to him at the Kerry County History Museum in Tralee, but I did not visit it.  Not enough time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dingle: Camp Junction

After a long and informative day in Tralee, I took the bus to where I would have walked on day 1 of the Dingle Way trek, Camp Junction.  Arrived around 6:30 and since it stays light until around 11pm, I had sufficient time for walk on the beach by the Irish Sea, to have dinner with some folks from Britain who had just completed the entire tour, and then to enjoy some "craic" (Gaelic for friendly chat) with two local Irish families.  All completely delightful!

                            This was my B&B in Camp Junction.

             Old pub from the late 1800's with me as the bartender (not really).
One of the families I chatted with in the pub.  Delightful pre-teen girl, mother, father & grandmother.  All inquiring as to how I liked my stay in their country.
                                    Another friendly group.