Sunday, October 16, 2011

Entry 2: Touring the Dingle Peninsula

Friday, September 30th

Having paid for breakfast as part of the B&B price really helped me get up in the morning--that, and serious jet lag confusion.  Bacon in Ireland is a lot thicker, saltier, and tastier than generic American bacon.  It's more like 1/8" thick slabs of ham...

Downtown Dingle
Dingle Farmer's Market provided bread, scones, and a locally made cream cheese for lunch.  We then set out on "The Dingle Loop", as recommended by our travel guru, Rick Steves.  (It felt really weird to keep mentioning what "Rick recommends..." the whole trip, so we alternatively referred to him as "Mr. Steves", "Steve-O", "Señor Steve", etc.)  Being our first day in country, we did make on rookie mistake, and paid for admission to the "Famine Cottage".  The road signs looked so official that I didn't think to ask "What would Rick do?" and check his book for guidance.  Instead, we paid a lot for a moderately informative but poorly maintained private site.  For example, check out my Facebook photos for an "informative" sign about a random pet deer.  What is s/he doing next to a famine cottage in Dingle? I don't know, 'cause the writing faded off this sign in the 90s!  (I tried to post the photo here, but Andrea said to keep my dumb deer photo off the blog.)

View from Slí Cheann Sléibhe
After our detour at the famine cottage, touring the Dingle Peninsula is amazing!  The views are stunning.  This stark landscape of steep mountainside farms and grass-covered cliffs is surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean.  If trapped at home, you can use your local library or Netflix account to get peeks at Dingle in a bunch of Hollywood movies.  Ryan's Daughter is the big classic.  In the opening scenes of Far and Away, a youngish Tom Cruise fights with his brothers on a Dingle hillside.

Coumeenoole Beach
I had my first Irish coffee at Tig Slea Head on a cliff overlooking Coumeenoole Beach.

We stopped at one of the older sites on the island--the Gallarus Oratory.  It's name, in Irish, means "The Church of the Place of the Foreigners", its built only of stone, and it's thought to date back to sometime between 600-900AD.  There were no pews, no art, and I'm guessing the builders of this church would have considered an ideal attendance to be in the range of 8-10 people.

*Not Grass*
While trekking through some sort of unnamed bog on the peninsula, I sat on what looked like lush green grass only to find out that there is apparently some sort of Irish cactus.  I have recovered.

For dinner, we took advantage of the "early dinner" (read: jet lagged tourist) menu at The Chart House in downtown Dingle.  It was very nice, and neither of us fell asleep in our food. In fact, we even managed to go back to Murphy's Pub to listen to live Irish music.

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