Europe · 5 Days · 26 Moments · August 2017

2017: Diva Journi to Ireland

25 August 2017

Onboard the Norwegian Air's flight from Dublin to Helsinki it is good to think about the whole trip. Again we made the mistake of planning too much into the trip instead of playing it by the ear. We missed some places (and some of them due to weather), and stayed longer in some places than we had thought. But that is life! All three of us have lost our hearts to Ireland, and can't wait for the day to return there - permanently. We are also unanimous that Co. Clare, and especially Doolin/Fanore/Lisdoonvarna area is the most close to our hearts - without forgetting Co. Kerry, where the landscape is totally different from Clare! So, until next time! #Ireland #journi #LifeIsAJourni #DivaTour2017
Today's route took us from Tralee to Glendalough to Dublin and then to the airport. Glendalough is perhaps my favourite place in the whole world, as it is peaceful, serene, mystical, spiritual... the list goes on and on. This time, as it was raining, I didn't get any photos, so those you must wait until the next time. Mental note, if you want to avoid grey hair, do not drive anywhere near Dublin during the rush hour.

24 August 2017

If you are in Tralee, Co. Kerry and need food, I would definitely recommend Lana! Food is reasonably priced, there is multitude of choices, and you can also add or subtract spiciness of your meal. A quirky plus is that the food comes in take-away boxes which you can then empty to your bowl or eat in small portions and take the rest home! Food was good by all the eaters, so happy life!
Whilst having our fish & chips in Dingle we plan our next route - this one will take us to Ring of Kerry, to see yet more majestic locations. The road takes us inside the Killarney National Park where there would be locations to scour for the whole day, but we just park our car on few of the places, suck as Ladies' View and Molls Gap. Needless to say, the views around this mountainous area are magnificent, but so is the silence. It is so audible that it almost makes my ears hurt! Again, the time surprises us - we have seriously underestimated the drive, so we miss the hotel dinner, but it doesn't matter!
Dingle on the Dingle peninsula is the only town there, and it is also very touristy. Every time that we have visited he place it has been quite difficult to find a parking spot, even though they have significantly increased the parking areas by the sea. I can really understand why tourists flock here! It's the charm of the Irish villages, handcrafts, and other things like local sea salt ice cream (they use the sea water from the sea!) amongst others. The drive there requires time as well: one simply needs to stop and take photos! I have said it before and I am not ashamed to say it again - Ireland's landscapes are magical!
Our lodging in Tralee is a three star hotel called Earl of Desmond. The location of the place is slightly outside the town, which in my opinion is actually good, as this way the hotel is able to offer ample parking space and keep the prices reasonable! Rooms are clean and neat, nothing too extravagant, but in many cases it makes you enjoy comforts outside your own home. After yesterday's drive we were all knackered, and after a short catch up session with Muz, we all just fell asleep. Actually we so tired that we overslept the breakfast! But no worries, we took a quick stroll around the area whilst waiting for Muz to finish his shift and found a small creek where it was perfect to just sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. And take photos. Definite bonus for the hotel!

23 August 2017

Killimer - Tarbert connection with a ferry across the River Shannon is a nice addition to your road trip if you follow the Wild Atlantic Way. The cost is relatively cheap for a car (including people inside) and it runs until 21:00 in the evening (or 21:30 from Tarbert side of the river). So of course we were rushing to catch the last ferry because the roads are small and winding so it takes longer time than in proper roads and motorways. Be prepared!
Doolin Harbour is the place where you can take a ferry to Aran Islands (don't miss the last one back!) and also camp with your caravan, or just simply go and see the might of the tides in the Atlantic Ocean. There is also a golf course nearby. The sea here is either calm or very stormy, due to the fact that the gale winds from the Atlantic hit here without any protection from other islands. Here you are quite where Europe ends and next thing after the horizon is the North American continent. Again something that makes you feel quite zen. After leaving Doolin, we saw some rain clouds moving fast towards us, so it made the Kodak Moment with sunlight and rain. #Ireland #Doolin #zen #alhamdulillah
Doolin... what can I say. I left my heart here during my first visit and still, seven years later, I wonder what would be a best way to buy property here and start a successful B&B business... Within the last three years the little village has grown and there seems to be more tourists and accommodation and everything... Luckily the charm of Fisher Street (leading to the harbour) still remains. Along the Fisher Street there is the Ivy Cottage, our favourite haunt from three years ago, where the prices are not that high and the cake slices are big enough for one to feel full. Doolin has many shops and also many art and music courses and events during the summer months. If I had my way, I would definitely take a sabbatical leave and come here to write.
The road between Ballyvaughn and Fanore is one that will definitely take your breath away! The scenes that I have added here are just few of the sights where the rocky land and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The area really makes you feel small and let's you muse the raw power of the elements, even if you drive there during a sunny day.
The Poulnabrone Dolmen is perhaps the most known Dolmen and a portal tomb in Ireland. We have heard earlier that there are others, some unmarked, but this is something to see. Whilst driving across the countryside, by a very small lane, we happened upon another one! Just like that! Sadly we couldn't stop as it was one car wide lane, and well... Irish roads... Anyway, the Poulnabrone Dolmen is roughly 5000 years old, so it predates the Great Pyramid of Egypt by several hundreds of years and no one is exactly sure what was the meaning of it. Maybe a tomb (they found bones there), or an altar... who knows? But the place has serenity on it, like it radiates holiness in some sort of mystical way. #Ireland #dolmen
When doing a road trip in the Ireland there are plenty of stops to make as the countryside is littered with scenic locations and view points. Here we stopped at the Corkscrew Hill, where the road climbs onto the Burren and the views towards Galway are simply majestic. For me, the area also marks the entrance to County Clare, which I consider as home. Perhaps it was because working there I was less stressed than anywhere else during my working life. Or perhaps it is because Clare holds such beauty in one county that one cannot simply pass. #Ireland #roadtrip
Dunguaire Castle is located in Kinvara and is a definite place to visit if you are travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way. The castle itself is quite simple but again, the surrounding landscape with the changes you see during the high and low tide.. very picturesque! If you visit the Castle, you need to pay and entrance fee but it allows you to roam the insides and see how the last private owner, a wealthy English aristocrat named Lady Ampthill, lived. Apparently she fell in love with Ireland and the Dunguaire Castle and retired there! The whole top floor of the castle is preserved as a museum! Parking around the area is scarce but the nearby village of Kinvara has more parking and the walk isn't unmanageable at all. Plus the view from the roof is excellent!
Kylemore abbey is an old Benedictine abbey on a location that definitely promotes spirituality! Nowadays it is a museum where visitors are welcome to visit the abbey and a chapel and Victorian gardens! Whilst we park, the parking area is quite empty, but shortly afterwards there is a steady queue coming to park and people are flocking in! We don't purchase tickets this time but instead have a photo shoot in the no-drone zone and marvel at the natural landscape of the place. Also, the Abbey is at the moment undergoing a massive renovation which kind of doesn't look good in photos. But maybe it is better to repair the house?

22 August 2017

As it seems to be everywhere you go in Ireland, the people are simply warm, genuine, and like a chat. The receptionist, Mike, is very keen on letting us know about food places that are still open, and also which of the pubs have live music tonight. He also tells that there is coffee and tea readily available, and that the breakfast is served between 8 and 10. Our room is at the end of the hallway, and it comes with shared bathrooms. Only definitive minus comes from that there are no towels provided, but as we are here for just one night, it doesn't bother us (at least me). The bunk bed doesn't creak and the mattress is quite comfortable! But for a 4-person room costing 104€ they well should be!
Town of Donegal is on our route and one of the places to see. The bad thing is that it's a heavy downpour at the moment and we simply can't leave the car. But still we manage to see the Donegal Castle (which looks more like a fortified manor to me) and a raging river! The town itself is quite typical Irish and British town: lots of small lanes where you are in trouble if you are driving a bigger car. Luckily my Jules is driving today and manages the car perfectly!
Island of Ireland is all about the nature, and light, and how the light or its absence affects the nature. We made a quick pit stop in the middle of nowhere just to listen to silence and take a few photos. The vastness of the surroundings makes me feel quite small in comparison. Even the cars that pass us feel somewhat small. Well, time to continue! We still have hundreds of kilometres before Clifden.
Its going to be a long drive today from Holywood to Clifden so it's important to stop at Greggs to stock up with Cheese & Onion pasties and also with other pasties! Any non-pork pasties actually! Why? Because Greggs is an UK thing and you can't find it in Ireland or anywhere else! #FirstWorldProblems Linda, an old schoolmate of Jules' gave us shelter and food for the night, and her place is just next to the sea! There is just something magical of having a bay near you! (That's where the pictures are from) But now it's time to head towards the inland of Ireland and make our way to the West Coast!

21 August 2017

As the weather didn't grace us with sunshine we decided to remain in Belfast instead of venturing out to Giant's Causeway today. In a way it was a good thing, as we also start to feel the fatigue of waking up at midnight Irish time and now it's already past six in the evening. So, our hostess Linda, who is also Jules' old schoolmate tours is around the capital of Northern Ireland instead. We park the car in the city centre and walk around! Belfast even has a viewpoint inside a dome in a shopping centre! And a statue of a fish! The viewing dome has prints of old photos of the Titanic and the shipyard area where we visited earlier on.
I first spotted the Titanic Belfast few days ago when I was doing a bit of research for our trip for Shika, who has never been in Ireland before. The shape of the building caught my attention and as I was driving when we passed it the first time, I was really happy that I could get near it again! The building houses a permanent exhibition of the Titanic, that was built just a stone's throw away from the museum and centre. This time we didn't go for the tour as the place seemed quite packed with other tourists, but spent a while soaking in the atmosphere and taking photos. But next time it's imperative to visit the place, even though the tour costs quite a lot. Did you know that the main anchor of the Titanic was actually built in Dudley, near Birmingham? Neither did I!
Dublin Airport has been transformed over the course of three years! Immigration and luggage reclaim is still the same, but the arrivals hall is now really bright and light and the car rental desks are conveniently located there. We get our car keys from Europcar from a lady who is very talkative and friendly and warm, and walk to the car park, check the car, and I try to orientate myself to drive on the wrong side of the road. On the way out from the airport (we have a built in navigator!) we try to make a pit stop at a petrol station, but it's completely packed, and we make another round as there is McDonalds, but that is packed as well. "Poppycock" we say and drive to M1 and head towards Belfast!
Onboard Norwegian flight. Honestly I think that Norwegian has understood the customer service quite well, their food isn't that expensive and the Wrap Skagen I just had was fresh and tasty! One think I detest though - the fact that if I want to have a bit more space I need to pay for emergency exit seats or go Business Class. But that isn't actually Norwegian's fault, all the airlines do the same thing. But hey ho, off to Ireland we go!
Stockholm Arlanda, when we arrive to a gate, we get a bus ride to arrivals. Had we not paid attention to small signs on the ceiling, we would really have gone to arrivals instead of transfers. And up the stairs we go - and there is no sign of information monitors to check the departure gates! So first we seek that out and then we head to passport control and gate. Quite handy in a way, after finding the screens. Flight from Helsinki to Stockholm was only 45 minutes, and I managed to snooze almost the whole way - resulting in stiff neck. I don't mind, as we're going to #Ireland! Life is a #journi!
Getting to the airport ✔️ Checking in at the counter ✔️ Going through the security ✔️ Having coffee and croissant at Upper Crust 😋 #HolidayStartsHere 😎
#HSL, the Helsinki region public transport company, does its best to hinder us from reaching the Helsinki Airport! It's not enough that the trains start to go after 05:00, but the tickets that should be able to be bought beforehand from ticketing points are. It available and their ticket machines don't work at the station. But! We're on the way! At the moment, standing in Tikkurila Railway station waiting for a night bus.
It's practically the time when I usually fall asleep and now I have to get up. After snoozing for once too long, I manage to get up - and am not even the last one! Well, coffee, last packing, and off we go! Tickets! Money! Passport!