We had to leave the house for the airport a little after 6:00AM. We hoofed it to the station as fast as we could so we wouldn't miss the train. There are something like eight airports in London, and I chose the one with the cheapest flight, but it was a pain to get to. Fortunately Saturdays are pretty quiet that early in the morning. We grabbed breakfast at the airport once we got there and then just relaxed until we boarded. Well, if you can call standing for 20 minutes at the gate relaxing...
The flight was quick, just over an hour and we landed at the Kerry International Airport. It was the smallest airport I've ever been in but it made arrival and departure pretty straightforward. We picked up our rental car, which was a manual transmission, and off we went. It all went really well except that we couldn't figure out how to put the car in reverse. It was so hilarious. (But not really.)
At one point we pulled over to the side of the road to try and figure out where we were going. My cell phone didn't work at all and Richard's was on international roaming and we felt totally handicapped without GPS. Anyway, Richard had pulled into a parking spot at a little park and we seriously could not figure out how to put the car in reverse, so Richard had to open his door and with the car in neutral managed to use his foot to get us backed up enough to turn around. (That part really was hilarious.)
We stopped for lunch at a pub in a little town, I can't recall the name, but the food was sooo good. I just had fish and chips and Richard had roast beef with potatoes and gravy, but it was some serious comfort food. Richard decided to just eat the data charges and Googled how to put the car in reverse. Thank Heaven for Google.
It was a really pretty day- we passed a beach on our way and I wish we would have stopped because the weather was so perfect, but I thought we would have another chance, which we never did.
We left Annascaul and drove to Dingle. My friend Suzy had suggested Dingle and it was the destination we were looking for. So charming and Irish and lovely.
So we left from Dingle and drove the Slea Head loop. It worked out really well, the timing was nice so that we came around the western side of the peninsula at dusk.
I loved the pattern the water made in the sand as the tide went out.
At the same time these beehive huts were being built in Ireland in the 8-12th centuries, ancestral Puebloans were living in cliff dwellings in the western United States. Richard and I talked a lot while we were in Ireland about how people just make the best use of the resources the land has to offer, but it strikes me now with even more awe about the reality of that concept.
The Beehive huts were built with rocks, with a geometric design that kept them dry inside because the rain would wash down the outside. Ireland has rocks everywhere, but not much timber and no canyon walls for cliff dwellings. They were built before mortar, and yet they have lasted so long.
There are also rock walls everywhere in Ireland. Everything is built from rocks, even in the last couple hundred years.
This spot was believed to be a little settlement, designed either for safety or to keep the animals in. I just really love things like this, imagining what it was like to live in a place like this. But just like the park ranger at Mesa Verde pointed out, I'm probably romanticizing it.
"What is the average width of a car? Alrighty, multiply that by two and that should be adequate!"
When passing other cars you have to slow down, and sort of maneuver your way around, and that's saying something because the cars are so small. In this case it was cattle we had to maneuver around.
I've learned that an Oratory is a small chapel or prayer room, often used by early Christian monks. This one was discovered in 1756 but believed to have been built between the 9th and 12th century. It was so amazing. The stones were all cut perfectly to fit together like a puzzle and we were told that nary a drop of rain gets inside. It must have taken years to build with the most primitive technology, and it has never been "restored" in modern day. It stands exactly now as it did 900+ years ago. You can see the pictures that it sags a bit on the outside walls.
There was a retired German school teacher there when we approached, and not anther soul in sight. He wanted to take our picture next to the oratory so that people who saw the photograph could understand the size of it properly. He was really fun to talk to and he took a picture with my camera for us.
We finished the loop back in Dingle and then drove back to Annascaul for dinner. We ate at a pub called The South Pole Inn, it was started and run by the famous Tom Crean, an explorer who ventured to the Antarctic and lived to tell about it, miraculously and multiple times! He is the pride and joy of Annascaul and I have to admit I was pretty impressed by his tales. Sadly, after all he survived in explorations and war, he died of a ruptured appendix in 1938.
Anyway, the pub was fun and tasty and we were exhausted. We left the pub before 10:00PM but our fellow guests at the B&B told us that the party really got started at midnight. Yikes.