Monday, September 25, 2017

Western Ireland

We left Northern Ireland and found our next AirBnB at Dunmore Gardens estate.  When we pulled in the driveway, the house exuded a presence that it had been a part of history and had great stories to tell.  The gardens were beautiful and the grounds were perfect for Kala to run.  We had a wing of the house for less than the cost of a room of a hotel - so nice.  We decided to head to Derry, back in Northern Ireland for dinner.

Derry, Northern Ireland is an interesting story.  It has been the center of the “Troubles” for decades.  The British named it Londonderry in 1613 as it was selected for plantation projects by the London liveries.  During the Troubles, the locals dropped the “London” and the town is known as Derry.  In fact, when we were on the Dingle Peninsula (in Republic of Ireland) a few weeks earlier, I was ordering a pint in a pub and there was a man next to me who asked our story (our accents are difficult to hide and they intrigue locals as to how we got here and what we’re doing).  I asked where he was from and he said Derry.  I told him I recalled seeing Londonderry on the map and he said “Yea, we don’t mention the “London” and for us it’s just “Derry”.  

So, we were off to Derry for dinner at the Walled City Brewery.  Derry is the only city in Ireland that still has a wall around it.  The walls were built between 1613-1618  and they vary in thickness from 12 feet to 35 feet.  Needless to say, it is still known as the Walled City.  The brewery had a “modern-historical” feel to it and very neat to experience.  

After dinner, we headed back to Dunmore Gardens and continued driving south towards the Cliffs of Moher.  I selected an AirBnB that was closer to the cliffs so we could beat the busloads of people soon to arrive.  We followed the signs wondering where this place could possibly be since all we could see were sandy beaches and sheep.  The city was not even on the map.  We followed the directions and ended up beachside at what seemed to be converted stables.  It was a great location for the drive the next day.  We ran Kala to the beach, had a pint at the local pub (in Ireland, where there are houses, there are pubs) and planned our route for the following day.
Dunmore Gardens Estate
The garden gate
Scenic selfie
Look at these amazing colors
Pretty in pink
A sundial, maybe in need of repair, but still a sundial

Amazing Fuscia!
Layers of flowers...the perfect garden
Gladiolas - is that right, Mom?
See more on their social media sites
Directional sign for Londonderry (on the right where the 'A 40' is), with the London scratched out
Derry at night
A sampling of each
Five down - one to go
From the sign forward is covered in water at high tide
Beaches everywhere...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Irish Food & Drink

When we crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Spain, instead of Ireland, quite a few encouraging people said "At least the food will be better in Spain".  The food was good, but probably not my favorite.  So I expected Irish food to be bland - maybe the salt shaker would be my friend, maybe everything will be potato this and potato that...that's okay, I like potatoes.  

WOW!  What a great surprise that the food in Ireland is some of the very best I've ever had and will definitely incorporate ideas we've seen into our regular diet.  Take a look for yourselves.  
Eggs Florentine with Irish soda bread

Fish n' Chips with peas o'carse

Salad with toasted brie - and chips (o'carse)
A'cars they have potater chips
More Irish fish n' chips - in this case, very greasy fish and chips
Just like Whole Foods cookie bar
Traditional "Irish brekkie" - without the meat and black pudding
O da pints - dey are tasty, eh?
Pancakes with raspberry chutney - most brekkie comes with a side of beans (baked beans)
Farmers Market dessert table

What? Gin & Tonic with blueberries?  I'm never leaving
When ordering a stout, like Guiness or in this case, Murphy's, it is proper to wait for it to "go black" before you drink it.
Fish Pie - A Kinsale specialty
Stuffed Avocado with salad
Stuffed mushrooms, Risotto, Sweet potato fries, Gin & Tonic with honey brittle
Vegetarian Sausage roll

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Northern Ireland and beyond

We spent the afternoon driving from Dublin to Belfast and exploring country roads.  Driving around Ireland is an adventure with small roads that should be one lane, but are two,  and speed limits that should be 60kph but instead are 100kph.  Baxter adapted well and none of it phased him.  I frequently used the Irish phrase "Go Mall" (slowing please).

We crossed the border from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland which is in the UK.  The speeds changed from kilometers per hour to miles per hour, the flags changed to the Union Jack and the money changed from Euros to Pounds. Other than that, it looked the same.  A nice shout out to Kala here as this is her 19th country!!

Belfast is a beautiful city on the River Lagan.  It became a city in 1888 and when the Irish voted for freedom in 1922, Northern Ireland which was mostly settled by descendants of protestant Scots (remember from the Battle of Kinsale blog) decided to stay with England, separating the country into two areas, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  There is a huge tangent that we can go into about the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the time period known as "The Troubles" where the Northern Irish continued to fight for independence from Great Britain.  However, a peace agreement was signed in 1998 called "The Good Friday Agreement" to end the violence.  As we drove through small villages and talked to locals, there still seemed to be a reluctance to acknowledge an affinity towards the UK, but the area was definitely safe and everyone went about their day just as they would in NYC.

We had an amazing dinner in Belfast at Ginger Bistro and woke up the next morning to get a quick look at the Titanic Quarter.  Though the Titanic's home port was Liverpool, The White Star Line shipyard actually built the ship here in Belfast in 1909.  The exhibits at the Titanic Quarter aincluded the slipway where it was launched as well as an entire museum about every last detail of the ship.  Again, Kala wasn't allowed in the museum but we had fun walking around and experiencing everything Titanic.

We had a full day of driving ahead of us so we were off to Giant's Causeway.  The rugged north coast of Ireland is beautiful and wild.  We spent a few days driving on the coastal roads, wandering through small towns, eating in local pubs and finding beaches for Kala to run and play.  We had a couple more places to check out in Ireland (Republic of) so we turned south and headed to the west coast.
Welcome to Northern Ireland
Pretty Motorway

Beal Feirste - Belfast
Roadside picnic - with a view
Welcome to the United Kingdom 
The slipway the Titanic was launched on 
Titanic layout
Launching the Titanic
Big Euro buses
Lots of filming in pretty cool places
In the spot where the duel took place
Hidden cave at Carreck-a-Rede

Inside the cave
Happy girl loves touring around Ireland
Irish cliffs
"Guess what??  I found a nice long beach, Mom"
Pretty sheer, watch your step
Giant's Causeway - a very cool place but too many tourists for us.  We took the high road to get away from the people.
Another boat on dry out to clean the bottom

Running as fast as she can

Found an Irish coconut
Our view from our AirBnb in Templeboy, Ireland
No way will I be sleeping with sheep
Fishtraps ready to go - a sailor's bane
Getting her feet wet in the Celtic Sea