Ireland

Miscellaneous Ireland Pictures

As I have finished up my trip report from our recent trip to Ireland I still have some good pictures that didn’t make the final cut for the reports.  I still want to share these as some of them are pretty cool.  Enjoy:

Galway, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher

View from the top of Bunratty Castle, aka, the biggest waste of money in Ireland

The perfect Irish picture, a cathedral with a Guinness truck parked in front

Killarney, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland Harbor

Kenmare, Ireland (Great bar name, terrible bar with Turkish freedom fighters hanging out)

N71 Roadway towards coast away from Kenmare

Lone Sheep on N71 Roadway

A road in Bantry, Ireland not designed for two-way vehicular traffic

Tidal area near Kinsale, Ireland

Houses on a hillside in Kinsale, Ireland

Rock of Cashel Cemetary

Rock of Cashel Interior

Powerscourt Gardens

Powerscourt Gardens

Powerscourt Estate

Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Temple Bar Area, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland with the spire in the background

Guinness – This sums up our trip

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Trip Report: Ireland – Day 6 & 7: Powerscourt to Dublin

After a wonderful stay at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt my wife and I departed around 8:30 AM for a quick trip to the Dublin airport to return our rental car.  While the experience of picking up the rental car was painful, our experience dropping it off at the SIXT off-site location was pretty easy. (As a tip there is a gas station about 1 KM past the SIXT drop-off location on the right hand side)  We returned the rental car and within about 10 minutes were back at the terminal catching a taxi into the city to our hotel, the Conrad Dublin.

The taxi ride took about 25 minutes and cost approximately 35 Euro plus a (small) tip to get to the Conrad Dublin.  We arrived at the hotel pretty early (10 AM) but we were allowed to go ahead and check-in since I am a Diamond member and they had already cleaned our room.  Here are a couple of pictures of the room:

Conrad Dublin ($$$$- We used HHonor’s Point for the 2 night stay)

Bathroom

Exterior of Hotel

Once we had thrown our stuff in the room we headed out to explore Dublin!  The city itself is lacking of truly “historical” sites like a London or Rome so we did not set out like we normally do to conquer a number of sites.  We set out with the purpose of relaxing for 2 days while walking around and drinking a pint every now and then.  It worked out well!  With that said, the one thing we did take the time to see was the Book of Kells at Trinity College (6-8 Euro admission, **** – worth it just for the library alone).

Since we didn’t do anything in particular I will let our pictures speak for themselves, enjoy:

St. Stephen’s Green (very close to Conrad Dublin, free entrance dawn to dusk)

Another

Grafton Street viewed from side street (Pedestrian shopping street with good street performers)

Trinity College (Home of the book of Kell’s discussed above)

Temple Bar (Good bar, even though it is touristy, for a drink) (Please note the guy in front with the women’s swimsuit on)

The Dublin Spire (right up there with any other weird monument I have seen)

Inside Temple Bar (sorry for getting out of order the with pictures) (This must be an Irish/British thing to have Stag parties where everyone wears matching shirts, see the guy in red)

Me with a Guinness inside Temple Bar courtyard

River Liffey in Dublin City Centre

That concludes my trip report for our 7 day trip (quick) trip through Ireland.  As I am sure you can tell if you have been following along we had absolutely fantastic, and unusual per the locals of Ireland, weather during our trip.  Seven straight days of cloudless sunny skies with high’s in the upper 60’s (F).  Look for a post tomorrow with some remaining pictures that didn’t make the initial cut for my trip report!  Cheer

Trip Report – Ireland: Day 5 – Kinsale to Powerscourt

After our quiet evening at the Carlton Kinsale Resort and Spa we began our journey to the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt (30 km south of Dublin) via Cashel and the Powerscourt Gardens.  The route was supposed to take us around Cork but somehow we missed a turn and ended up going directly through the center of the city.  I guess it made for a more interesting but longer drive to Cashel (supposed to take 1.5 hours but took us 2 hours).

Upon arriving in Cashel we found what we thought was a good parking spot in the centre of town as we did not see any parking around the Rock of Cashel, our destination.  From our parking space we had about a 10 minute walk to the ruins and discovered that we had definitely missed the correct parking spot.  There is an abundance of parking right next to the Rock of Cashel, but you have to drive right up to it on the city side.  Regardless of our various missteps that day we made it to the Rock of Cashel which was quite spectacular.  Here are some pictures:

Rock of Cashel (I think it was 6 euros apiece and definitely worth it ****)

Another picture from the hill it sits on looking out over the countryside

One picture of the interior

After touring the Rock of Cashel for approximately 30 minutes (there is a short video presentation in the attached museum but we did not stay as I typically do not find those very interesting) we made our way to the Russborough House, an old estate home near Naas, Ireland.  While our guidebook didn’t say much about the house we thought it would be fascinating as we had plenty of time to see something different.  It turned out to be one of our better decisions as it was an hour-long guided tour through the house by an older lady who obviously cared very much about the history of the estate and of Ireland itself.  Quite entertaining.  Here is a picture of the exterior of the house:

Russborough House (*** – Worth a stop if you are touring the Sally Gap or Powerscourt Gardens)

After we toured the estate we ate lunch in the cafe attached and it was actually pretty good and inexpensive.  Upon finishing our lunch we began to make our way to the Powerscourt Estate Gardens via the Sally Gap Military Road through the Wicklow Mountains.  It was one of the most spectacular drives I have ever made and I would highly recommend it anyone renting a car in Ireland.  Here a few pictures from the drive but it is a shame that they just do NOT do it justice:

Sally Gap (***** – Great drive through the Wicklow Mountains)

Sheep roaming the countryside

After the relatively long drive, given the distance, through the Sally Gap we made our to the Powerscourt Estate Gardens.  It is supposedly one of the finest formal gardens outside of continental Europe and I must agree with that assessment.  Although formal gardens are not my “cup of tea” so to speak, it was pretty incredible.  Here a few pictures:

Powerscourt Estate Gardens (*** – Worth a day trip visit from Dublin)

The gardens took us about 1 hour to walk through, a bit faster than the recommended pace, but we were quite anxious to get to our hotel for the evening.  I had used some Marriott points to book us a room in the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt hotel which is adjacent to the Powerscourt Gardens.  The hotel also has a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant which we had planned to try out that evening as a treat for ourselves.

When you pull up to the Ritz-Carlton it is not the most visually stunning property in the world (the reason is that the backside of the hotel is the focus due to the proximity to the gardens) but it still has the feel of a luxury hotel.  We were driving our tiny Toyota Yaris and it is always fun pulling into that kind of hotel in that kind of car!  After parking in the FREE! self-parking we made our way to check-in where we were helped by a friendly staff member who promptly checked us in and assigned a bell boy to take us to our room and show us the features.

We were quite blown away with just how nice the room was and I hope the pictures below can convey how nicely furnished and designed it was. (We had a room on the ugly front side of the hotel but we also had a balcony which was nice)

King Garden Deluxe Room at Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt ($$$$$$$$ – Basically use points!) (There is also a couch to the right and a walk-in closet)

Here is the balcony

Once we were settled into our room we walked downstairs to the front desk and made reservations later that evening for dinner at the Gordon Ramsay Powerscourt. (Normally, I would not pay to eat at a place like this but we both love Masterchef, which is hosted by Chef Ramsay, so we thought what the hell) Here is the exterior of the restaurant:

In hindsight, we were glad we ate the restaurant just to say we did, but we were not blown away by the food.  It was good but was nothing otherworldly.  I guess our expectations were slightly out of whack.

We finished the evening in the fabricated pub located in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton and came away pleasantly surprised by how reasonable the beer was down there.  Given a second chance, I think we would choose to eat in the pub instead of the much pricier Gordon Ramsay Restaurant.

I hope y’all enjoyed this as I know we certainly felt like this was one of our favorite days of the trip!  I hope to have Day 6 – Dublin posted either tomorrow or Friday.

Trip Report – Ireland: Day 4 – Kenmare to Kinsale

After a very pleasant evening in Kenmare my wife and I departed around 9:30 for our trip down the coast to Kinsale.  Leaving Kenmare we were presented with two options, an inland route and a coastline route.  We decided on the coastline route and are very thankful we did, it was absolutely beautiful and you have to cross a small mountain range prior to arriving at the coast which is amazing.  Here are a few pictures of the pass:

N71 Roadway Towards Bantry

Another (with me standing on a rock)

One more….(As I am sure you can see, the road was what I would deem “narrow”)

After crossing through the mountains (not truly mountains but not sure how else to describe them) we made our way through some small towns (Bantry, Skibberreen) before proceeding to the tiny coastal town of Castlehaven (* purely because it is a untouched Irish town).  It was set on a very steep hillside that led down to a small bay off of the Atlantic.  It probably isn’t worth a stop but it was fascinating to get to see a “working” fishing village and watch one of the locals prepare his boat. Here is a picture of the small harbor:

Castlehaven Harbor

After stopping in Castlehaven we decided to make our way towards Kinsale as we wanted to be able to spend the afternoon there.  We did make one stop on the way to Kinsale at an abandoned Abbey near the water’s edge.  It really wasn’t all that remarkable but the setting was amazing and it is on the way to Kinsale so that is no reason not to stop.

Abandoned Abbey

Kinsale was approximately 15 KM past this Abbey and we were definitely glad to arrive.  We found a parking spot in the center of town at the parking lot on the water’s edge.  It was approximately 3-4 Euros for 2 hours.  There is a “2-hour limit”, however, if you come back to the Car Park and pay for another parking ticket you can indefinitely stay in the lot as I didn’t see anyone marking cars.  Here are some pictures from Kinsale:

Kinsale Harbor (**** – One of the favorite small towns I have visited)(You can see the tide moving out)

Kinsale Harbor looking out to sea

Street in Kinsale (with my wife posing by flowers for the benefit of my mother-in-law)

We spent approximately 3-4 hours strolling around town and had a late lunch in town at Blue Haven ($$ – Decent food, but not incredible) as the hotel we had booked for the evening was out of town and would not have anything close to it.  As we were leaving town we did notice how much the tide had gone out in that short time period, it was pretty incredible.

As a side note, it is probably not the best idea to try and buy original artwork in Kinsale as it is tremendously expensive.  We went to several different shops and nothing was priced lower than 200-300 euros which I find to be quite high for pretty basic paintings of the town by unknown artists.  Maybe I am just cheap but it might be better to look around elsewhere for paintings of Kinsale.

Low tide Kinsale, Ireland

On our way to the hotel for that evening, The Carlton Kinsale Resort & Spa, we stopped at Charles Fort.  We lucked out in that admission was free the day we were there (first Wednesday of each month) and toured the grounds.  It was a pretty neat ruins from the 1700-1800’s.  There were some good views looking back into Kinsale, see below:

From Charles Fort looking into Kinsale, Ireland

From Charles Fort

After leaving the fort we made our way to the hotel at approximately 4 PM. (The drive from town takes approximately 5-10 minutes)  We had worn ourselves out the previous 3 days so we were looking forward to a quiet evening of relaxation.  This hotel was perfect for that as it was in the middle of nowhere.  The rooms were clean and the staff was friendly.  My wife and I used some AA miles to book the hotel as I was looking to get rid of them.  Below is a picture of the exterior and a picture of our room:

Exterior of Carlton Kinsale Resort and Spa ($$$ – Would recommend for those looking for a relaxing stay)

Our room (I showed the bathroom cause it was really nice and I appreciate a nice bathroom after traveling)

Looking back at the trip, this day was probably one of our favorites as we really liked Kinsale.  In fact, we talked about going back to Kinsale even before we left the city.  I think that says something.

My next post will cover our trip through the heart of Ireland, including Cashel, the Sally Gap and Powerscourt Gardens before I go into detail about our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt.  Look forward to that next week!

Trip Report – Ireland: Day 3 – Dingle Peninsula (Tralee to Kenmare)

After a disappointing stay in Tralee (read more about that in my previous post on Day 2), my wife and I departed around 8:30 for the relatively short (1.5 hour) drive to the town of Dingle located on the Dingle Peninsula.  The drive from Tralee crossed completely across the Peninsula and it was quite an amazing landscape.  Here is the only picture I took of the drive (picture taken about 20 KM outside of Tralee prior to reaching center of Peninsula):

View of Bay of Tralee from Northern Side of Dingle Peninsula

I guess at this point it would be prudent to add that my wife swears she thought we were going to die about 25 times + since I continued to pull off on the shoulders of these narrow roads to take pictures.  I think it was absolutely worth it……..

After crossing the peninsula we arrived in the town of Dingle around 10 AM only to discover that since the tour buses had not arrived there was nothing open (quite disappointing to know that the shops only open up once they know buses are scheduled to arrive, takes away some of the authenticity of the place, but I guess it makes sense from a business perspective).  We made the decision to drive up to some of the viking forts established on the peninsula around 800 AD.  The forts are about 10-15 KM west of Dingle but they are worth the drive as it is inexpensive (3 euro per adult) and a pretty interesting look at how they lived.  Here are a few pictures from the fort on the edge of a cliff:

Viking Fort on Dingle Peninsula (**** – 3 euros per person)

One more of the fort

Sheep on the path down to the fort

Looking over the edge of the cliff next to the fort

After spending approximately 45 minutes at the Viking Fort we made our way back to Dingle and discovered that the shops were now open as the tour buses had arrived, lucky us :(.  There is nothing worse than watching a bus disgorge 50 American’s straight into the least appetizing looking restaurant on the entire street but that was the scene that played out in front of us for the next 30 minutes.  Oh well.

My wife and I did enjoy the time we spent in Dingle as it was a very charming town with a great location.  We managed to get away from the coast somewhat into the interior of the town and found some really neat places that were less crowded.  Here are a few pictures from Dingle:

Foxy John’s Bar and Hardware (with my wife in front)

Dingle Waterfront

Chowder ($$ – Would highly recommend eating here, specifically 0ff the specials board. Near the waterfront – blue sign)

After spending about 3 hours in Dingle we began to make our way to Kenmare, our final destination for the night.  The drive took about 2 hours and resulted in us getting quite lost at one point but, no worries, we made it eventually.  We had booked a room for the evening in Kenmare at the Brook Lane Hotel based upon reviews from TripAdvisor.  I must say that this time TripAdvisor completely lived up to the hype and the hotel was all that we had expected.  Here are a couple of pictures:

Exterior of Brook Lane Hotel (145 Euro per night) from walking path into town (5 minutes to city centre)

Room Interior ( Brook Lane Hotel)

Creek on the path into town

Kenmare, Ireland

One more picture of Kenmare, Ireland (*** – Nothing really is a “must see” here but it is a fun town to stopover in)

We did have one frustrating episode in Kenmare that I feel like I should disclose.  When we checked into the hotel the proprietor recommended a restaurant for us that evening.  When we went into town that afternoon we looked over the menu and decided that it did look quite good so we made reservations for later that evening.  After dinner, we decided to have a few pints in a local pub and got to talking to some locals and it turns out that the owner of the hotel also owns the restaurant.  While we had no complaints regarding the restaurant (The name of it is No.35 and it was fantastic) we would have appreciated it if the hotel proprietor would have disclosed this to us when we checked in.  It probably wouldn’t have affected our decision on dinner and may have convinced us to try the restaurant had we been wavering.  I guess my complaint is that I felt it was quite deceptive, and quite frankly bad business practice, to not inform us of this fact when making the recommendation.

However, I tried to not let this cloud my judgement as I truly did like this town and would recommend it to anyone as a good overnight spot.

Look forward to the next installment coming this Thursday: Day 4 – Kenmare to Kinsale (Kerry Peninsula).