Tralee

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).

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Trip Report – Ireland: Day 2 – Galway to Tralee

After a fun evening in Galway my wife and I woke up early the next morning to get a jump-start on the day as we wanted to make it to the Cliffs of Moher fairly early before the larger crowds arrive.

We departed Galway around 7:30 AM and drove south towards Lahinch, Ireland (near the Cliffs of Moher).  The drive took about 2 hours even though our GPS indicated a drive time of 1 hour and 30 minutes, guess it didn’t account for the cliffs/stone walls/hairpin turns on the roads to Lahinch!  The scenery on the way was amazing though as we passed through the Burren (extremely rock landscape) and across some large hills lining the coast.  Here is a picture from our drive near the top of one of the hills (if you look closely you can see the hairpin turn):

Lahinch is approximately 4 KM from the Cliffs of Moher and there is a don’t miss attraction in Lahinch, the golf course (luckily you drive right past it on the way to the Cliffs of Moher!).  The Lahinch Golf Club is ranked by Golf Digest as one of the Top 50 Courses in the World.  It was amazing and I tried to snap as many pictures as possible while we drove past it (I know I shouldn’t be taking pictures while driving but it was so cool).  Here is the best one I got but it is still hard to see how impressive this course is:

Lahinch Golf Club (*** – Beautiful course and luckily it is on the route to get to the Cliffs of Moher)

As I mentioned above you have to drive about 4 KM past Lahinch to get to the Cliffs of Moher visitor center.  I am not sure if there is another place along the cliffs that doesn’t charge to take in the view but the price was 6 Euros per car to park and that included tickets to the Museum (we didn’t go since it didn’t look like it had that much to offer.  The parking lot for the cliffs is directly across the road from the visitor center and the walkways to the cliffs.  I must say that the Cliffs of Moher might be the most visually stunning natural formation I have seen in my life.  It was incredible.  Here a two pictures and I know they don’t do it justice but it is incredible, trust me:

Cliffs of Moher (***** – Absolute must see in Ireland)

After leaving the Cliffs of Moher around 10 AM (we spent approximately 45 minutes there, no need to stay too long) we drove towards Limerick with a stop in Bunratty (50 minutes from Cliffs of Moher) to view the castle there.  We had browsed through a few guidebooks prior to our trip and some highly recommended it while others said to avoid Bunratty.  After visiting and paying the 15 Euro per person entry fee to the Bunratty Folk Park (should have been my first clue) I can certainly agree with the books that say to avoid it.  It may be one of the worst tourist values in the entire country, if not Europe.  I can’t even explain my dismay upon entering the castle and seeing plaster on the walls from the “restoration” in the 1970’s.  This is definitely a stop made for mass-produced tour buses.  However, if you are looking for a picturesque (from the outside) castle to photograph it isn’t a bad idea to stop by as it does look real from the outside and it is right off the motorway into Limerick.

Bunratty (0 stars – not deserving of time or money)

After leaving what had to be the biggest disappoint of our trip we made our way into Limerick (15 minutes from Bunratty) to have lunch.  Limerick was interesting in that it was not a touristy town so we got more a perspective on Irish life outside of tourist zones.  The city had a nice walkable area downtown and we quite enjoyed the few hours we spent there.  We had lunch at O’Connor’s ($$) which was pretty good (we picked it due to the number of local businessmen inside).

O’Connor’s in Limerick ($$)

After lunch, we strolled through Limerick some and the atmosphere was quite good, I guess being sunny and upper 60’s will bring the crowds out in Ireland.  Around 2 PM we decided to make our way to Tralee.  We had decided on Tralee due to the convenience of its location at the beginning of the Dingle Peninsula.  Unfortunately, that did not translate to a very vibrant town.  When we got there around 4 PM it seemed as if everything was already shut down for the evening and later that evening the only restaurant in town that was open was the one attached to our hotel, luckily it was quite good.  We booked rooms based upon reviews from Tripadvisor and this may have been the first time I have been let down by Tripadvisor.  The room was adequate and clean but did not meet the expectations I have for how positive the reviews were.

Interior of Room at Grand Hotel Tralee (90 Euros per night)

That was all for Day 2 adventures, please look forward to Day 3: Dingle Peninsula, being published early next week.  Cheers!