County Donagal & Cliffs

I had very few special requests of places I wanted to see that were important to me beyond the travel plan and group interest. But the cliffs at Slieve League was very high on my check list.

After our disappointment at the Ring of Kerry, we were feeling pretty skeptical of “Ireland’s Number One Attraction” the Cliffs of Mohair. Our vacation has
included a goal to avoid tourists, which is a big reason we traveled off-season. And like Kerry, we imageknew the Cliffs would be full of tour busses. I had read about some more spectacular cliffs further North that don’t attract crowds, so we decided to bypass Mohair for the less traveled experience. I think we made the right decision, except that I still have a secret desire to see Mohair. After all, Harry Potter flew a broom around the place. It’s on the list for a possible next time experience.

imageWe had spent the night in Letterkenny, County Donagal. This was the day we were to head out to Slieve League. We unfortunately got a late start that day, but hey – late happens. I had my map all ready and thought it would be no problem since we found signs early on directing us to the area. However . . . the imageroadway got very confusing with many intersections of tiny roads and it didn’t take much for us to be lost.

The good thing about being lost along the “Wild Atlantic Coast” is that there is never a shortage of something awesome. We happened into a village that was one of the tiny woolen mill villages of Coastal West Ireland. We stopped at a small factory store. Our main motivation was to take a pee.

imageIt is inspiring that there really are places in the world that still do things the old way. The Studio Donegal Spinners and Handweavers was an amazing accidental discovery. They welcomed us, and invited us to tour the facility. This is not a “tour” with people reciting a memorized mantra of the history of the place. This “tour” meant imagesingularly self-touring the place, and uncomfortably opening the door to various rooms, where people were actually hand crafting fabric. We went in three separate directions. I entered a room with three of, what I would call ancient manual looms, and men just a weaving away. Really? This still happens for commercial production of woolen products? These people even slowed down or stopped imagetheir production to explain to me what they were doing. One of the weavers was working on a  beautiful herringbone pattern designed for suits. He gave me all kinds of information about the process while I was eyeballing parts of his manual working loom that I sell as “antiques.” Wow.

imageWe headed out of this town without asking questions to locals about how to find the cliffs. Mistake. We ended up about fifteen miles further down the road, to a location viewing a light house that was probably less imagethan 2 miles from the cliffs as the crow flies, but a long backtrack by road. A ten mile road in these parts is a good 30 minutes. The rural roads in Ireland are terrible.

Because this remote place was my idea, I took some abuse for taking us on a goose chase trying to find the way there. However, once we were on the right track, imagewe all became pretty amazed at the road to the cliffs. I know why they don’t want tour busses here. The road up this hill is crazy scary. At one point I told Dan he was driving on the wrong side of the road, and he replied it was because the drop off was giving him the creeps! Ok, I get that. The top of the road and beyond were breathtaking.

Slieve League claims to be the highest sea cliffs in Europe, rising nearly 2,000 feet above the breaking waves of the emerald green Atlantic Ocean. Twice the imagesize of Mohair. There is a competitor not far off-shore on Achille Island, but hey, that’s an island and it’s supposedly only 2 feet taller. So, I’m voting for these as the winner.

imageI’m not sure what to say about this place, other than my pictures don’t do it justice. It was so breathtaking. If God doesn’t already live here, he should consider a move.  It was so uncrowded. There are steps that go up the entire ridge which we hiked about halfway, but I’d love to do the entire ridge someday. It’s a little mind blowing that people actually installed stone steps on this trail. We were blessed with sunshine while we were there, although a cold wind was blowing pretty good. It’s actuallywhat stopped me from hiking further. My ears couldn’t take the cold wind, even with my hood up.

imageI didn’t want to leave this place. I think that watching a sunset from here would be mind-blowing, but Dan doesn’t like driving in Ireland at night and I can’t fault him for that. So we headed back to find a place for the night. We would imagehave to make it past Belfast tomorrow to see the Giants Causeway before Randi has to fly out. It will be another busy day.

Monday X2

Last night Dan and I decided we were tired of our hotel location on the outskirts of Dublin. We started image
searching for something affordable downtown and thanks to our good friend,, found a 400 Euro room for only 68 Euro. Oh yeah baby! And it is fantabulous. We moved in this afternoon and have found it to be walking distance to nearly everything else we want to see and do while we’re here. Oh, did I mention theimage view from this room is also remarkable?  We look right out at the Ha-Penny Bridge, and we’re in the Temple Bar District, which is cool and safe. My only complaint is that there was only one night available, so we’ll have to find us another bargain for tomorrow. Or luck out if someone cancels.

As promised, I’m going back to last Monday after my friend Randi arrived, and attempt to catch up on the week.
We left Galway early afternoon for a long drive North. Our destination for the night was Sligo, and we decided to take a detour to the Cornaun Peninsula. It is  quite a remote region. Barren but still beautiful landscapes that occasionally looked like the moon.

The landscapes on the Western side of this island change drastically when you turn inland. It goes from sandy grassy beach to Mars within a few miles. We traveled into a couple of regions of large peat bogs. We were surprised to see some mining of the bogs going on. It turns out that peat is a primary source of heat here. It’s dried and burned like wood. Commercially, it’s compressed into very dense fire logs. We then happened into the Anchill National Park, which is actually parcels of land dotted around the region where they’re protecting the peat bogs. The peat has been built up over millions of years and much of it contains ancient Neolithic (Stone Age) farm artifacts and information. It reminded me of the trees of the Pacific Northwest. Old growth that is gone forever all because of the needy modern man. The areas of this mined peat will take millions of years to regenerate for every foot mined. It is a little mind boggling. I’m not saying I have any answers to this problem, just that I hate seeing our environment destroyed for the comfort of man. Having done a bit of reading on this issue, it turns out that Ireland’s peat bogs have played a key role in helping to regulate climate change. Ahem.

We stopped by the Aughanure Castle, but since daylight savings time here happens two weeks later than home, we were an hour late and missed the last tour. Doh! Still the grounds were cool and we got some neat pictures.

We continually tried to follow the signs indicating the “Wild Atlantic Way”, which is the route along the Western Irish Coast. Once we were back along the water we noticed surfer’s here and there. We had come upon the area of Ireland housing an energetic surfing community. We stopped at the Beach Bar, a beachfront, thatch-roofed pub that was only 300 years young. We chatted up a father-daughter surf team who told us the water temp is actually warmer than the air here due to the warm Atlantic currents in the area.

We made it t9 Sligo (Sligo-Town to the locals). A short walk into town by Dan and Randi brought information on where to go for the nightlife. Later that evening, while I was in the room writing away, I was recruited by Randi to join them at a local pub for some fun music. Unlike our earlier musical adventures, this pub was full of live rock music. The Swag Man Pub was packed and the crowd was enjoying a local band playing everything from Neil Young, to Alice in Chains. The owner was an amazingly nice guy from Australia. It was a fun night.

The next day we headed out of town to another popular surfing area which had a small community and great restaurant called Shells. We actually waited in a line to eat at this little cafe where the food was wonderful. We asked the owner for recommendations on what to do in the area and headed out based on his reco’s. We visited the grave of the famed Irish poet W.B. Yeats, then to the Mullaghmore Castle, which unfortunately was closed. But the drive around it’s small peninsula was extremely scenic and despite some rain, we enjoyed some awesome scenery, including a very old breakwater/marina housing both work and pleasure boats tied up against huge ancient sea walls. We saw some giant waterfalls and the mountains around this area are very beautiful and full of mythology.

We all agree this area is so cool we want to stay another night in Sligo-Town, County Donegal.





Dublin and Before

I’m admitting that with the aggressive agenda we’ve had on this trip, I’ve struggled to keep up on this blog. This became even more true when my friend Randi arrived to join us for a few days of our journey. It was imagesuper fun having another friend along, but I have no other excuse for not keeping up so I’m just going to blame her. I can say this because she knows I’m kidding. Despite one mishap, of which the details shall remain in Ireland, we had an absolute blast!

Today is Sunday, April 3rd, and Dan and I just spent our first full day in Dublin. It was a fun day so I’m going to fill you all in on it before backing up to last week’s adventures.

Since we said goodbye to our friend and turned in our rental car yesterday, we’re now having to travel by bus, taxi and foot. And that’s ok really, since we’ve  spent so much time in the car and need the exercise. imageWe caught the bus this morning to a district of town full of pubs and churches. It seems that both are very important to the Irish, so they put them in close proximity to each other. Our destination was the historic Brazen Head imagePub, which was opened in the year 1198, making it only 818 years old. We had a wonderful lunch there and headed out on foot for the Guinness plant which is only a few blocks away. We found it unfortunate that they wanted 20 Euro for a crowded tour. That’s almost $50 US for the two of us. We decided to pass and head down the road to some museums which are free.

imageWe stepped into a cathedral on the way. The Cathedral of St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist. Again, church buildings in the US don’t hold a candle to those over here that are at a minimum, 300 years old. Just stunning and so old. High decorated “cathedral”  ceilings, intricate and huge stained glass windows. This cathedral must be in the neighborhood imageof  a lot of sinners because on both sides of the chapel were more confessional booths than I’d ever seen. There were also a fair number of homeless sleeping on the pews. I’m hoping to see a few more of these great churches while we’re here.image







We arrived at a National Museum of Kilmainham Gaol (Irish for prison), which was just amazing. The Irish have a very long and violent history with the British, imageand this prison housed many political as well as other prisoners over the years. Both men and women. During the famine, it even housed children as young as 5 years old for offenses like stealing 5 potatoes. We were told by the staff there that we missed out on the day’s allotment of free tickets and would have to try again tomorrow. Luckily one of the workers directed us to the info office to see iimagef there had been any cancellations. Score! We got on the next tour. Yessss! I can’t help but think the American accent works in your favor here from time to time.

After the tour we headed across the street to a castle turned National Art Museum, but it was too late in the day to get in. Pretty tired, we headed back to our hotel room so I could attempt to get this dang blog thing done!

imageI’ll be backing up to where I left off last week following this post. Hopefully I’ll get caught up before we leave Ireland! If not, it’ll be a flight project.




Further North

An apology for the delay in my posts, but our priority here in Ireland is having fun and seeing a lot, so I’m now about three days behind on my blog.  Let’s see, where did I leave off? I think we were in Tralee. It’s all starting to become a blur now. Here is our experience from last Saturday and Sunday. This is a long one folks, so sit back and have a drink.

Ok, we left Tralee to head to the Dingle Peninsula, a place highly recommended by guide books as well as friends who have been here. The journey from Tralee imageto the Peninsula in itself was stunning. There are many lakes and vistas in which to view them. Braking for sheep, the road became less of a zig-zag and more reasonable as we entered what’s known as “The Dingle”. The town of Dingle is very cute, and had it not been a holiday here, (Easter weekend), we would imagehave stopped and spent some time. But it was crowded and we wanted to move onward to see the sights. There is yet another “ring” at the end of this peninsula and wow was it ever worth the trip. We’ve had a lot of imagewild wind here, but nothing like we had on the ring of the Dingle Peninsula.  It was blowing so hard that it was seriously hard to stand in one place outside the car and hold the camera steady. I can’t remember ever being literally blown off my feet before.

imageI think the wind made the landscape even more stunning since it was high tide and the waves were crashing into the rocks and spraying into the air 50 feet or more. The cliffs and ledges are huge. And instead of building houses up to the best possible view, they build them back and let the sheep get the best of it. The homes are ancient and well-kept. Locals were walking their dogs, all border collies, and as we kept stopping to take pictures we would pass each other multiple times.

imageWe also saw ancient human dwellings called beehive huts that date to 2000 bc. Cool stone buildings with stone rooftops and homes from the famous Irish potato famine.

After turning the corner of the Peninsula the winds weren’t as wild and we finished off the drive by visiting a cool museum and stopping for some Irish stew. Yum!

Once we were off the peninsula, we headed North to the small town of Ennis for the night. Easter weekend is a National Holiday here, including Easter Monday and there are Centennial celebrations planned all over the country commemorating the famous Easter Rising of 1916. We were lucky to get a room this night.

Galway – This is my favorite Irish city so far. So much energy and vibe surrounds the place and it’s a port town too. I’ve always gravitated to port towns. We arrived here in the afternoon and checked into our B&B, which is just clean and accommodating if nothing else. We headed downtown, which is a European spoke town. It’s easy to get lost in these places, but they’re so cool. Small little storefronts that aren’t really so small once you you in and realize there are three floors. Pubs, boutiques, banks, and bookies everywhere. Gambling on horses (and who knows what else) is legal here and there are “bookie” storefronts everywhere. Little is big here. We had dinner at an historic old pub and headed back to the hotel because we have a guest joining us tonight.

Randi Figeredo
imageI became friends with this gal, I think, in Jr. High School. Nonetheless, we lost touch, like most of us do through the years. But thanks to Facebook, we reconnected about five years ago. We’ve found ourselves conversing back and forth on messenger fairly frequently. Both being night owls, we would chat late at night, and found that we have a lot more in common now than we did back in school. We’re both certified ski instructors, we both love to write, our daughters are the same age and our careers have taken similar paths. The last time I chatted with her about our planned trip to Ireland, she expressed an interest in joining us.

Now, I have to say, we had several friends say they would like to meet up with us on this trip. None could seem to either take it seriously, or figure out how to weave it into their existing lives to make it work. Randi did.

We picked her up in the pouring rain and pitch dark from the Galway train station. So exciting and fun to see a childhood friend for the first time in 30 years, here in Ireland. Randi has traveled extensively, so she isn’t intimidated by traveling alone. She works for United Air Lines, and that has helped her get here affordably. We recognize each other immediately, and despite her jet lag, we stayed up until 3 am trying to get caught up on each other’s lives.

The following day, Sunday, we head out to do the Ring of Connamurra. After taking a pit stop and listening to imagesome locals playing traditional Irish music in a small cafe, we again took the advice of locals and headed to a tiny town nestled in the mountains, called Massa. It didn’t disappoint. I think we were about as remote as you can get. Sheep, and maybe a few more sheep. And a few houses, but we didn’t see many people.

imageDinner was fantastic.  We ate at a large, beautiful and historic pub restaurant in Galway called the Skeffington Arms, (The Skeff), and had the best meal of the trip so far. Then we wandered down the road and gravitated towards another pub with live music.  So fun! A single Irishman playing guitar and singing traditional Irish tunes. The crowd in the pub wholeheartedly singing along. Then a few gents will bellies full of beer or whiskey started dancing and that was extremely amusing. Then one started to cry over a traditional Irish tune. But he was happily dancing again seconds later, so all was well. We stayed until the music ended then headed back to our B&B for a good sleep. Tomorrow will be a long day on the road, perhaps the longest single day drive of the trip.

More of County Kerry

imageI think most of us have had this experience. Some new movie comes out and everyone tells you it’s great and that you must see it. Then you go and it can’t possibly live up to the anticipated greatness.  That is how we felt after seeing the Ring of Kerry. Well, I hate to say it was disappointing. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But after yesterday’s experience on the peninsula south, I guess we were just expecting more. It just didn’t own up to it’s name,  in our opinion.

I can see why tourists love it. Pretty scenery, beaches with a surf, many hotels and junkie Irish shops. Big roads, (by Irish standards). Tour busses, and it isn’t even tourist season yet. But after yesterday’s imageexperience with the wild unspoiled Baera, to us there was no comparison. We did it pretty fast. Not seeing a whole lot that intrigued us more than yesterday. Our evening destination was Tralee (pronounced Trolly), a medium sized town that tops the peninsula. I really wanted to continue on to the Dingle Peninsula. But Dan said no. We’re going to Tralee. I don’t alway’s comply but, you imageknow, I’m not the one driving on the opposite side of the road, shifting with the left hand, for miles. And after all, he’s been very nice today so I decide to relent. I know, what a gal huh?

This is one of the nights we don’t have a reservation anywhere. We built these nights into our trip so that
imagewe would have some flexibility. We’re here off-season, so getting a room somewhere shouldn’t be an issue.

We decided to head into the downtown Tralee for dinner, and just wanted find some place that looked like an old historic pub. They seem to have the best food for the best prices. We really hadn’t eaten since our morning sausage roll from a quickie mart. (They really are good). It’s hard to believe that we just happened to walk into a pub with an attached hotel, and by surprise we learned that this site was once a castle. It’s a very big part of the history of this town. So, being on the grounds of a significant castle. No wonder it felt right, right?

Dan logged on to from the bar/restaurant to book our room. They had good wait staff there who took interest in the fact that he was booking his room online from the actual hotel restaurant. So after an imageinteresting exchange, the waitress went to see what our room rate would be without booking online. Oh darn, $1o more US. We have found this to be the same everywhere. We’ve been booking our rooms on and we typically get a $10/night savings. But the real motivation is that after 10 booking’s we get one night free. We like that promo. You can thank us later,

This hotel is just beautiful. It is old and historic, and everything I love about Europe. Called The Grand Hotel, it’s not any more expensive than the Holiday Inn or other chain, but so much more cultural and cool. If you book a trip anywhere foreign, please try to not book American hotel chains. They typically cost more for less. And it’s always good to try to keep the revenue in the community, in my humble opinion.

Tomorrow – Dingle Peninsula.






Cork to Kerry

imageI think we overdid it today. We underestimated the time it would take us to travel through the Beara Peninsula, not really understanding we’d be on very windey, narrow roads that are smaller than most driveways. But wow, what day. I’m quite sure we ventured beyond the average tourist to Ireland.

From Cork we took a route over some mountains. There were a few quaint villages, but it was mostly just rocky countryside and farms. We came across some old church ruins. image500 years old! imageThey were beautiful. We also saw a castle, and hiked to an ancient stone circle in Kealkill. It was even older, dating somewhere in between 1400 to 800 bc. Yeah, that’s pretty old! They’re not sure what use ancient man had for these sites, but it’s thought that it was for a religious ritual of some sort. It had a great vibe to it, and wonderful views of the mountains and Atlantic Ocean in the distance. imageI tried mimicking the Outlander series by putting my hands upon the stones to transport me back to the 1700’s and a young sexy man named Jaime Frazier. No luck. Guess I’ll have to stay in 2016 with Dan.image

The Beara Peninsula (Ring of Baera) is the beginning of what is known as the “Wild Atlantic Coast” drive in Ireland.

It’s difficult to find words for the landscape of the Ring of Baera. imageVery rugged and unspoiled. We ventured all the way to the end of the peninsula, which lead us to an old aerial tram that crosses a small turbulent channel to an island that was the real end. Dang! Had we been there earlier in the day we would have been able to hike around Dursey Island. Maybe next time.image

While I was making friends with a couple of border collies at the tram landing, Dan made friends with a local (human) Irishman who gave us some advice about our drive back. Which in short was “go over this mountain pass, then that mountain pass” in order to get the most of the peninsula experience. imageOk. Who are we to not heed the advice of a local? It was actually amazing. We zig zagged the peninsula, saw sheep standing along cliffs, lakes and valleys, all stunningly beautiful and different. One side of the Baera is protected, mostly calm waters, the other side is the wild surf of the Atlantic. We soaked it all in.

But wow talk about tired. Poor Dan, having driven 300 km, largely on roads the size of a bike path, was spent. Time to head to Killareny, our next planned stop for the night. We finished this evening with a lot of frustration over our electronic maps that, for the first time this trip, failed us. We ended the day wanting to kill each other. This happens when you’ve been married a long time. You get so frustrated you want to push the other out the car door. Of course, you don’t actually do this. You kiss and make up instead. We’re ready for a good night’s sleep.



County Cork

imageToday started early with a full Irish breakfast at this small guest house we’re staying at in Cork. Dan ate the blood pudding, but I’m not quite there yet. We decided to visit Blarney Castle, which is quite close to our guest house, then head out of town to Kinsale, a pretty little waterfront village.

The Castle was awesome. The grounds around it were bimageeautiful and I’m sure in the summertime they’re even more stunning. We did the tourist thing and stood in line to kiss the Blarney Stone at the top of the castle. You have to hang upside down and kiss the stone on one of the embattlements. It was uncrowded and fun. imageLegend has it that if you kiss the stone, you will be blessed with the gift of eloquence. I’m all for that!

We then made our way to the coastal town of Kinsale which was quaint and colorful. Storefronts are all painted vivid bright colors, and range from butcher shops, to quaint inn’s and boating supply stores. We even went into a shop that cuts their own crystal. It was the prettiest cut crystal I’ve ever seen, even prettier than the Waterford. The woman in the shop told us that her husband used to work for Waterford, but quit when they started making their crystal thinner so cutting couldn’t be as deep. Deep cutting is an old style that maximizes sparkle. If you’re interested, check them out at

On the way back to Cork we were discussing the fact that our cars in the US are real gas guzzlers compared to over here. Most European cars get between 40 and 50 mpg. Are car manufacturers in kahoots with the petroleum industry? It makes no sense to me. Or perhaps it’s simply because gas is nearly $6/gallon, making fuel efficiency a must.

Cork is quite a metropolitan city. There’s also a University here, so there are a lot of young people. The downtown is a neat mixture of modern and very old architecture. And congested as all get-out. We wanted to walk around, but decided that in order to do that we’d have to park outside of town and take a bus in. There was absolutely nowhere to park. But instead, we headed back to our hotel, stopped off at a grocery store for some dinner fixin’s. Bread, salami, olives, avocado and tomato, crackers and apples. Food prices are comparable to home.

Tomorrow we’ll leave early for our next destination, Killarney. That will serve as our home base for exploring three peninsula’s – the Beara Peninsula, the Iveragh (Ring of Kerry) Peninsula, and the Dingle Peninsula.



imageWhat a lovely town. Nice size too. Not big or small, just cool. Right on the River Suir and very nautical. It has a Viking history, which is present all over town.

We arrived late Sunday and on Monday morning we went exploring. We drove to Passage East, a tiny fishing village where one of Dan’s great grandmother’s is from. From there we parallelled the passage and drove through some beautiful countryside. Farms, mostly sheep and cows, and beaches. We ended up in Dunmore East and had lunch at a pub right on the waterfront, where I had the best fish and chips of my life. Dan had Irish roast beef that was also delicious. No factory farms here. Just good beef, raised eating grass in a pasture, as God intended.

imageBack in Waterford we walked around for a few hours. The weather has been nice, in the 50’s and very little rain (knock on wood)!

Yesterday I died and almost went to heaven. Walking up the road a block from out hotel I spotted an Antiques shop. On the door was a sign – closed for auction, enter in back. What? Auction? Antique auction? It was amazing! Preview was almost over when I arrived and Dan left me to drool over the rooms full of fabulous European antiques that I have no way of getting home with me. Thus the “almost” heaven. imageI stayed awhile and watched the auction start. It was a big one, almost 800 lots. The box lots alone were amazing. I was a surprised to see that the process was exactly the same as American auctions. Mish-mash room full of assorted non-matching chairs, dealers looking up prices on their phones. Internet bidding. I could have been in Seattle except that the items were so much better. Prices were high, which helped take the sting out off not being able to bid on anything.

I walked another block to the Waterford Crystal factory and got there right as the tour was starting. Wow. Wow wow wow! It was nothing short of fascinating. I had no idea that a huge brand like Waterford is about 95% hand made. With the exception of one cutting process that is done by robots, the crystal is all made by hand by artisans. Most have worked there for decades. The young ones were all apprentices. It takes five years of apprenticship before they let them work the trade.

We then took off for our next destination, Cork, with a stopover in Middelton for a tour of the Jameson Whiskey factory. That was fascinating as well. Such interesting history, and amazingly cool old buildings and enourmous copper stills.image

I’ll have to post pictures later because our camera’s battery died and we’re having trouble finding a proper power converter for it. That will be a rather high priority today. Along with kissing the Blarney Stone. Because, you know, Ireland.

Here are a few picts taken from our phones.


Ireland or Bust

imageWhen we planned our trip we booked and purchased all of our travel arrangements. We didn’t want to deal with it over here. But when we told Barbara and Michael that we had booked the train to the ferry, they would have nothing of it. “Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll take you to the ferry.” Well, it is an hour and a half drive, and we really didn’t want them to have to haul our butts there, especially after the last few days of escorting us all over the place. We got overruled.

It was a beautiful drive. More pretty countryside, castles, quaint villages. We even saw fields of daffodils like we have at home in the Skagit Valley. We traveled into Wales, and into the Holyhead ferry landing.

Goodbye’s aren’t easy when you only see these people that you love, once a decade. Lots of tears and hugs. And just like last night’s family gathering, I hate it when I know that realistically, it will be a long time before I see any of them again.

Checking our bags and boarding the ferry was much the same process as an airport, with the exception that nobody was at Customs. Seriously? The signs were there telling us to have our passports ready. Dan, proudly sporting his new Irish passport was eager to get it stamped. But we just got waved right through the empty station and boarded the boat without even being asked for an ID. What?

Crossing was fun and uneventful. Dan upgraded us to Club Class. It was worth the improved view and “complimentary” buffet. The water was flat and the weather actually improved while we were underway. Since there was no ID check getting onto the boat, we assumed we would be checked on departure. Ummm, no. We walked off the boat and into Ireland without even a sideways glance from anyone. We’re still scratching our heads. Like, did the whole department call in sick or something?

Pulling out of Thrifty Car Rental, the stress began. Driving on the opposite side of the road using your left hand to shift, in a busy metropolis like Dublin, is not for the faint of heart. The gentleman at the rental office had advised us to get out of town before the traffic hit for the big football (soccer) game between Ireland and Scotland. So . . . that would explain all the men exiting pubs, singing and dressed in matching jerseys and kilts.

I rarely see Dan’s stress level this high. Who is this person? We had to rely on our GPS because the paper map just confused us. But we somehow got through it without denting anything on the little Peugeot. Or each other. And with only one small unplanned detour. I call that success.

Once on the Motorway things got easier. And two hours later we arrived at our destination of Waterford. Our hotel was easy to find, dinner was digestible, and sleep sounds wonderful.