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Bobbing around Cork. A long weekend and a long trip report!

Bobbing around Cork. A long weekend and a long trip report!

Old Sep 4th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Bobbing around Cork. A long weekend and a long trip report!

We were planing a short trip away to mark our anniversary. Initially I looked into getting the train to Switzerland, as I wanted somewhere without having to fly. But then my husband said what about Dublin as we had never been to Ireland? He then started searching himself (almost unheard of in planning holidays in our house!) for flights etc.

He has worked for the same company for 20 years, and to mark that milestone they gave him a sum of money for a trip, and me some money to buy jewellery. Since he can’t get away again for a long time we lengthened our planned trip by a day and used the money from his company to pay for it.

We settled on Cork in the end, rather than Dublin. Aer Lingus flies directly from Amsterdam to Cork which is ideal for us. The return flight only cost us the fees and taxes - the flight itself was free. We took one checked bag which we had to pay for too. We didn’t bother reserving seats - for the hour and fifteen minute flight we figured we could sit apart if necessary.

We booked a car through http://www.carhire.ie/.

We started our trip on Thursday 27th August by heading 100km in the opposite direction to Schiphol. We had a table booked at Kaatje bij de Sluis, a Michelin star restaurant in Blokzijl, Overijssel. Every year restaurants organise Restaurant Week, when you can enjoy a set menu for €25, or €35 at a starred restaurant. We lived in Blokzijl some 30 years ago but we have never eaten at Kaatje. Our Daughter-in-law is working their at the moment, and her birthday is 29th September so we decided to enjoy a meal at the restaurant and to see her before we left. We had a wonderful meal, everyone was very and we had just a delightful evening. The owners wife comes from Killarney so we had a chat with her too. www.kaatje.nl

Since our flight left early on Friday we stayed a night at the Ibis Amsterdam Airport, taking advantage of their Sleep Fly Drive offer, which meant we could leave our car in their car park and take their shuttle to and from the airport. It was cheaper than parking at Schiphol and saved us having to cope with the rush hour either in the car or on the train.

Aer Lingus don’t offer online check-in from Amsterdam, so we used the machines at the airport, and checked our bag.The flight to Cork was crowded, but we did have seats together.
Cork Airport is lovely. Really small and manageable. They put steps up to the plane, front and rear. Since we were near the back that was ideal for us. After passing the drugs dog test - everyone must line up single file by a wall while the dog sniffs you and your bags- we sailed through passport control and our bag was the first to appear on the carousel.
We then found the car hire desk and collected the keys to our Opel Astra estate. It was 3 years old, and a bit battered, but it was fine. At least we didn’t need to worry about the paintwork too much when negotiating those Irish lanes.
Although we both learned to drive in the UK we have lived in the Netherlands for 25 years now so it was weird getting into a RHD car and driving on the left. Not to mention changing gear with the left hand.

We had nothing booked and no real plan, just a book - Flying Visits to Ireland, for inspiration. Instead of turning right from the airport my husband turned left, so we (sort of) did the tour suggested in the book the wrong way round. We headed for Macroom first, then onto Kenmare. We were getting hungry and when we spotted a sign for Ireland’s highest pub we followed it. Up and up we went, past roadworks which nearly completely blocked the road, and eventually found the pub. It was shut! So we had to head back down again, past the roadworks again and on to Kenmare. We didn’t mind too much - it was sunny, warm and the scenery wonderful.
We were really hungry by the time we got to Kenmare so we went in the first place we saw - the Wander Inn, where we enjoyed beef wraps, a Murphy’s and a cider.
We then started to think about where to stay. We didn’t want to be in the town centre, but we did want to be in walking distance of it. We got a list of B&Bs from the tourist office, and also a list of ones in Glengarriff. We decided to have a look at Glengarriff before settling on a place to stay. On the way we visited the Bonane hill fort and stone circle. It started to rain just as we got to them, and stopped again once we were back at the car.
We liked Glengarriff and found a B&B www.islandviewhouse to stay for two nights.
We walked to the village and had dinner then went to Bernard Harrington’s/The Maple Leaf to enjoy some live music - none of the musicians were Irish, indeed one was American, but the music was good, a mix of traditional folk from Ireland/UK/US with a bit of Johnny Cash thrown in.

The day dawned wet, but was brightening up. We had a great breakfast, though I avoided the full Irish. We debated what to do - visit Garinish Island and it’s sub-tropical plants or tour the Bearra Peninsula. The peninsula won. Glorious sunshine all day, scenery to match. We visited some sea caves and explored the villages and coastline. Great views across to Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, and the ring of Kerry. We also saw the wedge grave at Killaugh, and the Derrintaggert West Stone circle. We loved the brightly painted houses, especially in Eyeries. Sadly the cable car to Dursey was out of action so we couldn’t take that to visit Dursey Island.
We ate at O’Connors in Bantry, where we had the early evening specials - €20 for two courses. I had warm duck sald and haddock and chips and he had mussels, haddock and chips. Excellent again. www.oconnorseafood.com

The rain had set in overnight and it was very wet and grey when we set off from the B&B. Our landlady said if it wasn’t clearing by 10 am it was set for the day. Sadly she was right.
We intended to explore the Sheeps head and Mizen Head, but the weather was just so bad there was no point - we could see nothing. We did visit the Air India memorial on the road to the Sheeps Head- a beautiful garden and memorial. I am sure it must offer comfort to any of the victims families who visit it. We went all the way to the head - but as I said there was nothing to see, just a cow looming out of the mist. After lunch at the Waterside café in Schull we decided to call it a day and to look for a bed for the night.
Our guide book suggested Casey’s in Baltimore so we decided to see if there was room at the Inn.
Luckily there was,though not a room with a view of the water we had a lovely quiet room at the front. We spent the afternoon in their lounge, reading the papers and enjoying a pint or two of the Black Stuff, and another excellent meal in the evening. www.caseysofbaltimore.com
We were glad of our quiet room at the front. There was a big party that night which disturbed those sleeping in the rooms with a view - but we never heard a sound.

The weather was a bit better so we explored Baltimore, going up to the Beacon, before setting off on the road again. We followed the coast and eventually arrived in Castletownshend, where we had lunch at Mary Anns Bar.
We continued exploring the coast, finally arriving in Courtmacsherry. We liked the look of the village and got a room at the Courtmacsherry hotel. We had a big room with a four poster bed in it. The bathroom was a bit tatty and the whole hotel had a feel of decaying splendour about it, inspite of the claims on the website that it has recently been refurbished. We did have a splendid view though! The kitchen was closed as there were too few guests to open. So we walked into the village and ate at the Lifeboat Inn, a very friendly place with good simple food. No music the night we were there but we were told they often have live music in the evenings there.

After a breakfast served at a snails pace we left Courtmacsherry behind us. It was our last full day and we still had some things we wanted to see. It had rained all night and was still wet as we left the hotel.
We headed for Kinsale but it was raining hard when we got there and parking was impossible so we gave up and went to Cobh, via the ferry at Passage West. It was even worse in Cobh - the traffic was completely snarled up and parking was impossible, so we just drove around the island and headed for Midleton.
Why Midleton?
Because I had that money burning a hole in my pocket. I had looked on line at gold and silversmiths in Ireland, and one, in Midleton caught my eye. We managed to Kojak a parking place right by the entrance to the courtyard and found him easily. We spent a long time looking and chatting and eventually I made my choice. So I am now the proud owner and wearer of a lovely piece by Shmuel Yolzari, and Israeli born, of Bulgarian descent, silversmith. He makes all the pieces himself, and is happy to help - he will adapt pieces, make commissioned pieces, chat for hours, maybe even play ou a tune on one of his many instruments. If you are looking for an unusual souvenir of Ireland then I can recommend him.

He suggested we go to Ballycotton to enjoy the cliffs since the sun was finally shining. We picked up a picknick on the way and did indeed enjoy the cliffs, going for a short walk.

Then it was time to head back to the airport to drop off the car. We had booked the final night at the Radisson Blu hotel at the airport, so we booked in and dumped the luggage. My husband then took the car back and walked back to the hotel, which is just across the road from the terminal. We ate at the bar and eventually headed for bed and an early start the next morning.

Aargh! The alarm went off at 4 am. We staggered out of bed and got ourselves organised. Checked out and grabbed a cup of coffee, then walked over to the airport for our 6.10 am flight home.
Everything went fine and we landed at Schiphol on time. 15 minutes later we finally arrived at the terminal, having landed on the Polderbaan which is kilometers away. Sailed through immigration, waited 10 minutes for our bag and then headed for the hotel shuttle to retrieve our car.
We were back home, having collected the dogs along the way, by just after 11am, and my husband went back to work. Back to reality.

We didn't visit Blarney - kissing the ston eis of no interest to us, and nor did we visit the jameson's experience in Midleton. We've been to a distillery before and didn't feel the need to go to another one. We did buy a bottle of Connemara Whiskey to bring home as it is our favourite Irish Whiskey.
People had said Ireland is expensive but we didn’t find that. A pint of Guiness/Beamish/Murphy’s for €3,50 compares very well to the price of a beer here. The food was wonderful, and again well priced. Accommodation too was reasonable. We could have done it for even less - many places were offering big discounts as the tourists just haven’t been there this year, but we’re happy with what we paid (except maybe at Courtmacsherry hotel, which was the same price a Casey’s but not in the same league). Driving on the wrong side of the road is something we are used to - in a LHD car. Driving on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car was a challenge after 25 years. But we soon got used to it. We were astounded bythe speed limits though - 100km/hour on what were effectively single track roads - and the Irish, and my husband, drove at the speed limit too. It was a bit hairy at times! We can only drive at 100km/hour on motorways in the Netherlands so it was a bit of a shock.
It was a wonderful trip, despite the mixed weather, and was a great taster of Ireland. We shall certainly go back again, maybe for another long weekend, maybe for a longer holiday.

I have put a couple of my photos, including of my bling, here; http://tinyurl.com/n2dg4y
hetismij is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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Fun report and I LOVE THE TITLE!!!!
lincasanova is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2009, 11:17 AM
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Thanks so much for sharing your adventure, hetismij! I enjoyed reading about it. And I'm so jealous that you're able to pop over to Ireland for a long weekend!

It's too bad your weather wasn't better. But that's Ireland! And it sounds like you had a great time in spite of it.
CAPH52 is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2009, 07:03 PM
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Thanks so much for sharing. Your pictures are gorgeous. I especially loved the fishermens' nets -- and your bling!
Songdoc is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2009, 08:46 PM
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Great photos - I love the jewelry!
sheri_lp is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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Great report and super pictures. Wish there were more! Like songdoc, my favorite picture was the nets which were especially eyecatching with their pattern and colors.

Thanks for sharing.
irishface is offline  
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