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France, Ireland and England on the teen “fast track” – trip report

France, Ireland and England on the teen “fast track” – trip report

Aug 24th, 2007, 01:43 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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I loved the story of the teens racing backwards down the spiral staircase! I could see my nephews trying it!
teacher33 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2007, 03:23 PM
  #22  
jgg
 
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Really enjoying your report. I too laughed out loud at the part about walking down the staircase backwards!! Your lucky the boys decided not to spend the money for clothes in Paris, my 15 yo daughter doesn't quite see it that way - and truly enjoys shopping for clothes when travelling. Of course, it is quite easy to find things for teen girls that are different from here then teen boys.

Also, you were brave to try the Chinese restaurant. My 11 yo son always wants us to find a Chinese restaurant when we travel in Europe - but we always just say to wait until we get home.
jgg is offline  
Aug 25th, 2007, 09:58 AM
  #23  
 
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Continuing to enjoy your trip report. Your boys sound like lots of fun.
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 25th, 2007, 10:58 AM
  #24  
 
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I am really enjoying this wonderful trip report. My adult son and I shared a Paris trip this year and loved it.
You bring memories alive!
kathcoll is offline  
Aug 25th, 2007, 04:58 PM
  #25  
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Thank you all for your encouraging words. I was very reluctant to start a trip report becuase I wasn't certain that I'd be able to convey things as well as the many fabulous trip reports I've read on fodors.

LCBoniti - thanks. My sons are a lot of fun, and its good for me to remember that because there are certainly days that they are not so much fun too

I hope to post another day or two tomorrow evening. We are building an inground pool ourselves, and we are really pushing to complete it so that we can at least swim in it a couple of times before closing for the season. When I say "we", its mostly hours and hours of labor from my sweet husband.

As I said, I'll try to post again tomorrow.
Momof3sons is offline  
Aug 25th, 2007, 06:23 PM
  #26  
 
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Enjoying your report! I have to laugh at the teenage boys hunger. Reminds me of the year I took my 13 year old son to Ireland. Every place we went, he would say..."the tea room here looks really nice!" He loved it when we would visit friends or relatives since the tea and sandwiches and cakes would invariably be brought out. How do they put it all away and stay so thin??

It's great that you have the opportunity to experience this with your sons. Enjoy them while you can. Mine are grown up and moved out. But I still have a trip planned with my youngest and his girlfriend to go to Costa Rica next February. :=)
maureencol is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 08:07 AM
  #27  
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Sorry for the delay between posts. All the back to school craziness has hit full bore. I spent 3 hours last night filling out and signing paperwork – yuck

I mentioned the previous post to my mom and she reminded me that part of her concern about getting back into the car at Mont Saint Michel was the fact that she was very cold and my husband had the keys to the car. I had forgotten about that.

June 20th –
As we had hoped, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day outside - the perfect day to visit the D-Day beaches. Before leaving for the beaches however, we were treated to another wonderful French breakfast – this time courtesy of Odile. Another unexpected treat that morning was the opportunity to witness a calf being born via a c-section. Odile came over to the cottage after breakfast to let us know what was about to take place. My husband and my 15 year old jumped at the chance to watch the entire birth. Others of us chose to head over to the barn after the mother cow was stitched up. Creation is so amazing!

We soaked in as much of La Ferme du Pressior as we could and then set off for the beaches, agreeing with one another that it would be lovely to go back to this B&B for a longer stay. We made the short drive to Bayeux and from there headed on to Vierville-Sur-Mer and Omaha Beach. On such a lovely summer day, it was hard not to just see a lovely French seaside town, yet the images from the D Day film and museum the day before were not far from our thoughts.

Next we headed up to Pointe du Hoc. When we followed the path from the parking area out to the open area closer to the bluff – all of the boy’s jaws dropped. It was impossible not to be impressed by the enormous craters everywhere and the still predominantly intact German bunkers. How did any of those rangers survive the climb up the cliff to take this tactically important area? After the awe passed, then my boys crossed the threshold into the “COOL!!!” response. ( Kerouac, here’s your “teens go wild” section). As I mentioned in an earlier post, my boys are all history lovers and have a particular fascination with military history. They had a blast exploring every possible crater, bunker, and tunnel for well over an hour. Lesson#8 on the teen fast track is actually one the boys asked me to include – make sure that you always bring a flashlight, you never know when you might need one. We did not bring a flashlight, however they are all pretty good at creative solutions. In this case, they used their camera cell phone to help in 2 ways. First, they would take a picture of the area ahead of them in the dark, and then look at the photo to see what perils lay ahead and which way to go. Second, they used the LED display light to shed a little light on the area.

Our final stop on the coast was at the American Cemetery. What a beautiful and serene place to pay tribute to the many that fought and died there for our freedom and the freedom of the French people. Several things happened on this visit that bear repeating. First, it was fascinating to discover that the land for these memorials has actually been given to the United States by France and is therefore US property – I didn’t know that. Second, it was interesting to hear several French people say that if the US hadn’t joined the War, that they know that France would have been no more – it would’ve become part of Germany. Finally, when we were down at the battle scene plaque near the cliff edge, there was an older gentleman standing and looking at the plaque and the area at the same time as we were. He just kept looking out toward the beach and then down at the plaque shaking his head. Eventually, he began to tear up a bit. My husband gently asked the man if he fought at the D-Day battle to which he quietly replied yes. My husband was formerly in the Navy as were both our fathers and other family members. We already have a sense of the great sacrifice made by those who serve in the military to defend the freedom our country enjoys. We have tried to communicate this same message to our sons. It was an honor to be able to be in that place at that time and offer words of thanks to this gentleman for his service. I’m not sure any of us left that area without being choked up.

After we left the cemetery and headed on towards Bayeux. I had hoped that we would be able to see the Tapestry, however as noted in my first thread, I do not like to arrive to the airport late. With that in mind, we felt that it would be best to skip it and head over to the Beauvais airport. Of course, I still had my 3 teenage sons with me soooooo – we had to stop in Bayeux for lunch. This particular day, we made our second visit to McDonald’s while in France. (cost $52.10 or 38.10 euros for the six of us). With food out of the way, we were ready to make our way to Bayeux.

As on our trip out to Normandy, the drive back to the east was basically quite easy. The only challenging part was around Rouen. In this particular instance, I was driving and my husband was navigating – usually he drives and I navigate. He did a great job of getting us through with the limited map that we had, we just hit some rush hour traffic and found the sign postings to be limited for the route we were looking for. We did have some delay getting through Rouen, but nothing major. The road from Rouen to Beauvais was a lesser highway, so our progress slowed down at that point. Eventually we arrived in Beauvais about 6:30 pm and our flight was scheduled to depart at 10:50 pm (cost $245.24 or 176.76 euros for the 6 of us).

Our first order of business was to find a gas station and fill up the VW bus. We quickly discovered that we could not use our credit card in the unattended pumps at gas stations (I think it has to do with not using a pin). After 3 tries we finally pulled into a gas station that did have an attendant just as he was roping off the attended pumps. My husband raced out of the car and pleaded our case. The gentleman was very nice and did allow us to use one of the closed off pumps and then pay him directly with the card. Whew! – That was close (cost $115.40 or 84.39 euros)

The next order of business was to return our rental car. This went smoothly and swiftly except for one thing. We were not given any paperwork, receipts, etc. That was a little disconcerting though we were assured that we would get the paperwork in the mail. We did get the paperwork just after returning home, noticed a mistake, called AutoEurope (our booking agent) and received the credit and corrected paperwork in short order.

Once inside the busy airport, we staked out a table at the cafeteria and proceeded to pick out our dinners. The food was nothing memorable, though not bad. I do remember that the line was very crowded, they were short staffed, and they were running out of a lot of choices. It was about 8:00 pm I think when we finally sat down and ate our dinner.

Per Ryan Air procedure, we checked in as soon as our flights check in opened about 8:30pm. Knowing their weight restrictions, we decided to pay for 1 checked bag each when we made the reservations. I think our 22” bags were slightly over the carryon weight limit. Our flight took off about 15 minutes late, so we arrived in Dublin at about 11:40pm vs. 11:30om. All in all, the flight was fine and we would travel Ryan Air again. Observations include the fact that you feel somewhat like cattle with all of the lines, being herded here and there and the fact that the amount of selling that their attendants have to do on these short flights is ridiculous.

That night we had a hotel reservation at the Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport. I can’t recommend this hotel enough for the convenience, service, and value. The free shuttle picked us up minutes after we called to tell them we had arrived. We had reserved 3 rooms with 2 single beds each to guarantee everyone a good night’s sleep (cost per room $91.94 or 67 euros). The hotel is very new and nicely appointed. There was air conditioning in the rooms and the rooms and bathroom were very comfortable. The price included a free breakfast buffet with lots of options (cereals, croissants, breads, cheese, yogurt, fruit, etc.). They have computers in the lobby for guest use or you can purchase internet connectivity in your room. We all collapsed into bed about 12:30 am and enjoyed a wonderful night’s sleep.

Up next – The car mishap and the Cliffs of Moher
Momof3sons is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 08:37 AM
  #28  
 
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Thanks Mom, I love your report! (Laughing at the boys' antics-I mean this in a nice way- and crying at your descriptions of DDay beaches and American Cemetery.)

Please keep going and SOON! I know you must be busy with family and work, but your report is just so fascinating, I am eager for the rest. Though I will be sorry when it is done, I guess.
teacher33 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 09:40 AM
  #29  
 
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I also am enjoying your report. Please continue when you have the opportunity.
LCBoniti is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 10:20 AM
  #30  
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One funny footnote to our stay at the Holiday Inn Express that I forgot to add. While still in France, my husband called to confirm that our rooms were being held for late arrival. When he got off the cell phone, he looked over at me with a defeated expression and said, "I was looking forward to being able to understand the language in Ireland after gesturing my way through France, but I couldn't understand anything the guy at the hotel said!" I then called back to confirm and to find out how to arrange for the van to pick us up after our late arrival. I couldn't help but laugh out loud after I had hung up from the phone call. As we discovered was often the case throughout much of Ireland and England, the worker at the Holiday Inn was from Eastern Europe and spoke with a heavy accent. !

To my husbands defense though, he was using the cell phone in an area where the cell coverage was spotty, so he may actually not have heard what was being said.
Momof3sons is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 11:12 AM
  #31  
 
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Yes to Amorino gelato! When we were in Paris in 2006 with our two teenage sons, that was one of our favorite things. Excellent flavors, huge scoops, and really, really good. I'm enjoying the report.
PWAbbott is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 05:05 AM
  #32  
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Sorry for the week+ delay. It seems that it always takes us a about a week to balance out with all of the added time requirements once school starts. Thank you for your patience.

June 21 –

Our first full day in Ireland – Yippee! When we started planning this trip and asked the boys where they would like to go and Ireland was everyone’s first choice. My sons have grown up hearing the stories of family member’s visits to Ireland and the living relatives in Ireland. Now we were finally in Ireland ourselves.

Since we were trying to cover so much ground on our trip, we decided to focus this trip on seeing County Clare and County Kerry, where both sides of our family hail from (several generations back).

After our late night arrival on Wednesday in Dublin, we didn’t rush right off on Thursday morning. We took some time after breakfast to check our email and also check our cell phone SIM card credit balance. Eventually we took the free shuttle back to the airport to pick up our rental car from Europcar. Again we wound up with a Volkswagen Caravelle but this time it was brand new. The cost for this car was supposed to be about $817 usd per our Europcar contract. The actual rental cost, with all of the additional fees, wound up being $1038 usd or 771 euros – more than anticipated but just the beginning…

Per the recommendation of so many wise members of this board, I made sure that my mom and I each checked with our credit card companies to see whether or not any of them covered the CDW insurance. None of my cards covered this in Ireland, and I was fairly certain that none of my mother’s cards would cover it either. Actually, when she called and asked about her platinum American express card, she was told that they would cover the insurance. Being the skeptic that I am, I know that I asked her several times to confirm this was accurate. She assured me that it was, unfortunately, however she had been given incorrect information. We would find this out later, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Suffice it say at this point, that despite the uneasy feeling that my husband and I had about this, we waived the insurance on the word of my mom’s credit card agent and headed out with the brand new van.

The start of our drive was again quite easy on the M50 around Dublin and then on the M4 headed west towards County Clare (cost for the toll road 3.3 euros at the Castleknock toll and 4 euros at the Kinnegad toll). Our first stop was in the town of Kilbeggan for lunch. We stopped and asked a gentleman walking down the street where we could go for lunch and he directed us to the town’s big tourist attraction – Lockes’ Distillery museum which has a restaurant call the Pantry attached to the front of it. When we walked into the street side entrance of the restaurant, we thought that they food that they were just serving to several tables of patrons in the front room of the restaurant looked and smelled delicious. We were led to a nice table in the back half of the restaurant. This room was specifically designed to cater to bus tour groups. The service was good, and the food was mostly OK. Several of us ordered the fish and chips platter which we had seen up front earlier and thought looked so wonderful. The only difficulty was that we were not served the same dish as the one we had seen up front. The platters that we based our decisions on had thick, white, moist pieces of fish in a light batter. We were served thin, dry fish fillets. (cost for lunch for 6 $83.82 or 61 euros) When we left the restaurant we saw the waitress up front delivering orders to another table including what she called a fish and chips platter that matched the ones we had seen earlier. Upon further observation as we walked out, we noticed that the front room was full of what seemed to be locals (familiar with the wait staff, etc.). We think that we were tagged as tourists when we arrived and received the tourist treatment. Of course we couldn’t really prove this but, something did seem a little fishy. My recommendation if you stop there, ask for a table in the front room.

After lunch we headed on our way to Lisdoonvarna where we had planned to meet up with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We followed the N6 towards Galway, and again we were pleasantly pleased with the roads and the progress that we were making towards our final destination. Throughout the day, we had been trying to reach my sister-in-law on her cell phone to update her on our progress. She and her husband had been staying for a few days in Doolin, so they were already in place awaiting our arrival. For some reason, we couldn’t get a call to connect from our cell phone. Finally, as it neared about 2:00 and we knew that we were going to be later than the 2:30 we had planned on, we tried a payphone in Craughwell and successfully reached them with the news of our delay.

This is when we started driving on the Irish roads that I had heard so much about. Somewhere on the drive between Craughwell and Kinvarra we would have the experience that caused us to know that my mom had gotten incorrect information about the CDW coverage. As expected, many of the roads were barely wide enough for one car, our VW van, to pass through. Also, most of the walls were bordered on both sides with stone walls that were covered with foliage. Lesson #9 on the teen fast track – being a passenger in a car driving on narrow Irish roads with walls just waiting to jump out and hit you is a good exercise for teenage drivers or drivers to be. They all had a renewed healthy sense of caution, and learned how to offer constructive help without becoming “back seat drivers”. Anyway I digress, somewhere on that drive, we were on a section of road that was only wide enough for our van. Around the corner came a work truck that had no intention of slowing down. My husband pulled in as close as he felt possible to the wall and slowly crept forward while watching the truck barrel towards us. At the last minute, sensing that the driver’s side mirror was going to be torn off by the oncoming truck, my husband pulled just a hair closer to the wall. Unfortunately for us, the spot where he needed to do this was one of those spots where the wall foliage was not thick, but rather covering a rock that was jutting out from the wall. We wound up with a long scratch down the passenger side van door that would wind up costing us about $1000.00 usd in repairs.

With the car mishap behind us, we continued on our journey toward Lisdoonvarna. This last leg of the drive was by far the longest and was probably double the estimated driving time I had gotten from viamichelin.com. Finally around 4:30 or 5:00 pm we were thrilled to pull into the parking lot of the Ballinsheen House in Lisdoonvarna and see my sister and brother-in-law sitting out front waiting for us. The Ballinsheen House was a beautiful sunny yellow house sitting atop a hill, surrounded by beautiful gardens. The inside of this older home was very warm and welcoming and the rooms were very tastefully decorated. Again we had 3 rooms, 1 single, 1 double, and 1 triple (cost for the double and the triple for one night $211.62 usd or 154 euros).

After a some time to get settled in, my mother decided that she was going to stay at the inn and read while the rest of us headed off to the Cliffs of Moher, which were just a short drive away from the inn. The remaining seven of us loaded into the van and headed off.

What a spectacular sight! Those dramatic cliffs rising up over the sea topped off by the rolling green hills of Ireland are just beautiful. Now, I had known from reading on fodors that new walls and walkways had been installed to keep tourists away from the edges of the cliffs. What I learned while there though, is Lesson #10 on the teen fast track – seeing the worn, gentle, yet forbidden footpaths on the other side of the walls was too great a temptation for at least one teenage boy. While the rest of the group began the climb up the steps toward the lighthouse, my 15 year old could no longer resist the urge to at least get those extra few inches closer by being on the footpath. What he didn’t know however, was that there were rangers on sight who blew the whistle immediately as soon as he ducked around the corner of the wall and stepped onto the footpath. When he hurriedly rejoined our group and did his best to blend in with the rest of us in our black rain jackets, I knew that the whistle I had heard had been intended for him.

Dinner that evening found our group at one of the local pubs in Lisdoonvarna. Unfortunately for us, there was no live music that night, however we did enjoy some good pub fare such as enormous servings of very good stew. It was probably just as well that there was no music, it gave us the opportunity to do lots of catching up and story swapping with my sister-in-law and her husband. We hadn’t seen them since July of 2006, when they left to go work in Cairo, Egypt for two years, so we all had a lot to catch up on.

We managed a semi-early bedtime that night because we knew that we hoped to see part of the Burren the next morning before making the drive to the Dingle Peninsula.
Momof3sons is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 07:42 PM
  #33  
 
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I'm so glad your are able to continue this report. I really wanted to hear of your adventures in Ireland.

Too bad about the rental car - and the lack of insurance. Yikes!

Boys will be boys . . .
LCBoniti is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 08:24 PM
  #34  
 
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Great report

We were in Paris last year for only 3 days with our 15 yr old daughter. Xmas 2008 we will visit for a week with 3 families and 4 17 yr olds (2 girls & 2 boys). Lots of great ideas and memories. Thanks

We're also looking at Paris Attitude as they seem to be the only agency with apartments big enough for us.

I don't quite understand the cleaning bit. I asked PA to clarify if the apartment will be professionally cleaned before we arrive - she said yes but we should leave it clean and tidy. But she said there isn't a cleaning fee. Did you go to the extent of cleaning the bathrooms, oven, fridge, toilets etc.?
Sarvowinner is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 04:25 AM
  #35  
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LCBoniti - hopefully the gap won't be so long before my next post, although I am swamped at work and its only Monday morning!

Sarvowinner - we just used clorox type wipes in the bathroom, kitchen etc, however that was far more than appeared to have been previously done in the shower of the master bath. All appeared fairly clean when we got there, however when we used the squeege in the shower, that lots of that orangish mold that can grow in bathrooms (I know if I don't stay on top of it, it will grow around the seams of my shower curtain)came off of the tiles shower walls - Yuck!

We got it cleaned up, but I don't think we should've had to deal with it (especially on vacation )
Momof3sons is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 04:58 AM
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Mom

I agree!
Sarvowinner is offline  
Sep 20th, 2007, 04:52 AM
  #37  
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June 22 – Friday morning started with a delightful full Irish breakfast. In fact, that breakfast was my mother’s favorite breakfast on the whole trip I think. In fact, I believe that the Ballinsheen House was my mother’s favorite B&B on the entire trip. After breakfast we checked out and headed out to see a little more of the Burren (we had driven through it on our way to Lisdoonvarna the day before).

Our first stop was the Burren Center in Kilfenora. We decided not to pay the admission price to visit here, but we did pick up a good map of the Burren and Burren sights. From Kilfenora, we made our way first to Caherconnell Stone Fort and then on to the Poulnabrone Dolmen 1 km away. Caherconnell Stone Fort did charge admission, although I forget the actual cost. The displays were simple, but well done and very informative. The Poulnabrone buriel tomb did not charge admission and the boys thought it was cool because it looked like the stone table from The Chronicles of Narnia. We chose both of these sites because of their close proximity and we felt that they would show us a several glimpses into the lives of these early inhabitants of Ireland, as well as show us some of the varied terrain of the Burren. We were not disappointed with our selections. The land was so rugged, yet one patch could be slabs of solid limestone with beautiful flowers growing in the cracks, while an area just a short distance away could be a beautiful green hillside littered with only “smaller” rocks. I always love to image the existence of those who have gone before us.

After our brief visit to the Burren, we headed south towards Ennis. One reason for the Ennis stop was to visit the ATM (FYI there are not many ATM’s in this region of Co. Clare. We also stopped for a bite of lunch in Ennis as it was now about 1:30pm. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of it, but there is a terrific Bagel/Deli place in town facing the car park (which cost 1 euro by the way for the time we were there). It is the last shop in the row that runs down one side and ends at a stream if I recall correctly. They prepare wonderful made to order sandwiches of all sorts.

With out banking done and the boys fed, we piled back into the cars and headed off to catch the Killmer-Tarbert Ferry (single mini-bus 25 euro). What great choice that was – a relaxing but brief ride, a pretty and simple drive, and we saved time by not driving through Limerick -another great tip from Fodor’s posters. We arrived just ahead of a long string of cars, yet we were one of the first in line. Also the wait was only a few minutes, just long enough for my several of my sons to shop in the little gift shop where they found coasters with our family name on them. I wished I had learned and applied Lesson #11 on the teen fast track at this point – suggest that everyone take advantage of shopping for an item when you find it. There is no guarantee that you are going to find the same item again no matter how many places you look.

After the ferry we continued on towards the town of Dingle enjoying the scenery as we drove. As we had discovered, time had a way of slipping away in Ireland, so although some would have liked us to stop at the windmill in Tralee, we did not (being the resourceful guys that they are, one of the boys still manage to get a few good photos from the car window of the windmill).

Our real goal was to be able to drive the Slea Head Drive, and because the summer days were so long, we were successful. What beautiful countryside, I know our day was long, but we are all so glad that we didn’t miss this – it was a highlight! Before we drove through Dingle, we found a place to stop and park my sister and brother-in-laws little car (Oh what I wouldn’t have given to be driving in one of those instead of our big bus ).
This allowed us to enjoy more conversation time and allowed my sister and brother-in-law to see more of the boys reactions to the land and the sites. We found the self-guided tour in Rick Steve’s Ireland to be very exact and informative. Our first stop was Dunbeg Fort and with its walls practically falling into the sea, my boys were in heaven. They climbed into every nook and cranny that they could find. I wasn’t so sure that they could get out of some of the tiny ones. They especially liked the ones that came out on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea. As we discovered with many of these sites “in someone’s backyard” in Ireland, they also charged admission here (3 euros per person as I recall). Stop number two was the beehive huts 1km up the road. Again admission was charged (2 euros per person) and again, the huts were fascinating. Although we drove from site to site, there was a bit of walking at each of the site and in case anyone was wondering, my 75 year old mother didn’t pass on anything. From the Beehive huts, we made our way around the drive stopping at several scenic overlooks, including the one to look at the “sleeping giant” island out in the water – it really does look like a sleeping giant. Our final stop on the drive was the Gallarus Oratory. We were all amazed at the incredible stonework. How did they balance it just so?

When we returned to Dingle Town, it was getting kind of late, so we opted to grab hot dogs at the hot dog stand across from the harbor. Just as the owner was finishing filling our order, the rain that had threatened off and on all day actually let loose. We weren’t sure how long the rain would last, so we decided to eat our hot dogs in the van while we headed on to our destination for the evening. We picked up the other car and made the drive along the coast from Dingle to Killorglin arriving at our B&B at about 9pm (we had spoken with the proprietor the day before and arranged a 9pm arrival time).

Unfortunately, we would be staying at this B&B for two nights – it was not the best choice. We chose Killorglin due to its location because we wanted to use it as resting spot after our days visiting the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry. I had some difficulty finding accommodations in Killorglin that had any kind of reviews, so I took a chance on one that I found during my online searching. We had three rooms, 2 double ensuite, and 1 triple ensuite for 402 euros at the Torine House. (My sister and brother-in-law also had a double room ensuite). The price itself was OK and the hostess, Catherine was quite hospitable. The Torine House however, did not get a good review from us on tripadvisor. The B&B was dark, I do realize it was overcast, but there seemed to be no good sun exposure even when the sun did shine and lamps were not used much. The rooms were sparse with a tile floor. The linens were musty, mismatched, and the towels were ragged, mismatched and threadbare. The breakfast, though made to order, was just OK – it came out at all different times, was somewhat greasy, and even the toast was somewhat burnt. We would not try this location again. After getting situated in our rooms, we settled in quickly because we knew that we wanted to get an early start on our drive around the Ring of Kerry in the hopes of beating the tour buses.
Momof3sons is offline  
Sep 20th, 2007, 05:49 AM
  #38  
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Sorry for the typos above. I have been pressed to get another entry written and 10:00pm last night was the first opportunity that I've had to sit down and write. I guess my proof reading skills really diminish in the late night hours.
Momof3sons is offline  
Sep 20th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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Who cares about typos - I'm just happy to have another installment! Thanks for continuing. This is very enjoyable.
LCBoniti is offline  
Sep 27th, 2007, 07:03 PM
  #40  
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June 23 – The Ring of Kerry

As planned, we awoke early that Saturday, had breakfast, and headed out on the ring road going on a counter-clockwise route. Before we left the B&B, we arranged for Catherine to make dinner reservations for us a Nick’s Seafood and Steak House in Killorglin. I had read great reviews for Nick’s, and the copy of the menu that Catherine had looked like it would have something for everyone. This was to be a special “splurge” dinner – more about dinner later. The other thing that we tried to coordinate before our departure was to find somewhere that we could do our laundry. Unfortunately, Catherine told us that there was no self service Laundry in town, and she informed us that if we dropped off our laundry, they would not have it ready until Monday since they closed early on Saturdays.

Not long into our drive, we noticed that our hosts had not been quite right about the time that they told us we would need to get out to miss the busses (before 10 am). We set out at about 9:30 and there were plenty of busses already on the road, thankfully we never really got “stuck” behind any of them (they seemed to pull off at every overlook). We all agreed that the drive around the north side of the ring, from Killorglin to Cahirsiveen paled in comparison to the Slea Head drive from the day before. On this trip, we opted not to head out to Portmagee and the Skellig Islands. If we had more time, we would definitely have joined my sister and brother-in-law on their trip to Skellig Island the next day (It took them 3 trips to Co. Kerry before the timing and weather cooperated so that they could get out to the island. They loved it by the way).

We headed on to Waterville, and Aunt Abbey’s house. Aunt Abbey is my husband’s great aunt (his grandfather’s sister) and she stayed in Ireland and lived out her years in their childhood home. Sadly, Abbey died several years ago, her niece now owns the house and keeps it as a holiday getaway, but in my husband’s family, this home will forever be referred to as Aunt Abbey’s house. My sons have heard tales about Aunt Abbey’s house for years from their grandmother, great aunt, great uncle, and aunt – most of whom had the pleasure of visiting Abbey in that house. The house itself is a cozy, non-descript Irish home. What really held everyone’s fascination was the barn beside the house where apparently my husband’s grandfather and the other older siblings of that generation slept.

Our first stop in Waterville was at the Catholic church where many of my husband/sons’ ancestors are buried. Then it was just down the road to Aunt Abbey’s house. The house was set on a lovely slope, surrounded by fields, pasture, a few other homes and a view of the ocean. My boys enjoyed spending a few minutes exploring. I really enjoyed looking at the landscaping and gardens, apparently most of which has been added since Aunt Abbey died. Although I know it seems to have taken over much of Ireland, I was fascinated with the wild fuscia that we saw in hedges along the drive here as well as everywhere else on our drive – it’s just beautiful! Lesson #12 on the teen fast track – if something is built up in a teen’s mind for many years, it can be very hard to live up to expectations. Although the boys thought it was cool to see the house and property, the many renovations that have been carried out over the last few years caused the reality to not really match the pictures that they had in their minds of this great old Irish farm.
Next, it was on to Staigue Fort. The drive around the southern part of the ring was just beautiful – some absolutely breathtaking scenery! In some ways, I think that Staigue Fort was one of my favorite sights in Ireland. We drove off the main road up into the hills. Staigue Fort is a large, nicely preserved ring fort nestled in a small pasture on the one of Irelands green, yet rocky hillsides (no admission here by the way). Just below the fort is a beautiful babbling brook and a stance of trees. The fort was surrounded by grazing sheep on those hillsides. What a lovely pastoral scene. By the time we got to the fort, the sky had cleared, the off and on mist was gone and the sun was shining brightly. Looking down from the fort into the valley, you are met with an amazing view of the ocean and coastline. Wow! Its funny actually, the boys took note of so many of the details of this place, yet they somehow missed the rather large sign just inside the fort that said “Danger stay off the walls.” As you may have guessed from the rest of our tales, this came as no surprise to my husband and me .

At this point, I think it was about 1:00pm, so we decided to make a stop in Sneem for lunch. Sneem was a cute little town – I can see why it is so popular with the tour busses. We actually arrived in town before the tour busses, and quickly settled on a sunny little restaurant just beside the stream that connects the two town squares. Although I remember that lunch was good, I can’t remember any other details about that meal.

Back on the road again, we opted to head out of Sneem on the N70 and then take the R568 to the N71 through Killarney National Park. We were very happy with this choice because the park was beautiful. The Ring of Kerry drive was actually much quicker than we anticipated except that this last portion of the drive, with its twists and turns did seem to take a little longer than we anticipated. By about 4:00 pm as I recall, we were back in Killorglin.

Several in our party decided to rest up at the B&B, while others explored the few streets that made up the town. Oh, and my mother and I worked on some of the phone calls trying to determine how to handle the scratch on the car – ugh! As I mentioned earlier, the B&B hostess, Catherine, had made 6:30 dinner reservations for us at Nick’s Seafood and Steak house. The only problem was, that when we arrived for our reservation and looked at the menu posted outside, we discovered that the menu copy in our rooms must have been very old. The prices of entrees averaged about $40-$50 versus the $20-$25 that we had expected. Serendipitously, these high prices caused us to cancel our reservations at Nick’s and head next door to a tapas and wine bar in a renovated church. We later found out that the same owners own the tapas bar and Nick’s. This wound up being one of our favorite meals on the trip and was definitely the favorite in Ireland! The name of the restaurant is Sol y Sombra and we would highly recommend it. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome, even though they had a full house and we were a walk in party of eight on a Saturday night. For $301.23 (219.20 euros) the eight of us had an extensive, varied and wonderful array of tapas – everything from a very large salad, to grilled asparagus, mussels, croquettes …(I forget them all), a bottle of wine, and many soft drinks. The atmosphere, the company, and the food made for a wonderful dinner. Everyone went to bed that night quite content!
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