Last night when we were waiting for the excellent show to start at Siamsa Tire a guy in the row behind me was telling someone he was with that there is this Middle Earth themed pub in Killarney they should go to; I let them see the pictures of the Shire I'd taken on my Irish Android smart phone (so I could post them to Facebook later). On the horse cart through the Gap of Dunloe this afternoon I rode with two young American parents and their much younger kids who had spent last night at the hostel attached to the Shire pub.
Today was a pretty good day despite the often miserable or at least unpleasant weather, the usual confusion caused by miscommunication between the agencies booking tours, the customers they are booking the tours for, and the people actually providing the means of travel. When I had booked the trip Monday afternoon for this morning out to Kate Kearney's cottage and the Gap of Dunloe, I was told that although the shuttle usually picked up people at 10 AM but lately it had been doing so at 10:30 instead and the woman at reception who booked the tour called the travel agency and confirmed the 10:30 pickup.
This morning I had breakfast in the hotel and was heading back up to my room to use the bathroom and get my stuff when I got all the way back to my room and couldn't find my key card, so I had to go all the way back down to reception to get another one. While doing so I asked the person working the desk if they'd let the shuttle driver known I'd be right back if they came before I got there, and the driver had actually been waiting for a few minutes. I explained to the driver that their office had confirmed pickup for 10:30 and not 10 and I had to run up to my room and would be back in a few minutes.
The shuttle drops you off downtown where several tour buses are waiting, and there was some confusion as to which bus was going where and which one I should be on to go to the Gap of Dunloe. Kate Kearney's cottage is a small place that has a gift shop and a small café but is pretty and is in great scenery. There's also a newer, slightly larger restaurant next door.
There was then some more confusion and annoyance when I was trying to find a horse carriage to take me through the Gap. Neither the person here at the hotel or the people with the shuttle company had mentioned that the fee didn't include a carriage ride through the Gap, but that wasn't the annoyance. That was a result of my being passed up by carriage drivers because I was traveling alone and not with a larger party. Carriage after carriage left until I was still there with the young family I mentioned earlier.
The ride through the Gap is stunning, and often incredibly beautiful. The driver and the American family were congenial company but I did not physically enjoy the ride at all. It was a small carriage, holding four adults, with seats on the side. Not only was there no leg room at all but the mom who was sitting across from me was holding one of their kids on her lap so his feet were sticking into my lap as well. And I really don't like riding sideways having to look over your shoulder to see anything. The weather was chilly and often drizzly but the scenery often made up for it.
It was surprisingly and unpleasantly busy on the road, where car traffic is supposedly restricted to people who actually live along it since there's really nothing other than Kate Kearney's cottage and the restaurant on the side where we started and a small restaurant where the boats leave for Ross Castle on the other. The road is very narrow, single lane, which makes it a real problem when someone is coming the other way, when a car is behind a horse carriage, or a carriage is behind a car which happened to us a couple of times.
A (to me) surprising number of people were walking the trip which is eight miles long and is often very steep. There is nothing in between either end except for private homes, so good luck if you change your mind on the walk.
Our trip ended at Lord Brandon's cottage, which has been transformed into a small restaurant with an outdoor seating area and a much larger outdoor but covered seating area. We got there just before 1 PM and the boats don't leave until 2 PM so I had time for a sandwich and a piece of pie for lunch.
I didn't think much of our vessels for the boat trip across to Ross Castle either. They are all small twelve seater open boats with seating along the side. Once again I had trouble finding someone to take me along because I was by myself and not part of a larger party.
The weather was drizzly again, and once again I had to look over my shoulder to see anything but there was a bit more leg room on the boat and the scenery pretty much made up for it.
I have no idea how any of my pictures from today came out. I have the camera set on automatic focus so anything I got a picture of should be in focus but most of the time I was just kind of pointing and clicking the shutter button without being able to see much of anything through the back viewfinder.
The shuttle driver was waiting for me as soon as I got to Ross Castle, so I decided not to pay to go in but to just catch a ride back to my hotel.
It was about 3:45 by now, and traffic in town then was very bad. For some reason all the traffic lights had been switched from green/yellow/red to flashing yellow and no one was entirely sure when to go through intersections but just kind of pushed through whenever they felt they could.
I had thought about catching a cab in for the races or later to find somewhere for dinner and to hear some more Irish traditional music but after seeing the traffic I decided to just hang out in my room and have dinner in the restaurant here later, so I did.
I've had a very pleasant evening hanging out here. I stretched out for a bit shortly after getting back and think I might even have fallen asleep for a while. I've listed where I want to go between my hotel here in Killarney on the way to my hotel in Cork for the next two nights, what I want to see while in Cork, and what I want to see and where I want to go between Cork and my next stop from there, Waterford.
I also decided to take advantage of the free time to transfer more pictures from the memory card in my camera to my computer and am now backing those up to a USB drive which I try to do every couple of days. This time, though, it took a little longer because I decided to sort all the pictures on the computer by date first before backing them up to the USB drive.
There are two stops I want to make in the immediate vicinity on the way out of town tomorrow, both of which are supposed to be don't miss sites in the Killarney National ParkMuckross Abbey and Muckross Castle. Then I want to go see the stone circle (called in some sources the Druid's circle although it predates the Druids by centuries) down near Kenmare.
It's only supposed to be a 75-90 minute drive directly from my hotel here in Killarney to my hotel in Cork City but there are three towns along the coast I've always wanted to at least pass through--Bantry with a view of the bay by the same name, Skilbbereen, and Kinsaleso I think that's what I'll do. Then from Kinsale to my hotel it's another hour and a half. Either way I should be checked into my hotel in Cork well before dinner with time to explore town a bit and find somewhere to eat. I already know that after checking into the hotel and dropping my bags off I'll have to take my car to a nearby pay parking lot to leave it.
It's now only shortly past 11 PM. I might actually get to bed and to sleep tonight earlier than I've been doing lately.