I arrived in Killarney much too early Thursday to check into my hotel, but I was able to drop my bags off there and head out.
I was, however, early enough for the Killarney National Park bus tour that I had scoped out when I was here two weeks ago.
It wasn’t a great day for weather, but it wasn’t awful, either. Plus the forecast for Friday was pretty well the same, so no point waiting. Carpe diem, right?
We weren’t many on the tour and it wasn’t a regular kind of bus tour. I had expected some bits of info shared by the driver, or another person on the bus for that person, but nope. Nada.
Well, he did stop at one point while we were en route to point out a herd of deer that were laying about and/or grazing in a field just off the road. But there was no commentary about the area or anything.
I suppose maybe it was in the name – it was a “shuttle” as opposed to a “tour”, so I guess that was it.
I had checked in at the Irish tourism office before doing the tour, and while the man was pleasant, he wasn’t super helpful or forthcoming with info. He and two other colleagues had been chatting when I approached, so maybe that was why – he just wanted to get back to the chat.
I’ve found that fairly common, actually. Not brushing you off to get back to a chat, but not being very forthcoming with info. I understood it at the train station two weeks ago – the guy gave basic info in Dublin and I had to ask for some more specifics. But the train isn’t tailored for tourists. It’s just a regular mode of transport.
But a shuttle bus/tour of the National Park…well…um…that’s geared towards tourism. Even if there are locals who do use it repeatedly, it’s safe to assume that tourists (particularly those in the tourism office asking questions don’t know the “normal” way of doing things.
On tours I’ve done in other places, they’ve been really good about what you need to do, where you need to go, how to get there, etc.
Not a big deal – just interesting. Plus, maybe I have developed a face like a smacked arse and nobody wants to talk to me more than they absolutely have to? 😉
At any rate, I made it to the bus and the park. We had the same driver the whole day. He wasn’t very forthcoming at first, either, until I had asked a few questions. Then it became clear to him that he couldn’t just drop us off and assume we knew what the heck we were about.
There was an older couple on the bus, too, and they really didn’t know what the scoop was. It was obvious that the husband did not know much English at all and relied on his wife for that. I could tell she was struggling, too, even with the driver’s explanations of what time we needed to be back at the bus.
The lady and I chatted a little at one stop. I asked where they were from, fully expecting (from the sound of the language they were speaking) an eastern European country. Her answer almost stopped me dead in my tracks: “Dublin.”
She followed it up with the fact that they were originally from Lithuania. “Ohhhhh…OK. That makes sense,” I thought. “They must have recently moved.”
She told me they’ve been in Dublin for 30 years.
I became instantly grateful for the relative ease with which I learn languages. I can’t imagine living somewhere for 30 years and still be struggling with basic things like the time.
They seemed nice, but conversation was very stilted and limited to “What time…?” and “Awful weather…” The husband, bless his socks and slippers, tried to make conversation at one point, too, when his wife was off somewhere.
“You from Canada…In France?” I asked a couple of times to confirm that that was indeed what he was asking and I tried to explain that Canada was in North America, but I don’t know how successful I was.
But despite the linguistic challenges, we helped each other out. I was a bit of a go-between with the driver and the woman for some things and she came and alerted me at Ladies View to the fact that the bus had arrived, to make sure that I didn’t miss it.
As always, the people you meet add such an interesting dimension to travel!
This post is getting long, so I think I’ll count this one as done. I’ll post pictures in a later post (or two?). The image uploading options are better on my laptop than in this app, so I might actually wait till I’m home in a couple of days.
Before I close, though, I have to say that if you ever get the chance to go to Killarney National Park, please be sure to do so. As I’ve said before, my tablet doesn’t have a great camera, so the photos really do not do the place justice. But it really is worth the time to go there.
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