Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


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Day 16 (Sept 27/19): Killarney – St. Mary’s Church of the Sloes

This was my last day before going to Dublin.

I had originally thought to do a bus/boat tour to another part of the National Park today, but the weather was on-again-off-again rainy – again – and I had had enough of being wet the last few days, so I stayed around Killarney.

That’s not to say that I completely avoided getting wet – I didn’t. But I was able to trot back to the hotel to change and warm up, rather than spend the day in wet clothes.

I mostly just did some more twacking around, finishing up some gift buying.

I also went into the church across the street from my hotel – St. Mary’s. I had posted a picture of it previously when I was here two weeks ago. It’s really quite lovely. Below are some pictures of the windows inside.

Before I forget, and to keep in line with the unintentional theme for this trip of “Switches”, here’s how the Killarney Plaza Hotel deals with lights: You have to insert your room key in a slot in the entry of your room in order for any of the lights or anything to work. It’s a neat way to reduce electricity wastage!

And, speaking of the hotel…it was really quite lovely itself. I quite enjoyed hanging out on here to read and write for a bit while it was raining outside.

And so closes the Ring of Kerry chapter of my holiday!!


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Killarney National Park (Part 2)

I promised pictures of Killarney National Park and, at long last, here they are!

The first place we visited on the tour was Muckross Abbey. The walk from the road to the Abbey was so pretty. It was an on-again-off-again rainy day, so the skies were grey all day, but everything was beautifully green.

Then, of course, there was the Abbey itself. Most of it was built in the 15th century, with some small additions built in the 16th century.

On one end of the Abbey was a field. Check out the warning sign below. Not one I’d seen before, so I thought it was kind of fun. 🙂

After that was the walk over to Muckross House, which was about a kilometre away. It was so beautiful and serene. This walk was one of my favourite parts of the visit to the Park.

The house itself was (as you can see) quite something itself, but I didn’t go in other than to visit the loo. The natural setting held my attention much more, I have to say.

The bus picked us up from there and then we headed to Torc Waterfall, which is about 200 metres along a trail from where the bus dropped us off. The walk was even more beautiful than the waterfall itself and is why this was my absolute favourite stop on the tour. Most people booted it directly to the waterfall, though. I get it – it was raining. Not the best weather for a leisurely stroll, but it was so. dang. beautiful. It was only 200 metres, but it probably took me at least 20 minutes to get up there because I kept stopping along the way.

The colour was indescribable. The photos really and truly don’t do it justice. There is a moss or lichen or something that grows on most of the trees, giving everything this soft, almost glowing green colour. It was spectacular and beautiful, and felt reverential and ethereal. I could imagine Tolkien characters fitting in quite nicely there. 🙂

From there we were off to Ladies View. It had been raining quite hard for a while by then and the driver asked if we just wanted to go back to town. I would have been fine to skip the last stop, but the couple who was also on the tour wanted to go on, so we went.

The roads were really narrow and we had a tough time at one point when we (a smaller shuttle bus) were facing a full-size tour bus coming from the opposite direction. I had taken a couple of pictures to show you just how very tight the squeeze was for us to pass each other, but somehow or other I deleted them. D’oh!

At any rate, the view there was lovely and it wasn’t raining by then (just misty at most). There was a restaurant there where we had lunch before heading back to Killarney.

OK…that’s it for Killarney National Park!

If you are ever even sort of close to it, you should really check it out!!


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Killarney National Park (Part 1)

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.”

Whaaaaaaaaat?

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.”

Wrong again!

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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Day 2 (Sept 13/19): More of Killarney!

(Written on Sept 13/19, as a follow up to my previous post.)

My room is lovely. It’s an older building but it was updated not too long ago. (The foyer, I should mention, is quite lovely – it was redone earlier this year, but I forgot to take a picture.) Three big, beautiful windows overlook a fairly busy street and let in loads of light.

The bed is quite comfy and there are at least two different types of pillows. That might sound weird, but I find that pillows are more important to a good sleep than even the mattress is. I’m so glad that hotels tend to provide different firmness options these days. (It’s the little things, remember?)

I’m off now to do a little exploring and see about a cell phone.

Much later…

After I got back, I lay down around 5:30 for a little nap, intending to get some juice back in my batteries before going out for supper and maybe checking out some local music. But that little nap turned into about 5 hours so, yeah, no supper and no music tonight!

I woke up in complete darkness and could not get any of the lights to turn on. They had been on when I first arrived, but it was such a bright day and the room was so full of natural light that I didn’t notice if any were on when I lay down. But when I woke up I had to use the light from my tablet to navigate around, flicking all sorts of switches. (There are an astounding number of switches in what is a relatively small room.)

EVENTUALLY I made it to the switches right by the door in the entry way and ta daaaaaa!!!!! It turns out that by the door, there is one switch to turn on the light in the entry and another switch that needs to be turned on in order for any of the lights in the room to work.

I must have turned it off when I went out earlier, meaning none of the lights would work when I got back. Mystery solved!! Not sure if that’s unique to this hotel or if it’s a common thing in Ireland, so I’ll keep that tidbit tucked away somewhere easily accessible in my brain for future use. 🙂

It’s quite warm in here, even though it’s a lovely cool night. But there aren’t any screens on the windows so I can’t leave them open. Several flies and mosquitos came in just in the maybe 15 minutes when I opened one a little bit ago. Ah well. I’m likely a bit too messed up now to sleep super well tonight anyway.

Plus…I’m on holidays in Ireland. So, really, who cares?


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Day 2 (Sept 13/19): From Dublin to Killarney

(This post was written on Sept 13/19.)

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The flight went well. An extra treat was that the seat reclined almost fully flat, which meant that I was able to doze a little on the flight. It was really nice and comfortable and I’m so glad I treated myself – I’m sure I’ll be equally glad on the return trip, too.

My comfy seat on the plane!

We arrived in Dublin as scheduled at around 8:30 am. Customs didn’t take too long and I easily found the Express Link desk and got my ticket to get to the Heuston Train Station. It was a lovely day which meant a nice drive through Dublin.

When I bought my train ticket a month or two ago, I got a flex ticket so I could take any train that day. I wanted the flexibility so that if all went well with the flights and customs, I could head to Killarney earlier. Which I did. Instead of having to wait around for the 1:00 train, I was able to catch it just after 11:00, getting me into Killarney about 2:15.

I found my hotel easily enough – less than a 5 minute walk from the station, past a few horse-drawn carriages – a sure sign that tourist season is still in full swing!

My room wasn’t ready so I’m having a bite to eat at the Sandtrap Bar and Grill, attached to the hotel, while it’s being prepared and then I’ll toodle around for a bit. From the quick look I took walking to the hotel from the train station, it looks like I’m in a good spot for twacking around!

Late lunch at the Sandtrap Bar and Grill, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland

It will be an early night, though…As I said, I dozed a little on the plane – enough to keep me upright today, but I’m still pretty zonked. I’ve been up for about 28 hours so the betteries are definitely winding down.

There are so many similarities to how we speak in Newfoundland and how they speak in Ireland that I immediately feel at home. I don’t feel like I need to “edit” myself like I often do in mainland Canada. Of course, here I don’t want people to think I’m just mimicking them. They don’t necessarily know about Newfoundland like we in Newfoundland know about Ireland so it could easily come across that way. Hopefully not!

Well, my food is here (a yummy open-faced tuna melt sandwich with fries and a salad) so I’m off! More about Killarney to come!

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