Ireland - 2015
In June 2015 my girlfriend and I visited our friends in South-West Ireland. We have been to Ireland many times before, in fact this was our 7th time, but it's still a beautiful country to visit. So far we have only visited the County Kerry and County Cork areas, because this is where our friends live. They live just outside of Tralee in Ballyroe (on the road to Ardfert). Nienke is our Dutch friend from college. She moved to Ireland after meeting a Kerry-man. They are now married (we also went to her wedding in 2008) and have two children. During the economic crisis in 2008 Ireland was hit pretty hard, but they manage to lead a happy live in County Kerry.
Usually the weather in this area is pretty bad. Lots of rain and wind which look depressing, but give the surrounding area a rugged feel to it. And the rain and wind actually go well with the landscape. But this time (just like last year) we were in luck. The weather was great. Sometimes still a bit windy, but no rain and lots of sunshine. I even got a little sunburn. When booking a trip to Ireland sun-lotion is the last thing on my mind, but it could have come in handy this time around. The trip for us to Ireland is relatively easy. Since there were constructions on the rail road we had to take a taxi to the airport. Taking a taxi is actually just a little bit more expensive than a train so maybe we should consider taking a cab every time we need to go to Schiphol Airport. The taxi took us in rocket speed (one of the reason why I don't like Dutch cabs) to the airport. There we took an Aer Lingus flight to Cork airport which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. From Cork airport we took the bus to Cork bus station in the city. There we transferred onto bus 40 to Tralee. And 2 hours and 15 minutes later we arrived at Tralee bus station. After a few minutes our friend Nienke was there to pick us up in her car and take us to her house which took about 15 minutes. Since this was our 7th time the entire journey felt quite familiar to us. After some coffee and home-made bread we decompressed enough from the trip for some R and R. We got lots of attention from the kids (Emmet 5Yo and Iona 3Yo) and when the man of house (Maurice) came home from work we went to nearby Ardfert to visit the first annual Medieval festival. It was small and rather amateuristic, but it was very nice. And maybe the following years will get better. After that we went home again and we could relax in the garden with some wine (red, white and rose) and conversations.
The next day Maurice went to work and Emmet went to school. After breakfast Reeta, Nienke, Iona and I went to the Muckross house in Killarney. A top tourist destination, but it was quiet and we had a beautiful walk in the area. Did I mention the weather was great? Of course I did, but since it is quite rare that this area has nice weather I HAVE to mention it. We didn't visit the Muckross house itself, because they charged us €9 each and we didn't expect it to be worth it. Luckily the Muckross house has a large garden (more like a park) in which to take nice walks. We have been here before so we decided to take a route we hadn't seen yet.
During our hike we came across a gazebo on top of a hill. There was no footpath leading up to it so we had to climb the hill. It looked pretty deserted and we wondered if this would be a great place to have sex in public without getting caught. After our walk to the beautiful gardens of Muckross house we went back to Killarney to pick up some shopping before heading back home. We had to get home on time so Nienke could pick up Emmet from school. It was a bit of a time table puzzle sometimes, but we managed to have some great excursions during the day. After Emmet was picked up from school Iona really wanted to go to the beach. Which was nearby in Banna. So after a short drive to Banna we were at the beach. It was nice and sunny, but very windy. We had a great time walking in the dunes and made some nice pictures. After a walk on the beach we headed back to the car and we were rewarded with a delicious ice-cream. I had a soft ice with chocolate sprinkles. It brought back some memories of when I was a little boy and my mother bought me this ice cream. That evening I decided to do the cooking. It was in an unfamiliar kitchen and the spuds (google it) where quite different from the Dutch ones. So diner wasn't perfect, but still quite nice. We had some veggie burgers with broccoli, cauliflower and oven baked spuds.
The next day was still a work-day and school-day so Maurice and Emmet left the house at around 8.30 for work and school. Then we had the morning to do whatever we wanted. Since we had to be back on time we couldn't wander of to far. This morning (after breakfast and coffee) we set out to Glanageenty. This is near Castleisland which isn't an island at all! I didn't see a castle either. A relatively short drive from our friends house and right into nature. Many Dutch people are unaware of how dirty the Netherlands really is, but this is very noticeable when you venture out into Ireland's green nature. The air was so clean and fresh, I could hardly believe it. The hike took us into the forest and then onto the hills. The hike took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes and Iona (3Yo) walk the whole trail by herself without complaining (much). Quite impressive. We also saw some really nice shamrock there. That evening we took our friends to Cassidy's restaurant in Tralee as a token of appreciation for their hospitality. The food was great and the children didn't make a big scene. For desert I had the warm, house-made double chocolate heart attack with ice cream. I got a sugar rush afterwards, but it was all worth it. It was evening and I was still wearing short sleeves! Did I mention the weather was great?
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. So the next day we had to leave the house and it's beautiful view to go back to the Netherlands. Nienke brought us to Tralee bus station and there we took bus 40 back to Cork. The bus was delayed on it's way to Cork so we ended up just missing the bus to the airport. So waited for another 30 minutes for the next bus. This bus was pretty full, but we were on it and it left on time. In Cork airport we heard that the airplane was delayed for 20 minutes which ended up being closer to an hour. Finally back in Amsterdam we had some food at Burger King. On average we eat about 3 times a year at BK or MacD and I think it's going to be even less in the future, because it is actually very disgusting food. After the grub we went to the train to find out that there were problems (how surprising!!). There are often problems with the trains. Fortunately, our train was still running and back in Utrecht it was only a 10 minute walk home. Next trip is going to Thailand and Indonesia. I can't wait!