I really liked Killarney. It was easy to navigate around town and I enjoyed the shopping district, but we move on. Next stop … Ennistymon, County Clare. What great scenery we saw along the way. We stopped in a neat village called Adare. After wandering around a bit, we went into Pat Collins Bar for some lunch. Marie and I began a love affair with the soup we ate in Ireland! I had vegetable soup, blended. I promised myself I was going to blend my soup from then on, but so far I haven’t honored that promise since being home.
We arrived at Ennistymon late afternoon. Since it was a relatively small town, we headed straight to the hotel. Falls Hotel and Spa was nice enough for us to stay put. We had a beautiful room in a beautiful hotel and the bathroom was extraordinary. How often do you say or hear that? But, we were very impressed. From now on, all bathrooms will be held to that standard. Large, dark wood, ceramic tile, chrome … just impressive.
When we arrived, the place was full with locals watching a finals Irish soccer match. Dublin won. By the time we registered and got our bags in the room, the match was over and the bar had emptied out. We missed an opportunity to talk soccer … or Trump with the locals. So we followed our normal routine … hit the bar for our afternoon libation. Marie had her drink of choice — Irish coffee, while Jim and I stayed with wine and scotch. As we sat and enjoyed the view of the falls and the town in the distance, a sheep dog came bounding into the corral to herd the donkeys back to their barn. The donkeys weren’t really having any of it. Mostly they were hiding under a little bridge. The sheep dog evidently decided the hell with it because he just went back to the barn and laid down. Kinda like dealing with your kids … whatever! Marie then headed out to climb over rocks and hills to take pictures. Jim and I sat and drank our adult beverages and watched her.
After breakfast the next morning, we loaded up and headed out. Next stop? Oughterard. I did receive instruction from the bartender in how to say it, but I’m wasn’t always successful. The “ough” is sort of like “auk”.
We took the scenic route via the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. More beautiful scenery. Ireland is packed full of beautiful sights. The Cliffs are self explanatory. The Burren is what it sounds like … barren. It’s limestone without any soil cover. After all the green grass, it was such a stark contrast. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore much of it. It was best experienced by bicycle or walking.
As we exited the Burren, we stopped in Ballyvaughan for lunch. We saw a neat looking place sitting on the water and decided it would be a great place for lunch. Monks Bar & Seafood Restaurant. Once again, we loved every spoonful of the most wonderful soup. Yum. Yum.
After our delicious lunch and some silly picture taking, we got back in the car to head up to Oughterard. We missed a turn in Galway, but managed to get it corrected and reached our destination without further issue. As I was reading off the highlights of things about Oughterard, we discovered part of The Quiet Man (old John Wayne movie) was filmed here. This got Jim really excited as he loves movies … old ones included. This became a “must see.”
We stayed in a really nice B&B with extremely nice and helpful hosts — Carrown Tober House. We deposited our bags and after asking where The Quiet Man bridge was, we went in search of it. We found it, with a minimal number of wrong turns, as well as a mini bus of tourists from Minnesota. We all took turns getting our pictures. Jim was sooo excited.
We went back to town for some liquid libation and some local interaction. We chose a place because of its thatched roof … Powers Thatched Restaurant and Bar. Turned out to be the right choice. Once again, we were on the receiving end of barbs about the President we elected. We definitely saw a pattern here. We had some great laughs with one bartender and when his shift ended, we were subjected to the same comments from the next one. (We laughed with him.) Isn’t this a neat looking place?
Next stop … Cong. This will be on our way back to back to Dublin for our last night. Having learned about that part of The Quiet Man was filmed in this town, Jim had Pat Cohan’s Tavern on his must-do list. After a tasty lunch at Puddleducks Cafe we walked up the street to have a drink at Cohan’s. What? What? It can’t be! Closed on Tuesdays? No! It can’t be. Not only was it closed, but shutters were across the inside of the windows and we couldn’t see in. Bummer. Oh well.
On to Ashford Castle so Marie could take some more castle pictures. Wow! Really impressive. And expensive. People with lots of money … lots of money … like movie stars, etc … get married here.
AND … the Piece de Resistance? Some of the buildings here were used in the movie. The one with the red porch is the one Maureen O’Hara lived in with her dad, I believe. My memory isn’t what it used to be. It was fixed up, the red porch not being there when the movie was made.
We were happy campers when we got back in our car. This last day was definitely a good one. Onward to Dublin for our last night.
Lest you think it was smooth sailing from here, think again. We did not leave Ireland without stress. Heck, we didn’t even get to our hotel in Dublin without stress. We managed to get into Dublin during rush hour. With no GPS or even a great city map. Not that a map of any type would have helped much. Coming into town we planned to head to the airport because the directions I had for the hotel had easier directions from the airport. BUT … we missed the airport exit off the freeway or whatever they call them there. Hence our foray into downtown Dublin at 5:30 p.m. Marie had her phone GPS on, but the phone signal couldn’t keep up with our need to make decisions on turning or going straight ahead. Street signs aren’t on posts at the corners like in the U.S. They are on small signs on the corners of the buildings, so you need to get rather close. Yikes!
We had discussed getting gas near the airport so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning, but obviously that wasn’t happening. Basically, we were going wherever traffic was taking us. At one point, Marie’s GPS got us heading in the right direction but couldn’t keep up. Oh boy! And don’t forget, I’m the navigator in the back seat because I’m a lousy passenger. Can you visualize the three stooges in the car trying not to scream, yell and smack each other in the head? It took all the control we had. Or at least I had. (Pat on the back for us all.)
All of a sudden we were in the vicinity of our hotel, The Croke Park Hotel right by the Croke Park Stadium. Thank you, Jesus. Whoops, we went the wrong way on a one way street. Hallelujah! There it was! We parked that damned car and never felt so happy to be somewhere in our whole lives.
As per our normal pattern, we checked in and put our bags in the room. Woo … nice room. And once again, nice bathroom. I continue my love affair with bathrooms! Staying in better hotels than Holiday Inn Express will do that for you. After our unplanned adventure in Dublin rush hour traffic, we went looking for the bar. Found the restaurant instead. Good enough. Double duty. We ordered our drinks and then our dinner from a very nice waitress from Nigeria. Feeling sated and relaxed, we headed up to our room to organize our bags and hit the bed. We had a very early flight out of Dublin … 6:50 a.m. And we needed to fill up the gas and return the car. Not to mention check in and get through security. We all set our phones and iPads for 4:00 a.m.
The next morning, we stumbled around getting ourselves ready. When we checked out I verified the directions to get to the airport. Now bear in mind, it was pitch black outside when we left. We were told to make a right turn and then head straight until we got on M50. Well, the straight part of it ended and we had to choose, left or right. We chose left and came onto a freeway. Yay … M50. We’re doing good. When we got to the toll booth, we needed to pay. But the sign in our car clearly stated we weren’t to pay the toll on the M50. Well, this wasn’t the M50, it was M4 or 1 or 6. It was something not the M50.
We managed to get to the airport and were so stressed we decided the hell with filling up the gas. Let them do it. We got to the car rental return place and WHAT? It was gated shut and wouldn’t open until 6 a.m. It was 5:30 a.m. There was a sign that said we could take it to someplace across from the terminal and leave it. But after driving around twice, we couldn’t find it and ended up back at the rental return. At that point it was 10 minutes until they opened , so we parked in front of the gate and waited. Jim reminded us that he was right when he pointed out where we were to leave the car. And he was right, I had to acknowledge. We should have listened. But when do two women listen to one man, I ask?
We made it through check-in and security in time to make our flight. Okay! We made it! We were flying back to Paris on Aer Lingus to get our flight back to JFK on Air France, then onto Raleigh on American. Well surprise, surprise. Air France canceled our flight and we were going to be leaving 4 hours later. We could have slept longer! We were now going to miss our connection in JFK to Raleigh. Marie got our missed flight out of JFK changed to the following morning while I found a hotel to stay in that night. And I learned that if you use different airlines that wasn’t scheduled by one of them, you are on your own. Air France did give each of us an 11 Euro voucher for lunch vs. the $250 we were paying for a hotel room by JFK.
Checking in the next morning, we found that only 2 of us could get on the flight. One had to be on stand-by. They had already checked Marie and I in. Jim was the one who’d have to wait for the next flight out unless someone gave up their seat. No one did. So Marie gave up her’s to Jim, and got an $800 voucher. Jim and I arrived back in Raleigh, took a short nap, grabbed Marie’s other suitcase and clothing she left at my house and we drove back to the airport to meet Marie. She had to fly out to Denver for a wedding a few hours later. Success.
With all we went through the last day, I’d do it again in a minute. I’m not sure I would choose Air France again. They did the same thing to us when we flew over to France. But, I guess all the airlines do things like that nowadays.
And remember when we dropped off our car and figured they could fill it up? This was a economy car. I would estimate the size about like my Honda Civic with a 14 gallon gas tank. Well, it cost me $80.