On to Day 3 in Ireland.
I was catching a train again, only a few blocks away. Soooo…somehow I mixed up my times when setting my alarm and thought I had to be there by 7. I got up, got ready and walked to the station thinking, no problem. Buuuuut I WAS supposed to be there by 6:30!!! I got there at 6:55 and they literally had to run me onto the train that left the station literally 5 seconds after I set foot on board! But I was on my way.
I had to walk through 4 train cars until I found the rail tour guides in their yellow shirts and jackets. We had a whole car reserved for us. I sat next to a lady and her friend from Edmonton. Across the aisle was a group of four (grandma, mom, 2 daughters in their 20s) from Florida. All very nice and friendly.
We switched trains with six others heading south to Killarney. I sat with some older ladies from London. They were no picnic to sit with, let me tell you! Dry, negative, nothing good to say about the Irish. 😦
Once in Killarney, we joined a large coach bus tour that was almost full. I grabbed a front window seat so I could see out the front. Ended up with a friendly youngish Asian guy next to me all day.
We started our tour around the Ring of Kerry. Basically around Ireland’s tallest mountains. Nice country, much more scenic than the interior I’ve already seen. Sheep farms on the mountain slopes that run all the way down to the ocean on Dingle Bay.
The absolute highlight so far was stopping for a sheepdog demonstration. Cost an extra 5€ but well worth it!!!
Love love loved the sheepdogs! Brendan the owner/shepherd put on a quality demonstration. Explaining everything, showing us all the different kinda of sheep. Must have been 100 people watching! They sure do well if all the tour buses stop there at 5€ a head!!! But well worth it!! I got to pet Max the younger dog.
We also stopped at a pub next to a small museum park but the park was tiny with only a few interesting exhibits. I did pet some Irish wolfhounds at this Kerry Bog Park Museum and saw some famous Kerry Bog ponies with tiny little foals. A good animal day
We stopped for lunch at a nice small hotel restaurant, sit down with tables saved for us. I did as Brendan the shepherd suggested and supported the sheep trade by ordering the lamb stew with mashed potatoes. Yum!
Oh and because I barely made it on the train I hadn’t eaten anything yet thst morning. I was planning to grab something quick at the terminal (lots of cafés and kiosks) but no time! No one told us how we could order the breakfast on the train so finally when the snack trolley came by I bought a yummy fresh apple Danish and a cup of tea. Later I found out you had to actually go to the dining car to have a hot breakfast. Drat!!! I should’ve asked!! Ah well. The Danish held me over until lunch…barely!
There were lots of Americans on our big bus. Some Germans and Norwegians and our guide, Peter, was friendly and knowledgable. He talked over a microphone the whole way and sat in a “jump seat” that folds out over the stairs right in front of me.
Oh!!! I saw my first real fox from the second train that morning! Laying in a field, then she moved and she had a baby, a kit? Cub? Pup? Beneath her! Soooo cute. Typical red fox! No photo since we whipped by so fast.
We had a short break in the village of Sneem. Pronounced Shhhneem. Had some Annie’s homemade ice cream. Lovely day!
There are huge purple rhododendron bushes everywhere in full bloom! The Irish consider it a weed!!!! Shocking! To me they just made the countryside look so pretty!!
The last half of the Ring of Kerry Tour was quite spectacular!! We climbed the “mountains” and stopped at the most westerly and high point. Took photos, looked at a few people selling art and a guy who had three lambs, a puppy and four new kittens. He was quite the toothless hick type with a hat out for money. Everyone was drawn to the baby animals and he let them hold the kittens and lambs. Quite the racket!
The roads were so windy and narrow! We had to make cars coming the opposite way back up quite a few times. And we almost hit a deer that jumped out in front of us.
Oh and I also saw my first “standing stones”! Like the famous Stonehenge. We only glanced at this ring of stones in Kerry from afar. Neat! (Outlander, anyone?!)
At another lookout high point there was about 6 tour buses parking along the tiny lot, so about 300 people milling about and there was one young guy sitting on a rock playing the pipes, both bag pipes and hand held (?) pipes. It made for an epic soundtrack to some epic scenery!
I got off the train at 9:30pm and went right downtown. Walked along Grafton street which was still bustling with people, stopped and watched some cool rock musicians playing then headed into O’Neills pub. Peter our tour guide recommended it for good live music any day and yes, the place was packed so I stood and enjoyed an awesome Irish band.
A good Irish day, with a good tour, beautiful scenery and good stops along the way.
I have one more day in Ireland then I can wait to fill you in on SCOTLAND!!