torrie's travels

WHERE WILL I GO NEXT?

The Most Beautiful Place in the World October 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 3:26 pm

Today we got an early start, considering we had a somewhat late night. But we had a lot of ground to cover. As we left Dingle we took the scenic route off of the peninsula in order to go through Conor Pass, which is in the Mt. Brandon range. It is the highest paved pass in Ireland. It was beautiful. I had never seen it before, so I was glad to experience it. The drive up and out was a little scary…I think it was even worse than the Ring of Kerry in some places!

We then made it to Tarbert with ease and boarded the ferry. We chose to cross the bay by ferry instead of driving all the way up to Limerick and back down. It was pretty slick. Then we quickly made our way to Kilkee and drove the Loop Head Drive. This was another 25 kms of gorgeous scenery. There were some cliffs that my travel book said could rival the Cliffs of Moher (they don’t, but they were still amazing!). It was a really beautiful drive and we had the most perfect weather for it. Mid-60’s and no wind. It was lovely!

We had lunch in Kilkee at a pub called Hickie’s. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, but I shouldn’t doubt these pubs anymore because we always have amazing food. I had one of the best Chicken Caesar salads I’ve ever had. Tracey and Jaime had stuffed chicken and they said it was really good, too.

Then we finished the final leg of the day, up to the Cliffs of Moher. This was the second time I had been there, but it still took my breath away. I don’t know what it is, but it is the most majestic view I’ve ever seen. I mean, the whole coast of Ireland (the Wild Atlantic Way) is awe-inspiring, but the Cliffs are just spectacular.

We then toyed with staying in Doolin or Lisdoonvarna. Doolin is where we will be catching the Aran Island ferry from tomorrow. But as my travel guide says, “there’s no there there.” And there wasn’t. So we checked it out, but decided to move on to Lisdoonvarna, which is slightly bigger. Or, well, would have been had half the town not closed already. It’s still the last weekend of the Matchmaking Festival, called “The Outing” because it’s the gay weekend, but apparently lots of places are closed. We tried five places before finally finding a room at the sixth. I was starting to get nervous and flashbacks to 2012 in Dingle! Thankfully the sweetest ladies had a triple room for us and it’s perfect!

We’re pretty tuckered out, so we are having another laid back evening to recharge. Tomorrow we tackle Inis Mor! I loved the island in 2012, so I’m looking forward to going back! And biking the RIGHT path this time!

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My Favorite Place on Earth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 3:11 pm

I cannot express how much I love the Dingle peninsula. It’s just not possible. At almost every stop along the way I exclaimed, I could stay here forever! Seriously, if I had an insulated and heated tent, that would do!

The last (and only) time I drove the peninsula was December 2014. I didn’t realize then that there were several attractions closed. We stopped at Dunbeg, which was a prehistoric fort. The stone fortress that remains there now was built in the 1200’s, but forts in that spot date back to the BC years. There was an interesting video that we were able to watch as well.

As we moved along, we stopped for the Beehive huts, which were similar ringed fortresses and ones I had seen before. The drive along the coastline is just breathtaking. It’s hard to believe places so beautiful exist! We stopped at Clogher Head, which was a stop I made last time and where I ate lunch. But I was unable to go all the way down to the beach before. It was a stunning beach, so I was glad to see that we were able to go down directly to the water. There were wonderful waterfalls and rock formations. It’s just so peaceful!

We then motored along, stopping to take scenic photos at various places until we arrived at Louis Mulcahy’s pottery shop. I had seen it before and later learned that he’s a pretty well-known dude with some nice pottery. So I made two small purchases there!

After the scenic drive we stopped in Dingle to eat at Murphy’s Pub. That was a happening place! And they collect police patches, so Tracey was able to put a St. Cloud patch up. We shopped around and walked through the streets of town. It was a gorgeous day and I even found the house I want to buy there! 3 bedrooms for only 180,000 euro!

After shopping we had some downtime and we all took naps. It was nice to have been able to sleep in a bit that day and then have a relaxed day of sightseeing followed by a nap! After our rest we drove into town and tried to go have a nice seafood dinner at a place called Out of the Blue, which only opens everyday if there was a good catch that day. Unfortunately, it’s apparently so popular that you need a reservation, which we did not have. Boo. So we walked around more and went to another seafood place that was highly rated in my travel guide. We were again asked if we had a reservation, but they were able to accommodate us. And that was great because the meal was delicious! I literally ordered the last lobster (which was amazing), Jaime got the seafood pasta special of the day, and Tracey got a crab sampler. We also splurged for dessert and I had the Chocolate Temptation. Holy cow. It was a LOT of chocolate. A very rich brownie, chocolate ice cream, and liquid chocolate (think thinner than mousse or pudding). I could not finish it all and one of the servers said she didn’t blame me because she’s tried several times and failed!

It was then time for my favorite thing: pub crawl in Dingle! We started out at Dick Mack’s, which is a really cool pub. It’s set up like a house with the various rooms, but both times I’ve been there it has been packed, hot, and loud. So we sat outside with our half-pints. Then we moved on to Foxy John’s, which has the esteemed reputation of being a Hardware store by day and a pub by night. It was also where Loren and I met some fellows in 2012 and ended up going with them to a wedding reception. Fun memories. This was a nice stop as well. Not as obnoxious as DMs. From there it was to the Dingle Pub, where I had never been. It was a nice environment, good music, and good people watching! The manager at the restaurant where we had dinner had told us that Michael Fassbender and his girlfriend, Alicia Vikander, were in town and drinking at the Courthouse Pub. But we got there after midnight, so we missed them! (We knew Fassbender was in the area because he is from Killarney and received some big award there that day…though the restaurant manager seemed to think it was prematurely given because Fassbender has yet to win an Oscar!)

As we made our way to the Courthouse Pub, we saw a bouncer at a nearby pub and started talking to him. He was Lithuanian and has been in Dingle for 12 years. He was a tiler (like in construction), but has gotten away from that and is working the pubs more often. He tried to give me all sorts of advice and tips about how I could move there and work for cash illegally. Because you know, that sounds like a good idea!

All-in-all, it was a great trip to Dingle! I just love it there so much. It was kind of sad because I won’t be back there for at least 4 years and maybe longer (at least the way my plans are laid out now).

 

A Little Old, A Little New October 7, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 3:40 pm

Showing new people around the country, that’s a good title for this trip and today was no exception. We had a tasty breakfast in Kenmare (one of the things I love about staying in small places out in the countryside…accommodations generally come with breakfast!) before setting off for part of the Ring of Kerry. We saw Moll’s Gap (I missed that the last time), Ladies’ View, Torc Waterfall (I didn’t have time to see this before), and the Muckross Estate (I have been here before as well, but it’s just beautiful). I especially loved our time at the Muckross Estate, as it was a gorgeous day and we walked a couple miles throughout the estate. It was nice to get out and walk around! We were going to tour the house, but then we found out it was an hour-long guided tour and none of us were really up for it.

So we got back in the car and finished our Ring of Kerry trip in Killarney. (We didn’t do the main portion of the Ring of Kerry because we’re going to do Dingle, which I am partial to.) I stopped in Killarney on my way to Dingle from Cobh in December 2014 and it was DEAD. It was about 11:30am on a Sunday and there was nary a person. Most of the stores and all of the restaurants (save Burger King) were closed. So I didn’t have great things to say about it. Until today. We stopped in town to eat at a pub and decided to extend our hour-long parking and walk around. I’m so glad I did because it was the cutest little town! It was packed full of people, there was way more to it than I saw last time, and we had a really enjoyable afternoon. The highlight of Killarney was going into a candy store. Tracey and Jaime went before me (and apparently told the proprietor that I have been to Ireland before, would move here if I could, but I couldn’t work…to which he responded that I could work illegally…then he found out I am an attorney and he suggested I take all of the schooling here in Ireland!) and they were finding all sorts of cute candy. The moment I walked in, Tracey was holding up a Willy Wonka candy bar and the proprietor goes, it’s made by Willy right upstairs, and he slid this fake shelving unit and showed a staircase with Willy Wonka! So funny! He let us try some of the candy and told us all about how the candy is made locally and how his grandfather had had a candy shop 30 years ago. He was a lovely gentleman and it was a pleasure to meet and talk to him!

Then we made our way to Dingle. My favorite! We’re staying at the “nice” hotel in town and I’m glad to be back in a season where things are open. I was bummed to find much of the town closed in December 2014, but things are hopping now! We had an amazing dinner at the Dingle Bay Hotel. One of the best shepherd’s pie I’ve ever had! So delish! I even got dessert…apple and berry crumble. It was an awesome, laid back meal. Now we’re resting before taking on the Dingle peninsula tomorrow. I may or may not blog again because Jaime and Tracey might have to come back without me. There are several places on this peninsula that I would like to never leave!

 

Majestic! October 6, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 6:08 pm

We started the morning by finding the local Starbucks (who initially tried to pass off half of a cup of foam as my chai latte. Nice try, Starbucks). Then we went to Reginald’s Tower, which is the oldest civic building in the whole of Ireland. It started as a Viking fort (Regnall built it, hence the name Reginald) and the Vikings built up the area around it, known as the Viking Triangle. It was a wooden structure then, but later inhabitants made it into a taller stone fortress in the 1100s. It was interesting to get sort of a favorable history of the Vikings in Ireland, as the only things I have heard so far were generally negative. I also learned that Waterford was a very strong city and actually repelled that joker Cromwell. Once. Unfortunately it was not successful twice. Also, Waterford is the Anglicized version of the Viking name, which makes it the only town in Ireland that has retained its Scandinavian name!

I finally have a place in Ireland that rivals the Cliffs of Moher as the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen on earth. It was hell getting to it. The driving today was a lot more difficult than yesterday due to the roads. I felt much more comfortable with the manual, but today the roads became the quintessential tiny Irish lanes. I may have clipped a few side mirrors, bushes, and driven slightly off the pavement once. And I was generally traveling 10-30 mph UNDER the speed limit! Crikey!

But I have two words for you after the driving ordeal: WORTH IT. We were traveling to Mizen Head on this treacherous (what, too dramatic?) journey and at one point we were sure the road would never end. Mizen Head is the most southwesterly point in Ireland and used to have a lighthouse and a signal station. There is a footbridge connecting the cliffs to the signal station. The views were majestic. There is just no other word for it. I got chills in many locations (and not just because it was also literally the windiest place I’ve ever been…the wind seriously was blowing us around as we tried to stand firmly in one place for pictures and it even blew Jaime’s hair tie out of her hair!).

I did not want to leave. I think it is just going to get harder and harder for me to leave every trip! But I could’ve sat out there and just marveled at God’s creation forever. I just feel incredibly content here and I adore the tumultuous and fierce scenery. The wind whipping, the sound deafening, the waves crashing, and the rocks jutting. It was magnificent. And I could sit there forever. We will be seeing another place next week that is supposed to rival the Cliffs of Moher, but after today, I will have to see it to believe it!

We then made our way to Kenmare, an adorable little town that is a common jumping off point for the Ring of Kerry and where Loren and I stayed in 2012. I love this little town, even though it wasn’t as hopping tonight on a Thursday in October as it was on a Friday in September! We got an amazing room for 35 euro per person (including breakfast). We had a tasty dinner and then went out to two pubs to listen to music. It was much quieter here than the last time I was here, but it was just as lovely. The music in the last pub we went to was incredible. I know I’ve said it before, but one of the only words I can use to describe myself when I am here is content.

Tomorrow we tackle Killarney National Park!

 

It Was Bound to Happen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 5:47 pm

Yes, I have finally driven a manual transmission in Ireland. It was bound to happen. In 2012, Loren and I tried and I did a terrible job. So we quickly returned it and got an automatic (for not too much more money). Last time, I was all ready to drive a manual but when I got to the airport, they gave me an automatic with no additional charge. When we went to get our car on this trip, they wanted to charge me 60 euro a day extra for an automatic. Nope. It was definitely difficult to get used to. It takes me less time each trip to get used to driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the street, but getting used to driving a 6-speed with your left hand? Much more difficult. There is so much more to focus on! But eventually I got used to it…sort of.

We drove to Dun Laoghaire first because I’ve wanted to see the cute little seaside town where Bono lives. It’s essentially a suburb of Dublin. We had lunch in a burger place on the water and moved on. It was definitely cute! We made it to Waterford just in time to join a House of Waterford Crystal factory tour. It was fascinating! I didn’t think a crystal tour would be so interesting. But I loved it! And then I purchased things in the gift shop. I got a crystal shamrock paperweight for my new office.

We found our hotel and relaxed for a bit before heading out for dinner. We decided to walk to an Italian place and it was very difficult to find, but we got a nice walk in! The food was incredible! I had penne and tomato sauce and it was so tasty! Everyone loved their food. It was the cutest little café that was highly recommended in my travel guide.

We then had an early night. I was tired and felt like I was starting to get a cold, so I wanted to get as much sleep as possible for the lengthy car ride the next day! Waterford was a beautiful little town!

 

Dublin, Round Three October 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 4:19 pm

Sorry I have failed in my promise to blog. Though it had a caveat: if I had time. I haven’t had time and although I would like to crawl into bed and go to sleep right now, here I am! We got to our hotel and checked in right away on Monday. I actually wasn’t as jet lagged as I had feared. We went to Trinity College and saw the Book and Kells and the Old Library (Long Room). I had seen this before, but the Long Room is probably my favorite room in the whole world. And this time, as opposed to 2012, we could take non-flash photography! I was SO excited!

I then took Jaime and Tracey down Grafton Street and we ate at a pub just off of there. We had an excellent meal and I had my first Bulmer’s of the trip. Yum! After lunch we walked through St. Stephen’s Green for a bit and then back to the hotel. We all took about a 2.5 hour nap and got up, got ready, and went out. I wanted to take them to Leo Burdock’s, but it was closed right as we got there (literally…the guy came out the front door with a garbage bag and I said, what time do you close? And he said, now.). So we went to The Old Mill, which was also in Temple Bar. It was very good. A nice cozy upstairs restaurant.

Then we braved the Temple Bar Pub. There was pretty good music at the time, so we spent a little over an hour there. I met a new friend on the stairs coming up from the bathroom. There was a guy standing on the stairs talking to someone and I couldn’t get by. I made a move to squeeze behind him, but stopped because I didn’t think I would make it. A guy behind me goes, “go for it!” I said, “I don’t know if I fit.” He goes, “You’re fine!” So we chatted as we walked upstairs and it turned out he was just back from the states from a 4-week holiday. As we made introductions we shook hands and he grabbed my hand with both of his goes, “Torrie from Minnesota, this isn’t a business meeting!” I guess my strong handshake was too much for him! He was a great guy.

We left there Tracey went back to the hotel and Jaime and I tried the Auld Dubliner, but we weren’t feeling it, so we moved on to Oliver St. John Gogarty, which is one of my favorite places anyway. The music there was amazing. The banjo player was unbelievable and the guitarist had a killer personality. Great music and entertaining banter. Just one of the many parts about Ireland I love!

The next day was our big sightseeing day. We got Starbucks for breakfast because my favorite breakfast place was CLOSED. Not cool, Bewley’s, not cool. Then we got our hop on- hop off bus tickets and made our way to Christ Church Cathedral. I had not seen this church before, so I was excited to tour it. It had an incredible crypt (complete with a mummified cat and rat…ugh) and it is where Strongbow is buried. (One of my favorite ciders!)

We then walked the short distance to St. Patrick’s, but had a detour into a really cute art shop. We saw all kinds of amazing prints (of which I took many photos and purchased one card). After that, we toured St. Patrick’s. I didn’t tour so much because I have been there, but I walked around a bit. Then we went to Leo Burdock’s for fish and chips for lunch and ate it on the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral. I know why that place is always named the best chip shop in Dublin!

After lunch we got back on the bus and rode it out to Kilmainham Gaol. This is my favorite attraction in Dublin and so I was extremely disappointed that all of the full tours were sold out for the day already and we could only do a highlights tour. But like Tracey said, better than nothing. I tear up when I think about the political prisoners detained and executed at that place. All because they wanted their God-given, unalienable right to freedom. I am so happy that the possibility of a united Ireland may come to pass now with Brexit. But that’s a conversation for another post.

We then rode the bus to the end of the line and checked out the General Post Office. The site of the 1916 Easter Rising, which of course celebrated its centenary this year. After that we walked back down to Grafton Street so I could get my Tiffany on. Unfortunately, the necklace I had picked out (a clover charm) wasn’t in stock. There were two kinds and they were out of both. The sales person said they had had a lot of American tourists in and they bought them all. Dang it. I got a T necklace instead and I think it would look nice under a suit for a trial day!

We then chilled a bit at the hotel before heading to Fitzsimons for dinner. I had had dinner at this place in December 2014 and it was amazing. It was warm and cozy, I had a delicious beef and Guinness stew, and, of course, Bulmers. This time, the main dining area was full, so we had to sit back in a different area that was cold (we had vent blowing cold air directly on us) and it took at least 45 mins to get our food. A gentleman came into the place 20 mins after we ordered and he nearly finished eating his meal before we got ours. And even then only Tracey was happy with her meal. Mine was lukewarm and Jaime’s was all sorts of wrong.

We then moved on to the Brazen Head…the oldest pub in Dublin and my friend James met us there. I met James just over 4 years ago on my first trip to Ireland. We have kept in touch ever since then and I saw him when I was here in 2014 as well. The four of us had a great time at the Brazen Head and then James and I moved on to the Palace Bar. It was a nice quiet place for us to catch up with one another after such a long time. It is always nice to reconnect with him and I love that a chance meeting in a pub 4 years ago blossomed into a really neat friendship! Hoping to see him again next week before we come home!

 

I’m writing from the bus! October 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Torrie Schneider @ 6:26 am

Hello, friends! I’m back in Ireland and I’m so excited. I am on the bus between the airport and the city center. The first time I came 4 years ago there was no wifi on this. Yay technology!

I am so glad to be back and looking forward to three things (thanks to Jaime for asking me last weekend what I was looking forward to most): 1) seeing parts of the country I’ve never seen before; 2) seeing my friend James again; 3) and introducing my favorite place on earth to two newbies! I know it’s probably a stretch to ask that they love it as much as I do (that’s a Herculean task), so I hope they love it half as much! 

I will blog as much as I can (I.e. As often as I have time and wifi!).