Irish Adventures: Dingle and the Coast

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Dingle, Dingle, Dingle. What a strange and frankly silly name for a place. It sticks though. I imagine myself ten years from now telling the story of my 6 months adventure and I know the name Dingle will come right back to me.

Though Harpreet and I didn't aim to spend our week doing a lot of driving, we ended up with a healthy bit of Irish road tripping. Our favorite stop over was on the road to Roscommon on the way from Dublin to Galway. We bought strawberries, carrots, some bread, and the most amazing Raspberry-Baileys jam made by an Irish grandmother called Francis. Yep, Raspberry-Baileys jam, divine.

Dingle Harbor is a little town which has been transformed, though not completely altered, from its old fishing past into a place for tourists and the Irish to come and eat delicious seafood, buy well made local arts (seriously), and enjoy some live music in a pub. It's not the most unspoiled place I've been too, but some great food, a fantastic cheese shop and the best sea-kayaking trip of my life redeem the town entirely. We'd figured it would be a bit overrun so I picked a B&B a little ways out of town in the village of Bailie na nGall, or Ballydavid in English. Im going with Ballydavid from now on, cause I can't even pronounce the Irish version correctly. The B&B came highly recommended by my favourite tool TripAdvisor (see my opinion on this in Travel Resources), famous for its jolly owner and scones.

We arrived in Dingle Harbor just in time for dinner. We lucked out and scored a table purely by chance at the best place in town, Out Of The Blue. Their white table wine was a Picpoul, big plus, and their food was the best meal of my entire trip. After a nice stopover to listen to lovely  music at O'Sullivans pub, we finally made our way out of Dingle at 10 at night to find our B&B. 

Driving out into the countryside of the Dingle Peninsula, we realized that neither our GPS not the directions really gave us much of idea of where this B&B was. After looking aimlessly for a pink house in the rather under populated area of Ballydavid, we stopped in the local pub and asked for help. Good thing we did. A kind man volunteered to show us the way and after weaving behind him down tiny one lane roads we finally arrived at our B&B to tea and tiny, delicious scones!

This was the most active part of the trip, I think because both Harpreet and I had spent the first few days catching up on much needed sleep. We rented bicycles, more in the style of my old friends Marcel and Hippolyte (i.e. big clunkers), and cycled around Slea Head. Our most adventurous came when we decided to shortcut our way back and ended up in a field full of hay. We went back to the main road and powered up a long and steep climb to be rewarded by a lovely descent into town going from fog to bright sunlight.

The next day we were even more adventurous and incredible fun. We sea kayaked out of Dingle Harbor into the sea on a glorious sunny day. We paddled into caves underneath the huge sandstone cliffs of Dingle. The caves where beautiful, the sides encrusted with muscles, barnacles and tiny jewel-like red and green sea anemones which opened up as soon as they went under the shifting water. The experience of passing into and through the caves, with the bright sunlight streaming through the entrances reflected on the wet walls, spying starfish in the waters below, the mix of unexpected colors, will remain a favorite moment in my life for a long time. It was magical being out on the ocean, so close to the water line, seeing the sea life up close. On our way back we spotted the dolphin that helped make Dingle famous - Fungi - splashing about in the opening of the harbor. (Sidebar on Fungi: we had heard there was a bottle-nosed dolphin that had made the Dingle Harbor his home for the past 28 years. Neither of us much believed it, but there he was a few 100 feet from us, splashing about.)

That afternoon Harpreet and I headed to our first step by to reality. We had one more night before our destination of Cork in the town of Killarney. We enjoyed ourselves but I'm not sure I recommend the town much - too many hen parties for my taste. The next day was our final drive into Cork, were this lovely Irish adventure came to a close.

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