July 21, 2018
I don’t think my taxi driver this morning really wanted to be working, or maybe I somehow rubbed him the wrong way. or maybe I reminded him of an ex. What I do know is that he was in a sour mood.
I needed to go to the Heuston rail station to meet up with my tour group for the day. Yes, I acknowledge that I was an hour early for my train and yes, I know that I could have walked the 30 minutes to get there. But, in my defense, I always like to be places early and, I didn’t want to walk in the damp morning air because I was still not feeling up to par. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t going to pay and/or tip him for driving me and, really, why did my being early for a train tick him off? I don’t get it. There must have been a back story of which I was not aware. Thank goodness the ride wasn’t too long and I sent him off on his not so merry way.
Today’s adventure took me on another Railtours Ireland trip to The Ring of Kerry. I really like these train/bus combo trips. Two train rides later, our little group disembarked in Killarney to meet up with another tour group to adequately fill up the bus. Our total group was only about 27 people, which meant I actually got a row of seats to myself so that I could bop from one side of the bus to the other depending on what photograph I wanted to take – and take them I did.
Among all the wonderful sights to see in Ireland, I’m told that the Ring of Kerry is the most popular. I don’t doubt it with the number of tour buses we saw.
The problem is, the roads are very narrow – so narrow that an unwritten rule had to be adopted so that all tour buses travel counter-clockwise along the route (or, as the Irish say, anti-clockwise). The rule was adopted so that two tour buses don’t meet from opposite directions because the road is just not wide enough to accommodate the width of two buses with at least a couple of inches of clearance between them.
Buses also have the automatic right of way, so cars are supposed to pull over if there isn’t enough room. Keep that in mind if you are ever crazy enough to rent a car, drive on the “other” side of the road and plan to drive the Ring of Kerry. I can tell you, there were plenty of tight squeezes during the day.
As we transferred from our train to the bus, I befriended a couple from Tennessee – throughout the day, we hung out together, which was nice. They are extremely well-traveled and are leaving tomorrow to go on a cruise. Their manner of traveling has altered drastically because he recently became blind. It was interesting to “see” the sights through him. I love the fact that you meet such interesting people when traveling and learn something new every day.
The drive around the Ring of Kerry circles the MacGillycuddy Reeks (local mountains) and winds itself over passes and through valleys along the shores of Dingle and Kenmare Bays. Each town we passed through was cuter and more picturesque than the last, including the town of Sneem which has been crowned the “tidiest town in Ireland” several years running (and yes, they are extremely proud to hold that title).
At each stop of the bus, we all piled out and took loads of pictures because it was the prettiest view we’d seen, then we would go to the next stop and we’d take loads of pictures because this next view was the prettiest… it went on like this throughout the day.
Since it was a clear day, with just a little bit of fog in the distance, in the distance off Dingle and St. Finian’s Bays, we could see Skellig Michael, which played a supporting role in the recent Star Wars movie. It’s the island where the old Luke Skywalker has retreated to avoid the Force. When the ocean is calm enough, you can actually take a ferry ride out to the islands – maybe next trip.
Towards the end of the trip, we stopped at Ladies View, to see the famous Lakes of Killarney, before heading back to the town of Killarney to catch our return train.
Two trains later, and we were back at Heuston Station in Dublin without incident. Well, there was a bit of an incident… On the second train, our guide had to send us off on our own because she had to go with another group. We were told that our reserved seats were in Coach E, seats 17-36. When we got on the coach, there were people in several of the places which clearly stated they were reserved for our Railtours group. The people did not want to move because they had already spread their things around. Our group became a bit flustered, so my bossy little self took over and made it clear that, in no uncertain terms, the seats were ours and the occupants needed to vacate (or I would bring in a higher authority – like the conductor). I was firm, but polite. They moved, we sat. I was the hero of our group, if only for a nanosecond.
It was almost 10:00p when we returned to Dublin, but the LUAS (local light rail) was still running, so I decided to take it to the stop closest to my hotel rather than walk the distance (didn’t want to take a cab since I’d been taxi-shamed in the morning).
As the doors slid open, I heard joyful, but slurred, singing. I was met by a group of 10-12 extremely intoxicated, but rather polite, gentlemen who were taking their party to a pub on Grafton Street where one of the guys was convinced Ed Sheeran was going to be “stopping by” to sing a tune or two. Did I mention that these guys were singing a medley of Kenny Rogers hits at the top of their lungs? It was quite a sight to behold.
Since we were all getting off at the same stop, one of the gentlemen invited me to go along with their merry gang – I politely declined and headed in the opposite direction. In retrospect, I should have joined them as it turned out that the patrons at the pub next door to my hotel partied until 4:00a and the merriment carried so well that it sounded like the party was actually in the hall outside my room. Not much slept was to be had.
Extra Photo # 1: He got away – there will be no pot of gold today.
Extra Photo # 2: Just because, it’s cows! The all black ones are Kerry cows and Kerry cows provide the milk for the yummy ice cream at Murphy’s – so there’s that.