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The Best Bits of Ireland

587 Blasket Islands, Dingle~

  We don’t agree! T and I, that is. Usually we pretty much agree about a country. Not only do we disagree about our favourite best bits of Ireland, but we can barely decide which of half a dozen places we individually feel are our favourites.   T says, “The most fascinating place was Ballynahinch Castle (see Ballynahinch Castle) because it seemed like stepping back in time. It felt real and authentic.”   “For me, it was Wicklow County. Those amazing rolling green hills and deep valleys were mesmerizing to me. I could easily live there.” I say.   “Yah, it was nice, … More…

Ring 3: The Dingle Peninsula

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  The Dingle Peninsula was the most fascinating and memorable of the three “Rings” on Ireland`s South coast. Wild and rocky, wind-blown and untouched by tourism, it’s the REAL IRELAND.   The poor little sheep were clinging to the sides of the rocky crags. With vast valleys or ocean below, did they ever slip and fall? They certainly ended up on the road often enough.   We sort of went backwards around the peninsula, counter-clockwise, starting at Castlegregory, a quaint little town with a 50’s-style gas station, and 14 miles of wind-swept rocky beach.   One-way mountain roads zig-zagging into … More…

Ring 2: Skip The Ring Of Kerry, But Don’t Miss Killarney Park

2572 Closer~

  The Kerry Peninsula (aka Ring of Kerry) is the next peninsula after the Beara Peninsula driving from Southeast to Southwest in Ireland. Although it is likely beautiful, it is the most touristy of the 3 rings, so horror of horrors, we skipped it. We heard that the Ring of Beara and the Ring of Dingle were even more amazing and much less touristy than the Ring of Kerry. We`re not saying that we don`t recommend the Ring of Kerry, but given time restrictions, choose the Dingle Peninsula as a first choice. Of course we always avoid the most touristy places wherever … More…

Ring 1: Beara Peninsula’s Remarkable Scenery

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  The Beara Peninsula is untouched and has very few tourists. It has some of the most remarkable and unusual scenery.     Starting at Glengarriff, and driving around the entire peninsula to Kenmare, we saw some astounding terrain. This is a photo journal.   School children in Beara Peninsula`s small towns generally wear uniforms.   We loved these charming moss-covered cottages.   Dunboy Castle near Castletownbere had an interesting history.   The Dunboy castle grounds were covered thickly with greenery.   The scenery on the Beara Peninsula was quite dramatic and constantly changing.   Can you believe these pretty … More…

Balleylickey, Skibbereen, Hag’s Head & Klonikilty

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  With Irish place names like Balleylickey, the Burren, Hag’s Head, Klonikilty, Skibbereen, Salthill, Graiguenamanagh, Sheep’s Head, Beara and Dingle, driving around Ireland was filled with curiosity. What would a place with such an odd name be like? There was a wild variety of landscapes, but like most countries, it was the little-known, off-the-beaten path places that were the most beautiful. We drove in a circle that started in Limerick, went North to Sligo, then East to Dublin, then south  along the coast, then inland to Cork, then South along the coast, then around the three peninsulas: Beara, Kerry and Dingle, … More…

Come Rain Or Snow…

1297 Snow~

  Happily touring around Ireland enjoying the lush richness of every shade of green imaginable, from lime green to kelly green to deep sage green, we could hardly believe how beautiful it was.      Our B&B was lovely, but with icy cold bedrooms, as most are. The outside day time temperature in winter in Ireland is crisp with an average between 5 and 15 degrees C. Electricity is very expensive in Europe, so many people heat only the center of their homes, and reluctantly turn on the heat in the bedrooms only if urgently requested (begged), despite the fact … More…

There Are NO Restaurants In Ireland!

125 Moll Darby's, Limerick Cropped~

  You may be surprised that there are no restaurants in Ireland! None. Every town we came to, we could not find a restaurant. There are dozens and dozens of bars, one on every corner, even in the smallest town, but no restaurants.   Finally, we reluctantly started going to the bars, and lo and behold, they all serve meals – excellent meals. The food in Ireland in general is outstanding. We found it fresh and wholesome with good-sized portions.   It was pouring rain (it`s Ireland after all) when we ran into Moll Darby`s Bar and Restaurant in Limerick, where … More…

Living Like Royalty In Cabra Castle

Cabra Castle 2~ - Copy

  Cabra Castle was elegant. A 19th Century castle, set deep in the hills of Cavan County, it was stately and refined. While Ballynahinch Castle had felt more authentic with the hunters going out for the early morning hunt all decked out in somewhat traditional hunting attire: short pants, knee-high socks and rubber boots, a white shirt and tie, a sporty wool plaid jacket and a woolen newsboy cap, rifle tucked under the arm; Cabra was fit for a Queen, and King of course.   The entrance to the castle was long, and as the castle came into view, it felt like … More…

Travel To Little Known Places: PRINT Book Just Released

essdee1_cover (8) Dec 13 FINAL COVER

  My print book is done! Well at least it’s big news for me. It was a ton of work, I mean it really was hours and hours of painstaking editing and review. I’ve read it and scoured it and changed it and revised it at least one hundred times. Now I think I am satisfied that it is the best I can do. I hope you agree. Feedback graciously accepted!   DESCRIPTION: Travel. Exotic destinations. Once in a lifetime adventures. What could go wrong? Often revealing their silliest fears or dumbest travel mistakes and consequent misadventures, you will be … More…

Getting Your Hand Slapped in Ireland

Guinness 1~

  While touring Ireland in our rental car, we, of course, had to try Guinness, the beer that is the pride and joy of Ireland.   T is a beer connoisseur, but I was surprised that I liked it too.   One day, we stopped at a local pub for a Guinness. The stern bartender came over to take T’s order of a Guinness.    “What’ll yer ‘av?”    By the way, when in Ireland, just say “pint, please”. If he asks “a pint of what?” then scowl at him and snarl “Guinness, of course”. Most barmen won’t ask anyway, … More…

Falling Down the Castle Stairs in Ireland

337 Ballynahinch Castle~

  What a thrill it was going to be to actually stay in a real castle! We were excited. After spending a few days in Limerick and driving out to see the Cliffs of Moher, we were on our way to our first castle – Ballynahinch Castle.    We drove down quiet roads winding through the countryside towards Galway, passing by small towns, green fields with endless stone fences, driving right by impressive castles, and crossing bridges over creeks and rivers. The scenery was always engaging and quaint.   There was even a flooded road… where we had dutifully followed … More…

Ireland: What You Need To Know

1382 Tree, Wind, & Rain~

  The first thing you need to know if you’re driving around Ireland is that there are no traffic lights. That’s right, no traffic lights. Instead, there are 50 million roundabouts.   On arrival the ten or more roundabouts just to get out of Shannon airport caused us great anxiety. As a Canadian, driving on the left side was plenty enough challenge, but to make any attempt to understand the rules of a roundabout at the same time was well nigh impossible! Is there one lane or two, sometimes it’s clearly marked; other times it is not. Do you use … More…

Ireland: Playing In The Rain

160 Moll Darby's, Limerick~

  Even if it was raining all the time in Ireland, we loved it. I’m sure you’re wondering how anyone could love rain, but just wait a minute; there is some real evidence of the beauty of the Emerald Isle.   After spending a few days in Limerick, we drove the 100 km to the coast to see the famed Cliffs of Moher.   The Cliffs of Moher in the rain are so beautiful… especially in the rain.   This is the lookout tower, O’Brien’s Tower, at 214 meters or 700 feet above sea level, built of local stone by Cornelius … More…

Driving On The LEFT

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  “Now why in God’s creation would you take yourself ever go to Ireland if yer didn’t havta? The weather is bloody miserable! For God’s sake, it rains all the frickin’ time. Are you daft man? And the wind’ll go right through ya… give yer head a wee shake.” T’s solidly Irish friend said, just before we left. “The people in Ireland go away for the winter themselves!” he exclaimed.   We laughed. Our philosophy is that rain is better than snow, and 15 degrees above zero is better than 20 degrees below zero. And T had a vested interest in Ireland … More…

Affordable Travel in Retirement

  The Problem: The problem is that when you are working, you may not have much time off to vacation, or you still have commitments at home preventing you from leaving for any extended period. On the other hand, if you wait until you are retired, you will likely have less income (usually about half of working income plus savings), not to mention that you may start to have a few health issues, even something as simple as walking any distance. So what do you do?   Why We Didn’t Wait: As we are getting older, we are realizing that … More…

Canadian Woman Disgraces New York Opera House

The lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

    When a friend invited me to join him in New York to go the opera (his big obsession), I was hesitant. I was not that keen on opera, or even on a big city for that matter. We’ve always taken a ‘pass’ on big, busy, noisy cities, preferring the warmer local flavour of smaller centres. I hummed and hawed, then remembered that I could use my Air Miles to fly to New York. He said he would look after everything else.   Quite certain that I wouldn’t even like New York, but giving it a chance, I landed … More…

The Yellow City

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  What a shock when we drove into the yellow city! Who knew such a thing existed? We were just driving along, taking the less-travelled and non-toll road from Telchac to Cancun for our flight home, when we came upon the yellow city.    At first, we thought it was only a few streets.   But then everywhere we drove in the city… it was yellow, yellow, yellow. It reminded us of the song, Mellow Yellow.   “Oh”, I exclaimed, “This must be the yellow city we read about!” We had crossed it off the list of ‘Must See’s’ when we … More…

In The Pink

DSC05016 Closer~

  Birds are not a big attraction for us, but we were a little curious about the Yucatan flamingos. We thought $100 was a little steep for the Flamingo Boat Tour out of Celestun, so we declined several offers from local tour operators.     Since there was a large lagoon stretching for miles along the highway near Telchac, where we were staying, we started looking for the flamingos there. Some parts of the lagoon were quite pretty, but there were no flamingos to be seen.   We spotted the flamingos a little farther down, but they were little pink … More…

The Sexiest Dance in Mexico

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  One of the sexiest dances I’ve ever seen, except for the Argentine Tango, is this Cumbia. We just happened upon a fiesta in the little town of Chelem, west of Progreso, in the Yucatan region of Mexico. Part of the fiesta was a Cumbia Dance performance.   We had made a stop in Progreso first. It was a dramatic difference from the weekdays, where the beach and the town was quiet and empty. This was Sunday, the busy day; portable shops were set up along the beach, bar cafes were set up right in the sand on the beach, … More…

The Secret, Cheap, Hauntingly Beautiful Mangrove Tour

DSC04842 Oops

  It was only by accident that we heard about the Mangrove Tour. We were swimming in a cenote at some Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan, Mexico, when a woman was telling other people about this amazing tour that no one knows about because it originates in a little village far from the madding crowds. We were immediately intrigued and joined the conversation. Where, how much, and when we asked.   A few weeks later, along with my visiting cousin, H, we set out to find this tour. We found the little village of San Crisanto just fifteen minutes up … More…

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