Disclaimer: My husband has some minor mobility issues that keep him from walking for long stretches of time so our vacation is a very leisurely,much more slow kind of vacation where we do enjoy our room probably much more than the average traveler. That is planned from our end and so obviously different from most tourists.
I apologize for the length, I really did condense it for this forum. I hope you enjoy my ramblings!
Oh and here are the photos again in case someone didn't catch my first short post :-)
We flew United from Phoenix to Shannon and due to a little delay in Newark landed around 7 a.m.
We picked up our economy car at Budget and I loaded up the little Skoda Citigo (just about as much space as the Fiat 500 we had in Italy which was perfect for us) and hooked up the Garmin and took a deep breath. Darn.... tried to grab the shift stick with my right hand... LEFT LEFT LEFT.. ok, ready... stay LEFT - stay LEFT ;-)
I had to go through about a gazillion roundabouts (just kidding… but there were a few) just to get out of the airport area and got used to it really quickly. It was very strange but I got the hang of it and we arrived at the Adare Manor gates after about 35 minutes. I even navigated the toll booth like a pro (I took the Limerick Tunnel - very easy and convenient) !!! This was the one thing going to Ireland that I was worried about.... the driving on the left side.... So now I am excited to explore the country side.
Check in was easy and our room was amazing. Top floor 8 little bay style windows overlooking the front lawn/garden of the manor, golf course and the Maigue River.
The porter Patrick was so kind and fun - he carried all of our stuff upstairs (and we pack very light) and gave us a quick tour - everybody just has been so friendly and great.
Hubby and I - as it is custom for us - opened a bottle of red (we always bring a couple of bottles of wine with us and have our plastic travel wine glasses) and toasted to our blessings.
The weather started to really turn for the worse and gusty winds and rain started coming down ... or to be more exact... sideways.... and we were happy that we were snug and warm in our "castle".
Breakfast on the plane was pitiful and we were hungry so we ordered some lunch to our room - French Onion Soup and Irish Salmon with traditional Irish Brown bread and IRISH BUTTER !!! you haven't tasted great butter until you had Irish butter here in Ireland.
We were able to stay up until 12:30 pm but then decided we just needed to take a nap - always dangerous because it can mess with the jet leg big time. We finally got up after 3 hrs of nap time (yes a little longer than recommended but we were out like lights) and decided to go downstairs to check out the bar and have our first Guinness :-)
Most people had afternoon tea, but since we had lunch earlier we really didn't need that much food and settled on a cheese platter to complement our perfectly poured Guinness.
Since the sun had just come out I took advantage to take some photos of the outside of the Manor - it is just so beautiful and I can't wait to explore and take photos of it all ! On the drive in we saw the daffodils starting to bloom.
The first night after an international flight is always challenging with Jet Lag etc. but we had a semi-decent night sleep and the light woke me up at 6:30 a.m. What a lovely view we have !!!
I decided to do my photography tour of the grounds. I only covered a little bit but it is just so beautiful (I know I say that a lot, but it just is). The sun was trying to peak through and I was able to catch a few shots that reflected on the river and the huge historical Cedar of Lebanon Tree on the property.
After that we got ready for breakfast which is included in our room price and served in the Oak Room. Very proper with english toast, tea and wonderful locally produced or at least Irish produced yoghurt, cured meats, smoked salmon, cheeses and pastries etc. Then it was time to get a few things from the local store which is only 5 min by car.
Around 2:30 p.m. we decided to have Afternoon Tea in the drawing room, but because there was a wedding they seated us in the Oak Room terrace right at the window with a lovely view. We ordered one Vegetarian Afternoon Tea tray with green tea and 2 Irish Coffee's - and those were the best Irish coffee's either one of us ever had!!!
Our waiter Sid started chatting and it turns out that he also does the Whiskey tastings - so we chatted a little about the Whiskey in our Irish Coffee.
After our lovely extended Afternoon Tea we made arrangements for my Archery lesson on Tuesday before going back to our room. Our view is better than TV I swear - we saw the Falcon trainer work with the Falcon for an hour, a wedding party taking pictures (the bride looked gorgeous) and Golfers playing in the wind and cold until dawn :-) What a lovely day!
Today started very early as we planned to drive to Dingle, along the Dingle peninsula and do the Slea Head drive, which would take most of the day. we got to the breakfast room just after 7 a.m. and were the first ones to arrive - Our waitress told us that once we got to Tralee and saw the windmill and looked up to the right and saw the mountain covered in fog not to do the drive because it would be very dangerous at the highest point with no much between the cliff and the car. (update on this - unfortunately there was a misunderstanding.... she was talking about the Connor Pass - a route we didn't even think of, but I guess most tourists do - and we thought she talked about the Slea Head drive. So we actually never did the Slea Head drive because of this - oh well …. a reason to go back right?)
We left around 8:30 a.m. and it was pretty overcast and hazy but we were looking on the bright sight - it wasn't raining !!!
Our navi isn't quite as reliable here in Ireland on the newer larger roads as she was in Italy and Germany, so I made some back up notes about the main routes (Autoway/Highway) and that was very helpful as she would have sent us the very scenic way at times I think LOL.
We got to the town with the Windmill and looked up and to our chagrin.... but not very big surprise .... we saw a lot of fog/clouds covering the top of the mountain, so we skipped the Slea Head drive (see earlier note…. now knowing she meant the Connor Pass).
We got on the N86 towards Dingle and here we had our first encounter with Sheep. Two ran right in front of us and then there were the two babies not daring to cross the road alone. I waited to let them go, but they looked so scared until all of a sudden mommy came charging across the street and they just followed her really quickly. so cute !
The drive along the coast and through the hills was beautiful and I stopped whenever I had a chance to take photos. The wind was blowing and it was a cold one - but I didn't care.
We got to Dingle just around 10:45 a.m. before all the tour busses arrived (considering it is off season there weren't that many but still) and parked at the Harbor at the main car park. The wind was blowing us almost off our feet and we ducked into one of the cute pubs right on the main road. It was pretty empty and we got a great spot at the window. We decided to stay awhile and have a pint of Guinness and lunch later on. I wanted to take photos of the colorful houses around town but knew the hubby was not really up for walking around in the cold wind even though the sun was peaking through. So I made a quick trip through town and saw some of the coolest houses/stores and one of the cemeteries. I finished by trying several ice cream flavors at the famous Murphy's Ice Cream Parlor and picked two (Dingle Sea Salt & Baileys Irish Cream Caramel) to bring back to the pub for us both to try.
Back at the pub we just hung out, i had some tea and the hubby had an Irish Coffee.
We chatted with the bartender lady and one of the guests who was there with his little boy.
We ordered Fish & Chips (fresh Haddock from Dingle) and some fresh raw oysters - gotta go seafood if you are in a Sea town right?
With our bellies full we finally bid goodbye to Dingle and made our way back to Adare. For most of the drive the sun was out and we could see the beautiful coast line, but by the time we got to Tralee it became overcast again.
It was a beautiful day trip and now we are back in our "royal" room and just ordered a wonderful Mushroom Tagiatelle with herb cream sauce, parmesan and garlic bread to share. That hit the spot - it was delicious - and since we have our red wine and complimentary bottled water here in the room there was no need to go downstairs and sit with the "common" folk... just kidding ha ha ha. But our room and view is just so wonderful, we enjoy the peace and quiet of it... lighting the big candle we bought for our fireplace (it's a real fireplace but not operational) and turn on some music while reading.
We slept in a little bit longer today, but not too much as we planned to visit the Rock of Cashel. Only about an hour and a little away from Adare it would be a quick trip, but one of the very important and scienic spots here in western Ireland.
The drive was wonderful and easy and we made it to Cashel without any issues and parked in the car park just below the Rock of Cashel. Considering my husbands mobility he braved the small hill up to the entrance (something I wasn't sure he would be able to do) and we paid the entrance. I was concerned though because there are no bathroom facilities up there so it wasn't like we could just run back down to the car park (if needed) and the wind was blowing badly on the top so we moved through rather quickly - took photos and enjoyed the view for a little before making out way back down the hill and then slowly driving back towards Adare. On the way we did a little detour when I saw a sign for an Abbey down a very small side road called Athassel Abbey :-)
What a great little find - the road looked like it was a one way street, but it wasn't - only 3 cars came and passed us though, so no big deal.
The rest of the drive was nice and easy and when we came into Adare we saw a parking spot right in front of the Blue Door restaurant I'd been wanting for us to try so we parked and had a wonderful light lunch there. (I had the Irish Beef Burger and the hubby a tomato basil soup - and half of my fries)
Afterwards we picked up another couple of bottles of wine at the supermarket and then went back to the Manor as we had a Private Whiskey Tasting scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Tack room.
At a quarter to 5 we went downstairs and waited for Sid in the drawing room and didn't have to wait too long as he was promptly there and took us to the Tack Room.
Sid was so fun and knowledgable explaining to us the history of Irish Whiskey and also the process and the difference between Irish and Scotch.
We tried 5 different Irish Whiskeys but did NOT finish all of them.... however we still got a pretty nice buzz going considering that this was a very high percentage beverage lol.
We had a light dinner afterwards and met a nice couple from Dublin we chatted with for an hour and then retired to our room after that. And trust me - we had a really good night sleep LOL.
Today started out very leisurely as we slept in after our extensive Whiskey imbibing last night and the only thing planned today was my Archery Lesson at noon.
We had a nice breakfast - this time we actually went for the warm options... me having the Full Irish breakfast with the Blood Pudding and the hubby the Eggs Benedictine.
We went back to the room to relax for another hour before my lesson and once it was time to go downstairs we grabbed jackets, scarf, camera and off we went with the Adare shuttle just around to a garden area where Liam, my instructor had set up the target.
He put a guard on my arm and release guard for my right hand (my fingers) and explained the technique and safety to me. After trying my first few releases I realized that the bow they had was a little too heavy for me.
So Liam called his dad to bring a lighter bow while we chatted and low and behold it started snowing for a few minutes !!! CRAZY ;-)
Once I had the smaller bow I had to get used to it not having as much "umph" but then got a handle on it and really started to hit the target well.
After a few rounds with the big target Liam thought I was ready for smaller target. I got some great groupings and also hit the yellow twice in the small target - I was sooooo proud lol.
Then it was time for the apple.... I so wanted to hit it, but "only" got three arrows within millimeters to the apple, which was impressive in itself. The sun came out at one point and then during the last few minutes of my lesson it started to snow again for a minute. So we came full circle !!!
What an amazing experience to be able to do this here in beautiful Ireland in this gorgeous setting. I will be sore like heck tomorrow, my shoulders are aching (in a good way) and I would do this again in a heartbeat !!!
It was so cold when we got back to the Manor that we went straight to the Drawing room bar to have an Irish Coffee and a tea and sit next to the fire.
We needed to get gas for the car so we drove to a local gas station to fill up and found a parking spot at the pub I had wanted to try - The Sean Collins & Sons Pub I read about on trip advisor. We were the only patrons as it was 2 p.m. and technically early for tourists.... and I enjoyed a half pint and hubby had another Irish Whiskey!
We hung out with Sean for about an hour and then made our way back to the Manor ready for the comforts of our room. We'll be ordering some food to share and enjoy our view and a glass of our wine. It's been such a fun & relaxing day and we need to get ready for our all day trip tomorrow and I need a long hot bath for my aching shoulders and arms ha ha ha.
It was a clear night and a full moon and when we woke up the sun was shining and everything was under a blanket of frost. It looked beautiful except that our car was also completely covered in frost/ice ;-)
The wonderful porter Patrick brought out a bucket of hot water and cleared all of our windows and off we went (slowly as it was a bit slick) towards Limerick/Galway and the Burren.
We stopped in Kilfenora as there is an information center for the Burren but of course because we just like to get going early... we were about 45 min too early ;-) I took some photos of the old cemetery I had read about and then we drove back to the R480 through the Burren area. What a beautiful drive, so different.... like nothing we had every seen before. The rock formations were just fascinating! We saw the Leamaneh Castle, the Caherconnell Fort and the Poulnabrone Megalithic Tomb while driving through.
The sun kept peaking out through some of the heavier clouds making it a dry but ever changing weather pattern with mini snow flakes coming down throughout the day for a few minutes here and there. After driving through the Burren and visiting some of the beautiful sites I had planned to go down the coast but took a wrong turn (well... different turn) and ended up about 11 km from the Cliffs of Moher. We really had not planned to go there because it is a bit too much walking for my hubby but since we were so close I guess it was meant to be. The weather was really good by the time we got there and I decided to walk up the tower hill so I could take photos of the cliffs from that side as well as the tower. It was still cold and windy but I am glad that one wrong turn got me to see them after all!!
After the Cliffs we slowly made our way back along the coast and found a small pub in a little town where we had a pint, some tea and a cup of soup with the traditional brown bread. Very very good. As always we beat the tour busses (and believe me - they started coming in droves all of a sudden) and my hubby got a spot right next to the fireplace. It is a very unseasonably cold week here (but thankfully dry) so all the fireplaces are going everywhere.
We ended the evening as we did most, ordering some food to share to our room (this time including dessert) and relaxed with a glass of wine and a book. Our last night at the Adare Manor :-(
We had a lovely "good bye" breakfast and I indulged one last time on the wonderful cheeses, smoked salmon and cured meats and the hubby on the yoghurt and pastries.
We went back to enjoy our room for a few more hours and to pack the suitcases of course and then I wanted to walk around the grounds a little more to take photos and grab some of our stuff from the car that needed to be packed. Strangely the remote on the car wasn't working and I opened it manually getting a funny feeling...... yep.... car didn't start!!! One look to the light switch told me why - I HAD LEFT THE LIGHTS ON !!! I couldn't believe it. Thankfully the Manor staff was so amazing and they called one of their mechanics to jump my car and then when it still wouldn't drive/recognize a gear (even though the motor was running) Patrick came to check it and help with the issue. The Automatic gearbox had locked and after consulting the manual we realized we'd have to shut off the ignition - which was something we didn't want to do since it had only been running for 5 minutes. So he gunned it a few more times and let it run for 5 addl. minutes before we dared to turn it of. Luck of the Irish !!!! It worked and I was able to drive it around the Manor grounds a few times to get the battery charged again. Way too much excitement on our last day ha ha ha. We went back to the drawing room to enjoy our last Irish Coffee and tea in front of the fireplace. I really will miss this beautiful spot !
Around 2:30 p.m. we decided it was time to leave and we said goodbye to everyone and got into our little Citigo Skoda and off we went to Shannon. The drive was easy and I found it even without the Garmin. We returned the car and they drove us to the Airport Hotel which is walking distance to the terminal.
I really is just that - a one night "if you have an early flight in the morning" kinda hotel. Nothing special at all, but it did have a fun little pub where we shared a Guinness Beef stew and a pint - again in front of the fireplace (you see a theme here)
We had a 5 a.m. wake up call and packing everything up was easy and the walk across the parking lot was as well, although it was very very cold and icy windy. Check in was again a breeze that early and Shannon airport is also one of those where you clear US customs & Immigration in Ireland. So our luggage was checked through to Phoenix and when we arrived in Newark we just got out like a national flight - very cool.
I am already dreaming about going back already …. hopefully someday !!! Better start saving again LOL :-)