Because of that stupid-ass sappy Valentine's Day crap, the flights to anywhere even remotely nice were totally expensive for the weekends around my birthday (but, hey, I could still go to Liverpool for cheap!). Instead, the Limey and I drove out west, to the Dingle peninsula. I'd been to the town before, but didn't have much chance to look around the area, so this time, that's what we were going to do.
We took off work early on Friday, and were heading out from my place at around 3:30. We were hoping to make it to Dingle town (or An Daingean, as it's been rechristened (or re-rechristened, I guess, as this is its original Irish name)) by dinner time, as we'd been told it would take 4-5 hours of driving. Hahahahaha! No way! We made it to Tralee at 9:30. Traffic out of Dublin was, true to what we'd been told, absolutely horrible. But even if it had been clear, we'd never have made it to Tralee in less than five hours, and it was another hour, at least, to Dingle. Instead of arriving at Dingle and trying to get a room and dinner at 11 o'clock, we decided to stay in Tralee for the night. We drove around a bit until we found a B&B that looked okay, inspected the room, agreed to pay €30 each for the night, dropped off our bags, and went looking for food. The first two places we stopped in at were packed. The third place, The Cookery, seated us after we promised we'd be quick, as the kitchen was closing. The food was good, verging on very good.
The next day, we had breakfast and drove straight out to Dingle. Unfortunately, I had a horrible headache, so couldn't enjoy the drive along the south side of the peninsula. Luckily, the headache cleared up a little bit after we arrived. We walked around town a bit. I went into every shop that looked like it might sell yarn, and hit jackpot at a little place called Commodum, which sold Aran weight tweed yarn from a Kerry mill that, the proprietor claimed, was the last place in Ireland that still spun and dyed yarn. I bought 400g of the darkest red they had. I should have bought more, and it was very hard choosing a colour from all the ones they had. They will mail stuff, though, and the proprietor dude very thoughtfully checked the colour number for me before we left, in case I wanted more later. There was also another little shop that sold yarn, but it mostly had eyelash and other novelty yarns; not quite what I was looking for. I did buy some knitting needles from there, though.
After a bit more walking, we stopped by a couple B&Bs, which turned out not to have opened for the season yet. (Dingle's pretty touristy in summer, I think, and a lot of places close for the winter. We passed few tourists on our walk around town.) Eventually we got a room at An Caball Dubh, dropped our stuff off, and decided to drive out to Slea Head while the light and weather remained favourable. The drive was gorgeous; the coast is lovely. We found a little beach that only had a couple of surfers on it and walked around, poking at things with sticks. (Hey, we're scientists.) We took the long way back, along Slea Head drive, and got back to Dingle in time to have some tea and cake at a cafe, then went back to our room to change for dinner.
The Chart House had been recommended to us, and I'd called them Friday during the drive up to book a table. It was good I had, 'cause when we arrived, people without reservations were being turned away right and left. And the food was just absolutely wonderful. I had mussels to start, and herb-encrusted skate on risotto for my main course. The mussels were pretty good, but the skate was done perfectly. The Limey had duck confit to start and a filet of organic, free-range Kerry beef (we probably passed the cow it came from during our drive) which looked amazing, even to me. I tasted a bit of it, and it was indeed good. We finished off with chocolate terrine and a glass of port, for him, and muscat, for me. We were so stuff that we could probably have rolled back to the B&B, if it hadn't been uphill.
The next day, after a small breakfast (still digesting from the night before) we drove around the peninsula some more. Connor's Pass took us through the mountains to the north side of the peninsula. It was properly, San Francisco foggy and misty at the top of the pass, which was fun to drive through, and the other side had beautiful blue water and green fields. (And hillsides dotted with sheep! Who knew that actually existed outside of schoolbooks?) Drove up to Brandon Point, with a great view of the Atlantic and the bays along the northern peninsula. After that, we started our drive back home, this time at a much more leisurely pace. Stopped in Adare for a late lunch. We tried The Wild Geese, but it wasn't open, so we had some blah lunch at a non-descript place a few doors down.
Got back to Dublin at 9 or so and collapsed. It always amazes me that I can get tired just sitting in a car all day. And it's not like I was driving.
But the whole weekend was lovely, all around.
Um, and yeah, neither of us remembered our cameras.