We sat at breakfast that morning and Audrey, who ran the b & b we were staying at, handed us a stack of information about the area, including a West Cork Foodguide which I found very interesting. My friend flicked through the pages, suddenly stopped, looked at me with a very serious expression oh her face and exclaimed: “You lied to me!”. It was before my first cup of coffee and I looked at her, completely baffled and not really sure what I did wrong… She held the picture of a bridge over cliffs under my nose and exclaimed “You told me the bridge on the cover of the guide book was in Northern Ireland, but this leaflet says it is at the Mizen Head we skipped yesterday”. I looked at the picture, there was a bridge and it clearly said Mizen Head… I apologised that I had probably mistaken it for something else (which I hadn’t, the Coverpicture of my guidebook actually showed a ropebridge in Northern Ireland that looked similar but different) and agreed to her suggestion to drive to Mizen Head to see the bridge instead of going round Beara Peninsula.
To the left, to the left, in Ireland we drive on the left…
We packed up, she threw me the keyes and after I had programmed the navigation system, I drove my first meters on the left, muffling the first words of the Beyoncé song over and over to myself. The streets were wide and well-kept to start with, so I actually enjoyed driving once I got the hang of the car and the gearshift being located on the other side than I was used to. It can be somewhat frightening when a big vehicle or a fellow rental car driver passes you by very closely as the roads get narrower though. I must say I was pretty lucky on my first day.
Ireland has it all…
The good thing about a roadtrip is that you can stop anywhere you like. And the best thing about our roadtrip was, that even though we made a plan we never really felt obliged to follow it, apart from the prebooked beds we had. I must say I was very lucky with my travel partner, as we both just went with the flow and spontaneously decided to make or skip a stop whenever we felt like it.
Our first spontaneous stop that day took us to Barley Cove Beach. The parking lot was completely empty, apart from a few people with their dogs, the beach was too.
We took the floating bridge over the tideway towards a beach that had it all: Dunes with high grass, white sand, turquoise sea, green hills and rough cliffs. We took our time soaking in the seawind and when we walked back, the parking lot was pretty much full. Phew…
Narrow roads took us to the Mizen Head. As we entered the Visitor Center it hit me that if we had driven all the way out here the day before, we would have stood in front of closed doors already. We went through the small museum before we made our way out to Irelands most Southwesterly point. It was the first day that started off grey but without rain, the winds were sharp out there and we spent some time scanning the sea for signs of whales and dolphins but had no luck. We took our time to walk around, take lots of pictures from the upper viewing platform before we made our way down to the famous bridge.
We spotted more cliffs through the rocks, many seagulls resting in the steap cliffs or using the wind to glide through the air. It is amazing how diverse the country is, only a few minutes drive from peaceful beaches to green hills and rough, rocky cliffs. I think it is exaclty this mix that fascinates me the most about Ireland, around the next corner you feel like you are entering a completely different world.
We drove back around the Mizen peninsula and stopped in Bantry at an organic café, to get some healthy food at least once on our trip. A short stroll and some shopping and a piece of pie later, we drove back to Glengarriff where we started this morning and were lucky enough to catch the last ferry over to Garnish Island. The ferry takes you pretty close by the seal cliff, where the seals chill between their swims. What a bummer I was on the wrong side of the boat and my lense is just not good enough to take a good shot over the distance… But I saw seals, YAY!
We entered the Gardens on Garnish Island and tried to pass together as a senior citizen. Well actually there was a party of 4 seniors with us on the boat, when we all entered the ticket booth, the head of the group didn’t notice that one person was still out taking pictures and demanded 4 senior tickets. The lady behind the counter raised an eyebrow, glanced at us and seemed a little confused. In the end we paid full, even though added up we’d have passed as one senior citizen… As we came over with the last boat to the island, we had an hour left to stroll around the grounds and gardens. Again we were lucky and avoided the masses, there were only few visitors left on the Island, which allowed us to take pictures of the beautiful, deserted gardens.
After the last boat had taken us and all the employees of Garnish Island back to Glengarriff, we hopped in the car and made our way in direction of Killarney. The route partly was somewhat adventurous, especially the shortcut over a tiny bridge in Kenmare, which was not for the faint-hearted. The road passed Ladies View from where you can see the beautiful Killarney National Park
We arrived at a bar in Beaufort and I called our Airbnb host to pick us up there as requested. A nice lady pulled up in her car only minutes later and took us around a few corners to her beautiful home, where we had booked the guest room for the next 2 nights.
Best Airbnb ever in Killarney
I told my friend in the beginning of the trip that the Irish are very, very friendly people. I guess she thought I exaggerated, but after we checked in in our airbnb room and the host kindly supplied us with everything we needed and more, she came to the conclusion that I didn’t… After we stashed our bags in the spacious room, we were offered coffee and biscuits in the giantic kitchen with a view of the Gap of Dunloe. The place was advertised as “luxury double room” and the pictures sure looked great, but the room, the house, the people surpassed my expectations.
I am a huge fan of Orla Kielys patterns and so was our host. I drank my coffee from Orla Kiely mugs, patted myself dry after the shower with Orla Kiely towels and admired the various storage containers and decorative items perfectly staged on the endless countertop in the kitchen. This place was not onlyy eye-candy, it was soul-food too. We were equipped with a lot of tips on the area, where to go, what to see, where to shop and where to eat. Our host Maria even drove us to a nice restaurant for dinner, where I ate some prime Irish beef accompanied by a trad music session. If you ever happen to seek for a place to stay near Killarney, I highly recommend to book this airbnb.
More craic in Atlantis: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9