Saturday, May 17, 2014

5/18/14 Day 122 Climbing Carrauntoohil

Carrauntoohil is Ireland's highest mountain, at 1,038 meters and a corresponding 3,405 feet the climb was shorter than expected, but steep and the scenery in the Macgillycuddy's Reeks exceptionally beautiful. We lucked out on a mostly clear day while exploring the Killarney National Park, but the wind in our faces was mighty fierce and almost cause enough to turn back, but a continual improvement on the already fascinating view as we ascended the hillside, made turning back a nonexistent option. Facing Northwest towards the Kerry peninsula we could spy 9 different lakes dipping in and out of the limestone crags and just beyond the lakes the sandy inlet and even more hills opposite of that. 

You can see the white sands of the inlet past the lakes

5/17/14 Day 121 Roadtrip to Killarney National Park

Our current WorkAway host, Paul lives forty minutes outside of Cork and luckily for us has given us a 1998 Volkswagen Polo to drive while we are staying here just so long as we (and by we I mean Kevin) can get some minor fixes taken care of. First up the fan isn't automatically switching on, so it must be wired to stay on constantly. Easy enough while Kevin finishes that up I bake a dozen apple and carrot muffins and we are ready for our well deserved weekend roadtrip.  It was only a few miles under the tires before we realized the car's temperature gauge was rising. We pulled over and Kevin tinkered around on the engine for a few minutes before emerging, problem solved. Or so we thought, just a few more miles and we had to pull over again to try something else, still having to drive with the heat on full blast we stopped for a short hike to allow the engine to cool down to try letting the air bubble out of the coolant tank. Luckily we had made it to Killarney, the National Park we had planned on spending tomorrow exploring, we parked near Torc Waterfall and spent an hour hiking the looped walking trail around the falls. By the time we are finished and have tried once more to mend the car with no success, it is after 18:00 there is no way we will make it to the Dingle Peninsula, so we enjoy the rest of our evening and find a nearby place to spend the night. Tomorrow we will be climbing the tallest mountain in Ireland. 

Torc Waterfall

Two of the three Killarney loughs (lakes); Muckross & Leane

Small, infinitely tight curves, narrow as can be, the Dunloe Gap

The trusty Polo

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5/10/14 Day 114 Cork City

We got a free ride to Cork so we are spending the weekend in the city before we head down to Bandon for our next WorkAway program. Cork city is beautiful with two canals running parallel to each other bordering the city and 22 bridges connecting between. Cork is the second city in Ireland with a population of 120,000, (only one tenth of the population comprised within Dublin). For being a little-big city Cork is a winner when it comes to charm, with adorable brightly colored shops lining the canals and a beautiful Cathedral looming over the city. The tallest building in Ireland is found here towering at a gigantuan 88 meters (266 feet) and is a residential/office building. We managed a Couchsurfer host for Saturday and Sunday nights, but were still without a place to stay Friday night. Luckily for us the weekly Couchsurfer meeting is at 8:00 at Bier Haus. The diversity at the meeting is incredible with people from India, Austria, Germany, Italy and many other countrie enjoying beers and conversation. Right from the start we meet Peter, originally for Hungary who is very intelligent and provides us with some interesting conversation about organic food production. He offers to take us in for the night and after a long day of exploring with our packs on and our bellies full of beer and pizza we head back to his place on the East side of town. 
First thing the next morning Peter cooks us a pot of porridge drizzled in the honey the Matuschka's generously gifted us. And were off, to Blackrock Castle, just up the canal 3 kilometers or so. A beautiful restored fortress that has been modified into an observatory complete with a planetarium. From here Ciaran picked us up and we spent the rest of the indecisively rainy day getting to know him and his roommates. Very fun and relaxed guys, we even got to watch Eurovision with them, delighting in the agony that is this tacky European singing contest that has been running for half a century!

Cork City is technically an island as it is surrounded by canals

The English market, full of delicious sausages, fresh produce and baked goodies galore

The old rail lines have been transformed into a popular biking/running path, great usage of space and beautiful stroll

Mirror tree in Fitzgerald Park

This is the essence of weather in Ireland, dark grey stormy rainy cloud....followed by a beautiful blue sky. It can literally be raining in one acre patches and you walk through it, and a city block later it is sunny. 

A great system for ensuring shopping carts are neatly put away, you put a euro coin in, and when you reattach the cart you get your deposit back. 
Pretty much the only tea you will ever drink here
Look familiar, like Lays? The rebranding is so strange, there is also a store called TK Maxx, the interior even is organized just like TJ Maxx. 
Blackrock Castle