Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Holiday in Oz Part II

 I would first like to make an apologetic statement.

Dear Dingle Peninsula,
I have long held you as one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen.  I love the salty sea smell, the crashing waves and of course, Harrington's.  Who doesn't admire the fortitude of the people who once lived on the Blasket Islands or the many seamen who set out from your sweeping bay?  But, I'm ashamed to say, I have found a new love.  I have found a place that is so rugged, so lovely, that I can't ignore my feelings anymore.  Yes Dingle, you will always hold a special place in my heart.  But a new love has come in.  And that place, dear Dingle, is Donegal. 

The Scarecrow and I pulled out of Limerick on Tues, Oct 30th.  It was a long drive but overall we were pretty lucky.  With the trusty Garmin programmed we set out on the 5 and a half hour journey to the north of the island.  With only one detour (ok, that sucked) we made it to our hotel, the Gweedore Court Hotel.  Even though it was only about 6:30pm it was pitch black so we really didn't see much of our surroundings.  You'll see momentarily what we woke up to outside of our hotel window.  That night we checked in, went to the pool/hot tub/SAUNA (!!!)  and ate dinner in the hotel restaurant.  We were completely beat from the drive so after dinner was a relaxing veg and some much needed sleep.

In the morning I opened the curtains of our room and was astonished to find this view:

I audibly gasped, it was so beautiful.  The mountain in the first picture is Mt. Ergil.  With better weather we may have tried it, but we had other hiking plans for the day.  So after a full Irish breakfast we jumped on our trusty broomstick and took off for Glenveagh National Park.

But first, the drive to the park.  It was incredible.  We couldn't have been luckier for the weather and we were ooo-ing and aww-ing the whole way there with a photo op stop.

I married a goober.
How cute is that church!
Please ignore the fact that I look like a 15 year old boy in every picture.  We were hiking, not clubbing.
Now, Glenveagh.  It's a fascinating place with a quirky history which I won't go into.  But these nice people did so you can read about it there.  We began with a 4 km (2.5 mile) hike to the castle.  They had just upgraded the trail and it was only finished 2 weeks before us.  Can you say score!  It wasn't overly straining but felt great to fill the ol' lungs. 

Scarecrow on the "beach".  Can't say he doesn't take me exotic places.
The castle itself.  The second owner had a very interesting story, and a book is shortly being released about his life and disappearance.  I really wish I could have hung out with the last owner of the place.  He seemed like a real character.  He put in exotic gardens representing countries from all over the world, false doors, and an outdoor swimming pool.  Yes, I think we would have had fun, he and I.

Read the plaque for the statue below.  It really caught me off guard to see this in Ireland!
This one's for you Erin!
Belleek swan.  This one's for Grandma, she now loves all things Belleek.
After that we grabbed lunch in the tea room and set off on our next excursion.  Our tour guide recommend we take the View Point Trail, which is another 2 km (1.2 miles) hike up to a point where you can see almost the entire valley.  Tough trail, completely worth it. 

New favorite picture
We were pretty well beat after that hike so we took the bus back to the car.  We went and had a look at the Bloody Foreland which, with the rain, wasn't as impressive as perhaps it could have been.  We decided to be a bit lazy again and have dinner in the hotel another night.  So after a soak in the hot tub and dip in the pool it was dinner and lounging around.  Oh, plus it was Halloween so there were cute little kids staying in the hotel running around in their costumes.

Next day was another Irish breakfast and slowly getting ourselves together to hit the road.  Have I mentioned how much the Scarecrow loves me and how good he is to me?  He even stopped in the POURING rain in Sligo so I could see W.B. Yeats' grave.  Yes people, that is love.

All in all it was a great trip.  The rest of the week went quietly.  Just a couple more pictures to display.  The first one is just after the Scarecrow was given a heart attack by this furry little dog toy that is a motion sensor.  He leaned in close to read the sign next to it and I thought he'd been shot he jumped so high.  Priceless.

And lastly, my Button turned 1 year old!  Grief, how did she get so big so quick?  And by big I mean still itty-bitty but at least bigger than she once was.  And a big thanks to my sister for making the bow at least somewhat proportional to the size of her little head.  That is hands down my biggest baby pet peeve.  That's all from Oz!

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