The supposed Skellig Michael day

So we had somehow worked out two sets of reservations to get a boat ride to Skellig Michael (where the end of The Force Awakens was filmed). There are only a few very small boats that go there and it turns out they are booked very early. Most just said online they were booked, I wrote to a few who did not have websites and one replied they were booked but we could go on a ride near the island. I explained why we had to land – take pictures in Star Wars costume. The woman called all her customers who had booked that day and one of them wanted to cancel. That was reservation #1, the second one was our Airbnb hostess who wrote me “I’ll go down to the Harbor and check with the boys”. She managed to get a second reservation for the next day. So two chances… but it was Ireland and the wild Atlantic side.  Too windy the first day to dock at the island, still too windy the next and gale force winds the day after that.  But we made do with Valentia Island for our photos.

So close and yet so far. The landing on the island is quite primitive and precarious so with the waves we could see pounding the shores, it was not safe but still hard to accept…

The little boats going out to go around the islands without landing.

So instead we climbed the mountain on Valentia Island for similar pictures of Colleen as Rey. It was quite a climb for me with my still ornery knee (seemingly a permanent condition) but beautiful and well worth it.

The first obstacle for me.

a typical Irish stone wall

walking through fields of heather was another obstacle

Sheep had no trouble with it.

And up we went.

Yes, I was a little slower…

Fun on the way up – beautiful Ireland

The cows roamed higher up – probably didn’t like the heather as much. Despite cow (and sheep) pies everywhere, there were NO flies.

The Walk

Taking a walk near our house

We found this house with beautiful blue fence, obviously abandoned with weeds overgrown right across the front door. Odd thing was we looked this up on google earth and it was all well kept then – less than a year earlier.

Of course it made a perfect photo stop…

Continuing on

Another beautiful rainbow appeared

Chris climbed a wall to get a photo

Bill was so nervous she would fall, his arms were at the ready to catch her

The house next to ours was almost identical

Soon, the sun was going down on the day

Time to go to dinner at The Moorings in Portmagee – a place that advertised quite a bit about Star Wars having been filmed nearby and the stars stayed there and were often in this bar/restaurant. Evidently here Mark Hamil learned to pour a Guinness.

And of course the seafood was amazing.

Then a little time for the “boys” to play their iPad games…look who got the little couch 🙂

To Portmagee

It looked like rain was the order of the day but at least we were warm in the cars.

But there was a rainbow

And eventually it actually cleared up and we got some views of how beautiful Ireland can be.

Good to get to our house though – with its perfect place to sit in the sun.

The kitchen

A thought to remember in Ireland

Beautiful view from every window

 

 

 

A Gothic cemetery in the rain

Driving from north to south County Kerry, we stopped in Ardfert to see a famous ruin.

The cathedral at Ardfert is built on the site where St Brendan founded a 6th century monastery. Most of the cathedral dates to the 13th century but part of the north wall dates back to the 12th century. Some areas have been restored and there is a nice museum on the site also.

There was a fairly steady drizzle and we wandered around a bit to get some pictures.

Suddenly Colleen said she’d be right back – and went to the car. She came back in a costume she had brought “just in case” something came up for it. And this dark ruin on a rainy day just fit the Gothic mood she was looking for. At least five hundred photos later, we had accomplished our first photo shoot in Ireland, and wet and cold but happy, went on our way.

Here’s a sampling, ok, a kind of big one.

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Waiting out the worst of the rain in a little shelter – still windy though.

Bill’s hat was used to shield the camera from rain.

Warmed up and had lunch at Kate Browne’s Pub – wonderful atmosphere and good food too!

Quick – which one means men and which one is women on these restrooms?

You were probably wrong – Mná is women and Fir is men…

Next up – the rest of the drive and another photoshoot in the beautiful town of Portmagee.

Thoughts on packing and long airline flights

We went to Italy six years ago for 3 weeks and each carried everything in a (large) backpack suitcase. Kept it down to 20 lbs. So what’s up with needing a very big suitcase and two small ones this time?? Little different climate, more sweaters, sturdier shoes, not sure that explains it all even. Maybe its all the electronics and chargers? That does add up.  Four magazines and a book for Bill. How many umbrellas do we really need – yes, it rains frequently, that’s why its so green there. Oh, and freezer packs for my knee…a collapsible cane, a collapsible walking stick just in case.  Actually the cane is my ticket to getting a ride out to the gate in the airport.

So how would I design planes better? Well obviously I’d like first class seats for everyone. Or at least Delta comfort as we got this time. But my main small change would be to figure out a way to make seats more comfortable for short people. I can hear the disagreement that short people have it good, it’s the tall and bigger people who deserve more consideration. But my main problem is my legs dangle and it cuts off circulation in my legs, worse now with my bad knee. I can hear now how whiney that sounds…I could bring something to put my feet on – but somehow carry- ons never work well and I have too much already (see first paragraph). One more whine, seat is too deep for my short legs, so hard to sit comfortably even with a footrest.  Ok, I admit I’m writing this after almost six hours in my seat and a ½ hour of sleep while my six foot husband has slept for about four hours. I’ll be fine in 90 minutes when I can say I’m in Paris. Then off to Dublin an hour or two later for a much shorter flight.

Oh and there was a big bathroom on this plane, along with some pretty normal ones. What a luxury! Last year on the way to Costa Rica I almost couldn’t sit in the tiny bathroom when my knee was only bending 50 degrees.

Airplane food and we’re in Ireland!

I like to think I’m a little bit of a foodie – we don’t eat fast food (unless Bill is near a Carl’s Junior) and actively look for places highly rated on Yelp, try to eat only fresh foods at home, not prepared (mostly do).

But I actually like airline food for the most part. Maybe it’s the novelty of eating on the plane and having all those little containers. It also has gotten better than years ago. So first food pictures – dinner – a shrimp and veggie salad, pretzel bread, fruit, brownie and breakfast “snack” – croissant, yogurt, cheese.

After the long flight to Paris – I love Paris – we got on a City Jet flight to Dublin. We were hoping our set of three seats would have one empty but the plane was completely full. And by full I mean packed in like sardines. Shoulder to shoulder and knees (even my short leg) just fit in. But I was so tired, I slept most of the way.

We loved that our City Jet plane was named “Skellig Michael”, a place we hoped to visit.

When you are only 5’4″ and have no legroom…

The pilot had a great Irish brogue and as we left Paris said “sure and it’s a beautiful sunny day in Dublin”. Ok, he didn’t say “sure, and”. But on getting close to landing I was wondering about the Irish definition of “sunny”. 

But it turned out to be lovely. Picking up the car was a riot – all these Americans, including us, slowly edging out of the parking lot, trying to get used to driving on the right side of the car, left side of the road!

 

First Stop

Landed in Dublin, drove an hour maybe, stopped in a town to use restroom and get a snack and look what was the first thing we found!

It was too early for them to be open and we still had driving to do so we settled for a picture.

Bill, who wanted to prove he wasn’t a food snob got his first Irish food here. Cookies and a mocha from a machine.

What it’s like off the toll road.

Finally arrived at our home in Galway.

Galway pubs and restaurants – Day 1

After unpacking a bit, we got in Text contact the my niece Sarah who lived in Galway for a semester of college and took her with us virtually on our first night in the old town Galway area, AKA, the Latin Quarter. Not sure if it was good nostalgia for her or just made her sad not to be there.

Our first restaurant and we loved it! Wonderful meat pies with mash and peas and the best cabbage I’ve ever had. And the decor! Pictures do not do it justice. Only holds 14 people, we were lucky to walk in when one table was open.

Sarah’s comment “that place is awesome” (it is)

So we followed the advice of James Joyce

So off out into the now misty (ok, it was raining a bit) night. Not late because we were a little tired. Such a cute area, we loved just walking all around.

Started working on deserving this tshirt

By visiting Quays Bar

Sarah’s comment – “I spent so much time at that bar”.

So back to our lovely little 3 bedroom apartment – quick, hop on a plane and join us!