Ireland Planning 2019

Aug 28 – Fly to Dublin – arrive 29th

Aug 29 – Rent car at Dublin airport

Can drive by County Cork/Bantry with extra 15 min drive

Arrive around 5PM

Air Bnb  – 2 bedrooms with ensuite bath, just outside Killarney town


Aug 30 – Ring of Kerry Day Tour

Ring of Kerry is pretty much this –

Booked this private tour – 9 hours

Aug 31 – Killarney National Park, Killarney town

Drive there or another tour – would be great to see Gap of Dunloe, the lakes, Ross Castle (whatever we didn’t see in day before) 

Here’s an idea

Sept 1 – drive to Listowel, only a 50 minute drive so suggest we stop in Tralee and/or drive up coast rather than direct inland way.  Also could take more time and drive out Dingle Penninsula. 

AirBnb – John’s house – right outside Listowel

3 bedrooms are pretty similar – each with large bed and two of them also have a single. Two bathrooms.

Horseshoe pub was open Sundays – many things were not. Good music but I don’t think they have it on Sunday. Sounds like John B Keane’s is now open Sundays and Mickey McConnell performs.

Sept 2 – Ballybunion/see area/Bromore Cliffs, visit Angie

Sept 3 – Listowel – John B Keane’s

Sept 4 – Drive to Galway – could stop and see Cliffs of Moher then (we’ll almost go right by) or wait and do a tour out of Galway. Leaning towards doing it this day if timing seems good. This is not fastest route but we get to take a ferry over River Shannon and drive the Wild Atlantic way rather than inland to Limerick. And Doolin is John Prine’s town – although he’ll be in England I think.

Should take all day including Cliffs of Moher. Lunch nearby at Doolin.



Shop Street, etc

Pie Maker restaurant is one idea – we LOVED this.

Best music according to our cousin –  Tig Coili

Great for breakfast – but nothing opens really early in Galway so maybe stock up at least for Bill to eat before 9 or 10… or great for dinner I expect – 

Ard Bia – cool old historical building on the water


Sept 5 

Go for drive to Aughnaure, Ross Demesne and on Lough Carrib – 

 Glenlo Abbey – gorgeous place, great drive there and the Orient Express Railroad cars restaurant. Have reservation for 6:30PM – sorry could not get the 6th.

Sept 6th

open – laundry, drives, walk around Galway, tour 

Baking Class – Homemade scones and bread

Sept 7 – Drive to Mayo

Airbnb in Westport –

This house dates back to 1790 and was originally the forge for the town.

Sept 8 – Doona/Ballycroy/bike rides? – I want to see Doona and Ballycroy, bike rides available or just seeing the area. Doona is where some of our Corrigan ancestors lived. Maybe drive to Belmullet through Doona, Ballycroy Park if no bike ride or those who don’t bike.

Sept 9 – Achill Island – drive to the Island and just take in the scenery, maybe walk the abandoned village, See Claggan, Keel West, Slievemore,  Keem beach (#11 of top 50)

Sept 10 – Croagh Patrick & Westport – climb up part of the mountain and see Westport – or whatever we choose

As far as we (I) got – you can see the tiny statue near the person in bright green jacket.

It got very rocky

Sept 11 – Drive to airport from Westport

Would like to take a longer route to include driving through Glangevlin/Lower Mully in Co Cavan. – an extra hour plus stops for pictures

Radisson Blu at Airport – minutes to the terminal

Would love to get to the Brazen Head pub in Dublin but we can decide then.

Sept 12 – fly home 🙁


Bordeaux Day

The next day it was time to leave and move to Bordeaux where we’d be getting our river cruise two days later. It was a chance to see a little of Bordeaux and get our laundry done!

St Cyprien – not sure what this was for

Stopped in Bergerac for lunch – along the river 

Now vineyards are everywhere

Got to the train station, turned in the car and found the tram to our apartment.

Living room of our Bordeaux apartment

Some of the stairs to our apartment
Another view of the stairs
It was not hard to find a place to eat – this was taken right outside our door.
St Pierre
French love monuments – this one was mostly dismantled during WWII to be melted down for war production but somehow the Resistance hid them and they were later brought back to Bordeaux
Our chosen restaurant was full so we decided on this one – right on our street. The two tables next to us were locals who told us this was a very good restaurant and after eating, we agreed.
House soup was so good!
Lamb was excellent
Dinner with Ophelia and Gabriel
We also met three engineering student studying in Bordeaux – they were very interested in talking to Bill and might check on the 3M plants in France for jobs or internships.
The long climb back home

Sarlat, St Leon sur Vezere and prehistoric man

Started the day with a trip up an unusual elevator to the top of the old church tower in Sarlat. It is a glass elevator that goes up the middle of the tower and then out the top to give a great panoramic view of the town.

Looking up the elevator shaft

Next, on the recommendation of Patrice from the Medievale Biere brewery, we went to see St Leon sur Vezere. This is a sleepy little town compared to touristy Sarlat. Another Kodak town – you can’t stop taking pictures…

Perfect area for a picnic on the Vezere River.

Then we decided to walk across the bridge and discovered signs to a park so we walked there – and it was a big park with a dinosaur display, ropes courses, and a prehistoric troglodyte site that was later also inhabited through the Middle Ages.

View of St Leon from the bridge
Beautiful path and the shade was appreciated, it was a warm day

Bill meets a dinosaur by the entrance – our first clue about this park!
Bill just had to photograph the rustic restrooms – especially the men’s side..
And I admit to taking this picture…

And more dinosaurs with no comment… 

The park actuallly attempts to portray a chronological progress though time from dinosaurs to modern man. It was a pleasant walk and the rest is not simulated – its a real cave dwelling dating back to troglodytes (cave men). They didn’t actually live in real caves as they used fire and would have filled a cave with smoke, but they lived on the eroded away areas of limestone cliffs called abris.  This site was used by prehistoric men and also used through the Middle Ages and even beyond as a hiding spot or lookout along the river.  Artifacts are found from the various inhabitants.

One awesome aspect was we were here entirely alone – not one other person was there! 

This looks sort of prehistoric but one interesting thing we learned was there were no trees here when Cro Magnon and Neanderthal people lived here.
Some new stairs
And some old ones
Very old ones…

There are several guesses on what this was but we don’t really know…

And time for dinner at a very cute restaurant but probably our least favorite for food and service. 

But the beer was good
And the cassoulet was also – a typical dish of the area. 

Cooking class in a chateau

We found an “experience” on Airbnb that sounded fun – a cooking class by a  woman who was formerly a chef in Paris and now moved to the country where she and her husband run a bed and breakfast, wedding venue and cooking class, plus meals on reservation. 

First the drive which was about 1 ½ hours to near Monflanquin to Chateau Ladausse. 

Castle at Beynac-et-Cazenac 

St Vincent de Cosse
Typical narrow road and bridge
Railroad bridge at Belvès 

And on to the cooking – it was a hands on class with Diane showing us the techniques. It was just three of us – Bill and I and Rene from Montreal, Canada.

Pricking the dough
Learning technique
Ready to bake – those are assorted local plums on top
Rene is a butcher so he had some improvements to make to the lamb

The meal – it was wonderful!
Diane’s husband Eric joined us
Entering the kitchen of the chateau

Then a slow drive home with an ending in the hot tub!

Sarlat Market

The market is Sarlat-la-Caneda has been famous since the Middle Ages. It takes place twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday and pretty much covers the whole of the old city- mainly on the Main Street, Rue de la Republique but also on several plazas and here and there down smaller streets. There is a lot of food and almost any other goods – clothes, accessories, household items, leather goods, toys, a few souvenirs. Many of the shoppers are locals getting food or other items. Biggest market I’ve seen. And all the restaurants offer petit-dejeuner, breakfast, although they are normally closed in the morning. Biggest market I’ve seen!

Produce is amazing here
Need a few onions or garlic?
Or some olives?

The big doors even opened in the former church and there was food sales inside – these doors are only partially shown here – their size was shown in an earlier post.

Man showing off his vegetable slicers – looked like they worked great!

Visited the cathedral with its organ from the 1700’s which was being played. 

Walking around town this struck me as interesting – such an old building with its big LG air conditioners…

And ok, couldn’t resist one more cute building picture.

Waiting in the sun for our chosen restaurant to open.  Le Bistro de l’Octroi is recommended by many locals and it did not disappoint. This building was originally the place where taxes were paid by people importing goods into the city. 

Sunny and 80 degrees – a beautiful day
Ended the day in our sauna and then hot tub – both in our Airbnb apartment!

And back to prehistoric times

The area of the Dordogne and Vezere valleys was home to many prehistoric peoples. The most dramatic evidence is caves with paintings and overhangs called abris where they often lived. 

So the morning began with a trip to Montignac and Lascaux cave paintings. 

Montignac is another cute town with a flourishing tourist trade due to these caves and prehistoric sites. 

Found palms trees in several areas – because it IS Southern France…

First we went to Lascaux caves to buy tickets and reserve an English tour and it was very foggy.

Museum Le Thot

Back to Lascaux. In 1940, 4 boys discovered a cave with prehistoric paintings, it was wartime and it was awhile before any work was done on this. For some years visitors were allowed to walk through but this caused considerable determination of the cave – changing humidity and temperature caused mold and other things to grow. So the cave was closed but digital scanning has been done to recreate the cave exactly in the museum area.  This recently opened 4th version of the cave is more extensive and a wonderful look at the work done by very early man in this area.  No photos are allowed in the cave but there is a museum with further recreation of the drawings and interactive exhibits that you can photograph so here’s a bit of how it looked.

Next beautiful drive to the Vezere River and dwelling place of the “people of the cliffs”. You cannot drive more than a few kilometers without running into signs for “prehistoric site”. We went to one and on recommendation of our friendly local brewer will visit a couple of others areas later in the week here.  Some views of the drive.

Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
Overhands form “abris” which was areas that wore away and were used by prehistoric man as dwelling areas. T
hey did not live in caves.

Grotte du Grand Roc is a beautiful cave of stalactites, stalagmites and some more rare crystal formations. 

Grotte du Grand Roc

Next to it is a prehistoric dwelling area that has been partially excavated and one area recreated to how it was believed to look. This is called Laugerie Basse.

Recreation of prehistoric dwelling
Excavated area showing layers of various ages – some Neanderthal, Cro Magnon, and later times

Above – the rocks near the bottom fell from the overhang, covering some of the early dwelling areas that have now been excavated (earlier picture)

Vezere River

Later, back in Sarlat, we visited Patrice again at the Biere Artisanale – had a great conversation about France, Sarlat and travel. 

Patricia and Patrice

It’s almost impossible to stop taking pictures of this picturesque town!

Popular sculpture of the geese on the site of the old goose market – the area is famous for duck and goose liver – fois gras is big here. 

Restaurant recommended to us by Patrice at the brewery. 

We met Chef Christian Borini who recently opened this restaurant. The food was beautiful and delicious!

Amuse Bouche

Gazpacho, with beef heart, antarctic prawn, and lemon sorbet – awesome! 
Magret (sliced) de canard (duck of course) with an orange/ginger sauce and seasonal vegetables

Walking on ancient streets

We slept almost too well – didn’t get up until 10:30, unheard of for us. But it felt great, really have not had any jet lag effects – we work at this for a couple of weeks before leaving – changing meal times to be closer to our destination and waking up (even if temporarily) at or nearer the time we would be at the destination. 

So breakfast was really more like brunch and many restaurants don’t open for breakfast so the one we found was not open for food but just coffee – we saw that at several. But one of the three employees at the one we ate at finally agreed they would serve us. They had omelets so we pretended it was still breakfast… 

Ham and cheese omelet with fries and salad. Really good omelet – I usually find them too dry – this was more cooked on the outside but cream and soft inside.

Then we decided to walk around Sarlat. 

Sarlat-la-Canéda most probably developed around a Benedictine community which settled in this remote place in the early 9th century, safe from marauding Vikings. It has been a walled city for centuries – it is known that the wall was reinforced in 1340 but not when it was originally built. The old city has an amazing collection of medieval and Renaissance buildings built of golden limestone in very good repair. Narrow streets go every which way and it would be easy to get lost except the main street, Rue de la Republique, bisects it into two and is the only street cars are allowed on (I think not even that street has cars in summer when there are many tourists).

The old wall still exists in several areas. 

As well as some towers and passages (entrances) to the city

Cute little restaurants are everywhere.

This town is seriously so perfect – the only one that compares is Rothenburg on der Tauber in Germany. You could take pictures all day – I did take a few but will only post some. 

Bill found something interesting

Biggest door I’ve seen – not sure what this is exactly – according to the historical plaque this was first a 14th century church, Sainte Marie, later taken over in the Revolution and used as a Hotel des Postes and then abandoned. Now used for expositions.

World War II memorial to those who died in the town, in the resistance and in concentration camps.

Unusual sight – this appears to be a grave next to a house – or just marking WHERE someone died?

The local little grocery store had a lot of cookies from Europe and just one familiar to all Americans...

So on to a beer before dinner at a local very tiny brewery run by Patrice. 

The brewery

Then off to dinner at Le Quatre Saisons 

Magret du Canard
An unusual but delicious tiramisu.
And lastly, a candlelit hot tub….

Driving to medieval times

So after locating our rental car, we took off with only a few oops, turn around here incidents.  Once we were out of Bordeaux it was pretty easy going. 

Contrast of the old and the new and new-ish in Bordeaux
More hills and very green. There has been a lot of rain in southern France
Love seeing some familiar names along the way – like Limoges on this sign, went by Bergerac (ala Cyrano de Bergerac, although he was not from here)
Cute towns along the way once we were off the bigger highway 
Sarlat-la-Canéda- in the center, the walled medieval city

Parking lots are outside the old city so we had to walk to our apartment down Rue de la Boetie, our little street

Our door and inside 1001 Nuit apartment (1001 nights)

Stairs to the bedroom 

Hot tub instead of a living room – perfect for us!
Kitchen beyond the hot tub and to its right, the sauna. Upstairs, the bedroom
Le Bistrot restaurant

Next in search of dinner we found the area with restaurants was pretty busy at 8PM – and this place was full – later read that it was recommended by Rick Steves so no wonder…. but it was good, great service and we were happy to get dinner after our long trip.

I had a “Kiwini” – Vodka, lemon juice, orange juice and kiwi syrup- very refreshing and not too strong
Light meals – duo of melon on bottom was marinated with citrus and basilic wine with sliced duck breast (LOTS of duck in this area) and Bill had “Salad Goat” which meant goat cheese which was on the bread on a salad with walnuts
But this being France and Bill – we did have dessert – “Rum Baba” – cake soaked in orange rum with what they translated as “arranged Vanilla” (whipped cream probably with vanilla flavoring) – VERY GOOD!
And you guessed it, relaxing in the hot tub before going to bed and sleeping about 11 hours!!

A day of planes and trains

Packing got done with the help of/in spite of a little visitor.

So off to the airport where the Delta Club was packed with people – barely a seat available – surprising on a Tuesday afternoon. 

First “French” meal – on Air France so its French, right? the tuna appetizer was really good!

Arrived right on time at Charles de Gaulle airport – and set off for the train station at the airport, following signs for Paris by Train to the RER B train. 

Almost empty when we boarded
But very full for most of the 45 minute ride to Denfort-Rochereau stop where we caught a quick metro 6 ride to Gare Montparness and our “grand ligne” train to Bordeaux
What a difference with beautiful reserved seats
Each with a little power hookup and tray. This one is mine.
Bill does not travel as light….
The train was slowing a little at this point – max speed was about 350 km/hour (not mph)
At first it was as flat as Kansas or the eastern Dakotas
Coming into Bordeaux – a little over two hour trip – I slept about half of it…
Passing trains

I really love train travel, especially on the long distance fast trains. So much nicer than having to drive and almost always right on time. 

Crossing the Dordogne River
View of the city of Bordeaux
Gare St Jean 

Next adventure was finding the rental car desk – evidently not a big thing in Bordeaux as it was tucked away in a hard to find area with few signs leading the way. It helps to know international sign pictures – it was a drawing of a car with a key on it for rental cars.

So next entry will be driving two hours to Sarlat-la-Canéda, our apartment and dinner.

Getting ready for SW France

The story always starts with packing. We’ve been so distracted with other packing – from selling my business which required days of counting and packing.  The house must feel quite a bit lighter now!

Four huge freight boxes of preemie baby clothes and accessories

Plus four approximately 50 lb boxes to check on the airplane

Finally now we are down to the last few days – got railroad tickets reserved and printed, changed around some car rentals, made sure we knew how to get into our first AirBnb, read through Rick Steve’s “how to pack light” list, doing laundry and a few last minute purchases. Have been so distracted by buying a new house, some moving, selling and moving the business that its been hard to even get excited – so the next three days can be focused on the trip!

Here’s a little preview of the first house and last place we’ll be. Stay tuned – the blog will be active soon!

our house in Sarlat la Canéda – small kitchen but big hot tub (and sauna)