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Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

With two hours to ourselves between the day’s work-related events and the delicious dinner at Cucina, I joined another traveler on the trip on a wander around the grounds. The Carlton Hotel sits on a peninsula between two rivers (sort of), with a view of one of the inlets.

We followed a muddy trail that led down to the shore and then continued back along the path until its end at a grassy cliff where the river hit the Atlantic. Desperate to see if we could catch a glimpse of the village, or whatever else was there at the end of the land, we left the path and stumbled through the brush, including a lot of nettles, into a field that led us across the southern tip of the land towards the other river.

Not gonna lie, I was getting a little bit nervous: we had only another 30-45 minutes of sunlight; it was overcast; and we weren’t quite sure where we were. It was easy enough to reverse the route, but lucky for me I was with another journalist who shared my sense of direction and curious excitement for unfamiliar wandering. The decision point to continue on through a farmer’s field or turn back was a clump of dark tall trees full of crows resting up for the pending darkness. It kinda felt like the setting for a spooky movie.

(I can’t figure out how to upload the video so here’s a pic of the trees.)

Obviously we did find our way back. The walk, however short it was, reminded me of the Coast-to-Coast Walk (read more about the C2C here), covering woodlands, fields and farms, one after another. To top it off, we passed a dairy farm along the road and watched a collie herd cows into the barn for milking (I imagine).

The best part of the walk wasn’t the sights and sounds, but rather feeling like part of the Irish culture. If I learned one thing living in England, it is the importance of enjoying the outdoors and the mental benefit of a good country walk.

Another thing I learned is that the only thing more important than enjoying a good country walk is that there is a pub waiting at the end.

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In my daily peruse I came across one blogger’s travel fantasy. Joanna Goddard from A CUP OF JO posted about someone’s recent trip to Cinque Terre. Siiigh.

This brought back many memories. Not memories of visiting Cinque Terre, but memories of dreaming about it. It is my travel fantasy. It was more than five years ago now that a friend of Francaise Fille mentioned his pending trip to the small fishing villages along the Italian Riviera. It sounded beautiful. After putting it in the Google box and discovering for myself just how breath-taking Cinque Terre was, it hopped right to the top of my “list of places to visit” where it has been waiting patiently ever since.

Cinque Terre defines an area of rugged coastline that encompasses five fishing villages — Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore — and is a world heritage site. They are connected by trains, walking paths and ferry, but you cannot reach the villages by car.  The trail that connects all the villages could be done in less than a day, but if when I travel there, I’ll do it properly and spend a day in each village enjoying the food, locals and warm mediterranean sun. You can almost hear the photos speaking to you: “Come but don’t rush; stay a while!” You got it!

Seeing these photos reminded me of the yearning I felt for so long to experience that corner of the world. There are few places that I desire to feel as much as this rocky mountainous bit of coast.

I think I’m gonna have to start scouting some travel sites. It’s never too early to plan next year’s holiday — or the year after.

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I confess: I expected to hop off the plane in Ireland and fall in love. Maybe it was the years of anticipation; maybe it was all the “you’ll love it more than England” departing comments I received; maybe it was my love for beer at pubs surrounded by rainy hills and sheep, who knows.

View from Conor Pass

View from Conor Pass

It wasn’t till day 6 that I felt my heartbeat quicken and eyes glaze over in admiration. I fell head over heels for County Kerry.

Having learned a lot about this area of the country from a friend of the family, and the founder of the walking tour company Walking Experiences, Terry Carruthers, it was, for me, the most anticipated part of the trip.

Ring of Kerry from the Northern Side of Dingle

Ring of Kerry from the Northern Side of Dingle

We drove the Dingle Peninsula, stopping to wander along its rocky shores and take in the snow-capped peaks, and through, or over is more like it, Conor Pass, which took us into the bottom of the cloud cover. Mesmerizing!!

We looped up to explore the north side and ventured into Killarney. Maybe it was because I could sense the nature close at hand—literally the park is a quick walk from the city centre—but I fell in love with the city after one drive-through.

Triple A and I dropped off the other gals to do some souvenir shopping while we trooped off to see what we could of Killarney National Park.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle

We ventured in to Ross Castle… another ruined piece of history that still stands in a physical state defined by nature. This was one of many castles, churches and who knows what, that we visited, drove by and saw in the distance that stood in a ruined state—not rebuilt to accommodate tourists.

Ross Castle was cool and as all the boat ride options were closed for the season we quickly visited and moved on. It was getting dark and there was a lot to see. So we followed directions into the park and drove along looking for sights. We visited Muckross House—an old estate that, well, I have no idea why it’s there. We still had Torc Falls and Ladies View to see, according to our trusty National Geographic Traveler Ireland guide book—awesome guide book I must say!

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park

We got back in the car when it started to drizzle and took off in search. We saw signs for Torc and other sights, but no Ladies View… Triple A’s sight of choice. So we drove and drove and drove, stopping at every turn off. We drove over the slick wet roads, winding up into the hills, through stone tunnels inches away from stone walls and branches up the one-lane road.

Ladies View!

Ladies View!

Then… we pulled over to the right of the road when we saw a parking area… we reached Ladies View. And it was spectacular…

It was dusk, cloudy and we were late to pick up our shopping friends, so we took a few pics and moved on. But it was the perfect view to end the trip and put a smile on these Ladies’ faces!

I definitely love Ireland and can’t wait to go back and hike the Kerry Way!


IRELAND PICS CAN BE FOUND HERE!!

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We made it—we returned from our trip across England. It took us 18 days to return of which we walked for 15. We took one day off for relaxation in Kirkby Stephan.

It was an amazing experience and I had a lot of fun completing it—except maybe for the days where it rained non stop. I could have done without that. The country side was beautiful, the lakes definitely incomparable to the rest. The Lake District was the most difficult portion of the trip but endlessly breathtaking.

All in all it was an wonderful trip and I raised over $1,000 for the American Breast Cancer Foundation. Good job and thanks everyone!

Got lots of good pics: community.webshots.com/user/zil227

Me standing in the Irish Sea at the end of the walk

Me standing in the Irish Sea at the end of the walk

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