The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Post Script

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Kerry has brought the following events omitted from my manuscript of our seven weeks in France, Norway UK and Ireland to my attention.

Toll Booth outside Amboise

On arriving at in France we picked up our hire car. At this stage we had Euros 20 in cash. We stopped at a motorway services for our first hot chocolate and then we had Euros 12 in cash. But we had our UK debit card our Amex cash card and our Australian Visa card to cover any tolls. Of course there was a toll and as the town of Amboise is a small rural town the toll station was also small and the toll was euros 19. We pulled into the toll station none of our cards worked and the intercom help line was manned by two people who spoke little English. After two cars and an eighteen wheeler semi had to back out of our lane while we sorted out our problem, the toll booth help line assistants finally printed an invoice for us to pay by cheque within 8 days. Of course we did not have a French cheque account but my cousin Terri did and she wrote the cheque which we then posted. Moral of the story – there are tolls on the highways and you can demand an invoice if you don’t have sufficient money to pay there and then.

Catacombs Paris/Luxembourg Gardens and Palace

The queue for the catacombs was extraordinarily long and it was at least a 2 hour wait before we would get in. I wanted to see the Luxembourg Gardens and Palace which as fate would have it was just around the corner (about a 20 minute walk each way or so I thought) I headed off leaving Kerry to hold our place in the queue. 20 minutes later I hit the edge of the gardens and another 10 minutes later I got to the Palace. Time for a nature stop. Just 50 cents but the toilet orderly thought I was most ungrateful when I wanted change from 1 euro.

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The gardens were magnificent even though all the trees had lost their leaves. Hundreds of Parisians were out in the sunshine to get some colour (it was 10 degrees C). Back to the queue and Kerry was close to the entrance. I had a 10 minute wait before we got to go inside.

Kells Bay Beach Ireland. We drove the Ring of Kerry. One thing I did not mention was our visit to Kells Bay Beach. After leaving the main road we drove for what seemed an eternity to get to the beach. The road was narrow and overgrown (I mean really narrow). After probably 5 minutes we arrived at what was once Kells Beach. The storm events in January had washed away the beach. We drove on intending to exit back onto the main road and passed this little hand written sign saying “cul de sac” and it was pointing to an obvious dead end. We drove for 20 minutes along a road which got narrower and rougher until we got to an obvious dead end. Kerry confirmed with a local farmer that there was no exit onto the main road so we had to retrace our path. Again we passed the little sign now aware it meant the whole place was a dead end.

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The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Galway to Dublin

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Our second day in Galway but this tells me the end is near.

We have booked a tour to the Aran Islands – just Inismor actually – with Michael Faherty tours (Micheal at the wheel). He is an Aranian and lives on Inismor still. The bus ride to the ferry terminal at Rossaveal takes an hour but Micheal gave us a commentary about features on the way making the trip feel shorter. When we arrive there are hundreds boarding the vessel. Fortunately there were only 14 of us on the tour which started with a drive to Fort Dun Aonghusa (a stone fort built by the Vikings on the edge of 300 foot high cliffs some where between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago).

Along the way Michael spoke about life on the isle and the stony landscape. There is over 7,000 klms of dry stonewalls on the island and still there is a lot of loose and sheet stone. The walls were erected to hold the sand and sea weed the Islanders carried up to make a top soil to grow vegetables and grass for sheep cattle and goats. Fishing is the other principal industry.

Of course there was the Aran wool and knitwear to view and buy. The fort is immense covering 14 hectares from the precipice and is a kilometre from the nearest village – uphill of course. It was overcast misty and sprinkling with wind gusts – just the place to put a fort. Climbing to the fort we walked across stone with veins of poor grass so it was very slippery.

We also visited the ruins of seven churches from the 7th and 8th centuries AD, saw the damage caused by January’s cyclone and spotted a seal who was interested in what we were doing standing in the rain watching him. It may not sound like much of a tour but we came away with a real feel for how tough life is on Inismor.

Micheal dropped us off in Salt Hill and we had dinner and a stroll home to plan our next travels.

 

 

The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Ring of Kerry, Glenbeigh and Blarney Castle

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Farewell to Galway on St Paddy’s day we set sail for the Ring of Kerry – a circuit around the Iveragh Peninsular said to be one of the most beautiful areas in Ireland – well having done it I can say there are some parts that rate as beautiful but an awful lot that is just the same as anywhere in Ireland.

 

One good thing though was we arrived in Glenbeigh just in time for their Paddy’s day parade. We made up most of the crowd and the rest of the town was in the parade. They had a lot of fun and we were part of it. Then came the traffic jam. There is one street and the parade was in it.

We arrived in Blarney just before 6.00 pm – lovely B&B (the White House). The pubs were still full of Irish celebrating (probably St Patrick’s day or it could have been winning the six nations rugby who knows) so we had dinner at the Chinese (the Red Lantern) with an Irish version of Chinese food.

Visited Blarney Castle and kissed the blarney stone. Tough task without help. Tough way to live as well.

Kerry found the Blarney woollen mills whilst I was viewing the castle. Not so much a mill but a large store of everything Irish and woollen. Set sail for Dublin. The gps “Tommy” was told to take the shortest route which was a country road behind three semi trailers in single file doing under 60kph. We got to enjoy the country side.

Once we got onto the motorway we decided to stop off at Cashel to view the Rock of Cashel. When we arrived the Rock (a medieval monastery) was covered in scaffolding and was at the top of a hill over looking the town. We needed some cash so we went to the town and found we were down to the end of our holiday cash – it had to happen (meanwhile a labourer in Britain had a premonition about winning the lottery and in response to a comment by a female co worker about his laziness he told her of his premonition which she ridiculed but lo and behold he won the lottery 108 million sterling – have a guess who wishes she had shut up when she had nothing good to say).

So after draining our travel card and changing our sterling to euros we headed back to the Rock but got way laid at the Cashel Historical Village. We entered to be met by the local historian who guided us through the village. Unfortunately it was very dilapidated but his passion for Irish political history made up for it.he said that his family had been guardians/caretakers at the rock for 4 generations but he had chosen to start this historical village but his cousin was still chief guide at the Rock. One of the things he showed us was the last “tinkers” wagon used in Cashel. It was dated from 1890 when it was built and was still in use by the Delaney family (they had14 kids in this wagon – Kerry checked the size of the parents bed which was no wider than a single bed which explains a lot) in 1990. He also had extensive memorabilia on each and every Irish rebellion, there must be something about us as when we came to pay he was only going to charge the seniors rate which we rejected.

Our stop at the village meant we ran out of time to see the monastery on the Rock and have lunch so we chose lunch then could not find a place open. So we got back onto the motorway until Kerry spotted the Horse and Jockey where we bought two coffees a loaf of bread and a jacket for me. I juggled the bread on my knee making Vegemite sandwiches as Kerry raced down the motorway.

Our hotel proved a strange one. After arriving at the airport precinct we took a distinctly country road for 2 klms before arriving at the back door of this 500 room hotel out in the paddocks. We returned our hire car after booking in and settled down to prepare for the trip home (3 days and 4 different aeroplanes.)

There you have it. Our seven weeks. Lots of fun adventures and experiences. Until next time goodbye.

The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Day Two in Galway

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Day two and we decide to explore to the north west and around the lakes just north of Galway. Rugged but beautiful at the same time.

We visited two or three villages in the Connaught but I cannot remember their names. One village had a remarkable cemetery perched on the edge of one of the lakes so that everyone of its residents got a lakeside view from their graves.

We returned to Galway to visit the Latin Quarter. Across the Liffey once more, this is the oldest part of town with buildings dating back to 1652 and the days of Ireton and Cromwell. It abounds with restaurants and eating houses and I met Oscar Wilde and his lifelong companion seated on a park bench but made the mistake of coming between them.