Yesterday when we visited the Cliffs of Moher it was hard to see much because of the fog and rain. This morning we visited again. The weather was much better and we could see a lot more. We walked around a bit and took some pictures. By the time we were leaving it was starting to rain again and visibility was getting worse.
The drive to Oranmore where we are tonight was short. We stopped to have a look at Dunguaire Castle.
We have a lovely view of this old cemetery from our hotel window.
We spent today exploring a wide variety of places not far from where we are staying in the south west corner of Ireland. We started out exploring by visiting two Stone forts Cahergal and Kilovarnoge. They were built more than a thousand years ago. Nearby we stopped at the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle.
Next we went to Valentia Island. That’s the island we could see from the bar we ate at last night. Before we left this morning I downloaded a guide to the island so we followed that.
First we stopped at the visitor center for the Skellig Islands. The Islands are a UNESCO world heritage site. One of the rocky island, Skellig Michael was the site of a monastery. During the Dark Ages the monks on Skellig Michael helped preserve literacy and sacred texts. Hikers can take a boat to the island and hike 600 vertical feet up to the monastic ruins. Based on the video we saw in the visitor center it looks like a very challenging boat ride and hike. Scenes from Star Wars VII were filmed on the Skellig Islands.
After the visitor center we stopped at an old Protestant cemetery.
Then a bit farther down the road we checked out the lighthouse.
To add something totally different to our day our next stop was to see rock footprints that are the oldest record of a vertebrate walking on land. According to the sign at the sight that was 385 million years ago!
Just down the road we stopped to see the slate quarry where the slate for the English Houses of Parliament and the Paris Opera house came from. It’s a religious shrine now.
Finally the highlight of the day was hiking the Bray Head Loop trail. From the top of the cliff we could see the Skellig Islands in the distance.
We are dinner at a bar in town. We had lamb shank and beef stew. They were both slow cooked in Guinness beer.
If our first few days in Ireland are any indication the Irish people are some of the friendliest in the world. After we got off the airport bus in Dublin a man passing by stopped to offer us help with directions to our hotel. And then this morning when we missed the turn for the Rock of Cashel and had pulled off the road to do a u-turn the lady driving the car behind us pulled over too. She jumped out came over to our car, asked if we were going to “the Rock”, said she had seen us looking lost and proceeded to cheerfully give us directions!
We got to the Rock of Cashel not long after it opened. The parking lot was pretty much empty. By the time we left though there were about ten buses in the lot and no parking places left.
The Rock of Cashel is a group of medieval buildings on top of a limestone outcropping. It was originally the castle of the Munster kings and later belonged to the Catholic Church.
From the Rock we hiked down to the nearby Hore Abbey.
Tonight we are in Kinsale on the South coast. We have a lovely room in the Long Quay House with a view of the harbor.
This afternoon we hiked along the water to Charles Fort. It is s star fort and was built in the 1600s. The Spanish and Irish used it to protect the harbor from the English. The English won.
For dinner we ate at a great restaurant called Fishy Fishy. We started out with gin and tonics made with local Kinsale Blacks Gin. Then we shared mussels. For the main course Duke had brill and I had sea trout.
Yesterday we flew from Kirkenes to Oslo and then on to Dublin. This morning we walked to a bookstore and bought an Ireland Road Atlas and Guidebook. Then we picked up a rental car and headed out of Dublin to explore Ireland.
On our way to the book store we walked through the gardens of the Royal Hospital Killmainham even though it was raining it was a lovely walk. The building that used to be a hospital is now the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Tonight we are staying at a hotel called The Horse and Jockey not far from the Rock of Cashel. Tomorrow we will visit it.
For dinner tonight we each had a Guinness to celebrate being in Ireland. We shared a bowl of potato cabbage soup and then Duke had a mixed grill and I had a burger.
Today was our last full day on board the Richard With. We are now sailing eastbound in the Barents Sea. This morning we got off the ship briefly in Havøysund.
We made a longer stop at Honningsvåg. The Såmi people graze their reindeer on the island in the summer. The reindeer swim the channel to get to and from the island. From the boat we could see reindeer grazing on shore in the distance.
In the town we hiked first to the church and then to a viewpoint overlooking the town. During World War II the Germans burned everything in the town except the church. After the war the town was rebuilt.
After leaving Honningsvåg the wind came up and we were bounced around the most we have been on this trip. We actually couldn’t stop at two of the harbors we were scheduled to stop at because of the wind.
Last night about midnight there was a message over the ships intercom that the Northern Lights were visible off the front of our ship. We quickly got up, got dressed, and went out on deck. There was a beautiful almost full moon in east and to the north there were the northern lights! The bright moon meant they weren’t real bright but it was very cool to see them shifting across the sky.
This morning we were on deck by 7 am so we could be outside when we crossed the arctic circle. There is a silver globe on an island marking the spot. It was a beautiful clear morning.and there was a festive air we all jumped as we crossed the imaginary line.
After breakfast and a brief stop in Ørnes we participated in the Arctic circle crossing ceremony and baptism! The ice and water over our heads and down our backs was invigorating and shocking!It was a beautiful clear morning.
This afternoon we docked in Bodø. Duke and I walked around the harbor to check out the recreated gun emplacement that was originally established here to protect this harbor during the Napolianic Wars in the early 1900s. It was so warm that we didn’t even wear our coats
Tonight we docked briefly in Svolvær in the Lofoten Islands. The cod fishing industry here goes back centuries. We could see the racks where they dry the cod as we pulled into port.