Tag Archives: beach

Incredible Ireland: Part 1

2 Nov

I didn’t want to go to Ireland.

Well, let me re-phrase that.

It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Ireland. It was just that I wanted to go to Spain more. Get some practice in with my Spanish. Refresh my fading tan. So when the boy came home, oddly enough on the same day I’d been researching how cheaply we could get ourselves some sun & sangria, and said: “I really want to get away,” I thought, ‘Hurrah, Espana here we come.’

But he had other ideas.

“Ireland,” he said, “what about Ireland?”

“Uh, I guess, sure if that’s what you want. I was actually, ahem, thinking Spain, ahem,” I responded.

But, as he went on to tell me tales of escaping the city, of heading to the wild countryside and getting some fresh sea air into our lungs, I capitulated. Plus, the flights were ridiculously cheap. As a Canadian, who spent years paying out insane amounts of money to fly anywhere in my vast country, the idea of getting to another country for £10 still shocks me. As do the inane advertisements which play throughout a flight on said Irish-carrier’s trips. But, the £10 still wins out everytime.

When we landed at Kerry airport after leaving a gloriously sunny morning in London behind, and it was grey and rainy, I couldn’t help but say: “We should have gone to Spain.”

“But this is how I pictured Ireland,” he responded. “Grey, dark, drizzly and a bit depressing.”

Well, at least one of us had expectations that were being lived up to.

The rain did not last for long luckily. A hop, skip and a 55-mile-jump in our oh-so-cool silver Nissan Micra later, we were in sunny Cork, just in time to see the city pre-darkness, the river Lee swirling peacefully through the town.

The boy with a bag of scarves & me at the river Lee.

After spending the night holed up in cozy and warm pubs, listening to some great Irish music and drinking whisk(e)y, we decided to shrug off all potential “city” life for the rest of our trip, and get down to some countryside jaunts. After a trip to Penneys (ie: Primark) that is. It was bloody freezing. We needed scarves.

But although Ireland was proving “pretty” I couldn’t help but wonder: ‘Will it get much more dramatic than this?’

It did.

It got gorgeous, dazzling, impressive and downright stunning.

A drive-by shot of the scenery in Killarney National Park

Driving up the N71 takes you straight through Killarney National Park – a part of the famed Ring of Kerry. Filled with evergreen trees, mountains, lakes and steep windy roads, the park is breathtaking. And quite a bit like British Columbia’s outdoors, as I continuously remarked between gasps of, “Wow!”

We wound our way along this road, then up the N70, until we hit the R561, which would head west and take us to our stop for the night: Dingle.

After travelling through the park I wondered if it would get any more exciting, but as the sun shone and sparkled along the coastal path we were taking, I couldn’t quite take it all in. Death-defying cliffs, ruff-shod mountains, sheep, sheep and more sheep…and then…the beach…

We pulled over and stepped out into the wind – we’d arrived at the beach at Inch, a small village about 10 miles out of Dingle. And there, in front of us, was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen – like glass, it reflected the puffy clouds hanging above us, creating a mirror image so stunning I actually got choked up.

Now, people who know me, realise I get emotional fairly easily: fluffy puppies, a good score by Tchaikovsky, Matthew walking again in Downtown Abbey, the last drop from a favourite bottle of whisky…all of these things are likely to bring a tear to mine eye. I’m a cancer the crab after all.

But never have I become emotional about a beach. I hate sand.

Taking in the beach at Inch in all its glory.

This though, was something else – I breathed in the sea air, felt the last of the day’s sunshine on my face, and realised, I was very, very happy to have come to Ireland.

In Part 2: the boy and I stay in – quite possibly – the best B&B in Ireland, attempt to understand bizarre signs at the Cliffs of Moher and meet a small drunk man named Kevin…

Plastic Fantastic?

24 Aug

During my recent adventures in Costa Rica I spent a week of it volunteering for a fantastic project called Parismina Turtles, in the tiny village of Parismina on the Caribbean coast.

Everyone joked before I left that I was “off to save the turtles” and I just had to prove them right. I was keen to lend a hand and see these beautiful creatures up close.

What I was not expecting was both the education I received in their habits but also  in ours.

The only time we were out patrolling the beaches (to ensure poachers were scared off from approaching the sea turtles as they laid their eggs on the beach) was during the evening. But a four-hour slog along the seriously soft-sanded beach was not our only workout – during the day we helped to clean up the shores around the village.

Garbage picking was not what I expected but I have never been so glad to do such a gruelling task – sand fleas bit at my feet (I counted 50 bites on each foot one day), while the sun beat down on my continual sun burn, and my back ached from leaning down to pick up the rubbish.

The beach in Parismina at sunset post-clean up

‘What was all of this garbage?’ you may ask. ‘Was the village filled with trash throwing plebs who knew not where trash went?’ you may presume. The answer to the latter is, most certainly, no. All of this garbage being thrown up onto the sands each day was coming from that great blue ocean that spanned the horizon around the village. And if you’ve ever wondered where old shoes go to die, well, you’ll find a hell of a lot of them there. Along with toys, bottles and used needles.

I always knew our oceans were being filled with trash, but seeing it there all of the time, and labouring to clean it up suddenly put me face to face with just how we are ruining our planet with everything we throw out.

What was worse? All of those plastic water bottles that are floating about are now breaking down to such small levels that young sea turtles think they are plankton and consuming the bits until they die.

So, yes, it was about saving the sea turtles. About being there to watch them lay their eggs and see their amazing, powerful flippers scoop out buckets of sand, and huff and puff back down the beach after their laborious childbirth.

But the experience also taught me a little bit about how we are slowly choking (not only the creatures of the sea) but our land masses as well. It was definitely, not, a Gwilty Pleasure.

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