Written June 2017
August 5-7: Killarney, Ireland
Sites: I can still picture driving into central Killarney. It was raining and everything was so green and forested, yet light and inviting. After unloading, we walked right into Killarney National Park, where we found Ross Castle sitting near a lake. Along the walk we passed others, including wildlife like deer, and it was the perfect mix of seclusion and togetherness.
Nearby was the Gap of Dunloe, which we spent a day exploring. We opted to walk the entire way, and I don’t remember what about, but we fought. I remember eventually getting over it by daring each other to jump over wide streams of water in the middle of the valley while the other tried to catch it on film. We laughed and laughed when I nearly fell in. We ventured off the trail a bit and enjoyed lunch on a hillside overlooking the gap. It was a good day.
From Killarney we drove to the Dingle Peninsula. That day of driving was one of my favorite, and one that seems clearer in my memory than the rest. We ended up in a caravan of other travelers who would stop off at the next sight or viewpoint. I remember a van of Asians who were preoccupied with us so much that they stopped one time behind us thinking we had found another sight when we had really stopped just to see if they would. On this day trip we stopped at uninhabited beehive-shaped stone huts on a cliff and found many sheep. We also got out and hiked up a mountain for glorious cliff side views. Lastly we stopped to walk along the sand near a ruined castle or light house and found several jellyfish that had washed up onto shore. Lance also remembers passing a mountain dubbed “Mt. Brandon,” which he insisted pulling over to take a picture with. He mooned the camera and sent the picture to Brandon Burnham.
Lodging: In Killarney we stayed at the Sugan Hostel, which the single thought of made me giddy. According to our guidebook, this cheap (12 Euro a night per person — that’s about $15), alcohol-free hostel “resembles a hobbit hole.” And it sure did. Remember how I said our standards changed throughout the trip? This place proves that. We stayed in a mixed dorm with a shared bathroom. Meaning we slept in a room with six to eight bunk beds, all occupied by other backpackers. The shared bathroom was down the hall.
Surprisingly, I slept great. We never had any problems with our roommates; they were all respectful, decent people. A few of the younger (Polish?) boys did prance around in the boxers a few times, but nothing too scandalous. We managed to change our clothes when no one was around or while in the bathroom. We kept most of our belongings in our car, but felt safe leaving behind our unlocked bags in the room. It was an experience I’m glad we had, because I doubt we’ll ever do that again.