After 2 full days in Ireland, I was up early, packing my bags, and heading out to catch the bus to the airport to meet my really close childhood friend Justin and pick up our rental car. Turns out Wow air also flies from Pittsburgh so he was able to find an awesome round trip to Dublin to spend a week with me and road trip around Ireland.
We decided to pick up the rental car at the airport and then immediately head South to Killarney for big ideas to bike the whole ring road, do a loop to the Southern the peninsula of Dingle, and head up the Western coast to the Cliff of Moher, spend a few days in Gallway, and then drive back to Dublin for Justin’s last full day and night before I would drop him off at the airport and head to Northern Ireland.
It was the plan I came up with but really without a good rhyme or reason so let’s see how it works out.
You can tell from this map^ how small the country of Ireland is.
In the process of picking up the rental car it was a mad house, there were so many people waiting in the line it was set to take hours but luckily we had not rented our car with hertz so I was able to jump in the other line and get through fairly quickly. As many of you know already, the Irish drive on the right side of the road, which I had done in Japan for 2 years so it can’t be that bad right? haha, well it was a bit shaky getting back into the habit but we got on the highway and headed South and shortly stopped for a late breakfast, early lunch, Justin’s first introduction to Irish food.
TOTAL COST FOR THE RENTAL CAR WAS: $608.63 for 9 days with the car and with insurance from my American Express Platinum so we didn’t have to pay for that. Split 2 ways the cost was $304 which averages out to be about $33 per day per person which wasn’t too bad considering the ease and accessibility of us being able to go anywhere we wanted whenever we wanted to.
Also, it was amazing to have a rental car for Northern Ireland because you are stuck dealing with bus tours for the Giant’s Causeway and other sites if you don’t have the freedom to drive around on your own. I would definitely recommend a rental car for Northern Ireland even if you only rent it for a day, unless you plan to spend the entire time in Belfast at which point you can easily tour the city on foot or with public transport.
Back to this particular day, we zipped out of Dublin and headed straight for Killarney because I had it in my head that we could bike the entire Kerry Ring Road in 2 days. It was something like that, give or take half of what I thought. I always get it into my head that I should do some crazy bike ride like when I biked all the way around Lake Como. When I convinced Laura to bike the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, or when I convinced Megan T. that we could do a real easy 30 mile bike ride in Baliroche Argentina… haven’t blogged that trip yet so no proof yet but it is coming.
What’s really interesting is that Lake Como and the Kerry Ring Road are about the same distance (160 km giver or take 20km)
See the above photo that shows the pink ring, there she is in all of her glory. We arrived in Killarney in the late afternoon and checked into the hostel I had found out hostel world, average per night in Ireland, scotland is about $20-$50 which is not very cheap, but there are some great places to visit, so you just got to do it. After we found a parking spot and dropped our things off, we walked around town and went to the quaintest of quaint restaurants for a proper Irish dinner and Justin’s first Guinness.
We then walked around and found the place that we would rent the bikes from the next morning, and picked up snacks at the local grocery store. We definitely found the pub all of the locals were in and hung out there for quite sometime before heading back to the hostel to get to bed and wake up early to begin the ride.
“You can’t be certain about the weather,” they said. “Definitely October is pushing the envelope.” “You could get caught in a down pour, it is Ireland.” Ahhh, a little rain never hurt nobody.
We parked the car in free weekend parking by the church, and we were off.
We went in the direction of the arrow in the photo with the intent to make it to Portmagee for the night, especially because we had some very exciting stuff coming up, if the weather would hold out for us.
The road was not easy but it was also not too hard, we encountered many packs of bikers out on the road, and some areas were narrower then you would like, taking the wind off a larger truck, which definitely was a bit concerning, but they move out of the way when they can, and you just put your head down and get to work. We found a wonderful cafe to stop at for some lunch, and they were serving illy coffee!!! I knew I was back in Europe when I saw the red sign in the dark of the night, haha. It was where all the bikers were stopping so we knew it must be the place to go. They had these big billowing windows but I must have been too caught up in the moment to snap a photo.
After lunch we continued on. We eventually started seeing the signs for Portmaggee, realizing that it was about 12 km off the ring road, we were headed all the way into the port.
We came in at sunset, with the intent to catch a boat the next morning for Skellig Michael. You may have heard of the place because of the recent Star Wars films. The season to go to the islands and climb the steps to the monastery is a short window that finishes the first week of October. One week after we got there. The tickets I bought were contingent upon the weather. You meet in the morning, if the seas are too bad then they send you on your way and refund you the money.
We arrived into town exhausted, but everyone was pretty much gone for the season with just a few places open here and there. We found our hostel and checked in, really nice place, only 2 rooms rented out for the night which was really nice.
The next morning we woke up to a day gifted from unicorns. I mean, we walked out into a postcard. Water, still as glass in the harbor, the sun shining high, dew spattered across the grass giving it that crystal look. It was PURE MAGIC. I mean there was no way that boat wasn’t going out today and the chances of seeing the sun in Portmaggee, Ireland in October are slim to none.
We ate breakfast at a local hotel that also made room for non guests and then took a leisurely stroll through the tiny town of Portmaggee, and on across the bridge.
I stopped for many snaps from every angle along the way.
After our stroll around the village, it was time to head toward the docks and see if that would would indeed be leaving for the Skellig Islands. I think you know the verdict, but stick around for more on the road in Ireland, and to see how we get back to Killarney.
There is something so much more intimate about biking in a place. It let’s you really experience a place and be a part of it, rather than in a car zipping by it. I will always recommend to go out on foot or by bike if you are able, because there is so much more to see when you really embrace it.
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