Wonderful Ireland Walking Tour – Camp to Annascaul, Ireland

According to our guesthouse owner day two of the hike was ” a nice walk, a child could do it”. Which prompted our trip catchphrase “d***t Kathleen!”, which we of course say in jest because Kathleen was lovely. In truth it was much easier, it was all road or trail walking, it was mostly flat and it was a much cooler day.  But 15 plus miles is 15 plus miles, no matter which way you cut it, it’s not easy.

The day started out going uphill from our inn, back up the road we had walked down the night before. And despite it being cooler it was HUMID! I struggled a lot that morning. Plus after the very elaborate application of mole skin to cover the prior days blisters I was already walking a little gingerly to begin with. All that aside, coming down off that hill into this valley was worth the struggle. The flat valley stretched out a head of us and strolling through the sheep fields was just magical.

Following our directions and the ever-present little yellow man signs we had no trouble keeping on track and on schedule. We went through a patch of conifur trees (which seemed very out-of-place among the rolling treeless hills). I later learned these government required crops that are later logged for export. The man who filled me in on the purpose did not say it kindly. Evidently the needles from the trees are so acidic they are damaging the salmon runs, which have since the English logged the Ireland hundreds of years ago, have evolved to needing less acidic conditions for spawning.

After we broke out of the valley we were on the other side of the pennisular in a very cute little beach stop called Inch Beach.  We passed by a lot of “Do Not Enter. Beware of Bull” signs, on thankfully closed gates to get down to the little town. While we sat and ate our lunches another group of hikers we had seen earlier in the day passed by us going the other direction. They asked us if we had seen the bull signs and then told us they jumped the fences and walked through the field! We nearly fainted on their behalf. Don’t do that. Ever.

We sat and enjoyed our lunch at Inch Beach, there was a nice big fluffy golden retreiver that I got to pet. My tomato and cheese sandwich was to die for and I even got a nice big capuchino to keep me going.  Then we picked back up and headed up the hill again. We then curved left long the hills and past the ghost estates which were built during a builder boom in Ireland before the housing market crashed and still sit incomplete and empty. The last bit of the hike that day was really hard, it was all highway walking. We were all really tired and my feet (blisters) were not feeling super. We happily landed around dinner time in Annascaul.

Finglas House – Camp, Ireland

As I mentioned, the second we would get to our rooms after each day our bags would explode. The hiking bootes would come off, clean clothes found and often a quick lay down was needed before dinner. Hence the horrendous picture of our room. Aside from the thrown aside bedding and the opened bags, the point however is to point out that while our accommodations along the way were not always fancy, they were clean and comfortable. Which is exactly what we needed given the type of trip we were on.

Day two ended in Camp and as previously mentioned this is in fact the name of a town. This was also the first day we had experienced the baggage transfer done by our touring company and as promised our bags were awaiting our arrival in the lobby of our guesthouse. We were greeted by a very lovely woman named Kathleen who owns the Finglas Guesthouse. She showed up to our rooms and then the exploding of the bags happened. Then off to the Ashes Pub for dinner which I talked about in a previous post.

After dinner and a shower I set myself up in the lovely second floor lounge. There was tea and cookies provided by Kathleen, which I took full advantage of. The rest of the group congregated after their respective adulations and we spent a lovely evening planning our next day.

Thanks to jet lag I was up bright and early. Dressed, repacked and ready to eat breakfast approximately and hour before it was ready. C’est la vie. Breakfast was severed on time in the downstairs dining room that overlooks the bay. There were a variety of options, I of course chose the “Full Irish” plus coffee, toast and a little more coffee. It was perfection as expected from the quaint little place. We were also given a sack lunch again, this time a suspect sandwich and chips. My chips were cheese and onion, though there was a chicken flavor floating around in one of my groups sack lunches as well. Turns out the suspect sandwich was cheese and tomato which was quite good. Chips weren’t bad either.

 

Ashes Pub – Camp, Ireland

For our second night of the trip we were put up in Upper Camp (this is the actual name of a town, not the activity of sleeping in the woods). The village which is split into upper and lower sections is relatively small, and the area we were staying in especially small.  A handful of houses, our guesthouse, a bar that was closed and the Ashes Pub.

I would link the site if there was one, the best I could find is the trip advisor link or if you look it up on google maps where you can find their address and open hours. This is not to be confused with the Ashes Pub in Dingle, which does have a website. I did find a video on YouTube which appears to just be a personal video overlain with Irish music, but it gives you a good idea of the size of the place.

Regardless of a lacking website and its modest exterior the place is perfection. The bar inside is exactly what one would expect from an Irish Pub. Low ceilings, stone work, worn woodwork and the nicest people you will ever meet. The food was outstanding, like 5 star dining outstanding. I had lamb with mint sauce, I inhaled it. Not only was I starving from the hike that day but it was so good I just couldn’t help myself.

We must have gotten there early though, as it was quiet when we first sat down, but by the time we were on our second round of drinks the parking lot was full and the pub was packed to the gills. The food took a while cooked to order as it were, and worth the wait. The wait staff couldn’t have been kinder and the bartender/owner was full of snarky jokes. I loved this place through and through.

Additional Information:

  • Address:  Camp Cross, Ballinknockane, Co. Kerry, Ireland
  • Hours: 5pm to Midnight daily.
  • Notes: Cash only,  and be patient the food is worth the wait.

 

The Drive-In – Condon, Oregon

A few weeks ago I talked about the Condon Hotel which is a darling historic hotel in Condon Oregon. While we were there we obviously needed to eat dinner. There were a couple restaurants that we wanted to eat at, one was closed and the other was out of to go boxes. Third times a charm took us to The Drive-In, which is on the south end of town across the street from the newly built city park which was also having  a farmers market that we had wandered around earlier in the day.

We chatted with the owner a bit while we waited for our burger, which we split with a large order of curly fries and a chocolate shake. He had mentioned that they had recently opened but they were busy so I didn’t get the chance to get too many details about how new or the history of the building they occupied. It was clearly built as a drive in, and was very popular with the locals.

They had an extensive menu with some really fantastically inventive burgers. We chose one that had a slice of ham as well as the burger. It was incredible! If it weren’t a 10 hour drive from my house I would go there for dinner every week.

We had a wonderful time sitting there waiting for our food, not only chatting with the owner but the locals that came and went for their dinners as well. I love getting to witness this kind of small town community and caring. They do not have a full website but a Facebook page with their hours can be found here. I would highly suggest stopping in if you find your way out there. Though as I write this in August they are currently closed as they are feeding the firefighters in the area trying to keep the wildfires from burning any more farms and historic homes. Once again, small town caring and community, it’s so wonderful to see.

Additional Information:

  • 433 S Main St. Condon Oregon
  • 11am to 7pm
  • Closed Sunday

Wonderful Ireland Walking Tours – Tralee to Camp Ireland

The moment we had been waiting for, for a year and a half, the first day of the hike! We started out in Tralee, which meant walking along the harbor toward the hills (which you can see in the distance in the picture below). It wound up being a lot of road walking for the first section which can be pretty hard on your feet. It was also extremely humid and warm. Don’t let those clouds fool you by the time we got to the trail head we were sweating and tired. And we still had a good 10+ miles left in the day.

Once we got on the trail our feet started feeling quite a bit better, but it was a lot of up and down and I at least wore out fairly quickly. It could not have been more gorgeous however. We could see all the way back to where we had started pretty much the entire day and walked toward what seemed like an endless stretch of fields. We went over a few rivers which were lush and beautiful. Though I expected nothing less. We took a few breaks along the way, just enjoying the view and the break from reality. We all work really hard long hours in our real lives so I think we were all very happy to just sit in the sun, disconnected from the world, looking at nothing but grass and ocean and the occasional wayward sheep.

Once we got toward the end of the day we got back down closer to the road and got into some more actively used fields. Enter the cows. No bulls, they are kept behind locked gates with lots of signs. But given the trail is made possible by the cooperation of local farmers, it wasn’t very much of a surprise to cross paths with our bovine friends. There was after all an awful lot of signs pointing to their existence, and by signs I mean poop on the trail. This larger group proved the most difficult, they were full on blocking the trail which was flanked by stinging nettles and blackberries so we weren’t terribly interested in going around them. Some of us, braver then others (not myself), tapped them on the bum so they scurried on, albeit very slowly.

Once free of the cows and over all the stiles we found ourselves back on the roads trudging toward our inn for the night. The end of the days walk passed us by a series of very lovely homes, my favorite of which was of course abandoned. I loved the peeling layers of paint and overgrown roses.

All in all it was a moderate level of difficulty in walking. Made mostly hard by the condition of the trail (very rocky) which thankfully were mostly dry. Most of the year it is more bog like, which would have created different difficulties with the added benefit of swarms of mosquitoes. All in all it was a terrific day and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Dunes – Oregon

The Oregon Sand Dunes are one of the largest expanses of coastal sand dunes in the world. They stretch for 40 miles along the Oregon coast and is designated as a National Recreation Area  or NRA (the other NRA) as a part of the Siuslaw National Forest.

Within the larger park system, there are many different road access points, usage areas, and activities. Everything from horse back riding, to off roading, fishing and hiking. There are also camp sites and some have camping cabins (my favorite way to camp).

Even without all the added recreation options the dune are impressive. Some as tall as 500 ft and ever shifting with the wind and rain. They are dotted with trees and takes, tide pools and local flowers that are brave enough to grow in shifting sand.

We went down last for our anniversary trip in March, the weather could have been better. Dry and low winds but slightly cloudy made for the prefect day of walking around. And boy is it hard walking around on them, let alone trying to race up them. I didn’t win.

In some areas there are trails but in a lot of the park you just head out straight into the dunes. It feels other worldly and rumor has it they inspired Frank Herbert to write his science fiction epic Dune.

No4 On The Square – Tralee, Ireland

We only got the opportunity to sample one restaurant while in Tralee given we were only there for a single night and our guesthouse was providing breakfast. I am honesty not sure how we decided on No4 On The Square other than it looked cute and they had a nice menu.

They had a lovely outdoor space in front facing the main town square but it was full so we shuffled inside. The bar is at the front of the building and there are a few tables behind in a small alcove. As well as a couple of floors above that appeared to have tables but we never ventured up. After we had filled ourselves to the brim with food and beer I stumbled home in a jet lag stupor and a few of my friends bravely ventured out for a night-cap.

There are a ton of really cute looking places in Tralee to eat, I really do wish I had more time to explore. But I can say with certainty that this place will not disappoint so if you are in the area, and you aren’t sure of where to eat you can’t go wrong here.

 

Salishan Resort – Lincoln City, Oregon

This spring we took a quick jaunt to the coast to relax and just be away from things. The late winter/early spring is hard in Oregon, it’s about the time we all start to go a little crazy from all the clouds and rain. Having the trip to look forward to certainly helped eliminate some of “okay I am all done with this now” thoughts that are constantly circling around in my brain that time of year.

We chose to head down to the central part of the coast, and spend our few days at the Salishan just south of Lincoln City. The resort is lovely, spread out over a large swath of land. Part forest part golf course with three main building complexes and room buildings scattered around the property.

The rooms themselves are wonderful, they have a variety of sizes, we went with the base king sized room which had a mini kitchen and a fireplace, as well as the usual bed, balcony, bathroom and seating area. It was built in 1961 and remains the premier golf resort on the coast.

The main complex houses the registry desk, restaurants and a bar as well as conference rooms and the pool accessed by outdoor breezeways. The restaurants overlook the gold course and provides ample indoor and outdoor seating.

The sports complex is up the hill down a few winding roads (walkable via foot path if you wish to hoof it) and provides access to basketball courts, tennis and golf rentals.

The spa complex is back down the main entry road across the highway, also accessible via foot path, but there is ample parking if dashing across a busy highway isn’t your thing (there is a traffic light and cross walk though).

We had grand designs to explore the coast all weekend, and you can very easily given the resorts central location. However we wound up just settling in to a cozy routine of eat, walk, read, swim, repeat that we wound up doing very little else in the end. We really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

 

The Tralee Park Guesthouse- Tralee, Ireland

The first night of our Ireland trek was in Tralee. We were collected at the Kerry Airport by our tour company and dropped at the charming Tralee Park Guesthouse.

The driver called the owner of the inn and waited until the door was opened for us, often these smaller inn’s and b&b’s keep their doors locked 24hours a day. Guests are given a front door key as well as a room key. Once we were introduced to the owner we were shown our rooms and left to our own devices.

Since it wasn’t a large hotel the lobby was small, but clean and bright. There was entire wall of brochures to help plan your trip. Given we were already on a schedule though we had no need for them. The dining room was downstairs, a small but cozy room that made to order breakfast for those staying. Options ranged from a Full Irish Breakfast (which we quickly came to love) to a light meal of cereal and fruit. There was also a buffet of breads and fruit as you waited for your meal.

The rooms themselves were lovely, high ceilings with classic European decor. Which included a very modern bathroom and an electric kettle with a variety of instant coffees and teas. It also, as did all our accommodations, had wi-fi which was appreciated. The beds were incredibly comfortable. Don’t judge the inn based on my pictures, our bags sort of self exploded when ever we got into our rooms. For more information and good pictures see their website. Good pictures or not though it was a perfect way to kick off our first night.

Hotel Condon – Condon, Oregon

Condon Oregon was established in 1893, named by the first post master David B Trimbel after Harvey Condon whoes firm first sold the townsite lots in 1884 after having acquired the land from a local homesteader. The town was once the last southern stop on the Union Pacific line that ran down from the Columbia River. And like most towns in Oregon when the trains stopped running the people stoped coming.

The hotel sits on the main street of town, which thanks to an 1998 initiative has been listed on the National Registry of Historic places and has enjoyed some refurbishment money. Some new businesses have opened up including a number of excellent restaurants, a gift and bookshop as well as the theater and of course Hotel Condon.

Hotel Condon was first opened in 1920. It has been updated with modern amenities and offered complimentary breakfast as well as a wine and cheese reception in the evenings. Our room was just lovely, bright and clean. Updated with comfortable furniture, wi-fi and television. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine and cheese, which we ate outside as it was such a wonderful evening. Then we got burgers to go from down the street and hung around our room. I would highly recommend the hotel, even if it weren’t the only place in town.