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.

 

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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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

Wonderful Ireland Walking Holiday

Traveling is a very unique thing, you have to balance how far out of your comfort zone you are willing to go, with the kind of creature comforts that will ultimately keep you sane while your whole world is turned upside down. Traveling is wonderful and adventurous and important to  knowing ourselves and enjoying life, but it is also hard and scary. So knowing what you want out of the experience and what you can handle are very important when booking travel.

If you do not want to spend 8 hours a day walking through the middle of nowhere or if you do but you want to rough sleep in the wilderness then Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays is not for you, and that is absolutely okay. But if you want to see things off the beaten path, get a lot of fresh air and exercise but you also want the safety net of an emergency out in case anything happens then read on my friends.

Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays offers several self guided walking tour vacations throughout Ireland. We chose the Dingle Peninsula tour which is 112 miles split up between 10 days of walking. Some of my group did the whole loop, I however opted for the shorter trip. I started with my group and then left after 5 days of walking. The company offers a variety of options for the peninsula from 3-10 days.

Included in the cost of the tour is airport/train station pickup and drop off. Booked rooms which include breakfast and sack lunches. Luggage transfer from inn to inn so you don’t have to carry your bag with you. Maps, guide-book, emergency cell phone, and hiking poles if you want them.

I wound up hurting myself on day two, so I can attest to how helpful and kind the individuals at the company are. I called on what we took to calling the “bat phone” the morning of a day of hiking, they organized a private ride for me from one town to the next. They showed up on time and I didn’t have to pay for the ride as it was included in the tour price.

The accommodations that were booked for us were above and beyond our expectations. Every single inn was clean, comfortable and the owners incredibly kind.  The food was exceptional every night and the sack lunches exactly what one would need for a 14 mile hike. As an added bonus every place we stayed had wifi so we could connect with our people back home and let them know we had made it to each town safe and sound.

Our bags were always waiting for us when we got to the next inn, clean, undamaged and undisturbed. Not that we were expecting anything less, but I do know people worry about others handling their personal property and there was never an issue with this group.

We were given a packet of very detailed instructions to go along with our maps. Not only is the trail marked to help guide you but the instructions provided down to the turn precise directions to keep you on track and keep you from wondering if you were headed the right way. They were detailed enough that never once did you have to worry that you might have taken a wrong turn. We spent the entire trek feeling confident we wouldn’t be lost or trespassing and that we would be safe the entire trip.

I cannot recommend the tour group enough. The owner is incredibly kind and helpful. He will answer as many ridiculous questions as you can throw at him and do so with a smile. Never once did we feel confused, worried or unsure of ourselves from inquiring about booking the tour all the way to being dropped back off at the airport on the way home.

Tralee Ireland

Tralee is the 14th largest urban area in Ireland, at a whopping twenty-three thousand residents. It is also the largest town in County Kerry (which includes the town of Kerry where the airport is). It’s not very big. Regardless, it is incredibly charming and full of things to do. I honestly wish we would have had a couple of days to spend here.

Alas since the purpose of our trip was our walking tour, the only time we had was the afternoon and evening of the day we landed. The next morning at 9am we got up and started our hike to Camp.

After we checked into our guesthouse, we hit the ground running in hopes of battling the evils of jet lag. We started off with a snack and a drink at The Ashe Hotel, named after Thomas Ashe.  As an important member of the fight to Irish freedom and the preservation of the native Irish culture and language he had quite a number of things named after along the peninsula.

We then set off to tour the Kerry County museum, unfortunately they were closed when we got there. If this is something you really want to see be sure to plan ahead, things do tend to close earlier than we expected in Tralee. Instead of the museum we toured around the Tralee Rose Gardens.

The rose garden leads back to a large long brick wall with a small door in it. Behind the door is the grounds of St. Johns Church. The church that stands today was built in 1854 on the foundations of a chapel that had been built around 1780 a few remaining artifacts from that original chapel remain including the holy water font. After wandering around here we met up with the rest of our friends for dinner. I wish like everywhere we went on this trip I had more time to spend in town. It was such a lovely place and look forward to going back one day.

Food Tips – Ireland

I am kicking off the many posts around my trip to Ireland this last summer with a post all about the food. For no reason other than food is one of my favorite things about travel. And the food in Ireland, surprisingly, was some of the best I have ever had. Now I say it was a surprise only because I made a classic travel mistake and assumed something. I assumed because my experiences with food in England haven’t been my favorite and because Ireland and England had been closely tied for much of its history that the food would follow and be similar. I could not have been more wrong if I tried.

One of the things I was most skeptical of was the packed lunches provided by our guesthouses each morning of our hike. To be quite honest I packed and planned so I didn’t have to eat it. But on the first day I took it all the same and turns out it was incredible. As was every packed lunch afterward. The lunch meats, unlike those in the US, were fresh, not slimy and the sandwiches were not layered with condiments. So when it came time for lunch, while it was smashed because it rode around in my bag all day, it wasn’t soggy. It was just delicious and I felt sheepish for judging it before trying it. The one I was most skeptical of was a tomato and cheese which through the packaging looked like some sort of coleslaw, and turned out to be the best grated cheese I have ever eaten. Also these cheese and onion chips were awesome.

The one thing I was most excited about to eat here was the goats cheese, which is aplenty in Ireland. I know a lot of people, some of which were in our group on the trip, that don’t enjoy goats cheese. The goats cheese was creamy and mild and in no way resembled what we have back home. The cows cheese that I bought for the non goat eaters, was actually much more pungent than expected. I loved it all. And am sad I didn’t have the opportunity to try more.

If you find yourself in the area and want to try some cheese I would suggest trying to find it in Tralee, or Dingle. Both have large grocery stores. Annascaul also has two grocery stores but they are quite small and only had a couple of cheeses, not types of cheese a couple of packages of cheese. To go with the cheeses I suggest the Irish Oat Crackers I found in a couple of the stores. They are just oat flour, butter, buttermilk and salt. I plan on trying to recreate then this winter, because as simple as they were they were amazing with cheese!

Dinners I will be talking about in posts about each restaurant we ate at, but they too were surprisingly good. However the biggest surprise was probably the Full Irish Breakfast. It was a little different at each hotel, but along the same theme. Tomato, pudding, sausage, bacon and eggs. I could rarely eat it all as they were quite large and served with a side of breads and fruits. Did I mention this was delicious? It was. And every morning since I left I wake up thinking about how great it would be to start the day with something similar. If you find yourself on the hike it is a must try, at least once. It fueled us for the entire day, tasted amazing and was so much fun to experience a traditional type meal made with care by a local inn owner.

Ireland Hiking – Quarter Four

I honestly cannot believe that in in a month and a half I will be in Ireland. Every time I go somewhere new it feels so surreal that in no time I will be standing in a new place, looking at a part of the world that I have never seen before.  All the planning and research culminating in standing in the place I had been dreaming of.

But this time will be different, this time I will be standing in the place I have been training very hard for entire year. Without further adieu, the last of my Ireland training plan!

The weather turned again, but instead of turning my exercises from outdoors to indoors I just doubled down. I have been steadily walking my dog at least 6 miles a day since last summer. And on top of it I added an indoor exercise routine that you can do anywhere as long as you have the internet.

I decided to do a three month high intensity workout plan focusing on cardio and strength which will be ending here in a couple weeks. Then to get me through the last month and a half before the trip I am switching things up again to focus more on balance and flexibility.

All exercises are done once a week for a month, prepare to be very very sore.

Month 1:

  1. This Hit and Abs workout is only 15 min, but I was doing it twice through.
  2. Jessica Smith has some killer workouts, for a low impact leg workout I chose this workout which I did three times through each week.
  3. Then to loosen things up a bit I did a dance heavy workout also from Jessica Smith.
  4. I followed that up with a pilates workout focusing on hip strength and joint rotation.
  5. Then did a killer leg day, again with Jessica Smith…I clearly really like her workouts.
  6. After that leg day another dance heavy cardio was needed to stretch out the muscles.
  7. Day 7 was stretching, relaxing and resting.

Month 2:

  1. Low impact leg strength.
  2. A full body cardio weights routine with PopSugar.
  3. Abs with Fitness Blender again.
  4. I kept the leg day workout from last month, it is a killer but so good.
  5. Pilates for strength and flexibility.
  6. Switching traditional cardio up for a good old fashioned core power yoga.
  7. Day 7 stretch, relax and rest.

Month 3:

  1. For AAA (*ss, Abs, Arms) I picked a PopSugar workout.
  2. For Cardio Flow day I am keeping the trend of Core Power Yoga, so I chose this 45 minute Power Yoga.
  3. LEG DAY! I got a little tired of the one I had been doing for two months so switch it up with a Fitness Blender lower body workout.
  4. A new core workout for the month, once again with Fitness Blender.
  5. Pilates for cardio core day!
  6. And for booty day I am adding another Pilates routine but with workout bands.
  7. Day 7 stretch, relax and rest.

 

Last few weeks leading up to the actual trip I am cutting back on traditional workouts and went strictly with Pilates and Yoga. So while I am getting a great workout, I am also trying to focus on flexibility and stability. All without risking knee injury which would put a bit of a damper on a hiking trip. So below is the series of workouts I plan to employ up until the day I leave!

 

 

Ireland Hiking – Quarter Three

Wow, how is this already the third quarter of my Ireland hiking training!? In a year the trip will be over, how sad.

In other news we are officially booked with a tour group. We chose to go through a group so that we could save ourselves on transportation, hotel booking and from having to cart our gear around with us. I am the laziest hiker in the world, don’t judge, at least I am hiking. Next step we have to start figuring out flights, which turns out is not that easy going from a small town in Oregon to a small town in Ireland. Once we get more details settled and planned I will start sharing some tips on how to plan a similar trip.

As far as training is concerned it has been a slow summer, outdoor speaking.  I had high hopes of being able to get out over the summer, which I mentioned in my prior training post. But as summer came to a close the wildfires in the area got too bad to really spend a lot of time outside. I am hoping for everyone’s sake that the fires get under control soon and Oregon can go back to being the outdoor wonderland it normally is.

Most of my exercise has been working out via YouTube video instruction. Between Jessica Smith’s barre, and weight training workouts and Adriene’s yoga videos I have managed to really focus on strengthening those knee, ankle and stability muscles as well as getting more strength and flexibility in my arms and shoulders.

I have also managed to find a couple decent routes to walk the dog, which puts us up to about 6-10miles a day (depending on weather). And I have bought my hiking boots and have started to wear them on dog walks now and again to start breaking them in.

(Quarter 3) – September through November:

  • Continue daily strength and stretch exercises at home (15-45min daily).
  • Weekly hikes getting longer and adding the daypack with realistic weight.
    • Hopefully once the fires are squelched and the weather cools a bit we can get back to the woods.
  • Daily walks outside with dog for 6-10 miles.