Monday, September 21, 2009

Paris - Second time

Our layover in Paris was a little shorter than on the way over but we knew the system now so we repeated the exercise from a week before. This time we chose the Eiffel Tower. One extra subway change and we were there. Here is the view that greeted us as we arrived.

Click to enlarge.

We didn't have time to go up in the tower. We walked under the tower and to the other side for this picture. My main impression is that the thing is HUGE! Much bigger than I imagined.

I recruited a fellow tourist to take this one for me.

As we left the Champs des Mars, I turned around to take this picture.

We chose this cafe for lunch. A classic French cafe - all the chairs facing the sidewalk, tiny tables, over-priced, marginal service - although the waiter did speak English and was friendly enough.

This is the picture of the cafe from across the street.

Part of the tower.

Ballybunnion and the Cliffs of Moher

On our last day in Ireland we headed north from Tralee. Out in the middle of a wheat field is the magnificant Rattoo Round Tower built around 1100. It is exceptionally well preserved although the roof was restored in about 1870 to repair lightning strike damage over the centuries.

This is an abbey on the same site built around 1200.

There is a church ruins dating to the 15th century and graveyard next to the tower. During the 19th century roof repair a Sheela-na-gig was discovered inside the tower. If you don't want to be shocked by the somewhat x-rated depictions and descriptions of a Sheela-na-gig then don't click on the attached link.

Now that you are well versed in Sheela-na-gig we can move on.

From the Round Tower we headed to Ballybunnion. This seaside town has its own cliffs and beach. They also have a surfing school there. The students weren't very good and I got tired of waiting for one to catch a wave in front of the cliffs so I gave up.

The waves have undercut the shore line in a few places and created these holes.

Here are Bob, Sue, Mary Frances, Margot and I in Ballybunnion. Once we completed our cliff walk we said goodbye to M.F. and Dana and thanked them for being such wonderful hosts during our time in Ireland. They headed back to their normal life in Tralee and we headed toward County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher.

We took this ferry across the Shannon River estuary from Tarbert.

It was a nice day for sailing or almost any pursuit.

These cattle were grazing along the river in front of a church ruin and graveyard. My guess is that the scenery is lost on them. They seem to have their heads down all the time.

I think the name of this town is Kilrush. We stopped for lunch here.

This is the inside of the pub we chose for lunch. The decor hasn't changed since about 1913 the waiter said. The sheaves of paper hanging in the window are invoices for each barrel of Guinness delivered over some period.

From Kilrush we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. This is allegedly the most visited tourist site in Ireland and I believe it. Think Yellowstone in July. Great hordes of people even a little later in the afternoon after most of the tour buses had left.

It is hard to get a sense of scale but they max out at over 700 ft above the sea.

Here are some cattle grazing next to the park. Some are pretty wooly. Crossed with a sheep?

To get the really good pictures you have to be bold.

Here is a view looking back toward O'Brien's tower. The local landlord built this in 1835 as an observation tower for Victorian era tourists. For perspective, notice the people in the upper right hand corner.

There are a couple of things I won't do for a great photograph and that includes lying down at the cliff's edge and holding my camera out over the edge!

After we left the cliffs we headed toward Doolin. We think this tower may have been converted into a B&B. How cool would that be? From here we headed toward Shannon in anticipation of our early morning flight.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kenmare and the Ring of Kerry

Friday morning we started with a walk around Tralee - our home base.

We went by the church were we worshiped on Sunday and stopped in to take some pictures. This is a Church of Ireland congregation. The Church of Ireland is similar to the Church of England. Closest denomination in the US is the Episcopal Church.

Several shots inside the church. I photoshopped this one to improve the perspective.


The baptismal font dates to the 16th century.

Another shot of downtown Tralee. You don't get the sense here but the downtown is very busy. Many small shops, people walking back and forth doing their business. Much like I gather it was in the U.S. in the 1950's and earlier before the invention of the shopping mall and Walmart.

Another store front.

This is the Catholic church from the Tralee Rose Garden.

It is a huge rose garden. A little past their prime but I did take this photo there.

From Tralee we drove to Kenmare. Stepped out of the car and I see this gentleman.

We took a walk around Kenmare. I think this was on the way to the Druid stone circle. Sorry no pictures. It was basically a circle of stones.




Street scene.

Main intersection.

This gentleman was enjoying the sunshine reading the paper in the park in the center of town.

On the way back we stopped at a couple of the spots we visited in Killarney on our 2nd day here. The weather was much improved so we took some new pictures for comparison.

Margot, Tom, Sue and Bob.

The tour buses, by convention, travel only anti-clockwise on the Ring of Kerry. They still jam things up.

Muckross House in the sunshine.

Front garden. Lots of people enjoying the weather.

Gardens near the Muckross House.

Iveragh Peninsula

Another beautiful day. We took a right to the Iveragh peninsula. This is Ross beach in Glenbeigh.

Click to enlarge.

A flower shot. Not sure what type this is.

The tide was out in the morning.

This is Ballycarberry castle. Out in the middle of a field. There is a house nearby with this view out the back window. Cattle grazing in and around the castle.

The story. Click to enlarge.

The six of us on top of the castle. You can climb all over it. No handrails, no guides.

Another shot.

This is looking down the stairwell into a couple of lower levels.

Notice the window starting to split. Don't know if it has been like that for 4 years or 400 years.

Sheep grazing. If you like stone walls then Ireland is the place for you. They are everywhere. New ones are being built everyday. I noticed that the new ones have cinder block inside.

We ate a picnic lunch at a ring fort nearby. This structure is somewhere between 3000 and 1500 years old.

Tom, is that cow on the left dead or alive?

We took the ferry to Valentia island. Absolutely beautiful.

Here is a picture of the lighthouse at Valentia Harbour.

You'll see a lot of pictures of the lighthouse in this blog entry.

A flower.

A farmstead across the bay on the mainland.

Another lighthouse picture.

This isn't a lighthouse view. It is a mountain view.

Sue and Bob.

Margot and Tom.

I find the stone wall patterns fascinating.

Sheep grazing near the summit of Geokaun mountain. Valentia Island is the western most inhabited location in Europe.

Bob and his video camera.

Another shot of the surrounding fields.

Another lighthouse picture.

Dana taking a picture of the lighthouse.

Waves crashing into the rocks.

This picture is near the spot where the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable started in 1865. This was the second attempt. Someone dropped the end of the first one when they were about 600 miles from New York.

Boats in the harbour.