One of the strangest time warps on this trip has been adjusting to the short summer hours in the British Isles. The sun rises at 4.30am and sets at 10pm. When you’re sleeping in a camper van this means you’re waking up at 4ish because the sun glares through the windows and heats up the car.
Unfortunately we don’t even “stop” to sleep until past midnight so that means very little sleep but a lot of spent energy during the day. On average we’re doing 15,000 steps a day.
Finding the time to write these blog posts has become a struggle. I am writing this blog post at 12.30 am on Day 8. The hours whizz by during the day but when I try to think back to what we did yesterday it seems like it happened weeks ago. We are doing so much!
After 3 short hours of sleep I woke up at 3am and shivered in our camper van. The outside temperate was 11 degrees celsius but for some reason it felt like below zero in our van. The sponge we lay on is surprisingly comfortable so I was a bit disappointed that the weather was ruining my first camper van experience.
By 6am we had left the campsite to visit the sleepy town of Timoleague. We parked our car beside an old Franciscan Friary and began to walk through the streets.
I would never have planned a visit to this sleepy little town but I am so grateful that we drove down there to camp because it Timoleague could be the definition of a quaint Irish town. The sun had already risen by the time we were in the town but it was a soft light that reflected across a large lake and bathed the town in a warm shade of yellow.
Here are some of our best photos:
It was about 9.15am when we arrived at Blarney Castle. The attraction opens at 9am daily so there weren’t many people there when we arrived. We decided to do the traditional “kiss the Blarney Stone” first because we had heard that the lines could get long.
Rick Steves suggests that tourists should skip Blarney Castle because it’s an overrated tourist trap with the stone “slathered in spit”. Based on this advice I suggested to Addam that we skip it but I’m glad he stuck to our plan because Blarney Castle is probably the most beautiful site we have seen yet! I mean just look at it:
We had to climb several flights of very steep and narrow steps. Looking back I truly think I was more afraid that I would tumble down and die than I was fearful of laying down backward to kiss the stone.
Anyway there was absolutely no wait for us to kiss the stone. The experience is pretty boring to be honest but if you don’t have a line to wait in then you should do it.
When were safely back on the ground we saw a line spiraling down the castle grounds. Between 9.30am and 9.45am several bus tour groups had arrived at the castle and the line to kiss the Blarney Stone could easily be measured by a wait time of 2+ hours. So HOT pro tip: If you want to go to Blarney Castle arrive before the tour groups!
Ring of Kerry
Of all the days that I had planned for our trip today was the one that worried me most. All of the Ireland guide books say that it will take you a good day to make the most of the Ring of Kerry. And here I was planning to go from Cork, to Kerry and up to Doolin.
So it won’t be a surprise that we didn’t make it all the way round the Ring of Kerry. Even a planner can make mistakes and this was mine – we did not have time to do everything. We did get to see quite a bit of it though!
The highlights for us were stunning views and Ballycarbery Castle:
Ballycarbery Castle was constructed sometime in the 16th century but is now in a bad but somehow beautiful state of ruin. What made it so interesting for me is thinking back to a time when this place that I stood was once someone’s home where they slept, ate and laughed. Children may have been born in this very castle. But now it is just stone, with grass growing over its remaining walls. One day it will probably cease to exist. But for now we were able to enjoy the photo op!
If Blarney Castle and the Ring of Kerry weren’t enough we drove 3 hours up to Doolin a tiny little town near the Atlantic ocean, where there are two famous pubs. Addam wanted to go to the McDermott’s Pub where he’d heard they did some of the best live music in the country.
Despite the long day we had we went to the pub and got our drinks. We even got front row seats to the three person band who performed until past midnight. It seemed like the entire place was filled with tourists but while the music played we lost ourselves to the heart-stirring traditional songs performed by talented locals.