After a wonderful stay in Killarney at The Lake Hotel, and exploring both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Pennisula, Erin and I headed north to Shannon, staying at the lovely Carrygerry House B&B in the countryside, which dates back to the 18th century. In addition to the peaceful setting, it has a fabulous restaurant, and just incredibly gracious hosts and staff. Worth a quick mention, was our stop for lunch at Dirty Nelly’s at Bunratty Castle in the Shannon area before we arrived at the inn. It was fun to see, with surprisingly good food. While in the Shannon area, we took a trip out to see the famous Cliffs of Moher, both from above, and from a passenger boat that took us along with base of them on the water. It was great to get both perspectives, and appreciate the size of the cliffs. As our boat headed back to the dock, the sun broke through and gave us some great views and weather for the rest of the drive that day, taking us to Doolin, and the surrounding area.
Erin and I are one week in to our two weeks in Ireland, and it’s been amazing. I’ve enjoyed seeing this beautiful country, and being a part of this special trip for my friend. Ireland has waited a long time for her, and it’s just so great to be part of the discovery. To add to the magic, we’ve had sunshine just about every day since we’ve been here, and it looks like that’s going to continue. The luck of the Irish is indeed with us.
My two month trip to Europe has three parts, essentially, and now that the first part is over and the second part is underway, I thought I’d recap the highlights, mostly for my own memory when I look back at this trip. These are just some of the things that I’ve done and seen during the last several weeks.
Paris, the city of lights, is just magical. Despite being such a large city, it has a quaintness that is difficult to put into words, and I am completey enchanted. I had the benefit in staying in two different neighborhoods, first in the Left Bank, then in the Rue Cler, which is just so lovely. I didn’t photograph the neighborhoods, as I felt I couldn’t fully capture their essence, particularly Rue Cler, and it would have been awkward and very non-Parisian to be snapping photos in this neighborhood. But you can do a web search and see plenty of photographs from this area.
The drive from Switzerland into France was beautiful, with more rolling hills of green and vineyards beginning to turn to gold as we got into the Burgundy region of France. We stayed one night in the town of Beaune, and similar to our short stay in Rothenburg, Germany, as well as our brief stop in Orvieto, Italy, I could have stayed longer — it was so lovely. Upon our arrival at our hotel, we met with the hotel owners in the inner courtyard, where we had a proper French welcome. They were lovely, and so happy to have us, saying that they have special reverence for Americans because of our history in their liberation during the war, as well as the recent event of several American soldiers stopping the shooter on a French train; she even had a magazine to show us with them on the cover, which was so touching.
Switzerland is definitely one of the highlights of my travels thus far. The green pastures, the beautiful lakes, and of course the magnificent Swiss Alps, which were far beyond what I imagined. We were in the Berner Oberland region of Switzerland, just south of Interlaken, in the Lauterbrunnen valley, staying in the tiny town of Stechelberg. It was pretty rustic, but charming. We had the treat each morning of watching the cows being lead from the barn to the open pasture across the road, following a simple call from one of the farm hands, but otherwise walking on their own, with the young calf typically following at the end. Animals have a great life here, with the most beautiful green pastures you can imagine. Nothing like the commercial farms in the U.S. These were indeed happy cows.
On our way from Rome to the Cinque Terre, we had a mid-day stop for a couple of hours in Orvieto, one of the many hill towns in central Italy, and it was just incredibly lovely and beautiful. It is definitely going on the list to visit again when I have more time. Cobblestone roads, where every side alley is an awaiting photo, the quintessential Italian image of my mind’s eye. To add to the charm, the town had various four-legged residents, all too happy to make your acquaintance in any language. I fell in love with two labs in a yard on one of the back streets during my wandering, one black and one yellow, as well as an Italian cat that greeted me with many hellos.