Sunday, November 21, 2021

A Week in Kerry - Part 1

 I don't even know how to begin my series of blog posts on my time in County Kerry. For one thing, there are literally over 500 photos to wade through. I guess I'll just work my way through chronologically, and stop whenever the post seems to be getting too long!

Where our story really begins and ends is with Liz, the owner of The Anvil Bar - the BnB and restaurant/pub I stayed at for the week. When the staff worked out that I was alone and without a car, she basically adopted me for the week and personally took me all around the county. I learned so much about the history of Kerry and Irish culture, and had such a fun time with her. If you ever find yourself in southwest Ireland, head outside of Castlemaine to find The Anvil and say hi to Liz for me! 

I know I said I'd go in order, and this is already out of order, but here's the lovely Liz herself!

Now onto a more linear narrative:

I knew I wanted to travel by train as much as possible during my brief stint in Europe, so rather than take a quick puddle jumper from Dublin to Kerry, I opted for a leisurely train ride instead. It was such a low key and simple way to travel - no worrying about security lines and weight limits and minuscule seats, just plenty of space to move around and lots of scenery to watch. I was feeling a little edgy when I started, as I find I generally am on travel days, but I pulled up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on my Kindle and the accompanying movie soundtrack on my phone, and boy if that didn't just whip me right into a good frame of mind. Going between reading and staring at the rolling green fields while Hedwig's Theme played, even if I was technically in the wrong country, just felt so fitting and like I was on an adventure and maybe even on the right path. 

Scenes from the train

The windows were evidently tinted blue!

Everything was surprisingly ambiguously signed, but I made my transfer correctly and upon alighting in Tralee I found the taxi stand - though it took about half an hour for a taxi to show up (there was one leaving right when I arrived, so I wasn't just standing around optimistically, I promise). My taxi driver gave me my favorite weather forecast I think I've ever heard: 

"If you can see the mountains, it's going to rain. If you can't see them, it's raining."

The Anvil is on a quiet road out in the countryside - the only stretch with sidewalks has the Anvil, another bar called Murphy's Bar, a sewing shop, a church, and a tax advisor. There is also a hiking loop that starts right behind the bar, but it was apparently closed for renovations, so I never tried it out. The pub itself was exactly what it should be - dark wood and amber lighting and a good crowd of regulars. And SPECTACULAR food. If you ever stop by (and you should!), try the grilled goat cheese. My taste buds swooned. 

Working dinner in the pub

Monday morning I took it nice and slow - but was actually awake during the morning! Jet lag is finally over! I enjoyed my lovely room and the views of the rolling hills I could see from my many windows, and rescued a butterfly that somehow got inside my skylight:

And I went for a little walk around the stretch of neighborhood that I could reach. It was very peaceful, and since I was in the countryside and did not need to block out city weirdos, I did not have headphones in, which is how I discovered that I was walking past a burbling brook:

Returning to the Anvil, I came across the owner's son who works the bar, and he figured out pretty quickly that I didn't have a car, and told me about the shuttle buses. During the summer they are available for the guests in the high season, but during the winter they actually function as school buses. But that means that they make runs into Tralee and Killarney each day for a few hours (and for the full day if I wanted to go with them for the morning run at 7:30am, which I decidedly did not). "Just let them know at the bar, and they'll let the drivers know." 

And then later that night, I met Liz. She popped by my table as I sat enjoying another fine meal in the pub to give me a handwritten schedule of the bus for the rest of the week, and we got to chatting. Soon enough, she had brought me a brochure of County Kerry and all of the places the school bus could drop me off for a few hours. When we were done talking and she left me to the rest of my meal, I experienced one of those odd moments that happen only when I'm traveling, where I have an actual physical feeling of overwhelming joy and like the whole universe aligned to create this singular moment. Running off to the Irish countryside was such a random, spontaneous decision on my part. Choosing this particular BnB was a complete whim, and the whole thing came together in a matter of minutes. I didn't do enough research to realize that I couldn't walk anywhere from the BnB, I had no idea what even was in the area to see, and it just generally could have been such a dud of a week. And instead, I was sitting in a picture-perfect pub with music playing and rugby on the TV in the background and that warm glowing lighting, eating a warm meal and getting ready to adventure around the Dingle Peninsula for the week, making friends, and it just felt amazing. All of those days and stretched where traveling is so much harder than just living at home, where I don't feel adventurous just overwhelmed, where I wonder what on earth I am thinking doing this with my life - this was one of those moments where it all pays off. 

I'll take you through the adventures and wanderings that ensued in the next post. For now, I leave you with one more out-of-order photo, just because I like it:

Having a WONDERFUL time on my impromptu Kerry trip

No comments:

Post a Comment