the biggest reason we went to ireland for our holiday was because adam's parents, bob and rae, were going to be on vacation there for about a week or so. and since we both looooove bob and rae, we thought we'd tag along and crash their holiday. (especially nice of them since i felt like we were always on my schedule: "i'm hungry we need to stop somewhere to eat," "i'm tired we need to sit down to rest," and everyone's favorite, "i have to pee again, we need to pull over NOW!")
adam and i took a bus from blarney to tralee (isn't that a fun name? wouldn't you love to have a town with a name like that so you could make up songs about it all the time???) where we met the folks at a hotel restaurant, and watched a playoff game for the rugby world cup. (all of us are new rugby fans after watching the world cup. it is a REALLY COOL sport, and those dudes are TOUGH! woah!) we drove in the dark of night out to the dingle peninsula, on roads too small for even one entire car, let alone TWO, which was what the road was originally built for. rae and i sat in the back seat and prayed, and dug our nails into each others' legs as we careened in the dark around blind corners and sharp turns, and kept our eyes closed for most of it. when we saw the map the next day, and saw where we were really driving, we were glad it was in the dark so we couldn't see the truly treacherous road we had just been on! eep!
but being off the beaten path of cork, blarney, and other large tourist attractions in ireland was well worth the harrowing drive. seriously. because we now found ourselves in the most beautiful scene i've ever seen in my life: in a cottage, on a hill overlooking dingle bay, with mountains opposite, and a flat, sandy, expansive beach that stretched almost all the way to the horizon. i have never seen such beauty in my life, and i've been all around the world. it was so incredible to see the ocean, but for the ocean to be framed by mountains... because usually when one sees the ocean, it is just ocean, all the way out to the horizon. but from our vantage point in the cottage, we saw the ocean and in the background the mountains, which i don't know if i've ever seen before, and it was breathtaking. (and, who knew that ireland had mountains? like, SIGNIFICANT mountains? maybe they're not as high as the ones we have back in colorado, but when you're starting at sea level they are still mighty impressive. i had no idea!)
the cottage we stayed in was so cozy and wonderful: it had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully furnished kitchen, a washer/dryer, a great reading chair in the living room, and a yard big enough for adam to run around and play in. :-) there was a picnic table outside, and all the windows faced the ocean. since we were up on a hill, we had a totally unobstructed view of the sea. we slept with the windows open every night, with the sound of the roaring sea crashing in our bedrooms. one morning the mist was so thick we could barely hear the ocean even though it was RIGHT THERE, which was amazing, and for the first time that week we actually heard the birds sing since the ocean wasn't drowning them out.
we spent a great deal of time "down the hill" at sammy's, an all-purpose restaurant/cafe/grocery store/souvenir shop located right on inch strand, the picturesque beach you see in all these pictures. we would often go down there for a cup of coffee, a newspaper (what a treat to read it in english!), an occasional dinner in their delicious restaurant (featuring local beef and lamb!), or to connect to their very slow (but functional) wireless internet. sammy is a really friendly man who seemed to be a jack-of-all-trades, helping guests check in, bringing food to tables, answering the phones, and just generally being friendly and hospitable. his wife, iris, introduced herself to us on our first morning when we all ate huge breakfasts (breakfast! yey!) in the cafe, but we otherwise didn't see her. she was very friendly though, too, and i felt like a VIP that the owners of the place all knew us by our first names.
one morning, the morning with the thick ocean mist, adam and i took a nice long walk along the beach. it was so quiet and peaceful and beautiful down there, and adam took about a million pictures of me and our growing bump, and they turned out really pretty and i'm glad i have pictures of my belly by the sea. i think the prettiest thing we saw that morning were all these seashells that had been gently left on the beach, so that the little clam shells laid open like butterflies in the sand. they were everywhere, and with the gray mist and the gray water, it looked like they were just glowing in the sand. sooooo lovely.
so mostly we hung out in the cottage, playing cards, eating my cocoa krispies, and reading, or we would go hang out on the beach or at sammy's. it really was a vacation because there were significant portions of time where we'd just relax! what a concept! we also spent a few days driving around the area, exploring dingle, and seeing a lot of ancient pre-christian sites, which i'll be blogging about soon...