This weekend, Nick and I took a mini-holiday down to Castletownbere, West Cork, and it was absolutely delightful. His parents own a home in town, so we went down to visit his mum as well as enjoy the time away from the city. I can say for sure that I absolutely fell in love with the town and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go. It is likely that there will be more posts in future from Castletownbere as we will definitely be going more often! We did so many fun things, and I highly recommend that any tourist makes the trip to this lovely place because it will be so worth it.
The View from the House (along with Nick's reflection)
The view from Nick's parent's place was amazing. Across the bay was Bere Island, which was huge! The bay is relatively calm most of the time thanks to the island protecting it from the Atlantic. I felt like I could have been in Greece with how wonderful the weather was and all of the palm trees. I was so happy to be out of the city. I also knew that I would get plenty of puppy-love from the family dog, Bonnie, who I absolutely adore.
One of the first things we did on Friday was get a personal tour from Nick's mum Jackie. She drove us all around the Beara Peninsula for a few hours, and the views were absolutely incredible. This area of Cork is stunningly beautiful and I had a blast riding around with Jackie. She showed us this Buddhist centre where she recently went on a three day retreat. The centre had amazing views and I made a note of the place in my head. Perhaps I could go on my own retreat! We also visited her ancestral home where her father was born. This little blue house sits up a ways on a hill and can be seen from various spots around the area. It was a real treat being able to see where Nick's grandfather Jack was born because he played such a big role in their lives and is constantly talked about. It really was a special site! I'm also fascinated with the fact that his family can return to the place where Jack was born! At home, I couldn't even tell you where my grandparents were born, let alone where they came from. In general I really admire how close-knit Nick's family is, and going to the blue house really played into my adoration for his family!
We stopped for lunch in Allihies, another small town in the area. We ate at O'Neil's and despite being in Seafood country, I ordered Nachos, which turned out amazing so it was so worth it. I really enjoyed how colorful the main street was and despite the wind, I found all the exploring to be quite fun.
The town of Allihies
Nick and I ended the evening at McCarthy's Bar in town, which is the Best Pub in Ireland for 2016 apparently! The place was so friendly, and the spirit in there really facilitated conversation among everyone. It was so easy to start talking to the stranger sitting next you.
Nick and I at the Buddhist center with his dog Bonnie
Exploring around Castletownbere, I really enjoyed how GREEN the scenery was. All the rolling hills made me feel so small, but in a good way! I could smell the sea air and my lungs were very pleased to be in fresh air.
Often times while we were driving around, I noticed that public walking trails often overlapped with farms, and it wasn't uncommon to see a sheep in your path.
Even though Friday was so cloudy, I still found the views to be breathtaking, and I appreciated that I wasn't blinded by the sun all day! I didn't really expect it to be a clear day because it's still Ireland after all. You never know what you will get with the weather!
At every stop on our drive around the Beara Peninsula with Jackie, I could see the ocean. Occasionally I had to crawl up a bank or hop over a stone wall, but no matter where we were I could see the ocean! Something about seeing the Atlantic made me so happy. In a weird way I felt a little closer to home which was a nice feeling.
On the second day, we slept in and then went for a walk with Jackie and Bonnie. We did a long walk all along the Peninsula. The walk was started at the site of Puxley mansion and the Dunboy Castle ruins . This big mansion was built by the Puxley family who were English or Welch (can't remember) but later burned down by the IRA during the troubles (I think? There's so much history here, it all gets muddled in my mind sometimes). It was later rebuilt and was supposed to be made into a five star hotel, but that didn't happen because of the economic crash of 2008. I didn't think to take a picture of the mansion/castle itself because I was so captivated by the views of the sea, but the mansion was stunning too. It's a shame that it's now just sitting on this hill unused.
Our walk started out really well. It wasn't a hard trek whatsoever and most of the mud was dried up, keeping our boots clean and dog paws unmuddy. The bay was relatively calm and the sky wasn't too bright.
Through the first half of the walk you could see the lighthouse on Bere Island across the way. With just my iPhone I couldn't get the best picture, but I tried! I think all the blues of the ocean are so beautiful. About halfway through the walk we stopped on a natural bench and ate our lunch before continuing on. Even the view from our lunch spot was unbeatable!
It wasn't until we were closer to the highest point in our walk when we came across trouble. In addition to the charming stone walls and farm animals, we were greeted by a mean looking crowd of bulls. One of them really didn't like Nick (probably because he was holding the dog), but I couldn't help but laugh.
We ended up having to climb around their enclosure that the Beara Way went through when this mean-looking brown one follow Nick as he tried to walk around him. This led to many muddy shoes and risky creek jumping, but it was worth it! Despite getting some thorns in my calf from taking the long way around, I still had a lot of fun and would rather have thorns than a kick from a bull.
Overall, I found our walk to be a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours and it was worth the hassle of avoiding bulls and getting muddy. The nap afterward was amazing anyways.
Everywhere we went there were stone walls. I kept wondering about how long they had been there and who had built them. They really are charming to come across and look like they're from a postcard.
After the walk, we went back to the house and just lazed around for a few hours. Later on we went to dinner at the local hotel which was recently rebuilt and renovated. I though the inside was lovely and the food was great too. Following that we found ourselves back at McCarthy's for some pints of Murphy's. Murphy's is pretty good and Nick said that when you're in Cork, you should be having a Murphy's and nothing else. I really like a good stout, but only when it's chilly, which it was! We met up with a relative of Nick's named Peter. He was wonderful to be around and seemed so wise. Jackie (Nick's mum), Nick, and I ended up coming home around 1:30 in the morning and before I knew it I was out cold sleeping.
The next morning, I awoke with a slight headache to an amazing Irish breakfast cooked by Jackie. It was the best breakfast I'd had in ages and it got me through all of our travels back to Dublin. I couldn't be anymore thankful than I am for having this weekend holiday!
The trip ended with a quick glimpse of Cork city, and later on a lovely dinner and beers at the Porterhouse Central in Dublin. All-in-all it was a wonderful mini-holiday and I will definitely be going to Castletownbere again.