It’s been a couple years since our last blog entry. It’s good to be back in touch!
If you asked Lois what her idea of a perfect vacation would be, she would always say, without hesitation, “a vacation in which we would hike or bike all day, settle into a cozy, quaint and unique hotel or B&B, eat a scrumptious dinner accompanied by interesting conversation and then go to bed early. Then do a variety of that for multiple days.”
When we heard about Backroads and their “Go Active” approach to vacations in 2015, we looked forward to one of their uniquely-crafted tours to eventually fit into our schedule. Late last year, we decided to make that a reality as the best way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on a week-long bicycle tour of Ireland.
Here is the map showing the biking routes for each of the six days
That journey started last Friday evening, June 15th, departing Boston, MA for Shannon, Ireland, where we arrived very early Saturday morning. Our taxi driver gave us our first taste of Ireland on the way to Limerick. He filled us with insightful recommendations for our first day of touring in Cork.
Waiting for the train in Limerick
Roadside view of Cork during our first walk through the city
We arrived in Cork late morning and took a cab to our B&B, the Hayfield Manor Inn.
We stayed at the Hayfield Manor Inn the first night. We met the Backroads staff and fellow bicyclists the next morning.
The Hayfield Inn is located near University College Cork (a lovely campus to walk) and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral.
University College Cork near our Inn
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
After freshening up, we strolled through the city of Cork, with a visit to the English Market, much like to Quincy Market in Boston with elements of Haymarket Square, with all kinds of fresh produce.
On our walk back to Hayfield Manor, we stopped at the Labyrinth prayer walk area in the courtyard of the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. These labyrinths date back to many years B.C.
St. FIn Barre’s Cathedral prayer labyrinth
Description of labyrinth and its usage over the millennia.
Our first day on the road, we shuttled from the Hayfield Manor Inn to Inchigeelagh to get briefed on the bicycles and on safety.
Preparing to depart on Day One from Inchigeelagh
After about 11 miles on the road, we stopped for lunch in a quaint, cozy pub. Lois was loving this trip already!
Lunch at Cronin’s Pub in Gougan Barra
Then 25 miles later, we arrived in Ballylicky.
Carriganass Castle on the way to Ballylicky
Day One ended at Seaview House Hotel in Banty, West Cork.
Distance biked on Day One: 36 miles.
Day Two began at Seaview House Hotel and took us to Molly Gallivan’s in Ballylickey for lunch. One very long hill preceded lunch. The day was quite rainy, windy and chilly (in the 50s), but none of that dampened our spirits even a bit. Bicycling so many miles made us thankful for those cooling elements. The day’s ride ended at Park Hotel Kenmare.
200 yard long tunnel we traversed on Day Two after a 5.5 mile uphill climb
At Molly Gallivan’s roadside farm, store and cafe. Backroads set up and hosted a multi-course lunch. Here we are with bike-mates Desiree and Rainee, both from California.
Molly Gallivan’s roadside retail and cafe
Backroads adds surprises along the way to add local interest and to break up the trip. One of those surprises was an incredible French shop called Lorge Chocolatier. We were given cups of richly succulent hot chocolate and left with bags of luscious goodies.
Lorge Chocolatier, along our route. A memorable stop!
A shelf of intensely tempting chocolates
No one seemed more enthusiastic for this stop than Dan!
We were pleased to be rewarded at the end of Day Two with a stay at the lovely Park Hotel Kenmare, our landing place for the next two nights. Each night, hotel staff delivered our wet sneakers to the hotel boiler room to be dried out.
Park Hotel Kenmare,
Because of the frequency of rain showers in Ireland, the countryside is lush with green vegetation and gorgeous flowers.
Foxglove blossoms appear throughout Ireland
One of the many picturesque roads and bridges along our way. This one was near Kenmare and was laced with tiny pink and white flowers.
Distance biked on Day Two: 53 miles
More tomorrow on Days Three to Five.
After three and a half days with Backroads, we are convinced it was a brilliant decision. We are having a simply splendid time of it!