Endless green

June 9, 2010

Cows and horses graze in the pasture of our hotel in Killarney, providing a picturesque setting for breakfast, or just looking out our huge balcony window. Several mares have foaled and the babies doze next to their moms. They are adorable.

The Emerald Isle is aptly named. I’ve never seen so much green. In Florida, the weather seemed numbingly and interminably sunny, no variation. Here, the sights are numbingly and interminably green and wet. And yet, there’s a certain romance to it all.

Today’s weather seems cooler and although it’s rainy and grey, it feels less close than it did at the castle. Our large room has equally large windows that allows for great cross ventilation. It’s a necessity when rooms lack air conditioning (even at luxury hotels). Another happy difference between luxury and standard hotels is that European luxury hotels provide excellent washcloths and strong shower heads. It always feels so good to scrub a long, humid day of bus travel away.

Last night we could choose between dining at the hotel’s “coffee shop”, which was a nice restaurant in itself, or the fine dining room. Our tour guide noted that the fine dining room required us to wear “snappy casual” attire. We enjoyed the terminology and have been finding ways to work it into our conversations.

M. and I dined at the coffee shop last night. “I just couldn’t face snappy casual tonight,” I commented to one of the women on our tour.

“To tell you the truth, I just changed my top and shoes and figured if that wasn’t snappy enough they could boot us out,” she laughed.

In Silicon Valley we called it “business casual” for years and that seemed to communicate just fine. I’m not sure the terms now in vogue have the same ability. Snappy casual, smart casual, casual elegance—what do they really mean? Wouldn’t it just be easier to say “no jeans, shorts, flip-flops or tennis?”

As we headed to the farm yesterday, the bus broke out in a chorus of Old Mac Donald. Today, on the way to the Ring of Kerry, we were at a loss for the right song. Thankfully. Driving the Ring is a three-hour proposition.

“The weather is not in our favor,” commented our driver, Patrick. I was on the seaward side of the bus as he navigated the wide bus on the “wrong” side of narrow roads with sheer drop-offs the other day. At that point I decided it would be wise to read the Kindle and I made sure to have it handy today as well.

Here’s the deal on the 100 mile loop called the Ring of Kerry: It’s like Highway 1 in the vicinity of Big Sur, with the water on one side and the Ventana Wilderness on the other side, Only greener.

Sheep and cows everywhere. Cute little towns. Lakes. The mountains are called the McGillycuddy Reeks and they’re round, like the Santa Lucia’s. Our guide said that means they’re real old.

Peat, turf or bog (all the same time) is like pre-coal, only it’s harvested. The cute young guy with the cute donkey, and the cute dog on the cute donkey….and the pile of what looks like turds with a basket of coins next to it? Not turds: it’s bog.

That was pretty much our day. Except for the demo of the working dogs in the next post.

Tomorrow: on the train to Dublin and some fun times there.

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