ireland road trip: dingle peninsula to galway
Day three of our Ireland road trip found us waking up with the sun in an Airbnb on the Tralee Bay. We originally planned to continue straight on to the Cliffs of Moher, but our kind host strongly suggested that we adjust our route to include the Dingle Peninsula. Since we were staying right at the head of the peninsula, she said it would be a shame to miss the iconic vistas and craggy cliffs of Ireland's southwest gem.
After a quick breakfast of porridge and toast, we packed up the car and were out the door by about 7.30, heading west on N86. Following signs for Slea Head Drive, we parted from the main motorway and began our journey on a narrow road into the mountains. As we ascended, the vistas became more and more spectacular. We passed trickling waterfalls, hillside cottages and countless sheep, all the while catching glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean. We pulled off the road at the crest of Connor Pass around 8.30 to take in the view and crisp morning air. Since we were visiting in April, the landscapes weren't the lush green that Ireland is so well known for--nonetheless, the Slea Head Drive did not disappoint, with rugged, untouched beauty that was well worth the early start.
We slowly descended into the town of Dingle itself, a port village with quaint streets lined by pubs, shops offering coastal gifts, outdoor gear and leather goods, and references to the regional animals that might be more plentiful than sheep--dolphins. With a full day ahead, we didn't have time to stop in Dingle, but continued straight onto the Slea Head Drive, a circular route that forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way and offers views of the coast and western region of the peninsula. The route is dotted with beehive huts, abandoned stone farmhouses, breathtaking views of the Atlantic and isolated Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking communities). Literally every inch of this drive was amazing, and I'm so glad we were up for this spontaneous addition to our trip.
After our drive, we reconnected with the main motorway to begin a 3 and a half hour drive to the Cliffs of Moher, and it was time to fuel up our car. Here's where things got a little dicey...our car was a diesel, and I drive a diesel in the States. Since the car sounded familiar, drove familiar, etc., I thought the re-fueling process would also be familiar. When we pulled up to the petrol station, I instinctively reached for the green pump like I always do here in the States. With everyone standing around me at the pump, watching, chatting, even filming me, I put petrol gasoline in our diesel tank. In Ireland, the diesel is the BLACK handle, while petrol is the GREEN handle. I'll chalk that one up to sleep deprivation and being generally drunk on scenic Irish landscape beauty. We realized the mistake after a minute or two, and upon consulting the station attendant, learned that "oh, it'll be no problem at all; me da puts petrol in his diesel all the time to keep his engine runnin' smoothly." We figured we had about a 50-50 or 60-40 petrol to diesel ratio in the tank, and with reassurance from the locals, decided we could only press on since the nearest service station was many kilometers away. So, we all said a prayer, hopped back into the car, and continued (uneasily) on our way.
More from this epic day of driving coming soon.