Today we left Dingle and headed along the “Wild Atlantic Coast” toward the Ring of Kerry. The day started off sunny, and has now cooled down quite a bit, but it is still nice weather. We stopped about half way at a beach and though I typically hate sitting around at beaches, I had a great time with the kids. The water was cold, but the tide was out and there was probably 150 meters of sand out toward the water (hard packed) and the beach was maybe 300 m long. Nathan found a small hermit crab, and upon inspection in the receding waters, we found way more. They were everywhere! Jenn occupied herself with shell hunting and the kids ran around, played in the water, and did whatever they wanted. It was cool out, so I wasn’t boiling, and there was so much going on it was a blast. I pointed out a thing that looked like a crayfish to the kids that may have attacked one of my toes while walking through the surf. There was also a playground at the beach, so the kids had loads to do before and after (and during) lunch.
From there we continued our coastal drive and found the B&B. She was just finishing tidying up, so we walked to a different beach that also has lots going on – including shrimp in the shallow waters, and loads of rocks for building forts. After about half of an hour, where Shawn put on a rock skipping class, we checked in and got some info on the local restaurant scene (there is an O’Keefe’s in town and that is the place that the home owner recommended we go to as well). We are about to take another walk down to the local beach before heading into town for dinner and music.
Today we visited the market in Nice. I’m not sure how many streets the market occupied, but there were all varieties of merchants along the one road we toured. The Promenade des Anglais was sparsely occupied when we arrived in town, but by the time we left a few hours later it was bustling. The beaches were filled with sunbathers and people just admiring the cool breeze and the view of the blue water. We sat on the rocks of the beach for a while and ate some ice cream, enjoying the bustle and beauty.
From there we headed to Monaco. The scenery between the two locations is great, with mountainous views and ocean vistas. We pulled over a couple of times to really soak it all in. At certain points along the road, you drive through a mountain, but the tunnel isn’t typical – the road is literally cut into the mountain and the edges of the tunnel are rough and rocky. It is a really nice change. We drove through a medieval village (Eze) on the way and decided we stopped there for a tour on the way back home. The village is built up on a mountain and has narrow walkways and rough steps of stone. I am amazed that people live in these places, among all of the shops. I would think that the tourists would have driven them away by now. Here, and a few other places, I have been surprised to find homes (apartments?) for sale. I wonder what it costs to live in these small scenic places.
In Monaco, we mostly drove around. It was very busy and there is really not a lot of room to stop and admire the town. We did drive by the Monte Carlo casino. I am sure we are in loads of tourists photos (tonnes of people were out front taking pictures of the front of the casino and the Ferrari’s and other exotic cars parked out front. We even saw a Bentley trying to squeeze into a tiny little parking space in a public parking garage today.
Tomorrow might find us in Nice again, or perhaps we are going to head to Cannes. If the weather continues to hold out (two more sunburn victims today – the Northerners), I don’t care where we go, driving is a pleasure in this weather.
Today we took a trip to see an ancient Greek theatre in Epidavros (ancient). Most of the seats are still in pretty good shape. I was amused to see that there were VIP seats in the theatre with rounded arm support and backs. When you stood in the centre, you could hear your voice reflected back to you very clearly. Walking even a few feet out of the centre made all of the difference. I recorded an audio file of me talking and walking, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet to see if it picked up the differences.
We spent about an hour there, and then drove into Nafplion to go to the fortress there (old). Once there, we had a decision to make; climb the steps (about 1000 of them) or take the car path (by foot). They don’t end up at the same entrance. The reason we had to decide is because there was a sign at the bottom of the stairs saying that due to the dangerous nature of the stairs, that particular entrance to the fortress was closed. We decided to take the stairs anyway (it turns out there are 913 of them). We figured we could always climb back down the stairs and drive to the other entrance if we really wanted to go in. By the time we got to the top, you will not be surprised to read that the fortress was closed (nobody was disappointed anyway). The theme to this trip has been our inability to mesh our lives with the Greek timetable.
After descending the steps, we took a little walk along what Steve referred to as “Greece’s Ganatchio Trail”; a walking path along the water (on the outside of a mountain of course.
We went home and the women made supper while the men took the kids to the beach to play around on the sand and in the surf. We ate a nice meal of pasta and salad, and drank a couple beers by the fire before everybody collapsed into their beds.
It would appear that Clara and I have caught a spanish bug – or we are just really run down. Clara has been sleeping or laying down ever since we got home from the beach. Yep, we spent the afternoon playing in the sand and sun and going in and out of the water. We are about 5 blocks from the beach and today is the first day we made it there. I am hoping we can make it back one afternoon on a nice warm windless day.
I took a nap on the beach while the boys raced and made castles, and Jenn and Clara hunted for shells. Clara and I rested at home afterwards, and Jenn and the boys went to the park for a couple of hours to play.
Dinner was as good as we all hoped it would be – definitely a different take on Christmas dinner – no potatoes and no gravy! We had the cured meat, which was delicious, and empinadas which were all different but also delicious. I am quite surprised at how filling the meat slices are. None of us ate any dessert yet, but it is on the menu for later. I think we spent at least 40€ on dessert – more than on the rest of the meal combined!
The last hour has been us trying to connect with family back home. As we feared, the internet is not as reliable as we would have hoped for, so no facetime with the family. We have resorted to sending messages, which is of course not the same, but will have to do.
Rest assured that we miss everybody and feel your absences in our lives that much more today. We are thinking of you all and wish you the most Merry of Christmases.