Sunday, July 31, 2022

Galley Head Lighthouse, Clonakilty, Cork, Ireland

We first visited Ireland in 2007. With family in the area, we were taken to visit Galley Head Lighthouse and were blown away by the views and atmosphere. Upon my return to the States, I discovered that the lightkeepers' houses were available to rent.

On our visit to Ireland in 2015 we booked both units.

For our 2022 return to Ireland, we again booked both units. That gives you private access to the entire headland. The area adjacent to the houses is securely fenced so we were comfortable giving our grandchildren free run of the area.

The atmosphere of the houses is "old farmhouse" but well maintained. Remember that they are "self-catering" so you'll need to stop in nearby Clonakilty (10 miles, 30 minutes with me driving) for foods and snacks. It's probably worth securing some household goods as well, e.g., soap, shampoo, paper products, etc.

The site management team is actually part of the family who at one time occupied the houses as lightkeepers. They literally have written a book. Their stories alone are worth the trip.

The views morning, mid-day, and evening are extraordinary. I call them "magical."

Galley Head Lightkeeper's Houses continue to be on our "must" list for Ireland.

I realize that this is almost a repeat of our 2015 drive but the drive experience is always worth revisiting.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Remember the Suburban

If you've watched any news recently you've certainly seen the bedlam over travel in the summer of 2022.

Our outbound flights on Delta were relatively uneventful except for a leaking lavatory on the ATL-DUB segment. This delayed us for 1 1/2 hours but didn't really impact our travel as we were driving from Dublin to County Cork upon arrival.

Later, we flew RyanAir DUB-EDI. That flight was about 1 hour late but again didn't really impact us. The service providing us transfer from the airport to the hotel was watching our flight and was there when we arrived.

The inbound flights on Delta were a whole different situation.

Our itinerary for our return was EDI-BOS-ATL-MEM. I was so pessimistic that I had reserved a Suburban in Atlanta so we could drive home.

Our EDI-BOS flight was scheduled to depart at 11:55AM. At 5:59AM I got the following text message.

What the ^&*( was DL 1644? The Fly Delta app wasn't any help. Actually it was confusing as it didn't show any flight for the ATL-MEM leg. Remember the Suburban.

On the app, there was a big red "Accept" button. I didn't dare push that.

Our son-in-law is a Delta Diamond Medalion so he could get someone on the phone. Delta thought that with the delay of the EDI-BOS flight that we didn't have time to make the BOS-ATL connection so they wanted to move us to DL 1644. The problem was that the connection time between that flight and the ATL-MEM flight was also too tight. Remember the Suburban.

If we had accepted the changes, we would have surrendered our confirmed seats on the BOS-ATL flight and been waitlisted on DL 1644. Remember the Suburban.

We rolled the dice and didn't accept the changes.

The EDI-BOS flight was even later departing and they made up a few minutes in flight but from touch down to the BOS-ATL scheduled departure was around 40 minutes.

In that 40 minutes, we had to clear US immigration, reclaim our bags, clear US customs, recheck our bags, change terminals (walking through a parking garage), clear US security, make it to our gate, check in, and board. Remember the Suburban.

We did have a few things on our side. Our son-in-law is CLEAR, the entire party is Global Entry, the BOS-ATL flight was late departing, and we had a teen-ager with us.

Global Entry pays for itself every time we use it. We entered the immigration hall at Boston and it looked like Disney World. The lines zigged and zagged all over. I asked a flight crew where the Global Entry kiosks were. He pointed to the far end of the hall and off we went.

The previous time we had used Global Entry, you had to scan your passport, put your full hand on a sensor, and look into a camera. This time all we had to do was put our face in a circle on a screen and we got the magic ticket.

Off we went to reclaim our bags. Customs was a non-event with Global Entry so we slung our bags back on the luggage belt and headed through a parking garage to the domestic terminal.

Once inside the terminal we had to pass through TSA security.

With CLEAR, our son-in-law whisked through security and headed to the gate where the BOS-ATL flight was already boarding.

Even though Global Entry gave all of us TSA Pre✔, the rest of us struggled with security, especially the grandparents. One of us ran the entire way in their sock feet.

Our son-in-law made it to the gate with the teen-ager not far behind. The gate agent was trying to close the door. The teen-ager leaned back into the terminal and said "I can see them coming." She will have to spend some time in confession for that.

We all made it onboard and made our connection in Atlanta. The Suburban got to stay in Atlanta.

We arrived back in Memphis with no incident and on time. I can't say the same for our luggage. It didn't make the connection in Boston.

We went home and went to bed after 15 hours of traveling.

The next morning the Fly Delta app said most of our luggage was still on a flight to Minneapolis. That should have arrived in Minneapolis late the night before.

I called the Delta customer service number and was told that the hold time was 2+ hours. The interactive voice response offered to use Delta's messaging app so I tried that.

Long wait there as well.

"Kindly use the same online resource we access to track checked baggage." What good are they?

Or "reach out directly to our Baggage team at 800-325-8224..." That rolled over to general customer support service with a 2+ hour hold time. In retrospect, that probably was the best alternative.

So I insisted to be connected to Delta's Baggage Service Center using messaging.

After an hour or so of no response, I headed to the airport. All of our bags except one were sitting in the baggage area. The Fly Delta app now showed that remaining bag was arriving from Atlanta. I looked out on the baggage carousel and there it was! All bags present and accounted for.

But I hadn't terminated the messaging dialog with Delta's Baggage Service Center. I kept it active just to see what they knew.

They finally responded 36 hours later.

And we never needed the Suburban.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Rock of Cashel, Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland

We tried to visit some new sights on our 2022 trip to Ireland. The Rock of Cashel was at the top of our list. The family of a close friend of ours were some of the original occupants of the Rock. That made it all the more special.

We drove from Dublin after our flight from the US so we were famished by the time we got to Cashel. On the way to the Rock was the Rock House Restaurant. At lunch they offered an excellent buffet along with great service. Be sure to save room for the sweets downstairs.

Just up the HILL is the Rock of Cashel.

While some of the structures date from 1101, the majority of buildings date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Still pretty old to Americans.

We didn't read the signs at the entrance closely and entered less than an hour before closing. That really wasn't a problem as the employees didn't run us out and when we finished our wandering, the gates were closed. They let us out and we walked back down the HILL.

There is a paid parking lot just above the Rock House Restaurant with a passage to the restaurant.

The Tripadvisor review is here. The website is here. The wikipedia article is here.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Ireland and Scotland 2022

We had visited Ireland in 2007 and 2015. With a new Toohig we thought we needed to go back in 2019. It turned out that the littlest Toohig wasn't up to the trip so we slipped it to 2020. And you know what happened then.

Finally in July 2022, we were able to make the trip. We tried to hit some of our favorite places and add some new ones. And this time we finished it off with a couple of days in Scotland.

After a 1 1/2 hour delay departing ATL due to a lavatory leak, we flew into Dublin and rented a 9 passenger Ford Transport from Enterprise. It even held all our luggage!

A new stop for us was the Rock of Cashel. After a quick lunch, we spent an hour or so exploring and soaking in the views.

Our destination for the next three days was the Galley Head Lighthouse near Clonakilty. There is Twohig family nearby and of course Red Strand Beach.

We spent an afternoon exploring nearby Clonakilty and saw the Western Cork Model Railway Village, the Clonakilty distillery and The Whale's Tail Bistro.

Two wonderful Irishmen helped us with a blowout on the Transport.

We should have taken them to O'Dononvan's Bar for a cold one. Well, maybe a warm one in Ireland.

A new sight for us was the Ring of Kerry and especially the Staigue Stone Fort and Derrynane Abbey. With a little planning, we hit it at low tide.

The Shores Country House is always a MUST for us along with Spillane's on Stradbally.

On the way out from Castlegregory, we doubled back to the waterfall on Conor Pass and saw a rainbow!

Some of us hadn't been to the Cliffs of Moher before so after a ferry ride we stopped by there on the way to The Lodge at Ashford Castle.

We enjoyed the falconry and trail riding and added walking the Irish Wolfhounds at the Castle. We had another birthday lunch in the Castle's drawing room and wandered around in nearby Cong.

We drove what was left of the Transport back to Dublin and took Ryanair to Edinburgh.

John Mowbray met us at the Edinburgh airport and transported us to Cheval Old Town Chambers on the Royal Mile. John took us on a walking tour of the Old Town with lots of Harry Potter information.

We found a great gelato shop and visited there every day. We explored the Real Mary King's Close Underground and Edinburgh Castle.

Then we had a crazy return trip on Delta. We will be forever grateful for Global Entry.

Here are the GPS logs of our driving and some highlights from the dashcam.