Bob the dog is sick.
This is Bob. The dog who lives at the house where we are staying in Glengarrif
He was the first to greet us as we rolled up to our AirBnB on the Beara Peninsula. We were barely off the motorcycles, bags in hand, walking to the front door of the house when this cute, playful dog bounded up to us, with his well-loved, partially deflated soccer ball clamped firmly in his mouth. He then dropped the ball at our feet.
I know this game! I set my bags down on the driveway and picked up the ball. Ick, it was slimey with drool. I threw it across the front lawn. Our host dog sprinted out to fetch it and came back immediately, dropping the soccer ball at my feet again. Fun! I kicked the soccer ball down the yard again and picked up my bags. But in an instant, the ball reappeared at my feet. "We gotta check in, doggie! We'll play later!"
The dog seemed not to hear me and stared insistently at the ball.
I'm a sucker for playing with dogs and kids, so while Neda checks in, I do a few more rounds of kick and fetch.
After pulling myself away from the dog, I walk inside and introduce myself to our AirBnB host, Brid, apologizing for coming inside a bit later than Neda: "I was outside with your dog. He's so playful!"
"Oh, that's Bob. He's a bit... obsessed with that ball." She said it in such a way that didn't sound very positive.
Oh. Ok. *shrug* Owners sometimes get tired of playing with their dogs. I get it.
We're booked in Glengarriff for a couple of days. We've just about completed our tour of the western peninsulas of Ireland, so we're going to rest up before we head off the island. It's so idyllic on the Beara Peninsula. The BnB is so cozy, our host is very friendly, the countryside surroundings are idyllic, and we get to play with Bob, the dog!
Neda plays kick and fetch with Bob. Again. And again. And again. And again.
We start to notice that there's something terribly wrong with Bob.
He doesn't look at us when we're playing with him. He didn't care about being petted or talked to. Absolutely no acknowledgement in his eyes. He just stares at the soccer ball. But worse of all, he doesn't stop. He's obviously exhausted from running back and forth in the front yard, chasing after his soccer ball. Tongue hanging long out of his mouth. Panting like a marathon runner at the end of the race, he keeps fetching and running, fetching and running. His tail doesn't wag. The whites of his eyes are like half-crescents, signalling distress. Most dogs we know would lose interest, call it off and saunter away. Not Bob. If we didn't stop the "game", he would have collapsed and died of exhaustion. Seriously.
I now know why Brid doesn't play fetch with him anymore. It was very obvious that Bob the dog was mentally ill.
We love dogs so much and it was heartbreaking to see an animal develop such a mania. There was no joy in him playing fetch. It was purely an obsessive-compulsive drive. I've never seen anything like this before in a dog. :(
Brid rescues animals that she finds in the area. She's got cats, dogs even a sheep that lives on the property. We talked a bit about Bob and she feels just as bad as we do. But he lives a good life and is well-cared for, despite the one-sided relationship.
We're heading to Baltimore now!
After a couple of nights under a roof, we continue south to Baltimore, a small village in County Cork, near the south-western-most corner of Ireland. Our time with sea-side cliffs and winding, coastal roads is coming to a close. So grateful the sun decided to make an appearance just as we wrap up our tour of the western coast. Where were you the last two weeks?!?!
These guys know how to relax. And with a great view too!
An unlighted beacon (daybeacon) stands on the cliff of Baltimore harbour.
Locals call it Lot's Wife because it resembles a pillar of salt
There's an actual lighthouse on the other side of the harbour, you can see it in the distance
Neda soaking up the sun and the sea-breeze. It was actually a lot windier than a breeze on the coast!
Bikes wait patiently for us as we hike around Baltimore Harbour
And so concludes our journey along the Wild Atlantic Way. We hop on our bikes and start the long, inland trek back up to the more populated areas in the north-east.
Along the way, we stop for a snack break. These berries are safe to eat because we are far from Dingle
While riding along the southern shores of Ireland, we stop to see the Drombeg Circle
While not as old and nowhere as grandiose as Stonehenge, the Drombeg Circle served exactly the same purpose: It's an ancient UFO landing site. Smaller regional alien aircraft were routed here, while the larger, interstellar flights landed at Stonehenge.
Oh, and the stones are oriented towards the setting sun, so it was probably also used as some kind of calendar to mark the summer and winter solstices. But primarily, it was a UFO landing site.
This is where the little green men (obviously Leprechauns!) took baths to freshen up between flights
Ok, enough educational content, back on the motorcycles! We ride the boring inland roads further northeast, stopping in the bustling city of Cork for a layover.
Unfortunately, the AirBnB host listed her address wrong and we had to stop and try to ask around for directions
Dear AirBnB hosts, if you're going to use GPS points on your listing, don't use the city centre as your co-ordinates. It's annoying and frustrating to those of us who actually use a GPS...
Another quick sleep and we're off again. Just pounding out the miles to round off southern Ireland. About an hour outside of Cork, the main road goes through a range called the Knockmealdown Mountains and the long, boring trek northwards is broken up by:
The Vee! A switchback in the road that descends into the valley
This is Bay Lough, another one of those corries carved out by Ice Age glaciers
In the summer, the lake is surrounded by swaths of wild purple flowers. Now, it's just patches of brown. This is a popular spot for people in Cork to go hiking and swimming. In the summer...
The valley below is called the Golden Vale, a quiltwork of pastures and farmland
Then another couple of hours and we find ourselves entering Dublin, our last stop in Ireland. We're booking two more days in an AirBnB to go explore the city. The first day, we just spend indoors relaxing and taking a well-deserved break.
Our host, Karen, is a really interesting lady. She's got fiery red hair and is super-friendly, making us feel so at home at her place. But the coolest thing ever is that she's an actress on The Game of Thrones! WHAAAT! We *LOVE* Game of Thrones!!!!
Actually, she's just an extra in the background scenes. There was a casting call for anyone with red hair, so she answered it and got the job immediately. She's actually got a real full-time job, but when she told us she was on the Game of Thrones, I totally forgot what her real job was. If I was her, I'd always lead with "Yeah, I'm an actor on the Game of Thrones" and then just randomly pepper all my conversations with, "Valar morghulis", "You know nothing Jon Snow!", and "Hold the door" :(
We peppered her with a million and one questions on what it was like to work on the set. She said every once in a while, she'll get a phone call and then she'll drive up to Belfast, where the main set is to shoot some scenes. When we heard that, we exclaimed, "Belfast! That's far. It took us 12 days to get from Belfast to Dublin!"
"Uh, not really. It only takes 90 minutes by car if you go direct."
I looked on the map. True enough. We *did* take the Long Way Round... And we're slow.
Funny how you become the most popular person in the household when you're preparing a meal...
The cat in the window made me ROFL!
So Karen left us for the afternoon to run some errands. She asked if we could dogsit for her. She's got a beautiful black dog, named Django (named after the guitar player, not Unchained). "No problem! We love dogs. He doesn't have an obsession with soccer balls, does he...?"
So while she was away, we ordered Indian food for takeout. Django was begging so much that Neda relented and fed him some spicy chicken tikka masala. He greedily gulped it down and then, without warning, proceeded to cough and hack violently because of the spices. We were mortified!
"OMIGOD Neda, you killed Django!"
We watched in horror as the dog continued to hack and cough. The convulsions eventually subsided and Django looked up and cocked his head. Then he begged for more tikka masala! LOL!
I hope Karen's not reading our blog...
The next day, we head out into the city to explore. And because we're on bikes, It rains. Of course it does. Of course...
We're really only interested in seeing one thing in Dublin. Cobblestones where we are headed to...
At St James Gate, huge metal tanks tower 30 feet high in the air. They're protected by a border of brick walls
Posters on the brick walls reveal our next destination. The Guinness Factory. The birthplace of one of our favorite beers! Those metal storage towers are filled with thick, black, bitter nectar from the Leprechaun Gods themselves!
Yes, we don't pay admission to go to museums or historic buildings. But we do pay to see where they brew beer... Priorities.
The first thing everyone does in the Guinness factory is hit the gift store
Wow, so many different ways you can consume your Guinness. The toffee and caramel products have me intrigued. I can totally see Guinness-flavoured caramel toppings on cakes, chocolates, etc. I love Guinness!
But really, these are the most important sections of the Guinness Factory tour
The Guinness Factory tour building is seven stories tall and is shaped like a pint of Guinness. Each level is dedicated to some aspect of beer making, from the actual production, to the transportation, marketing, etc. All that is mildly interesting, but there are three pubs inside the building, and *those* are the most popular floors in the tour...
The tasting room only has these shot-glasses of Guinness. Not exactly what we were hoping for...
Another floor is dedicated to showing all the Guinness advertising. More distractions, but the main event...
... is the rolicking pub on the top floor of the building. This is where the party is!
Keeping in mind that we have to ride back after the tour, we try to drink responsibly and wait an appropriate amount of time to sober up... :) [/end PSA]
This is our last day in Ireland. And what a tour it's been! The Wild Atlantic Way has definitely been a highlight but we've been going non-stop for a few months now - the longest stretch without a break in a while. It's been enjoyable for the most part, but our pacing is way off the way we usually travel. At times it seems like we're just riding and riding and riding. Fatigue is setting in a big way and we desperately need to stop and take a break, but we never do end up stopping. It's the impending cold weather that pushes us on. And on. And on.
Or maybe it's something else...?