There are several ways to get from the Cliffs of Moher to Killarney and Google will tell you that the fastest route is along main roads through Ennis, Shannon and Limerick - but this crew was all about the scenic route...
A route that took us across the Shannon estuary rather than around it and I have never seen a group of grown ups get so excited about a car ferry!
The vessel in question, took us from County Clare into the Kingdom of Kerry in just 20 minutes giving the drivers a little break from the wheel and the rest of us a breath of fresh air and a chance to stretch our legs. Apparently you can sometimes see dolphins playing in the ferry's wake - it's probably a good thing we didn't see any as that may have pushed our bunch of car ferry first-timers over the edge of excitement :P
Back on dry land we had a bit of ground left to cover - next stop, the 5-star Europe Hotel.
We'd heard so much about this place - pretty much any Irish person I mentioned it to in the weeks and months leading up to our trip responded with an "oh eeeemmmm gee it's Amazing" and it was definitely a splurge in terms of price per night so we were excited about our 24 hours of luxury. Arriving down the sweeping driveway and stepping into the glass walled lobby we certainly weren't disappointed.
The views across Lake Killarney from the hotel grounds are just breathtaking.
After 6 days of traveling, living out of a suitcase, hiking, eating and drinking we were excited to have a bit of time to relax in the widely acclaimed Spa. Snuggled up in fluffy white robes we headed for the "Active Level" which boasts cutting edge fitness facilities, swimming pool, sauna, steam room and indoor / outdoor hot tub overlooking the stunning grounds,
And if you're looking for a plunge pool, there's one just at the end of the dock!
Feeling refreshed we assembled on the hotel's gorgeous patio for a couple of pre-dinner cocktails before venturing into the city for dinner at the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder.
With nearly 1000 whiskeys to chose from, the boys were in heaven, and a funky interior, friendly staff and delicious food impressed us all. The place was packed so reservations are definitely recommended, even on a week night.
Emerging into the evening air after dinner we may have been fooled that Killarney was a quiet little town but rounding the corner onto Main Street we quickly realized that certainly wasn't the case. Stepping into the Grand Hotel the boys made a beeline for the bar while the girls scoped out a table or a spot for us to congregate and discovered the "nightclub" at the back!
We were lucky enough to just happen on the club's weekly Irish, or céilí, dancing night with groups of locals dancing in formation to traditional music. It was awesome! And when that wrapped up, the band in the bar got back up on stage and the night continued with more incredible live music and a few more whiskeys!
Waking up the next morning was like waking up in a cloud. The beds at the Europe are massive and finding the motivation to get out of them is a challenge! While the boys played golf, the girls took the opportunity to lap up a bit of "me time" with a lie in, a little workout and a lazy breakfast (the buffet - oh the buffet) followed by a couple of hours sat outside taking in the sweeping views over Lough Leane with a cup of coffee...and then prosecco.
Eventually the boys returned, interrupting our zen and signaling our departure. Our final leg of the journey took us via the Torc Waterfall and the crazy road through Molls Gap into Kenmare.
Our road trip had come to an end and it was wedding time! I'm so glad the blushing bride and her groom bought us to Ireland and we had the chance to explore even just a small part of the country as a result. Life was made for good friends and great adventures and this trip was bursting full of both.