June 26th, 2006

batou: confused

Day 1: Getting lost

Torc Falls

omniana and I left London on the 5:00 AM Gatwick Express. Everything went smoothly until we got to the departure lounge, where the signboard told us to "Please Wait" for a gate specification right up until our flight was supposed to leave. Then it said, "Delayed Until 8:25." We were not amused. We went to eat breakfast and grumble until the sign said "Board Gate 9." Gleefully, we rushed to Gate 9, sat there for a bit and boarded.

Then we sat inside the plane at the gate for another hour because, well. Nobody on board could actually fly the plane. The pilot had gotten stuck in traffic en route to the airport. Our bike-riding resolve began to waver until, over three hours late but moving fast, our pilot arrived and we took off. One hour and a complimentary soft drink later (big conciliatory gesture from EasyJet), we landed in Cork. We dashed through immigration, jumped on a bus to the center of town and then on a train to Killarney. We had to change at scenic Mallow, home to a large Darigold Corporation plant. We only had an hour during which to sample Mallow's charms before our train went, but I think we managed to do a fairly thorough job of it.

By the time we got to Killarney and rented our bikes, panniers and helmets, it was nearly 4 PM. We had five hours in which to get to Kenmare, 31 km away, which should have been easily doable.

Except that we messed it up, led astray by the vague maps in omniana's cycling route book. We sailed cheerily through the first half of the journey, even while I was adjusting to the notion of being on a bicycle that wasn't affixed to a gym floor for the first time in years.

Until we took a wrong turn. Befuddled by a sign at a T-junction that claimed the trail we were following continued in two different directions, one down a paved road, the other down a gravel path, we selected the latter. We should have realized we had followed the hiking trail that runs between the Peakeen and Mangerton mountains after being forced off our bikes for the fifth time by the steep, rock-covered tracks. Or possibly after the seventh stream we had to ford by pushing our bikes through them while hopping from stone to stone. But we didn't.

Once we recognized our mistake, we dealt with our predicament with perfect lady-like aplomb. There was no falling in the dirt, no swatting frantically at the midges devouring our tender flesh, and absolutely no cursing whatsoever. Honest.

We finally rolled into Kenmare at 8:15 PM, having stretched a journey that should have taken much less time to four hours by dint of extreme cleverness. We checked into the lovely hostel where we had a dorm room all to ourselves, some very hot showers and then Chinese food, served with a choice of rice or chips. Chips. Very authentic. I don't think anyone turns up her nose at a nice hot meal after an afternoon of pushing a laden bike up a mountain on a hiking trail, though.

omniana's take on the day's events.