Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ireland 2013: Part 5

After touring the Muckross House and starting our drive around the ring of Kerry, we settled into a great little hotel in Portmagee. With a wonderful and warm meal in our stomachs we went to bed early so we could wake up early for one of the most exciting days on our trip!

The following morning, we woke up, ate a wonderful full Irish breakfast and headed to the docks! On the itinerary for the day was a trip to Skellig Michael. The Skellig Islands are off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a pair of islands, one of which used to be inhabited by monks, now known as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each day, pending good weather, clear skies and "smooth seas", boats leave from Portmagee filled with tourists who want to check out all that Skellig Michael has to offer.

View from the docks at Portmagee.

Bundled up and ready for our next adventure.

The little blue boat delivered us safely to Skellig and back to Portmagee!
The boat ride takes about an hour to an hour and a half and for me, the "smooth" seas did not feel all that smooth. Luckily, there was a lot of fresh air flowing and a few drops of water here and there helped me to keep from feeling too sea sick.

Pulling away from Portmagee.

Excited about starting our journey!

To say it was chilly would be an understatement!
Alli is bundled up too!

And Adam!

Cold, but happy!

View of Little Skellig from a distance.
The boat trip out was a little difficult, but it was nothing compared to getting off the boat and onto the island. After what can only be described as an obstacle course, in which the negative outcome would be falling into ice cold water, we all made it safely onto Skellig Michael. Once you arrive, you're greeted by a guide who basically tells you to take it easy, hike slowly, and don't be afraid to sit down and take a break because you don't want to fall off and die (yes...they mentioned this SEVERAL times). Then, you're released to climb! And what a climb it is, no railings and the "steps" are just pieces of stone that were installing in step fashion hundreds...yes, hundreds, of years ago. Yeah, I took my SWEET SWEET time going up (and let's be honest...coming back down...)

The view from our landing point.

Better hold on tight...Oh yeah, there's no railing...

A view up the side of the island.

Before starting our climb!

The climb!

Here we go!
Skellig Michael is home to the adorable, and somewhat illusive, puffin. We were lucky enough to see some of them come out of their little rocky homes to say hello!

Look at that cutie!

The steps.

One of the many breathtaking views on our hike...
this was taken during one of my many breaks!

Another hiking break! Almost to the top!
When you reach the top, you are greeted with the rocky "beehives". These structures were made by the monks who were the first and last inhabitants of Skellig Michael (aside from a few scientists who live there for a few months throughout the year).


Love his polka dotted tail!
After talking with a few of the guides at the top, we decided it was time to start the trek down. Let's be honest, I was pretty much VERY afraid of the climb down and wanted to be able to take my time. It turned out to be a pretty nice little hike and not stressful at all. That said, I did take plenty of breaks! Once we got to the bottom, the water had gotten very choppy so getting back on the boat was difficult, but we made it!

The dock at Skellig Michael.

Our little boat coming in to pick us up!

The view as we pull away from the island.

The ferries take guests through out the day. Once they drop them off,
the boats wait around the island until it's time to pick everyone up again.

We finally made it back to Portmagee, and by this time we were starving! We had a wonderful lunch of vegetable soup at our favorite pub and then hopped back in the car to continue our journey around the Ring of Kerry, heading towards the Cliffs of Moher. Stay tuned for more of our Irish adventures!