There are a number of factors we consider when we choose our next B & B. First, we try to figure out how far we will get before nightfall the next day. Then we look for a B & B that claims to have an internet connection. Lastly, we closely read the breakfast descriptions. Sometimes you just can't tell, but we chose to stay in Kenmare for the night because they listed smoked salmon for breakfast. Salmon are just as popular here as they are in Alaska. As far as we can tell the streams the salmon patronize are not dammed and still provide free access, but the demand for this tasty fish is so high that they have started farming them here. Our B & B host works for a fishing fleet and selects from the best of the haul and smokes them at his home. You can believe that today's breakfast was on the top ten list.
Kenmare is at the junction between the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara. Beara doesn't get as much attention as Dingle or Kerry, but we don't know why. After spending the day touring this peninsula, Beara is probably our favorite judging by the scenery and how many photos we took. It drizzled as we left the B & B and we wondered if we were making a big mistake. We listen closely to the weather forecasts, but they are most unhelpful. Everyday they say, "Cloudy with bright periods. Showers possible." And we have come to understand that clouds, almost sunshine, and drizzle are part of almost every day. That's why the leprachauns always had a rainbow where they could find a pot of gold.
Certainly one of the reasons the Ring of Beara is off the tourist radar is the fact that there is no way tour buses could go where we went today. The roads are so narrow and so winding and just when we got the feeling that we were in one of the remotest spots in the world, we would round a corner and come upon a village full of lovely homes. Quite frankly we have hardly seen a home we wouldn't be delighted to live in. Homes here are large, in good repair and each one reflects the personality of whoever had it built. No tract housing here. The houses have beautiful lush gardens and often are surrounded by an acre or more of verdant green land. We're still not sure what everyone is doing to make a buck (or Euro) here, but whatever they're doing, life appears to be good. Clearly agriculture and fishing are still important. That's not to say that we would want to move here. We can't imagine where these folks shop. We hardly saw a grocery store or any other kind of store all day. It took us until 3pm to locate a place to eat lunch. Undoubtedly this is partly our fault. We just don't know what to look for. Dingy little pubs just don't look inviting to us and yet we've read that these are the best place to have a meal.
At home we complain strenuously about how we hate franchise restaurants and stores. Why travel when Illinois looks like California looks like Georgia we say. We also hate the Walmartization of America. But after spending some time here we have to back peddle a bit. There are absolutely no franchises here at all. When you walk into a restaurant or store, you have absolutely no idea what to expect. Everything is individually owned and reflects the personality of that owner. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we find everything so expensive here. There is no economy of scale. The department stores remind us of mom and pop places we haven't seen since we were kids.
Because of our camping interests, we always perk up when we see a sign pointing to a caravan park.
Camping seems to be popular in the Ring of Beara, but the campgrounds are very different from outs. There are rarely individual sites and none have sewer connections. If there is a pole for electricity, it has four plugs and rigs must carry long power cords to make that connection from other far away spots. There also are no water connections and campers must fill up before they enter the parks. It would be possible to rent a rig and try camping here ourselves, but after driving these narrow roads, it seems like more trouble than it's worth.