Part 5. Roads Less Traveled

The morning of the next day greeted us with an unpleasant surprise in the form of bio-friendly, although uncalled-for bike decorations. When parking the Harleys the previous night, we considered safety first, and did not realize that the lamppost they were chained to happened to be the favorite hangout of the local seagulls… Our babies were artfully ornamented with bird shit all over!… The bikes looked like there was an overnight competition in target shitting going on, and a couple of late-entry participants were still sitting on the lamppost proudly observing the fruits of their labor. We quickly unlocked them and moved to a safe distance away from the competition zone, and cursing and panting, spent the next half an hour bringing the bikes to the original semi-pristine condition.

Our bikes before the seagull assault from the lamppost

Now, in some cultures, when a bird shits on your car, it’s supposed to bring you luck and riches. I don’t know if that extends to other motorized vehicles as well, but if yes, the amount of seagull shit that fell on our poor Harleys overnight should have made us both millionaires many, many times over. However, judging by the fact that neither of us had won the lotto yet, all of this is total bullshit. Or maybe we should just buy a ticket…

While we were cleaning our bikes, an old lady emerged from the house next to the B&B, and started viciously throwing bread crumbs at the seagulls. Within seconds, the competitors from the lamppost were joined by dozens of their friends and relatives, informed about the freebies through a fast-working wireless seagull telegraph. Not in the mood for more guano decorations, we packed our shit and moved on.

Crazy lady feeding the shitting seagulls

The riding menu for the day included the Beara Peninsular, in the middle of which County Cork meets County Kerry. In addition to spectacular views promised by our trustworthy Lonely Planet, the guide also mentioned a picturesque fairy town of Eyeries that over the years has become one of the favorite film- and TV-shooting locations whenever Ireland was pictured on a big screen. Never ones to miss a popular spot and a possible celebrity-sighting opportunity, we set our eyes on Eyeries, already imagining ourselves sipping a cup of midday tea with biscuits while lazily watching a Collin Farrell or a Liam Neeson shooting the next blockbuster on location. Well, all of this remained in our dreams only, although we did have our share of excitement of the day. Actually, a little more excitement that we had hoped or signed up for, but all in its turn.

Right out of Bantry we stopped at a vista point that provided a breathtaking view of the Bantry Bay with some dramatic clouds gathering over it (see Part 3 on the unpredictable Irish weather). We were also delighted at an opportunity of learning a bit about the local traditions. A billboard on the side of the vista point proudly informed passers-by about an Adrigole Festival & Gathering held in August, the advertised highlight of which was promised to be a duck race. Entertainment must be really scarce on the Beara Penunsular… Yet, somehow we were sad about visiting too early in the year and blowing our chances of witnessing this event…

View over Bantry Bay
The Duck Race poster

Breakfast at Barry’s Bed and Breakfast was rudimentary at least, and an hour into the journey our bodies started calling for a more substantial refill. We stopped for tea in a picturesque spot in Castletown-Berehaven (aka Castletownbere), and upon closer inspection of the menu at the Copper Kettle café on the main square, decided to throw in a full Irish breakfast and Eggs Benedict on top of that just in case. Both were much-needed and well-received. Sated, relaxed, and warmed up by two generously large pots of tea, we continued on our way.

A pit stop at Castletown-Berehaven

In hindsight, the pit-stop turned out to be a very good call, indeed, for the following hour’s fuckup put our nerves, riding skills, and general sanity to a serious and completely uncalled-for test. Earnestly and wholeheartedly we blame the fuckup on Mr. Stephen Fry. I am sure he is completely innocent and innocuous of our hour of suffering on the Beara Peninsular that day, but given he provided the voice to our GPS, he was the logical blaming target. Actually, in one of his latest auto-biographies, “The Fry Chronicles”, Mr. Fry admitted that after having provided his voice to a GPS company, he started receiving an alarming number of letters (most of them from elderly ladies), thanking him for giving them a hand with directions and admiring his expert knowledge of Spanish countryside and Scottish rural roads. Obviously, his vast geographical expertise did not reach as far as the North-West of Ireland, so we hope he would excuse us not joining in on his fan club in this particular area of interest…

We should have followed the signs…

Upon reaching the little town of Allihies, we intentionally ignored the very obvious signpost with a big arrow pointing to the town’s center, and fully intent on enjoying the scenic views instead of the urban platitudes, turned right instead of left. For the note, this was done with full consent and encouragement of Mr. Fry! The road climbed steadily up, and the scenery, that was not over-urbanized to begin with, started looking more and more rustic and desolate. After a couple of especially steep and narrow bends we stopped to consult the map and each other. Ahead of us lay gravel. Behind us lay treacherous downhill bends. From the top of the hill bordering on a small mountain we had a great bird’s eye view of the Ballidonegan Bay.

The view of Ballidonegan Bay

Mr. Fry enthusiastically urged us to continue on our trail, and after a short hesitation we succumbed to his charms. After all, how much worse can it be (we thought)?… Ha-ha! The answer to what seemed to be a rhetorical question at the time, turned out to be “A LOT!” The bike symbol on our Tom-Tom GPS suddenly changed into a hiker with a walking stick. This was not a good sign… Not a good sign at all…The gravel road continued to climb, turning into a goat path with every mad turn, the count of which we lost after a couple dozen of those.

Have you ever tried balancing a heavy Harley on a narrow and slippery gravel path, cut through by the zig-zag maze of rain washouts and adorned with huge fucking stones randomly but consistently positioned on said path?… Neither did we, before that day, but for better or for worse there’s the first time for everything… At least when the path was climbing up, we could keep control of the bikes by engine power, burning our gear boxes to shit. It was when it suddenly started snaking down at a precipitous angle, that we realized we were proper fucked. You simply can’t hold a heavy bike on the slippery gravel road going steeply down. The only way to keep it from rolling down is to keep it in gear. On wet gravel the gears work against you and make the bike slide faster. You can’t break by putting your legs to the ground, since you have to keep the bike in gear. The vicious circle continued to the joy of sheep and cows randomly positioned around the area and observing our acrobatics with sheer interest. That is, until we came face to face with yet another treacherous steep gravel bend that ended with a locked cow gate! Seriously?…

The treacherous turn before the cow gate

We managed to stop at a spot that did not automatically imply dropping the bikes and letting them fall over, but there was no chance in hell I would make that steep of a downhill bend on wet gravel!… I was sweating like a dog in Chinatown, at the same time feeling like a totally useless piece of shit – I could almost hear the cows and sheep on the hills laugh their socks off!..

Nic walked down to the cow gate, slipping on the gravel and almost falling down on his ass next to it, and unlocked it. And then, like a true gentlemen he is, he rode first his bike down, and then mine. I could honestly say that I had never loved my husband more than I did at that moment!!!

My brave husband opening up the cow gate!

We were too hyped up to take note of time (or anything but trying to get as far away from the fucking goat path, for that matter!), but when we finally reached the much-desired Eyeries and collapsed on the roadside bench, we realized that only an hour had passed since we left Castletownbere. I swear- this was the longest hour in our lives, and it definitely added at least a couple hundred grey hairs to our already not so dark and shiny coiffures… The next hour was spent in a totally vegetative state on that roadside bench, with only two diversions – one to get two coffees to calm down our nerves (had we not been operating motorized vehicles, two bottles of moonshine would have probably been a better call!), and the other one to take a photo of the really picturesque main street of Eyeries. The town was really pretty, but in out exhausted states of mind, we seriously had no shits to give. Needless to say, Collin Farrells and Liam Neesons were nowhere to be seen…

The picturesque downtown Eyeries

Still shaken from our goat path fuckup and not really trusting Mr. Fry anymore, we followed the road signs for the Northbound Wild Atlantic Way, and after a couple of more hours of riding we were done. We made it to a sweet little town of Sneem on a Ring of Kerry, found a lovely B&B by the name of The Bank House, the owner of which was not only NOT embarrassed to welcome two dirty and edgy bikers into his oasis of comfort, but even insisted we park them up front, considering the Harleys a cool advertisement for his respectable establishment!…

Our mighty steeds parked in front of the Bank House B&B

We could not have been happier! No more gravel, no more goat paths with sneering cows, no more feeling like total idiots, and no more (sorry Mr. Fry!) taking advice from electronic devices with seductive accents!… We showered with relief, changed into clean clothes, look around Sneem (all of it’s 1.5 streets!), tried to pose for a replacement ad of the famous local pub (D O’Shea), had an obligatory oyster and Guinness dinner, and turned in for the night completely exhausted. We only did 148 km that day, but we felt like we aged at least 10 years each!…

Our route on Day 3

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