A Matter of Perspective
Perfect travel days are rarer than you might think.
In between them are days when it rains too much, or when hordes of tourists detract from a sublime experience with nature, or when a piercing hangover precludes appreciating most of the day. And even though the sight seen or adventure undertaken might be one of the Top! Rated! In! The! World!, it just doesn’t feel that way to the beholder. Their perspective on that particular experience may end up skewed, and negative reviews passed on to others may distort that otherwise enjoyable attraction.
The same may happen in reverse, where a day is just so perfect that it tops an individual’s own charts, even if it may not rank in a local travel guide. And as the word spreads from one person to many about this ideal experience, followers may be sadly disappointed at what they find. All the conditions for that “perfect” day may not have lined up. Maybe it was too hot, maybe the food wasn’t cooked right, or perhaps they just were sick of seeing ruins.
Never mind that preferences and the definition of “perfect” and can also vary wildly by individual.
There are just so many variables to consider, which is exactly why you won’t find must see/eat/do guides on this site. Our experiences are our own, as should yours be. It’s not likely that either could be entirely duplicated.
Case in point : a near perfect road trip along the Ring of Kerry. By the end of our long and exciting day in the south west corner of Ireland, I was tempted to fill this post with all the flowery adjectives describing why it is a MUST do, and how we would judge you if you didn’t agree.
But that wouldn’t be fair. We wouldn’t want to mislead you into thinking that it’s always smiles and rainbows and giggling in the rain, because maybe it wouldn’t be that way for you…
We started early, wanting to get ahead of the reported gangs of tour buses that circle the Ring of Kerry daily. We were determined to beat the crowds, and had even booked an overnight stay just a few kilometers past the start of the Ring, to be sure of a head start.
We were rewarded with empty roads and brilliant morning sunshine. Blue skies were speckled with varying colors of clouds, and the water was still with not even a hint of a breeze. There are some things worth getting up this early for.
“Stop! No wait, it’s gone again. Stop here! Here!” I bellowed at Pete as we weaved around the winding road in the countryside. We were chasing a rainbow, it’s radiance fading in and out since the town before. Finally, at a quiet corner overlooking the water, we saw not one, but two.
Pete quickly stopped and we jumped out with the camera ready, snapping in furious spurts and then stopping to just enjoy the magnificent sight. There was no whir of cars around us, just infinite silence and seven fingers of dazzling color reaching down into the water, replicated just above with a fainter twin.
It was a luminous and promising start to our day. We marveled at our good fortune with the weather and the open road, anxiously looking in the rearview mirror for dreaded tour buses to pop into our view as we crawled slowly along, stopping frequently along the coastline.
The short ferry ride over to Valentia Island introduced us to a colorful Irish character who spent the entire ride excitedly explaining the tourist map of things to see and do in the area. She had to race to collect fares from the other cars when the ferry reached the other side, having spent all of her time playing tour guide to us.
Once back on land, we were quickly past the small town that greeted us, and as directed by our ferry tour-guide, took a detour down a very narrow and bumpy road to view a private lighthouse.
We were still entirely alone with a striking view before us. There were no sounds but crashing waves and the clicking of our camera. After spending most of our previous days fighting crowds or bad weather, we could not believe our good luck. Our attitudes, humor, and spirits were higher then at any other point of our time in Ireland.
And it continued.
Further along the Skellig Ring we found the Kerry Cliffs – not quite as blunt and dramatic as the Cliffs of Moher, but with more intriguing and harsh coastline, the best possible view of the famous Skelligs (rocky islands off the coast, one of which housed a monastery for Irish Catholic monks), and no contentious crowds.
From rocky coastline to nearby white sand beaches, each turn brought us to a new beautiful sight and gave us impossibly wider smiles.
At the end of our journey on the Ring, after a pub-stop and still with several hours of daylight to burn, we did what any fortunate traveler would probably do.
We kept going.
We began the Beara Peninsula, deciding to do a small portion of it while we still could, even though dark clouds began to move in from the south.
The first few kilometers turned out to be a total bore, and as the grey clouds became grey-er, we began to wonder if we had pushed our luck. But then we began traversing the Healy Pass through the Caha mountains, and doubts were erased. We inched along the mountainside with a lush and valley sprawling below us.
We stopped for the millionth time to take pictures. Clouds parted and a spotlight shone on a gently rippled lake below.
Sheep scattered as we stepped further out onto cliffside rocks for a different vantage point. So lost we were in the artistry of our surroundings, we were completely oblivious to the storm that suddenly came in. Not five seconds after I took this picture, Pete said: “I think we waited too long!”
We hopped over stones and ran across damp grass back to the car, literally only a few steps ahead of the rainstorm that blew in. We collapsed into the car seats and mixed laughter with the raindrops pounding on the windshield. It was a wet and foggy drive down the mountain and onto the next town, but nothing could have dampened our spirits.
It was a rare, perfect day, in what will be remembered as our favorite spot in Ireland.
So maybe on your drive of the Ring of Kerry, you’ll see a double rainbow. Maybe the light will hit the swells of water just the right way as you snap photos, and maybe you’ll give in to fits of laughter as you narrowly escape rain.
Or instead, you might not see the sun all day. Perhaps you’ll be stuck sucking bus fumes and miss the turn to the must-see view. And ultimately you’ll have a meh day and wonder what all the fuss is about.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
For bigger crowds and badder weather, check out our visit to the Cliffs of Moher.
Amazing post! You two are so good at this! Keep them coming!
Thanks Bri!! 🙂
Sounds/looks purely divine!
And yes, so very true that no two experiences can ever be quite alike. Indeed, often it’s our individual REACTION to our experiences that color our memories of them. And you two seem to ever find joy in even the mishaps.
If we didn’t try to find joy in the mishaps…we might have given up on traveling a long time ago! 🙂
Thanks so much for writing about travel as it actually is. Far too much “luxury” that and other minutiae clogs the blogosphere with the supposed mysticism of travel.
There are the shit days…there’s no doubt about it….and I’ve written about them before. I think it’s crazy to believe it’s all smiles and rainbows! But I’m sure glad we had one perfect day with them. 🙂
Amazing writing & equally Amazing pics.
Thanks Ma! xo
What a wonderfully transporting post! I feel like I got to share a bit of your perfect travel day 🙂 I hope you reacted to the double rainbow like this guy –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI
Phil recently posted..What’s Next for me
Of course we did!! How else are you supposed to respond to a double rainbow. WHAT DOES IT MEAN??
What a rainbow! It really does look like a perfect travel day.
That rainbow was shockingly beautiful, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like that before. It was a great start!
wild! i saw a dbl rainbow today frm right in front of the BIB just before dusk looking east towards the amazon basin. slightly different setting than your amazing photo!! i could only take a mental picture.
Mental photos are even better sometimes. 🙂
Wow that first picture is really postcard perfect. Travel is definitely a matter of perspective. I actually kind of hate answering questions like “what’s the best thing to do in *insert place here*?” because my answer is always something like, “well I really loved this but I don’t know maybe you won’t like it because blah blah blah blah.” I guess sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to a have a perfect travel experience, when really we should just live and let live.
Really good point Alouise – I hate that question as well. I mean, I don’t mind giving travel advice, but it’s always with the caveat that it might NOT be the same for someone else. I will never tell anyone they MUST do something, because who knows how it would turn out?
Gorgeous rainbow and I’m glad you also got to the Beara Peninsula. But, proving your point, when we were in Ireland headed for the Cliffs of Moher, the fog was so thick we could not even see the road, so kept right on driving past. However, we wound up in the Burrens, seeing ancient tombs and a castle and reconstructed ancient village and wondrous narrow roads–a wonderful day in all.
I wish we had more time to check out the Burrens! Glad your day was good even if you couldn’t see the Cliffs.
Very well-said! We didn’t love the Ring of Kerry – we had crappy weather, too much fog so we couldn’t see much and felt really rushed. But other days have really surprised us with how well they turned out.
Andrea recently posted..Do’s and Don’ts For Travel in Croatia
Sometimes it’s possible to not let the weather get you down (like, we still enjoyed Northern Ireland in spite of the weather), but it really can dictate whether or not we’ll enjoy a place too.
My, how amazingly beautiful!
And yes, I know those days.
InsideJourneys recently posted..Saying Goodbye to Summer 2011
Well captured in words and images. I’m jealous!
I love this. And I also love that photo of the double rainbow! Wow!
Amanda recently posted..“Dark” Travel as a Way to Pay Tribute
Thanks Amanda! That sight was a pretty incredible start to our day.
I think it is best just to describe the experience and post pictures. People then can determine if it is an adventure that appeals to them. The photos from this trip look very alluring, especially the cliffs and the double rainbow.
Traveling Ted recently posted..Traveling Ted returns from Costa Rica with adventure to report
Thanks Ted, and I totally agree. That’s why we tend to steer away from anything that says it’s a *must-do*…
amazing pictures!!! the 2nd to the last pic is so dramatic and so surreal… and i agree with what you’ve written… its a matter of perspective… sometimes we miss seeing a beautiful place because a horrible thing happened on the way and we let it spoil our day… or sometimes the beauty of the place is magnified because of the other “nice” experience we encounter…
Exactly – which is why I’m so careful to give advice to people – it always comes with a disclaimer! 🙂
I have to say… this looks like the perfect road trip! I always feel a little strange writing blog posts on “must see” things because if the conditions aren’t right, some people might hate them! So happy that your drive turned out awesome.
Jade recently posted..Survive This: Sakau
Thanks Jade, that’s exactly how I feel about writing those posts, hence why you won’t find any here. Also because tastes can just vary so widely!
This pictures are amazing. You have a gift! Thanks for sharing them.
Thank you Sergio! Very sweet. 🙂
What gorgeous photos! I’m guessing that can’t be achieved with your basic point and click. What do you use (besides your talent)?
We’ve got a Canon 600D that we just bought a few months ago. We are having a lot of fun learning how to use it! 🙂
Great post–you made me feel as if I were there with you!
NLM recently posted..I Love Penguins
These are some of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen, thanks for sharing such great tips on where to go! 😉
Annie@GreenGlobalTravel recently posted..INTERVIEW: Ben Jaffe on Preservation Hall Jazz Band & New Orleans
Hi Dalene, This is one of your best stories. Like you I hate crowds and venture off the beaten track for solitude and new discoveries.
You don’t need to give advice on where to go or what to see and do, people will read the story and want to go. The memories they make will be their own, good and bad 🙂
A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted..The baby cockroaches are kind of cute
Great post and it sounds like am amazing day! I had a similar experience in Japan when we changed plans at the last minute and had a great day. I also just got back from a trip and had to continuously remind myself that not every day goes as planned.