Distance cycled: 47km (Over Conor Pass!)
Height of Conor Pass: 1300ft
Number of photos I took of Fungi that ended up just being water: 17
Price of a pint of Guinness in 1960: 8 pence
Price of a pint of Guinness in 2011: 4 Euro
Storytelling is a big part of Irish culture, so when John (my B&B host) told me that a dolphin saved his life four years ago, I smiled, refilled my cup of tea and got ready to hear his dolphin tale.
Thousands of tourists flock to Dingle each year to catch a glimpse of Fungi, the hard-working and friendly dolphin. He brings millions of tourism dollars to Kerry and as part of my pick-a-path adventure you guys voted that I go swimming with him.
But first, back to John and his tale. Four years ago, a French man and his daughters came to Dingle just to see Fungi and stayed at John's B&B. The French man, lets call him Pierre, asked John where the good beaches were. John offered to drive them to his favourite spots and Pierre was blown away by the kind gesture. Apparently in France they wouldn't even talk to you, let alone drive you to the beach. While driving back Pierre said, 'John, you look tired.'
John responded, 'I've had two heart attacks in two months and I have no private insurance so they keep sending me home, I'm on a surgery waiting list but it could be months.'
Pierre then revealed he was a cardiologist and insisted John fly to France and he would fix his heart. A week later John flew to France and found out the left side of his heart was blocked, he was a ticking time bomb with little time left on the clock. As promised Pierre performed the surgery and kept John in care for 2 weeks, asking for nothing in return. John tried to give him an envelope full of cash but Pierre refused and told him not to insult him. John was kind to him and in turn, Pierre was kind to John. That was four years ago and John thanks Fungi every day for bringing this man into his life.
After hearing the story, I was surprised to feel tears rolling down my cheeks and it made my swim with Fungi even more special.
John's story reminded me that you should never underestimate the power of a kind gesture.
At 8am we were taken by boat to the edge of the marina. Then on cue, Fungi burst through the water and swam alongside us, riding the waves created by our boat. I was first into the water and we splashed and paddled around for half an hour or so before Fungi got bored of us and went out to catch some fish. We caught up with him again about 15 min later and all dived back into the cool Atlantic. He's a wild animal so he doesn't come right up to you but he circled us and ducked and dive as people frantically tried to snap pictures of him. He was much bigger than I expected and faster than a speeding bullet. (Hence my lack of video footage!)
Shivers of cold and excitement buzzed through me as we made our way back to shore. A hot shower awaited and I had a nice fish n chip lunch on the harbour before setting off on the next leg of the journey. I had intended staying in Dingle another night but the magical weather was meant to turn stormy the following day so I tackled Conor Pass instead.
It's Ireland's highest and steepest mountain pass and while it's only 7 miles long it was the toughest hill I've faced so far.
The look of sympathy on the faces of oncoming drivers said it all, they thought I was mad, crazy but as the Irish say 'Fair play to ye!'.
The benefit of a hill like that is the 15 minute free wheel down the other side and the stunning view from the top. I'd heard Brandon Point was nice I cycled my way out there and sat admiring the beautiful beach, the mountain range I'd just climbed and watched kids jumping off the pier. I was joined by Mad-Mike, the space cadet, legionnaire who was convinced he was still fighting in Lebanon and wanted to throw a grenade in the Mercedes parked next to us. The sun was getting low in the sky so I wound my way back along the coast and set up camp near Castlegregory in a family-friendly caravan park. I was woken at 6am by the sound of a kid repeatedly hitting a spoon on a pot and I made the mental note to not camp next to a young family again. Next stop, Tralee to pick roses and pull pints.
Plus don't forget to vote whether I go to Wales, Scotland or England next.