Tag Archives: ireland

Éire finale

Éire finale

Ok, first, I obviously was full of crapola last time when I said I would be faster. I have no idea why I'm having such a hard time with this. This usually comes so naturally to me. Anyhoo...

So, we finish off the Ring of Kerry and then have a Rock of Cashelrather difficult time finding our next B&B, Weston's Lot in Dundrum, County Tipperary. So, after passing it several times, we finally found a local that knew what we were talking about and gave us much better directions, and we found it right away. This was a really nice B&B. Really big and it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. The next day we go a town over in Cashel, and check out the Rock of Cashel. It was a gorgeous day with a great breeze, at least while we were up on the Rock. Very serene, I thought. Afterwards we grabbed a good sandwich around the corner before we headed off to Waterford.

Yes, that Waterford. And of course, one cannot visit the city of Waterford without touring the Waterford Crystal Factory. I will admit to being in a foul, grumpy mood this day. This was Waterford Cutterprobably my worst day as far as moods go, I think. You might need to ask Mike on that. My knee was just excruciatingly painful by this point and I since we never had a bathtub in our rooms (just showers), I never got to soak it or anything to help it not hurt as much. Anyway, I have no problem admitting I was not a pleasure to be around. However, I did enjoy the Waterford Tour a lot. I never realized that every single piece of crystal that comes out of there is hand made. I thought that was just absolutely mind blowing. It also allowed me to understand their pricing a bit more too. Another thing I was thoroughly impressed with was how little they waste. I think the tour guide said their wasteVarious Custom Crystal Pieces percentage per year is like 2%. Every extra bit of crystal, like a messed up piece, is recycled back into crystal to be used later. On the blades that they cut with, water is sprayed on them to keep it cool, and from there the dust that is made, is sucked back into the system and sent back to be reused also. So incredibly efficient I thought. Waste not, want not, and all that. So, back to my grumpy mood. After the tour we ended up in the store, mais bien sur, and Mike was ready to let me loose and buy whatever I wanted. I could have bought an entire set of crystal that cost a ton, and would have probably been ok with it. So, what do I do, I buy absolutely nothing. Not even a christmas ornament. I was just in one of those moods where I would not have been able to actually pick something I wanted. So, yes, it did suck that I did not buy anything, however, it was probably for the best as I most likely would have purchased something that I wasn't really into. And really, when you think about it, Mike doesn't know how lucky he really was that I was in such a foul non-shopping mood. I would probably have spent a small fortune. See? You can truly find the positive in anything if you try. :D

Our next B&B was in Ashord, County Wicklow - Mount Usher View. The garden/yard area of this B&B was really beautiful and taken care of impeccably. Besides sleeping & having a meal, we didn't stay too long here.

The next day we were headed back to Dublin as our flight was at 5pm. On our way we Glendalough Monasterystopped in Glendalough, which means Glen of Two Lakes. Near the Lower Lake is a monastery that originated in the 6th century by St. Kevin. There are some seriously old ruins here, and they were surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains & trees. I could definitely understand why a hermit priest would settle here. We then drove up to the Upper Lake which actually cost us something ridiculous like €5 and we couldn't stay for too too long. But, I guess if it helps them take care of the area, it's all good. We parked, went to the lake which is only feet away from the parking area, took some pictures and ooohed andUpper Lake in Glendalough aaahed over the insane view. You only see these types of things in pictures. Just breathtaking. Mike wanted to do some hiking and I really couldn't because of my knee, so he went off for a bit, and I sat in the car and read/slept. He came back running. I guess we were on a time table that I wasn't really paying too much attention to. So, we left quickly and zoomed fast fast towards Dublin. We dropped off the car, talked to some other folks who did our same B&B deal, and got on the plane without having to wait too too long.

So, my summary of the trip. I adore Ireland. As most people are already aware I plan on opening my own B&B in Doolin and my mom can open a restaurant that goes along side it or next door or something. Seriously, one day. Our trip was a helluva lot more hectic than I wanted. We were constantly on the go and I wish I could have relaxed more. Especially when my knee always felt like it wanted to explode. A couples notes for anyone thinking of going -- be aware that every bed in Ireland appears to be slightly more comfortable than a slab of rock and take all the clothing you'll need. There's not one laundromat in the entire country. Having to wash your unmentionables in a sink is just something I could have lived my whole life never having to do. So, besides the uncomfy beds and the hectic pace, this was an amazing trip. AND! I only wigged out from panic/anxiety once! It helped that the Irish are some of the most friendly people.

Now, off to New York...

Éire continued

Éire continued

So, after my lovely experience with Blood Pudding/Black Sausage/Nasty Stuff, we headed out of Galway. Our next area of visitation is the Cliffs of Moher. On our way there we saw some gorgeous countryside. We pulled over a few times and took pictures. One time we pulled over where we saw a bunch of cars near a lake. The tide was out so it was kinda smelly, but apparently that's a great time to go crab fishing. We watching some kids do just that, and it was pretty cool to watch. We went through a little cute town called Lisdoonvarna. Fish & ChipsI remember it being very colorful. We ended up stopping in Doolin for lunch. There were a lot of people packed into this tiny town of population 200. We walked into a couple shops there before we went to grab something to eat. We had the best fish & chips in a pub here. The Guinness wasn't half bad either. Man, my mouth is watering now. After we finished eating it was time to start looking for some place to stay. We had one in mind we wanted, and drove over there to see if there were any vacancies. Unfortunately, other people must have had this idea too, but much earlier than us, because they were full. But, the lady pointed us to across the street to a B&B her cousin or niece owns. We went there and sure enough, we got a room. This place was very nice, but nothing beat the view we had here. ViewI think it might have been this cozy place and the stellar view where I first got the feeling of "I could live in this town".  Mmmmmm, just give me a moment. Even the thought of it just sends me back there. Gorgeous, cozy, no stress. Mmmmm. OK. Back to the business at hand. We dropped off our stuff there, rested for a sec, freshened up, and then headed out to the Cliffs of Moher. Since Mike had been there in October, they had changed the tourists area just a wee bit. The visitors center is now built into the side of the cliffs. Very unobtrusive. Inside was a gift shop, a cafe, and a self-paced tour called "The Atlantic Edge". Cliffs of MoherThe self-paced tour did cost an additional fee, and while I would not say that the tour is necessary, Mike brought up a good point and said it does help fund them. The cliffs themselves were just amazing. Literally, breathtaking. We then headed over to The Burren. An area that is completely limestone rock. We walked out to the shore and had a blast trying to take pictures of the waves as they crashed up. Afterwards we went searching for some place to get a meal. This would continue to be our dilemma while in Ireland. Generally we eat late as it is. However, with the sun setting at 10pm, our sense of time was just whacked. We would generally be trying to find a place to eat after 9pm. Everything closes at 9pm. We always did find places, but geeeeeeez, what a hassle. In Doolin,Doolin Cafe we found a place called Doolin Cafe. It was run by an Italian girl and a South African guy. The guy was the cook and the girl was the waitress. I had a steak dish and mike had a spinach and goat cheese risotta. We both loved our meals. We talked with the owners a bit afterwards and they sounded like some very cool interesting people. They had just taken over the restaurant 6 months ago. I hope they do well!

Whew! The next day, we continued to head south. We experienced some interesting roads along our way, of course, and then hopped onto a ferry to cross the River Shannon. After more driving and random stops we entered the Ring of Kerry. It sounds weirder than it really is. It's basicd ally a road that goes in a loop around this particular area of County Kerry. Now this sounds odd to say about a country that is so scenic it's just not natural (heh!), but this had to be the most scenic area I've ever seen. Such pristine natural beauty that seems to be truly cherished and well taken care of. Absolutely amazing stuff. We ended up in Cahersiveen for the night. This time, we almost kinda sorda went looking for dinner at a more appropriate hours. Like 8. We read our travel guides and both mentioned a particular restaurant in the area, so we figured if they both agreed, then we would give it a try. After just a little drive, The Smuggler's Innwe arrived in Waterville to eat at The Smuggler's Inn. It's located near the entrance of a famous golf course and literally just a stone's throw from the ocean. On the outside it just looked like a typical brick pub building. However, upon entering, we quickly discovered that our t-shirts and scuzzy jeans might be a tad bit underdressed. But, we needed to eat, and it wasn't too busy, so we soldiered on. You couldn't ask for a more gorgeous view while you're eating. Just spectacular. I had a cod & scampi dish and Mike feasted on halibut. Both were very good dishes, but I think I liked Mike's just a tad bit more. The service was excellent here and the people were super friendly. Afterwards we ordered an irish coffee, and a bailey's coffee. While waiting for that, Mike headed out to the patio area. After paying and getting our coffees I headed out to sit with him out there. It was chilly, but so relaxing and enjoyable, and with out coffees it took the chilly edge off.

The next day saw us complete the Ring of Kerry while seeing some of the most insane views ever. The fog was heavy and low in some areas but it just made things seem that much more mystical. While on top of this largeFog hill/mountain, I was looking out to the ocean and could see the top of one of the skelligs peaking out of the low clouds/fog. Mike walked in a different direction to get some pictures, and I stayed up there just in complete awe -- while wearing a "Keep Austin Weird" t-shirt. You may think this is an odd bit of information. Why would you care what I was wearing? Well, I'm getting there, so hush.  While standing there in my gorgeous shirt, a girl came up from behind me and said "So, you're from Austin?", I confirmed, and then she told me she and her two friends just graduated from Texas A&M. Seriously small world. Especially if you consider that I may live in Austin, but I'm an Aggie through and through :D  We continue on and see some insane views.

Ok, I'm posting this now. I promise to be speedier about the final installment of our Ireland adventure.

Éire

Éire

Mike and I left for Ireland on Friday, June 1st. We had a 2 hour layover at DFW, and then a 6 hour layover at JFK. The total time from Austin to Dublin was going to be over 19 hours. Luckily, as we got to the Aer Lingus we had a friendly ticket agent that said she was pretty sure we could get on the flight right before ours. So we wait a few minutes and finally get our new tickets. One peculiar thing they said was you have to go to the gate NOW. It was like 5:10pm, and they had said the flight was at 8pm, so that seemed odd. But, we head that way. Mike wanted to get something to eat, but as we are headed down the escalator, I'm staring at the tickets and I notice that the flight time says 5:40pm. We got on 2 flights earlier, and we seriously needed to get to the gate NOW. We get through the security, such a freakin pain, and head to the gate and get on the plane, just like that. No 6 hour layover. Very nice indeed. One snag was that we spent over an hour on the tarmac in line for takeoff, but they seemed to make that up in the air.

We arrived in Dublin on Saturday, June 2nd around 6:00am. We did a package deal with flight/car/B&Bs for a STEAL. So we get our car, which they upgraded to a Ford Focus. Laugh if you will, but seriously, that was a pretty big upgrade. The other car would have been hardly bigger thanAt Guinness a Smart car. But at the same time, as we soon discovered, you really wouldn't want anything much bigger than what we got. Ok, so got car, and fiddled with the GPS unit, and managed to get to our hotel. We dropped off our stuff, and caught a bus to get to the downtown Dublin area. We ate breakfast at a little place in the Temple Bar district. We then headed to O'Connell Street and then finally got on a City Tour bus. We saw some sights, but the stop we were looking forward was the Guinness Brewery. You just cannot go to Dublin and not catch this tour. Hell, you get a pint at the end. What more does one need to say? I'm not even a beer drinker but I can guzzle some Guinness.  We did a few self-paced tours here and there, so I can say this was by far the best one. It's very well designed and keeps you interested. After that, we hopped back on the tour bus, and saw some more sights.Beshoff's Fish & Chips When we got to the end we were hungry hungry hungry. We got a recommendation for some fish & chips, so we headed there. Delish. Good way to start our fish & chip journey. I can't remember exactly what we did after that. We did go back to our hotel kinda early-ish and we were in bed by 6 or 7pm. I took an ambien to make sure I wouldn't wake up at some funky hour, and slept delightfully. Mike did not take an ambien so he did wake up at like 1am, and eventually got back to bed. I woke up early and waited for his butt to wake up. Hotel RoomI was kind and let him sleep.  When we left, it was a bit drippy, but not too bad. We caught a bus again and went to Trinity University to  see the Book of Kells.  It was pretty cool.  It's from around 800 AD. Yah, us Americans really don't know what old is. We eventually made our way back to our car and started to head out to Galway. Once we got there, we headed to Mike's friend Des' record shop. We hung around there and talked to him a bit. We also met up with some people from Alabama that were looking for some good Irish music. Mike & Des helped them find something. We left Des' shop and it was crazy bright out. It wasn't until we got back to the car did we realize that it was around 9:30pm. This was the day we discovered that Ireland has daylight much like Alaska or something. This time of year the sun sets close to 10pm, and the sun comes up around 5am. Later in the year it changes to 4pm & 8am. It took some getting used to. Most places that serve food stop serving it around 9pm. We seemed to almost always miss this time, and would have to find a pub still serving or anyplace still serving after 9pm. We still never had a bad meal. Anyhoooooo... back to Galway. We eventually made it to our B&B. We dropped off our bags and went out to try to find something to eat. We ended up finding a french restaurant down in a 6th-street like area. It was mmmmm-licious. Mike had an aubergine dish and I had a steak dish. We also had a supremely tasty desert. Some chocolate cake with a Bailey's creamy type center. Bailey's DessertAfterwards we went back to the B&B. I had difficulty falling asleep that night because there was this apparently inebriated couple next door that was just screaming and hollering at ridiculous volumes. The reason this was so loud and clear was because our window was open. You see, they don't seem to know what A/C is there. I generally can't sleep unless it's a bit on the chilly side, so a closed window was not an option. The next morning we went downstairs for our first traditional Irish breakfast. What is that you may ask? A traditional Irish breakfast consists of eggs, Irish bacon (which is more like ham), black sausage (or black pudding, a sausage that is held together with blood), white sausage, a grilled half tomato, and soda bread. I asked for no black pudding. However, our hostess convinced me that I have to try it. I can't go to Ireland and not try it. So, I tried it. It wasn't as awful as I thought it would be, but it's not something I would choose to eat. I'm sure it's just all in my head cuz I just think of blood when I'm eating it *GAG*.

To be continued...