Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blarney Castle, Kells Priory and back to Dublin

Blarney Castle. The grounds were beautiful and huge! It was pretty frigid that day. We had to be back in Dublin that night, which was about a three hour drive. I told Scott that I really wanted to do some shopping and hang out in one place for awhile. 
We spent close to two hours touring the grounds of Blarney Castle and another hour in the giant gift shop afterwards.

 When we first got to the castle, I thought that we would have to climb these dark, wet, dungeon like steps to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone. I was having second thoughts at first, but then realized that we didn't go the scary way.
 Scary way.
 I would have had to crouch the entire way up.
 Blarney Castle

 Crazy narrow and steep staircase. If you climbed too fast, you could make yourself dizzy!

 I think that this was the maiden's room
 The dining hall

 View from the top of the castle. 
 Stories say that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you are given the gift of gab. I missed the first time and had them lower me again. I think it is bad luck if you don't kiss it. Kind of gross if you think about it. Lot's of lips have made out with that stone.

 Someone, no need to name names, is a LITTLE afraid of heights. He was hesitant about going for the big smooch, but after some coaxing he went for it.

 I am actually somewhat surprised that Scott did kiss the stone because he is one of the biggest germaphobes that I know!

 Going down was a little scary.
 If we toured the entire grounds, it would have taken us up to four hours, but we didn't have the time.
 Rock Dolmen's. This particular one was also said to have powers. If you go through the opening supposedly you enter through another realm. Scott noticed it was tilting so he held the rock up with his muscly back. There was one that Scott really wanted to see, but GPS was no help and only got us more turned around. Looking back, I wish we would have kept looking  for it.
 This area was said to be enchanted and supposedly if you walk up and down the stairs with your eyes closed, and only think of one thing the entire way, your wish will be granted. It was a little scary. I only lasted about halfway up. Guess my wish isn't coming true.

 Scott gave it a try and almost made it. I think he said that he opened his eyes one time. Guess his wish isn't coming true either. 

 This dwelling used to be inhabited by a witch they say. I decided to make some witches brew. 

 I know, I know. Scott was shaking his head in this picture too
We drove to .a place called Kells Priory, but turned too early and found this awesome bridge.

 Kells Priory
This priory was built in the 1100's and was attacked and burned on three different occasions. It was kind of eerie. Maybe because we were the only people in sight and all you could hear was the sheep. Getting to the Priory was a little confusing and we couldn't figure out why the path wasn't more clear. When we left for Dublin, we noticed the main entrance to the priory off of the road. Whoops. At least we got to walk along the river and across a sketchy bridge going the way we went. 

 My last sheep pasture of our trip. This was a little more disgusting because there was sheep poop everywhere and I got bird poop on my hand when I climbed the rock wall.

 After our last excursion, we drove back to Dublin. Our hotel is not even worth posting about because it wasn't our favorite. It was off of a really busy street and there were some sketchy people roaming the streets all  night. I could hear the noisy drunk people coming in and out all night. Totally disrespectful and I was getting so angry. BUT, the night was fun for us. We spent about an hour walking around the more popular area, looking for a place to eat. By the time we decided on our pub, we were starving and probably had walked around 3 miles. I had a killer hamburger and ate the whole, massive thing (Scott thought that it tasted more like Salisbury steak because it came with a side of pepper gravy and the meat tasted like it had been pounded). Scott had some amazing chicken pasta that was delicious. After dinner, we walked around and did a little shopping. Back at our hotel, we stopped at the onsite restaurant for dessert. He had a really good piece of cheese cake and I had a lemon tart. Mmmmmm...I want some now. 
 According to the exit signs in Ireland, you are supposed to run to the nearest exit.
We woke up and had a huge breakfast in the restaurant. Super good. Sadly, we ended our trip on a really bad note by missing our flight. According to our airline, you have to be through customs/security 75 min before the flight leaves. What makes me sick about this whole situation is that we had plenty of time to get to our flight. It would have been tight, but even after being sent to another desk, walking across the airport, through customs and security, our flight still hadn't left. AAAHHH!!. So we had to drop a boat load of money to get bumped to a later flight. We were so downhearted. But, we didn't let it ruin our thoughts of Ireland. In fact, I miss it so much right now. It was a very needed vacation for me. I felt recharged when we got back...exhausted, but recharged. It has been so fun doing these day by day blog posts because I have been able to relive our trip and remember my thoughts about different experiences.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 4: Mizen Head and Kinsale

Wednesday morning, we woke up to a very hearty breakfast. Our host made close to a traditional Irish Breakfast, plus a side of delicious pancakes (more like crepes). 
When our host, Brydie (short for Brisdgette), asked us if we wanted a traditional  breakfast, we told her that we wanted it, minus the blood sausage! I am not a huge fan of the tomato, but their bacon is amazing! The sausage was a little too slimy for me so I gave it to Scott. 

Our view from our breakfast table. 
We were the first guests of her season and she treated us like her own children. It was so fun. She really took good care of us. I felt so bad. I had booked our room with my credit card and just before we left, we got new one's. SO I brought my new card with me to breakfast and told her to use my new one. She had a look of panic and told me she didn't take credit cards! I didn't have any cash and the nearest village was 15 minutes away and would put us back on our day excursions. Brydie told us that she needed to go into town anyway and we could follow her to the ATM. Scott asked her if she drives like a typical Irish man and she laughed and said that she didn't. She was driving up to 72 MPH on the bumpy narrow roads and 45-50MPH on the curves. We saw dust fly from her tires every time she went off the road. Once we got to town, we got our cash out and paid her. I tried to give her a tip, but she shooed me away and told me not to even think about it. I gave her a big hug and she kissed my cheek. What a sweet lady she was.
The beach across the street. We could hear the waves crashing through the night and I loved it. 
It's hard to see, but in the background there is a little island. Our original plan was to take a boat out to Skellig Michael (it used to be inhabited by Monks who wanted complete seclusion). You hike about 600 steps and spend a couple of hours exploring. Well, we found out shortly after we arrived to Ireland that the port is closed until April. We were looking forward to this excursion the most, and were a little disappointed when we found out that no boats would be going out until April. Since the boat ride and tour were not an option, we decided to drive the coast to the most southern and western tip of Ireland.  Our plan was to go on a tour and you cross a huge bridge (on foot) and spend some time on a little island. The drive would take a few hours.

Beach Cove Inn
Sweet little Brydie
We took a lot of stops on the way. The views were amazing.

Scott really wanted to see Stone Circles. I saw this particular one off the side of the road (I had to keep my eyes peeled for cool things to see because Scott did 99.9% of the driving). We were excited to see the Stone Circle. We parked the car, walked up the little path, then realized it was a golf course. We are pretty sure this stone circle is not natural. We felt a little foolish.


We came to  sign that had a picture of sheep on the road. Shortly after, we saw sheep on the road! We wanted to see if we could pet one so we pulled over.

They took off as soon as Scott started walking toward them.
So, he ran after them

That didn't work, so I gave it a try. One of them let me get pretty close, but his shifty eyes made me nervous.

One of the villages with a photobomber. 
We reached Mizen head and were excited to get out and do the tour. There were only a couple of cars in the parking lot and we thought that we scored. I REALLY had to use the bathroom and I went to open the door to the gift shop and it was locked. Crap! It was closed! The gate was shut. No tours were happening. There was no way we were going to turn around so we did what the others were doing, we hopped the fence.
Mizen Head was so beautiful. We spent so much time looking out at the waves.

We thought that we were in the clear once we hopped the first fence, but then we came upon this beast. This bridge was the whole reason we came all the way down there. We wanted to walk across it and hang out on the island. There was no way of climbing over this fence. There were spikes on the top, sharp edges on the sides. We had to cut our losses.
The bridge that we most likely will never cross!

There was another path that would take you closer to the water, and of course the gate was locked. We hopped another fence. 

I could see why the gates were locked. I am pretty sure the storms from a couple of weeks previous, had destroyed the fences that lined the stairs. We had to climb over and shimmy through fallen fences. It was worth it to me, though. Scott stopped once you couldn't stand on the stairs anymore. I had to go a little bit further.

We were headed to Kinsale and wanted to be there before dark, but our travel book mentioned a "must see' Stone Circle. We passed it originally and asked a random man on the street if he new where it was. He pointed us back up the hill we had just come down and told us exactly where to go. So glad we turned around. It felt like sacred ground.

The Stone Circle was built in the 500's I think. The builders built it so the light would go through the main stones on Winter Solstice. 

The ruin farthest away was where they did their cooking and bathing. They would roll hot rocks down the hill and into the bath. We can't remember what the one on top is.

Our walk to the Circle.
The harbor on the way to Kinsale.
Our little car that Scott drove the most. I drove for about ten min this day and freaked out soon after. I was paranoid about running into the rock walls. I would get confident on the straightaways, then panic when the road would curve. I had to drive through a little village too, but this one, luckily, had wide roads.
The sweet town of Kinsale. It is a harbor town and we loved our hotel. It used to be a bank, but now it is only called, "The Old BankHouse."

In our travel book, it recommended this Seafood Restaurant. Guess what?...closed! That made three things that day that we couldn't do because we were off season. Oh well. We ended up going to a restaurant called Dino's and loved it. We split fish and chips and a slice of chocolate cake. Oh and I had an awesome bowl of pureed vegetable soup.
The outside of our hotel. We slept really well and had a great breakfast in the morning.
Even though things didn't go as planned this day, it was actually one of my favorites. We saw some beautiful sites and had so much fun. 
Day 4 coming soon