(Don’t forget to check out the Ireland Flickr set)
*We are sorry for the delay in blogging, but wifi is not available in all the places we are staying.
Sunday: We woke up after the shortest night of the year (summer solstice!) to a very windy, very rainy, very cold day. Unfortunately, this was only the start of a pattern for the rest of our trip. We had breakfast and then it was time to check out. I was not looking forward to what I had to do next….drive a car!! We took a taxi to the rental car place since it was miserable outside. We did all the paper work, etc, and then were handed the keys and off we went – no practice, no time for orientation as they were anxious to move us out of the space. Aaagggghhh!!! Driving on the wrong side of the road, sitting in the wrong side of the car, driving in a city with loads of traffic and very different traffic signals. First lesson: the streets signs are very hard to see on the side of buildings or nonexistent. Second lesson: the names of streets change every few blocks. Third lesson: a street rarely goes straight.
Add in remembering to stay in the left lane at all times, yielding on a right hand turn, and figuring out the traffic lights (you could have a green arrow for going straight but still a red light at the same time if you are turning right). Also, add in tons of pedestrians wandering and crossing (which we were doing when we were pedestrians) and very aggressive drivers that are not patient with the foreign drivers. I understand why they recommend tourists to NOT drive in Dublin!!
Despite the aforementioned obstacles, we figured out a route to our next destination in the city – the Guinness Storehouse! This was a very fun place where we got to learn how they brew the world famous Guinness. It was a self guided tour inside the storehouse (no visitors are allowed in the actual brewery) finished with a free pint of the beer itself at the end. Very tasty! We also ate lunch there and had some roast pork with mash and gravy that was also very tasty. We ended the trip by shopping in the gift shop, of course!
Next, we got back in the car, left our parking spot and ended up coming right back to it as it was the best place to park for our next destination! It was our last day in Dublin and so we were trying to squeeze in as much as possible. We went next to the historic part of Dublin next to see Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Audoen’s Church and park, Dvblinia, and City Hall. We did not do any inside tours as we were on a tight schedule, and quite honestly, a little “toured” out. However, we enjoyed seeing everything and snapped many pictures.
Finally, it was time to head out of the city. This was harder than it sounds b/c of navigation obstacles. But we made it out and onto the M1 (“M” for motorway, which is like an interstate for us). We were heading north to a little town on the coast called Skerries. It was still in County Dublin, but out of the city. We definitely took some wrong turns and got a little lost. We had to stop at this little pub off the road and get directions from some old, very Irish men drinking Guinness :P We made it Skerries and our B & B was a farmhouse out in the beautiful countryside. It was also very close to Ardgillan Castle. So, before checking in, we went and wander the grounds of the castle. It was soooooo beautiful and right off the coast! We weren’t unable to do a tour of the inside, unfortunately, b/c it was past closing time (everything here closes at 5!!). Still, just the outside was amazing.
Finally, we checked into our room in a very tiny little farmhouse, rested a bit and then drove into town for some dinner. We ate at a very odd pizza place. We were Americans in Ireland, eating an Italian pizza with an American Indian theme (the place was called “The Apache” and the name of the pizza was “the Tomahawk”) and it was made by Asians.
Finally finally….we went to bed! Whew! What a long day.
To Dublin and Beyond!
After eating a full Irish breakfast, we checked out and headed back to Dublin for just a brief period. We went straight to the Library, which was had unfortunately missed during our stay in Dublin. Phil really wanted to do some genealogy research. We spent a few hours there and came away with a few leads. I’ll let Phil blog about all that if he wants. We then had to find our way out of the city again, but south this time. We were heading in the general direction of *Waterford. We stopped at a pub along somewhere along the way and picked out where we were going to stay that night. It was a lovely-looking place in County Waterford, by the city of Ardmore, which is a historic seaside village. The place was beautiful! It was nestled into green hills facing the atlantic ocean. We explored the ruins of St. Declan’s church and very old, yet still active, graveyard.
On to New Sights
We were tempted to stay a second night at the Newtown B & B b/c it was such a lovely place. However, we had to push on if we wanted to see as much of Ireland as we could with our remaining time. It was another rainy day, which has worked out ok since it was another driving day. We went to the city of Cork and explored for a few hours until the weather drove us back to our car. We picked out our place for tonight, which is called River Meadows. I think the places we stay automatically get better and better! This place is incredible as well. The view from out our window gives us mountains, trees and a very green meadow complete with cows! The drive from Cork to here was really pretty, as we took a smaller, more direct road to get here instead of the major road. It is right off the famous Ring of Kerry driving route, which we will do tomorrow. I hope the weather is better! We head for Limerick tomorrow. Sadly, we are not going to have time to explore Galway, which I personally really wanted to see. It is just too far out of the way :( So sad. But we will get to see the Cliffs of Mohar and the Aran Islands, I think!