Day 1: Dublin City Center
Once I landed at the Dublin airport, I was able to find my way to the taxi stand fairly easily….well after asking two different people how to get to the taxi stand. Once in the taxi, it finally hit me, I am in Ireland and on my way to see my husband!! At the hotel, after hugging my husband for I am not sure how long, I finally got to lay down and get some sleep, the time difference was already killing me! When I woke up we packed up our stuff and headed to our new hotel to check in. The Davenport was more than what we expected. Once we checked in we decided to take a walk around Dublin and get our bearings. We went over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Walking through the halls and reading the history of the Books was wonderful. The tour ended in the Long Room, Trinity College’s library. If you know me, you know how much I like books and reading then you know how much I enjoyed just sitting in this room and looking at all the books.
From Trinity College we caught a sightseeing bus. One of the cool double-decker things! Of course we were riding up on the top! We got off the bus at the Guinness Storehouse and went to do the tour. It was really neat to walk in and see the 9000 year lease that Arthur Guinness signed. It was in a vault in the floor, and the building formed the largest pint glass in the world! We went through the self-guided tour learning how Guinness makes their wonderful beverage. We went through really cool tasting room, in the first room there were bright white lights and different stands that had the different ingredients to where you could smell each individual ingredient. They then brought in small glasses of Guinness and we moved to another room. The second room was dark and decorated like a drinking room that Arthur Guinness would have sat in. We were taught how to “properly” taste Guinness, and then we got to taste our small glasses. After that James and I went to the Guinness Academy and learned how to pour the perfect pint. We even got certificates to show that we passed and can now pour the perfect pint of Guinness. We took our perfectly poured pints and went up to the top floor to the gravity bar to enjoy the 360 degree view of the city.
Day 2: Newgrange and Hill of Tara
Our tour bus picked up at the hotel and we were two of the total of four passengers for the tour. We rode out to Newgrange, which is a neolithic passage tomb. It was a beautiful sight to see. Each of the stones along the base of the tomb were hand carved with different symbols. We even got to go inside of it and see the different areas where the people would put the ashes of the dead. The inside of the tomb was built water tight, not one drop of water has ever made it inside of the tomb since it was built. We also got to see the wonder that was built into the tomb. Granted we were there a little late, but on the winter solstice the sunlight illuminates the entire inside of the tomb.
After we left Newgrange we headed to the Hill of Tara, another burial sight and the seat of the old Kings of Ireland. We walked around and got to see many of the burial sights, as well as freeze our fingers and noses off in the wind. At the highest point was the Singing Rock. It is said that the rock would cry out when a new king, the right king, was chosen.
Day 3: Giant’s Causeway
Unfortunately our tour bus did not pick us up at our hotel, but we instead got to walk through the predawn to wait at a church. What was interesting was that in front of the church was the statue of Molly Malone. Once our tour bus showed up, we got great seats right behind the driver. Our driver was fantastic, constantly telling us of what we were passing and full of historical facts and funny bits of history with I’m sure a bit of Irish embellishment. The first stop was at a place called Carrick-a-Rede. There is a small rope bridge that connects to a little island. We got to walk across the bridge, twice. Now I have a bit of a problem with heights, by a bit of a problem I mean I completely froze and had a panic attack on a ropes course, and I was in a harness only about 20 feet off the ground. The bridge at Carrick-a-Rede is about 30 meters above the ocean, and I crossed it…..TWICE!!!
Our drive took us up to Northern Ireland to the Giant’s Causeway. It was a bit of walk, but we got some wonderful pictures of the causeway. The stories that are about the formation of the causeway are interesting and hilarious. On our way back up to the visitors center we fought the wind, and managed to get covered in sea foam from a rather strong gust of wind. Back at the visitors center we were able to exchange some of our euro for sterling and grabbed lunch at a cute little place called the Nook. We got to enjoy our lunch by a fire and listened to country music.
Back on our bus we got to head into Belfast. We had the opportunity to walk around Belfast, and we headed to one of the outdoor malls that has a huge glass dome on the top of it and it shows off the landmarks of Belfast. We were able to see Solomon and Goliath, which are two ginormous cranes that are used in shipbuilding and sit where the Titanic was built. We didn’t have time to go over and go to the Titanic museum. We did, however, get to go to one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, The Crown. Our landmark to find the pub was the Europa hotel, which claims to be the second most bombed hotel in the world. The pub was like taking a step back in time! There were booths in the pub that had doors on them for privacy. It was the neatest thing I think I had seen in pub!
After we had a pint we got back on the bus for a long drive back to Dublin. I don’t remember most of it because I fell asleep leaning against James.
Day 4: Kilkenny
We checked our of our hotel and headed to the rental car place, we did have a minor issue there, but the guy behind the counter was able to help us. We got in our tiny (what we would come to find out piece of shit) car. And we were off! It took us a while to get to used to trying to find our way out of Dublin, and figuring out that the street signs are on the sides of buildings and not on the corner of the street. We decided to take a roundabout way to Kilkenny, by going south to Waterford.
We got to Waterford with just enough time to go through the Waterford Crystal factory tour. We made it by like 15 minutes! Going through the tour was interesting, we got to watch the glass blowers make a trifle dish from beginning until it went into the kiln to cure. We got to see how they mark and make the cuts in the crystal. James and I got to hold a crystal football similar to the ones made for the BCS Championship!!! There was also a beautiful tribute to first responders of 9/11. After walking through the showroom, and wishing I could take it all home with me, we got on our way to Kilkenny.
Day 5: Blarney
We went to see Kilkenny Castle. It is this huge castle in the middle of the city! We went on the tour and got to see some really neat tapestries and interesting rooms that had changed shape over time from the different additions to the castle. We also ran into some other Texans right outside of the castle, not only fellow Texans, but ones from our area too. And they knew people we know!!!
After leaving the castle we got in the car to head to Blarney. We stopped on our way at Cashel to see the Rock of Cashel where St. Patrick had given sermons. When we got there it was cold and windy, but we went to take a look around the cathedral. As we walked into the cathedral it began to snow! And I mean really snow, big fluffy flakes! We got some really amazing pictures of the cathedral in the snow.
Day 6: Kilarney
We headed out to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. The grounds were beautiful, they were covered with a blanket of snow. Here at Blarney is where I found my love/hate relationship with stairs. There are so many freaking stone spiral staircases all over Ireland!!! We climbed about four stories to get to the top of the castle, where the stone is located. And here we are again watching me face my issue with heights. The Blarney Stone is on a parapet four stories above the ground and you have to lean over backwards to kiss it. The only thing between you and the ground are some iron bars and a man holding your feet. James and I both got to lean over to kiss the stone! We also explored the grounds, the poison garden and we went to find the witch’s stone. When we found the witch’s stone, we both felt like someone was watching us and we decided to go ahead and move along.
We stopped on our way to Adare, mostly to get out of the car and stretch our legs. The place we decided to stop at was a tiny village, and in that village was a Toy Solider Factory. We got out and were able to walk around the store, and because we were the only ones there, we also got to walk around the back of the factory. The lady in the shop also gave us a demonstration of how to make tin soldiers.
Day 7: Adare
We did another tour bus, The Ring of Kerry. Our tour guide was not so great on this tour. We made some really pretty stops, and got some gorgeous pictures, but most of the things you get to see on the Ring we didn’t get to see because it was too foggy and rainy.
Day 8: Galway
We stopped on our way up to Galway at Bunratty Castle, mostly because of the name! We got to do a self guided tour, and had some fun walking through a neat castle. There was also a folk park that we got to walk through that showed what life would have been like when there was an earl in the castle. Unfortunately, because we decided to go in the middle of January, so everything is pretty much closed. But that didn’t damper how much fun we had walking around the park.
We left the castle to head out to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a long and winding drive, but when we got there the views were breath taking. We went through the visitors center, and took a virtual postcard. And of course, again with the stairs! We walked along the cliffs, and went up into O’Brien Tower, the highest point along the cliffs. As the sun was starting to set we headed out to try and make it to our bed and breakfast.
Now once we got into Galway, we got so turned around looking for our bed and breakfast, that we made a full circle of Galway…………four times. The directions that the place had given us were fairly vague, so it wasn’t totally our fault that we got lost and couldn’t find the place. So we said screw it, and decided to go ahead and head north to another city we wanted to see.
Day 9: Dublin
We went into Cong. The village where they filmed the movie The Quiet Man. If you haven’t seen it we can no longer be friends until you have seen it!!! We walked around the little village, taking pictures of the places that you can see in the movie. Then we walked a little way out of the village to Ashford Castle, which makes an appearance in a book series that I finished right before I left the states. It was unfortunately closed due to renovations, but we did get to see the outside of it, and I can’t wait to make another trip to go see it!
Then we made the long trip, I mean long trip for most people but not for a couple of Texans, of two and half hours back to Dublin.
We checked into our last hotel, which was a castle. Let me say that again……OUR HOTEL WAS A CASTLE!!!! We had to repack all of our stuff because we had to be at the airport fairly early for our flights, so we enjoyed some room service and a movie, then crashed out.
Day 10: Kuwait
We got to the airport, and ended up in two different terminals, go figure! But we both got on our planes and made it safely here to Kuwait. See previous post Safe and Sound!