If you want to see all of our digital pictures from out trip (there are a lot), go to: http://schroederireland.shutterfly.com/action/
If you want to see all of our digital pictures from out trip (there are a lot), go to: http://schroederireland.shutterfly.com/action/
We arrived in the Dublin airport at 8:30 in the morning. It is an easy airport to navigate, no problems to speak of. We got our rental car. That was fun, lets drive on the other side of the road in a busy place with me navigating--I get really car sick if I read in the car, so I really shouldn't look at maps. It was a fun time. We got completely lost, the roads are really narrow and people drive like maniacs. They pass everywhere and drive really fast, the hedges grow higher than the signs and they think of lanes as a general suggestions, nothing to take too seriously. So we pulled into a gas station and asked for directions. The clerk was very helpful and told us where we needed to go. Back out to the roads, but oh wait, the reverse in the car doesnt work. After about 10 minutes of messing with it, we decided it is broken (it just wouldnt go into gear) and that we would have to return to the airport to get a new car. So I push us out of the parking lotI am sure the clerk was hysterically laughing by nowand we drove back towards the airport. Devin decided that he wanted to check one more time, so we found a large hotel with a parking lot and a decent hill so that we can roll backwards if need be. Well, there is a little ring thing that you have to pull up to get it into reverse, which thankfully we figured out before we got back to the airport. Back on the road again. Our first stop was the Hill of Tara, a very old druid burial site. It was neat but the pictures dont do it justice. There was a building and a mote, and now it is covered with grass and dirt, so there are these HUGE gullies all over the place. We took a picture of the aerial photograph that was at the site. There is also a large standing stone at the site. This place is very large, we walked all over it, it was interesting to see and it provided some great first views of Ireland . From the Hill of Tara we could see some castle, we assumed Slaine, so we left in that direction to find it. We didnt find it, but we found a nice little town and had some lunch. There were some nice ruins and a bridge, so I want to the car to get my camera and take a few pictures. Well, we are lucky we did. To get a good view of the bridge we had to walk down a bit and we ran into one of the best castles in Ireland , Trimm Castle . We bought a heritage card, for anyone thinking of going, this is a great deal and gets you into sites all over Ireland for free. The castle was amazing and well maintained, with a wall and tower still intact.
We decided to head out and try to find our B&B since we had such a hard time finding a city earlier. It was much easier, except there are no street signs, at least visible ones. At major intersections there are arrows, but on the actual streets we had nothing, so the map was useless. The B&B however, gave us directions such as the third exit when leaving the second roundabout. These helped so much and we made it there without incident. The B&B was very nice. Our room was large by European standards, our bed was comfy and we had large skylights. We fell asleep almost instantly. When we woke up we decided that we should head out and get some dinner. I took a small map of Dublin and we went out and caught the bus. Since it was Saturday night we wanted to go to Temple Bar and see what night life was like in Dublin . The buses don't actually go to Temple Bar, they get you close though. We were supposed to walk down the street, across the bridge and there we are. However, since we couldn't find street signs we didn't know that. So we got lost once more. Finally we took a cab. The cabby was very nice and helpful and reasonable priced. It was light out and so we assumed it was about 8:30. Well, it was ten and most places stop serving at 9:30, so that was a drag. It is only dark for a few hours a night in Ireland . We finally found a place that was open until 11 though, called Gallagher's Boxty House. It was excellent. Devin and I both had Boxty, which is a savory potato crepe filled with meat and veggies in a creamy sauce. Mine had roasted veggies and Devin's had chicken. They were both good. We were sitting next to a couple who amusing, and as we were getting ready to leave they decided to befriend us by calling us fcking Americans, although I honestly think they liked us. Laoisa (said Luisa) gave me her number and email twice (they had consumed a great deal of alcohol) and insisted that I come and stay with her next time I am in Dublin . Ciarran was also nice, but passed out at the table while Laoisa and I went out for a smoke--I watched her smoke. I wish we would have had a camera!!! They gave us their wine too. Then we all left with Laoisa carrying Ciarran and Devin and I heading to Temple Bar. Temple Bar is really fun, but I am not into bar scenes, so I am glad we were only there once. There were people lined up to get in to clubs and live music on the streets. Also, Stag and Hen parties are a big deal. We saw girls dressed up as devils, angles, bunnies, all in black, all in white, all in pink, some with glittery hats, some with balloons. It was insane. We took the night bus back to our B&B and went to sleep, to soon realize that the sun comes up too early.
We assumed that things on Sunday would be closed, and that Dublin was our only chance of anything being open. We were right. We woke up and had a delicious Irish Breakfast. We then headed back upstairs to sleep. We finally decided that we really should do something other than sleep on our vacation so we headed back down to Dublin to see the sights. I really wanted to see the Book of Kells, which I thought resided in Trinity College s library. Well, it does and it doesn't. Trinity College has a lovely exhibit on the book, and pieces of it, but the original is still in the monastery of Kells. The exhibit closed at 4, and we got there at 3:30. I really wanted to see it though so we agreed to spend the 10 Euro each, even if we only saw it for a minute. The clerk told the lady in front of us that she only had 30 minutes, and then proceeded to close the register. Devin and I stood there, looking a little confused while some other employees came up and did things. A managerial looking lady told us that it now closed in 25 minutes and to get going if we wanted to see it. I told her we didn't have tickets, and she told us to just go ahead, so we got in free!! The exhibit was cool, and there were some other very old books. They didn't allow photography though. Then we tried to go shopping but everything was closed. This is what a mall that is closed in Dublin looks like. Dublin is very crowed and much like Barcelona . I liked it, but it was not what I wanted to see when I thought of Ireland . So, we went to St. Stephen's Green, which is a HUGE park. It was lovely with wild sections and manicured sections. After that we got back on the bus and headed to our B&B. There was a nice pub up the road, the Comet Pub, which we planned on eating in. Well, they didn't serve foodI swear the only pub in Ireland that didnt, so we had traditional Irish takeout at Pete's across the street. It was awful. I threw mine away and felt like I never wanted to eat in Ireland again. I ordered a chicken kebob sandwich. I then proceeded to watch them deep fry a chicken piece, cut it up, grill it, then put it in a pita that had been drench in garlic mayonnaise and red something and topped with cabbage and more mayo and red stuff. It was literally dripping with Mayo and grease and I really couldn't eat it. The chips were good though :) We went to the Comet and drank our calories instead We went to the Comet and drank our calories instead :) We also bought these strange grape like fruit things. We have no idea what they are but they taste awful and have little prickly things all over them. (since our return I have learned that they are gooseberries, which really ought to be cooked with a LOT of sugar, who knew?)
Day Three--A lot of driving On Monday we left Dublin . It was our first experience on the major roads in Ireland ; those are a lot easier to drive on because all the traffic is traveling the same directions. By then Devin had mastered staying in his own lanes, so it was relatively uneventful. Our final destination was Cashel, but we decided to take the scenic route through the Wicklow Mountains . The Wicklows are pretty, but coming from CO we found them rather uninspiring :) We spent about 8 hours in the car that day, which is a long day when the roads are narrow and scary. When you cross the Wicklows you descend on a valley in which the monastery of Glendalough lies. It is a beautiful monastery, originally built by St. Kevin in the 6th century. It was destroyed at some point and rebuilt, the oldest remains are from the 9th century--the most important of which is a huge tower. It is in a gorgeous location with a river and two lakes. We then left and drove to Arklow and had lunch. Nothing to impressive, just some sandwiches in a lovely little beach town. We then drove down to Waterford . Waterford is not as touristy as I would have thought. In fact, the actual crystal factory isn't even in Waterford . It was a cute town, but nothing too impressive, and we decided that it wasn't worth our time to drive back there later. However, in Waterford we did encounter the first evidence of blatent disregard for copyright. This is not a KFC--I think it is great! We then headed north to Cashel where we stayed at the wonderful Carron B&B. This place was truly amazing at 70 euro a night for both of us with a farm breakfast! Also, the sun never sets in Ireland, well it does, but whatever. I turned the time function on on my camera so that I could illustrate the light/sleeping problem
On Tuesday we woke up early and headed into Cashel proper to see the Rock of Cashel. We were lucky enough to get there early (I would recommend this) and take some pictures before it was infiltrated with Spanish high schoolers and French tourists. Nothing against either group, they were just prolific. It was also very hot, so getting their early was nice for that. Our tour guide said it was the hottest day she had ever experienced in Ireland . I suppose this is a very inhospitable spot in the cold though, there is no wind break and if it rains I am sure it is miserable. We did actually go on the guided tour and I am glad we did, we learned a lot. The oldest part of the Rock dates to 1100, and is the perfect round tower. The cathedral is gothic style and was built in the 13th century. There is also a graveyard, but some of the tombs were moved into the actual cathedral to prevent their damage. There is one tomb for one of the archbishops who was a rather amusing fellow. He was married and had children, and after the reformation tended to claim Protestantism and Catholicism if it suited him. He is buried under a Latin plaque that says "Here I lie, or do I?" however, the historical society is rather sure that he is buried there. There is also a nice view of Hore Abbey, which is just down the street. This is the actual town of Cashel, it is a love little town with lots of flowers and friendly cafe and shop owners.
After the Rock we went to Caher, just done the road. This is another lovely little town with a well preserved castle. This castle is actually being restored, so you can walk on the walls and such. I was nice, but I was miserable. It was so hot I could barely breathe. Caher also has a REALLY nice library, that houses a lot of very old book. We saw the smallest book in the world and the first copy of The Prince in English. It is hard to see in the picture. We then ate at a little caf, and while we were waiting for a table we saw a truck catch on FIRE. Not a pickup truck, a semi truck, and the bed was on fire. The drivers were out there trying to put it out, this is just on the narrow little road, random truck on fire, it was very odd. But, overall, Caher was a nice place. After lunch we headed down to Cork . This was the one place that I didnt have detailed directions from the Bed and Breakfast. That should have been a sign. Finally I found the address on the map and Devin managed somehow to get us there. This city is in the middle of two large rivers, and is full of one way streets, it is nearly impossible to get to where you are going. We arrived at the B&B and it was horrid. Never stay at the Redclyffe in Cork . It was somewhere between a really old dorm and a motel 6. I had dreadful red carpet and the walls were pilling. It was just awful. The help was also not very friendly. I am not sure how they get away with calling it a B&B, since no one would live there, but whatever. It was dreadful. We went out to eat dinner, another dreadful experience. I didnt like Cork at all. People call it the shopping capital of Ireland , and there were a lot of designer clothes, but that is all, nothing I was really interested in. It was pretty bad. I would recommend just skipping Cork all together, and heading out to one of the smaller towns.
We ate breakfast at the B&B, which was really a bad idea, and then we set off to see Cork by daylight, hoping that is was better than at night. It isnt. I did find my mom some nice crystal wine glasses though, so I guess it was not a complete loss. We had spent so much of our trip in the car that we decided to just drive to our next place, without a lot of side trips, so we drove to the Beara Peninsula . Along the way we do encounter a REALLY cool old church. I loved it, we took so many pictures. Then we drove through the only part of Ireland that doesnt speak English. It was nice, but confusing. Those towns seemed a lot cleaner though. The largest of these (and they did speak English here, but Irish was definitely prolific) was Lizmore. It had a HUGE castle, although by now we were castled out and decided to just admire it from the outside. In one of the smaller towns was the largest house I have ever seen, it looked like something from a southern plantation, which I assure is NOT how houses look in Ireland . They had a little pond with a swan in it and a play castle, it was insane. Again, I took LOTS of pictures. However, we had to have the digital camera emptied onto a CD because the memory was full, and the CD BROKE. I was/am so upset about it. We lost about 140 pictures and these were them. So, real bummer, at least I have the film pics of it though
So, we drove to the Beara Peninsula . I would really recommend this area. The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula get a lot more tourists, so they have better amenities, but it is worth sleeping on a lumpy bed for this! This is one of the best places I have ever been. We drove through Glengariff, which is right at the entrance to the peninsula, it is a lovely little town, and I would recommend staying there if you want choices in places to stay or eat. There are also plenty of tourist shops and bike rentals here. It was a beautiful day and the drive through was really nice. We stayed in Castletownbere, which is a little town on the southern side. Our B&B was great. The bed was wrapped in plastic, so we put the blanked under us and that was better. The room was gorgeous and we had an awesome view (again, these pics were on the broken CD). That night we treated ourselves to the Comera Restaurant. This place was REALLY good. I would recommend it as a night out place. After the Comera we went to the local pub where the bartender was extremely friendly and helpful. We chatted with her and had some beers. The rain came in along with a bunch of kids that were playing some sort of team sport. It was nice, a real home town feeling with everyone knowing everyone and the kids sitting all around the pub eating chips and drinking sodas. It was something we hadnt really encountered before in Ireland .
The next morning we awoke to HEAVY fog. I couldnt believe that the one day I wanted it clear out of the whole trip, it was foggy. We decided over a lovely breakfast that we would go over the Healy Pass anyway, and that maybe on the other side it would be clear. Since the fog was so dense we couldnt see anything. We assumed that we were on a mountain with a cliff on one side. We drove really slow and carefully. Luckily the sheep stayed on the mountain and there was little traffic. Towards the top of the pass there was a shrine so we stopped so that I could take pics and Devin could go for a hike. The fog was so dense we couldnt see more than 10 feet ahead of us, and down was just a white mess. There was also a clear line of fog, and not fog, it was not a gradual decrease. The fog also left some really pretty ice and water crystal on the flora though; I think it looks like Christmas decorations. The other side of the pass was a lot clearer, and we took some pictures on the way down. We then drove all over the Beara. We wanted to go to this park (I cannot remember the name) because it looked really cool in the brochure. Well, it was on private property and when we got there it was lame, so we decided not to stay. We then got yelled at by the owner because we drove there knowing it was private and now we just want to leave. We thought it sucked, it had nothing to do with an admission charge, which everything in Ireland has, it was just lame. He was so angry, and I am honestly sure he had no reason since we all we did was drive there and turn around. Ass. Anyway, I get all upset just thinking about it. We drove around looking for some stone circles, but by now we were a little concerned about getting yelled at if they were on private property, which most of them are, so we ended up just driving around and going to lunch at this place with a great view. We then drove around the coast for a while. It was very pretty. We went to the beach and collected some shells, some of them still with things in them we later learned. This was a hedge at the beach, it was really pretty, this is how must of the country is though. We then headed back over the pass since the fog was clearing. The other side was not a cliff at all, that was funny to learn. It was really pretty though. We then did some shopping for people in Glengarriff, as there is nothing the Castletownbere, and ate some dinner. It was still light, so we drove back to Castletownbere and explored the coast that we had not been to yet. We also saw a sign for a rock circle, so we went up there and low and behold it was on public land. It was very neat, I am really happy that we saw one before we left. We needed some money so we stopped at an ATM and I jumped out, my camera however was wrapped around my leg and it smashed to the ground, breaking my wonderful lense. I wanted to cry. So, for the rest of the trip I had a super zoom lense and a little digital, and that was when I needed my camera the most. I was so sad.
Kilkenny So, after a night of almost crying over my lens, and deciding that it was worth paying extra in interest if I bought a new lens on credit (it is cheaper than another flight to Ireland). So in a slightly happier mood we set off for Doolin our final stop planning to buy a new lens along the way (and we need to download our pictures onto a CD again). We stopped in Kenmore when we saw a photo shop. They guy at the store said that our best bet would be Kilkenny, which we were driving through anyway. We went to Kilkenny National Forest , which was on the way. It was beautiful. It was raining and a little cold, but overall it was very nice. It really sucked because of my camera lens, but at least we got some digital pictures. On the other side of the forest is a nice little hike and waterfall. It was a huge waterfall, and even with the digital we had a hard time fitting it into the screen. It was a lot more impressive in real life. I also had my first Irish ice cream, dairy products are SO much better there! We left Kilkenny National Forest and entered Kilkenny town, which is a very busy place. Miraculously we found a photo store. However, it was closed for lunch. So we had lunch too, and walked around a bit. We went back to the photo store. Well, apparently Pentax is not a popular brand in Ireland . You can walk into most American photo stores and buy a Pentax lens, but not Ireland . They guy looked at me as if I was buying a large format lens or something (for those of you who dont know cameras, this isnt just me; it is a very common brand and has standard lenses). He told me that no one would have a lens but that he could order me one. I was bummed again, but at least I didnt spend a lot of money.
This is Doolin, I thought this entry had too many phots atthe end, so I moved these up. Then we drove some more. And some more, and yet some more. It wasnt further than before, but the roads were bigger and there was more traffic, plus we were just going straight. It was really boring. To add to this, there was really bad traffic. I love round-abouts. They are brilliant. Everyone can just go and everyone knows how to use them. Well, this part of the country had traffic lights, which no one knew how to use, and who ever programmed them was equally clueless. Very bad situation. So, after fight traffic in Limerick (which is an awful place) we were off again. The rest of the drive was much of the same. As we got nearer to the coast tourists appeared from no where. It turned into a complete tourist trap with all the stores and hotels to go with it. Apparently this is the most touristed site in Ireland . So we passed the Cliffs of Moher, which was so full of people you had to drive like you were on the Plaza in Santa Fe . We finally made it to our B&B. I was so delighted. The proprietor was so nice and friendly, the room was nice, the bed had no plastic and even more it was one solid piece instead of two twins pushed together, the windows opened, it was so nice. The proprietor offered to make us coffee or tea and then gave us lots of advice on places to eat and see the following day. She was very helpful. We talked about going to the Cliffs that night, but we went to the beach instead, and then to a pub for dinner. The beach was really nice. It is made out of sandstone, so there are all of these dug outs in it where the water has eroded it and they are filled with little ponds and life. Devin and I had quite a time poking all of the little critters in the pools and watching the sun set and shine against the Cliffs.These little bumps are actually hundreds of little shells, all stuck to the rocks. I know nothing of marine biology, seeing as I have always lived in a landlocked state, but I thought they were facinating, even if I have no idea what they were. The Cliffs dont look that impressive, but they are 200ft of sheer drop, I assure you, they are plenty scary.
Our final day in Ireland seemed more like two or three days, this was the part that we both really wanted to see, and even without my normal lens I was still excited to photograph it. We woke to rain and fog. After talking to the lady at our B&B, we decided that we would head out to The Burren, which is described as a barren sandstone wasteland with a lunar landscape. I dont know what pictures these people have been looking at, but it looks nothing like the moon, and if you are from the southwest, or have ever been to Utah , you know barren, this is lush! With the rain and our choices being a lunar landscape or 200 ft cliffs with a goat path, we chose the moon. Anyway, we took off expecting to enter some odd, foreign place, but no, it is just Ireland with more rocks. Dont get me wrong, it was beautiful, and the sandstone is very impressive, but lunar is not what I would think of. It is pretty much all rock, I think it would be quite an uninhabitable place, but I guess not. There were still sheep and cows, just a lot more rocks. We drove through it thinking we must be getting close and looking at the map trying to figure out where we were since we assumed we had not actually been enter The Burren since there was grass and flowers all over the place, but we had. We realized that when we came upon three tour buses all parked on one of these crazy small roads, and the cars were parked down the road in front and in back of them. We decided we didnt care to see the Poulnabrone Dolmen that much and that we would come back later and see if the tourist and rain were gone. We went past it and come to an old fort kind of like the Hill of Tara, but it was on private property, and they were definitely charging a lot to see it. We pulled in and I was too scared to take a picture because I thought I would get yelled at again, so we just left. There were a lot of people coming out of the place who seemed disgruntled too, so it wasnt just us. We went to the town of Carron (mind you these towns are like 10 miles apart) because we had read about a good place to eat. Carron being pronounced k-air-n. On the way I saw a sign for a Cairn, also pronounced K-air-n, as Devin saw the sign for Carron, which pointed the other way. I said I wanted to see the Cairn and Devin said he was trying to get us there. After a confusing few minutes we figured out what had happened and headed up to the Cairn. It was pretty neat. A little bit of a walk from a very small windy road, but overall it was lovely. After that we headed down to Carron and ate there, it was really good, except I forgot to specify no mayo. Even with the mayo it was good. We then headed back to the Poulnabrone Dolmen whose stone date back to 2500BC. It is a small cairn with a large Dolmen on top. They excavated about thirty people (men, women and children) from it in the seventies. I was really looking forward to this. It is neat, but is one of the few things I have ever encountered that looked better on film than in real life. So, it is the most photographed rock in Ireland , but not because it is so great, but because it photographs really well. The tourists had left and we were almost alone. It was very nice. About this time my obsession with Irish cows was its strongest. I know this sounds very odd, but their cows are better than ours. Ours are usually all one color, and generally it is a chestnut color. Their cows are chocolate brown and spotted, like the milkshake cow on Carls Jr. commercial. I love these cows and photographed them everywhere. Come on, you all already know I am a little odd.
After the spending the morning in The Burren we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. On the way there we stopped at the Clare Jam Company, a must for anyone needing gifts. This place was great. It is just a little shop that sales lots of different types of jam and chutney. It is very reasonable priced and the stuff tastes great! No artificial anything, just sugar and fruit. Then we went to the cliffs. We apparently picked a bad year. They are building this huge visitors center, which is supposed to blend into the country side and look like a hill, but this year it is just a portable type building and a huge parking lot. They charge admission to the parking lot but not to the actual cliffs. It is only 2 Euro to park in the lot, so we did. Then it is a long hike up to the top of the Cliffs. The first half of the cliffs are developed. The path has been paved and the old goat trail has been marked off. So you really cant get close enough to fall off. The wall is about four feet tall, so you can take photographs, but sitting on it is difficult, which I assume is the point. There are also stairs that provide ample seating. So, on this path you can essentially walk the first U, or at least three fourths of it. As you get to the end of the path there is sign that asks people not to cross, which everyone promptly crosses over and continues on. This path is much closer to the edge of the cliff, and is much more of a path than anything. It is a lot more obvious from this place that the land is just flat and then you fall 700ft to a very cold and turbulent sea. Not so much fun for someone with vertigo. I was doing okay until Devin decided he needed to look over the edge, and then other people sat down on the actual cliffs with their feet hanging over. I lost it there, I had to leave, that was just too much. Every year people fall off of these cliffs, so tell me, why would anyone sit on them!!! They were beautiful, and we only made it to two of them, but as it went on the path got sketchier and it just didnt seem safe. So we hiked back to the car. It was a nice outing. The Cliffs are amazing, however, this is the most touristed site in Ireland , so from that perspective it sucked. There were people everywhere and all sorts of goofy tourist stuff. Reminded me of the Plaza in Santa Fe an awful lot. We then went to the town of Doolin for dinner. We ate at McDermotts pub, which I deleted the picture of unfortunately. We didnt actually eat dinner, just some fries, but we met some nice peoplea couple from Australia and a couple from Bavaria and listened to two different local bands, both of which were really good. The couple from Bavaria was hilarious, the woman didnt speak much English, but man could she drink and then she would giggle, it was hilarious. The Australians were teachers who were spending a year traveling the world. I wish teachers in America got paid enough to do that!
The next morning we had to leave early because we were not sure how long it would take to get back to the airport. We made it in plenty of time, returned our cute little car, and checked in. We then proceeded to buy a lot of duty free stuff that we could barley carry. We then had to go through the Home Land Security check point thing, that was dumb, whatever. We got on a plane, flew to Dublin to load more passengers and refuel, and we were off to come home. The flight was pretty bad because Aer Lingus has no sense of customer relations. They have awful food and only enough blankets for half of the passengers. I won’t fly them again; I would rather dish out the extra money for British Airways. It was okay, nothing horrible, but I would not bother with them again.
The biggest problem with transferring my Yahoo Travelogue here is that, to keep it in chronological order, I have to start at the end and then post through it backwards. Other than that, I will have to relying all of my pictures, I cannot just copy and past, so I will have to sift through the 1500 images again. Oh well. It is worth it. I just wish I had known that I had an upload limit. That is what I get for not reading the user agreement. It is like Jumangi all over again.