Halcyon Repose

Ireland, The Journal Part 4

by on Oct.24, 2008, under General

One more post after this one will complete my trip journal.

Day 9
Saturday, September 27th

Today’s plan is to hit the small town of Kinsale, grab some food, head to Blarney, and then back to Cork in time for our dinner reservations. We weren’t leaving early that morning, but I still had to get up before 8 so that I could move the car off of the streets and into the hotel parking lot to avoid getting a ticket.

At 10 we picked up Alex and had some breakfast at The Coffee Pot. I had some tea and a breakfast panini, and then we set off for Blarney Castle, which was a quick 10 minute drive out of Cork. The castle grounds were beautiful, and the castle itself was huge. Unlike Bunratty, it was unrestored, but you got to explore the castle in all of it’s raw, bleeding glory. We made the trip up to the Blarney Stone, waited in the queue, and then snapped a picture as we walked by, foregoing the traditional kiss. On the way out I stepped into the cave below the castle, but quickly backed out when I hit two inches if gooey mud. Next to it was the guard station which had three foot high tunnel, this one I pushed to the very end.

After I managed to clean off my shoes, we then headed back to the car, and drove past Cork and on to Cobh. Cobh was a beautiful town with a glorious cathedral up on the hill. The small dock in the center of town provided a great view for picture taking, and after getting our fill we wandered over to Quay’s Restaurant for a quick, light lunch. Afterward we hopped back in the car and headed up to the cathedral to visit inside. While we did get to go inside, there was a funeral service going on so we had to refrain from taking pictures of the awe-inspiring interior.

Next on the agenda was a visit to Kinsale. The trip around the lakes would take around an hour, but we decided at the last minute to try the ferry. I had never been on one before, and it was definitely a cool experience. It was all of five Euros, and while short, it still managed to be fun and saved us a good 35 minutes of driving.

We blew past Kinsale to the old Kinsale head, where there are some beautiful cliffs, a ruined tower, and a golf course which was locked behind an an old wall. We snapped some pictures, then went back to Kinsale for a quick walk about, and then back to Cork for our dinner reservation.

Dinner was at Greene’s Restaurant. It was a lovely restaurant with a waterfall lit up outside the entrance. Joe and I were joined by Alex, Michael, a Russian GM, Jason, lead GM, and his wife Jen. Dinner was opulant, but good. I had steak with a peppercorn sauce, and some sort of semi scalloped potatoe dish, which was really good.

After dinner, everyone else had to leave, so Alex, Joe and I walked around for a while to let our food settle, and we ended up at the Jury’s Hotel, and went to their bar, Weir’s, for some Smithwicks. There was a serious lack of girls there, so went back towards the town center stopping at The Catwalk where we finally scored some carbombs. I had to instruct the bartender in how to make them, and we killed them we quickly left as we were already tiring of the loud noise in the place. Since it was getting late, we ended up back at the Jury’s Inn for a last round of drinks to finish off the night. Little did I know it this bar would set in motion a trend for the rest of the trip. It was at this bar that Joe tried Kilkenny’s, a beer which would soon become our favorite new beer of the trip.

Day 10
Sunday, September 28th

Got up early, got a shower then went and picked up Alex for breakfast. Unfortunately, since it was Sunday, no place was open. We stopped by the Blizzard Cork office, of course no one was there, even Jason was MIA since he had a meeting the night before with Gilmartin.

We then drove Alex to the airport and grabbed some breakfast there, wished him a farewell and headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out. We jumped back on the road and pointed ourselves toward Glendalough.

The first part of the drive was my worst day of driving by far. I was struggling to stay awake to Kilkenny where we stopped for lunch at the Kilkenny Design Center which overlooked the castle. I had the Lamb which was excellent, and a bowl of chicken chowder while I waited for them to finish preparing my meal. The soup was an actual entrée which was not expecting, but it was very flavorful with a hint of Thai influence (coconut milk). We decided we had enough castle tours, so we skipped over this one and got back on the road.

The drive to Glendalough was a pretty one. The Wicklow mountains being an interesting mix of the dry California mountains and the pine covered Tennessee mountains. Once we got there we found that the valley was CRAZY packed with people. Like the beach on Labor Day packed. We tried finding a room but everything was either booked or way to expensive.

I was tired, and a bit of an asshole, and I made Joe be the one to check all of the places for price and vacancy. After searching for a half hour, we came across the Trooperstown Woodlodge, which had just opened up six weeks before. The yard was large and extremely well manicured, and the house itself was very nice inside. It was a about seven Euros more than we wanted to pay, but we had finally came to realize that it as a good price for the area so we took it. We were the only people there at the time, so we got our pick of rooms, once we settled in, I almost immediately crashed for a nap. Once I was up, we decided to chill for the night, get up early tomorrow, visit the valley, and then have a late breakfast / lunch at the restaurant owned by the B&B owners.

We read for awhile in the sitting room, and Joe, the lucky bastard, was able to occasionally able to pickup a wifi signal from somewhere nearby. A little before eight, we bundled up and walked down the road for a late dinner and some beers at Lynham’s Hotel.

Day 11
Monday, September 29th

Today we got up early, showered, and packed, and went for a walk around the valley. We stopped by St James’ monastic site, which has been turned into a graveyard, and we took some photos. We then headed back up the trail and paid a visit to the remote St. Savior’s Church, which had some wonderful carvings still visible around the windows and doors.

After the hike back we heads back to the Wicklow Heather Restaurant to get our breakfast and to check out of the B&B. After fueling our bodies we headed off to the big city of Dublin.

After a bit of driving through downtown Dublin, we stopped at the first guesthouse we came too, which was at the Redwood Lodge across from the four seasons. It was 90EUs a night, which is more than we have payed elsewhere, but we were prepared for that.

After getting checked in (and lugging our backs up to the top floor), we got on a bus and headed towards O’Connell street for some shopping. Our main goal was Chapters, a used bookstore Joe wanted to visit. We found the location, but they had moved a few blocks away. We tracked down the new location and did some browsing. I picked up the Marilyn Manson autobiography with Niel Strauss, and the Eric Clapton biography.

Next door on the way out, we found a coffee shop/deli called Cahoots, which had an open wifi signal near by, so we got a chicken tikka marsala wrap and caught up with the rest of the world. Once we were finished, Joe had to go to go next door in order to use the credit card machine they share with the deli, and it just so happened to be the B&B we had been stealing our wifi signal from. On a lark, I asked them for the room prices, and they were 11EU cheaper than our current place, and it was in the middle of downtown to boot. They charged 10EU for a parking spot, but that was still comparable, and the wifi made it a no brainer. We booked our last two nights there, and headed back out to the streets.

We made a stop at the bus station to get the info on the routes and about the hop on hop off tours, and we picked up a free visitors map. We then stopped by a camera shop, but unfortunatley I didn’t find anything I was looking for.

We headed west a bit to the Temple Bar section of town, and got a table at the Temple Bar, which was absolutely huge, it just kept going and going. Unfortunately, they wanted 6EU for a pint, more than we have paid anywhere else, but we grinned and took it. We got a pint of Kilkenny, which Joe had gotten previously, and I was really impressed. It was really fracking good. I’ll have to see if I can find a keg in the states. While we drink our pints, a banjo and guitar duo went in stage, and totally started owning the joint.

Next we went in search of The Kitchen, one of Brenden’s recommendations, but they were not yet opened, so instead we stopped by The Porterhouse Brewing Company, home of the gold medal stout. We, of course, got a stout.

Next we walked around abit before stopping at a place called O’Donoghue’s. We had another Kilkenny and then headed out for food, which ended being across the street at a smoothie/sandwich place called Nude. I had a beef burrito wrap and their smoothie of the week. I highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the area. The prices were way reasonable, the portions perfect, and extremely tasty. A++ would do again.

Next was O’Neill’s for another Kilkenny. Afterward, we stopped at the corner market so I could pick up some chapstick, and then back on the bus toward our room. We got off a few exits early and had a pint of Smithwick’s at Paddy Cullen’s to end the evening.

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