Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ireland: Days 1 & 2 - Dublin, Glendalough, Kilkenny and Killarney

Kiss me I'm Irish in Ireland!

I asked Jake if there was one place he wanted to go before we moved back home where would it be and he said Ireland.  So we decided to look into going after our trip back home in April.  We bought tickets about 2 days before we flew home in April and thought we would plan the rest of the trip once we were back in Stockholm.  We had 6 days between our trip to the states and our Ireland trip.  You could say we did some quick planning but everything worked out and we had a great time in Ireland.

We flew out on Thursday, May 8th at 8:35 am.  We decided to pack in backpacks again but we also brought a duffle bag since we knew we would have a car and it would be easy to just throw that in the trunk.  We flew to Oslo and then to Dublin.  We arrived in Dublin at 12:15 and picked up our rental car from Budget.  Renting a car was a little stressful because we couldn't decide if we wanted to add on extra coverage to the car.  We decided to add it just to be safe and I am glad we did.  The roads in Ireland are narrow and I would have been so much more stressed out had we not had that extra coverage.  The car was a manual, automatics are a lot more expensive, which was great because we both used to drive sticks and I've actually missed driving a stick.  The only problem was that they drive on the left side of the road which also means the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car.  It took a little getting used to but it wasn't too bad.   I'm also really thankful we got one of the smallest rental cars because like I said the roads are narrow!
We drove into Dublin and grabbed a quick lunch before heading to Trinity College in Dublin.  The campus was really pretty and we went on a tour to learn more about it.  Our tour guide was really funny.

At the end of the tour we saw the Book of Kells, which is a 1200 year old illuminated (illustrated) manuscript of the gospels.  The Old Library was beautiful but the books were organized in an interesting way.  They weren't in alphabetical order and they didn't use the Dewey Decimal System either.  They were arranged by size.  The biggest books were on the bottom shelves and the books got smaller as they reached the ceiling.  Our tour guide said it made it nearly impossible to find a book.  You had to know the dimensions in order to know where to start looking.  (I thought of you, Becky Henderson, when I heard about that.)
Then we headed to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and a glass of Guinness.  I did try it in the tasting room but, shockingly, I didn't enjoy it :).  There were seven floors in the Guinness storehouse.  We walked through most of them.  Jake learned how to pour the perfect Guinness and we went to the tasting experience where I tried my first and last very small sip of Guinness.  The picture on the top right is the signed 9,000 year lease that allows the Guinness Storehouse the rights to that building for a long time.

The top floor of the building was the gravity bar and it had a great view of Dublin.  The windows told us about the different parts of the city.  We were headed to the Wicklow Mountains after dinner so I made sure to look out that side of the room and it was beautiful.

Jake found a neat dinner and folktale night at a place called the Brazen Head.  We went there for dinner at 7:00.  As we were driving around downtown Dublin trying to figure out where to park, and still trying to make sure I was driving in the correct lane, I stopped and pulled over on a street.  Then I pulled back into the street only to stop again.  I noticed a taxi behind me and I just hoped he would drive around me since we still didn't know where to go.  He pulled around me but then stopped by my car and rolled down his window.  I was sure he was going to yell at me but I rolled down my window anyway and he said "Are ya lost? Where ya goin'?"  I couldn't believe it.  We told him we were trying to park and that we were going to the Brazen Head.  He told me to make a couple of left hand turns and park on the street I was on because there was free parking after 7:00.  We were both shocked and thankful for how kind he was.  He even had a customer in the back seat of his car.  So we made a few left turns and parked on that street.

The night was pretty good.  The speaker was a little dry especially compared to our college tour guide but the information was good and he was funny.  We learned about the potato famine, fairies and heard a few stories.  Jake and I both had stew with lamb for dinner.  We sat next to some people who lived in Dublin which was a nice treat since I thought dinner would be for mostly tourists.

We stayed the night about 30 minutes outside of Dublin because the next day we were driving quite a ways and we wanted a head start.  We've been using the website booking.com to find hotels and it has been great so far.  We stayed at the Glenview Hotel and Leisure Club.  We got there pretty late so we couldn't see the mountains when we arrived but the next morning they were beautiful.
I wished we could have stayed at this hotel another night.  The grounds were so neat with lots of little trails and paths.  As we were eating breakfast the sun was shining and it looked like it was misting but we couldn't see any clouds.  When we went on a walk after breakfast it rained on us, blue skies and all.  We also spotted a beautiful rainbow.

Our first stop of the day was Glendalough which is in the Wicklow Mountains National Park.  Jake was the first to drive which was good because the roads were narrow!  For part of our drive there wasn't even a center line because there wasn't enough room for two cars to pass each other but thankfully there wasn't much traffic on the road.
We walked around a cemetery and an old monastic site and then to the Upper Lake.  It was sunny and not too cold but it sure was windy.

It was a little bit windy but so beautiful!
We got back in the car around 12:20 pm and headed to Kilkenny for lunch.  We grabbed some sandwiches from Blaa Blaa Blaa Sandwiches and then walked up to the Kilkenny Castle to each lunch.  Jake was SO excited to see castles while we were in Ireland.
Kilkenny was such a cute little town.  We wished we could have spent more time there but we had to head to our next stop.  We did learn a valuable traveling lesson which is that if you are driving instead of setting the GPS to the destination make sure it is set to a parking lot instead.  It took us 20 minutes to park because the traffic was so bad. Had we set it to find parking instead of the sandwich shop we would have had about 20 more minutes to explore Kilkenny.

We drove from Kilkenny to the Blarney Castle.  We didn't have as much time at the castle as we would have liked but we made it in enough time to see it before it closed.  The park was beautiful and practically empty.  I'm guessing during summer this place is really busy.
Now these next few pictures are of us kissing the Blarney Stone which is pretty complicated.  You have to lie down on your back and hang upside down to kiss the stone.  Please note my awesome photography skills and my ability to capture Jake actually kissing the stone (and please ignore my unladylike, scared to death pose Jake's awesome photography skills as I kissed the Blarney Stone).
You can't even see that I kissed the stone.  I should note that my short torso made this move extra difficult.  Do you see the ground below?  The arrow below is pointing at where the Blarney Stone is located.  You would think they could have put the stone in a better place.

Remember when we went to London and I couldn't stop taking picture of the Tower Bridge?  Well that was Jake with the Blarney Castle.  He just loved it!

Our last drive of the day was from the Blarney Castle to Killarney.  We were staying in our first bed and breakfast in Killarney.  We set the gps and headed to the bed and breakfast.  It was raining a little but we found the place and drove up the driveway.  The driveway was gated and had 4 cars in the drive.  We decided to go in first before getting our bags out.  The door was cracked open when we got there so we walked in and could hear people talking but couldn't see anyone.  Then I thought maybe we should ring the doorbell.  We walked back towards the door and I reached out to ring the doorbell while Jake stood in the entryway.  Can you figure out where this is going yet?  The man came around the corner with a confused look on his face.  Jake shook his hand and said we were the Janzens and we had a room reserved for the night.  That is when he told us we were standing in his private residence.  Oops.  Thankfully he laughed it off with us and asked us where we were going.  We told him the Woodlawn House which happens to be right next door.  He says it happens all the time that people mistake their house for the bed and breakfast next door but I'm not sure how many people actually walk into his house and then ring the doorbell.  As we were leaving he even said that they could have taken us in for the night had we not had a place to stay.  Irish people are awesome and so helpful!  They are much friendlier than Swedes and they could be some of the friendliest people on earth.

Once we backed out of their driveway we were barely in the street before we saw a sign for the Woodlawn House. (Travel tip #126 - Bed and Breakfasts will probably have a proper sign.)  We made sure to ring the doorbell this time before going in just in case :).  A very nice man greeted us and told us about Killarney and what restaurants he recommends before showing us to our room.  We really enjoyed staying at a bed and breakfast.  It was much more personal than a hotel.  Plus, his neighbors were really kind :).

We headed to the main street in Killarney to grab some food.  We ate dinner at Macs and it was great!  I had Irish Cottage Pie and oh my goodness, it was awesome!  After I ordered I realized I wasn't that hungry but once I took a bite I was so thankful I ordered it.  It was comfort in a bowl!  Macs also had homemade ice cream which was supposed to be really good.  I tried cookies galore and mint chocolate chip.  The cookies galore was amazing!

After dinner we went to an Irish pub to listen to some music.

We had a great first two days in Ireland.  Click here to read about our last two days in Ireland and here to read the questions and answers on our trip to Ireland.

1 comment:

  1. Apparently all the towns in Ireland rhyme?


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