Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ireland Day 4

 I got over my fear of driving and am a pro at it now. Time to fill up the car. We have gone really far on one tank of gas. One thing is for sure though; gas is way more expensive in Europe. $1.08 a litter of gas. I don't know what adds up to be in US dollars and gallons but it was a lot. Good thing we get great gas mileage.

 Off to Blarney Castle to see what can be seen and kiss what can be kissed.

There is a stone there, 
That whoever kisses, 
Oh! he never misses
To grow eloquent.

 I explored the castle grounds and many rooms. There is a dungeon, a family hall, a grand hall, a priests room, the knights room, and I found a little room with a window seat that I claim as my room.

I finally made my way to the top of the castle where the Blarney Stone lives under the roof canopy of the castle. It is so beautiful to look out over the land. The green pastures are filled with sheep. The hills roll on for miles. The stone walls are laid out any which way they please. It's an absolutely gorgeous country.

 But all deeds must be done and I'm so glad to say that my first kiss was a stone. Everyone remembers their first kiss and mine was no exception. And yes, I know that kissing it I was kissing the hundreds of people before me and the hundreds after me. Oh well. A kiss is just a kiss right? One things for sure, I experienced the kind of kiss that Anne Hathaway describes in The Princess Diaries, the kind where your foot pops.

Walking around the grounds we found some interesting sights. There was the old witches kitchen where it is said you can see smoke in the early morning from her fire. We left her some wood for her evening fire. There is the witches stone that actually is cut out to look like a witch. We found the fairy glen where I proclaimed that I do believe in fairies while clapping my hands. There was a sacrificial stone where I laid out as the virgin sacrifice. Thank goodness the spirits didn't accept my offering. We found the Wishing Stairs where you have to walking down the stairs and back up with your eyes closed the entire time thinking of nothing but your wish. If you can do this than your wish will come true in a year. I made it down and up the stairs successfully. We'll see if my wish comes true. There is even a poison garden on the estate that grows mandrakes. Harry Potter must be real. It was such a gorgeous day that I could have stayed on the grounds all day, but alas there is more to see in Ireland.

We drove out to Cobh which is the last port of call of the Titanic before it struck an iceberg and sank into the Atlantic Ocean. We took a tour of the museum that helped to explain all about the port and the many travelers who came through here. It was one of the main ports during the potato famine that people would use to immigrate to the United States. Of course I needed to take a picture of Annie Moore and her brothers who were the first ever to be processed at Ellis Island in New York as emigrants.

We climbed up the hill which reminded me of San Francisco for as steep as the streets were to St. Colman's Cathedral. It was a magnificent view of the city and the port.

Of course I couldn't help but take a picture by the port of the famous Titanic pose. Behind me on the right you can see the old dock that was used by the passengers to board the boats that would take them out to the Titanic before it sank 4 days later. While shopping around the town I found a shop that was selling the Heart of the Ocean necklaces (made famous by Kate Winslet in the movie Titanic). Of course I needed to purchase one since I was there. 

After exploring Cobh we drove over to the City Cork which was very crowded and the streets were completely jammed. It was absolutely nuts trying to drive around there. We finally found a place to park and walked around the city for a bit. Can you believe that this is a two lane road? Talk about tight spaces. I wish I had the bus from Harry Potter that squishes, my nerves would have appreciated that.

Ireland Day 3

 Today's adventures led us to the Cliffs of Moher. One of the most photographic cliffs in Ireland. Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean the cliffs are truly a magically beautiful sight to behold. It was a rather blustery day the day we went. I had to be careful to not get blown away. But I was determined to get a picture of me on the cliffs edge. Daredevil I know. We hiked over to the rock cliffs along the edge and I got caught up in the wind that pinned me to the wall for a good little while. Walking around the paths the wind at one point actually started to blow me away. Crazy! Besides the wind it was truly a beautiful day out.
 Behind me you can see Brian's Tower that was built many years ago to help tourists really see down the edge of the cliffs. My only disappointment was that I didn't see any puffins :( Oh well.

We decided to do some land exploring and found a place for spelunking. Doolin Cave is home to the largest stalactite in the world. The stalactite was discovered by two British cavers who found a small hole behind a waterfall that they literally crawled through on their stomachs for about a 1/4 mile. They would have had to crawl out of the hole backwards to get out. Yikes! Thank goodness they have installed over 100 stairs for us to climb down into the cave. While exhausting to climb back up they are much more practical to get in.

The stalactite reminds me of a white cape hanging on a coat rack. It's so amazing what nature can create.

Time to go back to the Cliffs of Moher to take an ocean view look of the cliffs. Or as I like to think of it, the dolphins view. Maybe a mermaids.
 It was a pretty rocky boat ride out to the cliffs. I was inside the boat for a little while but with all the rocking up and down I was beginning to get sea sick. I would look out of the window and one minute you would be looking at the sky and the next second you would be looking into the ocean blue water. I certainly did not want to be trapped inside our little boat, so I braved the wind and cold to stand on the deck. It was a pretty nice view of the Cliffs. It was so cool to be on the Atlantic Ocean.
 Leaving the Cliffs of Moher we made our way to Kilrush where we found St. Senan's Church. The rose window was just gorgeous.
 We found a place to eat in Kilrush and then walked over to see the Church of Ireland for a quick peek of their graveyard. It's amazing how many beautiful churches there are in Ireland and yet so few people actually worship in them.