Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thanks a million, Ireland!!

My mom, brother, Tyler and I went on a week's trip to Ireland. It was an awesome experience, and while it was fresh in my mind I thought I would write about it!

We left on Saturday morning to fly to Chicago. We had a four hour layover before leaving on Air Lengis for our journey. We arrived in Dublin at 5:15 am - super tired but excited. We rented a car and made the hour and a half journey to Waterford.

We arrived a little after 7 am - exhausted and unable to check into our hotel. We ventured over to the middle of the City in search of breakfast and came across Waterford Crystal. Since it was our plan to visit the store and tour, we ventured in since it opened at 9 am. They had a great cafe' with American style french toast and wonderful tea. After breakfast, we went on the factory tour. If I remember correctly, it was about 13 euros per person. I was surprised that the workers were there on Sundays. The tour was short but the guide was detailed and allowed up close observation of the workers and pieces. We then went to the store and walked around some more. Waterford will ship pieces back to the state for free if you purchase over a certain amount. It was very expensive. Since we still weren't able to check in, we decided to hit up Mass at the church across the street from our hotel. It was pretty dang cool. The church as very old. The priest was a bit hard to understand because of his thick Irish accent, but I remember him saying, "teens have a problem with porn. You know what I'm talking about and it just needs to stop. That's all I'm going to say, stop the porn." I found that funny, in a sense. The Mass was quite boring to be honest, reminded me to be thankful for our church. We finally checked and our hotel was great. We stayed at the Fitzwalton Hotel in Waterford. After a quick nap, we felt better and were ready for dinner. We walked through the city center and found a great little Italian restaurant. We then walked over and played bingo at the local forum (courtesy of lonelyplanet.com). It was a great way to mingle with the locals. While playing bingo, we had our first introduction to ice cream and it was soooooo good, we had ice cream daily after that!

Day two we went to the City of Cork which is much more metro. We stated at the Clarion Hotel Waterfront. We walked and shopped the busy streets. We ate Mexican food at a place call el Mexicana. It was great food, service, environment but mucho euros. Seemed like every dinner we had was $100 American dollars. One thing we need to get used to the pace of Ireland. There isn't a rush and hurry as in the states. The follow morning, we walked up to the Market Place where there was fresh meats, fruits, storefronts.

While on the way to our next destination, we went to Blarney's Castle. This historic castle is famous kissing of the Blarney Stone to give the gift of gab. Tyler and I climbed to the top of the castle (not an easy feat) and we laid lips on the blarney stone. Expect to feel like you've contracted Herpes after you do it, but it was something we had to try. The Blarney property was beautiful. Flowers, rivers, meadows all around. It was about $15 euros per person to enter. We spent several hours there before heading to Killarney.

Killarney was my favorite area. We only spent one night there and I would've love to spend more time is this historic little city. Our hotel was the best - The Ross - and I highly recommend it. It was local to the town and park area. The food and bars were excellent. We walked the street area of Killnarey and shopped and pubbed most of the day. It was an awesome mix of local and tourist. Later that evening, me, Jim and Tyler decided to tour a couple of pubs. It was an experience. A bit disappointing in that the musicians love to play Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, etc. We wanted to hear true Irish tunes. But the drunks in the bar made it interesting for us.

The next morning we got up and thankfully, it was sunny, because we drove the Ring of Kerry. The roads were windy, the trip was long but the views were amazing. We went to cliff sides, meadows, ocean and small villages. Words can describe how pretty it was. After driving the Ring of Kerry, we headed over to the city of Limerick.

In Limerick, 0ur accommodations were nice, we stayed at the Absolute. However, had we know what we know now, we should of went up towards the Dingle Bay area. In Limerick, we toured and visited some old churches. We also pubbed it up at a place called The Locke Bar which sits just on the river. It was packed both inside and outside with lots of drinks flowing and live music. The following morning, we made the hour and a half drive to the Cliffs of Moher. The weather most of our trip was 55 degrees and rainy. Unfortunately, that day was no different. We originally wanted to explore the cliffs from boat, but because of the wind and choppy water, we all agreed we'd puke. So instead, we chose to view the cliffs from the walking tour up top. You can walk 6 miles to view the cliffs. One of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Be prepared for cold and wind. Also, you have to make sure you have cash to get in the state park and if you want to spend money in the stores - no cards.

After the cliffs we made the long journey back to Dublin. We checked into an apartment we rented, walked down for a light dinner and a local Italian place, Milano's for dinner. We were beat and needed sleep. The next morning, we had a busy day of touring and drinking planned. We walked down to St. Patrick's Cathedral. What a huge disappointment. First, you have to pay an entry free of about 8 euros per person to enter. Then, there is a gift shop in the church. So bizarre to me. For being one of the oldest, most historical practicing churches in Ireland, I would expect more. The church is beautiful, the history is there. We then walked up to Guinness Brewery for a tour. This place is like the Disneyland for beer drinkers. SO NICE and informational. 6 stories of interactive information on the history of Guinness and how it's brewed. I poured and tasted my first Guinness. Yuck. We decided to walk over to the Jameson Whiskey Tour - more my style. Much smaller venue than Guinness, but very nice. My brother and I were selected to be official whiskey tasters from our group. I was so excited. We taste tested three brands, then received a graduation certificate and walked the stage. Such a proud moment! Our last day in Dublin we visited The Book of Kells at Trinity College. A lot of history and detail. We then walked over to Grafton Street for shopping before finally tying on our final nightcap on at Temple Bar Area.


We saw some great things, met some really cool people and learned a lot along the way.   Few key words we're saying around my house this week are, tanks a million, top of the house, sweet sixteen, lift, we love ice, and much more.   Now that was a way to wrap up a trip of a lifetime!

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