Between getting my wisdom teeth out and working long hours to get things done, I haven’t really been doing a lot lately, so I thought it was time for another search term round up. Here are some of my favourite searches that have found my little corner of the Internet over the last 30 days…
Signs you haven’t slept
I’d have thought the whole not actually going to sleep thing would be the biggest clue…
As we snogged I wet myself
What? Why does this find my blog? I promise I have never done this! (Although I did wet myself in the playground once in primary school…)
Today’s blog post was supposed to be the next in my guess the cross stitch series, but as the picture I’m working on was in the suitcase, which was only delivered back to me at 2 o’clock this afternoon (causing me to leave work roughly 3 hours after arriving there and work from home the rest of the day!), there’s been a slight change of plan. It’s been a while since I last did a search terms post… mainly because it’s been a while since I’ve had any good ones, but I’ve had a look through my stats for the last month and managed to scrape a few vaguely amusing ones together. Enjoy…
Flying penguins Ireland
I’m going to assume you were at the Cliffs of Moher, in which case what you saw were puffins. Sorry to disappoint you. Puffins are pretty cool though!
What happens to St Michael’s in Schwäbisch Hall when there is rain?
Umm, I’d imagine it gets wet… like everything else. Unless it has a giant umbrella to cover it.
Dublin call girls
What kind of blog do you think this is?!
Do I know you?!
trag hourself caligraphy
I don’t even know what that means!
Foxes in Primark
Well, even foxes need cheap clothing once in a while…
Indian xxx girl washing in bathroom video
I can think of a few reasons that someone might want to see a video of a girl washing, and none of them are innocent. But my main question is… what on Earth is an xxx girl?!
Nope, sorry. How about a creepy horse head mask instead?
Well, thanks a lot…
The cross stitch guessing game will resume soon, promise!
Just because we’re back from Ireland now doesn’t mean Charlie the Horse is allowed to go into retirement! Last night, he made an appearance at the pub quiz. Here he is just chilling at the pub:
I must say, he doesn’t make much of a good luck charm! We only came 5th.
As soon as Charlie came out, so did the smartphones! People from another team were taking photos and one woman gave the horse head a stroke on her way to the loo. People obviously think he’s some kind of tourist attraction 😉
Jan had originally said he wanted to leave relatively early as he goes away today until Friday and still needed to pack. But then we got talking to the quizmaster and his son, and Jan ordered another drink… so once again we were there until closing time. It was 2 a.m. when I got to bed and I had to be up at 6! If you’d seen me this morning, you might have thought I was still drunk… which would be quite a feat seeing as I wasn’t particularly drunk last night. Actually, I just lack coordination at the best of times, and this morning I was too tired to concentrate – hence why I hurt my arm walking into the doorhandle. Because it’s not like I’ve lived in my flat for 3 years now or anything…
Out again tonight… the quizmaster (also a musician) and his son are playing at the pub. I feel another late night coming on…
On the morning of Thursday 20 June, we checked out of our hotel and set off in the rental car for the last time. Destination: Dublin.
On the way we stopped in Athenry. Sadly, I didn’t see any fields there, otherwise I would definitely have taken a photo for the sole purpose of labelling it “The Fields of Athenry”.
Apart from the well-known song, Athenry’s main claim to fame is that it’s one of the most notable medieval walled towns surviving in Ireland. Our first stop was at St Mary’s Church, which is now Athenry Heritage Centre.
There was a school group there when we arrived, but we were told if we came back at 12 we could do the tour/experience thingy. That would have involved being given a history of Athenry, dressing up in medieval clothes and having a go at archery. We decided against it as the time on the car ran out at 12 and we also wanted to be in Dublin relatively early as we were meeting K’s dad there, so after we’d taken a few photos, we moved on to the castle.
The guided tour was ok, but not the most informative of the trip. The guide mentioned something about a dissertation though, so I suppose he was still learning. The audio visual show he switched on for us after the tour had some absolutely stunning photos from around Ireland – it made me wish we were staying longer so I could track down some of the castles and ruined abbeys. But whoever did the speaking was totally overdramatic. It was all a bit odd!
After the castle, we walked across a little park to take a look at Athenry Priory.
With the time on the car almost up, we decided it was time to continue our drive, so off we went, not stopping again until we reached Dublin.After dropping off two members of the group at Temple Bar – K to meet her dad and P because he was staying in a hostel near there – the remaining three of us headed to Rathmines Travelodge, where we were staying, to check in and drop off the bags. It was pretty decent for a Travelodge, I must say! Then Jan drove off to the airport to drop off the car while A and I went for a walk into town. We stopped at a small cafe on the way, where I wrote a postcard, then Jan told us he would be at the Spire at 5 so we let the others know then strolled over to O’Connell street. In the two weeks since we’d been there last, Dublin had become noticeably more crowded – it was easy to tell the real high season for tourists was now on its way! After meeting up with the others, we walked around a bit, did some window shopping (I was very good and did not buy anything in the second hand bookshop we went to!) it was off to the pub to meet K’s dad and eat our last evening meal in Ireland. The pub was Sweetman’s and is worth a visit!
The next morning we had breakfast at Travelodge (described as an all-you-can-eat continental breakfast, it consisted of various cereals, some roll things with chocolate chips in, fruit, yoghurts,, various jams and toast, as well as tea, coffee, apple juice, orange juice and milk to drink. Not bad for the price) then headed into town for souvenir shopping. I bought a fridge magnet for my mum and we met a leprechaun! He told us he was born in Germany but moved to the US when he was 8 and considers himself American. He had been in Ireland for 3 years now after meeting and marrying an Irish girl (who turned him into a leprechaun), and the two of them now have a little pot of gold. Everyone say awww!
We then decided to split up, with the other two going to buy more gifts for people while Jan and I found a cafe where he could write his postcards. We ended up at Cafe Oya, which was very cute! I ordered my last cup of tea with milk for a while… no point in even trying that in Germany! (Tea with coffee creamer is just plain wrong!)
At 2pm, we met up again, collected our luggage from Travelodge and took the bus into town, where we caught the airport express from O’Connell Street. Our flight ended up being delayed by an hour, which gave me time to purchase – and eat – one last packet of yummy crisps, then it was off back to Germany. Two weeks in Ireland had flown by! I don’t know about the others, but I had an amazing time and I hope I make it back there some day.
And that’s the end of my series on what we did in Ireland. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it! Next up on Confuzzledom: a post about biscuits and yet more on my travels… this time within Germany. Stay tuned!
For some reason, all of us had failed to realise that this hotel came without breakfast when we did the booking, so the next morning our first stop was the shopping centre close to the hotel where we bought meal deals from Tesco. A pretty decent sandwich, drink and snack for €3 is pretty good value!! I picked up two meal deals… one for breakfast and one for lunch. Jan chose to get his breakfast from the place next door – The Gourmet Tart Co. Then we were on our way.
We stopped at Dunguaire Castle, on the south-eastern shore of Galway Bay for photos. Apparantly this castle is thought to be among the most photographed in Ireland.
Opposite the castle, we found a ruined cottage that nature was doing it’s best to take over. Much more interesting to me than yet another castle 😉
Then it was on to the Cliffs of Moher! This is where we encountered the only true unfriendliness of our time in Ireland… pulling into the carpark, we noticed a sign saying it cost €6… which seemed a lot just to park! When we got to the ticket window, the woman told us it would be €6 admission per person! We asked what it would cost just to park and were again told “the admission fee is six euro per person.” Well yes, but what if we just want to park? “The admission fee is six euro per person.” Were we dealing with a robot or what?! After being told a third time that the admission was €6 per person (but not whether it was even possible to just park) we decided to just pay up. We then got leaflets that actually told us what the admission was for (the visitor’s centre mainly). Then finally we were allowed to park and go look at the cliffs!
The cliffs were definitely just as amazing as I’d been told! If you walk to the right, there’s a little tower (which you have to pay another €2 to climb. HA! As if!) and a field of cows. To the left there are more fields. And, of course, at both sides there are cliffs. We went to the right first, took photos of the view and the tower, and us girls saw a puffin!! jan saw it too, but not clearly enough to see that it really was a puffin so he just has to take our word for it. I know it was 100% a puffin though… I saw its beak!
Apparantly one of the Harry Potter films was filmed here, but it’s one I haven’t seen so no idea. We were also told a few days later that the Cliffs of Moher were used in the Princess Bride, but I didn’t recognise anything so clearly it’s been tooo long since I last saw that film and I desperately need to watch it again!
Jan, K and I then walked back down to where we’d started and took the path to the left. Once you reach the end of the visitor’s area, there are signs warning you that the cliff walk could be dangerous… there are no fences out there to make sure you don’t fall off! But we were pretty sure we could take care of ourselves, so out we went 😉
We had a lovely walk, saw plenty of seagulls and also what may have been more puffins – they were quite far down so it’s difficult to tell. Jan said they were like flying penguins, which is actually a pretty perfect description! Whether what we saw were puffins or some toher black and white sea bird, they were fascinating to watch!
After walking for quiiite a while, we turned back to find the other two guys and get our lunch from the car. We enjoyed our meal deals sitting outside the visitor’s centre, then went in for a look at the gift shop and exhibition. I bought my grandma a gift, purchased a few postcards and tried to get stamps, but they had sold out (the second place – I’d asked at the gift shop in Adare as well and they also said they’d run out!). The exhibition wasn’t that brilliant – none of the buttons you could press actually worked and there was waaaay too much to read! The wildlife photos that were displayed around the walls were good though.
After leaving the cliffs, we tried to visit Caherconnell Stone Fort, but they were just closing for the day as we arrived (and had also run out of stamps!!) so we moved on to Poulnabrone dolmen, a portaltomb that probably dates back to between 4200 BCE and 2900 BCE. That is old!! The two photos below were taken by Jan as my camera battery had run out on the cliffs…
Once we’d finished taking photos of the Dolmen, we got back in the car and drove back to Galway, where we parked in town and went to find food. We had already agreed that tonight would be pie night, so to The Pie Maker we went… and had an amazing meal for only €9!! LESS than the night before and much, much tastier! Here is my pie which has a filling of sausage in veal gravy. Soooo good!
I took the photo using my friends camera.
And, in case delicious pies aren’t enough to convince you, here’s the ceiling decoration at The Pie Maker:
If you are ever in Galway, go here!!!! (If you think I’m enthusiastic now, you should have heard us advertising to everyone who came in after us! Some pies had run out after we ordered and she’d put a new batch in the oven, so she was telling people it would be about a 20 minute wait. We were sitting there saying “It’s totally worth the wait! Definitely hang around!!”. Haha). For dessert, Jan, K and I shared the rhubabrb and ginger pie, which was YUM!! I would have loved to trie the pistacio fudge pie, but I couldn’t have managed a whole one so we decided to share and went with one of the “safe” options (too much lactose in a fudge pie).
After our delicious pies, it was off to another pub – Sehan Ua Neachtain. I have no idea what that means or how it’s supposed to be pronounced, but the pub is just fabulous! You go in and it just looks like a small bar, but then round the corner is another seating area, then there’s another bar, and near the toilets are little individual booths where you can sit privately with your group. My words cannot do it justice and unfortunately my camera battery was still dead so no photos. There also seemed to be a decent mix of tourists and locals in there, and they did a decent range of beers as well. I had a local beer (Nimmo’s) and then tried an Irish cider, produced in Cork. After our drinks, we went and picked up the car then drove back to our hotel.
The next day, after picking up our meal deals from Tesco, we drove north of Galway to the Connemara National Park. It was another hinking day, but this time not in the rain.
We did the blue trail (easy) then the red trail, which involved climbin Diamond Hill…. and in some places it literally was “climbing”… up a staircase of stones! It was a sunny day as well, and I was very glad of my suncream! Annoyingly, the sun kept coming at me from the side and below, rendering my hat useless. Every time the breeze was blocked by part of the hill I thought I might die from the heat, but eventually we made it to the top (“we” being the girls – the three guys had raced on ahead!). The views from the top were worth the climb:
We also saw this adorable puppy up there, and the equally as adorable little boy who was accompanying him. (Oh, and there was also an adult with them of course ;-))
Later, we saw the puppy tied up outside the visitor’s centre crying for his owners. Awww! Naturally I had to go over and give him a stroke.
The visitor’s centre was interesting. We found out that peat had been formed from people burning charcoal for fuel… and that peat itself is now endangered due to its being used as fuel itself!
The guys wanted to go for some more hiking at Killary Harbour, one of only three glacial fjords in Ireland, but I decided I’d already had enough hiking in the sun for one day and K didn’t want to hike up a mountain, so we split up. Jan stayed with us girls, which surprised me as I thought he would have wanted to hike…
We parked the care in Leenaun (also known as Leenane), a village on the shore of Killary Harbour.
We had parked the car in the carpark of a hotel (with permission!) and decided to go inside the hotel for a cup of tea. We were told we could sit in the loungee (I wish I’d taken a photo… comfy sofas, old books and a real fireplace!!) and she brough our tea to us… with biscuits! Hob Nobs and Chocolate Digestives! So much better than more hiking! It was nice to just sit, have a cup of tea and chat for a while… and the tea ended up being surprisingly cheap as well! So if you’re in the area and fancy a cuppa, Leenane Hotel is the place to go! (Don’t ask me if the hotel part is any good though… we were only in the lounge!).
Once the rest of our party came back, we drove around for a while trying to get to the shore of a lake but only ending up in the driveways of farmhouses, which I found highl entertaining, so eventually we gave up and drove back to Galway. We parked in the town centre again and went in search of food, deciding that as it was pretty much the end of the holiday we would splurge a bit and pick a decet restaurant. We ended up at a place called Ard Bia on Nimmo’s Pier, where we were very lucky to get a place – they said the table was actually reserved that evening but if we could finish our meal in 40 minutes we were welcome to use it until the next group came.
I LOVED the decor… such cute jugs for the flowers, and all the adorable teapots everywhere…
The food was also really good. I had a starter of courgette and warm haloumi salad, which came with the most delicious bread:
Then I ordered lamb for main, while Jan went for the sea trout. There was a bit of a mix-up with the mains, with the wiatress having written down 3 trout and two lamb rather than vice versa, so my meal was a little late coming. The waitress came over and apologised profusely though, and was so, so nice that I didn’t mind the wait. I forgot to take a photo of my lamb, so here’s one of Jan’s fish instead:
For desert, I had lemon posset topped with raspberries and strawberries. Even though I was technically full, this stuff was so smooth is just slid down my throat. Sooooooooooo tasty! I also tried a bit of K’s raspberry and rose sorbet, which was OMG amazing!! Droooool! This is my dessert:
We finished just in time! The people who had reserved our table were just arriving as we paid the bill.
Aaand that was our final night in Galway! We were all too full to even think about fitting any drinks in, so instead we picked up the car and drove to Tesco, which is where I went shopping for the stash I showed you in a previous post.
The next day, we drove back to Dublin to drop the car of and then had one final night in Ireland before flying home… but that’s a story for my next blog post.
We’re into the second week of the trip now… day 10, a Monday, saw us on the move again, this time travelling from Killarney to Galway. Check out time was 10 a.m., so we were up bright and early again… although it was closer to 10:30 by the time everything was squished in the car and we were ready to move. We’d decided to take things a bit easier that day and only have one stop en route, for sightseeing, leg-stretching and lunch! That stop was Adare, and I’m so, so glad we went there! The minute we eneded the village I fell in love with the thatched cottages… but first things first…
We had come to Adare to visit the castle (known as Desmond Castle) because it was on our heritage cards. The booklet that came with the cards told us access to the castle was by guided tour only, and to register for the tour we had to go to the heritage centre, so we did. It was 12 noon at this point, and the lady in the heritage centre told us the next tour was at 2. Huh. We still wanted lunch though, and I definitely wanted some photos of the thatched cottages, so we weren’t leaving just yet! First of all, we went into the Holy Trinity Abbey Church, which is right next to the heritage centre.
The thatched cottages were just across the road from the church, so naturally on leaving the church across the road I went! Just look at the adorableness!!
Once we finished taking photos of the cottages, Jan went back to the car to fetch our sausage rolls and the rest of us headed into Adare Park to find a spot to eat lunch.
These guys came to join us, obviously hoping we would feel like sharing:
Once we’d eaten, we continued our walk around Adare village. We found another thatched cottage up the road from the park:
I had hoped to buy stamps, but the post office was closed for lunch. The perils of villages.
I’ve no idea what this building actually is, but I liked the look of it, so out came the camera…
We also came across some scary looking cattle in a field… I swear if we’d got any closer they would have charged us!
There was still about half an hour to go before the castle tour, but some people had postcards to write so we decided we would hang around and wait after all. At 2 p.m., a mini bus turned up to take us up to the castle.
What we were told on the tour was interesting, but the guide did a terrible job of presenting it! I’m not sure whether she was bored or trying waaay to hard to remember what came next, but either way she spoke in a monotone throughout! Oh well, the castle itself and the views of the river and old bridge from the castle made up for it!
The river is called the Maigue, which is pronounced May. Makes perfect sense…
The next stop was our hotel in Galway. After parking up, checking in and unloading the car, we decided to walk into town.
I really liked Galway. It is a city, but not a huge city, so it wasn’t horribly overwhelming for me (like London… I hate, hate, hate London!). And the first thing we saw when we reached the centre was water! The River Corrib flows into the sea right near Galway’s city centre. I’m sure I’ve lamented Karlsruhe’s lack of water before, so I was very exited to find out that the sea was right there in town.
The first thing we wanted to do was find out where the bus home went from. The information from the hotel had been “Eyre Square”, so off we went to find it. To get there, we walked up a street called Quay Street, where most of Galway’s pubs and restaurants seem to be. On Eyre Square, there was part of a building just standing in the middle of the square. It’s called the Browne doorway and is all that remains of a merchants house built in the early 17th century. The house was originally elsewhere, but the doorway now stands on Eyre Square.
We found the bus stop, checked when the last bus back to our hotel would be then went in search of something to eat. Personally, I thought some of the places on The Quay looked nice and reasonably priced, but for some reason another member of the group didn’t want to go back down there. He originally picked an “Italian” place that was offering a two-course meal for €10 (hmm, suspiciously cheap!) but we vetoed that on the grounds that every single thing on the menu contained either cheese or cream – no good for our lactose-intolerant friend! I had actually seen some of their “food” on the tables outside as well and was very relieved when the place was vetoed!
We then ended up outside a place called Finnegan’s, which advertised itself with “Eat in a genuine medieval building”. Sound like a tourist trap much? Main meals there were €9!! Again, alarm bells were going off, but by that time I was fed up of trying to talk people out of going for absolutely anything as long as it was cheap, so I went along with it. MISTAKE!!! At Finnegan’s, we ate the only bad meal in the entire two weeks we were in Ireland!! My lactose intolerant friend asked whether there was anything she could eat, and was told even the fish and chips and milk in the batter. The only thing that was safe was apparantly a chicken salad, so she ordered that… only for the plate it to turn up with grated cheese on it. Err… what?! The rest of the sald consisted of a few ingredients (one of which was tinned sweetcorn) thrown hapharzardly next to each other. Some salad!! About 10 minutes later, the hot food the rest of us had ordered finally turned up (why bring the sald first?). The waitress noticed the salad hadn’t been touched and asked if there was anything wrong with it, to which the reply was “Errr, cheese!!”. So away went the salad to be brought back aaages later no longer with cheese, but also no longer with peppers. Umm, what? My friend then requested the bread that was supposed to come with the salad and was told soda bread had lactose in it – but they did have some little baguette slices if she wanted. Yes, of course she wanted!! There needed to be something substantial to go with the so-called “salad”.
The chicken kiev I had ordered was ok, if a bit dry, but the carrots were definitely microwaved and therefore soggy. Pretty sure the mashed potatoes had been reheated in the microwave as well. I tried some of my kale and din’t like it, but put that down to my hatred of all things cabbage-like. However, afterwards someone else said it simply hadn’t been very nice. Our waitress was friendly enough, but very young and totally clueless… hence the having to be sent back to fetch bread. *Sigh*. All in all, NOT a good experience. But I did warn everyone before we went in! Maybe next time they’ll be willing to pay a tiny bit more for some food that’s at least semi-decent! In summary, if you’re ever in Ireland and find yourself passing Finnegan’s DO NOT go in!! You can get much better food for roughly the same price elsewhere.
Anyway, enough about the crappiness! After we’d eaten, we decided to go for a walk and find the cathedral since we had plans for the next two days and might not havy any more time to explore Galway. Here, have some photos:
A couple of decided we wanted to actually see some traditional Irish music before we went home, so after taking photos of the cathedral, we headed back towards the pubs. This time, at the top of Quay Street, we turned right and went down a parallel street… which is where we spotted The Pie Maker. and its amazing sounding pies (later to be confirmed as amazing tasting too).
We discovered that we would have to wait half an hour until the first pub started its live music, so we took a walk down to the pier, walked around a bit, took Charlie photos and sat listening to a guy who was playing his guitar to himself at the water’s edge. We also saw swans flying, but I didn’t manage to get a photo of them. It was an amazing sight though!
Then it was back up Quay Street and into a pub for music. I *think* the place we went to was The King’s Head, which is on High Street – the continuation of Quay Street after the crossing. It reminded me a little bit of an Irish pub called Scruffy’s here in Karlsruhe, except cleaner and with much friendlier staff!! The music was pretty good, and of course they played Galwa Girls! Four of us stayed to watch the music, while the fifth member of our group went off to get some sleep.
Att 11, we went to get the bus home, but on finding out we had to wait 20 minutes, we decided to walk. It’ll be fiiiine, we thought. We walked into town, after all we thought. HA! The boys (who have smartphones) took us on a detour that went through the nicer part of town. The houses in that area were really, really nice (and big… and posh!). Unfortunately, the detour took us too far south – there was never a right turn where we needed it – so we ended up walking past where our hotel was in a parallel street then having to double back on ourselves when we eventually found a turning. We did make it back before midnight, but only just!
And that’s all for this blog post. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what we got up to while staying in Galway…
On Friday morning we were up bright and early so we could shower, have breakfast and vacate our hostel rooms by 10 a.m. Then it was off to the Rock of Cashel, the most visited Heritage site in Ireland. We parked the car in Cashel town and walked up to the rock, passing this ruined abbey on the way.
The ruin is literally right next to a row of houses, which I thought was pretty cool.
Aaaand here’s the main attraction itself – the Rock of Cashel:
We were told the next tour would be in 20 minutes, so we wandered around on our own for 20 minutes until the guide was ready. It turned out to be well worth the wait – our guide was excellent, providing just the right balance between informative and entertaining.
As our tour ended, we started to feel a few drops of rain, but we thought we’d still be okay to take a look at Hore Abbey (and get some photos of the Rock of Cashel from an excellent angle). We went and picked up the car, drove over to the abbey, and then this happened:
Needless to say I didn’t bother getting out of the car! I wasn’t too disappointed though as I’d had my afternoon of climbing on ruins at Kells Priory.
Here, have a better picture of the Abbey, taken from the Rock of Cashel:
Next up was Cahir Castle. That word is not pronounced how you think… C-A-H-I-R is said like care. Because that’s how the Irish roll…
It was still raining, but luckily Cahir Castle is fairly well preserved, which meant we were able to spend lots of time inside, out of the rain.
Of course, Charlie wanted to get in on the fun too…
After looking around the castle and admiring the swans and ducks in the river (Cahir Castle is on an island in the River Suir), everyone was hungry so we headed into town to look for somewhere to eat. On the corner of a square – imaginatively named The Square – we found a place that claimed to do sandwiches, so in we went. It turned out to be a kind og newsagents that also had a kind of deli section where the sandwiches were made up. I went for the garlic chicken wrap, which was INCREDIBLE. There was cheese in it, as well as the garlicky chicken, and they warmed it up for me as well. Yum, yum, yum. I think the place was called The Heritage, if I managed to Google map it correctly. While I was there, I also bought a packet of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs because I LOVE them and I wasn’t around at Easter to eat any. I got the very last packet in the shop.
Having eaten, we walked back to the car through the rain and drove to Blarney. The plan had been to look at Blarney Castle, but on arriving we discovered that the price was 12 euros! That would have been fine for the castle and gardens, but for just the castle it seemed a bit steep and as it was still absolutely throwing it down we didn’t feel like viewing the gardens. If it had just been Jan and I we might have gone in anyway, but other people were on a tighter budget so instead we went in search of a hot drink (and a toilet!). We ended up going to the Half Moon Café, which was cute but when we went to pay for our drinks there was an extra service charge which hadn’t been mentioned in the menu! On the way back to the car I took a photo of this door, because it looked cool:
When we left Blarney, the sun was actually beginning to come out again, but time was creeping on and we needed to get moving. Our next stop was Bantry, where we took photos of the bay and located a supermarket to purchase that evening’s meal – we knew it would be late by the time we arrived in Killarney and we wanted to do the shopping while we were sure of finding something open! We still had carrots from the previous day, so we bought a pre-cooked chicken and some potatoes, as well as breakfast supplies for the next day.
We then stopped very briefly at Balleylicky Bay to take a photo of the gorgeousness below (and snigger a little at the name)
Our sat nav was bought in 2010 and Jan hasn’t downloaded any new maps for it since then (because that would apparantly cost way too much), so despite being programmed to take the fastest route, we were not directed from Bantry to Killarney via… oh, I don’t know, maybe a motorway? Instead, the sat nav sent us over the Priest’s Leap pass, which is totally AWESOME but I’m very glad we did it in daylight! As you drive along, the road gets more and more narrow until it turns into a single-lane track… and there are no passing places! Also, as the fact that it’s a pass implies, the road goes right across the mountain so there is really no moving out of the way! Luckily, we didn’t encounter any cars going the other way… although we did have to slow down for sheep a few times. The road goes up and down fairly steeply, and while you’re going up there’s absolutely no way of knowing what’s on the other side of the slope! Quite the adventure. The views from up there are spectacular though, and once we got to the top of the pass we stopped for some photos.
The Priest’s Leap pass runs along the border between Cork and Kerry, so once we got to the end we were officially in Kerry, but still with about an hour to go until we reached Killarney. The journey was uneventful until we reached Kenmare. We had driven through the village and were just emerging out the other side when a deer jumped out in front of our car! Jan (who was driving) swerved, so we only clipped the deer and luckily the car coming from the other direction was far enough away that we were able to pull over without any further incident. It could have been a nasty accident! Nobody was sure what Irish law says about such incidents (in Germany, you would have to call the police), so Jan made a call to the emergency services just in case while the other guys checked the car for damage (us girls decided to get back in the car as it was freezing and there was only one torch available for damage checking – by this time, it was dark). I’m pleaed to report that the deer was able to make its own way back into the trees and there were no traces of blood, so I think it was fine, as were all the people in the car. Finally, we were able to continue on our way to Killarney where we checked into our self-catering apartment at around quarter past 11! We were the last to arrive on that day and the old man we picked the key up from said he’d been starting to worry!
One meal of chicken, carrots and potatoes later (eaten at 1 a.m.!!) we were all ready for bed. It had been a very long day…
We started our Ireland trip with a long weekend in Dublin, and the very first thing we did on Saturday morning was buy suncream from the Boots near our B&B. Why would one do that in Ireland you ask? Well, this:
The above photo shows one of the lanterns on the Ha’penny Bridge. And behind it? Nothing but blue sky! And the weather continued to be like that for the entire time we were in Dublin. Or at least until we were walking back from the pub on Monday night, which is good enough for me.
Once we were all suncreamed up, we walked on towards town where the first touristy thing we came across was St. Stephen’s Green. We saw swans with cygnets! And also ducks, seagulls and a very cute little girl feeding all the birds (even the pigeons). Then we discovered that the waterfall that’s drawn on the map was a lie, so we went and looked for the statue of The Fates instead, and found out that it had been a gift to the city of Dublin from Germany.
Next came shopping because the other female in the group had forgotten to bring a hat out with her and the sun was HOT! We visited TK Maxx first and I looked at sunglasses while she looked at hats, but neither of us found anything. Next stop was Claire’s, where I actually found a pair of sunglasses that suited me (miracle!!) and my friend purchased a fabulous straw hat with cat ears!! Then we stopped by a fancy dress/joke shop, where we had our first encounter with horses heads. We did not buy Charlie at that point though.
Once the girly shopping type stuff was done, we headed towards the river and then on to Leo Burdock’s – Dublin’s oldest fish and chip shop. We arrived at just the right time – there was no queue when we got there and a huge one by the time we left! It being such a gorgeous day, we took our food across the road and ate it on the grass round the back of Christchurch Cathedral, watched by a very well behaved seagull. After he’d let us take several photos of him and not attempted to steal any of our food, we rewarded him with fish. Then we walked into the grounds of the cathedral, where there was a stall selling fudge of various kinds. Jan and I got four varieties: Chocolate, chocolate orange, honeycomb and rum & raisin. Yum, yum!!
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around looking at various things, failing to see Dublin castle because it’s closed to the public while Ireland is hosting the EU presidency, hanging round in a cute little garden near the castle, sneakily using the facilities at the Chester Beatty Library and going inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral before ending up back at the joke shop where we decided we did want a horses head after all.
Next on the agenda was a cocktail at a bar called Dandelion. The drinks came in plastic glasses and while mine tasted okay it was so weak you could barely tell there was alcohol in it. If you want to drink cocktails, don’t bother with this place! Following our unimpressive cocktails, we went off in search of food, which we found at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I quite enjoyed my avocado and bacon beefburger – at least it had a decent amount of bacon in it! Other members of the group were less impressed with their choices though.
The food thing out of the way, it was time for a few drinks in a real Irish pub… and for some fun with Charlie the horse.
And thus concludes day one.
The next day was Trinity College day. We decided to pay 10 euros for the tour plus Book of Kells, rather than 9 for just the book. The tour was interesting and out tour guide (David) was pretty cool. The exhibition on the Book of Kells was quite informative, but the book itself was precisely as underwhelming as our Lonely Planet had warned us it would be – with all the many people crowding around it, there simply wasn’t time to get a proper look at all the detail on the pages. However, the Long Library which you go through to get from the Book to the exit was AMAZING! So many old books… it was like I’d died and gone to heaven!
It being Sunday, we wanted to look for a roast dinner, but in the end we didn’t actually find one. We went to a pubcalled Slattery’s where I did have some very nice roast chicken, but it came with chips, which is just not the same thing at all. We also spent quite some time persuading a couple of the boys that it’s perfectly okay to order a soft drink in a pub!
Food done, we walked through the shopping area for a bit and finally came to O’Connell Street and the famous Spire of Dublin (officially the Monument of Light for reasons I am unable to fathom).
Again, note the blueness of the sky! We couldn’t have had better weather in Dublin if we’d programmed it ourselves!
The next stop was the Garden of Remembrance, where we watched some local kids climb the statue and then scram when the Garda (Irish police) turned up. Very entertaining! Shortly after that, we were asked to leave because the place was closing, so we went and had ourselves a nice cup of tea instead. Charlie was ready for a cuppa too after all that walking!
Once everyone was refreshed, we walked back down to the river to take photos of more bridges and check out the Famine Memorial.
We finished the day at another pub, where I chose to drink Swedish cider rather than Irish beer and where we discovered an interesting flavour of crisps.
Sadly, the taste was rather disappointing. I’ve no idea what shamrock should taste like, but these just tasted like plain old sour cream flavour to me.
On our third and final day in Dublin, the group split up with three of us getting up early to go to Kilmainham Gaol while the other three had a lie in before going shopping. I was with the Kilmainham Gaol group, as I had wanted to go there the last time Jan and I were in Dublin but didn’t get the chance. Both the museum and the guided tour were very informative and at times I found myself almost feeling ashamed to be British –for example after hearing about how James Connolly, one of the ringleaders of the 1916 uprising, who was unable to stand to be executed and was instead tied to a chair to be shot. No wonder so many Irish people hate us!
The serious business of the jail done, it was off to the park opposite where we discovered signs with various animals on. There was a sheep, a hedgehog, a squirrel, a cat and this fox:
We then needed change for the bus back in to town (if anyone is going to Dublin be warned: buses are generally correct change only and no notes are allowed – the only exception is the airport express!). We popped into Spar to see if we could buy something and discovered this:
Yes, that really is a chocolate bar with pieces of cheese and onion crisps in. Surprisingly it worked quite well, although I wouldn’t want to eat a whole bar!
Back in town we met up with the others and the two girls went for a hair cut (something I have yet to bring myself to do in Germany). Freshly cut and blow dried, we headed to the café next door where the boys were waiting and had a sandwich before heading on to our next activity: a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery. For all those who are thinking of doing the tour… don’t bother!! It’s basically a giant advert for Jameson’s and a total tourist trap!! However, the hot whiskey cocktails we had in the bar afterwards were incredibly tasty, so you could always pop along just for that!
Whiskey drinking done, we walked back to the town centre to spend out last evening eating and drinking at O’Neill’s bar on Suffolk Street. I may not have got my Sunday dinner the day before, but the carvery at this place more than made up for it!! I had turkey and ham with all the trimmings and I also got to try some of my friend’s lamb, which was amazing!! The food was so good that nobody even thought about taking photos until every last bite of all six meals had been demolished. I’m feeling hungry all over again just typing this!!
And that was the end of our trip to Dublin. Next up: ROAD TRIP!!
I will be providing you with a map of the route we took in Ireland as soon as I figure out how, but for now here are some of my personal favourite things from the trip.
1. Irish friendliness. Anything you’ve heard about how friendly Irish people are is 100% true!! In fact, we only encountered one unfriendly Irish person throughout our entire two-week stay (at the Cliffs of Moher, in case you were wondering). Just to give one example of the extreme friendliness and determination to help: On the final day of our initial stay in Dublin, I went with Jan and another member of the group to Kilmainham Gaol (very interesting by the way, and well worth a visit). The bus driver not only announced our stop (Irish – and UK – buses don’t do this automatically), but asked us to wait a few minutes before getting off so he could direct us to the jail. Another passenger who was waiting to get off then interrupted to say he works just opposite and would be happy to show us the way. Not only did he then deliver us right to the entrance, but he also pointed out a park opposite (actually the grounds of an art gallery) where we might like to go for a walk after our tour. All together now: Awwww!
2. Being able to order a cup of tea with milk without either being looked at like I’ve just grown an extra head or – even worse – being brought coffee creamer instead!
3. Buying a horse head on our very first day in Dublin, naming it Charlie (because that way it could be either male or female) and proceeding to take photos of each other wearing it all over Ireland.
4. The full Irish breakfast at the B&B we stayed at in Dublin (Waterloo Lodge… highly recommended!). And bumping into the butcher on our way out on the first day! No Tesco Everyday Value sausages at that place…
5. The amazing carvery meal we ate at a place called O’Neill’s in Dublin. I have no photo to share with you because I had inhaled it before the idea of photos even occurred to me…
6. Kilkenny. All of it. The highlights being: i) The cute kitty we discovered hanging around the graveyard of St. Canice’s Cathedral. I’m not usually a cat person, but this kitten was soo soft! ii) Blaa Blaa Blaa sandwiches… and the lovely ladies who worked there. iii) The sweet shop next door to the sandwich place, where I discovered Jedward chocolate bars and also bought a bag of the most delicious cherry boiled sweets. iv) Going for a few drinks with an English girl who worked at the hostel we stayed in and playing “I have never”. Fun!
7. The ruins of Kells Priory, located just outside the village of Kells in County Kilkenny. Basically a giant adventure playground for adults! You have to brave a lot of sheep droppings to get there, but once you do it’s well worth it. My photos do not do it justice at all… this thing must have been absolutely huge when it was in one piece!!
8. This bridge over the River Barrow in the village of Leighlinbridge. I took sooo many photos of it! The walk along the river was pretty nice as well.
9. The tour we took of the Rock of Cashel – our guide was so enthusiastic and informative! I can’t remember half of what he said now, but at the time it was very interesting! I do remember that the reason the monks who lived there eventually abandoned the rock was the weather… and I can well believe it given the wind on the day we were there!
10. Taking photos of the sunset at Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry. Although the part where we got eaten alive by midgees was much less fun!
11. The adorable thatched cottages in Adare.
12. Seeing a puffin at the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately it was too fast to photograph, so here’s a picture of the cliffs themselves. Also, we were told The Princess Bride was filmed there, so I now need to watch that film again and see if I recognise anything!
13. The pies we ate in Galway! If you ever find yourself there, you must go to a place called The Pie Maker!! I was able to try three savoury pies (pork sausage in veal gravy pie, roast beef pie and chorizo, mozzerella and pesto pie) as well as one sweet one – the rubarb and ginger. All four were delicious! And at only €9 for a savoury pie, gravy and mushy peas (or pie, salad and wedges) it’s an absolute bargain, too! A photo will follow once I request it from my friend (my camera’s battery had run out at this point). **Edited to add: PIE!!**
14. This adorable puppy who we met at the top of Diamond Hill in the Connemara National Park.
15. The cute little cafe in Dublin that Jan and I stopped at to write postcards shortly before we left for our flight home. The cake I ate there was nice enough, but nothing special, but the cafe itself was adorable… and also cheap!
And there you have it… my 15 favourite things from our trip. More Ireland posts will follow shortly…