Garmisch-Patenkirchen

The party Jan and I were supposed to go to in Switzerland fell through, so we spontaneously decided to go the other way instead. Jan managed to book a hotel room for the night in Garmisch-Patenkirchen in Bavaria, so after bidding farewell to my friends and their baby, that’s where we headed. We decided to take the slightly longer but more scenic route through Austria, rather than heading straight back to Germany. Here are some photos I took along the way. The first few were taken near St. Anton am Arlberg while the others are the view from the “Zugspitzblick” (Zugspitz view) carpark on the Fernpass in Austria. The flattish looking mountain is the Zugspitz and the lake is called the Blindsee. And as usual, I prove I am incapable of smiling like a normal human being on photos… I have no idea what that expression on my face is!

By the time we arrived in Garmisch-Patenkirchen, it was dark, but after driving for so long we wanted to stretch our legs so, after checking in, we went for a night time walk. The part of town we were staying in was Patenkirchen – it’s separated from the Garmisch area of town by a main road, which the lady at the hotel’s reception later jokingly referred to as “the border”.

The hotel also had a restaurant, so while checking in we had asked for a table to be reserved for us. Neither of us was particularly hungry, so we chose something we though would be small… thought being the operative word her! I chose Hackbraten (a kind of meatloaf) and the slice I got covered half the plate! It was served with asparagus in Hollandaise sauce and some very buttery mashed potatoes. Basically fat, fat and more fat… and a huge chunk of meat! It was tasty though! The restaurant was busy, so later we were joined at our table by a woman and her daughter from Leipzig. We got talking and had a very enjoyable evening, before heading up to our room for a relatively early night. The furnishings in the room were very “traditional”… just check out this bed:

bed

The next day (Sunday), we awoke to rain. The plan was to go up the Zugspitz, so we had breakfast, checked out and drove over to the mountain train station. Unfortunately, all the webcam views from the top of the mountain showed that there was no view whatsoever up there! Deciding going up anyway would be a waste of money (a round trip costs 50 euros per person!!), we went for a walk instead, this time in the Garmisch part of town. We were aiming for the Kurhaus, which had a Michael Ende (German children’s author) exhibition, but on arrival it turned out to be closed. It was due to open at 11 a.m., but that would have meant waiting an hour, so we headed back to the car and moved on. Before leaving town, we stopped off at the Garmisch-Patenkirchen olympic ski jump… it’s so famous that even I had heard of it!

It was still raining and showing no signs of clearing, so we jumped back in the car and just starting driving. Initially, we had no goal in mind, but then we noticed we were on the Romatische Straße (Romantic Road) and I remembered that Schloss Neuschwanstein is on that route, so that’s where we decided to go…
I’m not going to tell you about that in this post, though. For that, you’ll have to wait! (Yes, I know how to drag out a weekend trip… 😉 )

Ireland, days 13-14: Galway to Dublin and the end of the holiday

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”.

A building in Athenry
A building in 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.

St Mary's, Athenry
St Mary’s, Athenry
St Mary's Church/Athenry Heritage Centre
St Mary’s Church/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.

Athenry Castle
Athenry 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.

Athenry Priory
Athenry Priory

Athenry Priory 2

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!

Charlie relaxes in the pub
Charlie relaxes in the pub

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!

Charlie meets a leprechaun!
Charlie meets a leprechaun!

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!)

Strawberry cheesecake and tea... with milk!
Strawberry cheesecake and tea… with milk!

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!

Ireland, day 7: Kilkenny–Killarney

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.

Random ruined abbey in the middle of town...
Random ruined abbey in the middle of town…

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:

Part of the Rock of Cashel
Part of the Rock of Cashel
Round the other side of the Rock
Round the other side of the Rock

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:

Hore Abbey... somehwre behind the raindrops
Hore Abbey… somewhere behind the raindrops

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:

Hore Abbey, also known as St Mary's
Hore Abbey, also known as St Mary’s

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…

Cahir Castle

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…

Charlie in a tower
Charlie in a tower

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.

Castle Street, Cahir
Castle Street, Cahir

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:

Cool door
Cool door

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.

Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
This sculpture is called the Spirit of Love and was installed to commemorate people who lost their lives at and around Bantry Bay
This sculpture is called the Spirit of Love and was installed to commemorate people who lost their lives at and around Bantry Bay

We then stopped very briefly at Balleylicky Bay to take a photo of the gorgeousness below (and snigger a little at the name)

Gorgeous view at Ballylickey Bay!
Gorgeous view at Ballylickey Bay!

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.

Going up...
Going up…
Somehow the road looks so much more tame on a photograph...
Somehow the road looks so much tamer on a photograph…
The view from the top was worth the drive...
The view from the top was worth the drive…

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…

Ireland, day 4: Dublin to Kilkenny

After the long weekend in Dublin, Tuesday, 11 June marked the first day of the Ireland road trip proper. Our two drivers (of whom Jan was one) got up stupidly early to go and pick the car up while the rest of us had a slightly more leisurely start. After one final full Irish breakfast, we packed up the last few bits then waited for our vehicle. One game of suitcase Tetris later, it was time to check out and say goodbye to one member of the group – he had only been able to get the long weekend off work and was heading back to Germany while the remaining 5 of us went on a tour of Ireland.

Our first stop was Bray, where the owner of our local Irish pub is from. The boys had planned to try and recreate a photo he has on his wall of Bray Head and I had promised him a postcard from one Bray to another (the Irish pub is called Bray Head). It was raining a little when we set off, but by the time we arrived in Bray it was dry again, if a little cloudy, so we parked the car and headed down to the beach, where we met an adorable dog with an incredibly slimy ball!

How adorable?
How adorable?

His owners told us this was the highlight of his week!
Bray Head was partly hidden in the clouds, but we pointed our cameras in its general direction anyway.

Bray Head... somewhere up there
Bray Head… somewhere up there

Then it was off the icecream/sweet shop to buy some postcards before sitting down at The Strand Hotel – formerly a house called Elsinore owned by Oscar Wilde’s father- to write them. We all indulged in some tea and scones, which were delicious but bizarrely came on dirty plates. The carvery looked (and smelled) really good too, but we didn’t have time for that… the time we had left on the car was ticking away! So postcard written and scones eaten, we headed back towards town, stopping on the way to buy stamps and post said card.

Stop number two was Enniskerry, where we had been tasked with going to the local pub and delivering a glass from our Irish pub to a guy named Keith who had misspent his youth with our local pub’s owner.

Mission accomplished! (Spot the glass)
Mission accomplished! (Spot the glass)

The pub seemed like a bit of a local pub for local people, but we all had a quick drink there anyway. And from what I saw of Enniskerry it looked like a cute little village – I especially liked this interesting phonebox.

How cool?
How cool?

After taking a wrong turn and driving round twice, we came to our next stop: The Powerscourt Waterfall. It’s the highest waterfall in Ireland…

Powerscourt Waterfall
Powerscourt Waterfall

By the time we’d taken some photos of the waterfall and of each other posing with the waterfall it had started to rain, so instead of hitting the nature trails we made a run for the car and drove on to our next destination, Glendalough. Pronounced Glen-da-lock, Glendalough is a glacial valley that’s famous for its medieval monastic settlement, founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. There are also two lakes – the Lower Lake and the Upper Lake – and various walking trails.

Saint Kevin's Church at Glendalough
Saint Kevin’s Church at Glendalough
Upper Lake, Glendalough
Upper Lake, Glendalough

Luckily it had stopped raining again, so we didn’t get wet… but all the moisture in the air meant tonnes and tonnes of midgees! Yuk!! The senery was beautiful though, as you can see. And the Obamas went there a few days later while on a trip to Ireland. We saw it first, Obamas!!

It was approaching 7 pm by the time we’d finished walking around, so back to the car we went and headed straight for Kilkenny with no more breaks. By the time we’d found our hostel, checked in and discovered a place to put the car it was after 9 and we were starving! So off we went into town in search of somewhere that would still feed us at that time! Our first stop was Kyteler’s Inn, which seemed like a really cool place and had live music on, but the kitchen there had closed at 9, so off we went to the place across the way – The Marble City Bar (it seems downstairs there is a tearooms as well). The food there was slightly more expensive than what we had been looking for, but worth every single cent! Our waiter went out of his way to be helpful, even offering my friend chips instead of mashed potato after hearing that she’s lactose intolerant! Again, no food photo because I was too busy nomming it.

By the time we’d eaten it was even later and we were all tired, so back to the hostel we went to get some sleep before moving on to day 5 of our Irish adventure..