Monday, July 22, 2019

IRELAND, PT. 2 (THE BEST PART)...

The rest of our Ireland trip - 5 days - was spent road tripping through south Ireland! We made stops in Cork, Kenmare, Skellig Michael, Killarney, Limerick, Doolin, Ballinasloe, and Athlone.  Mostly what made it the best part for us was the natural beauty and unique experiences.



Driving into Cork

We stopped at St. Anne's church to ring the bells in the belltower!

That was a fun climb and experience!  Great views from the top!



Really?  We didn't have time, though...

We ate in an English Market in Cork - ironically we found out later we love Monkfish!

We stopped at the Toy Soldier factory in Macroom and spent 2 hours there!  The manager asked us if we wanted to do a "Make & Take" and we learned how to make a die cast metal figure and then we painted them.  They have the world's largest miniature battle scene on display- the Battle of Waterloo.  




After that we took Google Maps advice and spent 40 minutes on forest roads without seeing another car!  It was pretty crazy and actually a little scary!  

Spent 3 nights in Kenmare - a little town that we loved!  It was a good place to do day trips from...

Our favorite day of the whole trip!  Getting to boat out to Skellig Michael and hike up the ancient steps made by monks in the 6th century was pretty amazing!  There were stone cottages to see after a long climb up.  The island has gained recent fame because it is the site of Luke Skywalker's death in Star Wars.  But it is amazing because of the history of the monks and the puffins!  Hard to get tickets but we followed a blogger's advice and showed up early (got up at 5:30 a.m. to drive 90 min. to the port) and started asking the sea captains if they had an cancellations on their boats that day.  We absolutely loved the nature, the history of it - unlike anything in the United States!

Puffins have to be the cutest birds ever!

Kerry Cliffs

Skellig chocolate shop for free tastings!

Quick dip in the Atlantic Ocean!

So many pretty sights like this on our trip!

Killarney National Park


 In KNP we biked to Torc Waterfall, the Muckross estate and tour, and Muckross Abbey ruin.







We rented the bikes in Killarney but we didn't care for the city itself - too big and touristy.  The Hubs had to pose under the "Danny Mann" sign!  Our B & B had the prettiest flower garden!




We stopped in Limerick for a few hours and got the most awesome hot chocolate and checked out King John's castle.  

The Cliffs of Moher was another awesome sight!  We bought sandwiches in a little town nearby and took them with us so we could sit near the cliffs, relax, and have a little picnic.  We also walked through the underground visitor center and saw the exhibits.  We stayed nearby in Doolin.

Evening in Doolin

Another great morning - as we were leaving Doolin we decided to go to the Cliffs of Moher one more time.  this time we didn't want to pay the 16 Euro to park at the Visitor Center but try to find the "free" place I had read about on blogs.  We did find a farmer's land and he had a gravel parking area and this sign by the deposit box.  We walked along a gravel road for about 15 minutes and then got to the cliffs.

We saw a trail that went down below the cliffs and since it was early morning, no one was around.  We had the place to ourselves.  It was pretty awesome!



 Cemetery near the Atlantic Ocean and a stop in Ballinasloe


Best dessert I had - kind of like a Snickers cake!

Athlone - best Thai in Ireland!  It was very good!

View from the Athlone Sheraton - we got a free stay for our last night in Ireland!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

IRELAND, PT. 1...

June 15-22 we were in Ireland! A big trip like this is usually planned for months in this family, but a sudden business trip for The Hubs in London quickly turned into a week in Ireland before that!  So I quickly learned as much as I could and found us some places to stay and things to do...AND we fell in love with the place!  Here's a bit of Dublin:

Our Air BnB on a sheep farm in Maynooth




The Little Museum of Dublin - great tour with a short history lesson!

St. Patrick's Cathedral - took the guided tour here as well.  Jonathan Swift buried here. 


We took the student-led tour of Trinity College which was very interesting!  It also included getting to see the Book of Kells and the Long library - amazing!


A modern sculpture on the grounds of an ancient college.

In the Chester Beatty museum, who, by the way, was an American beloved by the Irish, we saw actual pages from I Corinthians written in Greek that are centuries old.

The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland,where we ate one night.
Irish Stew for me, fish & chips for Dan

Flower garden by Dublin Castle


 Ha-penny Bridge - what they used to charge to cross it!

 The Spire - I believe the tallest sculpture in Ireland

 Main Street for shopping, restaurants

 Heart of Christchurch cathedral - it is a sprawling long church!


Maynooth castle near where we stayed

We also enjoyed the Do Dublin Hop On, Hop Off tour bus, our go-to in new places when we're jet-lagged and just trying to get a feel for the city.  

What I loved about Dublin is that it still retains it's charm and it wasn't just another huge European city.  It's evident they still don't like the British, but they are generally lovely, friendly people.