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We go away for our anniversary every year but this year it falls at a particularly bad time for work - in addition to several people already also requesting that time off, it's the week before the largest information security tradeshow/conference, of which I am the account manager for all PR endeavors for the Conference. It's quite the undertaking and the weeks leading up to it are filled with a lot of last minute activity and making sure that all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed - in some ways it's like juggling a lot of flaming batons. I managed to get two days off during that time - a Friday and a Monday - and we were thinking we'd go to Portland for a couple of days and hang out in the Willamette Valley for one day. Unfortunately, the cost of airfare keeps going up and as my co-worker also on the team mentioned - am I really going to be able to disconnect and unwind? The answer is a decided no.
I broached the subject of holding off on the vacation to Alan until sometime in March and he was happy to oblige. Since then I've been investigating 5 to 7 day trips and have looked into everything ranging from Hawaii to Mexico to Jamaica to St. Lucia.Ritz Carlton Kapalua
Xpu Ha Palace Riviera Maya (although if what I'm reading is correct, this one might be off the list due to the damage it suffered during Hurricane Rita and never recovered from, unfortunately).
Windjammer Landing St. Lucia
Country Country Beach Cottages Jamaica
Of course, last night we watched Love Actually and watching Colin Firth sitting in his villa in the South of France got me thinking. Then this morning we watched House Hunters International where a couple bought a villa/estate in the South of France and again I thought, "hmmm, that would be awesome." So now I'm looking at what it would cost to get an apartment or something in Provence or in Tuscany for a week in March. Yes, it's completely different than sitting on a beach and getting tan, but I just can't help it - I'm a sucker for Europe, even if it's only for a week.
It's been a bit of a whirlwind December leading up to Christmas and New Years. We managed to do all the laundry from our trip but it's still piled up in the back bedroom waiting to be folded. In September we bought a fake (ahem, faux) tree from Costco and once we got it up and out of the box it took me two solid weeks to get all the ornaments on it. We didn't manage to get any garland for the front door so I finally gave in and bought a wreath from Whole Foods - better something than nothing - for $12.99. Our stockings went up (not by the chimney, but rather the TV) about a week and a half ago. We have our holiday cards ready to go out but for the life of me I can't get any stamps. Every place that isn't the post office that normally sells them has been sold out. I tried stopping in to the post office in our neighborhood but apparently they are paranoid and even the stamp machines are locked up tight until someone comes and unlocks the doors. Maybe I'll call them "happy new year" cards since that's about the time people will start getting them. We just barely hit the deadline for shipping gifts to my sister and mom without having to spend more on transportation than the gifts themselves cost. All in all, we're pretty much failures this holiday season. Well, not entirely failures. We did manage to bake our cucciadati with Alan's mom this year. I helped at the beginning but after being told I was cutting them too small I decided my skills were more suited for decorating the tree, so Alan and his mom did the batch of 300 or so cookies.
My biggest failure of the holiday season? I bought Alan the *exact same gift* as I got him last year. Yup, that's right. I totally forgot that I bought him a tea fixing thingymajig and even though I've seen him use it I went ahead and bought it for him again. I was quite horrified when on Thursday or Friday night we were standing in the kitchen and I looked to my right and saw it had been used earlier in the week.
Me: Where'd you get that?
Him: Get what?
Me: That (pointing at tea maker)
Him: You got it for me last Christmas.
Me. Um, oh. <red face, shame>
Leaving Belfast we made our way back down to Dublin, but first we stopped at Newgrange, a stone age passage tomb in the Boyne Valley that was built around 3200 B.C. Our GPS took us directly to the site - unfortunately, you can't park there and visit. You have to drive another 15 minutes or so away to the visitor center, park there, and then take a bus with a bunch of other people to Newgrange. While it was so frustrating to be there - and yet NOT be there - by going with the group we were able to actually enter the passage tomb to see how it was built (that was mightily impressive!) and the carvings that have become known worldwide as ancient Celtic communications. I won't tell you that going inside was the most awe-inspiring thing I'd ever seen or done because truthfully I don't fully understand what it was I was seeing. Our instructor/guide, kept telling us what all the theories are (using broad generalities) but never really gave you anything that you could grasp onto.
According to various sources, megalithic mounds such as Newgrange entered Irish mythology as sídhe or fairy mounds. Newgrange was said to be the home of Oenghus, the god of love. The Passage Tomb at Newgrange was re-discovered in 1699 by the removal of material for road building. A major excavation of Newgrange began in 1962; the original facade of sparkling white quartz was rebuilt using stone found at the site. Newgrange was built in such a way that at dawn on the shortest day of the year - the winter solstice - a narrow beam of sunlight for a very short time illuminates the floor of the chamber at the end of the long passageway.
From Newgrange we dropped the car off at the airport and then went to check in at the Clontarf Castle Hotel in a suburb outside the city center. We were worried about returning the car because of the lost license plate but because we clearly didn't do anything wrong and there was no damage, we just had to pay a 15 euro replacement fee and then be on our way. I wish dealing with the idiots at Clontarf Castle would have been as easy. Arriving it at the castle you can see they've done a great job taking an actual castle and remodeling it to include a whole modern facility around the main hearth. Not much of the original castle stands except for the lobby area, but they've done a great job integrating ancient and new. Too bad that's where them doing a great job ends.
We go to check in and the lady is like, "oh, I need you to speak with the manager." Someone whose name I can't remember but who's lying stinking face is ingrained in my memory came over to tell me that unfortunately they'd booked some parties and now they couldn't accommodate our reservation anymore. Never mind that we'd already paid. According to this filthy stinking liar of a man, they'd been trying to reach us "for days" to tell us that they'd moved us to their "lovely" sister property - the Burlington - in Dublin's city center and had made sure we were getting "a beautiful upgraded room." I was so pissed off at this point because I knew he was lying to me - he had that sleaze factor about him that just oozes dishonesty and utter crap. Unfortunately at this point I was exhausted and knew that if I started talking I'd end up making a scene because I was so utterly angry at the fact that he was standing there lying to my face and trying to make me feel like he was doing me a favor. To make up for the trouble, they paid our taxi to the new hotel, what is described as a "lovely modern four star property in Dublin's city center" but is actually a shitty tourist trap for people who don't really know what four stars in and oh by the way, that's not Dublin's city center. The first thing I noticed was the hordes of people that were very clearly all there from a bus tour geared toward partying; the second thing I noticed was when we checked in our bill was for significantly less than we'd already paid to Clontarf. Fuming, I don't say anything - again, because if I started talking, I'd start screaming and I really didn't want to make a scene. But then we got to our room and I lost it and a scene was the last thing on my mind.
Let's just say the view was the best thing about the room - double bed with stained bed sheets, dirty hand prints on the wall, mold on the shower and in the toilet bowl ... you get the picture. And then I remembered the filthy stinking liar from Clontarf who told us we were getting an upgraded room for our trouble. And then I lost it.
I called down to the front desk and explained the situation to a woman who while not entirely helpful was at least honest with me. No, they weren't supposed to give us an upgraded room - it was a completely packed hotel and they were doing the Clontarf a favor by fitting us in at all and sorry that was all she could do for me. I asked her if she could transfer me to the Clontarf Hotel, you know, being sister properties and all. She did at which point I spoke with someone named Maya who was even more helpful than the previous person, but still not really helpful at all. She apologized profusely for the situation - there's a first! - but still wouldn't admit they had been in the wrong or that the asshole her colleague had lied to us. Instead she told us she'd see what could be done - about 25 minutes later we were upgraded to "an executive suite" a few floors up on the concierge level and she acted like she'd done us a huge favor. Unable to address the fact that they still took our money when the room was NOT the same price, she offered to comp us dinner in the hotel's restaurant. You know, the one with 50 partying tour bus people in it. No thanks. With the exception of the view which was slightly improved, the executive suite might have been even worse than the regular room because at least here they were trying - and failing miserably - to be a four star hotel.
Oops, just realized I didn't put a W at the end of yellow. Please forgive me - I labeled & uploaded these at 12:45 a.m. and clearly I'd lost my ability to spell.
Not pictured is the water stained 80s furniture, more dirty walls and mold growing in the shower where the plaster/drywall has started to crack and fall away from the wall. And yes, that really is a black, rotten smashed banana lying in the middle of the hallway about 3 feet outside our door - given its smell and color, it had to have been there for days.
After a pretty large freakout that had me throwing things and using a lot of very unladylike language, we decided to walk to Dublin for dinner before the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl we'd been wanting to take. Because of the season they only run on certain nights so we were lucky to be able to catch it on our last night in town. After a 35 minute walk that had me hot and sweaty - and then even more walking while we tried to figure out where and what to eat - we finally found ourselves at O'Neill's Pub which is a beautiful multi-story, multi-room pub that had a hofbrau style food set up. The food wasn't great, but it was hearty and it hit the spot. Alan was also finally able to get a pint of Harp, something he'd been trying to do for the entire length of the trip. It was during this stop that we noticed just how trusting the people in Dublin are - at one point the couple sitting next to us got up to (I think) go outside and smoke a cigarette. They left their jackets and she left her purse. They just got up and left - never asked anyone to watch their stuff for them or anything - just assumed it would be there when they returned, and of course it was. That would NEVER happen in NYC, SF ... or anywhere else!
Finally it was time for the crawl and I am so glad we made a point of doing this as it was one of the funnest things we did during our entire trip. Led by two trained actors who are very clearly up on their history of literature as it relates to Dublin and its environs, we hit up 4 bars, got a history lesson and watched them reenact a couple of scenes from various Dublin playwrites, including Waiting for Gadot by Samuel Beckett. Our first stop was Duke's which is where we checked in and were introduced to Colm and the other actor whose name escapes me (bad, I know!) and kicked off the tour.
Next stop was Trinity College where we heard about all the writers' disdain for the college, including Oliver Wilde who was very clearly a dandy.
After Trinity we made our way ... back to O'Neill's Pub where we'd just been a little bit ago. I was hot again (too heavy a jacket paired with too much indoor heating) so I stayed outside more than the rest of the group, but I got a chance to wander around the bar a bit and really take in how pretty it was and how interesting the floor plan was - another place I could have probably gotten lost in.
After O'Neill's we went to The Old Stand which has been located at its site in Exchequer Street for over 300 years. Yeah, while we were still Brits, people were regularly gathering there for drink and craic. It was also a local meeting place for Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader. In addition to being in such an historic location, we were also excited because we were able to get a table and sit down for awhile. Laziness to the core.
When the pub crawl was over we didn't feel like going back to the sad excuse for a hotel - why kill our buzz and bubbling good mood?! - so we decided to head over to Temple Bar to see if there was live music playing again. With a belly full of food and drink we didn't need to worry about provisions so Temple Bar was as good a place to go as any. Unfortunately, the bar had a live musician playing Tom Petty hits so we left nearly as soon as we got there. As we stepped out onto the street we heard music coming from down the way being piped out onto the cobblestoned streets - following it we stumbled on the Ha'Penny Bridge Inn which had a huge crowd for a trio on the guitar, fiddle and accordian. At first we were in the back of the cramped room but with people leaving and moving, we found ourselves over by the bar. Then before we knew it two girls were being asked to give up their seats because they weren't drinking anymore and suddenly we had front row seats for the best live music we'd heard the entire trip!
We left the pub around midnight and walked back to the hotel which took a bit longer than the walk from it as (1) we didn't really know where we were going and (2) we both had to use the restroom something fierce! I was surprised to find the restaurant/bar area of the hotel was still going strong when we got back around 12:45 a.m. If you're in Dublin, explain to me why you're partying at your hotel bar listening to bad 90s pop? Why aren't you off in the city exploring and hanging out at the real bars? Some people I'll never understand.
Our flight the next morning was at 6 a.m. so we had to be out of the hotel by 4 a.m. to get to the airport, check in and go through security. According to the fine folks on the Fodors, TripAdvisor and Frommers message boards, we needed to be there at least two hours early because security would be a nightmare and there would be hordes of people - yes, even in November (slow time) during a recession. Nearly every single person I interacted with on those boards implored me not to think I could waste even a second. You see where this is going, right? When we checked out of the hotel about three hours later - exhausted, but ready to go home - I was SHOCKED to find the party STILL going on in the hotel bar. These people never sleep! It definitely made me realize I never want to do a bus tour with anyone under 60; old people are seemingly more my speed. Our cabbie to the airport was hilarious - he (like me) thinks Hillary would have done a much better job than Obama is currently doing and he talked about idiots who make $50,000/year thinking they could afford $1 million homes. Needless to say, I think our politics aligned. Oh, and the airport? Yeah, pretty much deserted. We could have gotten another 45 minutes of sleep and been fine!
I'll say this about our flight though: Adavan is amazing and KLM is a great airline. With the exception of the ridiculous way each of the gates are set up at the Amsterdam airport, we had a very positive experience with KLM. For one, they never stop feeding you or giving you something to drink and the onboard entertainment options were quite diverse and not at all outdated. I didn't do much TV watching on the way home because I slept for the majority of the flight, but Alan was able to watch a couple of movies, our seats were comfortable and the stewardesses were very nice and accommodating. If I ever have the option of using KLM again I will. A lot of people warned us about their outdated planes and lack of amenities but I have no idea what they're talking about - it was great (and that's saying a lot since I abhor flying).
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And thus concludes the long, long, long Ireland trip recap. If anyone is interested in further information, I'm happy to tell you what I can. You can email me at beckycaudill at gmail dot com.
For as many issues and setbacks as we had during the trip, I'm looking forward to visiting again. I'd definitely want to do it during the summer months when there is more daylight and less chance for insane winter storms. I would reduce the number of stops along the way - focusing more time in the south and west - and I'd stay in town versus out in the country in order to make access to things like food and entertainment more readily accessible. Oh, and I'd find a way to sleep since we got so little of it during the entire duration of the trip.
With the exception of Seattle earlier this year we never eat at the same place multiple times during a vacation but while in Belfast we had breakfast both days at this cute little cafe called Panini on a side street in Holywood. Remember me saying the town was definitely an upper class suburb? Apparently it's always been that way - the store next to the cafe had a sign saying it had been serving the gentry since 1835. Well then.
After breakfast (eggs & bacon on soda bread with an extra powerful (that wasn't) espresso) we made our way out to the coast to see the Giant's Causeway. Unfortunately I saw a sign that said we were supposed to go one way while our GPS was telling us another and so I argued for a detour that wasn't the right thing to do and we ended up adding 15-20 minutes to our drive. We were able to buy gum though so it wasn't a total wash.
Giant's Causeway was one of my favorite sites to visit the whole trip. Like the perfect tourists we are, we watched the film in the visitor's center before heading down to the shore and I'm glad we did. We got to hear the legend of how the steps were formed according to local folklore. I won't ruin it for you but let's just say it had me laughing hysterically, especially their portrayal of the Scots. According to scientists, the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns are the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. I like the folklore reasoning better. The other great thing about the video was that we learned Alan's ancestors - the folks who crashed their Spanish Armada ships in Ireland and who eventually gave way to the Black Irish - landed ashore very near this area. So while we still had no idea where my family was from with the exception of "the Donnelly's were a very fierce and powerful clan from Donegal" we now had a pretty good idea of where Alan's roots come from (at least on this side; we still need to step foot in Sicily to find the other half).
The weather on the Antrim coast was beautiful - cold & bright, just the way I like it. As we got down to the rocks, it was also VERY windy which is evident in every single picture of me and what appears to be my flock of seagulls.
Leaving Giant's Causeway we drove a couple of miles down the road to the Old Bushmills Distillery, which because of its founding in 1601 makes it the oldest licensed distillery in the world. Based on the time we arrived we were fortunate enough to get a private tour of the plant and because it was a weekday - at this point we realized it was Thanksgiving! - the site was in full operation mode so we got to see not only where Bushmills is made but also how its made and by who.
It was definitely like being in an episode of How It's Made (in a good way). I wish our tour guide would have had a louder speaking voice because there were moments I couldn't hear a single word she said, but I got the general gist of it. At the end of the tour you get a tasting - we had a dram of the Bushmills 16 year single malt which is matured in a combination of American bourbon barrels, Spanish Oloroso sherry butts and Port pipes and the Bushmills 1608, a special 400th Anniversary whiskey blend containing 95% malt and 5% grain whiskey. The 1608 was definitely more robust than the 16 year, which we ended up buying for Alan's dad since he's such a whiskey fan. The longer we were in Ireland, the more I became a fan too and I definitely think of all the whiskeys I've drank the Bushmills Black Bush is my favorite for everyday consumption. [Because of the distilling process and how flammable the plant is you can't take pictures indoors so this is all I have - trust me, the tour is VERY cool inside.]
After Bushmills we drove a little way down the street to Dunluce Castle which we were once again fortunate enough to have completely to ourselves. While the weather may have been suspect during this trip nearly every single major site was completely deserted except for us. Oh, and it was FREEZING out there on the cliff where Dunluce is placed. The man who built it there must have been mad (especially since one night the entire kitchen fell off into the ocean).
Back at the hotel we rested for a couple of hours before driving into Belfast for dinner. We had heard that you must get oysters at the Crown Liquor Saloon so we tried to do that, but what each and every website and guide book that said to do this failed to mention was that oysters are only available at LUNCH. We were about 7 hours too late, but we decided to stay and eat upstairs before having a couple of drinks in the absolutely gorgeous Victorian bar downstairs. We couldn't get one of the private parlor rooms that were used back in Victorian times to separate the men from the women in the taverns but we did eventually get two barstools near the door which was nice because it was also very warm inside and I don't do well with heat and liquor. And speaking of heat, the lamps were real gas lamps not reproductions. At first I didn't understand what I was smelling (very faint) but then as I sat staring out into the room trying to figure it out I noticed that the bulbs were actually flames and it hit me. No one does that anymore!
We didn't get to take a famous black taxi tour of the city to learn about its history, including "The Troubles" which I'm kind of sad about but we only had so much time there and it just didn't work out. What is crazy is that while we were wandering around Belfast for two days thinking what an absolutely modern city it is and how there was no visible trace of the violence of the IRA there were bombings both immediately before and after we left the area. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose?
Remember in the first post when I said the more time I had to plan this vacation the longer it go? Well, that's mostly because we *had* to see Giant's Causeway, and if we were going to go that far, we may as well stay in Belfast and make it a leg of the trip instead of an in and out. Based on Google Maps, I thought this was a possibility. I had thought wrong. All I can say is thank goodness we decided to add an extra night in Belfast because (1) there was no way we could have seen Giant's Causeway while having driven from Ashford Castle all in the same day no matter what the maps tell you and (2) it became one of my favorite stops on the entire trip.
Getting to Belfast though was not without its challenges. Remember all that flooding? Well, the first two routes out of Cong that we attempted to take were a bust - the roads were completely submerged in water. We sat watching a Jetta get stuck and start smoking in one of the recently-formed lagoons and quickly knew that our drive was not going to be without its troubles. Eventually we had to back track about an hour out of our way and go around the flood - what would have been a 10 minute drive to the road ended up taking over an hour. That said, it was a very lovely drive - the roads really are dotted with dry stack stone walls and there really are sheep as far as the eye can see. Oh, and rainbows? Ireland has those too.
To avoid the weather, we drove up through Sligo, across to Eniskillen and then on to Belfast. Sligo itself wasn't anything special, but the region around it - known as Yeats country - was absolutely breathtaking.
The traffic in Eniskillen was awful - we moved maybe 2 miles in an hour. I don't know how we could have avoided it, but I really wish we would have been able to as it added another extra hour onto what was already going to be a five hour drive. As you drive out of Eniskillen you really realize that you're no longer in the Republic of Ireland as everything suddenly changes - no more stacked stone walls (everything is hedges), the houses are bigger and more refined looking, the roads are smooth and wide and the signage changes.
We arrived in Belfast as the sun was setting so we only got to see a little bit of the city. The hotel we stayed at - The Culloden Estate & Spa - was located outside the city center in a suburb called Holywood. For those in the Bay Area, it was pretty much like staying in Piedmont or at the Claremont Hotel in the Oakland Hills, definitely a small bedroom community, and most certainly upscale. The hotel, which overlooks the Belfast Harbor, was decorated for Christmas which I loved. At first we were given a room overlooking a parking lot, but just by asking we were moved across the hallway to a newly remodeled room that had a view of the grounds and out onto the harbor. The room itself was nothing special, but it was warm, nicely positioned and comfortable.
I had read on TripAdvisor that the train stop was right outside the hotel and that was certainly the truth. You literally walk to the bottom of the hill and there it is. And the trains. Oh, how I loved the trains. I wish BART could have trains this nice; it would make everyone's commute so much better and BART riders so much less aggressive and dour each morning and evening.
Getting into Belfast, you're dropped off at the main station which is kind of way out of the way in the "dodgy part of town." (Gold star to the first person who gets that reference.) We knew two places we wanted to visit for dinner & drinks so we just followed the map we had into town. Off in the distance I could see a lit up ferris wheel, but didn't think much of it. Then, as we turned a corner we saw the entirety of the city hall was decorated for Christmas. Upon closer inspection they were also having a Christmas market. I cannot explain to you how much I love Christmas markets. I want to spend an entire vacation cruising down the Danube visiting all of Eastern Europe's best Christmas markets I love them so much. We ended up scrapping our previous plans and just eating at the market.
We also wandered around the city's main shopping center - Victoria Square - which is this really cool indoor/outdoor mall that has a glass dome so large you can see it as part of the city's skyline. The shops were closing up so we didn't really do any shopping, but it was pretty evident from the shoppers out and about that Belfast wasn't suffering from the same sort of recession woes that Dublin was, which I imagine had something to do with different governments and the pound versus the euro. No one we spoke with at all in Northern Ireland mentioned the current financial difficulties, whereas EVERYWHERE we went in the Republic, that was the main topic of conversation.
When we woke up the next morning the storm was still going strong outside our room. The winds were so bad the hotel had the heavy draperies in the common rooms closed against the onslaught. Breakfast was an even larger spread than we'd had at some of the other hotels and I was so full that I didn't even eat any of the amazing Irish bacon. Just scones and coffee for me. Breakfast another instance where I felt somewhat uncomfortable about the high level of service at Ashford; I don't need anyone to pour my coffee for me if you have left a small pot sitting at the table with me. In fact, as an adult I should be able to do this by myself. And yet all around me people were having this lady go from table to table to pour the coffee that was sitting right next to their right hands. They could have done it themselves, but instead they made this lady do it for them. It just reeked of servitude and class division and quite truthfully, a complete and utter lack of respect to me. But, apparently, that's how they run the show at Ashford.
Prior to leaving for Ireland I had told Alan about the School of Falconry onsite at Ashford and asked him if he wanted to do it. It wasn't cheap by any means, but it's something we would probably never have another chance to do so that morning we walked about a mile on the grounds of the hotel to get to the aviary where we met Skellig, Millie and Dingle.
We had a hawk expert with us the entire time who showed us how to hold the birds and encourage them to fly and return to us. After learning the basics we walked out onto the property where we did a couple of flight runs - the key is to have yummy dead animal parts for them to want to return to you. These animals are both very complex and very simple at the same time - at the end of the day if you give them meat, they will realize that being with you is easier than hunting.
We walked back to the castle to dry off and get some food - fancy schmancy tea service for Alan and seafood chowder and Guinness for me. Gotta make sure you're getting your daily dose of stout! At one point Alan went to use the business center and I walked around for a bit, or should I say I got lost trying to find him. I don't know if I can adequately explain to you how big Ashford is, but it's kind of like in Harry Potter where the staircases change and you find yourself somewhere you didn't mean to be. Apparently I walked past the business center twice while Alan was in there and didn't even know it. For all the pseudo complaining I've done about the place, it has more to do with me and not the property itself. The castle itself is amazingly gorgeous and is definitely the most opulent and fantastic hotel we've ever stayed in.
We also walked from the castle into Cong, the village it's part of. Cong is very small and was pretty much shut down for the season (and the weather?) when we walked in. It is home to a b&b or two, a pub/restaurant or two, some houses, a church and an historic abbey.
After watching RTE, Dancing with the Stars and something else in our room, we had dinner again at Cullen's at the Dungeon, the restaurant in the basement of the hotel before heading back to our room to pack and sleep for the following day's extremely long drive to Belfast. The fish & chips I had for dinner was the best fish & chips we ate the entire trip - I fancy myself somewhat of a fish & chips connoisseur, having tried them at nearly every place they're available in SF and Oakland and then throughout Ireland. LOVE me some fish & chips.
The next morning we woke up pretty early so we could get a jump start on what would be a long drive up to County Mayo and Ashford Castle. Based on Google Maps and GPS, we already knew we were in for a 4+ hour drive but when you add in stops along the way and who knows what sort of weather-induced detours and delays, we wanted to make sure to leave ourselves as much time as possible.
Our first stop of the morning was Adare which is supposedly this amazingly beautiful village with several restored thatched roof cottages. And it is a little village and there are thatched roof cottages, but only a handful. I kept wondering if we were missing some part of it but we weren't. This is also the home to Adare Manor which is a huge manor house and golf course that caters to the very wealthiest of society. It was obvious the town of Adare had been set up to do the same. There's a very pretty public park, a castle (closed to the public during winter) and some shops in the cottages and a cafe or two, but not a whole lot of reason to stop if you don't have a specific reason for being there. We were on the lookout for a brooch to go with a sweater we bought for Alan's mom and so the shops were a perfect place for us to find something unique and not what you find at every other tourist shop across Ireland.
After Adare, our next stop was Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. I know, I know. "What a tourist trap," you're thinking. And, you might be right. But we loved it (we also love Colonial Williamsburg, so there's that to consider). The castle is what you'd expect from a castle - made of stone, cold, damp and uncomfortable to live in with secret passageways and staircases to all the different areas. The castle's great room was decorated with giant tapestries from the ... 13th century (???) ... one of which that had just been restored and returned from specialists in Brussels. The colors on it was so striking and vivid compared to those that hadn't been restored. And obviously, the original craftmanship was unlike what you'd find today to withstand so many centuries.
The present castle was built in 1425 by the McNamara family and remained in their possession until 1475 when it past to the O’Brien’s, the largest clan in North Munster. Under Henry VIII's "surrender and re-grant" scheme, the O'Brien's were granted the title "Earls of Thomond" and they agreed to profess loyalty to the King of England. The reign of the O’Brien’s came to an end with the arrival of the Cromwellian troops and the castle and its grounds were surrendered. The O’Brien’s never returned to Bunratty. Bunratty Castle and its lands were granted to various Plantation families, the last of whom was the Studdart family. In 1804 Bunratty fell into disrepair after the family decided to relocate to a more modern and comfortable at Bunratty House, located in the grounds of Folk Park. Bunratty Castle was finally returned to its former glory when Lord Gort purchased the estate in 1954. It is now the most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland and it has been open to the public since 1960.
Those McNamara's must have had TINY feet because at size 7, mine were way too big to fit on the stairs. I had to walk sideways from the knees down and forward facing from the hips up to avoid falling down the stairs to my death. I imagine this was intentional.
Our next stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Again, more hemming and hawing as we decided whether or not we should make this stop. We knew we only had some much time in the day as the sun was setting at 4:15 p.m. and it would add about 45 minutes each way to our drive. On the flip side, it's one of those places that everyone you meet who has ever visited Ireland asks if you visited. I can't imagine the looks and questions we would have gotten if we said no. We also were wondering if it would be as magnificent as everyone says, having already seen the Napali Coast in Hawaii. In the end, we decided to go for it and I'm glad we did. While I imagine in calm weather the cliffs themselves are a sight to behold we were more excited about the way the weather was behaving at the Cliffs. Behold, not a waterfall, but a waterup.
That is the ocean being pushed up and over the cliff from the force of the winds as they hit land. And yes, it was FREEZING here and we got drenched - again.
(This is me holding on to the binoculars for dear life because the wind was so strong it was pushing me back into the concrete wall and I was terrified that a strong gust would catch my jacket, turning it into a sail, and I'd go up and over. Needless to say, I let go and RAN away from the edge.)
After the Cliffs, we drove to The Burren to see not just the landscape in general, but also the Poulnabrone Dolmen. It's no secret to anyone who's read this blog for some time that I'm a fan of historical romance novels, several of which are set in Ireland and Scotland well before modern times. I'm also a fan of some supernatural book series and the Burren - and this site as far as I can tell - has been featured periodically in several of the books I've read. [Sue me if that's not reason enough to want to see an ancient reminder of civilization.]
Our GPS decided that if we were going to The Burren it was going to make sure we really saw the place, sending us on what was quite possibly the most ridiculous scenic route ever. I am convinced we could have gotten there much quicker, and with much less stress (at one point Alan asked me to let him know when he needed to remind me to breath) by taking some of the larger rodes. At one point were were driving down a pretty windy one lane road that had a sign for hikers and bikers. Further up there was another sign noting this was a path for summer hiking and biking enthusiasts. The GPS sent us down what is essentially a bike path! I mean, it was an actual road, but it's typically used for feet and wheels! Alas, we finally made it and the landscape was just incredible. You've never seen anything like it. The Dolmen itself has been roped off (which I hadn't noticed in recent visits from blog friends) and was much smaller than I anticipated it being given what its original use was.
Poulnabrone Dolmen (Poll na mBrón in Irish meaning "hole of sorrows") is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland, dating back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC to 2900 BC. The dolmen consists of a twelve foot thin, slab-like, tabular capstone supported by two slender portal stones, which lift the capstone 6ft from the ground, creating a chamber in a 30ft low cairn. The cairn helped stabilize the tomb, and would have been much higher originally. A crack was discovered in the eastern portal stone in 1985. Following the resulting collapse, the dolmen was dismantled and the cracked stone was replaced. Excavations during this time found that between 16 and 22 adults and 6 children were buried under the monument. Personal items buried with the dead included a polished stone axe, a bone pendant, quartz crystals, weapons and pottery. In the Bronze Age, around 1700 BC, a newborn baby was buried in the portico just outside the entrance. With its dominating presence on the limestone landscape of the Burren, the tomb must have remained a centre for ceremony and ritual until well into the Celtic period.
Leaving The Burren, the sun had gone behind a cloud bank so while it wasn't quite sunset yet, we had definitely lost the last of daylight. Our drive was a bit slow with some roads that had been completely flooded but were now just flood remnants and traffic as we approached Galway. We had heard on RTE that Galway - like Cork - had suffered some serious flooding but we weren't entirely sure where that flooding was (other than Gort) and what impact it would have on our drive up to Ashford. We eventually got through the outskirts of Galway after a minor stop & go delay only to find ourselves completely stopped on road outside of the city leading up to Ashford. Our road itself wasn't closed but the one adjacent to it was so all the traffic was being diverted our way. And then about an hour later as we inched along we did come to a place where the lough had flooded the road and emergency road crews were literally pushing back the water with pumps and sandbags.
We finally arrived to Ashford and holy freaking money! It's one thing to be treated respectfully when you check into a five star establishment, but it's an entire other thing to check into Ashford. First of all, the place is quiet, like a library or a museum. And wealth just oozes from every corner. Unlike The Shelbourne (also a five star property) where they just give you your room key and wish you a good trip, the concierge walked us to our room, pointing out the bar and restaurant along the way. He also encouraged us to make reservations for one of the two restaurants as they fill up. We knew that coats were required for gentleman in the George V restaurant but the dress code hadn't said anything about female attire. Looking at this place I knew I had nothing in my suitcase that would be suitable for dinner (this was confirmed later in the evening when a couple came out in a full suit for him and sequin evening dress for her). We ended up making reservations for the dungeon bar, where we - and all the other young people, apparently - belonged.
Our room was nothing fabulous - two double beds, a tv, and a nice bathroom but at that point I knew we'd paid probably the absolute least you could pay to stay at Ashford so I had expected it. A few minutes later the women in charge of rooms (she has a much fancier title that I'm forgetting) called and asked if we had requested to be put in a double room because if not, she had a room available for us that had a king size bed with the same view. Say no more! We made our way down the hall and checked into what would be Alan's favorite room of the whole trip.
After dinner that night we sat in the Drawing Room to make use of its free WiFi so that I could use Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I'm an addict. Sitting there I was really uncomfortable by how much wealth was on display. We do alright for ourselves and we live in one of the richest areas in the country so it's not as if I'm not used to seeing overt displays of wealth, something that is actually very common in Silicon Valley. But this was on a whole new level and it just made me feel completely out of place. I am not the person you'll see walking by with her 5 carat diamond ring, $1500 Louis Vuitton purse and $600 Jimmy Choos. I like comfort and I'm definitely a very casual person - Gap is definitely more my style. That said, as I sat there feeling awkward and out of place, I noticed the man's suit was a little faded and the sequin dress was definitely not high fashion. As I sat there in my Prada glasses, I felt at least marginally better about being there. Shallow and ridiculous? Absolutely, but sometimes you gotta take what you can get to make a situation bearable and this was definitely one of those times.
Later that night the storm rolled back through and it was a doozy. Our windows were rattling, the wind was howling and eventually around 4 a.m. one of our walls started leaking - drip, drip, drip. Once I figured out where it was coming from and that none of our stuff was getting ruined (can't say the same for the lovely draperies) I fell back asleep for the rest of the morning.
[I'm warning you now, this will be a picture heavy post.]
After hemming and hawing about whether or not we wanted to drive the Ring of Kerry ourselves or take a tour bus, we decided the best thing to do was go with a company that would know what to do if the roads were flooded or what have you. We'd spent a few trying days on the road and so we decided it'd be nice to have someone else stressing about the weather conditions for once while we just enjoyed the ride. We couldn't have made a better decision!
We made our way back to Killarney to the Deros Tours office and checked in. The original group was so small that originally we were going to go in a Eurovan but a few minutes before takeoff time, an Australian and French girl showed up so we moved to a bigger bus. I was actually secretly happy because this meant I'd have a better view (and I was able to jump on the bus quicker than anyone else and grab the best seat)! So hate me. The other great thing about this tour was the driver - he was very knowledgeable about everything anyone asked him, ranging from the local villages to why there were random forests planted on the hillsides. Oh, and he brought his dog Boo who I just loved to pieces.
The size of our group turned out to be really great. It was us, the girls, a man from Barcelona and a family from Pittsburgh's North Hills (where we lived before moving back to California nearly 8 years ago), including their son who is teaching math in Cork. We spent a lot of time talking to the couple from Pittsburgh as they were really interested in Alan having gone to Carnegie Mellon and what we were now doing in CA. They were young, retired teachers and it was interesting to hear from them how the area has changed. For instance, the mall I worked at when I graduated college and couldn't get a job (thanks dot com crash!) is now super high end with luxury brand stores whereas before it was just your regular old mall with Macy's and Pottery Barn (where I worked) being the most fancy.
Our first stop was the Kerry Bog Village Museum and the Red Fox Inn. We were the only people who decided to visit the museum since there was the promise of warmth and coffee at the Inn. According to our information, the museum is Ireland's only thatched village and is a National Herritage Award Winner.
We made a lot of scenic stops along the route before lunch, and as you'll see, the weather was complete crap. This was the first day I wore the sweater I'd purchased earlier in the trip and I'm so glad I did because in addition to it being nice and cozy, it was also incredibly warm and kept me pretty dry.
Around noon we stopped at a seaside village where both Charlie Chaplin and Charles de Gaulle spent their summers. It was insane! The waves were pounding the shore and the winds were upwards of 80 mph. It looked like a hurricane approaching the New England seaboard to put it in perspective for Americans. The pub we stopped at had another tour bus come in before us and unfortunately they got the last of the Irish Stew. Our group was left to choose between cottage pie and pasta bolognese which we really just the same thing, fish & chips and vegetable soup. As you can imagine, nothing was especially good, except the warmth from the fire.
As we approached Moll's Gap and Ladies View the weather became really foggy which made for less than impressive views. Still, you could see that on a clear day in its full greenery the landscape would have been amazingly gorgeous.
After we finished up the tour we made our way back to Ballyseede to take a nap, shower and get ready for the evening. We saw a few places in Killarney that promised to have live traditional music that night so we wanted to go back into town (only about 20 km away) to see what we could make of it. As we approached the first bar, we saw the two young girls from the tour earlier in the day already camped out by the fire. Based on their recommendation, we had dinner at another pub down the street that had amazingly good food.
We had fried brie (!!!), crab claws and a succulent lamb shank that just fell off the bone. We also tried their sticky toffee pudding after our expeirence with it in Kinsale. This one was made with a heartier oat cake and wasn't as good but was still rather tasty. Oh, and what's a cold night without a hot toddy to keep you warm?
We made our way back to the pub where the girls were and sure enough, there were the musicians setting up for a night of live music. They were really great and the longer they played, the more crowded the pub got. It was rather strange to me because people were showing up dressed to the nines - I'm talking girls showing up in short glittery holiday dresses and high heels, ready for what looked like a night on the town. As far as I could tell though, that WAS the nightly entertainment, at least in Killarney. Much to our surprise the couple from Pittsburgh also showed up and we sat with them for an hour or so listening to the musicians and making fun of the dressed up girls.
I made a video of the band but it was super dark and you can't really see anything so nevermind. As the bar got really full and our view of the band became blocked by people standing in the space in front of the musicians, we decided to head out for the night as the next day we had a long drive in front of us to get to Ashford Castle.
(Apologies for this wrap-up taking forever to finish - work has been very busy since getting back.)
Leaving Cobh, we made our way back to one of the few major highways in Ireland to drive to County Kerry and Killarney. The first half of the drive was gorgeous - the sun was breaking out from behind the clouds and everything was just very green. We drove through a lot of pastural land and some cute towns including Macroom which had an old castle as the center of town. I can't really tell you what the rest of the drive looked like because I passed out cold. Oops.
Arriving in Killarney we made our way to the main tourist office to see if they had any recommended walking tours (similar to what our DK Eyewitness guidebook had for Kinsale) but they just gave us a big map of the town. At first glance, Killarney is pretty adorable. And then you look closer and it's just a bunch of shops that I'm pretty sure are geared toward the tourists and not the locals. Some where high end, some were very low end and it all looked a bit fabricated. Unlike Macroom mentioned above, Killarney is definitely not a town that looks like it's been there forever.
First we tried to make our way to Ross Castle, one of the places I was most excited about visiting during the trip. Alas, the lakes had jumped their banks and the road to the castle was completely flooded to the point that there were men in wet suits and zodiak boats out on the water. Okay, scratch that one off the list. From there we decided to visit Muckross House and perhaps drive to Kenmare. After we parked the car the skies opened up and just drenched us ... again. We were going to take a tour of Muckross House but they weren't doing another one for over an hour so we decided to look into going to Kenmare instead. Only, oops, that road - through Killarney National Park - was washed out too.
Originally we were supposed to stay at the Cahernane House just outside Killarney Town, on the shores of the lakes of Killarney National Park, but a few weeks before we left they canceled our reservation so we ended up rebooking at theBallyseede Castle Hotel in Tralee. Thank goodness we did! As we drove away from Muckross back through Killarney town, we passed the few hotels along that stretch of road - including Cahernane - and the water was all the way up past the hotels to the road. I can't imagine getting flooded out from your lodgings!
A few miles outside Killarney and once again the skies changed and the sun started peeking out from behind the clouds. We had no idea what to expect of Ballyseede or Tralee as we didn't really do much research on each but as we approached we were very happy to not be staying in Killarney given what we'd just experienced.
Blue skies! Green fields!
Ballyseede, while extremely old, cannot really compare to the likes of Ashford or Dromoland in sheer size and grandeur. It's not the opulent castles one thinks of when they are going to "stay in a castle in Ireland." Rather, while from the outside it has the appearance of a small castle, it's more akin to a minor lord's country house on the inside. And it was absolutely perfect for us!
Because we'd booked so late in the game - and got a fabulous rate from Expedia - I didn't expect that we'd get one of the nicer rooms upstairs. As predicted we didn't, we got a nice room pretty much in the basement but it had the single best bathtub of any hotel we stayed in during the trip. See?
The other great thing about Ballyseede Castle are its resident greeters, Arthur and Einstein. If you're not a fan of dogs, this is not the hotel for you because these dogs live onsite.
Einstein is my new best friend. Because Arthur is an Irish Wolfhound, he's a bit more impressive in size and stature. Einstein, however, is the personality behind the duo. He will show you around the castle, take walks with you around the grounds and bring you rocks in exchange for belly pets. I wanted to bring him home with me. Sadly, the only pictures I have of Arthur that show just how big he is are from my iPhone and I've been told they contain incriminating evidence that cannot be posted for public consumption. Let's just say they're very "Lord of the Manor" and leave it at that.
That night we went into Tralee for what we were told would be live music around 8 p.m. at the Kelly Brogue Inn. When we told our cabbie where we were going he had no idea what we were saying. Apparently, we were pronouncing it more like Brogan so he just dropped us off in the middle of the town and pointed us in the direction of the pubs. We found the Brogue Inn and learned that music "might" be starting around 10:15 or 10:30. We also found the food didn't sound very inspiring and we needed dinner and had time to kill. We wandered around Tralee for a bit - cute town - before stumbling upon a cute pub that was serving delicious sounding food and showing some rugby matches. It was here that I was served quite possibly the world's largest seafood platter. It could have fed an entire family. All of the food - and beer! - was delicious but dear lord, I'm only one person!
We were going to attempt to visit another pub we saw that said it was playing live music but I was pretty exhausted (food coma?) and when we went outside we were drenched with what was probably the single worst rain storm we saw our entire trip - ten seconds in and my jacket and pants were completely soaked, not to mention my hair, face and hands. I'm happy to report that despite the deluge, my new Dansko shoes kept my feet completely warm and dry.
This was another one of those days where nothing ever really came together and we sort of had to make do with what we could do. It wasn't a great day, but our hotel and the food definitely made it better than it otherwise could have been. I mean, what's not to love about taking a hot bath in a gorgeous room while it's storming outside? I want that tub for my house now.
We knew exactly what we wanted to do on this day:
While the day started off great, including wonderful weather, delicious breakfast, interesting, educational museum and breathtaking cathedral, against all of our best efforts, it was not meant to be what we had hoped for.
You see, there was this thing all the locals and European press were calling The 1000 Year Storm (apparently neither it nor the one in Cumbria made the U.S. news) - basically, the worst storm to hit the isles in several hundred years was causing major flooding in Cork's city center, as well as several of the outlying country areas where smaller rivers and streams were flooding their banks, closing nearby roads and ruining homes.
We did manage to go shopping at Blarney Woolen Mills where I purchased a sweater you'll see me wearing in most of the pictures from here on out (mmmm, warm & cuddly), as well as some souvenirs to bring back to Alan's mom to thank her for watching Dakota. While shopping we thought we might at least check out Blarney Castle, but decided against it when it was 10 euro to even go anywhere near it. No thanks - with castles dotting the Cork & Kerry landscape, it just wasn't worth 20 euro to see a major tourist trap. Unfortunately, this is where our day takes a turn for the worst (well, not as bad as residents of Cork - they're still dealing with more flooding and sanitation issues). We started down one road only to find it washed out. We turned around and went down another to find - you guessed it - that it too was washed out. The whole time our GPS is telling us to make a u-turn and go back so we found ourselves driving down random country roads trying to get back to the main "ring road" to get into Cork.
At this point we hadn't heard that Cork city center was closed - in fact, we'd heard it was open. Merde! So we attempted to make it into the city center. Bad idea. VERY BAD IDEA. We drove around Cork for about an hour first trying to get to the English Market and then trying to get the hell out of dodge. Because our GPS isn't equipped to deal with road closures (or city closures for that matter) it kept sending us the wrong way. We finally stopped and asked a very nice gentleman how to leave and he gave us pretty decent instructions, if only we could have understood his thick Cork accent. Loved it!
After what seemed like FOREVER (trust me, you try driving on those narrow Cork roads and tell me how long you think it feels), we made our way to the main road and out of the city. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea so we hit a lot of traffic. Thankfully, because we had started our day so early we were able to get to Kinsale before dusk and do a walking tour of what was one of my favorite towns during the trip.
Before going to dinner we spent some time at the pub pictured above (An Seananchai), drinking beer (shocking!) and watching rugby. We watched A LOT of rugby on this trip and I've come to the decision that American football players are pansy showboats.
We had dinner at Fishy Fishy, which is one of the more famous seafood restaurants in town, and I'm really glad we did. The oysters we started with - from a place called (naturally), Oysterhaven - were amazingly plump, salty and delicious. I could have eaten them all night. Alas, we also had hake (for Alan) and scallops (for me). Alan questioned me ordering scallops, but when we got back to the room and read the guidebooks they all mentioned the incredibly fresh scallops to be found in Kinsale. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the sticky toffee pudding we ended the meal with - it ranks as quite possibly one of my favorite desserts EVER. And I love dessert. Every bite had me - quite literally - moaning with pleasure. I'm sure the table next to us found me disgusting but oh my god it was one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. I'm salivating just thinking about it.
After dinner we went back to the pub to wait for the 10:15 p.m. call time of the local musician(s). For some reason we thought it was going to be a band. Alas, it was a lone man with a guitar and a harmonica but he was great and it was exactly what we were looking for (and oh boy did we wait!). Up until this point in the trip this was the latest I'd managed to stay up and it was a struggle.
Have you ever watched The Amazing Race? You know how having a bad cabby or getting lost can be the difference between 1st place and "I'm sorry to tell you you have been eliminated from the race" (said, of course, in Phil's sexy Kiwi accent)?
Well, from this point on, that's pretty much our night. We left Kinsale, driving back to Cobh on what were pretty deserted country roads (damn Ns and Rs!). We were making good time and were relieved to find that we'd only encountered one point along the road that was a bit harried. As we approached the area we thought was near the b&b, our GPS (the lovely, British Selene voice) announced we had reached the ferry. FERRY?! We forgot to tell the bloody thing NOT to take any routes that required a ferry which, at this time, was CLOSED. We were now on the complete other side of the harbor and it was getting late. At this point we had absolutely no idea where we were and no idea on how to get where we needed to be. Everytime we'd plug our destination into the GPS it kept telling us to make a u-turn and go back. Finally, after another hour we approached Cobh, and then our inn, to find Pam the innkeeper waiting up for us. If she had had Phil standing next to her to tell us we'd been eliminated from the vacation I wouldn't have been surprised. It was really quite an awful end to what had been a day filled with highs and lows and didn't bode well for that early start the next morning.
Mount Juliet was one of only a handful of hotels that I've ever been sad to leave for the hotel itself. I loved it there. Still, we had many more days ahead of us, and a list of sites to see that was longer than we could possibly fit into the trip, so we had to get our arses on the road. Jerpoint Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey likely built in 1180, was our first stop of the day. Initially the curator wasn't going to allow us to visit the abbey because of the weather and flooding, but a docent walking around inside said that it wasn't entirely flooded and we could visit if we wanted to. We essentially had the entire abbey to ourselves as we roamed around looking at the 13th century carvings while trying to avoid any nasty puddles.
From Jerpoint,we drove to the Rock of Cashel - also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock. Prior to the Norman invasion of Ireland, it was the seat of the Kings of Munster who St. Patrick converted to Christianity in the 5th century. Damn St. Patrick and his meddling ways. Alas, before we could actually get to Cashel we had to drive down every country road in counties Wicklow and Tipperary. (Side note: this is the point in the trip where we thought, "maybe we should have gotten that SUV instead." The roads are lined with shrubs that are about 6 feet tall and their paving leaves a lot to be desired.) At one point the roads were completely flooded, but not impassable. This was our first glimpse into just how bad the storm really was as at this point we'd only heard it was going to be major, and hadn't really experienced it for ourselves.
The weather in Cashel was TERRIBLE with rain that was coming down sideways and winds up to 80 mph . I don't know if it was because of the weather that other tourists stayed in their hotel rooms nice and warm, or if this particular area was pretty much bereft of tourism at the moment, but we essentially had the Rock entirely to ourselves. From what I've read, this is pretty unheard of.
After stopping in Cashel for some pot pie and salads, we made our way to Cahir to visit Cahir Castle - or so we thought. Because of the high winds and flooded River Suir the castle was unfortunately closed to visitors for the time being. Foiled!
The road out of Cahir was also flooded, however, because this time it was an actual river that had jumped its banks, the water wasn't still - it was running and rather quickly. There were a couple of cars that were ballsy enough to try to drive through this water but most everyone - including trucks - were turning around and finding a new direction/route to use.
By the time we made it to Cobh in County Cork it was pretty dark and the rains had continued to fall. Unfortunately, our GPS (guided by Bing maps) didn't actually know where the Knockeven House was so after finding ourselves in a subdivision outside the town and then driving up and down the streets of Cobh, we were completely frustrated as to where we were and how we needed to get to the inn. What's more, the website and the directions didn't really give a street address (we found this to be the case with many of the places we stayed). Toward the end of the main drag in Cobh I managed to steal some WiFi access to find someone who had visited before describing how to find the inn since it's not immediately obvious. If that hadn't worked, I was going to email one of my colleagues at work and have them send me back very explicit instructions based on their full screen web searches. After what seemed like forever, we finally found our inn, where the owner - Pam - was waiting to greet us with freshly made scones and tea. Ahhh, hospitality.
That night, after walking up and down the streets of Cobh in the rain saying, "this doesn't look good" or "I don't want that" about the 4 food options, we found ourselves back at the original place Pam recommend, the Trade Winds Inn for what was one of our favorite meals the entire trip. This was also our introduction to Murphy's, which is another stout that is brewed in Cork.
And again, like all the nights before it, when we were done with dinner I crashed, and hard. At least this time it wasn't only 9 p.m.