Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ireland Day 6: Blarney Castle and on to Cork

It took me around 6 months to plan my trip and a year's worth of hard work and saving, but I poured my heart into each and every moment of planning.  And now, there are only 2 days left. I can't believe it.  It has all been incredibly worth it.
We left the Randles Court this morning a little after 8 and decided to just hit the road for Blarney Castle.  I had previously planned on us eating lunch in Blarney at the Muskerry Arms.  We pulled into Blarney around 10am and decided to just eat brunch there instead.  We had the restaurant practically to ourselves which was nice. A continental breakfast of fruits and cereals and brown bread was provided and then we were able to order off the hot menu in addition.  Both of us ordered omelets...I didn't get a picture of the omelet because I was too hungry and wolfed it down.  The brown bread here was FAR superior to the brown bread of yesterday and the omelet was delicious. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone traveling to Blarney.

After eating we wandered across the town square headed towards the castle, passing the Blarney Chocolate Factory.
Very small inside and the chocolate was fairly priced, but we did not buy any.  I don't know why I didn't take any pics inside, it was cute!
Blarney Castle dates back to the 1400s and sits on a cliff of rock, dominating the greenery around it.  There are 126 narrow and winding steps to get to the top and it was incredibly claustrophobic, but the view from the top was absolutely beautiful. I can not even begin to imagine living in that castle, being a servant, wearing a dress and having to make my way up and down those steps multiple times a day.
Neither one of us were interested in leaning over backwards hanging off the top of the castle and kissing the Blarney Stone but it sure was fun to watch others do it....I can happily say I will not regret not kissing the stone.  I climbed up on the edges and took pictures over the side and my fear of heights majorly set in.  It was super windy up there and of course mom was over watching the people with the stone, so I was forced to suck it up and get myself down or stand up there and have a panic attack.  As you can see, I made it :).  After climbing back down the castle, we wandered through the poison garden, over to the Blarney House (which was very hard to get a good shot of because there was a group of non English speaking tourists who were completely unaware that oh yes, other people may actually want to take their pictures of the building, too.  From there we moved to the Stable Yard cafe for tea.  Of course!
Leaving Blarney we headed to Barryscourt Castle.
When we pulled up to the parking lot, a man named Finian ( i LOVE that name) greeted us and let us know that the castle was closed due to hurricane damage but that we were free to walk the grounds.  Apparently during the hurricane this past spring, the roof collapsed and the inside of the castle is majorly damaged. There was a beautiful apple orchard behind the castle that mom and I wandered through...it seemed odd to us that it appeared no one had picked the apples in quite some time.  All of the trees were ready to be picked, many of them leaning under the weight of their supply.  Shh, I picked one.
After speaking with Finian (yes I just wanted to say his name one more time) a little bit more, we got back in the car and drove the 15 minutes to our hotel, the Belvedere Lodge.  I had read that it could be difficult to find, but I thought "we have GPS, we can get anywhere"...ummm no.  GPS did not find the Belvedere Lodge...it did find the street it was on though thank goodness, and I strained to see every sign on the street until finally, I spotted it.
I chose Belvedere Lodge based on multiple reviews I had read of it. We were greeted at the door by Vince, checked into the hotel, dropped off our bags, and headed to Cork City Centre.  What are my thoughts on Cork?  We greatly enjoyed walking through the English Market which has been around for 3 centuries...yes, 3 CENTURIES.

Cork did not, however, hold the Irish charm I had anticipated.  We drove to a local movie theatre, hoping to catch something good, but arrived at one of those in between times where you had to find something to do for the next hour and a half, so we ended up in Tesco (a supermarket) mostly to use the wifi, and decided we'd just rather go back to the hotel to rest since tomorrow will be a full day.
Up next: Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle, and back to Dublin
~ps so glad we go the super insurance on the rental. I noticed today that the passenger side got scratched from the thickets on the Ring of Kerry...eek
~pps we saw multiple drive through McDonald's today...something we hadn't seen all week. But still, the number of them is far far less than in the states.
~ppss there are no public trash/waste bins anywhere to be seen!  We've put our trash in the back seat of the car and carried it into the hotels with us, to have them dispose of it....every gas (petrol) station we've come to hasn't even had trash(litter)bins at the pumps...something we Americans again take for granted








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