Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ireland - 8 day itineray

Days 1 & 2: Dublin
We had chilly, but sunny weather, so we were out exploring and taking pictures at all the major sights - St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christ Church, Temple Bar, Trinity College, shopping on Grafton Street, Henry Street, Nassau Street and O'Connell Street. We had planned to visit the Dublin Castle, as the website said they were open...but alas, closed.

Day 3: Waterford, Cashel, Kilkenny
Nils and Ina arrived on Day 2, so we decided to go on a road trip on Day 3. It rained We walked through and around the Rock of Cashel, but the weather just wasn't cooperating, so we ended the tour early and hopped in the car for the 1 hour ride to Waterford. The drive was, shall we say, interesting. The winding roads are in varying degrees of disrepair. The posted speed is 100kmph; however I don't think we were able to go any faster than 80kmph. Mario must have done a test run and set the speeds!

I wanted to buy crystal, so our next stop was Waterford. Had it not been pouring, I think we would have spent more time in the city center. It looked like a lovely place to shop and stroll around. We found the Waterford Factory and after about an hour of browsing, I managed to find enough crystal to match my existing pieces and pick up a few more...just because. And, they shipped it to the US, for free! Yes, I bought that much.

Kilkenny is a wonderful town. We walked, we shopped, we stopped in at a pub, we saw the Kilkenny Castle. If only we had more time.

Days 4 & 5: Clonmacnoise, The burren, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Kilbeggan, Kildare
Chuck and I planned a two day getaway to western Ireland. The motorway from Dublin to Galways is a very nice multilane tollway...a huge improvement over the roads from the previous day. We timed our stop at the Clonmacnoise for 10am, when they were scheduled to open. By 10:10, not a soul in sight, so we left.

Our next stop was a drive through the burren (heading through the hills) with a stop at the Cliffs of Moher and then continuing on through the burren along the coast back up to Galway. The drive was interesting, to say the least. The snow was heavy and wet, and started coming down in big flakes. Before we knew it, we were behind 2 cars that had (probably) never drove through snow. It took the better part of an hour to go about 20km, but most of that was spent watching the 2 cars in front of us go in the ditch, push each other out, slide down a hill, spin in the slush, repeat. The burren and cliffs were lovely, and I'm sure even more so when it's not snowing and blowing!

Galway is lovely. Absolutely lovely. We stayed at the Park House Hotel (review upcoming), shopped, and had an amazing dinner at Sonny's Front Door pub. On the return trip to Dublin, stopped in Kilbeggan and Kildare. Neither city was anything spectacular and most of the sights were closed because it was December 31.

Days 6, 7 & 8: Dublin and Malahide
We decided to cancel our day trip to Belfast. Call me crazy, but when a lorry filled with 1000lbs of explosives is found under an overpass on the main road from Dublin to Belfast, it's probably best to stay put.

New Year's Eve celebrations took their toll on Nils and Ina as both had some pretty bad hangovers. We didn't get moving for the day until almost noon! Our first stop was Malahide Castle. The grounds were beautiful and the castle was quite nice. Each time you went into a room within the castle, the audio system would start and tell you about the room. It was impersonal, but nice.

Kilmainham Gaol was quite interesting. Liz was our tour guide and while she was very informative, she spoke so fast and monotone that it would be difficult for ESL folks to follow along. We walked across the street to the Modern Art museum and arrived at 3:45. The website indicated reduced hours because of the holiday (12:30-5:30) and I was anything but pleasant when they posted a sign that they were closing at 4pm. What's the point of having a website and providing information to the public if you're going to arbitrarily modify operating hours on a whim?

No trip to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse. Underwhelmed. It's a self guided tour through about 5 floors of exhibits. At the end of the tour you can go to the Galaxy bar for your free pint. I thought a trip on January 1st would be less busy because everyone would still be hungover...not so much. It was body to body.

The sun was shining, albeit chilly, so I was on a mission to take some nicer pictures. Rainy, cloudy, grey pictures just don't do it for me. We also saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Overrated and at 9Euro a person, not worth it!

Gallagher's Boxty House in the Temple Bar area was wonderful. Chuck had the chicken boxty and I had the Murphy's stew. Both were delicious! I should have taken pictures!

We ended our trip to Ireland with shopping in Dublin. Chuck will attest that I shopped and shopped and shopped! My poor little suitcases were busting at the seams.

A few pictures until I get the slideshow posted.

Bridge in Dublin over the Liffey River

Cute little town in the countryside between Cashel and Waterford.

Malahide Castle

Cliffs of Moher - yes the weather was that crummy!

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland

Customs House in Dublin, Ireland

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