Killarney is a wonderful town, full of shops and Christmas cheer this time of year. The best shop was the Aran Woolen Mill Outlet...which is a must see since Ireland’s finest sweaters, hats and my personal favorite, scarves, are around half price. Still spendy, but half price makes the splurge seem more reasonable. It’s right around the corner from our hotel, The Fairview Guest House, which is a good place to stay. Their omelet was the best breakfast I’ve had throughout all of Scotland and Ireland (aka, tasted similar to a Denver omelet, which is my go to omelet in the States). Jen tried the full Irish breakfast, which included pudding...which is a nice way of saying gross, disgusting things all rolled together with oats. She's either got an iron stomach or she needs to research before ordering her food.
|Who is this strange old man with his hand on my breast?
From Killarney we hit the highway...or scenic byway if you will, toward Blarney Castle. We were going to skip Blarney after hearing that kissing the Blarney Stone (one of the most famous destinations in Ireland) would be gross since kids apparently break in and pee on the stone for fun. Hmm, I can’t imagine being drunk, breaking in, walking all the way to the castle, and then climbing all the way to the top of the castle without breaking one’s neck. I thought we were going to lose a few tourists on the way up, and they were sober. At any rate, we made the walk, climbed up the narrow stairs and took some great photos. I actually kissed the stone and was more worried about the strange man with his hands around my mid section more than I was worried about any possible urine on the stone. On the way down the spiral staircase I mentioned kissing the stone wasn’t a big deal, since I’d once kissed a .... oh never mind. A lady overheard my comment and completely agreed that compared to that, the Blarney Stone was child’s play.
|View from the top of Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle has wonderful grounds that seem to go on and on. The poison garden (complete with mandrake and other spell making plants made popular in Harry Potter books), the fairy glen, the sacrificial rock, the witch’s kitchen, the wishing steps (walk up and down with your eyes closed while clearing your mind of everything but your wish and it will come true), all were quite fun. I would highly recommend a trip to Blarney Castle...and definitely in the off season. It was one of my favorite castles out of all I’ve seen...and trust me, we’ve seen more castles than should be allowed.
From Blarney we drove to Kinsale, where out hotel was waiting. Sheryl (my GPS) took us through town, which is quite possibly the worst place to drive I’ve ever been. With Jen screaming at Sheryl and Sheryl insisting she was recalculating while I missed sharp turns and roads that were suddenly one way, we ended up driving through town twice. Twice. Through roads too narrow for people to be parked along, but these damn Irish parked there anyway. We had to drive so slowly as we weaved through cars and pedestrians, it was like an obstacle course from hell. It was like being turned around and blindfolded while trying to drive through a motorcycle course. In a car! All the while, Jen is waving at Sheryl with her middle finger and starting to look like she’s going to have a heart attack. Good times.
|One of the wider streets in Kinsale...these are two lanes with cars parked along the side.
We are at the Trident Hotel which is a beautiful place that overlooks the water. We walked around town, ate some great fish and chips, and I had some awesome berry cheesecake in the Trident Hotel bar. The bartender is from Scotland and after I asked if he was running from the law (which really broke the ice, I think), he poured us some Irish Cider to try. Jen now has a list of Irish brews that she’ll have to scout for when back in the States. Her list is huge. She’s such a lush (okay, maybe not, but for the record she has drank more than I have here...I think that has a lot to do with the fact that whenever I ask for a cranberry vodka they bring me a shot of vodka and a bottle of cranberry juice. I kind of annoys me that I have to pour my own drink and still pay 8 euro for it).
|View from our room at Trident Hotel, World's End, Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Four more days in Ireland. One of those is for travel back to the States and two of them are us in Dublin, carless, and stuck in a city that’s way too large for my taste. My list of things to see is dwindling. Tomorrow we head to the Jameson Distillery and to Waterford. And for the record, I haven’t gotten any Scottish or Irish in me yet...(Andy that was for you) but, what happens to me stays here. What happens to Jen, well that’s what you all get to read about.