Since we had to be on the bus at 6:40, a wake-up call came in at 5:30 and breakfast was at 6:00. Not exactly my cup of tea. As soon as we were on the coach, we searched for my ring, and...Carly found it! Yay!
The ferry then left at 8:00 and we arrived in Holyhead, Wales at 11:00. Shortly before arriving, I went up onto the deck for a look at the coastline, which I thought was really nice, but that may be because I haven't been to the coast often enough to tire of the way land meets the sea. I also bought chocolate and the two things I'm beginning to collect from my travels: postcards and phone key chains. The chocolate has now been entirely consumed.
From Holyhead we headed on over to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerchwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch, which is the longest place name at least in Europe with 58 letters. That's why everyone refers to it as Llanfairpwllgwy. And because no one has the faintest idea how to pronounce the Welsh. Except maybe the Welsh. Its translation is somewhat longer and takes a bit more breath: "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave." It's basically a truck stop.
The rest of the trip up to the Manor was passed watching Far, Far and Away with Tom Cruise and some other actors and actresses...Good movie, though!
This morning we left for Dublin at 8:30 and we reached the hotel at 2:00. When we got there, the room I was sharing with Carly and Dana wasn't ready yet, so we left our bags with the staff and stopped by Veronica and Jiffy's room before roaming the streets of Dublin. It was while I was using their bathroom that I suddenly realized that my mom's ring was missing from my finger. I of course panicked and we retraced our steps through the hotel on our way out, only we couldn't check the bus because it was locked. There was a little gray rain cloud over my head the whole day.
We took some pictures of Christ Church first since it was right across the street, then headed down about three blocks to the Liffy so that Jiffy could have a picture of "Jiffy on the Liffy."
Next, we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which has a very nice little park behind it. The park offers some excellent views of the building. Like most tourist churches, you have to pay to go inside, unless you visit at one of the service times for the service. So, we didn't go inside. Instead, we took some pictures and then tried to find Temple Bar and Temple bar district, but got "distracted" by Dublin Castle where we ended up losing Jiffy (or, as it was so wonderfully put by Dana, "Jiff-Jiff is poof-poof"). So, we walked around sans Jiffy and found a gelato place that we eventually went back to after dinner.
After dinner at a "fifties" style diner of hamburgers, and then some very delicious gelato, we went back to the hotel, where Dana, Carly and I finally got our room, which is probably the nicest hotel room I've been in. Well, except while I was in Japan. But then a private school was paying for all of the costs, so..... In any case, the room was on the fifth floor and offered a marvelous view of Christ Church and the surrounding city of Dublin. Once we settled ourselves in, we went down to the hotel lounge and watched some rugby. Of course, as soon as I was actually getting ready for bed, I discovered that I'd left my PJs at the hotel in Killarney.
We got up at 8:00 this morning and had a good hot Irish breakfast of bacon (ham), sausage, toast, eggs, and tea before leaving Killarney to traverse the Ring of Kerry, which is an 8 hour tour of a peninsula with plenty of marvelous views.
Our first stop on the Ring was Bog Village. Bog Village is a replication of a traditional Irish village with houses made from peat. Of course, there were also two massive dogs, two little ponies who were smaller than the dogs (the ponies really only came up to about my knee), and a lovely statue of a smiling puck.
After walking around the village, we stopped by the Red Fox Inn for some Irish coffee payed for by Matt, the Dean of Students. I guess it's a little more acceptable, considering that in England we can all legally drink, being college sophomores and juniors. I didn't mind the taste too much, except it would have been better if mine hadn't had quite so much whiskey.
Next we continued on for a view of Dingle Bay. Supposedly a dolphin named Fungi live here, but we didn't get the pleasure of seeing him. The Bay, however, was absolutely beautiful. I would have loved to have taken a panoramic shot, but, unfortunately, my camera doesn't have that function, so I took a video instead. Which turned out very choppy because my camera isn't meant to take videos
From Dingle Bay we headed in to Waterford for a closer look at the Atlantic and Charlie Chaplin. Apparently he frequented the town. The shore was rocky, but not as bad as the shore at Miura (Japan) which consists of volcanic rock. These rocks were nice and smooth, and therefore a lot easier to walk out on into the ocean since the tide was low. We also met the acquaintance of an English setter who loved the attention that a gaggle of ten of us girls gave him.
After lunch we continued our trek to the Madonna statue and then to Sneem, which apparently has good ice cream, but I wouldn't know because every place that might have sold ice cream, was closed. But the town of Sneem was really cute, and the river that cut through the middle was, albeit treacherously rocky, beautiful. It was here that I bought my new Claddaghring, which is more intricate that my old one and has a stone in the center of an emerald green hue. Well, a rhinestone, in any case
Our second to last stop was definitely one of the most spectacular stops along this whole drive. This was Ladies' View, so called because Queen Victoria and her ladies stopped here to enjoy the view. Of course, seeing as how it's the middle of winter and even in the Emerald Isle grass (in particular peat) does turn brown, the view is sure to be even more beautiful in the spring and summer. After pausing at this breath-taking view we headed over to the Kerry National Park and took pictures of a waterfall because we weren't allowed enough time to do any sort of hiking up the trail. Sad day. That's the one thing I would do differently if I were to do the ring on my own--allow for time to explore at least some of the areas we stopped at more than to just click a button on my camera a few times. Views of nature are not meant to be hurried.
And then we went back to Killarney for dinner and an early bedtime because the next morning we had to get up early to head for Dublin.
So far, though, I really love Ireland. It's been the best trip I've been on thus far, and I honestly wouldn't mind living in Ireland. It's so gorgeous! And the people are pleasant and have pretty nice accents too (I almost like them more than the English accent). Maybe I can come back at the end of next semester... There are these tours, Paddywagon tours, that are fairly cheap (besides the airfare to get to Dublin, which is where the tours start from) and can range anywhere from one to ten days. I kind of want to do the ten day all Ireland tour. It would be pretty much amazing.
At 2:00 in the morning we boarded the ferry bound for Rosslare, Ireland. We arrived in Rosslare at 6:30 for breakfast at a hotel right by the port. Right as we were finishing up out breakfast, the sun began to rise and so, naturally, everyone went out to the bluffs to take pictures of the coastal sunrise.
Of course, the sunrise was much more beautiful than my photograph (or even my camera) could ever capture.
Next, we boarded the coach again and headed for the town of Blarney to see Blarney Castle and be tourists. It was about a 2.5 hour drive and we arrived in Blarney at noon and ate lunch on the castle grounds. The lunch was, of course, the infamous sack lunches provided by the most excellent chefs at Harlaxton Manor of PB and J. We had fun feeding a little feathered friend our crackers that had fruit in them. After our lunch, we walked to the castle and prepared for the ascent to the Blarney Stone. Or, rather, Veronica and I prepared for the ascent. I soon discovered that the "stairs" were extremely narrow and tight-winding spiral that was accompanied by a rope to help pull yourself up. Brilliant, right? It was worse once we got up there to kiss the darn stone, though. A fear of heights isn't very helpful when you're leaning over a wall backwards to kiss a stone that's some 100 m above the ground. Plus, I had to pay 13 US dollars for a picture of me puckering up. Of course, once I was back on the ground looking up at where I had been, I was awfully proud of myself.
After seeing the castle, we headed back into the town of Blarney for a bit of souvenir shopping. We went into the Blarney Mills place, but everything there was so expensive that if I had bought something I would have had maybe 20 of the 80 euro I'd taken out left for the rest of the trip. So, instead, I bought a couple of little souvenirs for the family at a cheaper place and also got myself a St. Patrick rosary. The one that I really wanted had shamrocks on the beads, but it was closer to 20 euro, so I settled for one with just simple green beads. I like it a lot, though, and now I have a rosary at school.
Along about 4:00 we re-boarded the bus and headed for Killarney, which is a fairly charming large-sized town, although it was a bit expensive. Plus, all of the shops (besides restaurants, etc) closed at 6:00 for the night. We had dinner at a cheap pizzeria-type place, which wasn't too bad and we certainly got enough food for our money. I paid 6 euro for an entire cod with my fish and chips. Afterwards, we went down the street to McSweeny's Bar and Restaurant for dessert and a few drinks. I didn't actually drink anything; but I did have plenty of the Death by Chocolate (a.k.a the best chocolate cake I've had since I got here) that I split with Carly. If you go to Killarney, I highly recommend McSweeny's. Then, we headed back to our hotel rooms. Apparently those of us staying at Murphy's B&B got the better end of the stick, even though we only got 5 channels on the TV and there were hole in the ceiling and scorch marks around the smoke detector.
As I expected, the test wasn't bad at all, especially after we went over some of the material in the seminar this morning. After the test, I had about three hours to take a shower and pack for Ireland.
On the way down to a town in Wales where we caught an Irish Ferry over to Rosslare, Ireland, we watched two movies because the drive is just that long. We watched Two Weeks’ Notice and The Anchorman. I much preferred Two Weeks’ Notice. I just don't like the humor that's in movies like Anchorman and Dumb, Dumber, and Dumberer, or even Napoleon Dynamite.
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