Ireland Part II / the end

Best Of our last full day in Europe pictures here or on the picture above. Uncut collection of them here.

We had breakfast at our B&B. It was continental, with a nice quiche. We went to Bunratty next — again, lots of little back roads.

We encountered three wayward cows, two on one side of the one lane road, and one on the other. We couldn’t get past them. We honked, they’d jump agitatedly, switch sides, and move 5-10 feet down the road. Repeat. Until finally there was a driveway — except that another car was coming the opposite direction by then. We got around them after about 15 minutes.

We got stopped in traffic a couple times (again, one lane roads), but of course there were some majestic ruins to ogle.

Bunratty Castle seems to be somewhere between “historic castle” and “agritourism“. Aside from the castle, they had a bunch of model domiciles for regular people up, and they even had genuine peat fires burning in a couple (strangely, with absolutely no barrier between unwitting tourists and burning peat). It felt very staged — more so than most of the others. But a cool castle nonetheless. We bought a sheep at their gift shop on the way out.

We drove to Limerick and had lunch at a little place called Bia in the Milk Market. We expected more things to be open, but there were very few. KrisDi had a sandwich and I had smoked salmon boxty.

We walked to St. Mary’s Cathedral. Another gorgeous church. We learned about mercy seats — half-seats high enough for people to sort of rest their asses without looking like they were sitting at a time when it was mandatory to stand throughout church service.

We walked to King John’s Castle. We didn’t go inside. They didn’t answer when I knocked on the door. Odd, because it was just kind of in the middle of the city.

Afterward, we drove to the Rock of Cashel (with a little squabble with Google Maps, and a short chat with Chilkat on Google Hangouts). It was big, up on a hill, half-ruined. It had wonderful views of the landscape, including a nearby ancient Hore Abbey. There was a cemetery on the grounds, and lots of people taking selfies in it. There was also this incomprehensible sign. Before we left, I damaged my shin on a bench (bad enough to make my knee ache from the collision).

We drove to our final room in Kilkenny, Auburndale B&B. We couldn’t get in the guest door, no one was answering the doorbell, and the owners’ door was open, so I yelled into it until someone came and let us in. Turns out, he was an Irishman who had enlisted in the US Navy for a period of time, and had been a Seabee, near and dear to us due to our time in Port Hueneme.

We decided to take a fairly long walk into Kilkenny for the evening. We walked through the park in front of Kilkenny Castle. Then we had a beer at Kyteler’s Inn. It was a weird hodgepodge of nearby, unrelated buildings that had been glommed together into a weird, confusing complex. We had gone in thinking about trying to take in some local music, but decided we didn’t want to deal with it.

We decided to have Italian for dinner and went just down the block to La Rivista. We drank a bottle of wine, ate cheesy bread, pizza, and pasta. Dinner was really delicious — we didn’t have a reservation, and we were neither classy enough nor classy-looking enough to be there. She let us come in and eat as long as we could be done and gone in like 2.5 hours (I could eat like ten dinners in that time).

Afterward, we walked across the river to the Wine Centre with the hope of buying beer, and discovering there was a brewery in the back. So we had beer, and we bought beer. On our way back, we stopped at a whisky bar.

On the long walk back to the room, we stopped at a convenience store and bought some water. As we approached our room, we watched the sun set (not as hilarious as the Cliffs of Moher, but prettier). We drank some more beer in the room, and I think we went through pictures.

We had the big ol’ Full Irish Breakfast the next morning. We got to the airport without a lot of trouble, but we took about forty u-turns and/or wrong turns to get to the actual rental car return place.

Once we got in, we had some beer, I had an Irish Coffee finally, we sat at a table by a broken down outlet that I could only use if I propped my charger up with a chair. We had mediocre sandwiches and went through pictures some more.

Our flight from Dublin to Reykjavik boarded late or departed late. It was another case where they waited until it was time to board to tell us where our gate was. The flight wasn’t particularly special.

Because it was late, we had like a 45 minute connection in Reykjavik. We walked to our gate and got in line. I went to go buy us sandwiches, but they wouldn’t sell them to me without showing my ticket (for international passengers only — wtf, it’s god damn sandwiches!). While I was in the store, KrisDi got paged to go to the customer service counter, so when I went back to her to get my ticket, I had to stay in line while she went where she was told.

Turns out she had been picked for extra security screening. She had to wait until all the other lucky screenees arrived; they assured her that she wouldn’t be late for the plane (had it actually left on time, she would have been late). They took her into a room, made her take off her shoes, checked them and her hands, asked some questions, and eventually sent her on her way.

While she was gone, Icelandair actually started boarding their flight; when she got back, I raced back through the store to buy sandwiches with my recently recovered ticket, and got back in line before boarding.

We got to watch something amusing: They were using the PA system to remind people that there were two Reykjavik-Seattle flights within 5 minutes of each other, so pay attention to your flight number and make sure you go to the right gate! OK, that’s fine. We were at the right gate. An old woman was having trouble getting her ticket to scan to let her board…turns out, her wheelchair pusher (an Icelandair employee) had pushed her to the wrong flight, in direct disobedience of Icelandair’s public warnings.

The flight from Reykjavik to Seattle was pretty nondescript as well. Just a long flight. We got our bags, our slightly illegal quantities of alcoholic liquids intact and untouched, and had no trouble leaving.

Les picked us up and took us home. The kids were excited to cuddle with us (and to receive the various presents we got them). It was nice to be home.

Overall, it was an excellent vacation. Everything was awesome, and it’s impossible to choose favorites. Everything was worthwhile. But, it was exhausting. We didn’t plan enough downtime — it was go-go-go pretty much the whole time.

Driving on the wrong side of the road was stressful and nerve racking, but not as much as the one lane roads or the two lane roads where the lanes were so narrow you couldn’t fit the word “SLOW” in one lane.

Posted by snaotheus

1 comment

Thatched roofs look cool, but I wouldn’t want to live under one.

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