Thursday, September 30, 2010

Greetings from Galway

Just like last time I updated, I've seen a lot and taken tons of photos in the last few days!

I'll begin this post with a few pictures from Blarney (just north of Cork), which is famous for its castle and the Blarney Stone.

I didn't realize that the famous stone is actually at the top of the castle, and you have to wind your way up spiral stairs to get to it.

Once at the top, you bend over backwards in order to kiss the legendary stone--to receive the gift of gab.

Kissing the stone. (So if this post ends up being wordy--but I doubt it will, since I'm tired--it might be because I kissed the magical stone, haha.)

Kissing Jarlath. :) (Behind us at the top is the Blarney Stone.)

We walked around the castle grounds and came to a "wee magical place"...

I expected to see a leprechaun or fairy at any moment.

We drove back into Cork and went to the English Market for lunch.

From Cork, we drove south around the coast through Skibbereen, which is known as the town that was most severely affected by the Great Famine in the mid 1800s.

On Wednesday, we started driving north-bound to Killarney, first stopping in quaint wee town called Kenmare...

At an outdoor market, I saw this book about a famous Irish singer named Dana! (pronouced like "Donna.")

Ahh, too many signs!! And not a single one of them was for the road we wanted. HA.

A few magical photos from the drive to Killarney...

We walked through the Killarney National Park and saw Ross Castle...

...and lots and lots of boats...

And this morning we took a 3-hour bike ride through parts of the park that we didn't see yesterday evening...

...such as Muckross House and gardens...

...and Torc Waterfall...

From Killarney, we continued traveling north, and took the ferry to cross the Shannon Bay.

This was a first for me--pretty cool! (Actually, it was cold!)

On our way here to Galway, we stopped at the Cliffs of Moher...

This view looked familiar to me, but I didn't know why. I just looked it up, and learned that the movie Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was filmed here, as was Princess Bride.

Well, that's all for now. I'll have to post the other photos I've taken on Facebook...some other time. :) Have a Happy First Day of October!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hello from Cork!

I'm writing tonight in the dimly lit, but lively common room of Bru Hostel. The place is full of travelers from different areas of the world, and we've been listening to a guy from New Zealand sing & play guitar while I upload and edit photos that I've taken during the last few days of our roadtrip--from Dublin all the way south to Cork.

Here are some of my favorite pictures to give you just a glimpse of some of the sights we've seen...

A family knocking down chestnuts in Phoenix Park. As Jarlath taught me last year, there's a game played with chestnuts, called Conkers, that is popular in the U.K. & Ireland.

This rocky road brownie was as good as it looks. :) {We had milk tea to drink, of course. I've been averaging about three cups a day.}

In beautiful Wicklow County--just south of Dublin--we went to Powerscourt Waterfall and Gardens.

This next photo cracks me up...

Jarlath as a leprechaun! haha (He just looked over my shoulder at this and said "aw, good grief!" while shaking his head. But I'm still keeping this picture posted.) ;)

Aaaanyway...the stroll through the gardens was absolutely lovely...

From the beauty of the gardens, we continued driving south through a bog area called Sally's Gap. It could also be called The Middle of Nowhere because that is certainly what it felt like...

See? No sign of civilization or wildlife for miles (err..kilometers). It was almost creepy.

On the other side of Sally's Gap was Glendalough...

...which is well-known for its monastery and scenic views, and is where we stayed at a hostel and had a full Irish breakfast the next morning.

This was a real treat since breakfast is usually just cereal or toast.

We've been grabbing a cheap sandwich/snacks for lunch, and then sitting down for dinner at a local restaurant or pub. (Tonight I had fish & chips for the first time in Ireland--deelish!)

We stopped in the cute country town Fern--long enough to stretch our legs--on the way to the next biggest town...

Wexford. (Where I spotted an adorable elderly couple walking arm-in-arm, and just had to capture the moment.) :)

"Aw, it's a little cottage with a shamrock above the door! And I'm wearing my "shamrock shirt" from Japan!" ("The life is beautiful and Happy.") Let's get a photo. :)

I took this shot on our drive to Waterford this morning.

Waterford is known for its crystal, and I was as careful as could be while walking around the displays!

I loved the scenic coastal drive south of Waterford...

Isn't Tramore a cute town? And we also drove through Dungarvin, where we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to check out the Dunhill Castle ruins...

See me peering out the window?

And finally, we made it here to Cork. Whew, all caught up now. :)

Well, the live music has stopped, it's getting late and time to sign off. Tomorrow we'll explore Cork before heading on to Kerry.

Slán go fóill! (Irish for "See you later.")

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Down in Dublin

This is Jarlath, and due to Dana's blog entry being lost on upload, I'm your guest blogger.

So here's gonna be as blunt as a plastic spoon in a knife fight!

This is a picture of Dublin's coloured doors (I know...there is a "u" in colour!).

This is me touching hot pillars...I like to do in my spare time - really it's the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin where the famous Easter Rising took place in 1916, and that's a bullet hole from then.

23rd September was Arthur's Day, dedicated to the founder of Guinness, Arthur Guinness. The company hosted a series of concerts around the city and parts of the world via TV link up to mark the event. As the company was founded in 1759, everyone in the audience and on stage toasted "To Arthur" at 17:59 to honour him - oh there's a 'u' in honour, too...hehe!

The famous comedian/TV presenter Patrick Kielty with the band aptly called The Hoosiers who we listened to and enjoyed.

This is inside a wee church dedicated to St. Augustine & St. John's which was opposite the concert we went to.

This is Dana jumping for joy at Dublin's Hall of fame --amazingly this was one take!

Dublin's cobbled streets --watch yer heels!

Some boy out on a day release programme chatting madness...

...and then two more day releasers with Molly Malone - She wheeled her wheel barrow, through Streets broad and narrow, crying cockles and mussels, alive-alive-ohhh!

A big game of Monopoly in Dublin!

A wee bit of culture at Trinity College where we saw the famous Celtic artwork 'The Book of Kells'. It ornately displays in Latin the four Gospels.

A big sign for a wee magical place that we never got to see for it was sold out. :(

But as luck would have it, sure didn't we meet one of the wee buoyos in the street looking for gold - although he was not so wee as he was bigger than Dana!

Eating sushi with Takai. Takai is living in Ireland for one year and learning English (haha...with an Irish accent!).

The Irish President's Residence...very easy to find...haha...I would have never have guessed that the beacon of Irish democracy is beside the zoo!!!

That's about it and sums up our visit to Dublin. I hope you enjoyed it. ;)