11.07.2009 - 18.07.2009
Ireland has been one of the ‘can’t miss’ trips we have had on our ‘to do’ list since we left New Zealand. So, with our friends Nik and Matt over doing their OE we decided it was a about time we went. As we had just bought our car a couple of months prior we decided to test 'Percy' out and tackle Ireland by road so, with a rough itinerary and a couple of nights accommodation booked, we headed on our way with Percy overflowing with luggage.
After one false start where Di and I had to turn back for home to collect our passports (which never actually got checked?!?!) we headed off to our first destination, Stonehenge. At Stonehenge we slowly walked around listening to the Audio tour which was interesting. The pictures below are of us in front of the stones.
After Stonehenge we set off for Bath. In Bath we took in the city and stopped by the first of many pubs on our trip. Then, to shorten our drive the next morning, we headed off to Cardiff to spend the night.
The next morning we headed off early for Fishguard where we caught the fast ferry to Rosslare, our first stop in Ireland. When planning this trip we had decided that we would book the fast ferry for this stage of the journey to maximise our sightseeing time in Ireland. We had our doubts if this was the best choice when, during our night in Cardiff, our waiter informed us that the locals referred to the fast ferry as the “Vomit Rocket”. Within 30 minutes of leaving port our doubts were confirmed as Nik, Matt and I started feeling worse for wear. So after an uncomfortable 2 hours we entered the harbour in Rosslare and everybody started to feel a lot better. The photo below is of the bridge of the Vomit Rocket:
From the ferry we made our way to Cork, our destination for the night. It was in Cork were we had our first Irish pints for the trip, Murphys and Guinness. After exploring Cork we headed for bed in our hostel.
Day 3 started early with complementary toast and coffee at our hostel before heading off to Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle is home to the Blarney Stone, which promises the 'gift of the gab' when kissed. The castle was amazing with most of the structure still standing. After walking through the castle Di, Nik and Matt kissed the stone and I ended up kissing the one of supporting stones above the Blarney Stone. I realised this afterwards at which time the queue had doubled in size so no gift of the gab for me!
After walking back through the castle we explored the grounds which were very impressive. The picture below is of Di in the witches’ coven.
After the castle we headed to the south coast to a lovely little town called Kinsale where we had a delicious lunch; the first of many seafood chowders.
We all were impressed with how good the food was in Ireland. 3x seafood chowder (all delicious), a few pies, the best fish and chips I have ever had and, of course, many varieties of potato.
We then went further around the coast to Schull (it was spelt ‘Skull’ on our map which is part of the reason for why we went there). After Schull we started to head up the west coast to our final destination of the day, Dingle, which is on a peninsula. On the way to Dingle we headed through the very picturesque Kerry. Kerry is famous for its lakes and rugged scenery and it didn’t disappoint. After finally finding our hostel for the night we headed out to find some authentic Irish music; I think we were quite lucky with our choice and we found a place that offered both great music and food (I had my fish and chips here). The picture below is of the scenery on the peninsula:
The next morning we drove the scenic roads around the peninsula on our way north to the cliffs of Mohr. The cliffs were an important stop for Matt because he had dreamt he visited there many years ago(!). On the drive to the cliffs we passed through lots of lovely little towns. The cliffs themselves were amazing, just the sheer size of them with the ocean far below. The photos below are of some little towns we passed through and of us at the cliffs. The photo of the cow is for you Mum (Barb), it had just rained and she was having a drink off the stone wall, not quite realising what an amazing outlook her paddock offered:
After the rain cleared we headed to our final destination for the day, Galway. We had to visit Galway as one of Di’s friends is from there and many other people said how great it was, and it didn't disappoint. Our visit (accidentally) coincided with the start of the Galway festival and we were able to see some live music and some street performers:
The next morning we checked out and headed across the entire width of Ireland to Dublin. Our accommodation in Dublin was great surprise (The Townhouse): we were expecting a modern hostel and we arrived to find an old converted house that oozed character having been the house of a famous playwright and poet. After checking in we headed out to Temple Bar for a drink. Temple Bar is an area of Dublin that is known for character with great little shops and bars sprinked amongst medieval cobbled streets. The first bar we visited Oliver St. John Gogartys ended up being our last as after our first Guinness an amazing duo started to play the traditional Irish music and we couldn’t leave. Dinner and a few drinks later we decided to call it a night and found our way back to our hostel. The picture below is of us in the pub:
The next morning we finished exploring Dublin, checked out of our lovely hostel and headed to the ferry port in Dun Laoghaire just outside Dublin. Having arrived a little early at the terminal (so early we were the first car there) we decided to have a picnic at a nearby park. After a lovely picnic we headed back to the ferry terminal, only to find we were still the first car there……………… Well, after checking out ticket we found out we were at the wrong port! We were meant to be at the Dublin terminal and our ferry was scheduled to leave in 45 minutes and we were a 35 minute drive away. After a furious drive we arrived at the terminal with just enough time to be checked in and let on the ferry: all very relieved. I have to admit we were all a little nervous about this ferry trip after our horrible experience on the "Rocket"; thankfully this time the trip went smoothly and we all arrived feeling fine. From Holyhead, we departed the ferry, drove to Liverpool and called it a night. The picture below is of us enjoying our picnic before our mad dash back to Dublin port:
The next morning we headed off and had a look around Albert dock. At the dock we went to the ‘Beatles Experience’ which is the official Beatles museum. The museum was great, taking us through the history of the band. After the museum we headed to another, the Tate Liverpool, a modern art museum where we had a good look around.
That afternoon we headed on our way to our next and final destination, York. Once we had arrived and checked in to our hotel we set out to explore the city. York is a wonderful medieval walled city with cobbled streets. That night we set out on a ghost tour; this was great fun, both informative and amusing. The picture below is of our tour guide and one of the "haunted" houses:
The next day we finished exploring York. Firstly we had a look around Yorkminster Cathedral/Abbey. Yorkminster was amazing, the current structure is the third that has stood on the site with the first dating back to the Roman times. You can go down to the crypt and still see some of the original Roman structure. After another delicious fish and chip meal we had to say our goodbyes to Nik and Matt. We then went our separate ways with Nik and Matt heading up to Scotland and us heading back down to London. The pictures below are of Yorkminster and two knights that were putting on a display in the grounds:
It was sad to be heading home after such a fun road trip with Nik and Matt. We had visited some amazing places with our favourites being Kinsale and Dingle in Ireland and York back in England.
Bye for now. Hopefully our next blog should appear in the week or so with details of our summer of festivals.