Thursday, 28 April 2011

Ireland Part Two.

And on the fourth day we went and hung out at the Cliffs of Moher. It was pretty foggy when we got there, but by the time we’d gone for a bit of a walk, it’d cleared a bit.

That night we headed to Killarney and went to a fantastic pub called the Grand Hotel. There was a rad cover band and once they packed up, a door opened up and turns out there was a club just out the back :)

By day five, we were all getting preeeetty tired. Lots of 3 and 4am bedtimes, and so a massive beach day was more than welcome. We were really lucky on our tour to have fantastic weather and it was only a little drizzly on one of the days. We went to two different beaches; our tour guide, Connor, told us to frollick on the sand and so we did - lots of cartwheels on my behalf :D

The last day was our 'going home day,' but it was also the day that we made a treck to Blarney Castle. I got the pleasure of sharing my germs with the 300,000+ people that kiss the Blarney Stone per annum. By Irish tradition, apparently kissing the Blarney Stone blesses the 'kissee' with eloquent speech.. But I don't feel any different, and my vocab hasn't changed, so I guess it didn't really work very well at all!!

By the end of the six days, we'd done an absolutely huge treck of Ireland, a complete circuit. I'd do the tour again in a second, it was one of the best weeks of my life - great people, great places, great country. Go Ireland :)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Ireland Part One.

By the age of 12, a child knows at least 27 ways to tell if someone is a catholic or a prodestant.’ - Derry
On the first Saturday of my school holidays, my 12 hour bus ride -including a 4 hour ferry ride- left for Ireland. We landed in Dublin at about 6.30am and so I had a whole day of checking out Dublin. I went and had a look at Dublin Castle, and the Garda (police) memorial gardens.

On April 4th, my Paddywagon tour began at Paddy’s Palace, Dublin. First stop was The Papal Cross in Phoenix Park, Dublin. The cross was erected in anticipation of Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979. Over a million people came to see the Pope celebrate mass here.

And then.... the Guinness Storehouse! Zoomed through the factory, tried half a glass of Guinness draught, left my mark on the ‘Guinness message wall’ and headed up to the Gravity Bar, ready for my FREE Pint of Guinness!! Woo hoo! But alas, it tasted pretty funky – and as I was to discover later on the tour, it tastes a lot better with blackcurrent – so I only finished half.. Dang.
On our way to Belfast, we stopped at a town called Drogheda and checked out the preserved head of Saint Oliver Plunkett.
We stayed in Belfast. I’m really cut that I didn’t do the Belfast Black Cab tour, cos it would’ve been awesome, but alas, something to do next time I’m in Ireland hey.

Monasterboice was built in the 14th century. The bigger cross is smooth at the bottom because for centuries Monks used to walk around it with one hand on the base. 

On Day Two, our first stop was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. The first and probably the last rope bridge I’ll ever go on in my life. It wasn’t nearly as swingy, or rickedy, as I’d hoped but it was a wooden bridge, 30m up from the sea so it was pretty cool.
After that we went and had a chill at the Irish half of the Giants Causeway - super awesome rock formations on the north coast of Ireland caused by rapid cooling of molten lava when in immediate contact with water. The story of its formation is slightly different in Irish folklore, telling a tale of two giants, one from Ireland Finn MacCool and the other from Scotland Benandonner. The Irish giant challenged the Scottish guy to a duel and built a bridge so that they could. The Irish guy basically chickened out when he realised how much bigger the Scottish guy was and went and hid as a baby. The Scottish guy then freaked out cos he thought that the baby was huge and was afraid that the dad would be massive, and he fled Ireland, smashing the bridge to bits as he went. And this is how the Irish reckon the Giants Causeway was formed.

We had a quick roadstop for a photoop at Dunluce Castle, its kitchen fell into the ocean in 1639 and has been abandoned ever since.

And that evening we stayed in Derry. We immediately did a walking tour with a local and got to see the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972. Our tour guide explained the struggle between the Prodestants and Catholics, and why many residents of Derry feel that they can only live within the walled part of the city. The night was topped off with an evening of traditional irish music at Paedar O’Donnells Pub.

Day Three we travelled to Galway via Grianan Ailligh, a rock formation built in about 3000BC and Sligo, where the site of famous irish poet WB Yeats’ grave is. And we proceeded to chill in Galway, the ‘party captial’ of Ireland. It was also the night I broke my camera, dang.

And the best soft serve ever :)
 to be continued...