We had our tasty hotel breakfast, skipping the hot to-order choices for the sake of time, checked out, then made it to Trinity College in to see the Book of Kells by around 10am. Lucky us beat the mid-morning rush, since by the time we leisurely read the exhibits, learning about vellum & various natural inks, then seeing the illuminated manuscripts themselves, the line was already out the door of the gift shop! I bought several postcards as a cheaper way to have some examples of the intricate artwork to remember later. It was amazing to be able to put my nose almost touching the glass that was only inches away from the pages, so I could not only really see the fine detail, but even see how the quill tips had etched into the vellum and how the paint colors were raised above the surface. Definitely worth seeing up close if you ever have the chance!
Since it was only 11am, we walked along the River Liffey again, seeing the U2-owned Clarence Hotel by daylight this time, down to the Guinness Storehouse since it was listed in the top 10 and others I know had recommended it as touristy but good, and with a great view of Dublin from the top with your free pint of the "Black Stuff." I had promised Cyd & Fionna I'd have a Guinness in their honor, but I honestly couldn't finish my pint, barely making it through half...sorry girls, I tried my best! Andy finished his of course, since like most of the rest of the world, he loves Guinness too. ;) We saw the view with the day still bright & sunny, then trudged down to Avis, which was quite a hike, then back to pick up our luggage on the way out of town south. The hike being longer than we expected already put us behind schedule, then traffic itself getting out of Dublin was already bad before 2:30 pm, so we didn't leave the city limits until about 3pm, with a LONG way to go to get to the outskirts of Cork by evening to stay at Ballymakeigh House!
Britta at the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Storehouse, with pint in hand
Fionna had recommended St Kevin's monastery at Glendalough, so our plan was to head inland to see that before getting back over to the eastern coast to find Brittas Bay. We still had beautiful sunny skies as my first view of the Irish countryside while I was driving on the "wrong" side of the road, but by the time we reached Glendalough, the clouds had come in. We knew it couldn't last forever! The monastic "city" was very interesting, and lots of opportunity for Halloween graveyard research, but we knew we were on a schedule plus we didn't know how long the clouds could hold before the rain came.
We got back in the car, along the countryside roads, which are quite charming until you get stuck behind a tractor or truck with no possible way to pass them...*sigh* ...but it was very pretty to drive along, even in the gloomy clouds. That's more what Ireland is like anyway, right? heh...After at least an hour more, we finally found Brittas Bay, with the gates to the parking lot closed since I guess it's only open as a beach through September. So what? We can walk in! I had to at least see Brittas Bay with real water & beach vs. just taking photos with the signs by the gate. Voila! A pretty beach with nice fine soft sand, even if the skies were not blue when I was there!
I grabbed a little handful of sand & an interesting rock from Brittas Bay, then just as we got back into the car safe & dry, the raindrops started...and they didn't stop much! Several more hours in the car were next while I kept driving, including a phonecall from Andy to let Ballymakeigh House know we'd be late, then stopping for a quick dinner around 7:30pm in Waterford of Waterford Crystal fame. We made it to the farmhouse by 9 or so, lucky to have a break in the rain to unload our car for the night. The hostess of the house has self-published a cookbook & won awards for B&Bs & cooking, so we're looking forward to a delicious Irish country breakfast before we head out to kiss the Blarney Stone & keep going to Killarney!
Finally - Britta at Brittas Bay! :)
(full Day 13 photos start here)
The rain is still coming down in buckets on the roof in our room at the very top of Ballymakeigh House, a farmhouse in a little village outside of Cork. Hopefully in the morning we can see what the countryside looks like from here, even if it's still raining...Until next time!