(The free wifi here in Killarney is really slow, plus it's only in the library & I don't feel like risking my laptop alone overnight tucked behind a chair, so I don't think I'll be able to get photos posted until I get back to Andy's house...but you can still read the story so far! :) I will revise this entry when photos can be included... )
We woke up in Killeigh to sunny skies, amazing after the howling wind & horizontal rain of the night before, but very welcome to see! The view outside our window at the top of the house was lovely & fresh. We had the full Irish breakfast, even though we never did see the actual hostess of the house who has won all the cooking & landlady awards...we're wondering now if she really does exist! ;) I took a few more photos of the house & the garden, then we got on the road to Blarney Castle.
We knew Blarney Castle & the Blarney Stone were about as touristy as you could get, but how could we not kiss the Blarney Stone if we had the chance? We followed the complaining tourists all the way up the stairs to the top of the castle - honestly, is whining every single step absolutely necessary? At the top, you lay down on your back on the stone, hold onto two metal bracing bars as the guy holds your waist, then you lean your head backwards & kiss the stone upside-down! Yes, we even bought the photos they took of us, since Andy did get a photo of me, but no head let alone no face, and the "professional" ones were quite good so worth it for a once in a lifetime experience. The castle itself & the grounds were cooler to browse than I expected, since I had only previously heard about kissing the stone itself, so we didn't leave until after noon to start driving through Cork & onwards eventually to County Kerry.
Britta kissing the Blarney Stone!
Traffic through Cork was as bad as Dublin, which was annoying but we finally got through into the countryside, still in the sunshine! Since the direct route from Cork to Killarney was not very long, Andy had suggested driving some smaller roads closer to the southern coast & around, which was great, since we got to see so much more countryside & even water, including St George's Channel between the southern Irish coast & Cornwall, and even technically the Atlantic even though it was more the inlets & bays than the real ocean.
Since I was navigating, I pointed out Drombeg Stone Circle on the map that looked close enough to our route along the southern coast, so we stopped there for our impromptu lunch of leftover soda bread from breakfast. We could see the sea in the bright sunlight from sitting in the actual stone circle, and we even got rained on out of a blue sky! (The clouds were close enough for the rain to be blown to us by the wind of course but still funny!) After covering more southwestern coastline, we stopped in Bantry on the bay for some ice cream, never knowing that would be such a search in a seaside town! One place the clerk said "we were having high tide last week so I got rid of all my ice cream, but the market up the street should have some..." Neither Andy nor I have any clue what high tide has to do with ice cream! ;)
After even more beautiful countryside as we headed north, as I took photos out the car window, treasuring the blue skies since we knew they wouldn't last, we parked at Moll's Gap & tried to take a timer photo in the high winds...heh! Beautiful hills though! We kept going as the clouds kept rolling in with the wind until we stopped at the Ladies View vista point of Killarney National Park...beautiful again! The lakes are so pretty with the hills around them, even with the impending clouds! As we got back down the hill into the valley, we easily found the Lake Hotel, the newest place we've stayed all trip (aside from Andy's house), since it has been refurbished & greatly enlarged from the original 18th-century house, and we were mysteriously upgraded to a suite in the newly-built section of the hotel with our own lake view from our own balcony, and even a giant bathtub in the main room with its own window overlooking the lake! :-o The back of the hotel also has it's own lakeside castle ruins, which are very cool. After we checked in & made our reservation for the hotel restaurant, we strolled the grounds in the fading light, seeing a family of deer off to the side, and the castle was lighted for night. The clouds were too thick already for any nice sunset, but it was still a gorgeous view, even with the chill & the wind starting to blow. We spiffed ourselves up for 8pm dinner & had a delicious posh meal while sharing a bottle of Pinot Grigio...hey, with only bread for lunch & a cheap & quick dinner last night, we felt we deserved a nice meal, and we definitely enjoyed it wholeheartedly! :) During dinner it started to rain, so we'll see if it clears up by morning again...at least I've had more sunny skies than I ever expected of Ireland already, so even if it rains the rest of tomorrow, I'll still be satisfied!
Britta & Andy at Moll's Gap, County Kerry south of Killarney
(full Day 14 photos start at the bottom here)
Thursday will be interesting...it wasn't until just before Bantry Bay that Andy realized he left his mobile phone in the charger under the bed at Ballymakeigh House, and they haven't answered their phones this evening, so we think we'll be driving back to Cork before heading to Dublin for our evening flight. If that's the worst thing that happens this whole trip, we both agree that's still pretty good! If we make good time, then hopefully we can at least drive through Limerick on the way back to Dublin airport, otherwise we'll just see more of the center of the Emerald Isle... Until next time!