Sadly today we are going to let you know about our last leg of our European trip. If you have not had an opportunity to hear about our adventures in Paris, our crazy train ride, and Rome, please take a few minutes to check them out!
We had a late night flight to Dublin, Ireland from Rome… we barely made it enough to make it to the car rental. We learned that they do not give any type of driving test or even a book about laws and signs. As long as you have a driver license from your home country you can drive in
Ireland. We did make one smart move and that was to buy the full coverage of the car. Just an FYI if you decide to drive in Ireland they drive on the left side of the road and the driver is on the right side of the car. This definitely caused a challenge of for Ryan who had the pleasure of driving. Behold our chariot that took us all around our Ireland adventure…. she is some brand we have no idea what it is, and she made it back in MOSTLY good condition.
We were exhausted by the time we got to our hotel room and all of us were starving due to dinner being airport vending machine food (of which Ryan ate a very, and we mean very questionable sandwich). So off to bed it was…
Our Ireland experience started in Dublin. Our entire trip was planned but we always had some lead way with time… but in Ireland we did not have this luxury since everything was open from 10am to 6pm. Here we come highly scheduled days.
We started by walking to Iveagh Gardens to see a beautiful waterfall in the Park which open prior to 10am… whoo hoo. We arrived at the park and the waterfall…Well it was non-existent. The waterfall had been turned for off for the season. Nicole was very disappointed since this was her choice. We did enjoy some downtime at the park, the grounds were well maintained and GREEN! The grass is greener in Ireland!We noticed a common theme in all countries we visited. We discovered lots of street paintings that the locals considered graffiti, but we considered it art. The art work in Dublin had huge political statements just as this one below.
Walking down the streets in the morning it was nothing to see stacks of beer kegs in front of a bar or restaurant. Ryan brought up a valid question… was this from a week or an evening?!
Our first stop after the park was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The first view we had of the cathedral was the entrance to the graveyard. The graveyard was guarded by a beautiful medieval style gate at the center of a long stone wall.St. Patrick’s Cathedral was very ornate and gorgeous. We had arrived just as it opened, before buses of visitors had arrived, so we were able to spend time taking it all in without crowds of people. Seeing very old tattered British flags hanging in the Cathedral showed the history of the country.Upon leaving St. Patrick’s we passed a tall hedge and over the top the Dragon Head of a Viking Long Boat appeared. Nicole immediately got excited and made us venture that way to see the Viking ship. Much to her dismay it was not a Viking ship, but a playground. With a jam packed day, we spent a few minutes playing. What can we say… you cannot pass up a playground!Nicole enjoys the history of the Viking culture. The Vikings were known for the ornate carvings on their jewelry, weapons, and belongings. We were able to see the amazing work first hand at the Vikings exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland for Archaeology. The sword below is an example of their beautiful carvings.This is our FAVORITE part of the day in Dublin… The Leprechaun Museum!!!! It was a hidden gem and we were so excited to have had an opportunity to do the tour. We learned a few fun facts 1. Leprechauns do not wear green suites, they actually wear brown tweed. 2. The Irish hate Lucky Charms because the cereal cemented the current Leprechaun image. 3. The Irish folklore is violent and evil.
Part of the tour included time in a room with furniture that made us the size of a leprechaun. We now have an appreciation for the vertically challenged!
During our tour at the Leprechaun Museum, our tour guide made a valid point. “Our stories are scary, maybe that’s why we have a drinking problem in Ireland!” Speaking of alcohol, the last of our day in Dublin included food at a local pub (yum!) and the tour of the Guinness Brewery. This was one of the few things Ryan wanted to see and we MADE sure it t it in our schedule. Arthur Guinness started out his business and signed a 9000 year lease for the building.This is just a wonderful shot of Nicole in the Guinness brewery. While taking the tour we stopped to have a rest and enjoy the sights from the window.
What is a tour of the Guinness Brewery without a pint of the delicious beverage and amazing 360 degree view of Dublin?! Nicole and Krystle are not fans of Guinness… Ryan may have ended up with all 3 after the ladies took a drink (You have to be able to say that drank Guinness in Ireland)!
The last day of our time in Ireland was spent on a CASTLE ROAD TRIP! Getting out of Dublin was a mission… Ryan was driving during rush hour traffic (once again wrong side of the car and road) but we did make it out of the city… ALIVE! The highways were amazing and put our highways to shame.
Our first stop was at the Killkenny Castle. We arrived here a little before it opened, we had a little time to kill. We took the opportunity to get a few shots of the castle grounds since they were already open. We were not able to take any photos on the inside due the extensive restoration that was underway. The castle is being restored to as much of its original glory. The parts that we toured looked amazing and can only image what it will look like once fully restored.
While leaving Killkenny Castle for our next spot, we couldn’t help but notice another very Irish tradition… boldly paint doors. This started when a member of the royal family in England died (during the era when Ireland was not an independent country), the Irish people were told to paint their doors black in honor of the death. The Irish refused and painted their doors a bold color instead as a form of rebellion. Personally, we thought the colored doors added so much life and beauty to the buildings.
Even though our road trip was the castles of Ireland… we decided to take another “off the beaten path” pit stop to visit the largest cave in Ireland. The cavern was discovered after the land caved in. During Paris we stated the trip was full of steps and Ireland was no different. To enter and exit the cave, it was over 700 steps not including the ones during the tour. The cave was full of history and sadness. They found remnants of bodies that were killed during by Vikings who were trying to smoke them out… these bodies were of women and children hiding from the attacks. In addition, they found treasures left by Vikings. It was believed that the treasures left in the lifetime will be given back in the afterlife. At the end of the tour, our tour guide turned off all lights and it was disturbingly dark.
The second castle of our Castle Road Trip was Blackrock Castle. We ate a nice lunch in their café then went for a tour of the grounds. We went inside to take a tour of the castle but found out we were too late. The only thing available was a planetarium show. Nicole had the great idea of going to the show with the reasoning “We are here, and it will be a memory.” A memory it was! The show was in a dome that was that was blown up with air. The show was designed for children… needless to say it was awkward for all members involved and we did get a memory.
A request made from Nicole’s mom was to bring her back a castle. The joke was a castle started kit aka a rock from Ireland, some rubber cement and a box. So, Ryan thought this was the perfect spot for her rock… he went down by the river and found her the perfect rock for her starter kit. By the time we left, we were not longer just a couple, but we were an engaged couple! Please check out our proposal story! So, Nicole and her mom got both of their rocks at BlackRock Castle in Ireland!
The last stop of our Castle Road trip was Blarney Castle. The castle grounds were just breath taking. We wish we had more time, but our first priority was to make it to the top of the castle. The stairs had been very worn that it was barely a stair. The view was amazing but very high up!
Another must do in Ireland at the Blarney Castle is to kiss the blarney stone… which we all did. Let us tell you what we had to do… First, we laid down, grabbed hand rails and slide yourself over the edge of the castle… learn out and kiss the stone. Yeah, we hung over the side of a castle to kiss a rock….
The sun was starting to set while we were up top. Across from our view, were the remains of a bell tower. The image is not altered… this was our view! The clouds and the bell tower made for an amazing capture.We spent some time roaming around the grounds, but due to closing we were running out of time. We did say that Ireland was green… including the Mt. Dew… They were neon green. This was the only Mt. Dew we found. Europe is definitely pro-coke.The last few hours were spent in the town of Cork. Like most of Ireland it closed down at 6pm… We did enjoy some Starbucks and mailed our post cards. Finally, we headed back to the airport, returned our sweet chariot, and caught our flight back to Paris… We were all so exhausted that none of us remember taking off in Ireland. When we landed in Paris, the unloading crew was on strike, so we were set back 30 minutes. Running across the airport, getting through customs
(barely for Krystle and Ryan who got their bags searched), we boarded our flight back home literally as the door was being closed. We really hope you enjoyed our stories of Europe because we did enjoy telling them. We love hearing about your crazy travel stories so feel free to share away!
Nicole and Ryan