We knew we'd been slacking in the Adventure department lately so me and Kristi decided to turn it up a notch and go visit my homeland of Ireland. Of course it helped we knew someone having a wedding reception there and that it would be over St. Patrick's day weekend. Our 10 day adventure felt like being in the Amazing Race at times but I wouldn't have done it any different! Let's recap shall we.
Day 1 - We stayed at Bunratty Castle Hotel and toured the Bunratty Castle (duh). It was our first castle and we were like kids in a candy shop...where does that stair case go, what's in the dungeon, what's in that nook, how did people live here!? My favorite part of this castle was learning it had a "murder hole"! If you go to the walk in "basement" and look up before you make it all the way in you can see a hole where they used to stab intruders!!
We were pretty spent from traveling all day so after some terrible whisky in the room with Chris we called it a day.
Day 2 - We headed to Ireland's most popular attraction: The Cliffs of Moher. At their highest point they're 702 feet high above the Atlantic Ocean and are absolutely breathtaking! It's windy as hell so you almost get blown off your feet.
After walking the cliffs for a couple hours we drove to the city of Limerick (aka stab city), where the wedding reception would be held and checked into our hotel - The Castletroy Park Hotel. It was gorgeous but we were starving so we hit up a fabulous Italian restaurant named Da Vincenzo Food & Wine Hall. (Side note we ate international fare the whole time) Since Kyna's family was now in town for the wedding the next day we went out to a local pub so everyone could catch up and watch the rugby match. What I learned (and had long suspected) was the Irish drink like damn fish! What was supposed to be a nice, brief gathering turned into pub hopping followed by getting home via a cash cab type van that had a laser light show in it, all the while playing Celine Dion music. So weird....
Day 3 - We set out to discover Limerick by pounding the pavement. We started at the famed Milk Market that's been there since 1852. It's essentially a farmers market with a side of stolen goods. From there we walked along the river Shannon and found King John's Castle. This castle was far more massive than the Bunratty and more beautiful since it was on the river bank. All this exploring made us thirsty so we grabbed a couple pints at the Locke Pub with Dana (the groom's aunt).
After a gorgeous sunny day we had to get back to the hotel and get ready for the reception. What a reception it was!
The band was a local one that covered american songs and sang traditional Irish tunes. The uncle of the bride even surprised everyone and jumped on stage and played lead guitar and sang a song and actually nailed it!
Day 4 - It was our last day in Limerick so we decided to explore again. We hit up the city center area that had loads of shopping and pubs. We were told to go to a certain pub, The Red Hen and it was bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. There were multiple levels, plenty of beer choices and the decor was garage-sale-chaotic-chic and it worked. The garlic chips with cheese also worked!!!
We met up with the rest of the group and had dinner at the Indian restaurant Copper and Spice. It was one of the bride and groom's favorite places and it was so good that I miss it already! Drinks at the lobby bar were had afterwards and then we called it a night.
Day 5 - We drop the Ring of Terror...I mean the Ring of Kerry. This is a loop around Ireland's most scenic landscape. What they don't tell you are these roads are crazy narrow switch backs that haven't seen a road construction crew since the turn of the century. Luckily I had a front row seat due to an earlier car sickness close call and from my vantage point it was normal countryside except the Kerry Cliffs.
The Kerry Cliffs were part of the filming of the last Star Warms movie. Specifically the 2 islands right off the cliffs where monks used to live back in the day. It was crazy windy again but the views were magnificent.
After all the driving it was time to get back to our new hotel and explore the town of Killarney and all it's wonders. We ran into so many American's it was like a joke.
Many pubs and store later and we called it a night. What a fun town!
Day 6 - This was one of busiest days of the trip. We went to Blarney and Dingle in the same day. The Blarney Castle/Stone was more impressive than I could ever have imagined. I thought it was just going to be a castle but it had sparawling gardens that were the most gorgeous I've ever seen.
Dingle may have been the cutest down so far. It was a coastal town that hit you in all the right places. Plenty of shopping and ice cream shops. You know the rest: lobby bar and some drinks.
Day 7 - We headed to Josh and Kyna's favorite town: Galway. Not only was this my favorite town of the trip it's what you think of when you picture Ireland in your mind so kudos to the bride and groom. It was a land of more Italian food, gelato and pubs, pubs, pubs. The cutest streets and pretty much it was Americans all over again but nobody minded.
We only stayed 1 night but I could of easily spent the entire trip here. Kristi and I met gentlemen callers but we kept calm and Irelanded on.
Day 8 - On to Dublin to get into the craziness. We took a train into the city because Dublin is a metropolis and the rest of the country hates it (come to find out). We checked into the Harcourt Hotel, which happened to have a night club attached to it and then headed out to the Guinness Storehouse Tour. First of all Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on these buildings so it has crazy history and is more massive than any US Brewery. We stayed here as long as possible and then hit up a delicious pub for dinner.
Day 9 - It's parade day! What we've been waiting for! We asked multiple people the night before about what time we should get there and the consensus was 9:30. We got there at 10:15 (for the noon parade) and it was WAY too early! Fun fact: they don't sell alchohol to the public (stores not pubs) until after the parade is over (4:00).
It was the first time we got rained on and it was minimal but constant. We held out as long as we could but in the end we "had to" duck into into a pub to warm up. Lucky for us there was 3 feet of extra space so we took it and tried to dry out. 5 minutes later the rest of our party joined so come to find out the parade is short and sweet! Let's just say fun was had by all and everyone got home safe!
Day 10 - Kristi and I were on our own for the first time all trip and we made it count. First up was the Book of Kells. By my account the book was just okay but the Long Room at Trinity College was my favorite! It was the most impressive/amazing library I've ever seen! Every book from both islands were there. Over 200,000 books!!!
Overall I learned a lot about the Irish and their culture and are blown away by how nice and polite they are (before they start drinking). I'm ready to go back in a heartbeat.