I think I've decided how I'm going to handle the rest of the Ireland entries. For the rest of the days of the trip, I have a lot of pictures. It's not that we did more things - more that we started going to cliffs and gardens and such, and so I have a lot more variety in pictures. So for each day, I'll write a regular entry like I've been doing, with a handful of pictures. Then I'll also post a second blog for that day with nothing but pictures and descriptions of what they are. That way I don't have to try and figure out what one picture I want to post of a place we walked miles around, and you all get to see a lot more of my trip.
On the third day we left Jade's house for our first day of four making a loop of the country. We actually got on the road fairly early, but we managed to get lost an hour into the trip. This would set the tone for the next few days, where I believe we got lost at least once every single time we got in the car to go somewhere! At least until the end of our trip, where we gave up and started just randomly picking roads and ending up where we wanted to go with no problems...
Anyway! The first place we went to was the Irish National Stud, which also included the Japanese Gardens and St. Fiachra's Garden. We went through the Japanese Gardens first, which are laid out and arranged to symbolize the life of man. Not only were they gorgeous, but the weather cooperated completely for the first time since I'd landed. It was sunny and hot - and I was actually able to take off my (Jade's) hoodie for the first time. We were in the gardens for a while. There were a ton of little side paths and random stairs and whatnot so we both had a blast aimlessly running around. I do find it ironic though, that I had so much fun in a Japanese garden in Ireland.
Once we left the Japanese garden we were trying to find St. Fiachra's garden, but we got lost so we went and looked at the horses for a bit. We also made up some ridiculous soap opera story plot involving gay horses (I really wish we would have caught that one on video). We eventually made our way over to St. Fiachra's. It was completely different from the Japanese garden but still really cool. There was a sunken oak forest, and also a monastic cell with a Waterford crystal garden inside (will post pics in the other entry). The garden also had multiple lakes, a waterfall, and a statue of Saint Fiachra. And on our way out we also saw a huge Zen garden near the visitor's center.
After we left the Irish National Stud we continued south to Kilkenny. What a nightmare of a town, honestly. We were trying to go to Kilkenny Castle. First we couldn't find it and had to stop for directions. Then there was construction everywhere on these tiny little narrow streets and traffic was horrendous. We ended up having to park about half a mile from the stupid castle and walk over. The castle was really cool though. After all of the time it took finding the place and parking and everything we decided not to go through the whole tour, but we hung around for a bit, and got homemade ice cream.
From Kilkenny we kept heading south towards our last stop of the day, the Rock of Cashel. This place was spectacular. We wandered around for a while getting pictures, and then did the tour thing. Our tour guide was fantastic, and really funny. She told us a lot of cool stories about the site, as well as funny little superstitions that people have, like with Saint Patrick's Cross. Apparently, if you can put your arms around the cross and have your hands meet on the other side you'll never have another toothache. And if you hop around the cross three times on one foot (without having the other foot touch the ground once) then you'll be married within a year. The tour guide said that second one didn't work though...
We climbed around outside the walls for a bit to get pictures, and then decided to call it a day. We got back on the road and drove the last leg of our trip, down to Blarney. We checked into the first of our hotels, the Blarney Woolen Mills Hotel, and had some fantastic food at their restaurant. And that was it for the day! We just hung around the hotel and figured out our directions and such for the next day. Despite getting lost a couple of times and a few little hiccups, it was a great day, and a great start to our road trip.
Pictures in a separate entry coming soon!
1. Swan in St. Fiachra's garden
2. Japanese Garden
3. St. Fiachra's Garden - it looks kind of like Dagobah, so we decided to hunt for Yoda. He was in the gift shop!
4. Kilkenny Castle
5. The original St. Patrick's Cross - was moved inside due to erosion, there's a replica outside.
6. The Rock of Cashel