Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ireland - Day 2

We woke up in Kilkenny after our first day in Ireland.  Even though we'd stayed out fairly late the night before, we were smart enough to set alarms to get our free continental breakfast.  After a hearty meal, we set out towards Blarney, for our next night's hotel.

The direct drive from Kilkenny to Blarney takes a little over two hours.  However, about halfway between is Cashel, where Rock of Cashel stands.  Rock of Cashel is a series of buildings creating a fortress dating back to 1101. It was given to the Church by the King of Munster.  Today it's a popular and impressive tourist spot (Rick Steve's gives the Rock three triangles; his highest/must-see rating). It costs 6eu to get in (cash only) but the view and history is worth it.

The chapel, construction started in 1127, was built with it's arches askew intentionally
 to remind us of Christ's head falling to the side when he was crucified

Cemetery with Irish crosses

Inside the cathedral; built between 1235 and 1270
Down the hill from Rock of Cashel is Hore Abbey. Founded in 1272. It's free to visit and well worth it. 

Our group!

From Cashel, we headed towards Blarney. It was later in the day than we had anticipated and we had dinner reservations at 6pm in Kinsale, a small coastal fishing town south of Blarney, so instead of driving to Blarney, we drove directly to Kinsale. (Honestly, I'm not sure what we did for food.  I think our breakfast was so big it tided us over along with some snacks in the car).
We arrived in Kinsale around 5pm. By that time, we were all a bit cranky and starving, so we decided to see if we could push up our reservation at Fishy Fishy Cafe.  Although I love food; I don't consider myself a foodie by any means.  I'm not usually one to seek out reservations in advance when on vacation, but I'd heard of this place from a friend and seen it repeated in all of the tourist books so we decided it was a must. Being on the sea, they catch their fish locally. 
Even though it was Saturday, we had no issues being seated. 
I am SO glad we made an effort to dine here.  Entrees were more than our pub food (ranging $15-$25eu); but they were well worth the extra cost. I chose a teryaki style tuna which was out of this world amazing. Ben, always the leery eater, order fish and chips. 
BandB got adventurous and ordered the sea bass and a chowder.

 Overall, our bill for two entrees and two glasses of wines was $70; which was well worth it.  I would highly recommend Fishy Fishy if you're ever in Kinsale.

The town of Kinsale itself is pretty small.  Unfortunately for us, it also seemed that most of the shops closed at 6pm, so by the time we were done with dinner, everything was closed. However, it is a cute stop worth some hours of your time.
 Leaving Kinsale, we made our way to Blarney.  Once we arrived to Blarney, our GPS was unable to locate our hotel.  We ended up stopping at the supermarket to ask for directions.  It was at this point that I volunteered to drive (on the right side of the car in the left lane) for the first time.  I figured it was only 10 minutes drive and it was still light out, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Wrong.  The directions we were given were not clear and we ended up spending close to 45 minutes in the car until we found the dang hotel. We learned that Blarney Golf Resort technically was not in Blarney but in the town of Tower.

After checking in and settling, we visited the hotel bar where we proceeded to play Phase 10 (a fabulous card game) and drink 19eu bottles of red wine.  We also met up with our fellow Chicagoans.  Funnily enough, the first night in Kilkenny, while at dinner, we realized we were sitting next to other Americans.  After chatting briefly, we realized they were from Chicago and had booked the same trip as us.  So, every morning we saw them and discussed our plans for the day and every night when we saw them we recapped.  They were probably in their 50s or 60s, so it was almost like reporting back to Mom and Dad at the end of the day.


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