28 November 2009

Ireland - Ferry Ride

Here is the picture of us getting onto the ferry from Cherbourg to Rosslaire. We wanted to get a picture of the outside of the ferry before entering but we were too slow and thought of it too late.

Here is a view of our cabin in the trip to Ireland. For whatever reason, we did not get any pictures of the cabin for the ride back which was a little nicer (we went over Celtic Links and came back on Irish Ferries, but we booked with a now defunct company called LD Lines). My nice hair cut below is compliments of Nicole. She used too small of an attachment and this is what happens. This actually wasn't fixed until we got back.

These are pictures of us hanging out in the ferry.

This is a picure of the La Hague plant from the ferry ride back from Ireland

Ireland - Miscellaneous

These are just miscellaneous photos in Ireland that didn't fit well into any other category...

This was a cattle drive on one of the small Irish country roads...they were actually driving the cattle with an SUV.

This is a picture of our drive along the Ring of Kerry.

This is on our way down to the Cliffs of Moher.

These are some pictures of the Kilkenny Castle. According to the website:

The original Anglo-Norman stone castle was built for William Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (c.1146-1219) during the first decade of the thirteenth century. Kilkenny Castle later became the principal Irish residence of the powerful Butler family for almost 600 years.

This is a picture of the Rock of Cashel. It was the same day we went to Blarney Castle so it was raining really bad and so only I went here since it was outside. This was advertised as one of the must visit places and to me it was a huge disappointment. Plus the weather was bad and they were doing renovations so that made it all the more of a waste of 6 euros.

These are pictures of Rebekkah's birthday presents before we went to Ireland.

Ireland - Blarney Castle

We found a fantastic B&B above a restaurant and bar right down the street from the Blarney Castle which was almost as good as the place we found next to Bunratty Castle. We had a nice dinner in the restaurant downstairs and woke up to a very excellent Irish breakfast.

Unfortunately it was raining like cats and dogs that day. Thankfully, it was the only day it rained like that the whole time we were there. So I think we were taking our good weather a little bit for granted and this day made us realize that.

Needless to say that made it much more difficult to enjoy and explore Blarney Castle and it made climbing to the famous Blarney Stone that much more difficult. I seriously never expected the experience to be as scary as it was.

First of all, they don't seem to require safety rails and such in Europe like they do in the US. So as you climb this very precarious castle with no rails it gets scarier and scarier the closer you get to the stone. Then when you get to the top, to the outside you have holes in the floor that are about 13 floors down to the ground below (which you can see) and to the inside is the inside of the castle with very small rails (probably about 6-8 floors).

The following pictures sort of give you an idea of what I'm talking about but they do not do it justice. You really need to be there to experience the complete scariness of it. Needless to say, I barely got out there and Micah could barely get to the top in order to get down. Rebekkah and Nicole did it with no problem at all because they are not scared of heights. They made the men seem like whimps. Oh well.

According to Wikipedia:

The castle originally dates from before AD 1200, when a wooden structure was built on the site. Around 1210 A.D. this was replaced by a stone fortification. It was destroyed in 1446, but subsequently rebuilt by Cormac MacCarthy - then King of Munster...At the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone. Tourists visiting Blarney Castle may hang upside-down over a sheer drop to kiss the stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence. There are many legends as to the origin of the stone, but some say that it was the Lia Fáil—a magical stone upon which Irish kings were crowned.
As you can see from the pictures below the proof that we kissed the stone. We bought the pictures from the castle because we figured that our pictures weren't all that good because it was raining so bad. We were hoping that by kissing the stone we would all go back to France speaking French fluently. Unfortunately, it didn't work...

Ireland - Killarney National Park

This day we drove from Bunratty and drove south along the Ring of Kerry and through the Killarney National Park. We were excited about the Ring of Kerry but it turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment so I won't waste any time talking about it.

Killarney National Park, however, was fantastic. It felt like we were driving around in Lord of the Rings or something. The park was the first national park established in Ireland and is one of the very few places in Ireland that has been continuously covered by woodland.

We stopped to explore a few times one of which was to hike up the mountain to see a waterfall. See the pictures below:


Ireland - Bunratty

Bunratty Castle (Irish: Caisleán Bhun Raithe, meaning 'bottom' or end of the 'Ratty' river, or "Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty") is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425 and restored in 1954, it now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art.

The folk park around the castle is a recreation of a 19th century Irish village with over 30 buildings. Every house in the village smelled like nasty smoke. The village was decent but the castle was awesome. The castle was completely finished and painted white to look like it would have originally looked like (with the exception of the outside). You could explore the entire castle however you want and that's exactly what we did.

Later that night we went back to the castle to have a medieval dinner and that was tons of fun. We had mead as an aperitif (the kids had orange soda) and for dinner we had spiced parsnip soup, spare ribs, chicken breast, potatoes, vegetables and for dessert we had rastin. And the music was "deadly" as they say in Ireland.

The real highlight (though I'm not sure why) was the B&B we found. They had a huge family room and it was the cheapest we found all week with the best food of all the week. I don't know, but this was almost my (perhaps our) favorite part of the day.