What a day, and it started early. Our alarm went off at 5:20. This time I woke Aimee up instead of the other way around. This morning we had to walk to the Heuston train station so we could catch part of our group to go to Cork Ireland. We got there a little early. After we had gotten our itinerary we stepped into a Supermac and ordered a breakfast of sorts. It was a muffin and drink to go: coffee for me and an apple juice for Aimee.
Riding a train from the Heuston station in Dublin we got to Cork about two hours later. Before nodding off during the train ride I noticed a couple differences between the Irish and the English. The English build their houses out of the stones as they did in the old days, the Irish are more modern in their building. Also, there seem to be less noticeable homeless people in Dublin compared even to Oxford. This second observation came later in the night.
The tour we were on was through the Railtours Ireland company. Their trade make and most noticeable feature is their yellow jackets. We found them through Viator.com but a lot of their business comes from Tripadvisor. And trust me once I get back to Oxford I plan on writing a very good review for our guide and the tour as well. Our guide was a talkative, loving grandfatherly type of man named Liam. He liked to look out for, what he called Aimee and I, the little ones. Everyone else on this trip was over 25 and We could still pass as high schoolers if we wanted to.
Anyway, our rail journey took us to the city of Cork. Where we got on a bus driven by another nice grandfatherly type called Pat. He drove us around Cork as Liam pointed this and that out to his 11 tourers. He liked to do head counts. Once we had driven through Cork, Pat took us to the small village of Blarney where the Blarney Castle is with it’s kissing stone. Before we got to Blarney Castle Liam showed us a converted mill that was now a bar, three story shop, a restaurant and a hotel;it was also the place where we could find the bus when it was time to leave.
Then he took us to the castle. Let me just say that’s this place is truly amazing in its own right. In the information Liam gave us before taking us closer to the castle, he mentioned how the castle had fallen. “If you’ve seen the movie brave heart,” he said,”this one fell just like the castle in the movie did.” Now I have a reason to watch brave heart. Liam also mentioned that if any of us wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone, to secure all valuables before doing so. This was followed by a short story about a woman who leaned back to kiss the stone and her wig fell off. As it turned out this was one of three cases of a dropped wig from kissing the stone.
Before turning us loose he stopped our little group on a bridge over looking a creek. He had told us earlier that this creek had flooded a couple of years back and had caused some major trouble. Now he wanted to tell us a legend of if you tossed a coin over your left shoulder into the creek and make a wish, it was bound to come true. He said this was as much a tradition at Blarney Castle as kissing the stone was. Then we were set loose.
On the way up to the castle, Aimee and I passed an older woman who was leaning against a tree stump. She called after us to, “kiss the stone once for her.” I called back that I would. Climbing the 104 steps, Aimee counted, to the top was not easy. The stairs were uneven, circular and slippery. When we got to the top the view was breath-taking. As we waited in line to kiss the famous stone, we got a nice surprise. On the other side of the walkway, after the Blarney Stone, were six of our classmates from Oxford. They had just kissed the stone and were heading back down.
Going to go a little faster here cuz I want to catch some zzzzs. Aimee made me kiss the stone first, I loved it and would gladly do it again. She was a little shaky for the next hour or so. Once past the stone we took pictures of the land scape and my battery died in my camera. On the way down we veered off into different side rooms and heard one of our classmates slip on the wet floor far below. When we were back on solid ground we walked through the castles poison gardens. None of the things were in bloom yet, but they had explanatory plaques where each of the plants were. After the plants we explored the caves.
When we are all done with the castle and with about 2 hours remaining Aimee and I went to explore the converted mill. We had lunch with our classmates and then got back on the bus. There was a twenty minute break before we got to our next stop winch was Cobh, the last port of the Titanic. Pat drove us around and again Liam talked about the town. They took us to an over pass with a spectacular view. Any pictures of this will have come from Aimee. After the view we say the church of the city’s patron saint, saint Cobh. The church took 47 years to build. From there we went to the museum about what happened in Cobh as people came to the city to board a ship for a new life in America or Australia. This museum also held things salvaged from the titanic when it sank; including a note in a bottle.
From there our group divided. Some were continuing on to kalarney and the rest if us were going back to Dublin. I stayed awake the whole ride home. When we got back to the station, another adventure began as we ride to find out way back to the hostel. We had planned to go shopping if we got back in time, well that didn’t happen. Somehow we ended up off the city map they give tourists. After asking for directions twice we finally made it back to the station to try again.
We got back to the hostel, but left as soon as we got back to see if our shop was still open and to scout out the meeting place for tomorrow. The store was closed and the rondeau spot we didn’t find. We got dinner at Burger king and headed home.