Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dublin, Ireland--Part 1

Dublin, Cork, Blarney Castle, Cohb

I will admit, Ireland is not a place that was at the top of my "to do" travel list. However, it is a magical place that will suck you in very quickly. There are many different ways that you can see Ireland, and one of the most popular plans is to rent a car and drive the island yourself. This was a thought, but Kim and I decided to go a different route and plant ourselves in Dublin, taking day trips to other areas of the country. There are definitely positives to this method, but we do wish that we had driven, at least part of the trip. I will explain how we did Ireland, and things that we would change...starting with more research and thought behind this part of the planning, and calling the actual companies instead of relying on a travel agent.
Blarney Castle 

We flew into Dublin later in the evening and headed straight to our hotel. We had an early tour the next morning and had to figure out how to get around on public transportation with little guidance. We stayed at the Amberley Guesthouse. Like many of the hotels in Ireland, it was an old house turned into a hotel, with about 20 rooms available. It wasn't the best place we've ever stayed, but on a budget, it was what we could afford. We were staying on the north side of the river, which is opposite of the famous "Temple Bar", the tourist bar/club area. Dublin has a decent tram system that will get you around most of the city and we had a pretty easy ride from our hotel to the train station where our tours met each morning.
Blarney Gardens

The first morning, we were up before 6am, heading to the train station for our first tour to Cork, Blarney Castle, and Cohb (pronounced "cove"). We were using Railtours, which take you by train across the country to a location where a bus will take you on the tour for the day and then take you back to the train for the trip back to Dublin. Each of these tours was 12+ hours because of was going to be a long three days!

Last port of the Titanic
Cork was merely a pit-stop and a quick city tour. It was a neat city, but we didn't get to spend any time there. We were headed to Blarney Castle and planning on kissing the Blarney Stone. Kissing the blarney stone is said to give you the gift of eloquent speech. (We had hoped for something more magical than speech, but it was worth a smooch anyways!) The grounds of the castle are covered in streams and gardens, very beautiful landscape. We walked around for a couple of hours, climbed through the castle, which was much like you'd expect a medieval castle to be, and went to the top to lay down and kiss the stone. The view from the top was amazing and definitely an experience. We then had lunch and a pint, before doing a little shopping and heading back to the bus for the remainder of the tour. The last part of the tour took us to Cohb, which is the last port of the Titanic before it's fateful journey. They had a small museum about the Titanic and the port town was bustling with action. We were able to grab a scoop of ice cream and enjoy the sun by the water before having to get back on the train. We had a 2+ hour train ride back to Dublin, and arriving after 8pm, we decided to grab a quick dinner and head back to the hotel since we were back on the train the next morning.

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