Where a Blarney Stone Got Kissed - Ireland Day 4

September 15

I puckered up to the Blarney Stone today, so I should be extra eloquent during this blog. Woo Hoo!!

Luckily, this morning, I woke up knowing where I was. It was a better start to the day than yesterday. Unfortunately, Mom had a very hard time getting to sleep, so she was not feeling it this morning. We got a later start to the day. In all reality, this wasn't a bad thing. The bus left the hotel at 9a for the Blarney Castle, so we had plenty of time this morning.

We learned our lesson about breakfast yesterday. Stick to what you know or like. You don't need to try everything. So I had the oatmeal, a sausage and a croissant. Perfect. We knew this would last us for a while and we didn't know when we were going to have our next meal. In theory, we'd have lunch around noon, but yesterday's early lunch made us pause. It's better to be safe than sorry.

The ride from Killarney to Blarney was about one and a half hours. It was a nice enough ride. Seeing the Irish Countryside is just lovely. So far, the landscape is what you think it's going to be. The greenery, the hills, the water. We've lucked out completely on the weather. I can't complain in any way.

When we got to Blarney, the driver parked the bus and said we had about two and a half hours to explore Blarney, get lunch and do some shopping at the Woolen Mills center.

Now this is the problem with the whole tour thing. I could have spent several hours just at the castle. We barely had any time to explore the castle, let alone the surrounding areas. There were paths and waterfalls and other areas, but we really didn't have any extra time to see these things. I could say, "Maybe next time," but realistically, there's not going to be a next time. I have a ton of places on my To Go List and I don't know if I will be able to make a return visit here in the foreseeable future.

We found the castle without any problems. And there is only one thing you HAVE to do at the castle...kiss the blarney stone. The plan has been shoved into your brain since you learned you were going on the trip. "Are you going to kiss the Blarney Stone??" "You have to kiss the Blarney Stone." "Why wouldn't you kiss the Blarney Stone??". Ok. I get it. The Blarney Stone has to be smooched. It's not like I was going to skip this part of the trip. But there's always a moment or two where you tend to pause to think, "I'm supposed to do what now??". I'm also positive I'm going to end up with a cold sore...or scabies...or something communicable...

We bypassed all areas of the castle. We raced through the kitchen, paused for a moment in the master bedroom and half-heartedly glanced at the dining hall. That god damn stone had to be kissed before we went back to the bus. The stairs up to the stone...well, no one really mentions those. The company line is, "If you can get up the 120 stairs, you're in for a treat.". It never really occurred to me that the steps up to the top of the castle wouldn't be as modern as the steps up to the front door of a house. The stairs spiraled at a very steep incline. On the way up, we had only a rope to help us along the way. On the way down, there was a railing (Woo Hoo!!). I managed the steps fine, but I know they surprised Mom a bit more. Maybe I should have been the first one up, but I thought we were going to run through the rooms too. No worries. She was a trooper.

The line to kiss the stone was basically a conveyor belt. Step up, sit down, lean back, kiss, picture, get up, get out. Rinse. Repeat. We all seemed to be shuffling to our doom. The hardest part was getting untangled from your bag or putting the camera down. Well, there was the whole sitting down and getting up part that was hard. And reaching the stone with your lips. Luckily, there was a dude holding you down. Very few people freaked out while performing the task. Though, as we were walking by the kissing site a little later, we heard some lady hollering because she was scared. Good lord. I really hoped she wasn't in our group.

Speaking of good lord...there's always the person in every group that just makes you groan and wish they were with some other group. It's not funny to ask the question, "Why do you guys drive on the wrong side of the road??". No. Just, no. Never ask that question again. And make sure to tell your friends never to ask that question again. Especially if you have a Southern accent. Nothing against the Southern accent. I adore a Southern accent, but asking that question, quite possibly with a y'all in the middle of that sentence automatically classifies you as a rube. Even if you've traveled the globe. Don't be that guy. Ever.

Post-kiss, we wandered the grounds for a short amount of time. We ended up in the Poison Garden (how can you not visit a poison garden??). The rules for the Poison Garden were clear. Don't eat or touch anything in the garden. We didn't. But it was cool. We checked the map to see what else we should look for. There was a waterfall and some garden areas I thought would be great. Sadly though, we couldn't find them. I kept looking at the map, but we started to go down one way and saw people coming back our way, so we'd ask, "Are the waterfalls down that way??". Every time, they'd say no. Maybe they were fibbing. Jerks. So we wandered a little more and decided to go to the shopping area. We had about an hour to go and we knew we needed some retail time.

The Blarney Woolen Mills was a big store with many "departments". Apparently, it is the largest Irish store in the country. I'm on the lookout for a claddagh ring, so I thought I'd be successful there. Meh...I found some, but I'd like something that doesn't break the bank or turn my finger green. I did find a super cute new scarf. I'm jazzed about that. Before we knew it though, it was time to go. We didn't have time to have lunch, but we had prepared by consuming a large enough breakfast. Plus, we had leftover scones from Mrs Courtney's Tea House, so I bought some water and inhaled a scone. We knew dinner wasn't too late tonight, so we didn't worry.

The almost two hour ride back was uneventful, though our driver was surprised at the amount of construction going on in some of these small towns. We would have to stop and wait for several minutes for cars to pass on the now one lane street. Plus, the driver said these were the Sunday drivers practicing for their Sunday driving. I thought I could take a nap on the bus, so I wasn't really paying attention.

When we got back to the hotel, there wasn't a ton of time to do much. We went to the pool yesterday, but did we need to go again?? Not really. We were slightly hungry, but dinner was in two and a half hours. Luckily, we stopped in one of the restaurants for tea. God, I am loving the tea and scones. I'm going to be ticked off when I go home and can't have hot tea and scones every day. Though I will also say that I don't think Weight Watchers would believe this is the best snack. I dread going back to weigh in next weekend. Though I'm so not going to dwell on this. As long as my jeans still fit every morning, I'm going to feel fine about everything.

We rested a bit and did some reading. Mom got up and said, "I'm going to get ready for dinner now.". I didn't think too much about it, but then looked at the clock. 6:15p. We had to be downstairs at 6:30p. Whoops. I did a quick change, but didn't worry too much about dressing up. There was a dude wearing a hoodie on the first night's "Business Casual" meal. I wasn't going to go crazy with the dress-up. We were downstairs at 6:29p. Not the last people down, but almost. Apparently, I need to pay more attention to the clock.

We packed the restaurant. We went to Chapter Forty, which Trip Advisor counts as the number one restaurant in Killarney. I'd been looking forward to this meal. The wine started early, so good times there. The bread and appetizers started and were good. The only problem was the choice of meals. I know when a group as massive as ours comes in (52), we only have a choice of one or two entrees. The problem...Baked Cod or Pork Medallion. I don't eat either of these. I went with pork, cause cod makes me gag. It's like the fish that brought me down at Astrid y Gaston in Lima. The pork was fine. It's just not something I eat. Or like. But the dessert more than made-up for the entree.

We got shuttled back to the hotel where we packed up. The hotel is picking up our luggage at 6a in the morning. We have a 7:50a train to Dublin in the morning. Since Mom didn't sleep well, we knew we had to be to bed a little early. I still haven't done the pub thing. I know we have a pub scheduled on Saturday, but I still think we need to stop by somewhere a little less touristy. I haven't tried Guinness yet, but I could use a pint of cider. Mmmmm...cider...

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