Sunday, November 18, 2012

Experiencing Ireland

Continuing on with our adventure over the summer in Ireland...

Wednesday/Thursday, June 27-28, 2012

On Wednesday morning, Steven, Nicole, David and I left the kids and Brenda and Dewey at the Cliffhouse in order to drive to the train station in Galway for an overnight in Dublin!  It was an early morning, so we were all pretty tired on the trainride into the city.  But four hours later, we had arrived!  I have to admit, I wasn't as excited about going to Dublin as I had been to see the parts of Ireland that we were staying near.  Friends that I had talked to had told me that it really isn't that much different than any other big city over here, and we had been to plenty of those.  But I couldn't imagine being in Ireland for a week and not going to Dublin, and I am so glad we did! Guinness, anyone???

After a long walk to the hotel to drop off our bags, we started our day with a pub lunch in the city centre.  We were originally going to take a walking tour, but we were all pretty tired from all the cycling on Tuesday and the early morning, so we decided to take an open top bus tour of the city, instead.  We listened to the live guide as he told us about Dublin, and got to do a drive-by of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Castle, the Jameson Distillery, and of course, the Guinness Storehouse.

That night, we went on The Gravedigger Ghost Bus Tour.  Anyone who knows me should know well enough that this isn't the type of thing I would normally choose to do.  I am not a fan of scary stuff, things jumping out at you, etc etc.  But the tour was so much fun and our guide was hilarious.  It is basically just like going to a show or comedy night.  The double decker bus with the blackened windows and smoke machine took us around town, and our guide told us about "his" time living in Dublin during the Plague.  We stopped at several spots around the city where he and the other actor on board told stories of strange occurrences and creepy tales throughout the city.  Then we made one last stop at John Kavanagh's Gravedigger pub.  What a fun experience!
On Thursday, we ate breakfast at the hotel and again boarded the city tour bus (thank you two day passes!) to take us to the Guinness Storehouse.  David has been to several breweries before, but I have never been, so I was excited to learn about how they make the perfect Guinness!  We learned about how important the water is that is used to make the stout.  Guinness is available pretty much everywhere now, and is brewed in many different countries.  But depending on the site where the water for it originates, the flavor and taste can be altered.  Only Guinness brewed in Ireland with water from the Wicklow Mountains is exactly how Guinness is meant to taste!

In college, when we used to go to Molly's to "Ride the Rail," I always used to trade my Guinness for the cider.  :o)  I always hated it!  But we got a tip:  Guinness is not meant to be sipped.  You should take a nice long drink of it, to get the true flavor.  And let me tell you, it worked!  Our self-guided tour ended with a pint up at the top of the Storehouse, overlooking all of Dublin.  I drank the whole thing, and half of another!!!
On Friday and Saturday our little family of four broke away for some alone time. First, David and I took the kids on a tour of one of the caves around Doolin, Aillwee Cave.  We walked down into the ground and got to experience what real darkness is!  No natural light, no artificial light.  Our guide even made sure everyone put their cameras and phones away.  It was really spooky.  The cave was only discovered in the 1940s by a farmer who followed his dog, who had been chasing a rabbit!  The farmer didn't tell anyone else about his discovery until the 1970s, and even as recently as the early 1990s were areas of the vast cave still being explored for the first time.  But even with its "newness," the cave is still probably the most famous of all the thousands of caves throughout the Burren.  Inside there was an underground river, a waterfall, and lots of stalactites and stalagmites.  (Do you know the difference???)

After the cave we went to the Burren Birds of Prey center, and got to learn about owls, hawks and other birds of prey.  David and I even volunteered to go up during the talk to have a hawk land on our arms!

Saturday morning we left early and took the kids back to the beach near where we went on Monday.  There was an aquatic centre there, so even though it was super cold and rainy outside, we got in some swimming practice indoors on our holiday.  After swimming, we went horseback riding.  All week, Darian had been saying that she wanted to ride a horse, and Maxwell very adamantly said that he did not.  But when we finally got to the pony rides, Darian was too scared to go, and it just ended up being an adventure for Maxwell and Mommy.  It was really fun, and he did great!  My horse was not a good listener.  He kept stopping along the path to eat a snack, and each time he bent down to get a bite to eat, I thought I was going to fall right off!

Maxwell and his guide
Me and my hungry, hungry horsey

We met back up with the rest of the family for one last pub dinner before heading back to England.  And although we left Ireland behind, David has still been drinking Guinness often when we go out!
Last night in Ireland

For the full (out of order) album from this leg of our trip, go here.

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