Slept in today and it made me feel better but totally forced me to adjust my plans. After another lovely full Irish breakfast, I hopped in the car and set out for Waterford. Although it wasn’t on my original itinerary, I’ve come to realize the potential for seeing a lot of beautiful sparklies at the Waterford Crystal factory and thus adjusted my plans.
It was a lovely drive, mostly freeway, but I have totally gotten the hang of driving here and it was more good practice. I rolled into Waterford and found a spot to park and set off to find the factory. On the way I found Reginald’s Tower, part of the Treasures of Waterford tour. Who wouldn’t want to see some treasure?
I climbed three flights of treacherous medieval spiral stairs so I could start at the top and work my way down. Turns out Reginald’s tower treasures are all bits of Viking pottery and shit. I moved through quickly and then walked up the hill to the Bishops Palace.
The Bishops Palace is the second part of the Waterford treasures and in my opinion the best part. I paid for my ticket and entered the house. Suddenly, the butler, Mr. Watwhy came down the stairs to greet us. He warned us about the housekeeper, Mrs. Rickards and then she appeared as well. As they led us through the house and pointed out the various pieces, they also included bits of Irish history. The stories were fascinating, Mr Watwhy and Mrs. Rickards were very entertaining. It was like living an episode of Downton Abbey. Definitely the best tour to date!
Inside the Bishops Palace, there was a Waterford Crystal chandelier worth over a quarter million euros. God only knows how many dollars that is, I can’t do that kind of math. Lets just say a lot. So when the tour ended, I walked across the street to the Waterford Crystal factory. I was kind of hoping there would be a sale rack so I could send all of you gifts. Sorry!
But I did get some fantastic decorating ideas for my new condo.
I decided I needed to push on if I was going to try to reach the Rock of Cashel so I skipped the rest of the treasures and left town. I wish I could take pictures of some of the terrifying hairpin turns on tiny little winding roads bordered by massive medieval looking stone walls so you could fully appreciate my talent. Suffice it to say I appear to have mastered this whole driving in Ireland thing. Even with giant tour buses coming at me and two lane roads that are in reality only a one lane road with a line down the middle.
By the time I got to the Rock of Cashel the rain had let up. It’s an amazing site to see the rock and ruins rising from the city surrounding it. I parked the car and hiked up the very high hill to the gate. I arrived just as another tour was starting. The lovely young tour guide was not an actress in character, but she knew an awful lot about that rock!
We toured the restored choir boy quarters and then walked around to the back of the ruins. There were very old tombstones all around us and flocks of crows circling above. That’s because it’s nesting season and they have apparently taken over. The view was amazing, which is probably why the ancient kings claimed it!
The only other part that is still intact is the chapel. We went in there, though the building was constructed entirely of limestone which has caused it to mold. A lot.
I decided there wasn’t enough time to visit the Blarney Stone. Also, I heard that it was just a place with bus loads of American tourists and people who visit are mercilessly mocked. I drove to Cork instead. My accommodations in Cork were at The Blarney Stone Guesthouse. It’s charming. The decor is very elegant.
I had an attic room. They don’t have any lifts, so that meant hefting my adorable suitcase up four flights of stairs. They gave me the code to the Internet, a key to the front door, and a brief suggestion for where to go for dinner. I couldn’t get online so I grabbed my iPad and trudged down the stairs. The first place I came to wasn’t open so I kept walking, but the neighborhood seemed sketchy. I finally turned around and returned to the Serendipity Cafe. I don’t know if you know this, friends, but Cork is foodie heaven. The menu was simple and I picked some sort of fish dish while I logged on to their free wifi to work on my blog. After the food arrived, I realized why Cork has earned it’s reputation. That was one of the finest meals I have ever had. Seriously!
Tomorrow is Dingle, with a stop at the Muckross House on the way. Wish you were here!