We’re back in Canada now after a lonnnnng trip home. It took us about 24 hours to make it back to Canada due to a couple of flight delays and airplane issues. They actually had to repair the plane while we were all in it, which took over two hours! Let’s be honest though, I’d rather they do that before we take off anyway!
I already miss the Contiki family and the atmosphere of Contiki Ireland. Putting this next recap together actually made me a little sad because it reminds me that it’s over and I’ll have to wait until my next trip to do it all over again. Who knows, maybe some of the awesome people we met on this trip will reunite for round 2 next year!
Days 5 & 6 were some of the best days on the whole trip. We saw so many beautiful things during these two days and in my opinion, the sights we saw on these two days were my favorite outside of the Giant’s’ Causeway. These days were also the best because everyone on the trip really began appreciating one another by Day 5 making it feel like you were among people you have known your whole life, not people you just met 5 days ago. I can’t explain the difference that feeling makes when you’re travelling with a big group of people. You’d have to try for yourself to truly understand!
Here’s a recap of what we saw on Day 5 & 6!
Day 5 – We departed Galway for Cork today, but not before stopping to see the Cliffs of Moher, my favorite historic site on this trip. The cliffs almost don’t seem real when you are there, that’s how majestic they are! They are home to some of the world’s rarest bird families as well and if you look close enough, you might just see a puffin! One happened to fly right by my head when I was setting up for photo! If you look closely you can see a cave opening along the face of the cliffs. That is the same location where they filmed a scene from Harry Potter!
After the Cliffs of Moher we hit the road again and began heading towards the Blarney Castle. This castle is most famous for the Blarney Stone which was said to give anyone who kisses it the “gift of gab”. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it is the ability to be witty with your words. The stone is set up on the tower of the castle and in order to kiss it, you actually need to hang upside down and slide over the edge! It’s definitely not a popular attraction for anyone who is afraid of heights. They have a protective barrier and a person holding you, making it nearly impossible for anything to happen, but the site was known to be pretty dangerous before these safety measures were in place. As for the rest of the castle, it was just as you would expect a castle to be, but felt so much smaller! Some stairwells were so tiny that you needed to crawl to fit through them, while others were so windy and vertical that they were a nightmare to climb but these features are part of what makes the Blarney castle so unique! The house on the castle grounds actually looks more like a castle than the castle itself. It’s towers and marble staircases make you feel like a princess the minute you step foot on the grounds! For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize this house from my pictures. It’s the one where I claimed it would be my future home one day – and it will!
From there we continued onto Cork, a smaller city in Ireland and one of the quieter places we ventured to on this trip. Our hotel, the Jury’s Inn, was absolutely beautiful and I had the most comfortable sleep on this night!
Day 6 – We had the best breakfast of the whole trip this morning (thank you Contiki!!!) before we headed off to Kilkenny. Our first stop of the day was at the Port Heritage Centre in Cork which was the last port of call for the Titanic! Inside the center, they had the story of how the ships were created, and the stories of the families lost when the ship sank. They have actual pieces from the ship as well, and letters that were recovered long after the disaster. We didn’t have a lot of time at this spot as we were just passing through, but it was cool to see the exhibit which was REALLY well done, I could have spent a few more hours there just reading about all of the stories!
Our next quick stop was at the Rock of Cashel. This place actually doesn’t look like a rock at all! It’s actually more like another castle. It’s also called St. Patrick’s rock and happens to be a cathedral and a castle that was built on top of a pile of stone, making it look like it was set on a big rock. The castle was built during the medieval ages, but has parts that are almost fully preserved making it an incredible site to see if you’re a nerd like me!
After the Rock of Cashel we made it to the Jameson’s Distillery in Midleton where Jameson’s Whiskey was born. We learned all about the Irish distilling process, toured the grounds and I happened to be selected as one out of 7 for the Whiskey taste test! I passed this test with flying colors of course. Every former Calgarian knows how the taste of Whiskey when she gets it! Unfortunately I wasn’t the classiest Whiskey tester of the group. I ended up taking the testers as shots – because I thought that’s what we were supposed to do!! Apparently, that was wrong and you’re supposed to sip the whiskey slowly to savour the taste. Don’t worry – I learned my lessons and became a certified Whiskey Taster by the end of our tour!
Once we made it to Kilkenny, the rain had kicked in and only 10 of us made it out for the bike tour through the city. I had to wear one of those highly fashionable plastic bags they call a parka in an effort not to get drenched. Unfortunately, going downhill caused my parka to literally inflate like a balloon and I was stuck looking like a bubble boy for the entire time. Picture a perfect sphere, clear and plastic, with a female head coming out of the top. That’s exactly what I looked like! So fashionable…
The bike tour was worth it though. Kilkenny stays true to it’s medieval roots and maintains many of its old historic sites. One of my favorite spots was the St, Canice Cathedral which is home to the tombs of the monks who died during the Black Plague. The windows of the Cathedral are filled with stained glass that tells the story of Jesus through colourful pictures. It was humbling to see such beautiful artistry that held so much meaning.
After the tour, we headed back to our hotel – the strangest hotel that I have ever seen. Although it was very nice, it was very odd. There was a large stuffed cat behind the desk that strongly resembled a Sabretooth Tiger. We were convinced it used to be real because you could actually see the stitch marks and the holes in the body from where it must have been killed! Our rooms were also pretty interesting, not so much in site, but more in logistics. To get to your room, you needed to navigate through a maze of stairs and hallways that seemed to go on for ages without really coming to an end. It was definitely the most interesting place I have ever stayed and totally worth it!
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