Granada, but more specifically, Alhambra, has been on our travel bucket list for quite some time, and today we finally had a chance to visit this architectural beauty.Read More
I am so glad we included Milan as part of our road trip. What we found was a very clean, and yes in parts industrialized city, with a wonderful, and again clean, subway system, and quite a lot of amazing sights to see.Read More
The morning started off with a scrumptious breakfast a the B&B. This was by far the best breakfast we had and the kids really enjoyed their food.
After breakfast, we packed up and headed towards the Ross Castle, which is in the Killarney National Park.
The Castle, like every other Irish castle we have seen so far, is a tower house. We walked around the castle and enjoyed the outdoor scenery. Kian had fun climbing on one of the outside walls. We planned to go inside to see the rooms, but you cannot get in without a guided tour and the next available tour was not for another hour.
Instead of waiting around, we checked out the exhibition room, which provides a bit of history on the castle. It turns out that the majority of the castle was actually ruined at some point, and they worked hard looking for older materials/stones to match whatever was remaining to use in the restoration project.
After our visit at the castle, we headed towards the Muckross House and the Traditional Farms. We asked if a guided tour was required to see inside the house, and since the answer was yes, we once again opted for the outside view and walked towards the Traditional Farms.
There is a path that takes about an hour to walk, where you go through multiple farm house replicas, and get to see a small farm house, a large farm house, a school house, and farm labor cottage, and more. The purpose of these houses/cottages/stables is to show you how the traditional Irish farmers lived in the early 1900s.
We were told that all the houses we saw were replicas built for educational purposes only and that no farmers lived there at any point.
The walk was very interesting and the kids had fun going from house to house. In each place there was a person who talked about what sorts of things would go on in the house. They also had fresh baked bread and invited everyone to take a bite of the buttered bread they had on a platter near the door. Unfortunately we missed the milking demonstration, but did see a lady making butter.
The walk around the farms/farm houses took us more than 1 hour since we made a longer stop at the baby animal petting section and the little bounce house. As you walk around the loop, before reaching the visitor, there is small playground area called the "Woodland playground".
Hannah had been waiting for a long time to get to the playground, so despite being hungry, everyone took off their cranky pants and played for a bit.
After the playground we headed towards the Muckross House just to see it from the outside. Remember what I said about our cranky pants? Yah, they were back on! But the house and the grounds were beautiful, and if we had time I would have liked to see the inside.
We did grab a small and quick bite at the Muckross House cafe before getting back in the car to drive home.
We knew the drive home would take around 4 hours. We left Killarney at 4PM, and along the way we stopped for a quick dinner in Galway. We also stopped and got milk and cereal for next day's breakfast :)
We reached the Killary Fjord around 9PM as the sun was just starting to set over the mountains. The breathtaking views reminded us of how much we missed Louisburgh and the surrounding areas.
It really is incredibly gorgeous here. I am not sure there are proper words to describe how beautiful the sunset looked over Doolough Lake. But I guess that's why they say "a picture is worth a thousand words."
We reached "home" with 2 very happy kids and the gorgeous pink sky over the ocean was just a bonus as we unloaded the car and headed inside to get ready for bed.
We hopped in the car after breakfast, and no this was not early in the morning. We seem to be taking our time getting out of the door these days, but we are totally loving the pace. We did, however, pack our lunch to eat on the way to Galway.
With no real itinerary in mind and no place booked for the night, we headed out to see what the day would bring.
About an hour or so into our drive we got to the city of Oughterard and saw signs for the Aughnanure Castle. We decided to stop and check it out. The weather was perfect, and the castle was completely uncrowded. With plenty of green grass surrounding it, the kids played a few rounds of tag before we headed inside. There was also a very friendly dog that just pranced about the grounds and liked to chase after the kids.
We had fun exploring the castle. There is no furniture, but perhaps this was better as we were able to go through all the rooms and check everything out.
After our visit, we figured that to keep everyone happy we better eat our lunch. We have this characteristic in our family that when we get hungry, we get very very cracky! It somehow applies to every single one of us, without fail :)
Since we couldn't eat on the castle grounds (there was a "NO PICNIC" sign), we just hung out and ate in the parking lot. Clara (the dog) was very interested in our meal and really wanted to share with the kids.
With everyone's stomachs filled up, we continued our journey south on the west coast. We arrived in Galway around 4PM. We parked the car and started walking. From what we saw (and we happened to be there during the art festival period), Galway is very lively around Shop Street and Eyre Square. We saw lots and lots of street performers with good quality acts and music.
We enjoyed our walk, but remembered that we had no place to stay yet, so we started back towards the car and got side tracked by an Irish Tea House. A cup of tea was just what we needed.
We headed out of the tea shop and started our walk back to the car...this time suddenly the sign of the Barnacles Hostel grabbed my attention. Just to check it out we went inside and I asked if kids were allowed to stay and they said yes. Ok then, let's try out a hostel stay just to see what the big deal is.
The best part about the hostel was that it is right on shop street. Shop street is a pedestrian only street with lots of shops and restaurants. So we were right in the center of it all. We got a private en-suite room with 2 bunk beds. This amused the kids greatly!!
After we dropped off our stuff in the room, we walked a bit more and then decided to go to Thai Garden for dinner.
The atmosphere was very authentic and the food was very good but admittedly the prices were much higher than we expected. In the end, though, we were really in the mood for some Thai food so we enjoyed every bite :)
After dinner we walked around a bit more and saw more street performers and checked out a few stores.
And we wrapped up the night with 2 chocolate ice creams for our little traveling companions.
Mmmmm Mmmm....A delicious end to a wonderful day of sight seeing.
The day started with some breakfast and seashell painting.
The sun was shining beautifully so we decided it was great day to head to Leenaun (also spelled as Leenane) and see the Killary Fjord. We practically live on a part of the Wild Atlantic Way. The Wild Atlantic Way is about 1500 miles around the north and west coast of Ireland with magnificent views and lots of small villages full of Irish culture and history.
As we drove down the typical very narrow roads, we were rewarded by incredible scenery.
We also saw a monument dedicated to those who died during the famine. The event is now known as the Doolough Tragedy.
We arrived in Leenane around lunch time and decided to eat at The Village Grill.
We had a simple and quick lunch.
After lunch we were able to enjoy incredible views of the Killary Fjord.
As an added bonus to our day trip we checked out the Sheep & Wool Centre. We arrived at a good time and were able to go on a tour and check out the demonstrations of how the sheep are sheared and how the wool is turned into yarn (known here as thread). Since there were only 4 other people on the tour the kids had the chance to help with some of the demonstrations and had a great time. We all learned a lot!
The Killary Fjord stretches out for 16 Km. We drove a bit further to see what other landscapes waited ahead. We are so glad we did since we came across the Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey was built by Henry Mitchell as a present to his wife. We did not go inside the abbey but were able to check out the structure and learn about the history. It is even more magnificent to see in person.
We drove just a bit longer, continuing on the Wild Atlantic Way and saw some really gorgeous beaches. It was much too late to get out an play and we had a long drive home, so we just took in the views and started our journey home.
We made and enjoyed some charcoal grilled cheese burgers when we arrived home. Mmmm Mmmm.
We will leave you with an Irishman's Philosophy :)
We arrived in Dublin on time without any issues and went through the passport control and customs very quickly. Next we had to go to the rental car section and pick up our car. If you think car insurance in New Jersey is expensive you should come rent a car in Ireland. We had to pay a lot more on top of what we had paid online to book the car! There are so many different kinds of insurance required before you can drive away. We had done a lot of research before getting to Ireland and there really isn’t anyway around this especially if you want to have comprehensive insurance and this is your first time driving a stick shift car on the left side! Let’s just say our respond to the amount due was “Zoinks”!! Better safe than sorry I suppose.
We got in the car and put the children’s carseats in place and buckled them up. Kids safety? Check. Ok. Let’s drive. or…stall…and stall…and stall…! Hmmm…could we just roll in neutral to the hotel? Thankfully we didn’t have to find out as we discovered that instead of 1st we kept putting the car in the 3rd gear! We will just blame it on the confusing markings on the stick. Although the car is very new there is no display to tell you what gear you are in but it does tell you what gear you should be in for optimal efficiency.
We could not check-in the hotel yet but I spoke with a lady at the reception desk and she recommended the Halfway House as a good Irish Pub to eat at.
After lunch we parked the car at the hotel and took a bus to Dublin City Center. A double decker bus! and of course we sat on the top. As soon as we got out of the bus we saw a small chocolate shop that also had cupcakes and coffee called, “The Sweetest Thing”. We popped in for some coffee and cupcakes for the kids. The shop was very uncrowded when we walked in so the person who works there had a few minutes to chat and recommended a number of places for us to visit.
We headed out of the shop and walked towards the Trinity College.
The Trinity College is the oldest college in Ireland and If I heard the tour guide correctly they are affiliated with Oxford university. The campus is beautiful.
We walked on to see the “Book of Kells" exhibit which is remarkable.
here was an additional exhibit in the library about Brian Boru. The library was the most amazing one I have ever seen with bookshelf lining the walls from floor to ceiling.
After the exhibits we headed towards the Dublin Castle. It was a bit smaller than I had envisioned but the intricacy of the design wowed me nonetheless. We played a bit in the Coach House Garden, took a few pictures and left to find a place for dinner.
There are a lot of cobble stone streets in Dublin with alfresco dining. We picked a burger place called “Gourmet Burger Kitchen”. The food was really good and Hannah made friends with our waitress and danced with her and played peek-a-boo with her. Silly Hannah!
After dinner we hopped back on the bus and headed back to the Hotel for much needed R&R.