Happy birthday Andy!
Normally, this would be four or five posts for the day. I'm feeling lazy, so they're all in one.
Partially recovered from practically sleeping all day yesterday, we woke early (as in 5AM early) to start our first real site-seeing day. We had a slow breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate (read: coffee for Kris), downing lots of orange juice in hopes that hacky woman wouldn't adversely affect our trip.
Eventually, we managed to leave the house, and drove to the nearest big town: Waterford. I recalled visiting Waterford Crystal when Mom and I and an aunt and two cousins toured Ireland two years ago (yes, that trip turned out as well as you could expect a trip involving five related women, two generations, two weeks, and 1000 miles could turn out), and wanted to head over again.
We arrived just after 9AM.
Here's our tour:
Waterford Crystal is currently in Chapter 11, and had closed for tours. There were lots of angry signs around, "Keep Waterford in Waterford" and "Nationalize Waterford Crystal" and "NO TOURS."
I have to admit being disappointed. We found out later in the day, the factory expects to reopen next week for tours, which was funny, as next week is when Ireland "opens" for the tourist season.
So, we continued on We were heading off to Cahir as the next biggest city in the general direction we were heading today. On the way, we saw a sign for a castle, so Kris made a hard left, and we turned down the street.
Kris took a picture and declared, "Let the touring begin!"
Turns out, we turned into the Ormonde Castle, which wasn't open. We weren't sure about the place, if we were allowed to be walking around with the big lock on the gate. Kris suggested we walk around, see if we could see something, anything else. We wandered around, most likely scaring the crap out of the two old women we were walking along behind.
Once we had walked around, and were on our way back to the car, the two women we were following met up with another two couples in the neighborhood, and started talking neighbor talk. I felt a little envious of both the incredible proximity these people live to history and the closeness of neighbors, being able to just walk a few doors down and have good friends.
We continued to Cahir Castle, which was totally awesome.
Once we paid our entrance fee, we had full access to the whole place. There was one place where the steps up to the top of the tower required walking up the outside of the tower. Now, in the US, such a walk up would have been either prohibited or chained off to remove any form of "danger."
Here? Well, climb away! If you fall, it's your fault.
We scrambled around the castle, having a great time firing anachronistic weapons over the walls. Pew pew pew!
Okay, so we were 1 for 3 on our tours. At least we were 2 for 2 on the meals.
We decided to try for Kilkenny Castle as the last stop today, and started our driving. When we were in Scotland for our honeymoon, we would often just turn off the road when a sign for a castle showed up. We did much the same here, except that sometimes we didn't see any sign. There are hundreds of ruins just off the side of the road in Ireland. When passing one, one that looked interesting, I "asked" Kris to "Turn here! Turn here!"
We really weren't sure if we were allowed to be at this place. We were both a little uncomfortable, worried about tresspassing. We followed the signs to the ruins for the Kilamery Cross Abbey, which included a small cemetary next to it, and wandered around for a short while. It was nice to just walk around and be at the place.
After leaving and continuing to Kilkenny, we were a little worried about the timing of the day. We arrived after 3:30 in Kilkenny and hurried to the castle, only to realize that we had to go with a tour guide through the castle.
Now, in this castle, on the tour, you're not supposed to take pictures. Of course, you're not supposed to crawl all over the furniture, either, but that didn't stop the three year old on the tour. She nearly gave our tour guide an epileptic fit as she crawled over 16th century furniture like it was home.
You're also not supposed to touch the various pieces that said "do not touch" including a round table with roses and shamrocks and thistles, but that didn't stop the three year old's father from pawing it for a couple minutes when the tour guide was gone from the room.
No, you're not supposed to take pictures, but that didn't stop me either.
The tour consisted of three rooms. That's right, the tour of a three walled castle was of three rooms. Fun!
The last of the three rooms we toured is the second longest room in Ireland: a 150 foot long gallery. When we entered, my first thought was, "Ahh! You could do wind sprints in here!" My second thought was, "Damn, this room is 50% longer than our property is deep."