|Kissing the Blarney Stone.
September 17, 2007
I wish I had more wonderful things to write about my day today. But I don’t. I guess I just need to remember that days like
this are bound to happen. This is what I get for taking the easy way out…
Since I am in Ireland for such a short period of time, I thought the easiest thing to do would be booking a 2-day trip from the
tourist office. The tour sounded like a good one with some time to myself and not following some guide around like a puppy dog
the whole time.
But this is where my hell would begin.
I took an early morning train to Cork with the rest of my tour bus crew. Then we were led to the massive bus (i.e. my worst
nightmare). The guy on the microphone didn’t know the meaning of ‘silence is bliss’. He chose to narrate for every thing we
passed…including a flour plant, a department store and even McDonald’s (and he was dead serious when telling us about these
things). Do people really enjoy hearing this crap? The sad thing is that there were people on the bus who didn’t seem to mind
all of the commentary.
And then we had the wonderful pleasure of rolling through cities all while merely peering out of the windows of the bus. Cork
came, Cork went. And so did many others. All I craved was some rickety local bus getting me from Point A to Point B while
only having to listen to my own thoughts.
And now is the part where I am going to sound a bit cynical…
We got to Blarney Castle. Before we got off the bus, our guide told us more about the tax-free shopping to be had at the store
than anything about the castle. When we were out of the bus, I tried to go off on my own and he made me stay with the group.
Lame as he told us nothing about anything there and just was having us reconvene in 3 hours. Now there was a guy on a power
I also have no idea what the hype of this place is. As far as castles go, this is nothing impressive at all. And then there’s that
stone. You drop down, bend backwards, kiss a rock that everybody else’s mouth has touched. And why? For ‘the gift of
Our next stop was Cobh (sounds like ‘Cove’) which sits on the water. Nice little town. Would have been nicer if we actually had
a few minutes where we could roam around. But that wasn’t to be. Instead we headed to a museum. I will admit to finding it a
bit interesting as this is the harbor that the Titanic headed out from (the name of the town used to be Queenstown). So at least
I learned something today.
Now it was time to part way with half of our group. The rest of us were getting on a train to Killarney. Finally…some Jen time.
We were getting in early enough to enjoy our night out here however we pleased. Score!
On the train ride, there were loads of Kerry celebrants heading to Killarney for the town’s celebration. This included many o’
drunks. Were they speaking a different language? You would sure think so.
After dinner I watched the bus of players roll into town. I thought it would just be the young people drinking on the streets –
but this event drew just as many families with small kids waving their green-and-yellow flags. It was great to see this go down.
Definitely not an everyday occurrence.
September 18, 2007
It was nice staying at the B&B last night. It was nice being on a residential street where I could start the day off with a nice
But soon it was time for the bus to come.
At least this time it was a small bus. Phew.
Let me backtrack for a moment now. When I journaled last night, I didn’t mention anything about the four Americans I met on
my bus yesterday. One lady (Vicky) was from Texas and the three others were from Arkansas – complete with accent and all.
One of the ladies from Arkansas was of the loud variety. I was able to find some humor in what she was saying but I’m sure
others on the bus were sitting a bit smug knowing that all of their American stereotypes were coming true. We had only talked
a bit on the train and all they had known was that I was from San Francisco. Okay. I can now continue.
I get on the rather-full bus this morning and all I hear are voices saying “San Francisco!” At that moment, in front of the whole
bus, they wanted to know what my name was since they had only been referring to me as ‘San Francisco’. I told them it was
Jen. They made a point of repeating it out loud in a ‘Hi Jen!’ kind of way. And this would be how it would come about that
everybody from the bus would be calling me by name for the rest of the day.
Things did get a bit better when the bus driver asked me a favor. Since I was a solo traveler, he asked if I could ride in the seat
in the front of the bus. Now I was riding shotgun and it no longer felt like I was even in a bus.
Our bus driver was giving us a brief lesson in Gaelic football (as he had been out late celebrating last night). It turns out that all
of the players are amateurs and don’t get paid a cent for their football duties. In a few days they will have to return to
business-as-usual when they go back to their actual jobs that will pay the bills. And in terms of the trophy, this will get taken to
every school in County Kerry over the course of a couple months so the kids can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at their football team’s
Our first stop was at some place known for Irish Coffee (made with whiskey and not Bailey’s Irish Cream). I think it should be
more known for white-haired people. All tourist buses stop here and 99% of the people in there were more than two
generations older than me. I was almost inclined to take a photo of this so that people didn’t think I was exaggerating. I’m sure
they were all very nice people…but this was just adding to my tour bus hell.
Unfortunately, we would be doing the Ring of Kerry under gray skies. Not the most ideal but at least it beat doing it in the rain.
A lot of the scenery reminded me of what I saw in New Zealand…but not as mouth-dropping as New Zealand. Of course, my
opinion might be different if I saw things with a blue sky above. I remember not being overly impressed with New Zealand
until the sun finally decided to come out. But who really cares what I think of it. Every single other person loves Ireland and
finds it gorgeous. I think I am becoming mildly jaded. I don’t want to. But I guess it was only natural that it would happen.
The drive was very pleasant with lakes, sheep, different towns, coastline and mist that rested in mid-air. But nothing really
blew me away. Oh well. I just don’t want to offend any of my Irish friends or friends that loved Ireland by saying any of this.
Oh. I forgot to mention that throughout the day people from my bus were saying "Jen, do you want us to take your photo?"
(when they observed me getting ready to take a self-portrait), "Jen, can you move over a bit so I can take a picture of such-
and-such", "Jen, are you traveling on your own?", etc. As I said earlier, the whole bus knew my name. While it felt really odd
for all of these people to be referring to me by name, I also felt a bit like a celebrity. Hehe.
I’m on the train right now and will be heading back to Cat’s so that we can go grab dinner.
It will be nice to be back in a city. It will be nice to hang out with somebody who is my age. It will be nice to go back to the
restaurant that we went to the other night and loved. And it will be nice to not have to be at the mercy of a tour bus.
Oh, yeah. It will also be nice to hear a soft, pleasant Irish accent instead of the type of accent that comes from places like
Alabama and Arkansas.
September 19, 2007
This morning I parted ways with Cat. I was off to a café; Cat was off to work.
The last thing I would do in Dublin before heading to the airport would be to go back to KC Peaches so I could meet my friends’
friend Katie. This time I was successful. We only had a chance to chat for a little bit…which is really too bad because it would
have been great to hang out with her longer. Oh well. I’m sure at some point she will be in San Francisco and maybe then more
chatting can be done.
Now I am at the airport getting excited for the next leg of my trip…Tunisia!
The Atlantic Ocean along the Ring of Kerry.
Killarney decked out in the Kerry colors.