A Travellerspoint blog

Castles and Cathedrals

For the last couple of days Sydney and I have been with a friend of mine that I met on The Camino De Santiago 5 years ago. She has been gracious enough to show us around Tipperary where she lives. She has taken 4 days away from her life and is shuttling us around from place to place, feeding us, allowing us to stay in her home and treating us like family. A couple of years back I went to Austria and visited another friend that I met on the Camino, as is the case now with my Irish friend, my Austrian friend and his family were absolutely wonderful to us. I cant even begin to explain the hospitality and friendship these people have shown me. The reason I mention this is to demonstrate how important travel is. I think it is important to choose travel options that allow you to meet people from around the world. It may sound cheesy and a bit hyperbolic but these people, as well as others I have met in my travels have made my life better. Not only have they shown me first hand accounts of their countries, they have shown me different ways to see the world, different ways to think, and of course have been terrific friends when I do get the opportunity to see them. Perhaps an 800 km walk in Spain (The Camino) isn't for everyone, but it has provided life long friends for me that 5 years later are still ones I cherish. Ok, off my soapbox and onto some pics.

On our way to meet my friend we had a short drive from Glendalough to Clonmel but of course there were many stops along the way. What absolutely amazes me about Ireland is the number of old relics, churches, ruins, from 1000 years ago. There are so many that they can keep up with finding them, restoring them and maintaining them. Whats cool about this is that around every corner is something awesome. On top of all of that there is unparalleled natural beauty, here is some proof. We came across this randomly. It wasn't even good enough to make the guidebooks. Amazing

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Before arriving in Clonmel, we had two pitstops one in the town of Kildare and one in the town of Kilkenny. Kildare is a small town with some charm, but our main reason for coming is a wonderful 12th century church and an over 100 foot round tower. A round tower, if you are unsure, is really a watch tower and defensive structure for the people living in the church and town around the church. They are high, round stone towers. There are only two in Ireland that you can climb to the top of and the highest one is Kildare. I have to say this was one of the most terrifying experiences ever. This isnt a nice spiral staircase with ropes secured to the walls to pull you up, this is 15 foot Victorian era ladders built into various levels if the tower that meander their way to the top. It is tough to explain but it was terrifying and the view were stunning from the top. Check them out. The church was also wonderful and charming, with a great little graveyard full of 19th century tombstones.

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Kilkenny was the next stop. Kilkenny is a true tourist town. There are a number of things to do in the town for the tourist, and it is busy. Sydney and I thought the town had a Banff feel to it, only Medieval. The main draw is the castle and a couple of cathedrals. Overall, the castle was wonderful but I found the town a bit touristy. It is worth a go for the castle alone, and the other round tower in the country that is climbable is in Kikenny but I had had enough of round towers for the day. Here are the highlights from Kilkenny.

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There have been some driving mishaps but I will keep those to myself for now. The roads are narrow, windy and the cars are all standards. To make it worse, the shifter is on the left because the car is a right hand drive car. It has made for some interesting moments, but I think we are getting the hang of it. I have let the cat take over driving duties as I can no longer be trusted.

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Today was a wonderful day as my friend took us on the first of her own guided tours. She took us to the spots that we had planned to go and added a few more that are not in any guidebook. The first spot was a nice hidden away delight just outside of her town. It was a peaceful and tranquil spot that had some rich history. It was St Patrick's Well and is an important spot in the legend of St Patrick. It was a wonderful spot to spend a half hour.

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The next spot was Cahir Castle. I think it is considered less important than the Kilkenny castle but I think I liked this one better. There was lots of cool areas to get lost in, some cells to lock up Sydney in and generally a cool and peaceful castle. I enjoyed the town of Cahir as well. There is a 2km stroll to another great, and much more modern building, the Swiss Cottage. The Swiss cottage is an 1830 home that was basically abandoned in the 1960s and restored again in the 1980s. The cool thing about this house is the thatched roof and careful design choices inside to mimic nature. It was owned by a guy who owned a lot of castles and a good chunk of Ireland in the 1800's and he used it as a summer retreat. It was very nice and a lovely enough home to make anyone jealous. In 1981 a Canadian purchased this house for $30,000 imagine what it would cost today. She no longer owns it, however she also didnt sink the half million Euros that went into restoring this. It was fascinating and the tour was wonderful and well worth the visit.

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The last stop was probably the most spectacular, it was the Rock of Cashel. This is another castle, but the best of the bunch. It had a significant function for the Catholic church. I believe it was the main building for the Bishop that was head of the church in Ireland. If I understand it correctly, this is the most important castle in the country, but perhaps I am over stating this. Either way, it was wonderful despite the scaffolding that was visible for renovations and the views from the top of the hill were fabulous.

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The day was finished off with another wonderful meal from my host and a beautiful dessert, baked apples. They were wonderful. However, I do have to ask my fellow Canadians a question. Apparently in Ireland there are eating apples and cooking apples. What you see here are cooking apples. Apparently they cannot be eaten raw as the are very sour, but the cook up marvelously. They are also huge. Do we having cooking apples in Canada? I have never seen them but apparently they are popular and common here. They are tasty when baked. Until next time.

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Posted by Bad Kitty 15:01 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Natural Beauty and Catholic/Monastic History

18 °C

I think it is impossible to have a bad day in Ireland. There is just so much to do and so little time to do it in. Today was a full plate of highlights from dawn until evening. I do have to show this first, just so you all appreciate the lengths that we go through to get this blog to you. This is the state of charging my computer at the moment, if we die here it was the laptop that did it.

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We are able to get all the energy for our day by starting with this delicacy. Sydney eats what is called the full Irish Breakfast. I usually just do the beans, toast, and sausage. We are well fed here and the B&Bs are amazing. Here was breaky today

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The last of our itinerary in Dublin was a visit to Trinity College to see the most prized Irish Treasure, the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is, if my understanding is correct, one of, if not the oldest, surviving copy of the New Testament Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John). In addition to that the book is also filled with illuminations, essentially doodles inside the letters in the script, except really detailed and ornate. We couldn't take any pictures but I have provided a link below to help.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells

Even more impressive may have been the long room in the same building. It is a massive and old library with about 2 Million books and just beautiful. It reminds me a lot of the library of Congress, not as big but twice as impressive I think.

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One of the highlights of the day may have been the surprising Powerscourt waterfall. This may be the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen, and I have seen a bunch. I mean, Niagra is impressive but a top down view of a falls is never as good as a bottom up view and this waterfall was tall and you could get right up to it. Just stunning. The picture doesn't do it justice and this inst all the way up, but you get the idea. This is exactly the reason we travel the way we do. We avoid tours, rent a car and meander around all over. This hidden gem is shockingly not in any of the three guidebooks we own, was never on our agenda and we only ran into a sign saying there was a waterfall this direction. I just love the hidden surprises. On top of all this there was almost no one there. That is tough to beat

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After the waterfalls it was time to see the rest of the Powerscourt grounds. Its like a little miniature Versaille it was pretty and well kept. Sydney and I discussed what we would do if we owned this house and all the land. I opted for giant Croquet game on the lawn, Sydney would do somersaults down the hills into the pond. it was fun and also had an odd pet cemetery. Notice the Wicklow mountain in the back, thats where we headed for a major hike in the evening.

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The final part of our day was a beautiful walk through the Wicklow Mountains National Park in Glendalough. The Wicklow Way is a 7 day hike through the mountains that Syd and I were originally going to do but opted out of it and instead tuned into a evening stroll. We managed about 6 Km and most of it quite mountainous. We saw a couple of lakes and a Monastic city along the way, as well as more waterfalls and beautiful vistas. Here are a few pics for you to enjoy

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Tomorrow is another full day with a handful of towns to visit and some friends to meet up with. I anticipate shenanigans. At some point in the blog I need to discuss a few things that I have noticed so far
1) Why is everyone in this country so beautiful, I mean there truly isn't an ugly person in this country. I will get to the bottom of this!!!
2) Why are the roads so narrow? Scary but I am getting used to the right hand drive cars and driving on the left side of the road. Haven't killed anyone yet, although there have been some unpleasantries.
3) Why is the fruit so good here. I will tell you from experience Canadians, what you think is Honey Dew Melow is a farce. You have been fooled. It is soooo much better here, as are the Oranges. I will do more research on this as well.

Night all!!

Posted by Bad Kitty 12:27 Archived in Ireland Tagged waterfalls mountains catholic monastic Comments (0)

Bad Kitty Escapes and is Welcomed in Ireland

semi-overcast 17 °C

When we last spoke Bad Kitty was facing certain destruction in Las Vegas! But the Kitty has escaped to Paris and is sure to find his way to Ireland. Do not ask how, just except his escape from the electric chair.

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In the mean time you can follow the Harvey's on their travels through Ireland.

Day 1 and 2 - Dublin

There isn't much to say other than Dublin is a wonderful city. I don't remember much of day 1 due to the jet leg but I am told I had a lot of fun. We had the best fish and chips ever and I enjoyed a pint of beer as well. My first Irish Pub experience and I ordered a Harp. The bar did not have Harp which I remember thinking was odd in an Irish pub, I had a Heineken instead which was of course very good.

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Day 2 we had a plan and a will to see everything in Dublin, that was ambitious and foolish. There is so much to see and do. We started off with a Breakfast tour of the Jameson Irish Whisky Factory. We took a very informative and interesting tour of the distillery and at the end a tasting as well. We had three Whiskey's to sample from, Jameson, Jack Daniels and a Scottish one who's name escapes me. I will say that I liked the Jameson best but to be honest I am not a whisky drinker. Sydney has also decided she is not a whisky drinker either (Dont yell at me Auntie Nore, it was a special occasion, and she will certainly be of liquor if her first experience is Irish Whisky :)

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There were also tours of cathedral (Christ Church and the one with St Patrick), both breathtaking.

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There was a Guinness Factory tour as well but we skipped that in favour of other things to do (I know poor choice but Sydney already had too much Whisky). We saw a park, we did a Viking Museum tour, We did the National Art Gallery, we tripped over ever piece of cobblestone we walked on, which is our way, and we generally had a wonderful day. Here is a pic with Sydney in Chainmail.

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The day was finished with what can only be described as a sure trip highlight. We were fortunate to know a member of the Irish Parliament and we were given a personal and private tour of their government buildings. The house was in session and we were able to witness votes in both the House and Senate and were treated to a wonderful and amazing first hand account and history of the Irish government. For a political junkie like myself I was absolutely honoured to be able to do this. Thanks to my amazing Irish friends for inviting us to this. We finished the tour with a wonderful meal in the government restaurant. It was just an amazing night and Sydney and I enjoyed being a invited to spend time with your family. Sorry no pics, the guards already were suspicious of me and insisted that any pictures taken would be dealt with harshly and lethally. Talk soon all when there is time to write again.

Posted by Bad Kitty 14:22 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Big Trouble Little Kitty

sunny 44 °C

Wow, today I lived up to my name bad kitty. I needed to go out and have some fun and I was getting board of following around the bald man and his family. I needed to go out and find some companionship. I found this friendly critter out strolling around.

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We had some laughs but it wasnt too last. She was looking for a commitment and nothing can tie down bad kitty! I needed to find someone a little more temporary and knew what I was looking for. I in fact found two lovely individuals that fit the bill just nicely.

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The three of us went on an adventure... a bad adventure. We needed cash and we needed it fast. Bad kitty has expensive tastes. We tried getting cash the way we saw others doing it.

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We didnt hit it big there and we needed more than this would make. We had an idea, why win it when we could just steal it!!!

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Thats me breaking into the contraption. We made a bunch of money doing that, but we wanted even more. The old mobsters had it right and bad kitty was going to learn from them. We need a plan and some fire power!!!

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The plan worked well and we made a pile of cash.... literally.

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Everything was going according to plan. I had the dames and the cash, what more could a bad kitty ask for? However, like all bad things, they just don't last. I should have known the girls would turn on me. They called the coppers and took my cash. Now I am in a real pickle.

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Unless I get a call from the governor this will be the end of bad kitty. If you don't hear from me its been fun, but I have a feeling they wont get bad kitty this easily. Ciao for now.

Posted by Bad Kitty 20:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Las Vegas is a Killer

Sorry for the delay Vegas has been Getting to me. It was 48 degrees yesterday and that is way too much heat for a kitty such as myself. Note the temperature in the bottom left corner.

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They don't have enough litter boxes here but the scenery is nice. Look at me here

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The food isnt bad either but the portions are a bit small. I ordered the large hot dog!!!!!

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I had to wash that hot dog down with some bevies and I like the way the sugar makes me feel. I drank all of these different coke products from around the world.

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After all that sugar I was ready for some entertainment, Bad Kitty style. I totally rocked these machines. This is me at the Pinball Hall of Fame.

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I think when I get a chance I might try playing some of the games that I see everyone else in Vegas playing. I am not sure if cats are allowed to play but I will find a way. See you soon. A few more days and I will be hitching a ride to Ireland. Talk soon

Posted by Bad Kitty 12:59 Comments (0)

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