Blarney Castle, Republic of Ireland

Blarney Castle sits north of Cork in the southern part of Ireland, its most famous for the Blarney stone which if kissed give you the gift of the gab! The castle is situated on an impressive estate where the entrance fee was part of our tour costs with Busabout / Shamrocker Adventures and we arrived early in order to beat the crowds (mainly tours with older clientele).

Blarney Castle, the Jewel of Southern Ireland Castles

There is a queue to enter the castle and kiss the blarney stone, to give an idea when we arrived it took 35 minutes for us to make our way (causally) through the castle up to the stone. However once we left I noted the line to kiss the stone extended well past a 2 hour mark, so early is essential to avoid a morning in queue and there is plenty of other things to see.

The main attraction… no not the sign!

The castle itself is quite a fascinating structure, while the walk up is enjoyable (yes lots of stairs and tight spaces) they have off shoots into the various rooms used by staff when it was a functional castle. Its a good idea if you can spare a few minutes to check out a few nooks and crannies as they are unique but also give you a bit of breathing room from the line of eager rock smootchers.

The Famous Blarney Stone – and protective rails and attendant.

Now if you don’t want to actually kiss the rock (I for instance did not) its still worth the climb for the amazing views of the grounds.

The poison gardens on the grounds is worth a wander around, if you are into botany or want to notch up your survivalist belt on which plants not to eat this is the place to do it.

A had a good giggle over how some of the plants were in tiny protected. Mandrake, Wolsbane, Nightshade… all deadly and in little cages; however, Cannabis (Marijuana) is kept in a playground sized bubble! Priorities…

Those yellow flowers looked so tasty!

On last glance back at the castle… through a rock… oh Ireland is the Emerald Island, but also the land of unique rocks.

Everyone has to get this photo… including me.

Irish Cairns and Drumcliffe, Republic of Ireland

Without a doubt, the longest bus day on the trip we leave Northern Ireland and head south through some extremely scenic Ireland green landscapes as we head towards the costal port town of Galway. We make several short stops along the route, each bringing its own flavor of Ireland…

What Irish Bus Tour would be Complete without a Third Stop to an AppleGreen Truck Stop?

Okay just kidding, the first culture stop was an old megalithic stone court cairns where people used to bury the dead.

Our next stop was at St. Columba’s, an old Irish Church in Drumcliffe which is notable for a famous burial plot of W.B. Yates, a famous Irish Poet.

Welcome to Drumcliffe
The resting place of the famous Irish Poet W.B. Yates

The Dumcliffe stop also had a washroom and a couple quaint tourist coffee shops right beside the Church Grounds.

While most of the bus decided to stop and have some snacks I found out the church was actually open and the nun in attendance was very friendly and happy to allow me to explore the lower level at my leisure.

As we said goodbye to Drumcliffe we continued for quite a bit of driving, I took some time to stare out the heavy glossed windows (cough cough – not 100% photographic friendly). This portion of the trip seems to be very focused on death and burial.

But our next stop was worth it, West Port, what I envisioned a coastal Irish town should look like… check out the next post!

Westport, Republic of Ireland

Westport, a Picturesque Irish Town on the West Coast of the Island. This town is fully of colourfully painted row houses with quaint shops and bold murals hidden in the alleyways. There is a series of rivers that flow through the town and there is an abundance of activity.

Originally planned on getting some Italian Ice Cream, but they were closed for the day.
Another Mural – I’m guessing Woman’s Suffrage?
There are these rivers everywhere (or its the same river and I got lost…)
Irish TARDIS? Telephone Booth? Or is it actually a Defibrillator?

What a treat West Port was! I almost forgot to grab something to eat I was having such a great time. But I managed to grab a hot sandwich and join the group – eating while we all made our way back to the bus for our next location!

MACKENZIE KING ESTATE in GATINEAU PARK

In was getting somewhat late in the day when we decided to take a trip up into the Gatineau Hills to see what we could see.  The original plan was to go to the lookout but the main roads in the Gatineau Park are still closed so, instead, we decided to take a trip up to the Mackenzie King Estate which is situated south of Kingsmere Lake. Kingsmere Lake still has a coating of ice. (Location)

It had been a strange day all day weather-wise. One minute there would be blue sky above, the next it was clouded over and raining so we weren’t sure what to expect. When we got to Kingsmere Lake, the sky was clouded over and the roads were a bit wet but otherwise quite easily driveable. That would soon change!
Continue reading

Playa del Carmen, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Playa del Carmen - Beach

Playa del Carmen, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The beach beckons, but my reason for traveling to Playa del Carmen had nothing to do with the beaches. I was running out of storage space on my CF cards and wanted to have my photos transferred to a CD so that I could just keep on shooting. (Location)
Continue reading