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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 51.9308, -8.56701
July 14, 2010
Killarney, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland
I got up at 6:30 and headed downstairs for what I thought was a 7:15 breakfast time with a 8:00 departure time. Instead, it was an 8:00 breakfast time with a 9:00 departure time. I had a whole hour to wait in the lobby before I could eat breakfast. So, I grabbed a comfortable couch and went online. I still had some time to kill, so I worked on the Limerick contest that Dylan said we would do later in County Cork. I got in there kind of last, and sat with a table for the misfits. Now, this group of tourists that I am traveling with has not really formed as a cohesive, fun-loving group. We have the snobs (high pay professionals), the jocks (climb and walk everywhere and on everything), the princesses (got to look just right at any age), the “I just want my tea” group. Then we have the misfits. Being one of them (the youngest and the only American) means that you are traveling alone, have a quirk about yourself, and no one really wants to hang out with you. The others are Lee (gay), Charles (cantankerous
at times), and Linda (bladder problem). It was interesting during our conversation at breakfast how we all came to the same conclusions that people on this tour have formed little groups that only a select few can hang out with them. Lee and Linda said that on other tours that they have taken, the group worked well together, and that this was the first time either one of them have experienced such a thing. But we all agreed that no matter what they say or do, we, ourselves, are here to have fun and we'll just ignore the fuddy-duddies. So, for the most part we strike out on our own when visiting each city, but in turn have a good time because we are not part of the collective.
Killarney to Blarney
We left on a partly cloudy morning with the temperature about 62° F. We took only a little over an hour to get to Blarney in County Cork. We would have from 10:20 to 1:00 to visit the Blarney Castle, gardens, and then grab a bit to eat or shop. By the time we walked from the parking lot in front of the shops to the castle grounds, it
had started to rain lightly. From the bottom of the grounds, Blarney Castle looked intimidating. It was built in 1446, but little of the castle remains. I had decided to just walk the grounds and take pictures. One of the elderly ladies latched onto me. She has no sense of direction and usually latches onto one of the others. We walked about 10 minutes along a path that went through a grass and tree covered park. As we got nearer to the castle the incline became steeper. We got to the top of the hill, and the lady decided she had seen enough and wanted to go back for some tea. I said that I was going to look around since the rain had stopped for a while. I had thought that the stone was 12 more levels up, that was if you count the bottom of the castle which is at the bottom of the hill. You could see from the bottom where the people were reaching to kiss the stone along the top of the castle. Once you got to the top, you only have to go up 4 flights (127 steps) of a spiral tower. There are
stairs for going up and another set of stairs for going down. Once you enter the spiral stairs, you must go to the top to reach the exit to the bottom. You don't have to kiss the stone once you reach the top. Along the way to the top, you have some rooms that you can step into that were once living areas of the castle. They were all stone floors with ceilings that had water coming in. The spiral stairs were a bit tough (just enough room on each step for one foot planted sideways), especially at the top. I had just reached the final level and was scraping the sides of the walls with my shoulders due to the narrowness of the stairs when from behind me (I didn't even have room to turn around to look) a woman's voice asked me if she could squeeze by me because I was going slow and she had a tour bus to catch! I laughed out loud, and told her that there is absolutely no room for a mouse to get by me let alone her. Once I got out of the turret, I let her pass by. She then
asked the 10-15 people standing in line if she could get to the front. By the time that I got to the top, it was now raining hard. Having an umbrella open at the top of the battlements was useless. The rain was coming down and sideways due to the wind. I gave up after a few minutes. I got close enough to see how kissing the stone was done. The stone (which is a large block) is set in the wall below the castle battlements and, in order to kiss it, you lay on your back, grasp a pair of iron bars, bend over backwards while a man grasps you around the middle for support. You can't fall over the open space due to a couple of iron bars under you, but the sense of falling is inescapable. Yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone!! Well, truth be told, I actually licked it. Due to my fear of heights I couldn't get myself to bend back far enough for my lips to kiss it, but I was able to touch it with my tongue. (They spray it with sanitizer after each person.) A photo is taken of you as you
are kissing it. The picture I have of me doesn't show my tongue, but just after I had licked it. I went down the exit spiral stairs (much wider in width and the steps were much wider too!). Made it to the bottom, and just like getting off a large amusement ride, your pictures were ready for viewing and purchase for € 10.00 ($15). I purchased mine and headed back to the stores and restaurants since it had begun to rain again. I got some postcards and mailed them from the post office, and then went to grab me something to eat. It was now noon. After eating, I met up with Dylan to pay for my single supplement rooms. The total came to just about $850 for the 17 nights that I will have the room to myself. I then had about 30 minutes left to shop. I went to the Waterford collection even though we were going to view their factory's showroom and take a tour of their new factory later in the day. I ended up buying about 3 pieces of Waterford Crystal. I had them mail it home to Peru.
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