Friday, August 19, 2011

First Stop: Kilkenny

Kilkenny Art Festival Decorations
Upon landing in the Dublin airport, we "re-learned" just what a difference it makes traveling in a country where one speaks the language. In under 30 minutes, we had collected our luggage, gone to Tourist Information for a good, driving map and our Heritage Cards (giving discounts on many sites), bought, installed, and activated an Irish SIM card for our mobile, visited the car rental desk and filled out all required paperwork, and we were in the shuttle taking us to the car rental lot. Now that is efficiency!

We picked up our rental car, Nathan quickly adapted to driving on the left side of the road, and we headed quickly to Kilkenny, arriving at our B&B (Dunromin B&B) well after 8:30pm. Coming from Italy, we'd just assumed we'd be able to get dinner after settling in. When we asked our landlady for a dinner recommendation, she informed us that most restaurants stopped serving food about 9:00, but if we could quickly drop our bags in our room, she would drive us to Bollard's, a restaurant/pub with good food and music. Thus, our first Irish pub meal took place, and it was delicious! The music afterward was even better and sparked our love of sitting in the pubs with Guinness or whiskey for Nathan and Bulmer's Cider for me, enjoying the atmosphere and the incredible talent of the musicians. The pub looked just like I imagined, with wood trip, leaded glass accents, mirrors, and old beer ads. Returning to our B&B via our feet and a walk through the charming, colorful town (with a castle as a backdrop), I got my first taste of the weather to come. For most of our time in Ireland, I wore long sleeve tops with another layer of either jacket or sweater, and a scarf. I didn't take enough pants, but I wore pants until they were all too dirty. In August! I don't think the temperature cracked 65 degrees for our entire visit.

We had an ambitious schedule our first few days, so the following morning, after enjoying our first, traditional, Irish breakfast (poached eggs, toast, bacon, pudding (blood cooked with filler into a sausage, and that is not a joke), tomato slices, and usually a buffet of fruit, yogurt, cheese and meat), we checked out of the B&B and headed into town for a couple of hours of exploration before heading on. The town is charming, with a river running through it, colorful buildings, interesting stores, and a castle. They also had an Oxfam, where I bought a sweater from TopShop! I couldn't believe it. I am a huge fan of British "chicklit," and mentions of Oxfam and TopShop always abound in these books. It turns out, Oxfam is a charity shop. I think TopShop must be some sort of department store. I think I was more excited to see an actual Oxfam than I was about the castle - we have castles in Italy, after all. At the castle, however, we did see one of the funniest things of our whole trip:

See this tour group crossing the grass. You may not be able to make out what that sign they're all passing says, but it reads, "Keep Off the Grass." Just guess the nationality of this tour guess...wild guess...Italian. We felt like we were back home in Naples.
Our B&B in Kilkenny, Dunromin B&B

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