We embarked on our trip to Ireland on August 28, 2014. Ben's brother Zach picked us up to take us to the airport and there was some discussion as to whether my checked bag would make it past the weight cutoff. I am happy to report I had 1.4 lbs. to spare. LOL! I was also happy to see my favorite peanut, Logan, before we headed out of town. He is just too damn cute!
Our flight left McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, NV later than expected and when we landed in New York we were allowed to disembark from the plane first. This was thanks to the friendly flight attendants of JetBlue that asked the other passengers to allow us to do so, along with two others, just to give us the little bit of extra time to make our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. That first flight was about 4 and a half hours and the second one was going to be about 6 hours. We made it the gate in perfect time, got our boarding pass, and immediately boarded the second plane. Zero layover. Which also means we didn't have much time to stretch out. Luckily we had the choice seats which were a bit better then coach but not as fabulous as what I saw in first class. We may need to see if we can upgrade on the way home.
Ben slept most of the flight until dinner was served which we were extremely grateful for. Since we jumped right onto the second flight we had no time to grab food either. Personally I did not sleep much, perhaps a half hour here and there. One I was too excited/nervous and also because it was not that late yet Vegas time and I did manage to get some pre-travel shut eye where Ben did not.
We landed in Dublin Wednesday morning but still had a two hour drive to Waterford which is where we were staying until Friday. Travel woe #1 happened when we tried to pick up our rental car we reserved. Where we originally had our car had surprised us by asking us to fork over 1100 Euro in car insurance as a hold. Um, sorry no. Not acceptable. So Ben tried two more and Avis came through was not only a better deal but also they were much more friendly about the process. We didn't get a GPS though (something we are now working around) but we did get a map so we threw our luggage in our awesome wheels: A Nissan Micra. At least it is not a Smart Car which I am happy to say I have not seen yet in Ireland.
Despite Ben's nap on the plane he was still very tired so about hallway through our drive, which he did really well with the whole "drive on the left" aspect of driving here, he asked to stop and catnap. So we pulled off an exit and found a small road with a place to park. It was the tiniest of roads, and even with the doors locked I still felt unnerved, but Ben got the few winks of shut eye he needed.
After that we were both hungry so we stopped at a small hotel restaurant called Pakie's Bar and had some beer and burgers. Yum.
After lunch, or dinner, who knows for sure....we headed off with our map and eventually found our hotel, The Fitzwilton, after only driving past it once on the way.
After we got settled in, we took yet another nap before heading out to check out our surroundings. It was cold and rainy but still awesome nonetheless. We did decide that the umbrella I packed sucked and will probably meet it's end before we head home. We decided to head back to the hotel to have a bite to eat, and some more beer, and turned in. I slept better than the night before but not by much.
The next morning though we decided to take a walk around some of the shopping area which was closed on our trek the night before. I hoped that I would love seeing this side of Ireland, and was not disappointed. It was charming and quaint, and had its fair share of history as well. One thing I knew for certain I wanted to see was The Waterford Crystal tour. It really was brilliant and I would recommend this if you stop in Waterford. We learned about the process and the many years it takes for one of these craftsman to become a Master. Here are some photos and a video of some of their work in progress.
After the tour we headed back on to the streets of Waterford and found some local history here. We stopped at a Christ's Church Cathedral and landed in a tour that just started. We learned about the marriage of the Norman invader Strongbow to Princess Aiofe (Irish version of Eva) of Ireland and how this marriage actually eventually led to the English gaining power here later on.
We also learned about how they recently found the tomb of the unknown's identity as a Butler, a warrior that lived in the 16th century and was laid to rest here. This is one of Ben's family names on his mom's side so we both kind of looked at each other as if thinking "Relative?"
Travel woe #2 happened on the way back to our hotel as we tried to make a purchase with our debit card. Despite having everything set before we left they failed to mention Ireland was on their restricted list so we had to call when we got back to the hotel. Luckily they are lifting that until we leave since we are already here. Just goes to show even if you ask someone before you leave that it is ok they may not always have the right answer. Since we used the card to make a purchase for our hotels here before hand we didn't think we would have that issue. Many thanks to the front desk clerks here who have been so helpful. They not only helped us with this issue but gave us some great tips on place to see today and places to grab a bite to eat here. Kudos to the staff at the Fitzwilton!
We had one last evening in Waterford and decided to head over to the pub across the street from our hotel. It had a few names listed on the front of the building so I believe that it had changed names a few times. I think the name of the bar though was Bridge Street. It was the "corner bar" of that area and it seemed that it was where some of the locals chose to hang out. We did make some rather awesome friends after a bit of time. Sadly, I cannot remember their names but they made that portion of the trip most memorable. One gentleman was carrying a large silver trophy and I just had to ask him why. When I did he explained that he, the owner of the pub, and some of the guys with him had greyhounds in a tournament and they had won. They were out that evening to celebrate even though the tournament was settled two weeks prior. It was the first chance that they had to get together. He then asked me where I was from and we talked about Las Vegas a bit. He also asked about my heritage and I told him some of the names of my family. He smiled. "Yes, we have an Irish lass here gents! Have a drink from our trophy!" He explained that the trophy was filled with whiskey and lemonade. Normally I would have been freaked out by doing this but after a few ciders, and there awesome good nature, I could not say no. It was some of the finest tasting whiskey I have had. So smooth. I ended up drinking from it three times.
Slainte my friends!