Our trip to Waterford, Killarney, Dublin
and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
October 1-12, 2009
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Friday, October 2
The route from Dublin to Waterford:
Two shots from the car of the road and the gorgeous weather.
Everything seems to be much greener at this time of year:
is situated on its own island in an estuary of the River Suir just one mile down river from Waterford City. The island operates a private ferry service providing a constant 24/7 service to and from Waterford, with a journey time of three minutes. The ferry was on the island side when we pulled up so we watched it cross the river and let it’s cargo off. Fortunately, there was a car in front of us so we followed its lead when it was our turn to board.
Drive onto the ferry and turn the car off:
Drive off the ferry and on to the castle grounds….:
….where deer wait to greet you on the tree-lined road:
Press here to go to the Waterford Castle Hotel website (a new window will open).
Gazing up at the beautiful ivy-covered building:
I really had to use the washroom so we left the men to unload the car while we visited the facilities on the castle’s main floor. Wow! What an unusual room! The toilets had raised tanks with a pull-chain, like the ones we had 40-some years ago, and every bit of porcelain in the place was painted with delicate flowers that matched the wallpaper – including the INSIDE OF THE TOILET BOWL!
Painted toilets at the Waterford Castle Hotel:
Herb and Elke’s room was the “GLIN” at the very top of the spiral staircase. I didn’t get pictures (will add them if Herb did) but it was a VERY nice room with windows that looked out on an amazing, huge, gnarled and mossy tree.
Our room was an eye-opener, for lack of a better term. I had reserved the “Presidential Suite” since, as KC put it, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was ENORMOUS! Halfway up the aforementioned spiral staircase, the door opened onto a small foyer. From there you passed into a bathroom that was larger than many hotel rooms, with a claw-foot tub, two pedestal sinks, and another one of those unique toilets.
Foyer of the Presidential Suite:
Bathroom of the Presidential Suite:
From the bathroom you went into the bedroom which was large enough to accommodate a king size bed with two nightstands, a makeup table and chair, a desk and chair, an armoire, a chest of drawers, TWO full sized sofas, 2 easy chairs, a coffee table and a bar! It had windows on two sides one of which looked over the river and the other onto that gorgeous tree. It also had a fireplace.
Bedroom of the Presidential Suite:
The unusual windows:
As if that wasn’t enough space, from the bedroom you passed into the sitting room which had a large round dining table with 4 chairs, a sofa with two easy chairs and a coffee table, a large bookcase, and one occasional chair! I think it also had a fireplace although I don’t have a photo of it. This was obviously a suite for someone who expected to entertain, or hold a meeting, and it was embarrassingly large for the two of us.
This room led back into the foyer where, I noticed, the handles on the doors were really low – about 2 feet off the ground.
Sitting room of the Presidential Suite:
Handle height of all the doors:
There were a total of 14 chairs in the suite and KC was determined to sit in every one of them before we left the following day. The rooms were clean and there were complimentary robes and slippers in the armoire. The furniture was worn but not overly so and added to the ambiance of the room as you might believe that it was original. The bed was very comfortable.
Here is KC on the funny little occasional chair in the sitting room:
We had arrived at the hotel shortly after 1:30 and we were all starving so we came right back down for our afternoon tea which, we had been told, would be served whenever we were ready. We chose the seating area to the right of the entry way, under a large window in the great hall. It would have been nice to take tea in front of the fireplace but it was not lit and seemed too dark and depressing. We ordered the full tea with cakes and sandwiches. Herb, who is not a tea drinker, asked for coffee.
Staircase to the ground floor:
The Great Hall:
The tea and coffee arrived almost immediately along with butter, clotted cream, and 2 preserves (strawberry and orange marmalade), and both the tea and the coffee were very good, but we waited so long for the food to be served that Elke finally got up to ask whether they’d forgotten it. Just as she did, of course, it arrived: two large tiered servers each of which held 2 ham sandwiches, 2 egg salad sandwiches, 2 vegetable salad sandwiches, 2 smoked salmon on brown bread, 2 scones and a selection of cakes and cookies. Everything was very good, and we were very hungry, so it disappeared quickly.
Afternoon tea in the Great Hall:
It was hard to leave this idyllic setting but we’d been sitting all day, knew we had a dinner reservation at 7pm, and needed to do something to avoid succumbing to jet lag, so we decided to explore the castle grounds. We started out on the Scenic Walk, which led to the river bank, and finished up on the tree-lined road we’d come in on. Parts of the walk were very wet, and others were very brambly, but it was all beautiful.
The gorgeous tree outside our windows (this tree is as tall as the castle!):
The start of the Scenic Walk:
The sign stashed to the left of the arch:
The trail to the riverbank (a mosquito got me in here):
Blackberries and brambles on the trail:
The back of the castle:
Following the (awe-inspiring) trail back to the road:
Cloven tree on main road – I can’t believe it survived:
Closeup of where I believe the tree was hit by lightening many many years ago:
The walk was invigorating, but now we were all ready for a pint! We made our way to the Fitzgerald Room, where the bar was located, and Elke had her first real Guinness. She had tasted KC’s Guinness at the Celtic Fest in Chicago shortly before we left, so that she’d have something to compare it to, and agreed that the Guinness in Ireland was much better! A full pint was too much for her, though, and for Herb as well, so from now on they ordered it in half-pints.
I’m not a Guinness fan so I ordered a half-pint of cider. Hard cider.
Herb pulled out his travel cribbage board and we started a tournament that would last the duration of the trip – Herb and Barb against KC and Elke. The losers would cook the winners a meal. I was ‘relearning’ the game and having a streak of beginners luck but I suspected it would be short lived. The score at the end of round one was HB=1 EK=0 with one skunk.
At 6:30 we put away the cribbage board and dressed for dinner. We were all tired and would really have preferred a light meal but, as KC said, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (and, he wanted to wear the sport coat he’d schlepped along solely for this evening) so we trudged down to the Munster Room for a 4 course meal.
Dinner in the Munster Room:
We started with an amuse bouche (I can’t remember what it was – fennel soup???). Then, for starters, KC had the whipped goat cheese salad, Herb had the ham and foie gras terrine, Elke had the quail with polenta, and I had an herb risotto. For dinner, KC had the “haunch of venison”, Herb had the beef filet, Elke had the cod and I had the organic vegetarian lentil cake. I didn’t want to create too much of a disturbance so I only have pictures of my meal.
KC and Herb also had the soup intermezzo while Elke and I had the sorbet. The meal was very good; however, the room was overly warm and we were going to call it a night without sampling the dessert but when they brought the menu, and reminded us that it was included in the 65-euro price, we order the chocolate fondant and the fig tart and shared them.
We rolled ourselves back to our room where I made a bee-line for the bed and was asleep before my head hit the pillow. KC turned on the (very modern) flat-screen TV on the wall opposite the bed and watched a little TV while he continued his I’m-going-to-sit-in-every-chair routine and then came to bed about half an hour later.
The windows didn’t have screens so we couldn’t open them until all the lights were off, and they didn’t open wide in any case, so when the heat came on I woke up with a hot flash, slept fitfully from then on, and my migraine returned so I took another Zomig. Around 7am I heard a noise outside the window and got up to investigate. To my amazement, there were a deer and stag grazing below and what I had heard was the stag roaring! Because of his position, it was hard to get a picture – the one I got was through on of the closed windows and very fuzzy.
The morning light:
Stag outside the window
By now, with me scurrying around the room trying to get a shot of the stag, KC was awake, so we showered and dressed for breakfast. The water pressure was nice and strong but the shower arrangement was a bit claustrophobic and the dash across that large room for a towel was daunting. Even though the towels were nicely warmed by the heated rack, the tile floor was cold! Since we didn’t need to meet Herb and Elke until 9:30 we packed up our bags so that we could leave right after breakfast.
The room where they serve breakfast was bathed in light from three sides AND the ceiling! KC and Herb had the full Irish breakfast, Herb also had kippers, Elke had the buffet and I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. We all had tea which was, again, very good.
Breakfast in the atrium:
Herb and Elke were also packed and ready to go, so we met in our sitting room to decide which route we would take. The dining table was the perfect place to lay out the maps and KC got a chance to sit in the rest of the chairs! KC then got the car and loaded the bags while Herb and I checked out (I STILL don’t understand why rooms in Ireland are rented out at a per-person rate…does it really cost THAT much to wash one extra set of towels and serve one extra breakfast? I don’t think so!)
On the way to the car park KC came upon a deer which allowed him to approach within 6-feet! It continued to munch on the ivy at its feet but kept an eye on him the entire time.
Deer by the car park:
Early morning sun as we were loading the car:
And off we went to Blarney Castle!
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Note to self: bring the following next time: boat shoes, knife sharpener, speakers for MP3 player, adaptor plug.
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Last Revised: October 20, 2009
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