Day 2 Ireland, Waterford and Kilkenney
First things first. We got our car tire fixed for ten euros and were on our way in less than 30 minutes this morning.
Driving. I went back to the basics. I slowed way down and gave up control, letting Cole take over reading the map and giving me directions. I let it be known to one and all that I was a tourist! A TOURIST. I’m not sure why anyone would want to go to a strange place and not take advantage of being a TOURIST. When other drivers became the least bit annoyed with my driving I would wave and yell out my window, “Sorry! TOURIST!” They would always wave back and one woman even gave me the sign of the cross. Really!
I could dedicate a whole post to roundabouts. They are both horrifying and clever at the same time. Each time we approached one I would grip the clutch and the steering wheel and groan “GOD, WHY ROUND-ABOUTS?” Cole, the voice of calm and reason, would direct me to follow the car in front of me and I would be fine. If the car was going the same way we were, his approach worked great, but if the car wasn’t, Cole would yell, “NO, MOM, that way! THAT way!” and again I would yell out the window, “SORRY! TOURIST!”
After the tire was fixed we bought Coke and croissants for the road from a Texaco station and headed south out of Dublin towards Wicklow, where we wandered around the charming mountain town. We walked along the seashore and peered down at the rocks below from some tall cliffs.
Before we left Wicklow, we realized we were on a “road trip” without snacks! Of course we were horrified that we had let this happen and stopped at the next grocery store. I bought Coke, nacho-flavored chips, a packet of caramel chocolate candy bars that a kind lady in line told me were a must-have for an Irish road trip, and three bananas. Ok-snacks on board ready to travel.
Next stop: Waterford. Cole chose a scenic route that included green meadows dotted with white sheep,
tiny towns with narrow streets all boasting that they too had roundabouts, and pastures that were so green they almost hurt your eyes. The day was crisp, cool, and mostly sunny. We bought the best strawberries we had ever eaten from a strawberry stand along the road and ate the whole basketful in just a few miles.
We made it into Waterford and caught the last tour through the Waterford Chrystal factory. It was 50 minutes of pure amazement. We watched the crystal being blown, designed, etched, engraved and polished. The craftsman took time to talk to us while working on the most intricate pieces of crystal—one even let Cole hold a piece of the crystal he was working on, and I think my heart stopped. I had told my kid (who loves to touch anything and everything) not to even breathe when looking at the crystal pieces and here he was holding a Waterford wantabe vase in its last stages on a factory floor. I own and love a few pieces of Waterford but never knew the amount of work that went into crafting them. Thirty percent of all Waterford pieces are rejected in the last inspection process with flaws too small to see. I offered to take home a reject, but the tour guide simply smiled indulgently at me as though I was the first person who had ever made this offer. All rejects are destroyed, she told me. Sheesh.
We wondered and wandered around Waterford
until we were hungry for “real food” and headed to a pub for an Irish sammie.The sandwich included: two kinds of sausage and a hot dog, all pulled together with jam.… Cole ate all of his. The owner of the pub visited with us for a while. The Irish people love a good audience and never miss the opportunity to ask you where you’ve been and where you’re off to. We told him about our travels, and for the next twenty minutes he told us stories about what we would, should, and could see. I am convinced we would still be sitting there if kitchen duty had not called. We both loved the brogue and the stories, and in the end, he did answer our question about the best way to get to Kilkenny. In fact, his suggestion was brilliant for us two weary travelers. Cole dubbed it a “super charged Irish freeway”; and I dubbed it “Irish bliss”: a real highway without roundabout’s for about twenty-five miles.
We made it to our Kilkenny hotel around 7pm. No castle for us tonight—we are sleeping like common folk—but I don’t think our heads will know the difference when they hit the pillow. Tomorrow we are exploring Kilkenny and heading towards Kerry with lots of stops along our way.
Thus concludes our day in a rather roundabout way—which is the Irish way, of course!