Cork – Day 4

It’s just an absolute beauty of a city. We wake up in standard early morning procedure, shuffle off to breakfast and slowly consume enough coffee to become high functioning adults. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk but eventually we get to the point where we can manage conversations. We may or may not have spent a lot of time in the hotel bar late the night before.

But today is Blarney, so feeling terrible can only last for so long. We hopped outside and around the corner to the bus station and catch the good ole local 215 (the reliable) and head to the Castle.

Liz, right off the bat, wasn’t feeling the whole “kissing” of the Blarney Stone but I kept trying to preach about this being just one of those experiences you had to do. When we hit the Castle gates there’s a little sign saying they suggest 3 hours to see the ground which was met by an immediate “3 hours?! Yah right/no way.”

Mid story footnote: it took us close to 4.

The Castle is the highlight of the park, I mean it’s Blarney Castle for a reason, not Blarney obstinate horse in a field. You cross a little foot bridge and come around a corner to find some trees that have knitted protection along their trunks (which is weird, colourful, and pretty cool) and then all the sudden you’re struck by the site of the castle. Once it’s in view it’s the only thing you can see, the only thing you want to see. First stop is obviously heading up to the top, and if tiny areas aren’t your friend this isn’t going to be for you.

The climb up itself isn’t too bad. The issue is there are other people around. So you end up cramped in a tiny staircase with really slick steps while someone 8 twists ahead is having a panic attacking holding up the line.

Once you round that last bend and finish your climb around the last of the battlements you come out to a view that absolutely steals your breath. The combination of the height, the distance you can see, and the overwhelmingly different shades of green you can see across the fields all steal your words and you’re just kind of left staring dumbfounded. Or at least I was.

With all kissing related activities complete we head down and pull out the map for the next location. Liz wants to hit the Poison Garden which causes me a little concern. It’s only slightly unnerving to have your wife that excited by poisons.

Note to self: Check your coffee.

We find all the typical plants that you shouldn’t touch or eat and then the recreational drug section. Which was a little weird to just be out in the open. But hey, whatever works.

From the Poison Garden it’s off to the Lost Cove, and Liz is in her element. There’s caves, waterfalls, dolmens, and the whole area screams with this crazy mystical feeling.

Liz comments that it all feels magical. And I think I responded for about the 8th time in 10 minutes that this was kinda what Ireland is known for.

I have the map so I’m leading, and were pushing through every marker and suggested stop along the way. The bottom right hand corner of the map is the fern valley, but is marked by Palm trees, so it’s mildly misleading.

Also, why are there so many Palm trees in Ireland?

The Fern Valley is the hidden gem, knockout punch of the trip. There’s nothing overly special about it, just a cool little forest, until you hear the waterfall. When you drop into the valley, and scramble down the terrifyingly slick steps to the base of the waterfall you’re just hit by peacefulness.

Words and pictures cannot describe the sensation.

Also we found a lake. I mean it’s on the map and part of the park, but we found it. It’s an interesting note for a couple reasons, first I was looking at the map wrong and despite knowing exactly where we were kept pointing to us being at the stone walls on the other side of the map. So then I had to deal with all the comments surrounding my mock “impeccable sense of direction”. You try being the only one who makes a decision in a group, you’ll be wrong too, and the vultures are just waiting for it (Read that last comment as dripping with sarcasm).

The other reason the lake is interesting is the freakout that ensued while Liz was taking pictures at the edge of the lake. But that’s her story to tell, so when you see her bug her about it.

As we were looking back to the entrance/exit of the park we passed the horses and cows out in fields along either side of the path. Here’s what I learned: Cows get jealous when you gives horses attention. Cows also do not want attention themselves, they just want to stare at you with eyes full of beefy hate.

Seriously, it’s very unsettling. Also unsettling? The sound of a pasture full of cows grazing down the pasture. The slow, plodding, methodical sound of chewing and trudging. It’s an entirely different brand of terrifying.

I just scrolled up, this is getting long. Luckily there’s nothing left for us to do at the Castle so it’s back into town for us. It’s about 4 when we get back to the hotel so it’s rest up, clean up and then out for dinner. Or downstairs to the hotel restaurant for dinner because everyone is exhausted.

I had great intentions that this was going to be an early night. But I also wanted to grab a pint at The Sextant pub across the street. I had been there in ‘08 and it just had such a neat little vibe that I wanted to go back. Turns out they close at 12:30 on a Monday night. So John and I shut down the pub, hit the hotel restaurant for a few more pints because they don’t shut down until 1:30.

Needless to say an early night this was not. But day 4 is in the books and day 5 is starting great. Just a solid hour and a half intro to the day. But something tells me things go downhill a little bit over the next few hours. Not in a terrible way, more a “how much water can a human being drink?” way.

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