Blarney Castle

One of the places on my list to go in Ireland was the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. I had heard not to actually kiss it because it isn’t exactly hygienic, but I felt I couldn’t have lived in Ireland for five months without doing it!

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We got up early on a Saturday morning and started our journey to Cork. I feel lucky to live in a country where things are so close and I am able to make day trips to see some of the well known places around Ireland. After about a three hour bus ride, we made it to Cork. We then had to get another bus that would take us to Blarney. This bus was a double decker bus and I felt like I was back in London again.

Once we got to Blarney, we walked a short distance to the castle and entered the grounds. The grounds surrounding the castle were beautiful and I can only imagine what they must look like in the summer. The towering castle stood above, capturing my attention. It was one of the coolest castles I had seen so far. It was so large and as we walked around, we were able to find small entrances and caves. I was cool to just wander around and explore.

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After doing a walk through we decided to make our way to the stone. After all, that was the reason for our visit. As we made our way up to the top of the castle, I couldn’t help but to notice how narrow and short the staircase and doorways were. People must have been smaller back then because if you were even too much taller than me, you wouldn’t have fit through!

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Once we made it to the top we got an amazing view. There are few things I enjoy more than a beautiful sweeping view of Irish landscape. We then made our way over to the stone.

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I must say, the Blarney Stone was much different than I thought it would be. I guess I had never really seen pictures of the actual stone, but I thought it would be much larger than it was. In order to kiss it, you had to have someone hold you as well as hold onto handlebars. You arch back a ways before you are finally close enough to kiss the stone.

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They take pictures of you and allow you to view them and purchase them if you would like when you’re done. These are not flattering pictures, that’s for sure. The angle is so awkward that even a supermodel would look silly in one of those photos. I decided my iPhone photo would do.

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We spent some more time wandering around and found some cool waterfalls and walkways. It was fun to spend the afternoon walking through gardens and getting lost in the scenery.

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We eventually made our way back to town and got some dinner before heading home. I love seeing different parts of Ireland and experiencing as much of it as I can!

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Check out my video of our trip to Blarney Castle:

London

For our first excursion out of Ireland we decided to go to London because how can you live in Ireland for five months and not go to London?

You would think that traveling to London would be easy from Ireland considering England and Ireland are so close, but that is not exactly the case. Travel started on Thursday afternoon with a bus ride to the Shannon Airport. It then took a plane, a bus, a short walk and a taxi to get us to our hostel. We then went straight to bed as it was 2 am and we were exhausted.

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We woke up the next morning in time to eat breakfast, check out of our hostel and make our way to our next hostel (travel tip: don’t wait too long to book your hostel if you’re cheap like me because you will end up having to move hostels to get the best deals). After arriving at our next hostel, we stored our stuff and hit the city!

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We decided to do a free walking tour as we felt it would be the best way to see the city. We arrived and met our tour guide, YY, a small man originally from Australia with an enormous amount of energy and insight into London.

We followed YY to all of the must see sights in London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. It was amazing to walk around and see all the monuments I had seen in movies and T.V. in real life. I almost felt like I was in a movie myself!

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We were surrounded by so much history and places I had always dreamed of seeing. I remembered watching Will and Kate’s wedding on T.V. and there I was standing in front of the very place they said I do.

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Because we were already being as touristy as possible, we went the full nine yards and took pictures in the phone booth and stood in awe in front of Buckingham Palace.

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Once the tour ended, we went to a restaurant where we got some food. There was still a whole other side to London left to see so we decided to go on a second walking tour of Old London. This one unfortunately was not free. While I really enjoyed the tour, at this point I was pretty tired. We saw some beautiful buildings and had a mocha so thick it was basically drinking chocolate so at least that got my energy up a little.

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We were able to “touch history” on this tour in the form of damage on buildings from bombs during World War II. It was interesting to see the physical evidence of something I have learned so much about in school. We also got to see more historic landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, although we didn’t go on it (it’s definitely on my list for the next time I go).

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After the walking tour we had just enough time to go back to our hostel, change and head to our pub crawl. Pub crawls are a great way to see the night life of a city and I would highly recommend it! We met some cool people and got to dance the night away!

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The next day we got a little later of a start and headed toward Buckingham Palace where the changing of the guards was going to happen. Our tour guide, YY, had recommended actually going to St. James Palace for this as he said if you try to get too close to the gates of Buckingham Palace, you will most likely not see anything at all. On our way to St. James Palace, we met some very nice people (we actually met so many nice people along the way without whom we would have never navigated London) who told us we should check out the Horse Guards Parade. We went there first and saw guards on horses make their way to Buckingham palace.

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We then made our way to St. James Palace and Buckingham Palace where the main event was happening. The changing of the guards is such a longstanding tradition in England and it was cool to witness something that had been happening for so long.

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After this, we made our way to the Camden Market which came recommended to us by several people. On our way we had a slight mishap where Margaret and Jayna wound up getting separated from Liz and I on the tube. If this happens to you, my advice is to stay where you are if you are not the one on the train and let the others come back to you. Unfortunately, we did not do this and we didn’t reconnect with them until we ran into them as we walked around the market.

Photo cred to Jayna!
Photo cred to Jayna!

The market was awesome and a great way to see a different side of London, I only wish I had more money to spend on the amazing food and fun souvenirs!

After the market we went back to our hostel and napped before finally dragging ourselves out of bed to get some dinner. Our hostel was basically half hostel, half bar and when we got downstairs, the place was packed. After going to get some dinner, we came back and danced a little before heading to bed for our early morning flight.

We had a jam packed but fun two days and i can’t wait for our next adventure!

Here’s the video of our London adventure: