On the way back from the Rock of Cashel, we got an Irish staple, 99 Flakes! It’s a cone with vanilla soft serve and a Cadbury Flake bar stuck into the ice cream. It was a ton of ice cream and so yummy.
We made the potica when we got home! I made one half of the filling (nuts, flour, cinnamon) while Meghan did the egg whites, and then we combined it and made the rolls. John did a wonderful job documenting the whole process ☺ Chili for dinner and then more Supernatural. Living the life!!
On Saturday we had a lazy morning (are you noticing a trend? Not complaining!!) and then left for Killarney around 1:30. Before going to our hotel, we stopped at Torc Waterfall. It was only about a five minute walk from the park’s parking lot and trail were full of people. It was the Easter Bank Holiday. People in Ireland and the UK get Friday-Monday off for Easter! Then we went to the hotel. We stayed at The Malton and it was a far cry from my stays in hostels! I got my own room with two twin beds and contemplated spending half of the night in each bed.
We tried to go to a Mexican restaurant, but it was too crowded with empty tables reserved for other people, so we went somewhere else. When we left John told us that the Lord of the Dance himself, Michael Flatley, was in there, but neither Meghan nor I noticed. We ended up going to a place called The Smoke House. I got free range roasted chicken with potatoes au gratin, cherry tomatoes, and asparagus. It was so good! I got a Bulmers Irish cider as well. In the UK and US it’s marketed as Magners, so maybe you’ve heard of it before! I had Banoffee for dessert and WOW was it amazing. It’s graham cracker (aka digestives) crumbs, banana slices, and whipped cream/banana-y pudding. It looked so cute in a little mason jar, too. YUMMM.
We did some shopping and I tried on a deerstalker hat (aka Sherlock Holmes hat). I contemplated buying one for Halloween but decided that was way too authentic and expensive of a Halloween costume. We went to Courtney’s Pub, where Meghan and John taught me about rounds. Basically if you agree to be in one, you buy your alcohol in rounds. So someone will buy a round for the table, and everyone has to buy the same amount of rounds. If this ever happens to me, my strategy is to immediately decline joining the round (allowed) rather than bowing out at the wrong time (not allowed). John taught me about rugby (what I learned: rugby players are cute) and whiskey (good Irish whiskey is TRIPLE DISTILLED, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT).
On Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. I was mature and refrained from uniting with my one true love, pancakes, and ate a healthier poached egg sandwich, with tomatoes on an English muffin. We checked out of the hotel and started driving on the Ring of Kerry. The roads were really tiny and windy. We saw Ladies’ View, a view of three lakes. Lots of sheep and so many adorable lambs. We saw one taking a nap in its trough!
^very windy roads!
We drove through the Gap of Dunloe, which was basically a one-lane road. We had to pull over or reverse a few times to let other cars pass us since we couldn’t both drive by at the same time. We had beautiful weather once again. Default Irish weather is supposedly kind of gray and rainy but it was sunny for my whole visit! We saw the base of Ireland’s tallest mountain, Carrauntoohil. Then we headed back home and had a wonderful Easter feast of pizza and garlic cheese chips (fries with melted cheese and garlic mayo on top). Garlic mayo seems to be a big deal in Ireland, and I understand why.
On Monday, Meghan and I intended to check out Bunratty Castle and the folk park (kind of like a petting zoo), but it was overrun with little kids and their parents because of the nice weather and the bank holiday. Instead, we went shopping at the Blarney Woolen Mills and then got lunch by the river in Limerick, at a seafood place called Curragower. I got brown bread as an appetizer, which the waiter laughed at, but it had been four days since I last had it, so it was necessary.
^where we went shopping
When we got back from lunch, we went to Meghan’s friends JD and Margaret’s house. Meghan is learning to be an EMT and JD is in her course. Margaret was a waitress at an American café in Limerick that Meghan used to go to. And now they live in the same neighborhood as Meghan and John. We walked to their house and were enthusiastically greeted by their light blonde golden retriever, Barley. They also have a two year old daughter named Katie. We drank wine and had some crisps. Margaret and JD were really friendly and welcoming and I was glad to meet some of Meghan’s friends. Then we had some whiskey and I learned that the right way to drink it is by adding a little bit of water, and you’re just supposed to sip it. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Margaret, Meghan, and I went back to the house for some chocolate and then continued on the The Valley, one of the neighborhood’s two pubs. I had a Bulmers and we had crispy bacon chips and Taytos, two fine Irish products. We threw around the idea of a Fugina ladies’ trip to Ireland, with Margaret as an honorary Fugina. We also need to introduce our Aunt Pam to Ireland, because Meghan makes a dip that Aunt Pam gave her the recipe for, and all of Meghan’s friends call it “Aunt Pam’s Dip,” so she’s quite famous here and would probably get a nice reception!
On Tuesday morning, I packed my things. We drove into Limerick since Meghan had to work. We ate lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant called Papa’Z (very good despite the name). After lunch, we got my bags and walked to a nearby taxi rank, where I said goodbye to Meghan. I was sad to leave but glad that I got to spend more than a day with her for once! And it was nice to have things planned out and taken care of after doing all of the planning for three months!
The taxi driver was really nice. I like taxis in Ireland because they seem pretty highly regulated, unlike Italian taxis! In both Irish taxis I’ve ridden in, there’s been a card in the backseat saying what to look for – the driver’s license, fare calculator, etc., and explaining the meaning of the numbers and letters on the license. The driver was very impressed that I was traveling to England and staying for a week on my own, and highly supportive of my decision to stay in an all-girls room. I flew to London from the Shannon airport. The airport was so empty. I’ve never had a less stressful security experience. There was only one person behind me, the security worker told me exactly what I needed to send through the machine…it was great. I used up my remaining euro coins to buy some Butler’s Irish chocolates and was on my way.
One of the airport staff members asked me if I forgot my bag and didn’t get my boarding pass stamped. But you only need your pass stamped on RyanAir, and I was flying Aer Lingus. He told me I made the right choice or something like that. He was basically badmouthing RyanAir, which seems to be an Irish pastime! We landed in London 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I landed in Terminal 1 and dragged my suitcase to Terminal 3 so I could store it there for the week. About ten minutes in I realized that situations like this were why the luggage trolley was invented, but it was too late. Took the Piccadilly Line to Earl’s Court, switched to District and got off at Bayswater. Ate dinner at McDonald’s out of necessity and because I had my eye on the Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry. It was as good as I had dreamed it would be. I walked to my hostel and rested up for my last week abroad!
It was so fun to spend a week with Meghan and John. Spending time in all of the beautiful European cities is amazing, but the countryside and smaller towns also have a lot to offer, and it’s much easier to see the parallels between my life and Irish life when you’re in a suburb. Thanks so much to Meghan and John for letting me stay for a week and being the most generous and wonderful hosts! Can’t wait to bring the sunshine back to you guys!