Not sure what Fiona (that’s what we named our GPS) was thinking but she sure took us for a ride today. The road we took getting from the hotel through Cork on our way to Midleton was basically the size of a bike lane, complete with bikes…and a guy peeing on the side of the street. People in Ireland sure like living on the edge!
We headed over to Midleton to meet Nicole at Farmgate Restaurant & Country Store. After driving past, doing a U-turn, going around the block and finally giving up and parking three blocks away and walking, we finally found the place. Farmgate turned out to be yet another quaint shop with fresh-baked breads and pastries, take away deli food, gourmet packaged goods and an award-winning restaurant. We sat on a small patio enjoying coffee and the best scone I’ve ever eaten. After lots of hugs and a promise to return soon, we turned the car Northward toward Kilkenny. If you make it to Cork, give yourself an extra day to visit Midleton. We didn’t have enough time this trip but you can bet it will be on the list for our next visit to Ireland.
BTW, if you ever find yourself in the water in Midleton you can take comfort knowing there are flotation devices at the ready. I don’t know why but I found these so cute.
Originally we were going to stop in Waterford but we kept hearing about Kilkenny so we were debating which one we had time for. Nicole said that if she had to pick, she’d pick Kilkenny. Once again, we were not disappointed. With so much to offer, Kilkenny definitely attracts a lot of tourists. We walked the grounds of the Kilkenny Castle then headed across the street to an artist shopping center. The shops were filled with wares from Irish jewelers, potters, painters, writers, and much more. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking for unique, artisan products and you have a big budget.
The streets were lined with shops and cafes and we stopped by one to grab an iced tea for the road. One thing we learned the hard way is that it’s pretty much impossible to find unsweetened, unflavored iced tea in Ireland. I ordered an iced tea and the woman asked if I wanted any milk or lemon. I told her no thanks, I like it straight. To which she replied, “Just like we like our men, right?!” Sadly, it was lightly sweetened but at least it wasn’t artificially flavored.
We arrived in Dublin during rush-hour traffic and the roads were the busiest we’d experienced the entire trip. We checked with Fiona for a petrol station near the airport and we found the strangest place right down the street. Not sure exactly what it was but it looked more like a station for commercial vehicles than personal vehicles. Turns out it was run by an adorable couple who chatted with us about our trip and our time in Dublin. The husband told us that we HAD to go to football game on Sunday and we HAD to wear blue. (Up the Dubs!) I asked him what other color options there were and his reply was, “There are not other options.” Looks like we know what we’re doing, and wearing, on Sunday.
We managed to get the car dropped off (sadly, we did not run into our German friend) and a taxi to the hotel in record time though. We were sharing the cab with another American and we had a fun time with the taxi driver. I asked him where all the pigs were because we’d seen tons cows and sheep but no pigs. Sonja piped in, “Yeah, there’s a lot of bacon and ham in the restaurants.” To which he replied, “That’s why you haven’t seen any pigs.”
When we drove past Domino’s Pizza I commented that it broke my heart to see that. He asked why and the guy we were ridesharing with replied, “It tastes like disappointment.” Touche!
The hotel was right across the street from the National Concert Hall and a stones throw from St. Stephen’s Green Park. It was the perfect location for walking and it was so easy to get around. We grabbed a quick dinner at a local pub before heading back to the hotel. On our way back we walked past a small liquor store and picked up some wine to go with our chocolates for dessert.
Sidebar: The National Concert Hall was promoting their International Concert Series and turns out Sonja went to college and is good friends with one of the guest performers. Talk about a small world! Yes, we took a picture of the banner outside. For our Dublin friends, Sonja could not stop talking about how talented Joyce DiDonato is so go listen to her when she’s in Dublin! (I’m telling you, my girl Sonja knows people!!)
Tomorrow’s agenda includes sleeping in, Trinity College and dinner at Fallon & Byrne. Someone told us to put our credit cards on ice because Fallon & Byrne is very expensive. We’ll be getting in extra walking tomorrow and saving our appetites in anticipation of an exceptional meal. I’m oddly excited.