. Once again, thank you Auntie Laurie, our travel agent, for your help in booking it. The ferry was a lot more fancy then we expected. It had a lounge room with a big projector showing the Olympics, which was in English. Over two months of traveling we are finally going back into a country that speaks English! The ferry also had a cinema, restaurants, and a cafeteria. Jess and I spent the evening playing crib (I am sorry to say that Jess has now tied it up 18-18) and watching the Olympics (from an Irish perspective), as I made frequent trips to the top deck to look all around at the Ocean. So mesmerizing! As the evening wore on, we both got a bit of a headache from the constant ocean motion. We both had a great sleep, since we had a cabin to ourselves with pretty comfy beds. Breakfast by the lounge room window was pretty sweet too. More and more birds were starting to fly by the ship, so we knew we were getting closer to land. The best moment of this voyage, I am not allowed to talk about, so you will have to ask me later. All I can say is that a certain someone who really enjoys a certain mammal may go their whole lives without seeing one in the wild, and some people just happen to look up from their morning devotions to see a bunch swimming by the ship... Ask me later.
We made it to Rosslare a little before noon, and we had some time before we caught the bus, so we walked about 50 feet to take our first look at the Irish coast. I've got a feeling, this country is going to be absolutely stunning! Except, Ireland does have a down side as we quickly found out. The buses make you more nauseous then the ships! It's like rally car racing with buses. We met an Irish guy on the bus who is one of the lead dancers for River Dance
. He was coming home for a bit from New York to visit family. His uncle owns four pubs somewhere near Kilkenny, and gives him free drinks. He had a little too much to drink the night before so instead of driving, he took the bus. His description of the Irish buses we felt was pretty accurate, "you feel like you're on a Euro Disney ride, and you stop at every town, village, and field along the way." There are also no washrooms, so you either hold it till your next destination, or you do what our River Dance friend did and quickly run into a pub to use their washroom. For him though it is was a vicious cycle, because during his five minute washroom break, he managed to down a pint of ale too!
Our first night staying in Ireland was at a hostel in Kilkenny. It's cool looking at the destination board in a bus station and seeing the names of Calgary pubs and communities all over it. Kilkenny was great! We met some really fun people at our hostel. Three Swedes, five Germans, two Belgians, an American, an Italian, some Croatians, four French people, and a Spanish woman. We all went to find a pub one night and ended up going to a dance club. It was in a little theatre and it was dead until we arrived. Soon after the place was hopping with dancers. During the day, Jess and I walked around Kilkenny. So much to see! The Black Abbey was one of the neatest buildings. Most of the older buildings we saw were made with grey stone. Very Celtic. The Kilkenny castle was pretty amazing too! It is a lot easier for locals to be friendly with us when we speak the same language. I think the Irish are generally just friendly anyways. We went for a walk along the Nore River and came accross three old men walking their tiny dogs
. We heard them before we saw them because they were laughing and joking around with each other. As we walked by them I said a quick "hello" and he looked up and his eyes got wide as he looked me in the eye and came within five inches of my face and said "are you having a good day lad?" Such a friendly atmosphere. The three of them passed another old man walking his dog, and yelled out, "hello John, how'r ya doing today?" everyone seems to know each other in Kilkenny. The next night a bunch of us from the hostel walked to Bobby Byrnes' pub for movie night and free popcorn on a projection screen there. The movie, "A Boy With a Bike", was in French with English subtitles. It was one of those independant films. Not bad, but definitely not Batman.
Now we're off to Annascaul, on the Dingle Peninsula. It's going to be amazing, but a long day of bus travel first.
Back to the sea we go, except this time we didn't stop at the shores. Our last night in France was spent in the harbour town of Cherbourg. It is on the very tip of a peninsula in Normandy. The same peninsula that Utah and Omaha D-day beaches are on. There's not much to see in Cherbourg, except a couple of museums and of course, the sea. But Cherbourg was the place where we needed to be to catch the overnight ferry to Rosslare, Ireland! After having breakfast in bed while watching the Olympics, at only our second hotel this whole trip, we set out to find the Irish Ferries' docking bay. We went down the wrong port a couple of times because of a pretty stupid layout. We could see the ferry from everywhere, but we actually had to walk away from the ferry to get to the place we needed to. Anyways, we found a girl from Calgary (our first one the whole trip!!) who was looking for the ferry too, and together we made it to the dock. Strangely enough, the overnight ferry was a really cool experience for us