Experiencing all of Ireland in a week is a stretch, but I am doing my best to show my family a few different aspects of Irish culture. Yesterday, while I was in class they went to Glendalough. (The monastic site I wrote about earlier that was started by St. Kevin.) Then they came and picked me up and we went to Powerscourt, which is a beautiful old mansion. The rooms have been turned into a little store that sells a lot of Avoca stuff. We enjoyed wandering around there and sat in the cafe for a bit, enjoying coffee, scones and catching up. But the best part of this place... the gardens! So amazing! We probably walked through those for an hour! Random fact: part of Count of Monte Cristo was filmed there. I can see why. The place is amazing. We had a great time wandering around, taking pictures, and climbing on everything.
Last night, I stayed at the cottage with them so we could get up early this morning. We drove down to Waterford and got a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory. We saw how they blow the crystal into its shape, smooth it out, and cut the designs into it. It was fascinating to see and they let us hold a lot of their works in progress, including the trophy for the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament! Then we looked around their showroom. In addition to the normal stuff like plates, bowls, etc... You could buy: A globe for about 10,000 euro, a bodhran drum for the same amount, a crystal grizzly bear for 30,000 euro, or Cinderella's carriage and horses for 30,000 euro. We bought a small celtic cross ornament for... much less!
Then we drove to Kilkenny and toured the castle there. It was really interesting! It was built in the 12th Century and owned by the same family, the Butlers, for 600 years! We got to go into a lot of the rooms and hear a little bit about the design and the history. The largest room was the art gallery. It was basically like an Old Fashioned Facebook. It's where the family hung all their portraits and other cool pictures they had.
All in all, it was a great day. Unfortunately, we had to get back at a reasonable hour because I have class tonight. So we decided to drive back around 4 so we could eat at a chipper (place that serves fish and chips) in Greystones. We were driving along just fine, but then we realized the GPS was going to take us a longer way than seemed necessary. We pulled out this old fashioned thing called a map and decided to try to find our way based on that. Big mistake! We ended up on the windiest backroads ever! Ireland is known for roads that take the scenic route and we definitely found one of those! In the end, we realized we should have trusted the GPS. Even though it was going the long way, we would have been on the highway and gotten there much quicker! Oh well, the fish and chips tasted even better since we had to wait so long to get them.