Isle of Sark, Blarney Stone, Cobh and Guinness Storehouse
14.08.2010 15 °C
We're now well underway on Day 5 of the cruise and I've come to a conclusion: I am not taking a cruise again until I'm old and gray. Cruising can be fun, the food great and the organised tours allow you to bypass the long lines. However, since the majority of cruisers are older, they walk slower, take long to get off busses and have a tendency to delay busses. I think I spent more time getting to and back from the excusions than the actual time spent at the attraction. Also, frequent bathroom stops, less energy and medication side effects kind of take some fun out of the trip.
Now that my venting is done, I have been enjoying my time on this trip. I don't get to do as much as I wanted, but I'm still seeing some amazing sights. For example, on the 11th we woke up and opened our balcony curtains to see bright sunshine - we were moored in the middle of the Channel Islands; Guernsey on one side and Herm, Jethou and Sark on the other. It was a goregous sight! We later spent the morning on the ferry ride from Guernsey to Sark, where we biked for an hour and a half. We couldn't have asked for better weather - sunny with fluffy white clouds and a light breeze off the sea to cool us off. Mum, dad and I set off on our own and went directly to La Coupée, the isthmus linking Little Sark to Big Sark. We could have biked the whole island in the hour and a half that we had, but once we were on Little Sark we took a break at the Port Gorey ruins bay to walk down to the rocky shore. The site of the old silver mines are now inhabited by sheep, and after you walk down to the rock outcropping (while stepping around sheep droppings), the amazing view and a cool breeze await you.
The main village of Sark is quaint, with small businesses, courtyard restaurants and small B&Bs. Were didn't have time for more than takeaway sandwiches from a young man who complemented my dual accent (we were switching from French and English), from which he deduced that we were Canadian and not American. Fun fact: Did you know Sark is one of the last feudal states in Europe, operating under a Seigneur? It is a crown dependency (technically owned by the Queen), but the main language is Guernsey French, a mix of French and English.
Alas, our day was over and we had to ferry back to Guernsey for our tender transfer to the ship. Quick tip to anyone who is thinking of cruising: when the ship is moored instead of docked, a lot of time will be spent in line to get on the tenders, so it takes a chunk out of the shore excursion time. If they say the excursion is from 8 to 12, at least two hours are for transfers and transportation.
Well folks, I've done it - I've kissed the Blarney Stone (or as my cousin says, I now have Blarney cooties). We docked in Cobh (pronouced "Cove") and promptly left for Blarney Castle. Once on site I abandoned my parents at the washrooms and went directly to the Castle to queue for my chance to possibly contract a cootie or coldsore (all clear so far!). 25 minutes later I was rushed to lay down, grasp the handles, lean backwards and do the deed - no time to enjoy the moment, you're then yanked back up and it's all over. Of course, on the way up and down you get to see the different rooms in the 15th century castle, from the murder hole to the kitchen and the walk-in closet (mine's bigger!). The grounds also offers other attractions, like the castle gardens, the rock close, a woodland walk and the Blarney manor house. All in all, it's a lot to pay to kiss a rock, and I'm not sure I got the gift of gab, but it was a beautiful day and an interesting experience. I have a certificate that I kissed the stone, but don't think you'll get the gift of gab if you kiss me!
Speaking of certificates, I have been certified as a Guiness pourer - I poured the perfect pint! Yesterday we went to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, and I may have enjoyed it more if I had gotten any sleep the night before, because I was so tired that I kind of walked through the exhibit without really capting any information. Still, it's interesting to learn how the stout is made, and we got to drink the pint we poured. I like my Guiness, but I won't say it's my favourite. In Cobh we tasted the locally made Murphy's (also where Beamish Stout is made), which is a sweeter version of Guiness...if only we could get some in Canada!
Alright, we that summarizes the last three days. Next entry will probably cover Liverpool, Belfast and Loch Lomond (near Glasgow).