Blogs: Suzanne Lesher
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Our first day in Ireland has been exhilarating, exhausting, and full of new experiences! Before the trip, I had made a "Flat Steve Sheetz" (a cut-out with Mr. Sheetz' picture attached) so our mentor could join us in spirit. We plan on taking photos with "Flat Steve" throughout the trip! We wish Mr and Mrs Sheetz could have joined us for this exciting adventure!
After we landed in Dublin on Sunday, we stopped at a small cafe for coffee and a light snack before we headed into Kilkenny. The driver of our bus, Mark, is hilarious. The entire way to Kilkenny, he gave us a brief history lesson of Ireland, letting us know what to see and a small bit about the Irish culture. He told us about the three things the Irish are known for: drinking, singing, and fighting. He continued talking about Gaelic sports and history and it was very enjoyable! He also made sure everyone on the bus knew to shout "Sainte!" instead of "cheers!" when out at a restaurant! He wanted to make sure we were well versed!
We arrived at River Court Hotel in Kilkenny a bit early, too soon for our rooms to be ready. A few of us decided to explore the area and see what was around. There was a plethora of pubs, restaurants, small shops, and lots of people everywhere! The narrow streets were buzzing with the small towncars of the locals. We only had a short time before having to meet back at the hotel for room assignments, however we were happy to be able to see the options we have for later in the evening.
About 3 that evening, we all met up to tour the Kilkenny Castle, which could be seen from our hotel. The castle was beautiful and full of rich history and stories to go with them. The individuals who were giving the tours were all very knowledgeable about the castle and the family who used to own it. Hearing the story of the Butler family and how the castle was theirs for over 600 years was shocking to me and gave me a yearning to know who my ancestors were 600 years ago.
After the castle tour, we were free to do what we wanted until dinner that evening in the hotel with the group. A few of us found a quiet tapas cafe a block or so away and decided to spend a considerable amount of time there. The rustic decor, peaceful music, and all around relaxing atmosphere of the cafe was welcoming and aided in some much needed relaxation after such a long couple days of traveling. If we were to ever return to Kilkenny, we all agreed that going. The Grapevine would be a must stop along the way!