It's time for the London/Ireland wrap up blog post! You all always tell me how much you love following me along on my travel adventures so this blog will not only show you our trip to London and Ireland but tell you all about our experiences! Devin and I had always said that on our 5 year wedding anniversary that we would take a trip to Ireland. We had looked at going for our honeymoon but decided on a more relaxing vacation instead. Since our 5 year anniversary is coming up in May we decided to start looking for an Ireland vacation. I booked our trip through TripMasters. If you aren't familiar with TripMasters then you must check them out! They have so many great vacation deals and most of their vacation deals included round trip airfare and hotels for pretty much the cost of a normal flight. We love them and use them for lots of our bigger trips. We booked our China vacation through them the other year too. (They aren't paying me one dime or even know that I'm writing this, I just love them!) Although we had only planned on just doing Ireland, I was able to add on a couple of days in London for pretty much nothing so I had to do it! :)
I'm going to write about each location and experiences below with the images so keep reading between the images to learn more!
London was amazing! If you know me, you may know that I'm sort of a royal buff. I've always had a fascination with royals and monarchs, especially Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth and family. London was filled with visiting lots of palaces and everything else! I also really wanted to do some high street shopping but we didn't really have time or the space in the suitcase.
Ireland was just gorgeous! I'm convinced that you could spend two weeks driving around Ireland and still not be able to stop at every castle that you see! They are literally everywhere and are gorgeous! Some are marked by signs and you can tour them but others are just dilapidated structures that you see in the distance. The dilapidated ones just have some sort of gorgeous beauty to them. We tried to stop at a few that we saw as we were driving but we just couldn't stop at all of them.
Since wedding season is during the spring and summer, we take a lot of our vacations in the winter. I love it since it's really the travel off season so you can get great deals and there are way less crowds. Devin isn't a fan since it's usually cold. However, we were literally some of the only people in some of our destinations and I can not imagine how busy some of these place would have been in the busy season.
DAY ONE- LONDON: First stop! We flew into London Heathrow and then took a bus to Victoria Coach Station. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Buckingham Palace. The hotel was super basic but was a block away from Victoria Coach Station and Victoria Train Station so it made getting to and from the airport super easy. Plus it was just a few blocks away from Buckingham Palace!!!!!
Our flight arrived around 11:30am so once we checked into our hotel we went straight to Buckingham Palace! Now, you can tour Buckingham Palace but only a few months per year, February wasn't one of those months. We explored the outside of the palace that literally takes up several city blocks.
I LOVED all of the gold seals throughout the gates and palace.
Don't mind me, just waiting for the queen! haha
After we explored Buckingham Palace we kept walking to Westminster Abbey.
Of course I had to take a photo of my reflection in a phone booth!
St. Margaret's Church was the next stop and it's next-door to Westminster.
And then it was time to visit Big Ben! Unfortunately, we had no idea that they were restoring it! It was covered in scaffolding and the chimes were turned off. It was still magical though.
All of the architecture in London is just stunning! I love the gothic style of architecture!
Along with Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, I also have a fondness for Winston Churchill so of course I had to visit his statue.
The row of hotels and town homes on the street of our hotel.
DAY TWO- STONEHENGE/LONDON: London is only a few hours from Stonehenge so we of course had to make it a stop on our trip! We booked a morning tour with GoldenTours, they bused us to and from Stonehenge and it also included our admission ticket (way cheaper than renting a rental car for the day). They were super great and even gave us ponchos for the rain! Unfortunately, this day was EXTREMELY cold and rainy! Because of this we just couldn't bring ourselves to explore Stonehenge as much as we would have liked. We were dying in the freezing rain and bitter wind (just look at Devin's face in the Stonehenge selfie). However, it was still an amazing experience and we are so glad that we were able to fit it into our trip!
Once we got back to London we warmed up and them went to see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Devin really liked seeing the Shard in the distance too! haha
DAY THREE- LONDON/DUBLIN: This day we split between London and Dublin. We woke up early and headed out to Hyde Park for sunrise. Our first stop was the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (the ring below). We then explored the park for a bit and then walked to Kensington Palace and Gardens.
I'm kind of the swan whisperer and there were TONS of swans at this park who I made friends with!
The little duck/bird that you see walking with Devin was just adorable. He loved us and followed us around the whole time we were by the water. If we sped up or slowed down, he did too so he could stay by us! We were sad to say goodbye to him!
The next stop at the park was the Prince Albert Memorial and Prince Albert Hall. The hall was being renovated but the Memorial was so gorgeous! Queen Victoria had it commissioned after Albert passed away and it would have cost about 10 million dollars in today's money.
Making friends with more swans!
And of course I had to get a photo with my girl, Queen Victoria! Her statue is just outside of Kensington's Palace Gardens.
The gardens of Kensington Palace and of course the palace!
Even the birds love Queen Victoria!
You can tour a part of Kensington Palace so we did just that! It was so neat seeing all of the artwork and everything else. These photos are of the King's Staircase (the Queen's Staircase wasn't as elaborate).
In the King's gallery.
This photo is in the Queen's Dining Room, I had to take a selfie in the fireplace.
There were a couple special exhibits at the palace while we were there and one of them was the Princess Diana Fashion Exhibit. I was excited about this because when we stayed on the Queen Mary Ship a year or so ago this exhibit was there but it was closed during our stay.
Some of her famous gowns were displayed.
I loved seeing this fashion sketches with new wardrobe ideas for Diana.
The hallway to some of the restrooms at the palace had this amazing Princess Diana wallpaper!!!!
The second special exhibit was the Queen Victoria exhibit! I was soooooo excited!!!! Probably the one thing I learned that I never really knew was how small people were back in that time. Queen Victoria's gowns and Prince Albert's suits were so short! Apparently people were just shorter back then. Queen Victoria was only about 4 foot 8.
That dress below was the gown Queen Victoria wore when she married Albert!!!!!!!
All of their portraits are just amazing!
These bracelets were my favorite! They had painted portraits of Albert in them! I wanted them so bad!
Some of Queen Victoria's Children's items.
After Kensington Palace we walked down to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. I started collecting their drumsticks from every location I visit when I was younger so we had to stop and pick up a London pair. On our walk down to the cafe, we saw Prince Charles and Prince Harry drive by on their way to the International Sustainability Unit's Meeting!!!! Hard Rock Cafe London has a Vault, which is housed in a old banking safe. They had this outfit of Madonna's and these lyrics from The Beatles.
After we had lunch we headed to the Victoria Train Station to take the train to the London Gatwick Airport to catch our flight to Dublin.
We arrived in Dublin around 6pm and picked up our rental car and checked into our hotel, Cassidy's. Cassidy's is within walking distance to pretty much everything so it was perfect for us! We ventured to the Ha'Penney Bridge and The Temple Bar District and then we went back to our hotel to have a drink in their bar which The Beatles visited.
DAY FOUR- DUBLIN: We started out our day by visiting Trinity College and the Oscar Wilde Statue. We then made our way to Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Just look at all that gothic architecture!!!!
We then stumbled upon Dublin Castle.
That afternoon we booked a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. Now you can't actually tour the actual storehouse but you get to do a self guided tour to learn more about Guinness and the process of making the beer.
The tour concluded on the rooftop bar that overlooked Dublin.
We then booked a tour with the Jameson Distillery! Just like Guinness, you can't tour the actual distillery due to sanitary reasons but we got a guided tour to learn more about the distillery process and to taste test the Jameson whiskey.
The second image is a Rhubarb Sour Jameson and it was literally the best thing ever!
DAY FIVE- DUBLIN/CORK: We were leaving Dublin this day and driving to our next destination, Cork. We stopped by Kilmainham Goal on our way out. This place is a super famous jail and is featured in a lot of movies.
On the drive to Cork, we ran across this castle!
As soon as we got into Cork we went to Blarney Castle! I know the Blarney Stone is on all those "top 25 overrated tourist destinations" and I think that's a load of crap! The Blarney Castle was one of Devin and I's favorite locations! There is soooo much more than just the Blarney Stone! The castle is gorgeous, they have several gardens including a Poison Garden, there is an amazing Blarney House, 3 waterfalls, the seven sister, Witches Stone, Druid Caves, and sooooo much more! If you are going to be in Cork it really is a must see!
Some of the gardens and the horse stable that is turned into a cute cafe.
Devin and I kissing the Blarney Stone.
Devin was super excited about the Poison Garden. Every plant in this garden was poisonous.
The first photo is of the Witches Stone. She is rumored to go into the castle at dusk and steal firewood. She has a "kitchen" cave where they light her a fire every night. The second photos is of the seven sisters. A king who lived in the castle had 7 daughters and 2 sons. During a battle both of his son's were killed. These stones where put up by druids long ago and featured 9 upright stones. When the King and his men came back home, he had them push over two of the stones to forever remember his fallen sons.
And this folks is the Blarney House! I was in LOVE and told Devin that he could leave me here forever! After we were done exploring Blarney Castle we checked into our hotel, Cork International. It's by the airport so it's not super close to downtown but it was an amazing hotel.
DAY SIX- CORK: We started out the day going to Blackrock's Castle. This castle is on the water and is very pretty. It's now converted into a conservatory.
It was a foggy morning but the coast line looked so pretty!
We then ventured to downtown Cork to take in some of the sites.
This is the National Monument.
We walked through Bishop Lucey Park and all of these pigeons where sitting on the ground. As soon as we walked up to this walkway to walk through they lined up on each side of the raining and stared at us. We were so confused and Devin was a bit freaked out! haha
Next stop was the Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral. It was so pretty with tons of old monuments.
We then went to Elizabeth Fort which overlooks the city.
Afterwards we went to the English Market and the main shopping district.
DAY SEVEN- CORK/KILLARNEY: This day we planned to travel a few hours out of our way and visit the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately, that morning was SUPER foggy with zero visibility. When we pulled into the parking area for the Cliffs the lady told us that we would not be able to see anything from the visitors area and that it had been like that all day and would continue to be like that. She told us that there was a pier on down the road that would allow us to see the Cliffs a little better since it would be below the fog. We drove down there and were able to get these images. The visibility was so much better down there. Up on the cliffs you couldn't even see your own hand!
Since we had allotted so much time for the Cliffs and then ended up not needing it, we drove down the road from the pier to a cave that has one of the largest stalagmites. It was fun touring the cave. Devin was super excited because he has never toured a cave before. After the cave, we continued on to Killarney and checked into our hotel, Dromhall, hotel was okay but their bar/restaurant was amazing with the best food!
We ran across this castle on our drive to Killarney!
DAY EIGHT- KILLARNEY: We woke up at sunrise to go see the purple mountain and the Dunloe Ogham Stones. The mountain was super pretty! All of Killarney is very pretty and is surrounded by mountains.
These are the Dunloe Ogham Stones. They aren't easily marked and have no parking and are in the middle of a sheep farm!
Some of the sheep!
Our next stop was Muckross Abbey. This place was so amazing and we were the only people there that morning so we got to explore on our own!
We then took the long walk from Muckross Abbey to Muckross House. This pretty lake and mountains greeted us on the walk!
Muckross House! Super pretty! We did a tour of the inside of the house but photos weren't allowed. Queen Victoria stayed in this house for 2 days on her Ireland tour. The owners of the house spent 6 years getting it ready for her stay. The roadway that you see was put in especially for Queen Victoria.
There is a ton of land at the house and some beautiful gardens. Also, that blue fire escape you see in the second photo was also put in especially for Queen Victoria's stay. She had a fear of fires after having one of her dressed catch on fire as a child.
Our next stop was Ross Castle! It's a pretty castle on the water.
Devin was always amused about how small castle doors are since people were so much shorter back in the day.
You can also take a water taxi from the castle to Innisfallen Island.
DAY NINE- KILLARNEY/DUBLIN: We left Killarney for Dublin this day. We were spending one night in Dublin before we caught our flight back home. This second photo is of a castle we ran across on the drive. It's hard to see because of the lighting and because I literally made Devin stop on the side of the road for the photo! haha
We also ran across this castle on the drive. Super pretty!
This is the hotel we stayed in that night. It's Cassidy's Ballsbridge and was an all girls school back in the day. It had so much character.