At midday we were up and on a bus to Kilkenny, half way down he country. When we got off the bus we had a decent trek to our new hostel and actually had to ask for directions to it for the first time ever. Turns out it was a gorgeous little homey type place with a cosy feel and a chatty owner. We had a room with six bunks and an ensuite all to ourselves and we settled in for a quiet night in a cute town.
As per our now concrete day one plans for any new city we were out to explore the central area of the town. We read on an information board in the city that Kilkenny is famously known as the marble city, despite fact that it is actually largely represented in limestone. We went to see the old castle, which was impressive and massive with lots of helpful leprechauns telling us interesting facts as we walked though. Then we saw the Black Abbey, which was pretty but small, silent and insignificant. We had a supermarket lunch and stopped back off at our hostel only to get the news that a ferry company we had booked with had gone under and we were forced to sit in and organise a new way to get from point A to point B within a few days and for a much higher fare. We had already had one flight, one accommodation booking and one ferry cancel on us and were duly unimpressed by the addition of another (and only other) ferry cancellation. Feeling broke and broken we stayed in instead of heading out for dinner.
It was a slow start in the morning followed by going out for a wander just to get outside. Turns out it was raining so sought solace in some shopping. We returned home for a picnic lunch at the hostel and had a quiet afternoon. That night we picked a friendly little pub on the main road for a meal. Afterward we decided to head out for a drink. After many, many recommendations we went off to find The Langton, which apparently was the best pub in Kilkenny. Hoping it wasn’t already full, and that it wasn’t closed, we ran through the rain most of the way, arriving soaking and breathless. We took about three seconds to realise it was far too posh (and probably too expensive) for us. So back into the rain and back down the road where the barman asked if we would like drinks to make sure we were as soaked on the inside as we were on the outside. We spent our last night in Kilkenny with a couple of pints and full pub with live Irish music.
In the morning we had an enjoyable walk through the grey drizzle to our bus. It was only a three and a half our bus ride but the early onset of darkness made it feel like we had been travelling all day. We at least got to see a little of the green and grey countryside of Ireland in between brief naps and made it to our new Kiwi owned hostel in Cork ready for a quick meal and bed. Despite moving from one place to another usually involving sitting on a bus for hours on end, the trips always leave us exhausted and starving.
Cork is the second biggest city in Ireland with about a fifth of the occupants being students, so we almost even fitted in. We didn’t have long in Cork so we spent our day doing the things we loved most. Ella went off to see Blarney Castle and kiss the stone, as have millions before to inherit the gift of the gab and hopefully nothing else. Hayley was interested in exploring the centre of town in the city where her ancestors had supposedly come from. It was a sunny, but cold, perfect kind of a day. Although, instead of the dark haired, blue eyed charmers with lilting brogues as we had expected, we found a lot of what Ella liked to call ‘people who look like they’re from the Jeremy Kyle show’. Movies, novels, poetry and life in general had lied to us. Out of all the people who spoke to us, we could barely understand half of them. Similarly, we were disappointed by the myth of the Irish being populated largely with gingers. Not even close. While there were some around, the numbers we saw could only be described as ‘normal’. We had a quiet night reading and sleeping in an overheated room the size of an average bedroom, except with six bunks, on pillows about as effective as a once-folded t-shirt.
We were up and off in the morning to catch a bus. This was day one of two days travelling that we had organised when our ferry cancelled on us. This day we had to catch a bus from Cork to Waterford, then another from Waterford to Wexford to stay the night. We got to Wexford midafternoon without too much hassle surprisingly, and began following directions to our hostel. On a Saturday afternoon the roads were full of shoppers and dragging our heavy bags across the cobblestones was difficult and painful. There really is nothing like the relief of seeing your hostel up the road after a day of travelling and hassles to get there. We saw it ahead (uphill), got to the door and pushed the buzzer. Then we noticed the pile of mail in the slot. Noone answered. A young guy came by and apologetically informed us that he was in our position yesterday, and he eventually found out that noone was there. Hoax crossed both of our minds, but he pointed us in the direction of a few B&Bs and walked off. With no other hostels in town, and no other options, we started walking. The first place we found was a pub with accommodation upstairs. The pub was full of men and the barmaid apologetically informed us that the stag do had inhabited the upper floor. The next place we found was a respectable looking B&B. First we thought there was a room as we were confused for another group, until the owner again apologetically said they were all full. Further down the road, another pub, another let down. There were two B&Bs left. The next one, a group of girls checked in taking the last rooms with them. The idea of booking into a B&B, paying by credit card and laughing about it a few years later was quickly turning into a serious problem. We approached the last B&B to meet a woman leaving, who told us that the owner was out, and that she had taken the last room. We were officially out on the street. We decided to head back to one of the places to beg to sleep on a couch or borrow their Internet so we could make a plan. A man, who we never found out if he worked there or not, took pity on us and phoned a friend in a pub and asked him to ask the bar staff if there were any rooms free. There was, just one. We took it without asking anything further. Another twenty minutes went by as we walked with our bags hoping the place wouldn’t be too filthy or noisy. Finding it, we paid the same price as we would have for our eight bed dorm room in a hostel for a three bed private room with ensuite and a television all to ourselves. We spent the last of our Euros on some comfort food, had a long hot shower each and wondered how our luck had turned around so quickly.