Waterford or Bust!

Top of the morning to you all! There are a few interesting facts about the village of Youghal that I should share, facts we learned after a local talked us up. Apparently, there’s a town weirdo that collects old stuff, like washing machines from 1910, and he has built himself a little museum. This is not a store or a historical locale, just a guy who likes old crap and will be more than happy to show you his collection (silence of the lambs anyone?). Oh and the best part is that no one can give you specific directions to his place, it’s just “on the other side of the clock tower…somewhere.” Also, Moby Dick featuring Gregory Peck was filmed here, or at least a portion of it was. It took something like 9 months to film 7 minutes. Some other items to note about the Irish, their toilets suck. You have to hold the flusher down for like 5 minutes and hold your breath, hoping everything makes it down. It’s no wonder our conversations center around bathroom humor! Also, the women here….not friendly. We finally had a really lovely waitress last night, but for the most part, the women walk quickly, head down and do not make eye contact or any effort to engage you in conversation, even when you walk into the their little shops. They fall all over themselves NOT to help you. It’s strange. We all agree however that Youghal is our favorite town by far. I’ll share some pictures.

After another excellent Irish breakfast, we decide to take the historical tour of the town, which includes some 17 interesting monuments. The most famous resident of Youghal is Sir Walter Raleigh, and apparently Oliver Cromwell kept his horses in St. Mary’s Collegiate Catholic Church, not being a very religious man. In addition to honoring their dead with knickknacks, the Irish seem to enjoy their pets, lots of dogs and cats everywhere, and they aren’t leashed, they just run amok. We were very excited to see an Irish grocery store, only to find it’s really not that much different. The only thing notable different is their lack of choices. The cereal aisle was about half of one in the states, and everything looks like its made for the constitution (no constipation here). Things like wheetios or wheetabix. They have similar brands and stores here but the names are slightly altered, like no JC in front of Penney’s or TK Maxx or instead of Frosted Flakes it’s Frosties. It’s pretty funny.

After our walking tour, we decide to head to the town of Waterford. The home of Waterford Crystal. The drive kept us mainly on the coast which was very pretty. Another note about the Irish road system are the roundabouts, at first very disconcerting but we are now getting the hang of them and actually find them quite efficient. You could drive in a circle continuously until you figure out where you want to go. We also haven’t noticed much traffic here. The other weird difference is that the signs are backward and that they cram everything into one sign. For example if you were driving to Austin from Dallas, Austin would be at the top of the sign with mileage listed and perhaps in parenthesis would be Austin in spanish, then Waco, Temple, Round Rock, etc… So instead of your closest destination, it begins with the furtherest. Not a big deal unless you have no clue where you are going and you have a split second to read the road sign.

For some reason, none of us expected Waterford to be a big town, and we weren’t really armed with a plan of what we were going to do. Now, as my husband can attest to, I am rarely armed with a plan. I just drive, park and walk around until I figure out what I want to do. My way of traveling or doing things could be stressful for people who prefer a more structured plan of attack. My idea was to park at the first car park we saw, but apparently it was decided that the better idea would be to drive aimlessly around this congested small lane town until we got lost and everyone in the car got frustrated, except Libby and she might have been sleeping through most of this. Libby sleeps…well, a lot. Eventually, we did find our way to parking, but at this point we are not big fans of Waterford. After lunch, served by another unfriendly waitress, we head to the Waterford Crystal showroom. I have to say that I was extremely disappointed. It was one square shaped room with an assortment of Crystal, but I wasn’t wowed or awed or even all that much impressed, and the prices ranged from really expensive to exorbitant! It took literally maybe 20 minutes to pretty much see everything there was to see. We found out later that since they moved the original factory, and built this new complex, it isn’t the same and if we had but asked, Johnny (from our hotel) would have been happy to save us the trouble. Americans. We just don’t listen.

Waterford must be Gaelic for shopping because that’s pretty much all there was to do there. Oh, one other Irish fact in addition to dead people and animals, the Irish like their pastels. Every church or cathedral we have been in thus far has been painted pink, purple, baby blue or some other nursery room color. It’s beautiful yet disconcerting. You walk up to this old church which looks like a castle with stone and mortar and then inside is a cacophony of baby hues with ornate paintings, carvings and woodwork. It boggles the mind.

We finish up with Waterford pretty quickly and head back to our lovely haven of Youghal. After freshening up at the hotel, we head to a local pub for grub and pints. The barkeep is hot. Our first hot Irishmen!!!! Woo hoo!!! Seriously, I think the median age over here is 75, which is great, I could definitely find work, but not much in the eye candy department.  In fact, my sister got her flirt on, complete with this little dance move I’ve never seen before, it was like a cross between a kangaroo hop and an imitation of a horse rider.  At this time, I must issue a disclaimer.  My sister claims she was being sheepish not flirtatious.  Hmmmm.  Okaaaaaaay.  We had one incident at the Pub where Libby got lost again trying to go to the bathroom. So far the public toilets here are not her friends. The food here is better than I thought actually, and after another good meal and a pint we head back to the hotel to skype with our loved ones.

Tomorrow: A monastery and some nature

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