Our ship docked in Cobh which is about an hours drive from Cork and i enjoyed the beautiful countryside enroute. Cobh was the last port of call the Titanic stopped at before it succumbed to it's devastating fate at sea. Founded in the 7th century by St. Fin Barre, Cork is the gateway to romantic Ireland and the road leads to the Lakes of Killarney where we can stroll down country lanes. Some of the passengers scaled the hills to kiss the Blarney Stone. The region around Cork is also home to one of the densest concentrations of prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. It was near Cork that the great Tuatha De Hanaan, a race with magical powers was driven underground by the conquering Celts.
Our tour didn't include a visit to the stone or a castle but we had an awesome local guide and driver and a 2 hour visit to the Blarney Woolen Mills, a very large store in a very small village. Here we were given a complimentary Irish coffee which was the best one i ever had. I also ate one of their a salted caramel toffee bars, mmm, mmm, good! I shopped on all 3 floors of the store, took a few pics but barely made a dent in checking out their vast stock. The store was crowded with shoppers and i counted at least 30 big bus'es that had stopped there with 40 - 60 passengers on each bus so I think there were a couple thousand shoppers in there buying Irish linens, knitted sweaters, clothing , toys, jewelry, you name it, they had it and the quality of everything was awesome. You can shop the Blarney Woolen Mills store from home. Just click here http://tinyurl.com/qgnr5qe
We were then back on the bus driving through the countryside and arrived back at the ship after a 5 hour excursion. When we disembarked the ship in the morning we walked down a very steep gangway off the ship and when we returned the tide had come in and we embarked the ship by walking down a sloping gangway; yes; that was down to get off and then down to get back on!
My pics from the bus are not very good due to the shiny windows having a reflection of the buildings as well as the reflection of the passengers or their clothing so please overlook that.
Cork seemed like an interesting city with a wide variety from very old and rundown to very new and modern. I like a city with a good mix like that and would have loved to have spent more time here. The weather today was sunny and warm and Cobh was the warmest port we've been to so far. Back on the ship I napped then went for dinner in the Lido buffet where i loaded up on chicken, fish and salads, veggies and a chocolate mint shake before seeing the all the wonderful Irish dishes that were presented. The Regal chefs had prepared Irish stew, soups and other Irish standbys and the one i would have loved to try was Colcannon, an Irish soup but by then i was stuffed! Got to learn to look around first before filling my plate with a little of this and some of that as i know i've missed out on the local or regional foods before because of choosing too soon.. We then went to the Piazza and sat for a couple hours shooting the breeze and watching passengers dance to a very good band called Lexus playing 50's and 60's music.