Rock Close ~ Druid’s Cave ~ Wishing Steps ~ Witch’s Kitchen ~ Witch Stone ~ Fairy Glade ~ Where Two Rivers Cross

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

If you look closely you will see me peeking from through the doorway. Another enchanted forest lies beyond this wall. This post is going to be terribly long but it was impossible to edit it down any more than I have. 🙂

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

There were paths and stone steps leading every which way between boulders and gnarly trees. Following the map provided was more than a little confusing.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

But an occasional sign would sometimes give us a clue as to our whereabouts.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

Druid’s Cave
Said to once be the home of a religious hermit who was fed and cared for by the Jefferyes family… it may well have sheltered many others through the centuries.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ entrance to Druid’s Cave
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ inside of Druid’s Cave
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ window at the back of Druid’s Cave
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking at the window (looks like a black hole near the bottom of the picture) from the outside of Druid’s Cave

The roots of the trees, I think most of them were Yews, were growing around the stones, and their branches made huge canopies over the rock formations.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

Wishing Steps

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking down the Wishing Steps

For hundreds of years, the Blarney Witch has taken
firewood from our Estate for her kitchen.
In return, she must grant our visitors wishes.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ at the bottom of the Wishing Steps

If you can walk down and back up these steps with your eyes closed — some suggest walking backwards — and without for one moment thinking of anything other than a wish, then that wish will come true within a year.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ looking left from the exit of the Wishing Steps

We say only that the steps can be slippery and that we take no responsibility…

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ cannot remember what this was…

Witch’s Kitchen

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen

Historians will tell you that this was home to the very first Irish cave dwellers.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen

But if you arrive early enough in the morning,
you may still see the dying embers of a fire.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen

Firewood, paid for by your wishes on the Wishing Steps,
is lit every night by the Witch of Blarney,
as she fights to stop shivering on her
nocturnal escape from the Witch Stone.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch’s Kitchen
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another leprechaun bridge!
2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ another friendly robin

Witch Stone
It takes little imagination to see who is imprisoned here.
The Witch of Blarney has been with us since the dawn of time.
Some say it was she who first told the MacCarthy of the power of the Blarney Stone.
Fortunately for visitors,
she only escapes the witch stone after nightfall — and we close at dusk.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ Witch Stone

Fairy Glade

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

The faerie folk of Ireland are famed the world over for their mischief and charm.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

They have of course been here longer than any of us and it is
our duty to keep them safe in this special glade.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland

They do, however, have a native cunning.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ we just missed seeing the fairy who darted inside and firmly closed the door

So if you spot one, don’t let it be fooling you.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ more tempting paths to follow

There is so much to see at Blarney Castle & Gardens! Of the 14 things we could have seen here at Rock Close we saw only 5 of them. Elsewhere on the castle grounds there are more gardens, arboretums, woodland and riverside walks, the Blarney House… I could go on. There’s no way to see all this in a single day. I do hope I get to return here some day.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ so many majestic trees…

On our way out something else caught our interest:

Where Two Rivers Cross

Prior to 1870, the River Blarney joined the River Martin near the Rock Close,
but the course of the river was altered and the gradient was changed
to increase the outflow of water when Inchancumain Bog was drained.
The River Blarney was re-directed under the River Martin,
which was channelled overhead via a short aqueduct.

2.5.18 ~ Rock Close, Blarney Castle, Blarney, Cork, Ireland ~ where two rivers cross

At the point where the River Blarney emerges can be seen
the remains of an old flax mill.
It is a rare occurrence really in that one does not often find
a place where one river passes under another.
As a matter of interest,
the River Martin was known as the River Aumartin in the 1600’s
while the River Blarney was known as the River Whey.

Larisa picked us up and we headed back to her home. My cold by now had reached the runny nose phase and I went to bed early. Later that night Tim’s brother Josh arrived from England to visit with us for a few days. But this is the end of my photos.

The next day we went into Cork’s city center and spent the day shopping and visiting different pubs. It’s all a blur to me now because I left my camera at home and spent the day blowing my nose and feeling miserable. But I did manage to find some connemara marble for my sister!

And the day after that I stayed in bed while the others went to the Titanic Experience Cobh and saw Josh off at the airport later that day. That night Tim & I spent our last delightful evening with Katherine and her wonderful au pair, Anna, while Dima & Larisa went out on a date.

We arrived home on a Thursday and flew down to Georgia on Friday. Not pleasant flying so much with a clogged head! As it turned out Shannon had a sinus infection so we sat around talking ~ misery loves company. Tim and Nate were puttering around tending to techie projects and bringing us food. One afternoon we got ourselves out to a flea market and then a nice dinner out. And it was good seeing Julius and Dominic again ~ I cannot believe how much they have grown!

We flew home on Tuesday and I had my final radiation treatment on Wednesday. Phew! That was quite a vacation!

Today old man winter came back for a morning visit and left us 4 more inches of snow. A perfect day to snuggle in and finally finish these posts about our trips to Ireland and Georgia.

Killarney National Park (Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne)

2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland

Our last stop for the day was at Killarney National Park where we walked a trail leading to Torc Waterfall. The forest we walked through was enchanting and wild. Unfortunately, it was here that I first felt an ominous scratch in my throat. But I was able to enjoy the hike and push away that nagging feeling that I was going to be in for it, a least for a couple more hours…

2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ if it was this green in February imagine how much greener it will be in June
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ who might be in there?
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ looks like a leprechaun bridge to me
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ my loved ones
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ perhaps someone’s first and last initial but the first thing we thought of was Barbara & Tim
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ my guy
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ Tim & Barbara at Torc Waterfall
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and Barbara at Torc Waterfall
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland
2.4.18 ~ Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry, Ireland ~ my girls ♡ (and the pink spoon)

I think I love the woods as mush as the sea. It was a wonderful day!

Conor Pass (An Chonair)

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

Saturday morning Dima, Larisa, Katherine, Tim & I piled into a rented car and took off for the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. Larisa drove.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

Going through the mountains of the peninsula we traveled on a one lane road and frequently had to pull to the side to squeeze by cars coming from the other direction. Had to remember to pull to the left because they drive on the left side of the road in Ireland. This took some getting used to.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ Tim

We finally came to a rest area with parking and got out to take some pictures of the breathtaking scenery.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

It was a grey, damp and chilly day.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ mountain in the distance with snow cap
2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ two cars squeezing by each other

And then we headed down to the town of Dingle where we found a place for lunch. The rest rooms were so cold! But the food was yummy and I learned what a standard breakfast in Ireland consisted of. (I ordered breakfast because they served it all day and with a wheat allergy it can be difficult to order a sandwich without bread.) Only one egg! Two huge pieces of ham, two huge links of sausage, and the option of adding on blood sausage (in addition to the regular sausage) which they call blood pudding.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

While we were eating the sun came out and we decided to go to Coumeenoole Beach for the afternoon.

Vøringfossen II

5.25.15.8679
Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Dinner is served from 7-9 p.m. at the Fossli Hotel and we were treated like royalty – my goodness everything was so fancy! I had reindeer for the first time in my life and it was delicious. And the distinctive cool water in that pitcher was straight from a nearby glacier.

5.25.15.8681
Dan, Fran and Barbara at Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

The company was great, the view amazing, and the food delectable! The other family and we had the place to ourselves!

5.25.15.8694
dining room mural ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8695
5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8703
no need to warn me to stay behind the fence at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

After dinner we went back outside, amazed that it was still light out. It was still quite cold up there in the mountains in May.

5.25.15.8704
Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8709
twilight, sort of, at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8713
Dan, Fran and Barbara looking down at Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8718
Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8727
food storage house (stabbur) near the Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8730
view from our balcony at Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

It was time for bed. It was still light out when we went to bed and already light out when we woke up the next morning. We could hear the waterfall lulling us to sleep. Sweet dreams…

Vøringfossen I

5.25.15.8638
Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Back in May, after a long day of traveling up the north side of Hardangerfjord we ventured inland a little, up a steep valley, Måbødalen (more like a canyon!), to breathtaking Vøringfossen, a waterfall in Eidfjord. The road was full of hairpin turns and tunnels. We arrived at the Fossli Hotel just in time to take a quick peek at the falls before dinner.

5.25.15.8641
Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Apparently Edvard Grieg lived in Fossli Hotel during the summer of 1896, where he composed Norwegian Folk Songs, Opus 66.

5.25.15.8648
Måbødalen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

To have the ability to withdraw into oneself and forget everything around one when one is creating. That, I think is the only requirement for being able to bring forth something beautiful. The whole thing is a mystery.
~ Edvard Grieg
(Edvard Grieg: 16 Lyric Pieces)

5.25.15.8652
Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8653
Fossli Hotel ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

A couple of tourist buses stopped to let passengers get out to see the falls, but after that we had the place to ourselves. There was only one other family staying overnight at the hotel, a couple and their young son. It was wonderful hearing nothing but the roar of the waterfalls…

5.25.15.8656
Måbødalen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8662
close-up of the rocks for my sister the geologist ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8663
5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8668
Måbødalen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8673
Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

I had hoped to get all my pictures from this trip onto my blog by the end of the summer, but it didn’t happen. Perhaps by the end of autumn?

Last week we had another visit from Katie and nobody got sick this time, although the terrible humidity did spoil our plans to go apple-picking. But we managed to enjoy the great indoors with our granddaughter. The humidity finally vanished the day after she left – sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, as my mother used to say.

This week Nate & Shea are coming up from Georgia!!! It’s been way too long, although we did see them last year at Dima & Larisa’s in North Carolina when they came up to see the new baby. Hopefully we will get around to apple-picking while they are here, and we are all excited about the supermoon and lunar eclipse coming on Sunday night.

5.25.15.8675
Dan at the viewing area Vøringfossen ~ 5.25.15 ~ Eidfjord, Hordaland, Norway

Next: dinner and more scenery…

Steindalsfossen

5.25.15.8547
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway

Fossen means waterfall in Norwegian. The attraction at Steindalsfossen is that one can walk under the waterfall, which was an amazing experience for me. I’m told this is one of the most visited tourist sites in Norway. The souvenir shop (above) was near the bottom of the waterfall, where the path started which led up to the waterfall.

5.25.15.8558
a troll welcomes us ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway

Located in the village of Stein, along Hardangerfjord, we visited when melting snow made Steindalsfossen extra full of rushing water. The waterfall is 151′ (46m) high. We were impressed!

5.25.15.8560
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8571
along the path we saw plenty of sheep and lambs ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8572
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8578
about halfway up, looking down ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8579
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8584
yours truly, trying to give some perspective ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8589
me again, under the waterfall ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8599
Dan & Fran ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8604
Fran – it was a great place for contemplation ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8610
looking back down ~ 5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway
5.25.15.8612
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway

There was a platform at the top of the path, beyond the walk under the waterfall. From there the souvenir shop below and nearby village of Stein could be viewed.

5.25.15.8615
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway

We felt pretty lucky on this trip. We kept arriving places when almost no one else was there, and then as we were leaving, a tour bus (or cruise ship as happened in Flåm) would show up with loads of tourists. As we went back down the path we encountered a big group of people from that tour bus you can see down there in the parking lot. We were grateful we had Steindalsfossen to ourselves as long as we did.

5.25.15.8616
5.25.15 ~ Steine, Hordaland, Norway

Aurlandsfjord & Sognefjord

5.24.15.8274

Late in the afternoon we left Flåm, boarding a high-speed ferry which transported us to Bergen in 5½ hours via Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord. When we left the rain clouds seemed to be surrounding the mountains in misty ribbons. Enchanting…

5.24.15.8286

Again, I’m not sure exactly where we entered Sognefjord, but it is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway. It was certainly very wide. We didn’t get many good pictures because of the rain and because the shores were so far away. Some of these pictures were taken from behind the ferry window and with the long lens.

5.24.15.8299

5.24.15.8302

Rain always comes from the clouds,
clouds from mist
and mist from moisture in the ground.
~ Carl von Linné
(The Magic of Fjords)

5.24.15.8310

5.24.15.8328

No matter where I turn my eyes,
great mountains over each other rise,
flank to shoulder on they soar;
to heaven’s rim and all between.
We wail to hear the tumultuous roar:
silence adds grandeur to the scene.
~ Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
(The Magic of Fjords)

5.24.15.8340

5.24.15.8359

5.24.15.8372

5.24.15.8422

5.24.15.8436

As we got closer to Bergen we saw more small houses tucked away on the banks of the fjord.

5.24.15.8437

5.24.15.8469

…turf roofs provided insulation and protection against winds and frost…

5.24.15.8476

5.24.15.8487

5.24.15.8507

We arrived in Bergen very late, although it was still light out, and found our hotel, a short walk from the ferry. The next morning we picked up a rental car and began our exploration of Hardangerfjord. Having a car allowed us to park on the sides of the roads and hop out of the car to enjoy the scenery and hear the waterfalls!

Nærøyfjord & Aurlandsfjord III

5.24.15.8061
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

I’m pretty sure these pictures were along Aurlandsfjord, as I mentioned before, I’m not certain when we left Nærøyfjord and entered Aurlandsfjord…

5.24.15.8065
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8075
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8080
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8085
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8089
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8132
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8151
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8153
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8162
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

What I love about the picture above is that you can see a woman in a blue jacket peering into the window of the church. 🙂

5.24.15.8192
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8225
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

Our first glimpse of Flåm from the fjord. The Norwegian Star cruise ship was still there, dominating the landscape. Our hotel was the brown building to the right of the ship.

5.24.15.8236
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
5.24.15.8237
5.24.15 ~ Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

We were back in Flåm now but our day was not over. We picked up our bags at the hotel and boarded another ferry, this time a high-speed ferry which would take us to Bergen via Aurlandsfjord and Sognefjord in five and a half hours!

Flåm Railway

5.23.15.7492

After we got off the train at Myrdal, we got onto the Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana), “a steep railway taking you past spectacular waterfalls, in and out of snow-capped mountains and ending up by the Aurlandsfjord.” The little village of Flåm is 2838′ (865m) below Myrdal and the train ride took about an hour.

5.23.15.7500

5.23.15.7513

There was a stop along the ride where we were allowed to get off the train and take pictures of the Kjosfossen Waterfall. Both ends of the train were still part way in the tunnels. Norway seems to be the land of tunnels and waterfalls, and presumably, trolls.

5.23.15.7515
Kjosfossen Waterfall

5.23.15.7520

5.23.15.7521

5.23.15.7523

5.23.15.7524

5.23.15.7525

5.23.15.7527

The total fall is 738′ (225m). In the picture below there is a woman in a red dress who came out of nowhere to sing and dance for the passengers. She gives a little perspective about the size of this magnificent waterfall.

5.23.15.7542

~~~

5.23.15.7555
back on the train and more scenic glimpses

5.23.15.7566

5.23.15.7567

5.23.15.7589

5.23.15.7591

5.23.15.7595
yours truly (cold, but having the time of my life!)

5.23.15.7598

5.23.15.7649
the little farm is in the late afternoon shadow of a nearby mountain

5.23.15.7655

5.23.15.7668

Apparently Norway is home to nine of the world’s 20 highest waterfalls. High or low, we found them cascading out of the mountains everywhere. No matter how many we saw they continued to dazzle us with their allure.

5.23.15.7745

When we arrived in Flåm, we checked in at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel and then had a scrumptious Viking-style dinner at the Ægir Brewery & Pub. It was very late when we headed for bed, yet it was still light out. The picture above was taken from our hotel balcony and was the last breathtaking scene I savored before falling asleep.

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
(A Child’s Garden of Verses)