After having our first home cooked Irish breakfast at our B&B which consisted of eggs, bacon (more like ham), soda bread, sausage and a slice of tomato we checked out and drove to see some of the main sights of Kilkenny. Our first stop was the St Mary’s Cathedral…one of the main churches in town. And then we were off to the craft center which was directly across the street from the castle. The craft center was filled with various local crafts from the area…pottery, wool items, jewelry, glassware, linens etc. We walked through, shopping until we saw the restaurant at the top of the stairs and decided even though we weren’t quite hungry yet to try the soda bread and a chocolate dessert. We have only been in town for 24 hours and the soda bread seems to be everywhere and is very good…we’ll need to get a recipe.
After our snack, we walked through the garden area of the craft center and then across the street to the Kilkenny castle. The grey stone castle was fairly big and stood on a huge lawn area. We decided not to take the tour of the inside but walked around taking pictures before grabbing a hot tea and driving to the town of Cashel.
Cashel was about 45 minutes further south and was known for its huge castle. We walked around the castle and went inside viewing the medieval structure and its remains. Inside the castle walls there was also a graveyard with many large stone crosses standing tall. We enjoyed viewing the details in the ruins and chatting with another Irish couple as we all got stuck in the rain taking cover under part of the castle.
After our visit to the famous Cashel Rock we walked down the hill to the town, noticing the buildings had a similar old-fashioned feel to them. There were signs everywhere for the local brewed beer, Guinness. We stopped in one of the little bakeries and purchased a loaf of fresh-baked soda bread. The town was smaller than Kilkenny so after about 15 minutes we had seen most of it. The rain was starting to fall so we ducked into a restaurant to grab some lunch. We ordered a bowl of the homemade vegetable soup, a salad and side of french fries. Giff got online to check the stock market since there was free wi-fi and suddenly realized the market was crashing. As the rain was drenching the streets, the market was doing horrible. This was not exactly ideal being we are spending money traveling and money we had in savings was being taken down with the market.
The rain finally stopped and we paid our bill so we could get on the road to the city of Cork where we were sleeping for the night. A little over an hour of driving lead us to a super nice hotel in Cork called, CastleMartyr Resort (www.castlemartyrresort.ie). We use a site called, skyauction.com to get hotel rooms and packages at discounted prices. The online site auctions off various things in the travel arena and we had won this five-star hotel room for a very good price. The resort was on an 18 hole golf course. It also had a big pond with horses grazing on the grass. We checked in and were shown our large room and the various areas of the historical hotel. Our room had things like heated floors in the bathroom and a flat screen with buttons to turn lights on and open the blinds. We enjoyed our evening at the hotel and had take-out dinner from a small cafe down the street.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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