Sunday, June 20, 2010

#30 - Never be at a loss for words: Kiss the Blarney Stone

That's the tradition:  Kiss the Blarney Stone and you will never be at a loss or words.  My prolific blogging history may reveal the fact that kissing the Blarney Stone could potentially cause me more harm than good, but it still makes the bucket list of 1,000 things I want to  do before I die.

The Blarney Stone, also known as the Stone of Eloquence bestows a golden tongue to those who perform the task of lying down bending backwards and kissing the stone from an upside down position.  Presidents and famous people from all walks of life have kissed the stone, and over 300,000 people still come to kiss it each year.

It has been said that the stone came from sources as varied as Moses, King David of Israel, and St. Columba, but the most commonly accepted version says that Robert the Bruce gave a portion of the stone to Cormac McCarthy, King of Munster as gratitude for Irish support at the battle of Bannockburn.

The history of Blarney includes the fact that in the 1600's the McCarthy's who owned the castle created a bardic school at Blarney Castle which brought scholars from around Ireland.  During the time of Elizabeth I, the McCarthy's were required to surrender the castle, but the ruler of the castle Dermot McCarthy had such eloquent and repeated excuses for not surrendering the castle that Elizabeth remarked, "Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!"  From this point forward the word Blarney has been a part of the English language.

To find your way to to the Blarney Stone be sure to check out car rental Dublin.

#29 - Walk on the Moon! (in Ireland)

If the lunar landscapes are interesting and appealing to you, if like me, you would like to walk a wild, barren and somewhat dangerous land, you might not have to spend a million dollars to be one of the first civilian tourists to the moon.

The moon is really only as far as Ireland.  The Burren is an area of County Clare with a landscape which has been described as lunar.  The barren limestone plateau is a patchwork of cracks and fissures, which make it a unique walking adventure.  Care needs to be exercised to avoid falling and getting hurt, but the walk is not steep as the limestone plateau is made of rolling limestone rock hills and patches of grasses.

Strangely, arctic, mediterranean and alpine plants grow together in this one region, and the alpine flower: the Spring Gentian is used as a symbol for the Burren.  This area also has over 70 ancient tombs, and account for over half of those in County Clare.

This is on my bucket list of 1,000 things to do before I die, but I am sure I will need to fill my rental car tank before making my way to the Burren.  Be sure to check out car hire Cork Airport for your rental car.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#28 - Fenway, one the last of the great old ball parks

My first visit to Fenway Park was during a playoff game with the New York Yankees in the storied 2004 run to their World Series win.  Of course, I went to the third game.  This was the game where the Red Sox got clobbered 18-9 by the Yankees, and went down 3 games to none.  The next four games led to their improbable breaking of the Curse of the Bambino, and their first World Series in 86 years.

I stood by the famed Pesky Pole that night.  Somewhere I still have the picture of it.  It was a good night to see Fenway.  We had the seats, which are no seats: a standing only area underneath the stands on the first level.  Yet I ended up somewhere near first base on the second row by the 6 inning, because everyone starting leaving the slaughter.

A game at Fenway is a must see for people visiting Boston.  Even if you do not like baseball, it carries a sense of history like few places on earth.  Entering the ballpark and looking onto the field for the first time, you can imagine Ted Williams or Babe Ruth stepping to the plate.  The Green Monster, the highest outfield wall remaining in a major league park stands glaring at you from left field.  The place looks, feels, and smells of the gods of the diamond and takes you back 50 - 75 - almost a 100 years to the times romanced by young men for almost a century now.

Are you planning your holidays to Boston?  Fenway Park should find its way into the plans.  It will certainly find its way into your heart.

It was once on my bucket list of 1,000 things to do before I die, but I checked it off in 2004.  I could have gone again tonight if I had been available - tickets were offered, but oh well - I saw them loose in the most famous series they ever played.

Monday, June 14, 2010

#27 - Reading Thoreau at Walden Pond

Today I traveled to Walden Pond in Concord, MA just outside Boston.  $5 parking is the only cost, and this historic location where Henry David Thoreau spent two years living simply in a tiny one room house he built with his own hands a mile from the nearest neighbor in 1845-1847 has become revered as the home of the conservation movement.

It was on my bucket list of a thousand things to do before I die to read his book Walden on location.  Okay - I did not read the whole book today, but as you will see in the video below, I brought it with me to read a little while I was there.

Currently, the water level is especially high in this "kettle pond" which has no stream flowing in our out.  It is fed by the rain, and run-off from surrounding hills.  Because of the high water table the pond path is closed around most of the perimeter, but a walk around the pond is a gorgeous short - and not too strenuous hike.

Swimming, fishing, and hiking are all available at Walden Pond, and best of all there is a wonderful history, which can not do anything but inspire you.

I think it should be on your list of a thousand things to do before you die.  It was on mine, but I checked it off today.  So, if you are looking for a Boston city break, I am not sure you've really had the full break without visiting the beautiful home of Thoreau's simple living.