Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vikings and Normans and Celtics Oh My!

After such a busy day yesterday, we thought we would stay near Athlone and really discover the area. We started with breakfast at the hotel and ventured out along the Shannon and after looking around Athlone castle, we hoped on a Viking Boat cruise up the Shannon. Gavin slept for the entire cruise. And while Kyra was offered the chance to steer the boat she was too shy to take the helm.
We later took a short car trip toward Clonmacnoise. The tour of this Holy site, a cathedral, a castle, and eight churches was a fascinating look into not only the religious heritage of the land but also into the Viking and Norman histories as well as what some of the Celtic markings mean. It was a beautiful site that I wasn’t expecting to take so much from. After several days of jumping on rocks it was a challenge to keep Gavin from jumping on the grave slabs in the ground. The gothic whispering arches were a personal favourite.   
Our drive back to town had us stopping on the side of the road to photograph the neatly stacked bricks of peat drying in the fields.
Back at the hotel, we all went for a swim. Although we had to purchase and wear bathing caps in order to enter the pool, it was one of the best hotel pools we have visited. The main pool had three smaller pools off of the main one, one was a hot tub, one had strong jets under the water and one had large fountains. There was a bench to relax on between two of the pools. Sitting in water up to your shoulders, you would be massaged by bubbles from all around you. The pool was a real highlight for Kyra.
We dined at Thyme tonight. It was a fantastic meal enjoyed by all of us. The kids had a pasta dish and garlic bread. Gavin wanted two brownies for dessert and Kyra hummed and hawed about whether to have the brownie or ice cream sundae.  She was delighted to find that not only did the brownie come with whipped cream but also ice cream and chocolate sauce. Gavin was appeased by simply cutting his brownie in two and somehow Elliot ended up finishing the plates of three desserts.

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