Monday, June 13, 2016

Ireland Part I - April 25 - 27 2016

Flew to Dublin on April 25, 2016.  I was very surprised at the pace of the city.  I think I had it in my mind that it was sort of laid back, a little mellow, but that surely wasn't the case.  I had to walk over on the side to not be mowed down.  Fast pace.

It was extraordinarily cold during my time in Dublin .  I was glad I had my long sleeved shirts, sweater, coat and scarf.  I had my long johns with me, but thankfully didn't need to use them.  Always prepared is my motto.  My Homestay apartment had a space heater that I carried around with me from room to room, closing the door behind me.  Interesting in the apartment was having to turn on the hot water heater half an hour before I wanted a warm shower.  We take many things for granted in America.

I truly could not have survived without this space heater.
I wonder what their electric bill was for the time I was there?

I was in Dublin for their remembrance of "The Rising" which was the 100 year anniversary of when the Irish revolted for independence in 1916, with stories and photographs, flags all around the City.

I spent most of my time in the City.  On my first day I took a free walking tour of the major sites.  There was so much to see, a castle right in the middle of town, huge churches on almost every block, and wonderful free museums that I took great advantage of.  So much to see and all so close.

Day two was an all day bus tour to the Wicklow Mountains, stopping in Kilkenny and Glendalough.  Nice to see the countryside, sheep, cows and greenery.  The weather was very cold, rainy and windy.  My umbrella was taken right out of my hands and some nice man ran over and got it for me.  Met nice folks in the coffee shop and had fun visiting with them.  Made new friends from the bus too.

The rest of my time there I visited various sites around the City.  Went down to the riverfront and walked along the Liffey River and enjoyed the many bridges.

There were many things I did not do, but I made those decisions. I did not kiss the Blarney stone, go to Cliffs of Moher, or go to one of the Irish Nights dinners with Irish music. I don't like major touristy things so I am happy with my choices of what to see. There were so many people around and tourists that I can't even imagine visiting any place in Europe in late June, July or August. It is easy to get tired of so many people. I tend to be a person who loves nature, so the City got sort of crowded feeling quickly.
Food - well Irish breakfasts are kind of funny to me, beans for breakfast along with everything else.  Maybe they needed a hearty breakfast to start their day in this mostly cold place.  Bacon, as in other parts of Europe is not "our" bacon.

Irish breakfast.  I can see where our Boston baked beans
 came from.  They were sweet and tasty, just like I cook mine.  
What we would call ham, they consider bacon.

I ate fish and chips several times and the meals varied from OK to very good. I did eat in my apartment several times and made coffee, so it all worked out pretty good.    I had a piece of carrot cake there that was much drier than ours.  I ate the one piece in 4 days by just slicing some off.  Pastry in Ireland is not French or Italian, but quite pretty.

I will admit that I am now a Guinness aficionado.  Went to a few bars, had a pint and listened to some Irish live music.  So my overall impression was one of a big, bustling city full of interesting treasures.  A very walkable city that I did enjoy.  If I ever went back to Ireland I would seek countryside, but the problem is that I can't imagine driving over there.

So I'll share pictures below and put notes so you know what is what.

Tampa International Airport
Ready to go, wondering how it will go and
wondering if I am nuts and what am I doing.
Note One (1) rolling backpack!!!!!!!

Flight over I had the entire row to myself.  Better than first class.

Flying over Ireland

Day one, free walking tour, great overview of historic district.

Dublin Castle
Smack dab in the middle of the city.

Back side of section of the castle, different for sure.

So happy to be there when so many flower were in bloom.

Temple Bar area.  Such a walkable city it was amazing.  
Many twists and turns and I did get lost many times.  
I'd just ask which way is the river and I'd be OK.

Come to think about it, I had to ask that question
in about every city I was in.  Beautiful rivers everywhere.

Trinity College
Right in the heart of the city.

Hail, yes that is hail.  Low temp on the ground this day was 37 F.  
It was really, really cold there.
New friends I met on the walking tour.

Unusual sculpture in front of Central Bank
Crann an Oir (tree of gold)

Center of town

12 hour bus tour to Wicklow Mountains, Kilkenny and

Cold, cold, windy and rain.  A real Irish day.

Blurry countryside through the bus window.

I wanted so many pictures of the sheep and little lambs, but 
we were flying by in the bus.  Not too many places to stop either.  If I was with John and in a car we would have stopped  
so many times for pictures.

You could see the stone and also shrub fences when you flew 
over Ireland.  It is quite a sight and these fences date way 
back and are still in use.

The countryside is beautiful with the Irish Gorse. While pretty our
tour director said it spreads like crazy and is a pesky shrub. 
 An Irish country saying is:

"When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion".

Kilkenny - at farmer's market

Many small passage ways in every city I visited.

Kilkenny city walls, standing for 700 years*

Black Abbey of Kilkenny
Can you believe this, established 1225!!!!!!!!!

Irish law mandates everything be written in Irish Gaelic and English.  Most people in Ireland don't speak Gaelic proficiently, but the country is working on bringing the language back and it is 
taught in the schools.

Brewery founded in 1710 in Kilkenny for their Beer 
Festival. Clear beer with a red color. 

Pretty countryside.  This water is used
by the Guinness Brewing Company.

The wind was howling up here and it was so cold.  One 
photo and right back to the bus.

There are stone ruins dotting the countryside.

Glendalough (Valley of Two Lakes). In County Wicklow, a medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century 
by St. Kevin.

The Gateway to the monastic city of Glendalough

Inside the gateway, in the west wall, is a cross-inscribed stone. 
This denoted sanctuary, the boundary of the area of refuge.

Irish legend says that the Celtic cross was introduced by St. Patrick when he was attempting to convert the Irish pagans to Christianity.

Picture from under my umbrella, see the water drop in front.
It was really coming down.

A wonderful family I met from Eastern Canada who
included me in their group and that made me so happy.  Bob
and Kathy are just great folks and we're going to keep in touch

Kilkenny, a  nitrogenated Irish cream ale and it tasted pretty 
darn good to me.  Thank you Bob and Kathy.

So this has been half of Dublin.  I will do part two and also include my bus trip to Galway.  My photos are all over the place from saving them here, there and everywhere.  The blog is taking hours and I'm sure the rest will be the same.  I should just take time out and organize all photos.  So I'll have a part two soon.

Hope I am sharing things of interest and that you enjoyed a few days in Ireland.  At least you are warm and dry.  

* Kilkenny Walls: