Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rachel is in Dublin

Rachel made it. After a few airport delays, she made it to Dublin. She did good. We got her home from the airport by 11ish. We got her freshened up and out on the road. After a full day of the Guinness Brewery and Jameson Distillery as well as a little Grafton Street tour, Rachel made it all the way until about 9:30 before finally giving up and passing out. Here's a little of our day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Howth it going? and Easter Sunday

Nicole, Trygve, Richard & I all went to Easter Services at St. Patrick's and heard their beautiful choir. It was a nice start to the day and was nice to see St. Patrick's Park in such gorgeous weather.

We finally made it out to Howth! It's at the North end of the DART line and we've been wanting to go since we arrived. They have a market on Sundays with farmers' produce, crepes, and craft items. Some GLGers met us there and it was a pretty good day. We saw seals playing in the harbor, enjoyed possibly the best weather we've had so far in Dublin and had a pint at the local pub, the Bloody Stream. Legends say that it got it's name from when the Vikings landed and the captain of the Viking ship told his crew whoever touch land first could have the land. One member of the crew cut off his own hand and threw it ashore ensuring he would be the first to touch land. Yummy!

Check out our pictures of the Howth seals and Richard frolicking in the Spring blossoms!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

We had so much fun with our Norwegian visitors. I can't wait to go to Norway soon!

More Wicklow...Day 2

For County Wicklow Day 2, we took St. Kevin's bus service to Glendalough. Some fellow GLGers had been a few weeks ago and it came highly recommended. Once there we did the medium level 8 km trail. It took us to all the ruins and around the ridge for some great views. A good time was had by all.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Richard has decided Glendalough wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but I think that has more to do with the Irish whistle I bought at the gift shop on which I continue to play my Irish folksongs on. It's really lovely. ;)

Monday, April 13, 2009

There's no way like the Wicklow Way

We just had a wonderful Easter holiday with our visitors, Nicole & Trygve. They arrived last Thursday. We got to explore County Wicklow for the first time, more Guinness time and a beautiful visit to Howth on Easter.

I'm beginning to be an expert at Guinness. Pretty soon the folks at Guinness will be begging me to give tours.

The next day with a forecast full of sunshine, we headed out to Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow. To get there we took the DART train to Bray. As soon as we arrived, it was pouring rain (liar weatherman!!). But after a cup of coffee and a 20 minute wait for the 185 bus, the showers had passed. Riding a bus on the narrow roads of Ireland is possibly scarier than driving on them! We were rewarded for all our patience and travel once we arrived at the beautiful Powerscourt Gardens.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Richard also spotted a mini-celebrity sighting. Andrew McCarthy at Powerscourt Gardens. He was there with friends and his family. I'd show you the picture I snapped of him, but it's just the back of his head.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oh Sheep! Driving on the Left and Other Adventures in Galway

An excerpt from "Galway Bay" composed by Frank A. Fahey

O ! grey and bleak, by shore and creek, the rugged rocks abound,
But sweet and green the grass between, as grows on Irish ground,
So friendship fond, all wealth beyond, and love that lives alway,
Bless each poor home beside your foam, my dear old Galway Bay.

A prouder man I'd walk the land in health and peace of mind,
If I might toil and strive and moil, nor cast one thought behind,
But what would be the world to me, its wealth and rich array,
If memory I lost of thee, my own dear Galway Bay.

Had I youth's blood and hopeful mood and heart of fire once more,
For all the gold the world might hold I'd never quit your shore,
I'd live content whate'er God sent with neighbours old and gray,
And lay my bones, 'neath churchyard stones, beside you, Galway Bay.

The blessing of a poor old man be with you night and day,
The blessing of a lonely man whose heart will soon be clay;
'Tis all the Heaven I'll ask of God upon my dying day,
My soul to soar for ever more above you, Galway Bay.

Richard & I spent the weekend in County Galway. And considering it has the highest rainfall in Ireland, we really lucked out. Not a drop of rain Saturday & Sunday, beautiful sunshine all weekend. We arrived at the Galway train station after a reasonable 2 and half hour journey. That night we headed out for some local nightlife. Galway City is about 25% students, so it has a great pub scene. And it's well known for it's live music. we headed out pretty late, but were still able to catch one act and check out a few pubs. At King's Head we watched a pretty decent cover band and found the locals sheer joy of "Sweet Home Alabama" a little incongruous. Afterward we got to enjoy a few Irish drinking songs sang by the locals to end the evening.

Well, the next morning we rose bright and early and headed to pick up our rental car. Richard was still too chicken to drive, so I did all the driving. We did get full insurance on the car though! Getting out of the city was a little hairy. I did bump the left mirror against another car, but no damage done to either. Whew! It took half the day, but I did get used to the driving. The scariest part: the skinny lanes and roads. I felt like I was going to hit oncoming traffic constantly. But we survived and made it to Kylemore Abbey for our first stop of the day.

It's a beautiful former home now used as an Abbey and boarding school. There's a stunning miniature Gothic chapel on the premises that the original owner had built for his wife when she died on a trip to Cairo. The interior has floor to ceiling columns made of marble from counties all over Ireland. We drove on to Clifden, Roundstone and back to Galway. It was a great day trip. For more photos, see the slideshow below.

My favorite part of the day was avoiding all the sheep in the road. It was picturesque Ireland all day with rolling, rocky hills, sheep and beautiful blue skies. Here's one of the sheep photos. So that was our adventure. We had great Galway Bay oysters, smoked salmon, mussels, and plenty of great scenery. I think it's safe to say we fell in love with Galway. We're already planning our next trip.

Sunday we met Crystal, cousin Maggie's friend, who owns a restaurant and cafe in Galway City. We had coffee and breakfast burritos at her cafe, Cafe Luna. And they were delicious. Crystal is from California and various other states and knows her breakfast burritos. It was a welcome meal for a couple of Texans who have been missing that Sunday morning tradition. Yum! And Crystal seriously makes the best coffee I've ever tasted. I can't wait to go back and try her restaurant, Blue Moon. They have jalapenos poppers on the menu. Thank you Crystal and we can't wait to see you again!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Southsiders, Northsiders and the great divide

We quickly learned in Dublin you are either a Southsider or a Northsider, meaning you either live North or South of the River Liffey. We are Southsiders. We haven't learned completely what all the stereotypes are yet, but some say the North side is a little rougher. I took a picture of this Bulmer's cider advertisement playing up the divide.

Below is a sunset view of the Liffey, or the dividing point for the city of Dublin.

About Town

In all the frustration about getting settled here in Dublin, I've neglected to mention we've been exploring Dublin and the surrounding towns more. The week before last, we to a train out to Blackrock only about 15-20 minutes away from city centre. Blackrock has one of the largest open markets in the Dublin area. While there wasn't any great finds here, mostly just booths selling old collectibles, it was a nice outing and I had a very good crepe from the stand in the picture. Blackrock is a very cute town with many boutiques I will have to check out again with a more willing shopping partner than Richard. It was a rainy morning, but below is a picture of the shore from the train station.We next headed to Dun Laoghaire which we'd heard was a pretty seaside town from our GLG friends. Only another 10 minutes or so on the train, we arrived to even heavier rain.

Luckily, after a lunch stop the rain had cleared and left us with a brilliant sunny afternoon. This town is larger than Blackrock and also where one of the ferries take off for European destinations so they have a larger port. The town has a slow, older, worn-in feeling to it. I love the old signpost showing the distance to other cities in front of the town hall and train station in the picture below.

That evening was the very exciting final match of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament. Ireland had a chance for a Grand Slam and succeeded with some daring late game scores. Every pub in Dublin was packed with people. We ended up having to watch it from the street as there was not an inch of space left inside the any pub. Here we are stretching to watch the match on the doorstep of the pub.

Though I've never been a rugby fan, I admit it's growing on me. The game is fast paced and full of action. And it hasn't hurt that we arrived in Ireland just in time to adopt the Grand Slam team as our own!