Monday, May 19, 2008

The last 2 days in Dublin.

It has been a while, but here is the final post from my Ireland trip! (Yes, I know the last day of the trip was May 19th, but never late than never!!)

Danielle and I used Sunday to finish up the rest of the tourist sites around Dublin, and bought a pas for the local tourist bus that goes all through Dublin and out to Phoenix Park.

We started the day at the Kilmainham Gaol, a historic prison located in Dublin. The prison itself was quite interesting, filled with bits of prison psychology, what worked, what didn't, stories of the over-crowding during the famine, and the famous rebels who were locked up during the revolution. Several movies were also shot here, most notably "In the Name of the Father."

After Kilmainham, we left for Phoenix Park, which houses the President of Ireland and the U.S. Embassy. Danielle and I toured the Phoenix Zoo, and took plenty of pictures of the Elephants for our youngest sister Angie, who loves Elephants!!

After that we just wandered through Dublin, soaking in the last bits of history, marveling at the churches and buildings built over 1000 years ago.

We finished the evening with a Literary Pub Crawl, which was amazing.
The two actors who gave the tour were full of good stories and anecdotes, and the quizzes, beers, and bars were all amazing. All in all, a great end to a fantastic trip.

The final few pictures are Danielle and I on our way back to the airport, exhausted, but happy to have crossed the Atlantic to enjoy a bit of history, culture, and of course, Irish Lore.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Peaceful Scene, more from Glendalough on Saturday

I took a short video of a creek flowing under a bridge at Glendalough. Hopefully you can hear how quiet it was, the sound of the rushing water, and the wind in the trees. I could have stood there for hours enjoying the peace and calm.

Saturday in Dublin-Winding Down

Saturday morning started out eventfully for Danielle and I. I woke up, squinted at the clock on the TV, then noticed it was 8:25am. We were supposed to meet our bus at 8:50 for the Wild Wicklow tour!!! I shouted at Danielle, we threw on our clothes, grabbed the backpack, and sprinted out of the hotel for 3 blocks. We found the group we were supposed to meet, then proceeded to stand there for an hour. . . Finally I walked over to a nearby hotel where the concierge called Wild Wicklow. Turns out their tour bus had broken down!

Danielle and I then high-tailed it back to our hotel, where our friendly concierge called around and got us booked on a separate tour of the Wicklow area, which picked us up in front of our hotel. It turned out to be a lucky twist of fate. The driver/tour guide for the new hotel was amazing, he was funny, clever, and entertaining, which was nice since the majority of the tour was in the bus.

We drove out to the Wicklow area, and the Glendalough, a 6th century monastic settlement, and a quick walk to two very peaceful lakes. The day was beautiful, overcast with the sun peeking through at various times, casting an almost mystical light over the forest. I kept expecting to see fairies, or a hobbit, at least. :)

After Glendalough, the tour went through the town of Avoca, home of the handweavers. That was a very interesting shop to go through, and watch the process of the handweavers making a blanket or scarf. Danielle and I ate lunch in a little fish and chips shop overlooking the river, which was beautiful as well. I know I keep using beautiful in my descriptions, but hopefully as you look at my pictures you see why.

We napped on the bus ride back to Dublin, then took off for dinner around 8:30 (one of the advantages of the late sunset). We walked the famous Temple Bar area, noticed quite a few hen parties, with the ladies all decked out in boas, wigs, wings, and other such accessories having a great time.

Dinner was at a magnificent little Italian restaurant, where I had my favorite meal, a glass of red wine and penne arrabiata.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 5-Friday in Dublin

After our day of golf, my sister and I did another day of sightseeing around Dublin. We started with the Book of Kells, located in Trinity College. I love books, and to see a book that has been around since the 9th century. It is a collection of gospels, written on calfskin. Just the sheer fact that the book has survived this long, and is still readable is amazing.

After seeing the book of Kells, you walk through The Long Room in the Old Library, which has approximately 200,000 of the libraries oldest books, which a team of volunteers are currently working to restore. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and my sister practically had to drag me out.

After that, we wandered around the Trinity College campus for a bit, and I marvelled at what it would be like to attend university at a place with so much history. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my 4 years at ASU, which has been around since the late 19th century, but Trinity College was established by Queen Elizabeth I and is over 400 years old.

After the college, Danielle and I went to tour the state apartments and the remaining structures of Dublin Castle. Again, as a history nut, it was interesting to be on these tours, hear about the revolution, especially when delivered with the humor and wit that the Irish are known for.

I even found a Knight in Shining Armor!!

Next up was a tour of the Jameson Distillery! I volunteered to be an official taste tester, and while I discovered that I'm not really a whiskey girl, I did enjoy the Irish whiskey better than the Scottish or American whiskeys.

We ate lunch at Apache Pizza, which I thought was appropriate since we are from AZ, then headed back to the hotel. We went out for some live music, and bar hopped a bit, which was a good ending to a great day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 4-Golfing in Ireland!!

Well, you can't go to Ireland without playing golf, especially when you enjoy the game as much as my sister and I do. We played at Hollystown Golf Club, near the airport. It was a beautiful day, partly cloudy, windy, and cold. The course has 3 sets of 9, so Danielle and I were pretty much on our own, which gave us plenty of time to soak in the experience.

After golf, we headed back to our hotel, then had lunch at the Hard Rock Dublin. American Music was nice to hear, and I collect the shotglasses, so I can be excused for eating in a trendy American diner.

After that we wandered through the city, stopping at St. Audoen's church for a quick photo op, then off to St. James Gate for the Guinness Factory Tour! Once you reach the top of the tour you get to enjoy a complimentary pint of Guiness, and excellent views of Dublin from on high!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 3 in Dublin

Today my sister and I woke up and went downstairs to consult with the concierge, who proceeded to book us on a half day tour out to Malahide Castle. We ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant, then head out to explore the city a bit more before we had to catch the bus.

The tour buses are excellent, because the bus drivers also act as tour guides, and are full of fun facts and information about Dublin and Ireland. The economy of Dublin has also suffered from the real estate boom and subsequent crash. Two years ago, a 3 bedroom 2 bath duplex cost 750K euros, and now is worth 200K less.

As we approached Malahide Castle, we learned of the story of the Talbot family, who inhabited the castle for 800 years. The last living member of the family, who currently resides in Tasmania, sold the castle back to the Irish Government in 1976.

After touring the castle, the bus drove us around the coast, and we got to see the beautiful blue water, the eye of Ireland, and more scenery. It was another beautiful day, blue and without clouds.

Unfortunately, my breakfast did not agree with me, so when we got back to Dublin, we went through one museum, the Museum of Archaelogy, which was full of exhibits about the Vikings, the history of the church in Ireland, and the evolution of it's civilization.

After the museum, we headed back to the hotel, and slept away my flu. But we still saw quite a bit!!

A bit o' Irish Cheer to you!!

My sister Danielle and I are in Ireland for a week, and in an effort to make this a true vacation I did not bring my laptop, and planned on uploading my photos via the hotel computers. However, they have security software that does not allow me to plug my camera in, so you will have to wait until my return for photos!

So far we have had dinner in an Irish pub, complete with traditional music and dancing, visited the Malahide Castle, and wandered through a few museums. Tomorrow we are playing golf and visiting the Guiness Factory!

Just wanted to let my faithful blog readers know that I am okay, and enjoying the trip!! I will get up a blog post and pictures for each day when I get back.

Until then. . . .

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Traveling to Ireland (Days 1&2)

As I am sure many of you have found, all the pictures from my Ireland trip are posted to my flickr account. This is the first of 6 belated blog entries with a few of my favorite photos.

My sister and I set off for Ireland on Monday, May 12th, and oddly enough this was the only day of our trip where weather was a problem. Our flight was delayed almost an hour getting out of Phoenix to Philadelphia, and when we did get over Philadelphia airspace, they were still backed up from all of their weather problems, so we had to circle the airport. We were lucky though, at least our connecting flight to Dublin was still boarding when we arrived. Other people on the plane had to run across the concourse where their flights were being held (if they were lucky!!

Danielle and I had planned well, and slept for most of the flight, which was helpful since we left Phoenix at noon on Monday and arrived in Dublin at 10am on Tuesday!! We got through customs, which was slow. However, getting a new stamp on my passport is always exciting!!

We stopped by the Tourist Office in the airport and purchased 6 day Dublin passes. These passes are quite a good deal because they include free admission to several tourist places (Guiness Factory, Jameson Distillery, Dublin Castle, and various other museums and historic sites around the city), and discounts to many other places and shops. The passes also include "fast tracking" at many of the sites, where you get to skip in front of the line of people who are somewhat less prepared.

Dublin has an amazing transportation system. The public bus runs every 10 minuts from the airport to the city center. Luckily there was a stop only 2 blocks from our hotel, and the one-way transfer from the airport to Dublin was included in the Dublin Pass. I took many photos from the bus, then we got off and headed to our hotel, the fabulous Conrad Dublin The concierges at the hotel were incredibly nice and helpful, and iwthout them I doubt we would have seen or done nearly as much as we crammed into our week.

After checking in, we set out to do some light exploring of the city and grab some lunch. The weather was absolutely beautiful, big blue skies, mid 50's for the temp, and just a light breeze. The main area of the city has a pedestrian only street, the famous Grafton Street, lined with shops and restaurants. We grabbed a bit of lunch, then headed over to St. Stephen's Green, a small park in the center of the city that was filled with people in business suits, students, families, kids, lovers, and individuals, soaking up the sun and enjoying the unusual weather.

After this round of exploring, we took a quick nap, then made dinner reservations at the Arlington hotel for a night of traditional Irish cuisine, music, and dance. (not us, thank goodness, but professionals!!).All in all, a very successful first day in the Emerald Isle.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fishing In The Dark

In preparation for my trip to Ireland I bought a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix 8m camera yesterday. Some friends came over for dinner and to fish in our lake, so I considered that the perfect opportunity to test out my camera.

I even managed to catch a fish in the middle of all my photography.

Thanks to Brent for bringing over the fishing gear!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

McDowell Mountain Music Festival-Saturday

I apologize for taking so long to get this post up, my week has been very crazy!!! I was down in Tucson for work (no pictures either!!) and just got back into town and finally have a few minutes to myself.

Anyhow, Day 2 of the festival got off to an amazing start!!! Having never been backstage at a festival, it was certainly a first for me. It was amazing to be backstage as Blues Traveler & John Butler Trio's roadies were unloading their massive semi-trailers, and meeting multiple managers for each band. As for the Mojo Farmers, they only have me, but hopefully someday I will be managing other manager's for the Mojo's!!

We got to hang out back stage, unload our trailer, and get set up. Then there was time to watch Saturday's music lineup, which started with a fellow Arizona band, Peppermint James , who really got the crowd pumped up and ready for another day of great music!!

At noon it was time for the Mojo Farmers to take the stage. The Mojo Farmers played, with special guest percussionist Henri from Rocketline. Having Henri around brought another level of energy to the music, and the Mojo Farmers started the set off on a heavy rock note with Harvest Rain! The crowd was into the music, dancing and cheering throughout the entire 45 minute set. The guys would have loved to have played all day, but, had to make room for the great bands to follow, including Toubab Krewe, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Wailers, Blues Traveler, and John Butler Trio.

I have to say that overall, the festival was a great experience. Having VIP access certainly helped! There were air-conditioned bathrooms, food, and alcoholic beverages were included in the ticket price. I highly recommend VIP passes to anyone wishing to attend next year! The access to the poser deck also brings you so much closer to the stage.

I'm looking forward to next year!! Until then. . . .