Wow, I am so excited that today is finally here and we will be going to Ireland soon. Mom called me this morning to see if I had a key to her house because she changed purses and forgot that she didn't have her key with her when she went out. Dad wasn't home so.....she was locked out of her house for a while. Luckily the mall is close and she hung out there until he got home. I think they need two cell phones! It was kind of funny and she is a pretty good sport!!
I hope to be able to write in my blog everyday and tell everyone about our adventures. My grand-daughter Kayleigh will be here soon and then we'll be off like a herd of turtles............(that's a funny little saying we say on every trip- kind of goofy, but the kids always thought it was so funny!)
My next entry will be from Bunratty in County Clare where we will visit the Cliffs of Moyer and attend a banquet at the Corn Barn in the Bunratty Castle. Until then, G'day!
I drove a bit and was a nervous wreck, but I did it. Of course Robert had to take over since the navigating part wasn’t going so well. Yes, we were really getting lost when I was driving. So……Robert takes over the driving. OH MY GOSH! I’m sitting on our drivers side of a car on the opposite side of the road and he keeps hitting brush along the sides and it’s just making me a nervous wreck. I keep seeing brush, walls, curbs, reflectors, etc coming at me like crazy. It’s enough to make someone insane. The roads are very narrow in spots. We got so lost! All the hard work I did going to google maps and printing out the road maps was pretty much in vain. It took us 8 hours from the time we landed to get to our B&B in Bunratty. Our hostess at the B& B said that that wasn’t too bad because there is so much traffic in the Dublin area. Well that’s an understatement to be sure. Note to self - next time fly into Shannon please!
The roads aren’t marked very well here. One can go for many country miles with-out ever seeing a street sign. But we made it after asking for help - I think it was 4 or 5 times. No, actually it was about 6 times, but we’re not counting. It’s lovely talking to the Irish people because they are the friendliest people in the world. It’s a beautiful country that we’ve seen so far.
Along the way to Bunratty we stopped at a little town named O'Briens Bridge which is on the River Shannon outside of Birdhill. There was a fountain made from a tree which was most interesting. It is a charming little town. We snapped these pictures and stretched a bit before continuing on to Bunratty.
After we checked into our B&B named Gallows View we went to Durty Nelly's Pub right down the street. It was really a nice place and the food was great. Kayleigh had a chicken ceasar salad but she hardly ate any of the lettuce as she said she didn’t really care for it. So I tasted it and it was “really” ceasar made with anchovies in the dressing. Ah… that’s why she didn’t like it. I told her that’s how it was supposed to taste and I thought it was great. Sorry mom…she probably won’t be eating any of those any more. Emily had a burger which she said was good and the rest of us had fish n chips which were great.
Our B&B is really charming. I’m looking forward to breakfast tomorrow but tonight I’m going to bed early to get some sleep.
Day 2 - Bunratty Folk Park and Cliffs of Moher
Today we woke up to a nice sunny day. The weather was in the 60’s - very nice. Our hostess made us a lovely Irish breakfast - 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, scones, potato waffle. It was very good. The girls had pancakes which looked quite good too. Since we couldn’t go to the Bunratty Castle dinner show (our reservation last night was canceled due to a tour group canceling and they didn’t have enough people to have the show go on so they called our B&B and found that we were staying two nights there and they rescheduled our dinner for the next night, which actually worked out better for us anyway) we went to the Cliffs of Moher (mo her) which was really awesome. We found it pretty good with out any major driving issues.
Before reaching the cliffs we went to the town of Ennis. Since we were early in the day we were able to walk around the town before some of the shops opened. It is a cute little town and I would like to visit is again sometime. Kayleigh found some signs with her namesake on them. The town is quite old and charming with many shops. We purchased some fruit at one of them. Then we headed for the Cliffs of Moher.
After looking at the cliffs for a while we headed back to Bunratty. We wanted to visit the Folk Park before our dinner show started so we thought it best not to do anything else in the area around the cliffs. There was so much more I wanted to do but we really would have needed more time to do it all.
Back at Bunratty we went to the castle folk park. It was very nice with lots to see. There were many thatched roofed houses decorated with furnishings of the time period many years ago. There were also little stores, school houses, etc. Many of the buildings had people doing reenactments from the time period. In one house there was a lady making homemade soda bread. It was so good! We couldn’t see the castle though because by the time we got to it, it was closed to park visitors as they were preparing for the banquet. Upon entering the park, we started out going to the right instead of the left because we saw a huge tour group going that way to the castle. If we had of known the castle would close at 4:00 then we would have gone to see it first. Oh well, I’m sorry we missed seeing the castle but I’m sure we will see more castles on this trip.
We had a little time to spare before our dinner show, so we went to Durty Nelly’s again.
The dinner show was so nice. It featured Irish music and dance and I think the girls had a really nice time. It was a “first time dinner show” for both of them and I think they were glad we went there. The show featured many of the old Irish songs which the audience could sing along with (they passed out the words to them). The Irish dancers were great too. The servers were actually the cast as well. They really work hard since they got our meal, ect. and also preformed in the show. There were 4 pitchers on each table which consisted of red & white wine, fruit drink and I beleive the other one was mead. Somehow we must have lost
all our postcards at the dinner though which we found out after we got back to the B&B.
The next morning we went up to the Folk Park to see if they had found our postcards - and indeed they had!
Day 6 - Monday- A bit of a wasted day….
A very stressful day we’ve had today, to say the least! I never ever want to have a rental car if I’m going to be in Dublin again. Oh my gosh, what a crazy place. Luckily, Robert avoided getting two tickets which was good (one for going down a one way street and one for being improperly in the bus lane). We actually saw the Garda give a ticket to the guy who went in the bus lane after us. The other time the Garda couldn’t get to us in time, or he had somewhere else to go - whew!! Well anyway, we got to Dublin after going to Dalkey Bay (quite by accident) which was nice. We checked into our hotel (The Ripley) after a horrendous rendezvous around the city center. I really should have bought a Dublin City map but I thought it wouldn’t be a problem since I thought I had it down exactly like the Google map indicated it would be. Not hardly! Luckily, I had looked at a picture of the front of the hotel and also read someone else’s blog about the gate being in front. It was such a relief when we found the hotel at last. Unfortunately, when we went to return the car to the car rental place - the place was nowhere to be found. We thought we knew how to go but the road we looked for was not there. We did find another car rental place who told us the place we wanted was really far from there and maybe we should consider taking it back to the airport, which is what we did. I really should have checked with the car rental place as to the exact location of the rental place in Dublin because it would have made our life a lot easier. I’m sure it was my fault because I must have looked up the wrong address. Oh well, that goes in my list of tips for future travel. Always check and re-check directions! After we dropped the rental car off at the airport we got the AerLink bus which Kayleigh loves since it was a double decker one. It took us through a huge tunnel and then came out into the city. It was really fast until we got in the city traffic, where at one light we sat there for 6 light changes before we made it through the intersection. The whole trip was 1 hour long which wasn’t too bad. It dropped us off very near Connolly station. Connolly Station is not very far from our hotel and tomorrow we are walking to it to board our train to Belfast at 7:00 am. When we got back to the hotel we were so hungry and the girls wanted to eat there since they had already eyed up the menu earlier. They had curry for the first time, as they wanted to try something new. I’m not sure they were too impressed by it. I thought it was really good.
Dalkey Bay - We found Dalkey by driving up the coast road after trying to find a business Robert wanted to stop by. We never found the business and decided to just discover “whatever comes our way”. So we saw a sign for the beach and headed that way. Lots of cars were lined up on the road and we saw a sign for toilets (good thing!) so we pulled over. That’s when I spotted the DART rail train and knew we had to explore some more. We followed a path down to the shore (many steps) and Kayleigh got to collect some rocks. It was really a nice beach. We saw a very elderly man there who put his bathing suit on near the shelter and went into the freezing sea. I was just blown away by that as the water must have been so cold for him. Maybe that was the secret to his long life.
We haven’t had a chance to explore Dublin much yet. It was nice riding in the bus in the top front because we did get to see so many people, etc. It was definitely like no other city these girls have ever seen. Emily couldn’t believe all the people everywhere. I look forward to getting out on foot on Wednesday. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t do more today but we had no time for it. I’m writing this at 10:22 this evening - where did our day go? At least this hotel has internet access which can be purchased on ½ hour cards. I better get some sleep since we have a very long day tomorrow.
Dublin - A fun day in the City
Today we did the hop-on/hop-off bus tour in Dublin. We picked the tour that included all the narration (the green double-decker buses) and went around to the major highlights of the city. I’m glad we went before the rain came later in the afternoon.
We also went shopping a bit for some souvenirs and we had lunch at the Irish Mall (a very small mall) on Talbot Street which is right down the street from our hotel. The shepherds pie there was so good. It was nice to just sit and people watch. The city is such a bustling place, there are people everywhere. We didn’t really do anything else today because of the rain but it was fun just to be in the city. It’s a fun place to visit.
This evening we made our way to the Temple Bar area to have dinner at Gallagher’s, which was on my list of places I wanted to go to eat for dinner in Dublin. We all had Boxty’s except for Emily who had a hamburger. Boxty’s are a potato pancake (crepe) which is stuffed with a filling
in a creamy sauce. I had the concierge’s desk call them to make us reservations and luckily we got in because there was a long line when we got there and we walked right in 15 minutes early. It was so good. I also had the Murphy Stout beer which was great too. This is a charming little restaurant. We ate downstairs in a tiny room with two tables. The restaurant was packed, I'm sure because of it's great reputation.
The Ripley Hotel worked out great for us. The price and location were vey nice and the staff was most helpful. It is located at the end of Talbot Street very near the train station. It was also just a short walk to the spire which was the opposite way of the train station.
My thoughts on Ireland :
We took a taxi van to the airport from the hotel for our departure from Ireland , and told him to use the tunnel (an extra 7eu). This got us to the airport in 20 minutes.
It was a wonderful trip, and I must say that we didn't do all of the stuff I had planned. Yes, Ireland may be small in area, but nonetheless it is very hard to maneuver in with the narrow roads and unmarked streets. It did take so much longer to get from place to place like several people mentioned. It is a wonderful country and the people are genuinely nicer than any country I have ever been in. When we needed directions, people were always willing to help. It was hard to understand the speech because of the dialect, but with time we were able to understand it better.
The driving is crazy in Dublin and I would advise anyone against it if possible. We were on a one way street and didn't know it because one parked car was facing the wrong way. You see, they park anywhere, any way. It just seemed like there weren't any hard fast rules on parking.
There is so much to do and see in this country. My next trip will probably be to a couple areas and not include a lot of driving. Maybe we would use more of public transportation which is pretty good there, near the big cities.
Getting a good breakfast every morning really helped with the budget. We always went to groceries or markets for a light lunch. Dinner was our only large food expense and there were many medium range places to go.
As for budget – we actually had money left over which is a first for us. Maybe this was because we didn’t do all the stuff I had planned. We were on the go all the time though and never sat idle in our rooms except for the day we went to Dublin and it rained most of the day. We still made it out to lunch and a tour that day so….I don’t believe we suffered any for the rain. I know the dollar isn’t that good in Europe but actually we made out quite well and didn’t go into debt on this holiday! I’m glad we went and we will be back!