In Ireland! Day Six, Castle Edition

Have you ever been to Tipperary?

As it turns out, it’s not so far … from Limerick, anyway. We passed through the town of Tipperary on our way to the Rock of Cashel (82), which is in County Tipperary. (Today was castle day as we made our way toward Dublin.)

It was gray and misty again, but as beautiful as ever. Also very very windy…I never realized how windy castle grounds can be. Being so often situated atop hills and all. Game of Thrones definitely leaves that part out (except for scenes that take place in the vicinity of The Wall … but I suspect that might have more to do with needing an excuse to have Jon Snow’s curly locks blow about…ah, but I digress).

Rock of Cashel was very cool. I went a bit picture happy, going so far as to camp out in a doorway for an extended period of time so I could snap a shot at the rare moment when other tourists were out of the frame (mostly…i see that one sneaky tourist snuck in after all).

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I also made an attempt at a selfie with my new camera…unsuccessfully. A nearby castle-goer took pity on me otherwise I might be there still. I don’t want to brag, but I think I kind of rock the peasant look. How could I not document that?

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83. Next stop, Birr Castle. The castle itself is still a private residence (!) but the gardens and grounds are open to the public. For a fee. I suppose they have to pay for their heating bills somehow. The grounds were tremendous. The map of the grounds not so much….after a couple of misfires I managed to see an area called the waterfall spiral….which had nothing to do with waterfalls as far as I know, but something to do with a constellation or solar system. There was also a huge (and therefor much easier to find) telescope (currently being restored).

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There was also a science room. A science wing, actually, PIC Sara informs me. In my last few minutes at the castle I could have either gone to the science wing or to the cafe for hot chocolate and a jammy buttery scone. Any guesses which option won out? Here’s a hint: I can’t tell you how the ginormous telescope works but I can tell you that I’m seriously considering how to incorporate jammy buttery scones into my daily routine.

84. Now, we begin the Dublin phase of our journey. Tonight we’re staying at the outer edge of the city before meeting up with a whole crew of PICs tomorrow and moving to an apt closer to city center for the rest of our time here. We found a lovely gastro pub not far from our hotel…called Searson’s. Warm and friendly service and delicious food! A mix of the traditional Irish pub fare but also a variety of other options, including … cue trumpets … legitimate inspired veggie dishes! One of my favorite meals of the trip for sure.

85. I also tried a new beer called … wait for it …

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It’s a pale ale. And yes, you read that right. Galway Hooker. Enough said.

86. Then on the way back from dinner, this happened:

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I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it.

Where do you go from there?

I don’t know either.

Probably to sleep, since tomorrow will be an early day and shenanigans are sure to ensue.

In Ireland! Day Five, Cliffs of Moher Edition

Today was a full day, and very Cliffs of Moher-centric.

The Cliffs are just over an hour from Limerick, the last bit on tight winding roads. Which I now handle like a pro. A grandma pro. Just ask the line of cars that queued up behind me. Ah well. We made it in one piece and that’s the important thing.

We managed to meet up with some other friends who are traipsing about Ireland and amassed quite a crew of partners-in-crime — Wayne, June, Judy, and Randy (aka the Seely PICs), plus Sara and me.

We started with a Cliffs of Moher ferry ride from Doolin. It hadn’t even occurred to me that there was a way to check things out from the water, but thanks to the crack research skills of the Seely PICs we got in on that action.

As a preview we were able to check out the cliffs from “beach-side.” Although the Cliffs were incredible, the main attraction was the beach itself — at low tide, a collection of virtual puzzle pieces of rock. Like an enormous beautiful natural sculpture with bonus tide water pools.

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77. Then on to the ferry ride. Where we first took small boats out to the ferry (the blue and white one).

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Then took and hour long tour about the base of the Cliffs (the pictures really don’t do it justice).

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Next we stopped for a bite in a nearby pub. Where, I’m happy to report, I made up for last night’s Japanese dinner diversion by enjoying my first legitimate Irish meal — the Guinness beef stew (78).

I didn’t eat much of the beef but the veggies and broth were delicious!

After lunch Sara and I said goodbye to the Seely PICs (until we reconvene in Dublin in a couple of days) and headed to …

79. the top of the Cliffs of Moher. The sun finally made an appearance and the Cliffs and surrounding landscapes were truly breathtaking, although, again, I’m not sure the pictures do it justice.

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But I did have the opportunity to work on my scenic photo jaunty head tilt:

I don’t want to brag or anything but I think I’m pretty awesome at it.

80. After a delightful, head-tilting, scenic cliff-topping good time complete with gift shop soft serve ice cream cones, we stopped at the nearby Clare Jam Shop for some tasty (we hope) Irish … you guessed it … Jams

81. Upon our return to Limerick, we met up with a new PIC, Julie, for a couple of pints and a bite to eat at a lovely gastro pub, The Locke, which is near our hotel. It is charming and warm, and features live (and lively) Irish music and delicious food. I had my first ever pint of Murphy’s Irish red beer. Super exciting, I know.

We haven’t yet mapped out our plan for tomorrow, but we start to make our way back to Dublin, where a whole new crop of PICs will be joining us in adventures and shenanigans.

In Ireland! Day Four, Galway Edition

Another rainy day in Eire, but mostly of the misty variety. Although our base for the next couple of days will be Limerick, we spent the bulk of today in Galway (73) and will do another day trip excursion tomorrow (stay tuned…).

Galway has a lot going on and a lot of variety. To start, there is a quaint bustling marketplace filled with shops, restaurants, and pubs. We kicked off our visit with lunch at The Quays Pub and Restaurant (74), which I recommend if you ever find yourself in Galway.

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Plus, the quay and the Spanish Arch (75), where a street musician played today, safely out of the rain:

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I also found a handy pedestrian and bicycle bridge tucked behind the train and bus station:

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Ever the explorer, I am always on the hunt for a bathroom, or the toilet, as they simply and boldly say in Europe…I was pleased to find several that I thought were especially well marked while out and about, although I did wonder why the signs also pointed out offices…

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Yep, can’t get much past these eagle eyes of mine… (Don’t worry….I figured it out in time. And fortunately easily and quickly thereafter found the best spot for bathrooms in any city: the department store.)

My big purchase of the day was the latest book by an Irish author I really like.

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I’ve been waiting for the latest installment in this series for a while. I scooped it up a whole 3 days before it is released in the states. Impressive, I know. Especially since I likely won’t start reading it until I’m back in the U.S. … a week from now.

Oh, there was one other purchase. Today I finally bought my Irish burner phone (76) (it it bad to call them burner phones? Are burner phones ever not criminal?). I likely spent more on the phone and minutes than I would have on the Verizon global plan…especially because I’m now convinced that no one will actually call or text me on it. But after my ongoing battles with all things Verizon lately I just couldn’t stomach doing their global plan…which seemed to have the potential for a lot of undisclosed costs. So there, Verizon. I will just waste my money elsewhere. Specifically, at Tesco. In Ireland. #winning.

Today wrapped up with dinner in Limerick, where, I have to confess, I caved. I’ve tried to be in Ireland and do as the Irish do…or eat as the Irish eat. But my aversion to most things meat has made it a challenge. After multiple days of cream covered seafood, or cream covered veggies, or cream covered oatmeal (ok that one’s delicious), or fried fish, or French fries….I broke. I admit it. I ate at a Japanese restaurant. I had a gingery veggie pan-fried noodle dish and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. And.I.loved.it. I know I know. I’m a traitor to my 1/4 homeland.

Back to potatoes tomorrow, I promise.

In Ireland! Day Three, Killarney Edition Part Two

Today, we got a taste of true Irish damp and fog. Fortunately we decided to take a tour bus around the Ring of Kerry (70), so that I could see the beautiful views during the drive.

Also, so that we didn’t risk panic attacks when passing tour buses on the narrow, wet, winding road. Like this:

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There was no shortage of spectacular mountain and water views as we passed by Dingle Bay (really), the Lakes of Killarney, and Gap of Dunloe along the way. (However, to avoid being totally misleading, the first two pictures below are from the Dingle Sea part of the trip and the last from a town called Sneem.)

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Our sundry stops included an Irish coffee to start the day — for PIC Sara…I’m pretty sure nothing good can come from giving me caffeine and whiskey then loading me into a packed bus. See, e.g, me in my natural caffeine and whiskey free state:

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– rainy cliff side spots, and the highest point in the Ring, where we got the obligatory picture next to the … ehrm … statue of the lady (remembering the actual names of landmarks is not my strong suit).

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71. My favorite stop by far was to see a sheepdog demonstration. And not only because it was the sunniest portion of the trip. Those dogs are beautiful and amazing.

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And lest anyone think the entire day was rainy and gray, I did manage to find some spots of color by a church in Sneem.

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72. Tonight we’re off to see the Celtic Steps: An Evening of Spectacular Irish Music, Song & Dance. Then hoping for dryer weather as we head westward tomorrow!

Update: The Celtic Steps were really really good!

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In Ireland! Day Two, Killarney Edition Part One

So. In Ireland, jumper cables are called jump plates.

I’ll let you guess how I know that.

Also, the best way to NOT need jump plates is to line up three burly grizzled Irishmen to push your car out of a parking space. I guarantee that your car will start right up when you try to put it in neutral.

Experience 66. After an auspicious start to day two, PIC Sara and I made it to Killarney just fine, despite the occasional need to share narrow roads with big trucks.

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Experiences 67-68. Killarney has a booming commercial city district, but also a lovely national park a short walk from the city center — Killarney National Park and Ross Castle.

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With lots of wildlife, as well as the occasional horse drawn carriage.

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And a lovely river walk that leads to a lake.

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Where you can almost walk across some rocks without stepping in the river before it turns onto the lake. Or, in another spot, where you can almost hop from one spot of sand to the next without getting your other foot wet on the way back.

Experience 69. After the jaunt around the park, we had dinner at one Killarney pub then headed to another, Danny Mann’s, where we met local character, Jerry “DeDevil” Horan.

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Lives on a farm, works in a grocery store, proposed to each of us when the other was in the ladies.

So I guess you could say an auspicious end to the day as well.

Next up, Ring of Kerry. Hopefully we’ll get an early start, but since we’re both still fiddling around on the Internet we’ll see about that.

In Ireland! Day One, Kilkenny Edition.

I’m trying this whole posting on-the-go thing. Please excuse any typos, etc.

Experience 61. I’m in Ireland! My 1/4-homeland! The trip over was fairly uneventful, aside from being jolted awake at midnight (or 5am Irish time) for “dinner.” I’ll note that I was asleep INSIDE MY INFINITY SCARF CAVE when someone shoved me and the flight attendant tried to get me to make a meal choice. Instead I slung a stink eye in her direction, but without my glasses, I was groggy, blind, and tangled in my scarf cave, so it’s hard to say where it landed. Also, to the genius who decided that chicken curry was a good dinner option? Here’s a very special virtual stink eye just for you.

Experience 62. I drove on the left! It’s wild. (Note to the Parents Pussykat: my driving is not wild. I am driving as much like a grandma as ever.)

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Experiences 63-65

-Lunch at a pub called Matt the Millers (so far my meal choices have essentially been cream, cream, and a side of butter. ugh.).

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-A jaunt around Kilkenny Castle and Castle Park.

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Where I met sweet Fergie the Jack Russell Terrier (named after a beloved Manchester United manager or the like).

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Fergie likes to chase squirrels and cats and carry sticks.

-A climb up seven teeny tiny flights of ladder type stairs (121 steps total!) to reach the top of St. Canice’s 1,021 year old round tower (I did not pay sufficient attention when we passed the tower on the way into the cathedral. If I had I’m not sure I would have been quite so excited about the twofer tower climb/cathedral tour special. It wasn’t for the faint of heart but the 360 views were spectacular. The cathedral was also pretty spectacular.

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Now at long last I think we can safely go to bed and avoid the worst of jet lag. Off to Killarney tomorrow!

#TBT – Kulture Edition: The Dahnce. Experiences 29, 37, 41, and 58.

It’s true. Summer is almost over and I’ve yet to write up an ever-growing number of escapades experiences (how does everything seem to end up in the “shenanigans” category?).

In an attempt to reach some semblance of being current before heading off to the land of green and plenty, a/k/a the land o’ Guinness, a/k/a Ireland, my quarter-homeland (¼ Irish; ¼ Welsh; 1/36 Native American; the rest European hodge podge), I am taking advantage of Throw Back Thursday to try to catch up, even in some brief fashion. (Editor’s note: as usual, the drafting process took longer than planned. It is, however, still Thursday on the West Coast.)

To wit:

29. In April, PIC All-Star Sara and I headed to Silver Spring (fun random fact: I am apparently incapable of typing “Silver Spring” without first typing “Silvery Spring” then having to delete the “y”) to see sometime PIC Sarah (the ballerina) perform with her contemporary ballet company, Moveius. Moveius’ spring show, Outside In, featured works by a number of different choreographers, most from outside of the company (see what they did there?), whose work I’d never seen. I’d also never been to the venue, Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, and Sara had never seen Moveius at all. A bunch of firsts, really.

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