Friday, May 31, 2013
Well we were sort of baptized in front of Notre Dame Thursday or it could be said we took a group shower together. While we were out in the open the skies just dumped. Hiding under a few trees was a failure and after a long walk-run we ended up in a restaurant crammed with other rain dodgers. A bottle of wine didn’t dry us out but it did raise the spirits. For a side show we actually saw rain water shooting out a gargoyle on the side of Notre Dame. We have had some rain and a little hail on the trip but this was the first time it was a problem. We have ridden the Metro, walked along the Seine, been across two lock bridges, eaten at sidewalk cafes and visited Musee D’Orsay. Behind our hotel is a rather small old Roman Coliseum. Tomorrow we are going to visit Palace of Versailles. Right now the feet are resting from too much walking.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
We are certainly seeing a large part of the central and southern Ireland. Unfortunately it has involved many driving miles. John has been the designated driver and is doing a fine job. Much of Ireland is very green with scattered farms and pastures separated by hedgerows or in some places rock walls. Many of the narrow country roads are lined with these rock walls and there is plenty of rock to build more. Tuesday we toured an old castle in Cahir and Wednesday after a stay at Foley's in Kenmare we took a tour around the Ring of Kerry where the landscape is rather barren, rocky and with great views of the ocean and bays. There are many homes and some small villages along the route which is popular with tourists. The area also appears to be a vacation spot for citizens of Ireland. The weather was gray and rainy so my pictures don't look real good, the links listed have better pictures. One stop along the route was Staigue Fort built in early A.D. and very well preserved. Throughout the country there are old stone churches, castles or towers some in good repair some obviously neglected. Today we will be visiting Malahide Castle which is close to our condo. Thursday we are off to Paris early in the morning.
Monday, May 27, 2013
Tonight we are in Kenmare a small town that is rather touristy but in a good way. In reality this is a town of B & B's and the gateway to the Ring of Kerry which is a 112 mile drive around southern Ireland with some spectacular scenery. We are about 3 hours south of Dublin and made a stop in Cahir for lunch and a tour of castle Cahir after which we made a side trip to Kinsale and a Guinness at the Spaniard a pub established around 1601. Tonight after dinner at our B & B which is actually a small hotel we meandered around and listened to Irish music some of which is still happening right below our room. Our stay here in Kenmare was an impromptu decision, Gail found the B & B online and we booked it right before we left not really knowing what we were getting into. Well it is all good, nuff said I'm going to bed and the Irish music can serenade me.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
I am posting this blog so that family and friend can follow our vacation through Europe. So far it is kind of a one way street, please feel free to comment. Just click on the no comments section at the bottom of each post and you will see a box where you can write your comment and we will see it. I can decide whether to include the comments for public view. Havagooday!
We took the train into Dublin Saturday and Sunday, it was a nice ride and a car would have been a problem. There were a bazillion people in the city, okay I exaggerate it was only a gazillion. Saturday a local rugby game added to the festivities of the day. We hopped on a double decker bus and toured the city. A point of interest included a beautiful park with cricket and polo matches in progress. It was a nice day and the locals were out enjoying the sun. To give you an idea of size the park is 2.5 miles long. We also passed by the Guinness brewery, Trinity College, several museums and a noisy demonstration. The town area is really busy with many stores, pubs, shopping malls, bookstores, restaurants. Sunday Gail and I visited the National History Museum and the Natural History Museum also known as the “Dead Animal Zoo”. Below is a picture of Human Statues, these guys are really good they sit there quite still until you drop a coin in their container and then they all move slowly as if to say thank you. When I first saw them I thought they were just statues. Street entertainers are part of the town flavor; a small rock band was there both days. People watching, shopping, enjoying a Guinness this part of Dublin is the place to be.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday was a long day. We drove to the west coast of Ireland and back, roughly driving to the Sierra foothills and returning to S.C. without the narrow country roads. These roads, you could almost call them lanes, are filled with tense moments as tour buses squeeze by sometimes without slowing. We still have mirrors on the car but there might be a few scrapes on one side as we brushed the vegetation. Lunch was in Ennis and as usual the meal was outstanding. The Irish know how to dine. The terrain changed from pasture and farms to a limestone plateau as we moved closer to the ocean. One stop was at Poulnabrone Dolman an ancient above ground tomb only 6000 years old. I engaged a local security person in conversation and boy did he like to talk. To his credit he gave us a lot of good information and was quite personable, the locals can be very friendly. The main attraction was probably the Cliffs of Moher. It is a huge tourist spot and a well photographed site. The sheer cliffs are reminiscent of the Big Sur coastline. There were large numbers of seabirds and we were hoping to see some Puffins but they were not to be found. It was a long trip home with a stop at Paddy Burke’s for dinner in a small town I can't remember.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
After fumbling with the phone GPS and some aberrant map reading we finally found our way to Enniskerry where we stopped for coffee, scones and muffins. After that we found our way to Powerscourt and the “backyard” garden of a 17th century mansion. We strolled about the gardens and hid out for a time under a large fir tree while a brief hail storm moved through. There are plenty of photo ops and I am thankful for digital cameras it would be easy to burn several rolls of old time film in this setting. Lunch was in the “cafeteria” but this wasn’t your average cafeteria food. So far I have been very impressed with the food choices here in Ireland. Today I had a salmon and cheese dish with plenty of fruit and a tomato salad. The last stop was at Glendalough and an early medieval monastic settlement. It was an interesting and very serene setting and obviously on the tourist route. I added some Wikipedia links as they can describe the areas much better than I.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Our first full day in Ireland we chose to go to Newgrange a prehistoric monument just north of where we are staying. It was built in 3200 B.C. which makes it older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge. This is a large circular mound with a passage way and chambers inside. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by 'kerbstones' engraved with artwork. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice. Actually there are three large mounds two that we visited and several smaller mounds in the surrounding area. The "kerbstones" are huge weighing over a ton and more. I have no idea how a prehistoric culture could have placed them where they did.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
After a long plane flight we landed in Dublin this morning and met our friends Joan and John. We drove to our rental housing, took a walk and had an ample lunch. Early sack time is rapidly approaching. Driving on the left side of the road will take some getting used to along with narrow streets. Fortunately I am not driving however my friend John has already had a accident. We are all back seat drivers trying to prevent another mishap. Meanwhile I make sure the seat belt is securely fastened and just close my eyes from time to time. Our rental is in a small town outside of Dublin. It isn't the best rental but we have off street parking and it seems to be quiet. When we go into Dublin it will be on the train. More on that later.