Archive for ‘Ireland’

July 29, 2009

Ireland – Limerick

After our stay in Belfast we decided to spend a day in Limerick.  We basically had a free day this day, and didn’t know where we wanted to go.  We found a cheap hotel in Limerick on the River Shannon so we just went for it!   We had a good day just wandering around with no real plan.  We walked around the river, took some pictures.  The river Shannon had TONS of swans – they were beautiful!  We found a great little pub playing traditional Irish music that evening and had a fun time there.  It was a good relaxing day before our adventures in Galway!  Unfortunately I took very few pictures. Seriously – like 10.  Well, here are two pics of the River Shannon.

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July 24, 2009

Day 4 in Ireland

We spent this day at the Giants Causeway.  It was really, really cool.  I won’t write a lot about it and will just post the pictures.

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Our teeny tiny hostel bedroom.

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Countryside

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Countryside

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More view from Northern Ireland

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Ireland 229We walked across this rope bridge to get to a small island with a wonderful view.

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Giants Causeway

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July 23, 2009

Day 3 in Ireland

After escaping the crazy man in Longford we headed to the train station to catch our train to Belfast.  Today was to be a long day of travel.  It was a 2 hour train ride back to Dublin, then a 3 hour train ride up to Belfast.   We were able to get seats on the train to Dublin but shortly after we got on, the train started filling up  – then filled up some more – then it overflowed.  It was so crowded that people were sitting in the aisle – one girl joked she would have to go and just sit on the toilet in order to find a place to sit.  It was sooo crowded.  They made an announcement that they would be bringing a bus down and that people who couldn’t find a place to sit could take the bus service to Dublin.  Hardly anyone moved….so Keith and I decided to give up our seats and take the bus.   It was actually a fairly pleasant ride and we got to see a lot more of the countryside than you can see from the train.  We arrived in Dublin and decided that the bus wasn’t too bad, so we decided to take the bus up to Belfast.  Wrong choice.   The trip to Belfast is a long one, and I was soooo car sick winding through the little town and up and down hills.   Ugh.  I told Keith no more busses.  

We arrived in Belfast in the early evening and proceeded to find our hostel.  We stayed at the International Youth Hostel in Belfast.   It was pretty nice – but we weren’t able to get a double room, so we ended up in a twin.  It is tiinnnny.  And the bathrooms (all shared with a bunch of other people) were really gross.  But – for $50 a night, right downtown, it was worth it.  There were no hotels close-by that could even come close to that price in Belfast.  We were able to walk the city and look around.  It was a very busy and neat city. 

We found a restaurant downtown (Tony Roma’s) – and met the Texan owner.  We had never heard of Tony Romas but she told us it is a chain the US.  Funny that we chose to eat at a Texan restaurant in Belfast.   We weren’t too impressed but that’s OK.  After dinner we were walking around the city and saw a sign that said something like “Belfast Tours” and a taxi was parked beside it.  We said, what the heck….and asked for a tour.  I am SO glad we did.  Our taxi driver was so nice and gave us an awesome political tour of Belfast.  We learned so much about what has happened in Northern Ireland, and what is still happening.   You can google it to get more information or check out this link:  http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/index.html    We had no idea what a divided city Belfast still was and how much violence and fighting is still going on.  Here are some pictures:

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One of the many scary murals painted in the Protestant part of town.  We visited what I can only describe as the projects of Belfast where there is a lot of violence.

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Another mural. This one not so scary.

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House that was burned out.  From what our guide was telling us, this is a fairly common form of “punishment”.

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The wall in the middle of the city that seperates the protestant side of the city and the catholic side of the city.

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 The “Peace Wall”

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Keith signing the peace wall.  I signed too, a little further down the wall.

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Families who live along side the fence built these cages on the backs of their homes to keep the fire bombs and other things from getting into their house when launched from the other side.  This picture was taken on the Catholic side of the fence.

July 19, 2009

Tuesday July 8.  We’re up early for breakfast and to catch the shuttle to the airport.  Our flight was scheduled to leave around 11ish.  We have no problems at the airport, except our flight is running late.  Again.  We finally take off and make it to Dublin without a problem! We found a bus that takes us to the train station and got tickets to Longford.  Longford County is where Keith’s family is from and one of the main areas we wanted to visit.  Every time we mentioned to someone in Ireland that we were headed to Longford they would wrinkle up their nose and say “why?!”  I guess it’s not much of a tourist destination.  :) It was a small, little Irish town.  We stayed “downtown” and were able to walk around the town and take some pictures for Keith’s mom.  We were told that we could go to the bogs and do some bog jumping or swimming or snorkeling? Which is basically people throw themselves into the bogs?  Yeah, we had a train to catch the next morning, so we passed.  We did a bit more sightseeing in the town and then found a cute pub for dinner.  It was adorable and the food was great.  They had great ketchup.  Seriously.  Good.  LOL.

After dinner we headed over to a fitness center where Keith was able to work out and I was able to watch all the guys work out. Worked well for me.   Next, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for bed.  One weird thing we realized that day – it doesn’t get dark until after 10pm.  And it gets light out early – 5 something.  Felt kinda weird.

The next morning we got up and wanted to stop at this shop before heading to our next train.  Oh my gosh….we met the craziest man.  I’m not joking – he was crazy.  He showed up at 9am to open the store reeking of alcohol and had a beer in each vest pocket.  He latched onto Keith and wouldn’t let him go.  He proceeded to tell us what a dangerous place Ireland was, and basically that we were going to be mugged and killed during our trip.  It took us for.ev.er to get out of there.  As we were standing in front of his store trying to pry ourselves away (the guy still had a hold of Keith at this point) I noticed that the other pedestrians were giving me funny looks.  I started looking around and as I did I caught the eye of a woman who very deliberately made hand motions like – this guy is crazy, you should go.  Finally caught on that he must be the town crazy person.   No wonder everyone else on the street was avoiding the area and we’re stuck there with Keiths arm in a vice grip.  Fun times.  Finally pulled ourselves away.  Keith has dubbed him the Longford Looney.  Will post more about day3 later…..

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Keith waiting for our train to Longford.

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Ireland 027Best ketchup ever.  Seriously.

July 18, 2009

Monday July 6 at 6pm.  We’re at the airport waiting to board our plane to Chicago.  I used to love flying – now, I don’t care for flying so much, but still like airports.  I love people watching and airports are great for that….Ireland 001

Keith waiting to board the plane with the card K. made for him.

Chicago! It was a bumpy ride landing at O’Hare. Ugh.  Its always windy in Chicago and the small plane we were one was rocking back and forth like a toy.  Not good for the stomach.  We have a couple of hours here until our flight to London. I think the flight leaves at 9:45pm.  

We’re on our way!  Met a very nice young guy from Australia while waiting to board the plane.  He was on his way to England for cricket?  or some sport like that.  He was telling us about his experiences traveling around for the last year.  He’s traveling on an around the world ticket and has been all over the place. I love hearing about other peoples adventures. :)  The plane is pretty full.  It’s a nice, newer plane, the kind that has little tv’s on the back of each seat, so that is fun.  As soon as they are done serving dinner I try to sleep.  We’ll be in London around 7am!  I was able to sleep for about 4 hours. 

Problems.  We made it to London fine.  Got our bags, hung out, found out our flight was delayed, hung out some more, ate, read and finally boarded our next flight –  the flight that would take us to Ireland.  After sitting in the airplane, at the gate for 3 hours our pilot announced they were cancelling our flight.   This was after he announced that they could fly with one landing gear out, but he didn’t really want to….I say – yeah, let’s not.  Did talk to a very nice Irish man for the three hours we sat on the plane.  Love the accent.  Back out to get our bags.  It’s evening now.   We rush over to the airline ticketing desk to try and get on the next flight out.  Didn’t happen – they are full. 

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Waiting in line to re-book our flight.

The airline put us up in a nice hotel (Park Inn) near the airport and gave us free meal tickets for dinner and breakfast.  We ate dinner at the restaurant (Bravo! Bravo!) which happened to be amazing.   I actually looked up to see if they have a restaurant around here.  I think DC is the closest.   

Our room is nice.  For some reason I took a picture of the bathroom.  Now I can’t remember why.  Oh well. 

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After dinner we crashed.  Long day of nothing, but we’re still tired.   Little sleep the night before and jet lag are kicking our butts. 

Day 2 coming soon.

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View from our hotel room – exciting, huh?

July 11, 2009

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Hi everyone,

We’re in Limerick today.  Today was a long day of travel, we started out in Belfast, made our way to Dublin and then over to Limerick.  We’re headed out to dinner tonight, to a pub where they will be having some traditional Irish music and then bed.  We’ll be up tomorrow and off to Galway.  Haven’t had a chance to check out Limerick yet, but hopefully we’ll have a little time to explore.  Not much time to type.  We’re having a great time and will try to update more later.

July 9, 2009

Here is an email I sent out earlier today:

Hi everyone,

We’re in Northern Ireland now and staying in a large youth hostel here in Belfast.  Tomorrow we’re touring Giants Causeway and the Causeway coast.  We’re excited.  Tonight we’ll be settling and walking a bit around Belfast and finding somewhere yummy to eat!  We spent a lonnnnggggg time on a bus today.  Our train from Longford to Dublin was so overcrowded that people were sitting and standing in the aisles.  They offered a bus service to those who weren’t able to find seats, so we ended up taking a bus the rest of the way back to Dublin.  It was nice to see some more of the beautiful countryside.  We then decided to take a bus to Belfast instead of a train.  It was about 20 Euros cheaper but made me so car sick winding through the little towns and up and down the hills.  Ugh.  I’m recovering now.

The weather here has been very nice – no rain yet – in the 50’s and 60’s and breezy.  Very comfortable in capris and sweatshirt.  Well, I’m almost out of time here.  Hope everyone is well and we’ll be n touch when I get hom.  I have 1550 unread emails in my inbox which means that I prob. won’t be replying to emails until we get home.

No picture right now – hopefully tomorrow!

July 8, 2009

Hello from Ireland!

This computer won’t let me copy/paste my text I have written out and I’m NOT re-writing it.  We’re here, we’re safe and we’re having fun.  Hopefully I can write more tomorrow!

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July 6, 2009

We’re packed!  Ireland, here we come!

I think we’ll have access a few times while we’re there so I’ll try to post.  I’ll be taking lots of pictures!

Yippeee!