vinceconaway: (Default)
Whew. Wow. What a ride!

When last we left our hero he was about to embark on a madcap tour of
Ireland. Well, it certainly has been! We picked up the car to head out,
a Nissan Micro (motto: "go little car, go!"). I did all the driving and
navigating, and it wasn't nearly the disaster you might expect.
Apparently my time driving through Europe with the Angels last year paid
off - the way they label roads and signs here actually makes sense to me
now. Driving on the opposite side of the street wasn't nearly as hard as
I expected, but being in an automatic probably helped. The big pain was
staying in my lane - when the driver's seat is on the left you get used to
having your body at a certain place in the road, and when you're on the
right you occasionally hit a left curb as your body wants to be in that
place again...but unlike the lady we met at a B&B we didn't puncture two
tires (sorry, tyres) on our first day out!

The overview for those following on their maps: our route was
Dublin-Trim-Galway-Cashel-Cork-outskirts of Waterford-Kilkenny-Dublin.
They gave us a brand new car with 3 km on it, we gave them back one with
over 1100...this is what rennies do... The first night out of Dublin we
spent in Trim, and visited the Hill of Tara. Personally, that was the big
thing for me - the seat of the ancient Irish kings was at the top of my
list. And it was amazing - and freezing. At that point the hill is
pretty much the highest point south of the Arctic circle, and that wind is
bone-chilling. But it was truly spectacular.

We spent a rainy St Pats in Galway, where we spent a fantastic evening
watching a really superb Irish band. The weather here has been truly
bizarre - in Ohio it at least has the grace to wait a few hours before the
weather drastically changes. I've seen more sun-showers here in the past
week than in the rest of my life (no wonder it's the land of rainbows!).
But it's been great because we've never had a problem with the weather
cancelling our plans, except for high winds keeping everyone out of the
Rock of Cashel, because given an hour or so things changed enough for us
to go ahead.

We left Galway and spent a fantastic day in the car exploring the Irish
countryside. "Oh look a castle/ruin/church! Let's go get a closer look!"
I kissed the Blarney Stone in Cork, and we checked out a bunch of really
interesting castles and ruins. It's amazing that the castles here are
much cooler than anywhere else I've seen. I'm not sure if it's because of
the type of stone (Italian brick castles are lacking a certain something)
or because of the way they are ruined (German and Austrian castles aren't
as picturesque) but they are simply beyond anything else I've seen.

So now we're back in Dublin, tomorrow to take a boat over to Wales and
from there down into England. I saw the Book of Kells, which I'd missed
last week, and we've been wandering around town. We're hoping to catch
some more traditional music tonight, but other than that we're just
enjoying our last night here and flying by the seats of our pants.
Cheers!
vinceconaway: (Default)
Wow, things are different here in Ireland!

Fist off, there's no Italian. Like none, really, to the point where I got
a warm feeling seeing the Italian version of the museum brochure we
visited this afternoon. I keep thinking little things in Italian like
"excuse me" and "are you in line" and such, and have to really stop myself
from expressing the addictive sentiment of "ciao". I wasn't sure what
that would be like, and it's been a bigger surprise than I expected.

Dublin is gorgeous, absolutely beautiful. I'm a bit cold here, but my dad
is coming out of an Ohio winter and thinks it's positively balmy. The
first impression I got of the city was last night, when I had a brief
window of opportunity to see it. I got to my airport hotel at about 8,
and there were buses making the 40 minute route until 11:30, so I grabbed
two hours to wander around downtown. It was absolutely stupendous to be
roaming the banks of the river Liffey, and I couldn't stop singing "The
Ferryman" to myself - "where the strawberry beds sweep down to the Liffey
you'll kiss away the worries from my brow".

The best way I can explain Dublin is that it's like a mini-London with a
healthy mix of Amsterdam (minus the whole drugs and prostitution thing).
Other than that it's such a unique area it's hard to describe. Our hotel
room is in the Temple Bar district, which is absolutely phenomenal, and
there is a lot of really thriving street life in the entire neighborhood.
This afternoon my dad and I took a bus tour, which was really
enlightening. I need to take more city tours; I think I've been missing
out on some really interesting details by insisting on wandering around on
my own elsewhere.

My dad brought me a new camera as a birthday present (thanks mom! The
last one was a Christmas present...) so I hope to have some more pictures
to send out shortly! I am having a fantastic time, it's really great to
see my dad, and things are going really well!

July 2017

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