Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

What a week!

Time has flown… but I finally got around to the breakdown of our week in Ireland, which flew by the way…

Friday:  after a LOOOOOOOOONG flight, we finally land in Dublin about 5:15am… I breeze thru EU Passport Control (with my awesome new Irish passport!) and gather all luggage while waiting for the Mom and Webster to pass through the US Passport Control line.  Frank, Anita, and Jackie land about 30 minutes after us… and we meet up with them at the luggage carousel.  Awesomeness!!  Now, the week can begin!!  We head to the Conrad Hilton, which was amazzzzzing, and just crashed.  Once refreshed, the rest of the day consisted of St. Stephen’s Green and a tour down Grafton St., and Temple Bar for an early meal.

Saturday:  There was definitely no early start to the day…. but we were lucky enough to have breakfast as part of our hotel package, and then went about exploring the more touristy bits of Dublin.  The most important item on everyone’s list was Trinity College, http://www.trinitycollege.edu, and the Book of Kells.  Guinness was also on the “must do” list, and we headed that way for a self guided tour of the brewery, and taste testing at the Sky Bar!  It was amazing to take in the city of Dublin from one of the tallest points.. it was Mom’s first time up, and she couldn’t get over how small Dublin is, once you see it from above.  After a hard day of sightseeing, we head off to Maynooth, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maynooth, and checked into our lovely little B&B, The Aaronbeg, http://www.aaronbeg.com.  The lady of the house is just so sweet, and the house is warm and inviting.  We hit the door running, over to the Avenue Cafe, http://www.avenuecafe.ie, for a spectacular dinner before the main event at The Roost, http://www.louisfitzgerald.com/roost…..drum roll please…. Mel’s Surprise Birthday Party!   Mel was soooo shocked, and we had a great time partying the night away.  Niamh had set up so we would have a corner of the bar, and only our group was allowed.  It worked out great, with quite a few guests, and lots of laughs!

Sunday:  After another morning of trying to get over the jet lag… we headed back in to Dublin, this time staying at the Kilmainham Hilton.  Sunday night’s plans were to meet at the Arlington Hotel Bar, for an evening of Irish music and dancing…  but before heading out to meet with the others, Mom, Mel, Jackie, Webster and I headed to the Clontarf Castle, http://www.clontarfcastle.ie, for dinner.  After closing down the Arlington, we headed out to find another location to drink the night away… which is surprisingly difficult to do on a Sunday night in Dublin!

Monday:  Morning started out somewhat early than the others, when he headed across the street to check out the old Kilmainham Gaol, http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/kilmainhamgaol, for a history lesson and tour.  Mel met us at the hotel and we were going to the second big event of the week… the fortune teller!  Always an interesting experience… and totally worth the wait, at the local pub of course, Boomers Bar.  🙂  After some sharing of fortunes, Frank and Anita were kind enough to drop Webster and I off at the train station, for our trip to Cork!  We checked in to another cozy B&B, the Auburn House, http://www.auburnguesthouse.com.  Once again, pleasantly surprised with the warm and inviting interior and yet another lovely couple running the place.  After much deliberation, we headed out to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, http://www.cathedral.cork.anglican.org, because I wanted to see what it looked like when all the lights were lighting it up from the outside.. we took a wander through the cemetery and I was in awe of the design of the place!  After moseying around for a bit, it was decided dinner and drinks were next on the to-do list, and we found Sin E, http://www.corkheritagepubs.com/pubs/sin-e, and then further down the road was The Fish Wife, https://www.facebook.com/thefishwifecork, and they delivered dinner across the street to the The Cork Arms, which is a tiny, fabulous little pub with such a cozy atmosphere!  (are you starting to build a picture??  everything in Europe is just cozy!)

Tuesday:  Back to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, however, this time we were welcomed by an open door, and folks who were happy to share a bit of history with us.  It was so neat to see the inside of a cathedral with so much history!  After we tore ourselves away, we headed back to the B&B to hook up with Frank and Anita… and headed out to Blarney Castle, http://www.blarneycastle.ie!  What an incredible experience…. I was having so much fun imagining what the castle looked like in its day, and I wished I could step back in time, just to see its magnificence!  We climbed to the top of the castle… amidst winding staircases and stone walls to kiss the Blarney Stone, explored the Gardens, the Wishing Steps, the Rock Close and the Witch’s Kitchen.. all of it, amazing.  We headed back to Dublin that afternoon, and met up with Niamh and the kiddies.. I can’t believe how big the all kiddies are!

Wednesday:  We headed out for our final day in Ireland!  Trim Castle, http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/midlandseastcoast/TrimCastle, was first on the list… Mel dropped Jackie, Webster and I off, and we headed in… what a view!  Again… I wished I could spend some time in the era, and see what Trim Castle really looked like in medieval times!  After what I think was two hours, and a very cool tour, we hooked up with Mom and Mel and wandered through the Town of Trim, and did a little shopping!  We headed up to Blanchardstown Centre, which is a mecca of shopping!!!  Really?  We just headed to Penneys!!!  What an awesome way to spend the day…. I got some really cool finds!  Dinner was in Dunshaughlin, at the Country Club Restaurant with EVERYONE, and then we headed back to Mel’s for dessert and drinks.

It was such a great week, although it passed much too quickly!  It was wonderful to have friends and family along, even if they did invite themselves….. it’s a free world, right Frankie??? 🙂  Can’t wait to plan my next trip, and I wonder where I will go… suggestions anyone??

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Europe, here I come!

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Europe
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Ireland… Home Sweet Home..

Posted: October 6, 2011 in Europe
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IRELAND — The only place where……..
• If you die from alcohol poisoning, you’re considered a lightweight,
• ‘Fuck off’ means ‘Are you serious?’, …
• The person that you insult most is probably your best friend,
 • Saying ‘I will yea’ means that you definitely won’t,
• “Fuck it, its grand’ means that you couldn’t be bothered to finish it properly,
• ‘Hes fond of a drink’ means he suffers from severe life-threatening alcoholism,
• Saying you’re going for a drink means you might not be seen again for 3 days,
• Crisps are called ‘Taytos’ and fizzy drinks are called ‘minerals’,
• ‘For the craic’ is the best reason for doing anything,
• The best cure for a hangover is more drink,
• Nobody can go a day without saying ‘Jaysus’,
• ‘Meeting’ has a double meaning,
• Tea is the solution to every problem,
• And water is the solution to every GAA injury,
• “I got stuck behind a tractor’ is a perfectly valid reason for being late, • We eat Tayto sambos for lunch, and ham sandwiches on the way to Croke Park,
• You can insert the name of a gardening tool into any sentence and it still makes sense, e.g. ‘I had a rake of drink last night’ or “I’ll be out in a minute, I’m just shoveling down the dinner’,
• GAA is considered religion,
 • Its perfectly acceptable to call your mother ‘mammy’ even though you are a fully grown adult,
 • Saying ‘Now we’re sucking diesel’ means that you are happy with the outcome of the situation,
 • Drinking ‘tae’ is everyone’s favourite past time,
• You’re scared of the wooden spoon,
• The word ‘like’ goes in every sentence.

Ireland & England Pics..

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Europe
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March 28

We finally made it to Ireland!!  It certainly was a long time coming… booked the tickets in January, and been planning ever since.  I couldn’t believe when last Thursday finally rolled around… one more work day and our trip is here!

Our first night was spent recuperating from the journey… three hours from Tampa to Newark, a two hour layover, and 6.5 hours from Newark to Dublin.  Looking back, it has been eleven years since I was here last.  I was 16, and the sights and sounds and smells have only every slightly changed.  I walked down the stairs on our first morning here, and immediately was transported back to a time when all of my cousins were around.  There were so many of us that a caravan had been rented for sleeping arrangements.  We took turns every night between all the boys and all the girls.  I recall being scared out of our wits with tricks and jokes being played on us… and getting into trouble for not being in bed.  I remember taking horseback riding lessons, walking through cow pastures, destroying the farmer’s bales of hay, we had a great time.

Yesterday, we met up with Merita, Miriam and Niamh, in Dublin, in Temple Bar.  We must have been there hours.. there was drink, food, and live music.  The first show was two guys who played the traditional Irish music, which was very good.  The second guy played a lot of the older songs I recognize, and I requested Brown Eyed Girl, one of my favorites!

After dinner, Niamph was hankering for a night out (she has four kids, under the age of 10, at home) and so she brought me along to a disco-bar called Mantra.  It was much better than any of the night clubs at home, and there was a good variety of people around.  The highlight was a group of rugby guys that had just been promoted in their standings and were a bit of laugh to watch.  I think we only came home at 3:00am, and I certainly appreciated being able to sleep in this morning!

Today was exciting, we went to the fortune teller!  I had never been before and was excited to see how all this works.  The other parts of the family have been before, but I thought it might be more bad news than good news… I am not sure I want to know all that will be going on in the future… but it was actually very interesting and pretty neat.  I will always keep a mental note of what she shared to see how things will work out in the coming months and years.

Mom is in bed now for a nap, and I thinking I might need one myself.  I am not sure what the plans are for the rest of the week.. we fly to England on Thursday and will be there through Sunday.  I am excited to see my cousins there, the last time they were in Florida was for our wedding, was a bit rushed and so it will be nice to actually have conversation and such.

April 4

Well, the trip is complete.  I sit in the Newark airport now, waiting on my flight to Bangor for a meeting in the morning.  I can’t believe ten days passed so quickly, and how much traveling we did in such a short period of time.  We flew to England last Thursday, March 31, and took a train to the village of Littleport in Ely to visit family and I had my first experience in an Indian restaurant.  The food was pretty good, and I think we might try a restaurant in Tampa to see if it is the same.  I was quite impressed with the taste, and was happy to have tried it.  I don’t think Mom was quite as impressed, but it was still fun. My aunt and uncle, two of their friends, three cousins, two of their boyfriends, and myself and Mom made for a fun evening.  We stayed up until 2:00am talking and catching up.  I almost didn’t make it for my haircut on Friday morning!  However, I did… and Eve did an awesome job.  A cut and color was just what I needed, and I am still getting used to having 8 inches less than before..

We went to a second cousins’ wedding on Saturday night… it was good fun.  She had an Elvis impersonator who also did some of the Rat Pack, quite the experience!  We stayed up late again, but it was well worth it.  I met my Moms’ Aunt (my grandmother’s sister) and her daughter, a cousin and his family, as well as many others.  It was neat to see how far the family extends and hear stories from “back in the day.”

We arrived back in Dublin on Sunday afternoon and met another of my Mom’s cousins, Tom, at Clontarf Castle.  There was a wall hanging of what the Castle looked like year’s ago, and it was neat to see the kinds of changes they had made to it, to make it into a hotel over the last few years.

The last two days have been full of bus, train and plane rides to make it back to the States.  Although it is always nice to come home, I definitely had a great time.  I can’t wait to start planning next year’s trip!