15 Aug 2013 Leave a comment
in Ireland, Irish, kewpie, Kilkenny, Launderette, Left Bank, Limerick, Muckross Castle, pub, pubs, Temple Bar, Travel, Trinity Capital Hotel, Trinity College Tags: Dublin, Euro, Ireland, Kilarney, Kilkenny, travel
20 May 2013 Leave a comment
in Cork, Dublin, Euro, Fiat Panda, Gaelic, garden, Guinness, Guinness Storehouse, Ireland, Irish, Kilarney, Kilkenny, Launderette, Left Bank, Limerick, Muckross Castle, pub, pubs, Temple Bar, The Europe Hotel and Spa, The Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub, Travel, Trinity Capital Hotel, Trinity College, Uncategorized
In preparation for my trip, I did a lot of Googling. I learned what form of currency was used in the part of Ireland we would be visiting. Southern Ireland uses the Euro, while Northern Ireland accepts British Pounds. I’m glad I researched, because when I went to my bank to order Euro, the bank employees did not have a clue about it. Scary, huh?
It was exciting to receive my order a few days later. The Euro were crisp and sparkly, and far more colorful than American money. I hadn’t decided if I was going to rely on cash or credit when I got there, but I wanted options, realizing sometimes it’s better to avoid the paper trail, use fake names, and run serpentine to elude capture. Besides, having a wallet full of curious foreign currency was part of the adventure!
|Rental car on left – Fiat Panda on right|
The first pub we visited, directly across from the car park, was relatively empty, (11:00 am), but luckily, the barkeep was very friendly and made change for me, for parking. This was my first experience using Euro. He broke my 10 EUR note into 1 and 2 EUR coins, which I had never seen before. He was very polite in explaining their values to me. Later in my trip, I discovered this country doesn’t hate coin the way we, in the states, detest ours. In the US if you want to piss someone off, settle your bill entirely in coin.
|Trinity Capital Hotel. They sure love purple here!|
Almost all the rooms we stayed in on our trip were equipped with a small device, located just inside the door, where you insert your room card. The device was designed so the magnetic strip from the room card would keep the lights working; an electricity conservation scheme, I suppose. Seconds after you removed your card, the lights and electrical outlets would cease to function. James quickly discovered that just about any magnetic card would work, so we used his Burger Lounge
The following day, we toured the nearby Trinity College, with a very cool old library where you weren’t allowed to touch anything. It was like Hogwarts academy with a “secret” wine cellar. I bet I could have located their wine stash if granted a small window of opportunity.
|The Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub|
|Panoramic from inside The Oliver St John Gogarty Pub|
We returned to Trinity College later that night. It was foggy and the moon was close to being full. It made for very spooky pictures.
|Very spooky…I did not photoshop these|
|Bogman – 2000 years old|
|Q’s new friend|
From there, we went to the Guinness Storehouse and Brewery, a premier tourist attraction there. They teach how Guinness is made and how to pour, “the perfect pint”. Neither James nor I had the attention span for all that extra information so we proceeded to the top floor and The Gravity Bar. Boasting of 360
|At the Gravity Bar|
degree panoramic views of Dublin, it would have been a nice place to take some pictures. The bar was absolutely packed with people; small children even. James was thoroughly impressed they allowed children in bars. He repeatedly asked bartenders about it, but they never seemed to understand the question.
|View from the Gravity Bar|
Back at the hotel, we watched a lot of free BBC television. Initially, I did not like it. When they showed American movies, they were the worst movies ever. Mike Meyers’s “Love Guru” was playing. Normally a fan of Meyers, I was embarrassed to be American.
James was amazed by the commercials. You know that commercial that shows sad, one-eyed dogs with bandaged heads, and abused, crying kittens desperately in need of orthodontia, while Sarah McLachlan sings, “Arms of the Angels”, in the background? Well, Ireland has an alternate version of that. It involves suffering, over-worked donkeys carrying heavy bricks on their backs. Queue appropriately sad music. We surmised the commercial communicated that if we send some money, they just might take some of the bricks off, giving the donkeys a better life. Granted, they could just take the bricks off right now, but they’ll hold off till we line their pockets with a few Euro first.
From Dublin, we headed to Kilkenny, and the Zuni Hotel. Apparently, Kilkenny is the current Hurling champion of the universe, and is brimming with pride. While in Lanigans Bar, James was kind of kidnapped by one of the proud teammates who recounted to him its history and importance. He showed James a large poster of their Hurling idol, and had us pose with the Hurling trophy cup.
I really liked Kilkenny and thought it was a nice mix of shops, pubs and history. What it did not have was a Laundromat. I did not pack ten days’ worth of clothes, nor did James. I Googled it, scoured the Yellow Pages, asked bartenders and the concierge, but no Laundromat.
I found it interesting to look through an Irish grocery store advertisement, as there seemed to be a lot of subtle differences. I came across an advertisement for laundry soaps, and as I was sitting in a pub, discretely slid the page
across the bar to the bartender and tapped on the photo of laundry soap and whispered, “Where can I use this?” My ploy failed. Nobody was going to tell us where we could do our laundry in this town. Sworn to secrecy, I guess.
There were places called Launderettes, where they would do your laundry for you. Being mostly capable people, we just wanted to do our own laundry. When we got the Launderette, the lady there said we could do our own laundry, but it would cost us exactly the same. We caved; letting her do it…it was pricey. We decided from here on out, if we needed more clean clothes, we would just buy them.
While waiting for our clothes to be finished, we went to a nearby pub and had, what they called, a traditional Irish Breakfast. Up until this point, I had noticed brown
The lady at the Launderette was very prompt and we had our clothes back in a few hours, as promised. As I was separating my clothes from James’s, I realized he had about 7 of the same outfits; a relief, as I suspected perhaps he had been wearing the same garments every day. I was reminded of an Ice Cube video, in which Mr. Cube goes to his closet to choose his outfit for the day; all outfits were the same. I pointed this out to James who stated there were many other well-known characters who exhibit this same behavior; Pee Wee Herman, Mickey Mouse, to name a couple. I realized James may be a card-carrying member of a secret society, so I decided not to pry. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LimitedWardrobe
We visited Kilkenny Castle; only a small portion of the interior was accessible to tourists. Another meeting, perhaps? Picture-taking was not permitted inside, so I only took a few. Halfway through the tour, we were scolded by an
We got a great table in the corner of the room, having a perfect view of the street. We watched the Hogwarts kids walking in packs home from school. We exercised a little artistic freedom.
|Is this written in Gaelic?|
James researched the location of Santa Claus’s grave, and believed we could find it on our way to Cork. We headed west, stopping in Thomastown, to ask for directions at a little pub. There we met the owner, Declan, and his friend, Bill, the town undertaker. Declan said it was weird a brother and sister were traveling together. I pointed out we are deemed weird in our country too.
On our way to see Santa, we stopped at an abandoned castle in the middle of a pasture. James said it was on his bucket list to consume an adult beverage in a castle. Up until now, all of our castle experiences had been rigidly monitored. James brought cans of Guinness in his backpack. The pictures of this castle do not do it justice. It was three stories tall; the
Over the years, so much dirt accumulated on the top floor; a lush garden with trees had grown there. When we were up there, it was hard to believe we were not on the ground floor.
Santa’s grave was in Jerpoint, located on a patch of farmland. The family living there gave tours of their land, and
|Sitting on Santa’s Lap|
would not allow you to go off by yourself. The tour guide was an older gentleman, who offered to use my camera to take our pictures. He pried into our personal lives, and James cheerfully responded with what is depicted in the following video of the man’s sheep.
We headed off to Cork. Somewhere along the way, we lost our GPS signal, the compass no longer worked, and we could not find a soul for miles. We stopped in a small town called Windgap. Everything was locked up tight, no cars on the street, no birds chirping. I felt as if I dunked my head into an alternate dimension of The Twilight Zone.
We were forced to use this folded up paper thingy from the glove box, known as a map? The map got us to the next town, Kilmagenny, where we found one pub open for business. We asked directions to the highway, which we knew was less than 2 kilometers away, but in which direction, we did not know. Apparently, the people in this particular pub had never left their town, unaware of any highway. They enlightened us to the Hurling game which was on television, which would explain the ghost-town like conditions we had experienced.
We enjoyed some adult beverages there and started out
|I am sad.I lost James’ phone charger and am forced to read a paper map|
again. When we left the pub, life had returned to the town, cars were driving by on the street, and voices could be heard. I guess the game was over. Don’t mess with Hurling.
I guess another thing that can shut a town down is a thing called Sunday. We arrived in Cork late Saturday night and when we awoke Sunday morning, we were starved, for American food, in particular. We thought it was quite comical, the various restaurants we had seen along the way which played up the American Style. We noticed various signs and handbills for places like, “Uncle Sam’s” and
That day, we headed to Kilarney and The Europe Hotel.
The Europe Hotel and Spa was absolutely beautiful, and probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Our room overlooked Loch Lein, (Lower Lake), and I had a little fun with the view.
Even though Kilarney was not a large area, we got lost a lot here. I always seemed to be reading the map/GPS upside down. The only frame of reference I had was a billboard for
Along the way, I learned the different terminology. An elevator is a lift. “Off License” means they sell alcohol to go. The restroom is referred to as the “TOILET”, which I found a little confusing. When a sign is posting something for rent, the sign says, “TO LET”. To me, those two signs looked awfully similar. I’d sure hate to make a mistake. To top that off, many of the signs were in Gaelic, a language, I had been told was rarely used. The iPhone apparently does not have a Gaelic keyboard option, so I was not able to Google the unknown.
While in Kilarney, we visited the Kilarney National Park and Muckross House & Gardens, which had a castle, of course, but also a beautiful greenhouse. We were not allowed to snoop around inside the greenhouse, so I pressed my face against the window.
Limerick had a nightlife that didn’t emerge until much later in the night. We had gotten to the town in the late afternoon and all of the stores, equipped with roll-up doors, were closing up. In our travels, I had heard many complaining of the poor economy. I’m not sliding my cash under a roll-up door.
This, by far, was the awesome-est picture taken on the whole trip, which James took, using his iPhone and a panoramic app. The Isaac Taylor’s Pub in Limerick.
The bartender here was very helpful, so I asked her about the laundry situation, as I was still curious. She said Laundromats were typically located near adult bookstores. I’m not sure what that implies, but I’ll note that for next time.
After one night in Limerick we headed back, across the country, to Dublin. We made great time; James had gotten really good at Irish driving, and could now maneuver a roundabout like nobody’s business.
When we brought the rental car back, the employees there seemed genuinely surprised we brought it back with both side view mirrors still attached. I will testify to the fact the roads are insanely narrow here, but their reaction made me wonder if they had ready supply of replacement mirrors on-hand, for just such a situation.
When I got home I was often asked what the highlight of my trip was. I cannot pinpoint a particular episode, although there were towns and hotels I liked more than others. Assimilating to a different place forced me to abandon my auto-pilot. This was challenging, but surprisingly refreshing! I was forced to constantly convert Dollars to Euro, miles to kilometers, gallons to liters, and let’s not forget, looking in the correct direction before crossing the street:)