Ireland 2012

September 18- 27, 2012


I. Northern Ireland

September 18 – 21, 2012 

Tuesday, Sept. 18

We’re off to Ireland!

The Super Shuttle was waiting for us when we got down to the lobby and we were on our way to SFO’s International Terminal at 9:15am. When we arrived at the airport, we sat and waited until we met up with Ron by the U.A.L. check-in bay. He took Bart and came into the Bart station on the upper level of the terminal.

After checking our bags, we got through security with no problem (except Ginny had another wine cork screw taken away).

We had a bite to eat at the Café out at the end of the Terminal where our gate was located and when we went back to the Gate, we learned that our UAL Flt #954 to LHR (Heathrow) departure was delayed - DUH... From 12:50 to 1:45pm – no reason given.

 

Wednesday, Sept. 19

Belfast

After a 10½ hour flight and an 8 hour time change, we got into Heathrow at 8:30am (local time) - an hour late. Unbelievably, after deplaning, we went through Passport control, hand baggage checks, Security and Bio-metric capture (whatever that is) twice – in two different locations and still made it out to the gate where we were scheduled to fly to Belfast at 9:30am on UAL Flt #7646 which was operated by Aer Lingus Limited. It was 9:13am when we got to the gate, but the gate was closed! The Aer Lingus rep told us that the gates always close here 20mins. early – and that it was clearly stated on our boarding passes!! It said nothing of the sort on our boarding passes but even though the plane was still at the gate, they were not about to let us on…

After finally finding our way back to the check-in area of the terminal, with the help of an airport security guard, we found a UAL check-in window and a rep who actually was able to help us! We were able to get seats on a BOAC flight to Belfast leaving at 1:05pm although he said that our baggage might not make it on our flight. He told us to show our baggage claim tickets to the ticket agent when we traded our vouchers for boarding passes, which we did and he called Aer Lingus for our bags.

We had to wait in the food court until just after noon until our flight’s gate number finally went up on the board and then we made our way down to the waiting area.

After we boarded the plane, I paid particular attention to the time to see when the gate closed and the plane’s door was closed. It was 1:05pm!

We arrived in Belfast at 2:30pm and when we went to the baggage area, our name was paged instructing us to go the BOAC baggage window. There we were told that our bags weren’t on the plane but that they had been located. We gave him the address of the Travelodge, where we’d be staying in Belfast and he said they would be sent to our Hotel later in the afternoon or early evening.

It was just 3:00pm when we got a taxi to the Travelodge and after checking in, and freshening up a bit, we met in the lobby at 4pm.

We walked around the corner from the hotel to The Crown Bar and got a booth and we all had a pint - Guinness for Ron & me and a Smithwick for Ginny. We discussed our options on what to do and decided that since we only have this evening, we’re probably better off just taking a sight-seeing tour of the city and that way, Ron can get an idea, at least, about what all is here.

12-5006 Belfast Falls Road (Z-18-027)

After leaving the Crown by the side door, we walked across the street to the line of Black Taxis and hired John to take us around the city to see the sights. Unfortunately, because it’s such a very important part of the recent history of Belfast and had affected so many lives of the citizens there, we spent most of the time at the murals of the 'Troubles' on Falls Road, the Republican side. The Black Taxis are famous for their “Troubles” tour but we finally got through to John that we’d really like to see some more of the city’s sights. After that, we all piled back into the taxi and we were off for a fast drive through the Loyalists’ side and then we went to see the new Titanic Museum for photos of the building (we didn’t go inside). We also got to see “Samson” and Goliath” the huge ship-building cranes and then we ended the tour at the City Hall before coming back to The Crown about 7pm. We gave John our driver/guide 40£ (about $20. each – not bad for a personal tour of some of the better known sights in the city!)

12-5011 The Crown-Belfast (Z-18-067)

We went back to the Crown for dinner and the place was packed. We asked one of the wait-persons how long it would be before we could get a booth and he said it’s all on a first come – first serve basis and we’d just have to wait it out. While we were standing outside a booth, the people inside started to pick up their things and we asked if they were leaving. When they said they were, we edged our way in as they came out and we had a booth! While we were waiting for the booth, we noticed a young Asian woman whom we had seen earlier at the City Hall. She seemed to be alone, so when we got in the booth, we asked her if she would like to join us. She was very grateful and happy to accept our invitation! Her name was 'Che Jean' and she was from Seoul, Korea. She was traveling alone and had been in Ireland for 2 weeks - she was quite a girl and a delight to have for our dinner companion! She and Ginny took photos and we gave her our e-mail address and told her that we’d be very happy to share the photos with her – but we haven’t heard from her yet.  After dinner we said our “good-byes” and we headed back to the hotel. When we got back, Emma, the woman at the desk hadn’t heard anything more about our bags since checking earlier when they said had located them and when they arrived at the airport they would send them to the hotel. Shortly after we went up to our rooms, we were notified that they had finally arrived, and then I was ready for bed! It was a very long day!

 

Thursday, Sept. 20

Portrush

The Travelodge was the only place on our trip that didn’t include breakfast so we checked out at 8:30am and Ginny & Ron went to the Budget Rental car office a couple of blocks away to pick up our rental car. I got a cup of coffee to go in the café just off the hotel’s lobby and stayed with the bags in the lobby until they came back with the car.

Our rental car was a diesel powered, Czech 4Dr Skoda with an automatic drive and Ginny added a GPS which she aptly named 'Gypsy'. We tossed the bags in the trunk and Ginny drove us out of Belfast onto the M2 and up to Ballymena where we stopped for breakfast in a nice little café.

After breakfast, Ron took over the driving and we proceeded up A26 to A29 with the help of Gypsy’s alerts – “In 750 meters enter roundabout”, “Turn left at second exit” - up to Portrush. We eventually found Beulah's Guest House after several attempts at following the directions that the proprietor had given to us in an e-mail. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an address for the house (they don’t have addresses in the town), but if we had, Gypsy would have been able to bring us right to the front door.

It was just a little after noon when we pulled into the parking lot and too early to check in but we were allowed to leave our bags in the dining room while we went out to explore. We picked up a couple of brochures from the rack in the hallway that told of the many attractions along the Antrim Coast and they also contained a map of the area. Since it was still early in the afternoon, we headed back out and Ron, with Gypsy’s assistance drove us through the town and out along the A2 highway where our first stop was at the Dunluce Castle. In the Visitor Center, we watched the video depicting the history of the castle and then we went off to explore the many nooks and crannies among the ruins of the 16th century castle jutting out over the cliffs along the North Atlantic shoreline. Unfortunately, it was a kind of dark and dreary day for photo-taking but the views along the cliffs and shoreline were still quite spectacular.

12-5101 Bushmills Distillery (Z-18-095)

After leaving the castle, we continued on up the A2 to Bushmills Distillery and after getting our tour tickets, had just a short wait before the next tour started.  As usual, it was a very interesting tour and it was topped off with a complimentary shot of their 10 year-old whiskey in the tasting room. We stopped at a phone booth outside the distillery to let Gypsy know we were on our way back to the car. When Ron started the car, she was all programmed to head back to Portrush and it was about 4:30pm when we got back to the Guest House. We got checked in and brought our bags up to our rooms and then we went to the pub across the street where we all had a congratulatory pint of Guinness for Ron and his quick adaptation to driving on the wrong side of the road!

After freshening up and resting for a while, we got together about 6pm and Rachel, the homeowner, suggested a couple of nearby restaurants in the neighborhood, or we could take about a 10-minute walk down to the harbor where there would be more choices.

After checking out her nearby suggested places, we passed on them and wandered on down to the harbor. We saw very few pubs along the way and none were open! And the streets were all deserted of people.

Now, Portrush is a big summer resort town with world-class golf courses and several major attractions including a World Heritage site, but come on – where is everybody? There’s still another day of summer left!

We found 4 restaurants open at the end of the harbor and they all had people waiting to get in except for one. And it (The Blue Duck) was empty - we passed on that one and picked the Coast Pizza place. We all had a pint while we waited for a table and were only half finished with it when we were called. There was a good selection of items on the menu and not a one of us had pizza. After dinner, we headed back to the Guest House and Ginny and I retired for the night. Ron wandered out and took some remarkable nighttime photos around the town and the harbor area.

 

II. Republic of Ireland

September 21 – 27, 2012

Friday, Sept. 21

Antrim Coast and Donegal

Before going out to dinner last night, we were given a form to fill out with our breakfast choices and we left it on the table in the hallway. This morning, after being seated at a table, with coffee and juices for the taking, our breakfast was brought in to us just as we had ordered! Anxious to be on our way for we have a very busy day ahead of us, we ate up and checked out and were on our way to see more of the sights on the Antrim Coast by 9:30am!

12-5051 Dunluce Castle (Z-18-111)

Driving up the A2 again, we passed by Dunluce Castle and pulled over at a wide spot in the road to get some good photos of the whole castle in full view. And with the sun shining down on it today, it was quite a spectacular view! A bunch of photos, from all angles, were taken and when they were satisfied that they had done it justice, Ginny and Ron put their cameras away and we were on the road again. It wasn’t very long before we pulled into the parking lot at the Giant’s Causeway.


We hopped on the shuttle bus that took us down to the shoreline and we (mostly Ron and Ginny) spent the next couple of hours clamoring over and around the geological rock formations, taking many photos and being absolutely amazed by the sight of it all!



12-5203 Carrick-A-Rede (Z-18-193)

It was about noon when we headed off again on the A2 on our way to the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede. Having been there a couple of times already, and knowing about the long trail leading down to and back up from the bridge, I decided to stay in the car and let Ginny and Ron do the bridge thing without me this time. They had some beautiful sun-shiny weather for photo taking, and by golly, they both did it justice.

By the time they got back, it was nearly 2pm and we still had one more stop to make at the Dark Hedges before heading off to Donegal for the night.

We drove on down to Ballymoney, looking for the sign to Dark Hedges along the way but we never saw any and Gypsy couldn’t help us with the limited information we had.  When we stopped in the Tourist Information (TI) Office, we learned that we passed them on the way down but there aren't any signs to let one know where to turn off the main road. We decided not to go back and instead, headed NWN on up the A26 on the way to Londonderry and then to Donegal.

With Ginny giving directions in the back seat, "Gypsy" got us around ‘Derry’ on the ring road and we missed all the Friday night rush hour traffic. We had no problem at all getting into Donegal but we had to park in the Park & Pay lot down the street from the Central Hotel. It seemed to me that there was an awful lot of traffic in the town and there seemed to be a lot more people on the streets than from what I remembered about “quiet, little Donegal”! Ron stayed with the car while we walked up to the hotel and Ginny pulled my bag up for me. When we stopped at the desk, I asked the desk clerk about all the traffic and all the people around outside. She said it was no big deal and was probably just because it’s Friday. But we soon found out that Donegal was playing County Mayo for the All-Ireland Football Championship this weekend – and THAT was a real, big deal – for most of the locals, anyway!

After we got checked in and got a pass for the car-parking fee to put on the windshield, I went up to the room and stored my bag while Ginny went back to the car to get the rest of the bags with Ron. While they were doing that, I went over to the Harbor Restaurant and made dinner reservations for Saturday at 7pm.

12-5261 Donegal Town (Z-18-208)

When we got all the bags moved in and settled into our rooms, we went out and saw a big rally, mostly all young kids, going on in the Town Square across from the hotel. When we went in the corner Pub with the Gaelic name for a pint, the rally in the Square was on the TV and it was obvious that it had to do with the Donegal football team. There were mostly all locals in the pub and they were all engrossed in the TV proceedings. We each had a pint of Smithwicks and when I asked, the bartender said they didn't have any Harp and he said that nobody drinks Harp anymore! While we were enjoying our beer, a big John Deere tractor all decked out in Donegal’s green and yellow colors - which of course is also John Deere’s familiar colors – and flying green and yellow banners and flags chugged by the pub on its way to the rally and Ginny ran out to get photos.

It was about 8pm when we decided to go look for something to eat and we ended up having a very nice dinner in the Abbey Hotel’s restaurant. We had stayed at the Abbey the last time we were here in 2004, but when Ginny tried to book us in this time, there were no rooms available. Now we knew why!

After dinner, Ron went off exploring and we went up to the room and to bed.

 

Saturday, Sept. 22

Donegal

12-5251 Donegal Castle (Z-18-222)

We met up about 9am and had a very nice buffet breakfast in the main ballroom. The hotel is quite large, for a small town anyway, and there were quite a few people having breakfast. Our plan for the morning was to drive up the coast above Donegal, an area where we’ve never been, but when we went to the TI to see what they had to offer on the area, we weren’t impressed and decided to just leave the car parked and wander around the town. Walking by the Harbor Tour office, we stopped in to see what time the boats would be running and got tickets for the 1:15pm tour. Since we still had a couple of hours to wait, we walked up Quay St. a block or two past our hotel to the Donegal Castle and spent close to an hour wandering in and around the mostly restored castle. After seeing the ruins of Dunluce Castle, Donegal Castle in its restored condition gives one a much better idea of what Dunluce might have really looked like in its prime!

When we left the castle, we walked around the shopping area where I was especially interested in finding a new Irish tam and also an Irish shillelagh, a knotty, blackthorn walking stick like the one I remember in the house I grew up on. I never did find either one.

12-5276 Donegal Harbour (Z-18-259)

Back down at the Harbor, we got in line to board the "Dun Na NGall" tour boat and it wasn’t long before we were ushered aboard. We found a good place to sit out of the chilly wind and still see the sights of Donegal Bay as they were pointed out to everyone over the boat’s P. A. system. It was the 2nd time that Ginny and I had taken the tour and both times, the seals on the sand bar were the hit of the cruise!

After we docked, Ginny & Ron toured the Abbey ruins and cemetery for a photo shoot but I went back to the room for a rest. After Ginny came back to the room, she rested up a bit too and then about 4:30, we went down to the hotel bar and I’ll be darned if they didn’t have Harp on tap! Guess what I had a couple of…

Ron was out exploring and we had told him that we’d probably be in the bar if he came looking for us. When we asked the bartender if he had been in yet, he said he came in earlier but didn’t stay. I went out to the desk to use the phone to call his room but when I looked outside I saw him standing across the street. He came in and joined us and then it was time to head over to the Harbor Restaurant for dinner. We had to take a table in the empty upstairs dining room, but by the time we were finished with a very scrumptious dinner, all the tables were full! Sure glad I made the reservations yesterday because it was a very happy and memorable birthday dinner, especially because Ron was there with us! Actually, the whole day was a very happy and memorable one!

 

Sunday, Sept. 23

Westport

After breakfast, we checked out and Ron drove us to Westport, about 100 miles WSW of Donegal on very good roads all the way. Since it would be too early to check into our hotel if we drove straight to Westport, Ginny told Gypsy to direct us around the town and get us to the conical shaped mountain "Croagh Patrick" ("The Reek" of St. Patrick where he chased all the snakes out). Gypsy said “Recalculating!” and had us there in no time. Ron dropped us off at the trail going up to the entrance and he went to find a parking lot while we started up the trail. When we got to the “entrance”, it was actually just the continuation of the same trail we were on, but there was a big board with all the information one would ever need to know about the significance of the place. There was no way I was going to be able to continue going up so I told Ginny to go on and when Ron came by I told him where she was. They met up by the statue of St. Patrick and got lots of great photos of the area and the Bay below. After they came back down, we headed down to where the car was parked and Ron showed us where the ”Coffin Ship” memorial was – right across the road from the parking lot!

12-5327 Coffin Ship (Z-18-344)

We went across the road to the memorial that was in a park right on the edge of Clew Bay. Although the sign describing the significance of the memorial said to treat the memorial with respect, the ship was festooned with Co. Mayo green and red flags from the bow to the top of the mast and down to the fantail! The bronze sculpture commemorates the Great Famine and especially the tremendous number of immigrants who died on the ships taking them to North America and Australia. It is a very solemn, sacred and strangely beautiful piece of work! (Ginny did a great job removing the flags with Photoshop!)

Leaving the memorial, we walked back across the road to the car and headed back to Westport. There are no addresses, as we know them, in western Ireland so trying to get to the Mill Times Hotel using Gypsy’s directions wouldn’t work. She needs specific addresses or locations and all we knew was that it was in the town center. So Gypsy got us to the town center easy enough and when we got there, the hotel was right there, big as life! When we drove to the ramp going down to the Hotel’s parking garage, the sign said it was full, so we dropped Ginny off to get us checked in and Ron drove us around the block and found a Pay & Park lot. I told Ron to stay with the car and walked back to the hotel and found the garage nearly empty – but it’s really tight quarters getting in and out of the spaces. I went back to get Ron to bring the car around and when we got back to the Hotel, Ginny was waiting by the ramp. She said the Hotel has that sign there to keep the public out. When we got the car parked it was about 3:30pm and after storing our bags in our rooms, Ginny and Ron went out to explore and I stayed behind to rest up a bit. Westport is not a very big town and they got some great photos of the colorful places around the town square where the statue of St. Patrick stands atop the tall column. I joined up with them a little later and we went to O’Malley’s where we thought we might get a bite to eat for dinner. The All-Ireland Football Championship game between Donegal and County Mayo was still going on and since Westport is in County Mayo, the crowd in the bar watching the game on the TV was pretty loud and boisterous! We just had a quick pint and headed off to another place that they had seen earlier. We found Dunning’s Bar and B&B, just another pub but it didn’t seem to be so crowded so we went in and sat at a small table by the big front window. We had a typical pub grub dinner and another pint and while we were there, the game ended and Donegal had beaten County Mayo! Well, we thought, there won’t be a lot of happy people having a hot time in the old town tonight! Strangely enough, as opposed to what would be happening in the U.S. if their team had just lost, about the harshest thing we heard all night was a wife telling her husband to “get over it – it’s just a game!” but other than that, life went on as usual in the little town of Westport that night.

 

Monday, Sept. 24

The Connemara and Galway

12-5351 Kylemore Abby (Z-18-374)

After breakfast, we checked out and Ron deftly maneuvered the car out of the garage and we were on the road again! Heading SWS on the N59, Gypsy effortlessly guided and Ron expertly drove us around and about all of the roundabouts on our way to Kylemore Abbey. Ginny and I were here before; in 2004 and again in 2007, on this very day, in fact - Sept. 24, 2007 – with several of the other kids, grand-kids and even one of our great-grand kids. However, we had never been able to go inside the building but this time because it is no longer a private girl's school we could go in and see some of the fine furnishings and art works in a few of the rooms. The nuns who ran the school still live there and maintain the place but because of the poor world economy, enrollment was down and it was determined that it would be more prudent to close the school for the time being. So, it worked out pretty good for us! We also strolled around the huge garden area and went down to the miniature cathedral that is still open for services and small events.

Continuing on the N59, we stopped in Clifden, which, although I would consider it pretty small as towns go, is the largest town in the Connemara. The typical town square is lined on all sides with art galleries, boutiques, cafés and of course, lots of pubs. We parked and stopped in one of the cafés for a snack and cup of coffee and then we walked down one of the residential streets with colorful, two and three story houses along each side. We could see the bay behind the houses on the left side of the street so continuing on further, we came to a bridge and got some pretty nice photos of Clifden Bay and the surrounding area. It was about 2:30pm when we got back to the car and we headed back out on the N59, going ESE this time on our way to Galway. By now, if we didn’t know better, we’d swear that Ron had been driving over here all of is life! Sitting up front on the left side of the car was a little un-nerving when he first started out last Thursday – we were really close to those rock walls and parked cars! But now, the side view mirror was no longer in danger of getting mangled and the hubcaps didn’t have to be secured with plastic ties any longer! When we got into Galway, we didn’t have any address for the Budget Rental Car office except for Eyre Square, which is a pretty big square. Gypsy got us into Eyre Square OK but we didn’t have a clue where the office was. We were driving around the square when we passed by it on a side street but then we had no clue on how to get back there. Ginny got the brilliant idea of telling Gypsy to direct us to the Budget office and Gypsy said “Recalculating” and began giving instructions to “In 200 Meters, Turn Right”.  When we got up the road a little further, Gypsy said, “Turn Right”. Well, there were two merging streets on the right, and not knowing which one to take, Ron drove by the first street and Gypsy immediately said ”Turn sharp right!” and when we missed the second one also, Gypsy said “Make a U-turn – Now!” Well, there was no way we were going to make a U-turn on this street so after a 5 or 10 second pause, Gypsy says “Impossible to make U-turn! Recalculating”!  (I was really expecting her to say “You stupid idiot! Pay attention and do what I say!”) However, after a few seconds, she got her calculations figured out and in a nice calm tone of voice, she directed us right to the Budget office door.

12-5402 Galway-Monroe's (iFon-0327)

The Budget office was just one of many offices and shops along the street with no place to park the car. We parked in the Taxi zone and Ginny brought the paperwork in while Ron and I stayed in the car and a short while later, she came out and said the car had to be left in a Park & Pay lot a few blocks away. We unloaded our bags and brought them into the office and I stayed with them while Ron and Ginny took the car to the lot and came back with the keys. Once we finally got the car turned in, we just had to pull our bags to the Skeffington Arms Hotel directly across the square.

After checking in and getting our bags up to the room, we kicked back for awhile and rested up before heading down to ‘The Skeff’ pub on the 2nd floor over the hotel lobby. I was ready for a very refreshing pint of Guinness and Ginny had her first pint of Bulmer’s cider since arriving in Ireland last week! A short while later, Ron came in and joined us and it was about 7pm when we headed on down Williams St. with its many shops, stores, pubs, cafés and restaurants.  And then over the bridge that crosses the Corrib River for dinner in our most favorite restaurant in Galway, Monroe’s Tavern! After a great pub dinner and a pint of Guinness to wash it all down, we stopped in the King’s Head Pub and by the time we left there, I was pretty tired and it was unanimous when I suggested a vote on either returning to the hotel or ‘doing the town’ tonight. We got back to the hotel about 9pm and I was asleep by 9:10.

 

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Dublin

12-5452 Train to Dublin (Z-18-469)

Following along on our regular routine, we had breakfast before checking out of the hotel and then we headed over to the train station, a couple of blocks away, pulling our bags behind us. The 11:05 train to Heuston Station in Dublin left the Galway station at 11:05 and after a very restful and uneventful ride, pulled into Heuston Station at 1:30pm.

We got tickets outside the train station for the Luas train to the Busarus station, only a couple of blocks from the Townhouse on Lower Gardiner St. where we have reservations for our last 2 nights in Ireland.







12-5700 Hop-0n-Hop-0ff (Z-18-535)

After getting checked in and storing our bags, we met in the lounge area overlooking the dining room and walked up to Madigan’s on Talbot St. for a bite to eat and a pint of Guinness. Then we walked up to O'Connell St. and after finding an ATM right adjacent to the Spire, which is also known locally by some mostly ingenious nicknames such as The Spike, The Binge Syringe, The Stiletto in the Ghetto and The Rod to God we crossed over the O’Connell St. Bridge to the other side of River Liffey.  We found the Hop on - Hop off Bus stop #2 and bought tickets on a bus that was sitting there but that was all he was doing – selling tickets. After getting our tickets, which are good for 2 days, we only had to wait a few minutes to get the next bus that came in and then we took the 1½ hour ride with live commentary all the way around to Stop #1 on O’Connell St., on the Townhouse side of the river.  It was about 6pm by the time we got back to the Townhouse. We decided that since we still have all day and night tomorrow, we’d save the Temple Bar Area for tomorrow night and just stay close by the hotel for dinner tonight. After going back to our rooms and freshening up a bit, we met back down in the lounge area at 7pm and went to O’Shea’s, just a half block up the street on the corner of Talbot and got a table right away. After eating, none of us felt much like making ‘a night of it’ tonight so we just went back to the hotel to get a good rest for a big day tomorrow.

 

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Dublin

12-5502 Book of Kells (Z-18-496)

We had to show our vouchers when we had breakfast in the dining room – that was new. Evidently, people were just coming in from other places and getting a free ride – no longer! After filling up, we headed over to Trinity College to see the Book Of Kells. It was only a little after 10am when we got there and there wasn’t much of a line to get in yet. I’ve been there many times, but the place and the illustrations and everything associated with the Book and the College itself for that matter, never cease to amaze me!

After leaving the College, Ron was interested in the Museum of Archeology, so we took the short walk down through the upscale shopping and residential areas and found it about 12:30pm. We spent an hour looking at a lot of the exhibits but we could have spent the whole day there if we had the time! We found the H.O. – H.O. bus stop nearby and rode the bus around to Christ Church and spent another hour or so at the Dublinia exhibition.

12-5815 Tall Ship (Z-18-556)

After leaving the exhibit, we got a taxi across the street and went to the waterfront to see the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship, an Irish Immigrant ship that is a museum and open to the public. It was docked not too far from the Beckett Bridge and the sights made for some great photographic opportunities, of which Ginny and Ron took full advantage.

While they were busy taking their photos, I was checking out the area and Lo and Behold, would you believe? There was an ‘Oktoberfest’ going on right across the street from the ship! There were tents being put up, and food kiosks and beer stalls already open and I could just imagine that they would be just as happy to see us as I was to see them! So after the photo shoot, we headed on over and found a nice little out of the way table with benches and sat and enjoyed a pint of good old ice-cold Erdinger beir and a bratwurst on a roll.

When we left the Oktoberfest area around 4:30pm, we could see the Customs House just across the river from us and knowing that the Townhouse wasn’t too far from it, we decided to walk back and sure enough, we found our way easy enough and were back to the hotel by 5pm.

12-5525 Molly Malone (Z-18-582)12-5840 Ha'Penny-Dublin (Z-18-614)

We rested up until 6:00 when we met again in the usual place and headed out for the Temple Bar Area for dinner. When we got down to Grafton Street, there weren’t very many people around and I was able to get right up next to Molly Malone and give her a hug! Then we walked down to the Temple Bar and Ginny and I had a beer while Ron walked around the area and got photos. 








We left when Ron came back and he and Ginny wanted to go to the Ha’penny Bridge to get photos with the sun setting so while they got their photos, I sat in the Quay Pub and had a pint.  After they both got some beautiful sunset photos from and of the bridge, we headed off to dinner and for our last night in Ireland, we had a very nice dinner at Gogarty's, the same restaurant where we had dinner with the gang last year. On the way back to the Townhouse, we passed the Hard Rock Café and I had to go in and at least look around. After all, it was our last night in Ireland and it was our custom, ever since the heat wave in Paris in 2003, to go to the Hard Rock Café (the only place in Paris with air-conditioning) in the country we were in on our last night! Well, I ended up just buying a margarita glass with the HRC – Dublin logo for Ginny and wishing that I had Peggy’s HRC card to get her something, too!

It was about 9pm when we got back to the Townhouse. When we got back, we talked to the deskman about getting to the airport in the morning and he said we had to be there 3 hours before the flight! He arranged to have a taxi out front at 8AM and said it would be €25 and would take about 25 minutes to get there.

Thursday, Sept. 27

Flying Home

The taxi was waiting out front for us at 8am and we were whisked off to the airport. We were scheduled to leave at 11:25am on UAL flight 127 to Dulles, so after getting our bags checked we went through Security, Customs and Immigration and then we had do it all over again for US Security, customs and immigration during which, they kept telling us that we wouldn't have to do it again when we got to Dulles - all we'd have to do is find our gate there and just go directly to it. (We didn't believe a word of it!) But now we knew why we had to be there 3 hours before the flight!

We waited around the gate area and 11:25 came and went and we finally boarded a little before noon and lifted off at 12:20pm! Good old UAL - no reason for the delay was ever given. We made up a half hour on our way to Dulles and got in at 2:55pm instead of the scheduled time of 2:25.

When we got into the terminal after deplaning, we found our flight and gate number on the board and sure enough, we just walked straight to it - nothing like the madness we experienced here in April when we flew in from Geneva, Switzerland. The people in Dublin who told us we wouldn’t have to go through it all again were serious!

We were scheduled to leave Dulles at 5:20pm on UAL Flt #1280 to SFO. Our seats in Row 14 were changed on us because they changed planes and there is no Row 14 on this 757. We were supposed to have Economy Plus seats but I ended up in a cramped aisle seat in Row 38 and Ginny in a window seat in Row 25.  Ron was in Row 12 and his seat was not changed. Neither one of our new ones was an Economy Plus seat. As Usual, It Was Another Miserable Flight!!!!

Oh, yeah - our plane finally lifted off at 5:55pm instead of the scheduled time of 5:20pm – once again, no explanation...

We arrived in SFO at 8:31 PM – We were supposed to arrive at 7:55 PM.

When we finally landed, we got our bags, said "good-bye" to Ron and he headed off to the Bart Train and we went out and hopped in a taxi for the quick ride home...

 

Sure’n t’was another "foine toime back on the auld sod" but the gettin' to and from was awful!

 

© Virginia E. Vail 2012