Day 8. This was "pick up Anna at the airport" day! Yay! It was also "rent a car" day. Hmmmm. But first it was "walk around Dublin" day.
First stop Trinity College and the Book of Kells. We walked down O'Connell Street - the main, wide boulevard through the city.
|Post Office where the Easter Uprising took root.|
|James Joyce and a friend|
|Spire of Dublin - Monument of Light|
|Daniel O'Connell at the foot of his street|
|First Parliament building, now a bank|
|Trinity college was established to promote protestant religion in Ireland. Ironically, it became one of the first places to promote religious tolerance in Ireland.|
Then we wandered through the city headed for Guinness.
|Dublin Castle - on site of original Viking settlement|
|Dublin Castle - now city offices|
|Interesting sandstone sign on building|
All that walking made us thirsty. We walked to the spot on the map where the Guinness Storehouse was. It was there, all right, but where to enter? We walked around the block. It was a big block. Nothing! Now, we were really thirsty! Finally, an employee pointed us to a spot a block away in the other direction. Bingo!
They have a really nice exhibit about the history and how they make it. But, enough about that. If you REALLY want to know...lots of info here.
You wind your way up through the floors of exhibit. At the top is the Gravity Bar where there are panoramic view of the city and....a free pint of Guinness.
|Soon to be "not thirsty"|
|...a panoramic view!|
We took the LUAS tram back to the hotel and a cab to the airport to pick up Anna
|Outside of Heuston Station|
|Happy tram riders|
We met Anna at the airport. She was right on time getting there from Rome. We were a bit late. It was really great to see her in person! We rented a car and headed for Galway. More about that here: Left is Right: Driving in Ireland
We stayed at St. Judes B&B, nice, clean and friendly, right in the town - one of the few we could find with a room of four - about a half mile from Eyre Square. The only negative was the view out the window was of a fork lift. ...we weren't there for the view...
We dropped our stuff and headed for dinner. Anna was out tour guide. She had been there before! We Strolled through the town, down toward the river.
|Smiling tour guide on right.|
|Allegedly the last thing Columbus saw on his was west|
Finally winding up back at Eyre Square for dinner at "The Skeff"
|Dinner place. Good food.|
Day 9. We wandered around Galway a bit more. The ladies bought Claddagh Rings
|(I should photoshop this picture into the one below)|
|Stopped here for some hot cross buns|
Time for more driving. We headed for Connemara. Stopped at Clifden for lunch and then drove in a loop through the county, stopping at Kylemore Abbey.
It is amazing how such a small place as Ireland can have such varied terrain. The only constant is sheep. They are everywhere - all the time. Connemara is hilly and boggy. The roads were so terrible that I really didn't get a change to get many good pictures.
|Typical countryside in Connemara|
|The view from Sky Road|
The we drove on to Kylemore Abbey - a very lavish manor built into the side of a mountain. Built by a English textile mill owner in the mid 1800s, he lived the high life until the money ran out around the turn of the century. Later this became, and still is, an Abbey.
|The view from the driveway|
Day 10. We were going to hit the Cliffs of Moher the previous day, but iffy weather changed our minds. It was a good decision. This day started out cloudy, but held the promise of some sun. We grabbed a Limerick city bus from the hotel and headed downtown to see the Saturday Milk Market.
|and power tools.|
Lots of stuff to chose from.
Then back to the hotel to drive up to the Cliffs of Moher. It was crowded, but still easy to get around. Best of all, the sun even peeked out for a while.
|Harp player found a great acoustic spot to play. It was a nice to listen to while viewing the cliffs.|
|Gorse. This stuff is everywhere in Ireland.|
|Typical Burren farm|
|Standard Irish guardrail|
...and stopped to see if we could see some hopping lambs.
Lots of lambs. No hopping, though.
There are three peninsulas in southwestern Ireland worth seeing. We had time for one. We picked Dingle. Funniest name. Closest to Limerick. Anna hadn't been. We mapped a route along the northern shore...
|View from the beach up to the mountains. White dots are sheep (of course)|
|It was cool and windy|
...then up and over Conor pass.
|At the top of the pass looking toward Dingle harbor|
|Road was just one, single lane over the pass with very occasional spots that were a lane and a half wide!|
At least tour buses were prohibited on this road...
From Dingle we took a loop road, Slea Head Drive, to the end of the peninsula. Beaches, rocky cliffs, ancient ruins, winding roads, and, of course, sheep!
Ruins dating back to the Viking era (circa 900AD)
|Can't afford a bridge? No problem, a ford works. That's not a puddle, it's a stream!|
|A two-way road. Really!|
|Typical scene on Dingle Peninsula|
|Sheep! ...and rock walls.|
|Fungi. Well a bronze version of him.|
|Dingle. Pub at left was dinner stop|
|Not everyone in Ireland raises sheep.|
Day 12. A rainy day. Not a good day for travelling, so we stayed local and went to Bunratty castle, a nicely restored medieval castle with period furnishings.
|Looks like a castle to me...|
|Table in room likely was salvage from Spanish Armada wreck.|
Castle also had a folk park with depicting typical Irish life over the years.
|Hearth with peat fire burning|
|..and, of course, sheep.|
|Irish pub with Irish pub food.|
Day 13. Aptly numbered.
Time to go home. A long day. Up at 4 AM to drive to Shannon airport, about 45 minutes from the hotel. Catch a 7:30 AM Aer Lingus flight back to Heathrow.
|Aer Lingus "heritage" paint scheme|
Heathrow is huge. They have five terminals, so they do an interesting thing when you arrive. They have all the "local" passengers exit the front using the jetway. Then they have the international connecting folks exit to the ramp via the rear door. You get on a bus that takes you to a shuttle train to terminal 5. Maybe we don't need security screening again? Nope. The British show they are TSA worthy for security follies, although you do get to keep you shoes on.
They got me good. It seems I can't manage security without doing one thing wrong each time. This time, I forgot I had my pedometer and reading glasses in my pants pocket. "BEEEP!" So, the wand me and find it and run those though X-ray. Then they continue with the wand and find my belt buckle. So, they frisk me, all around my waistband....and find my passport. So that goes through X-ray, too. They wand me again and find my belt buckle, again. All the while, Patti is standing there about 20 feet away on the 'clean' side laughing her head off. They frisk me again, then wand me again, beeping on the belt buckle again. Patti laughs some more. By now, I am laughing that she is laughing. So, I think the last frisk was for laughing, and they finally let me go.
The six hour layover in Heathrow wasn't too bad. Terminal 5 is nice and new. They have places to eat and they have lots of very expensive shops to graze through. (Who goes shopping at the airport?). Finally, we boarded our plane and 9 hours later, voila, Atlanta! One more shuffle through TSA security in Atlanta so you can ride the from terminal E to baggage claim. Really! I suppose it's so the TSA can X-ray our shoes. They seem to like doing that. Patti's folks met us and got us home. We ended our last day exactly 24 hours from when it started, at 11PM.
Reality was waiting for us the next day.