To all our travel companions:
To the right is nearly all of the photos we took. They are numbered but there are gaps where the photos didn't work.
If you want to download them, feel free. Simply Right Click and "save picture as" If you want a high resolution photo that you can reprint, you will need to email me. Each photo is about 3-7 megs and would be too slow to use here. Please send your request to:
craigsobel at aol.com
Be sure to let me know which photos. The number is at the bottom of the large picture.
You are welcome to read my journal below. The Dublin portion starts about half way down.
As I get older, perhaps I get a bit more nostalgic. The story of this trip initially is very clear, but as time goes by, the details will fade but the impressions will remain. I write this to help remind me of those details. I tend to take a fair number of pictures that I will actually print. The pictures that donít help or are duplicative are deleted. As I sometimes say, ďTaking pictures is cheap, getting there was expensiveĒ. They will be placed in an old-fashioned photo album with occasional spots reserved for some narrative. It sets the scene and explains the pictures. Itís our family photo history. I donít want anyone to feel captive while we show home movies. If friends and family are interested, they can sit in our living room and flip through the album in the midst of get-togethers. In fact, Barbara and I might do the same on occasion. When we are gone, who will value this album? Probably nobody. But that is OK. It is our life not theirs.
On this trip, we started in London, then to Ireland. Our travel companions are Mark and Barbara Langdorf. That is Barb in the Los Angeles airport Picture 3. Once again, every year or two, Mark attends a conference for a few days. Barbara will then join him usually afterwards and tour. They together have literally been all over the world. This time, it was Dublin, Ireland. Barbara and I were invited to join them. Once before, we had done this. We went to Venice and then to Greece. Ireland and England were on our bucket list so off we went. Neither of us had been to England yet so I proposed to spend a few days there first then hop over to Dublin and meet Mark as Mark had already been to London.
We arrived in London at around 10am. We had plans to take the red double-decker bus around town, which we did after lunch. We stayed at Thistle, Marble Arch. We took pictures around town and eventually got off the bus in Piccadilly Square. Pictures 4-14. Later we were looking for a Pub to go for Fish and Chips. All we could find was Italian restaurants near our hotel. We were really falling on our faces by this time. We had been up all day except what sleeping we were able to get on the plane.
Next morning was a planned trip on a tour bus to the sights of London. Many we had seen the day before on the red bus. We went to the tower of London, Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards, St. Patrickís Cathedral, High Tea at Harrods. That night was a Dinner cruise on the Thames. We took a ride on the tube to get back to our hotel. A long day but lots of fun. Pictures 15-56
Next was Bath, Windsor Castle and Stonehenge. Again we boarded a large coach and headed out of town to Windsor Castle. It was an amazing building with lots of history. Pictures 57-61. Next was Bath, a beautiful town nestled in the hills. We didnít go into the Roman baths, instead just checked out the town. We only had a short time to visit. Pictures 66-72
Last for the day was Stonehenge. A pretty fascinating site but it was cold and windy and although it has a lot of history, not really worth the visit. Pictures 73-78.
The next morning we had a flight to Dublin. Insight, (Our tour company) require that we get picked up at 3:15am for an 8am flight. This seemed too early. It turned out that we were dropped of at the wrong terminal around 3:45am and the airport wasnít even open yet. We cooled our heels for until 5am, then got into the train and moved to the correct terminal and again waited almost 3 hours.
We got into Dublin around 9am, went to the Hertz facility. We picked up am A4. But no GPS units were available and they didnít have a map. So let me set this up for you; Craig driving on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road, my wife in the other front seat and Barb L. in the back. Itís 10:30am and we have no street maps. We donít get 100 yards and we are lost. We pull over and take a look at our highway maps. Eventually we find our way to the main M50 highway and from there, we can navigate with the tour map book. Next stop, Killkenny, about an hour and a half away. We were told that there was a place to eat in a certain town but there are absolutely no food places or gas stations near the highway anywhere. We push on to Killkenny. We end up in town but cannot really decide where we want to go, instead we start following a little tourist train. Finally we find a parking area and just walk into an old district of town. We find a lunch pub, then walk some more and find the castle. The grounds are quite lovely. A garden in front and a huge expanse of grass in the back. A little shopping and off we go but we cannot find our way back to the highway. After a while, we get lucky and off we go. My original plan was to go all the way to Waterford. Itís a port city where the Glass factory is located. We see signs to Waterford and the Waterford factory but once in town, we cannot find our way to the factory. No signs. So we though there was a big factory on the other side of the river, so off we go, Nope, itís a cement factory. But there is a gas station and we ask directions. Eventually we get there but just after the last tour departs. We ask to join them and they allow us. It is a nice tour of the premier glass factory in the world. This time we have no trouble getting out of town.
On our way back to Dublin. This time we have to find the hotel. Well. We have only a map of the old town portion with no information on the highway. I figure that we can find some off ramp that matches up with a street on the map. Nope. We go much to far south. We realize this and head back finding a city route N11 which takes us through town for miles. Dublin is a series of streets that curve often. Street names are not on signposts but on sides of buildings and are written in English and Irish. Many are so old that they are difficult to read. And every few blocks, the street name changes. Wow. Eventually, we see signs that say City Center. But we go too far. We are moving too fast to read street signs and find us on the map. We eventually find a large park and decide to use it as a landmark. But the navigating team cannot get our position as we donít know if we are going North, South, East or West. Finally, we notice the setting sun and now we can get oriented. Many of the streets are one way and around the park, you cannot go past certain places, you must turn away from the park. Now we are lost again. By chance we find the N11 going East, back the way we came. But Most of the N11 is split between East and West. We think we are close and finally find a street name that we can follow. Everyone is looking for the hotel and finally we find it. It took us about an hour to navigate 5 miles. Wow. We join up with Mark and get dinner, late.
The next day, I need to get the car back by 10am. First I need gas. Almost immediately, I am lost. Finally I find a station then need to find the Hertz facility. Hertz refused to pick up the car or drive me back to the hotel. Last time I user Hertz. No I must get a cab.
Later that morning, we decide to walk around and go through St. Stephens Green Park Pictures 79-82. We end up walking through the big shopping district. At 2:30 we meet up with tour group. It turns out we are only 17 people. We board a bus for our tour of Dublin and this takes us through a few old town districts, a Park (Pictures 84-91) and to Trinity College and the viewing of the book of Kells. That night is a get together with the group for a light dinner. Then Its out again walking through the streets of the old town. Pictures 93-95
Next day, and all of the days are wakeup call at 6:30, Bags out at 7:15, Breakfast at 7:15, board bus a 8:30. On our way to Galway.
Through the country side we went stopping briefly in Athlone, then on to Galway. We parked on the cityís central park. A few blocks from the harbor. We walked through a series of shops to a river. It turns out that an around the world sailboat race was to finish that night in Galway. But the first boats were due to arrive late that night. We found a store to purchase a ring for Jessie and had lunch at a local eatery. Our stop that night was a hotel just out of town. That night, we went to Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. We climbed up a narrow circular staircase to the middle floor which turned out to be the banquet hall. With one of our group crowned King Gura, we were fed and entertained by a troupe of singers and harpist telling tales of the history of the castle in period clothing. The castle was on a peninsula overlooking the south side of Galway Bay Pictures 98-104.
The next morning, we headed back through Kinvara to the Clifts or Mohr. Pictures 105-109 were taken on the way and just show how lush and green the country side is. This area called the Burren has many hills where the soil is so thin that the layered limestone is exposed showing that this portion of Ireland was once buried below the sea and uplifted. That day at the cliffs, we encountered our first real rain and some wind. The cliffs were visible but not in any direct sun. They were pretty dramatic. There was a castle tower at the top and you could go up there to take pictures but things were pretty wet. Pictures 110-119.
Off we went to our next destination through several towns that each had a festival that drew tourists from all over. One such town has a festival for single people. As the story goes, single farmers would go there during this festival to find wives. A fairly difficult thing to do for a farmer was to meet eligible women. This next stop was Bunratty Castle, near the city of Limerick. This park was kind of a reconstructed village. We were able to climb all through the castle rooms. Very Touristy. There were several shops for selling pottery and woolens. It was very wet and we werenít too anxious to get out and wander. Pictures 120-135.
From there we traveled through Limerick and several small towns until reaching Killarney where we were to stay for the next three nights. The next morning, we were treated to a ride through Killarney Park on a horse drawn carriage. Pictures 137-145. Just outside our hotel was this neo-gothic church. Neo-gothic means a church built after the Gothic period from 1000 to 1500 but in the gothic style. Most of the day was spent driving through the Ring of Kerry. It is a beautiful area along the ocean on the west coast. We got to the village of Sneen where we had lunch. On an ocean overlook, our guide got out a bottle of whiskey for any who wanted. Pictures 149-163 Once back in Killarney, Barb wanted some street sign photos. Clear as a bell arenít they? Pictures 164-170. Check out the yellow sign in 164. That night, we were allowed to choose from one of three restaurants in Killarney. All of us chose one of the two authentic Irish choices.
Next was a driving trip through another peninsula on the west coast called Dingle. Pictures 171-198. Here we had a cliff side road until we reached the tip. There are a few islands out called the Blasket islands. They were abandoned in the 1950ís due to the aging population and the harsh living conditions. There is a very good visitor center showing the history of the islanders and showing the language and culture of the area. We stopped in the town of Dingle for lunch and again some wandering around time. On the road back, we stopped at a park in Tralee. They have a festival called the rose of Tralee Festival. We check out a beautiful park there. Picture 199. By now most were pretty tired and didnít bother to get out. That night we went to an Irish Ceilidh. This was a dinner in a fairly big restaurant with Irish music and some Irish Dancers. Our four Barbaraís in the group got up to sing Molly Malone Pictures 200-204
The next day we traveled from Killarney east to Blarney Castle where again, we were able to climb through the castle and to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone Pictures 207-222. In Cobh (Sounds like Cove), we were dropped off at the dock area. The store of Cobh was that it was the last stop for the Titanic. Pictures 226-229. There is a pretty good museum with information about the Titanic but mostly of the Irish migration to US, Australia and Canada. The statue on picture 229 is of a young girl with her two brothers leaving for New York. There is a similar statue on Ellis Island. She became the poster-girl for the Million and a half Irish that emigrated in the last half of the 1800ís.
Next we drove through Cork but didnít really stay too long. That night, we stayed on a golf resort near Blarney Castle.
On the way out of the Cork area, we stopped briefly in the town of Caher pictures 232-236. This castle at Caher may be used in filming a new movie soon. On the way out of town, there was a very large castle being renovated. Pictures 237-241. Next stop, the Irish National Stud. I thought that there would be a fairly large number of horses being trained but in fact, there were just a few horses being put out to stud there. Pictures 243-249.
We got into Dublin that afternoon. That night, we hopped a ride on another groups bus where we went to our final night entertainment and dinner. This was a much bigger show than the Ceilidh with 6 Irish Dancers, music, Irish comedian. Pictures 251-255.