Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ireland - Last Day

Sadly enough, my journey has come to an end.  I'm off to the airport in a few minutes so this may not be a very long post.  I'm definitely not ready to leave yet, as I told most of the geocachers at the geocaching event last night.  I will be back!  

Yesterday I took a tour of the Kilmainham Gaol which is a pretty amazing place.  The history of the place alone makes it worth visiting.  On the tour we learned that during the famine, a lot of people imprisoned there had done only minor things such as steal four loafs of bread.  Living in prison offered a better life for some of these people since it meant food every day and a roof over their head.  The prison is also used today for filming a lot of movies, including In The Name Of The Father, Michael Collins, etc.

After that I headed down to the shopping district to get a few last minute goodies.  Then I met up with some geocaching friends for a nice afternoon/evening meeting a lot of local-ish cachers.  Many had come over to Dublin just for the day or the weekend.  It was very nice meeting all of them.

Well, I need to get going!  Like I said, I will have to come back!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ireland Day Six - Dublin

St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Trash Can
North of Dublin
North of Dublin
North of Dublin
Near Newgrange

I'm sad to say it's my last day in Ireland.  There's so much more I wanted to do and wanted to see.  But that will have to wait until next time.  I know there will be a next time, it's just a matter of when.

Yesterday I drove up to visit Newgrange.  It's amazing to stand in a place that was built in 3200 BC.  You just have to be amazed and wonder how they did it.  Apparently the winter solstice is the best time of year to be there, because for 17 minutes in the morning, the sun hits the entrance just right and it lights up the inside.  You have to win a lottery to be able to be there for that.

Then it was back to Dublin.  I decided to tour the Guinness Brewery.  They have a special tour built just for the tours - more like a Guinness museum.  At the end you come up to the Gravity bar where you get a nice view of the whole city and get a pint of Guinness.  

Since it was only a mile away, I stopped by the 800+ year old St. Patrick's Cathedral after the brewery. Unfortunately I was too late for visiting hours, but it's a beautiful church on the outside. 

Anyway, I must get started on my day now.  I'm meeting some geocaching friends for breakfast, then it's off to do some last touring.  Then this evening there is geocaching event where I'll get to meet a lot of geocachers from the area!

Ireland Day Five - Dublin

Dublin at night
Entrance to St. Stephen's Green
Dublin at night
Street Performer
Tribute to the Famine
Self portrait at Trinity College
Cool sculpture at Trinity College
Trinity College
Tourism Office
Near my hotel
The Burren - south of Galway
Graffiti in Galway

It was hard to leave the west side of Ireland yesterday since it's so beautiful over there, but I knew there was a lot I wanted to see in Dublin.   I definitely think two weeks here would have been the better way to go since there's so much to see!  I decided not to head up to Northern Ireland like I wanted to.  I've been doing a lot of driving this whole trip so I figured I would focus mostly on the Dublin area.  I am going to visit Newgrange today, and I may be tempted to drive up to the border just so I can set foot in the UK - maybe find a geocache just across the border. :)

Over today and tomorrow I also want to visit Kilmainham Gaol as it has a lot of connections to Irish history.  Possibly a visit to the Guinness brewery and Phoenix Park.  

I was warned ahead of time, but I really have seen that Ireland doesn't like to use street signs.  Luckily the google maps on my iphone have been awesome, otherwise I'm not sure how I would have found my hotel yesterday!  The only thing I've had to worry about is my iphone battery dying before I get to where I'm going.  

I'm not sure if I just don't listen to the right radio stations in the US, but I have noticed that the Irish LOVE Lady Gaga.  I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't heard her song at least once or twice.  I have been enjoying listening to the radio here.  Last night I caught an interesting reality show on Irish tv called Feirm Factor.  Part in Gaelic, part in English and the grand prize was a Land Rover.  The contestants had to compete in several farm related activities and the person who did the best overall won the Land Rover.  I caught the very last episode - but I won't tell you who wins!

Anyway, I must get going on my day now!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ireland - Day Four - Connemara

Summit of Diamond Hill
Kylemore Abbey
On the hike
On the hike

Beginning of the hike
Near Connemara National Park
Near Connemara National Park
Westport - what's an Ironmonger?
Paddy Coynes Pub
On the drive to Connemara

I'm kind of anxious to get on the road so this may be a shorter post.  Yesterday was a great day discovering the Connemara area.  I finally got to spend some more time outside when I went on a hike up Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park.  It was an easier hike with spectacular views.  

From the hike I could look down and see my next destination - the Kylemore Abbey.  It's home to Benedictine Order of Nuns in Ireland.  You only get to go through a small portion of the Abbey which is set up like a mini-museum.  The grounds there are beautiful.  I got there too late to visit the gardens on the property.  

From there, I took the long way back to Galway by heading up to Westport.  I went on a short walk around the downtown of Westport and then back to Galway.  I walked around the downtown Galway for a little bit last night.  I've been in the area for two days but I haven't seen Galway in the daylight yet!  I'm going to go check it out this morning.

I've decided to head over to Dublin today and make that my home for the next three nights.  So I'll probably be checking out part of the city today.  I may take a daytrip tomorrow up to Northern Ireland but I haven't fully decided yet.  I am getting sad that my time here is starting to run out!

Thank you everyone for all your comments!  It's nice knowing that people are actually reading my blog. :)