Carnets de voyage

Trip Information

Doorway into the Soul
Doorway into the Soul (0)
Trip Date:2002-04-24 - 2002-04-27
# Photos:1 [View]
Countries visited:Irlande
Vue: 4704
April 24th

We woke up around 7am to go to Dublin (I drove). Mom and Jason both fell asleep in the back seat on the trip up. We broke our fast in Carlow, at a little deli-style breakfast bar, where dad could get a slightly healthier breakfast than the normal fare.

As we got closer to the city, we noticed lots of roadwork, which we discovered was due to a new subway system being built under the city. It should be going on until 2005, according to one of our bus tour guides. After a very congested drive into town centre, we found the Dawson Parking Garage (near Trinity College) and went in to gawk at the Book of Kells at the College. As it was a Wednesday, the campus was alive with students, and the center square had them sitting all around (most ignoring the "keep off the grass" signs posted periodically). The Book of Kells has a wonderful exhibition on the construction of illuminated manuscripts, including the manufacture of inks and dyes used, and the preparation of vellum for the pages.

The book itself was in a separate room, and had several guards to keep people from touching the precious manuscripts. One guard had a rifle and was keeping a close watch. Evidently people have ignored the warnings in the past!

We went on into the Old Library, which is very similar in construction to the Jedi Library shown in Attack of the Clones. In the Old Library there is a hallway, with two story alcoves off each side down the whole length of the hall. Those alcoves are covered from floor to second story ceiling with books. Also in the library are busts of famous literary peoples, and the harp used as a model for the national symbol of Ireland. That harp is from the 15th century, and is the oldest known surviving harp in Ireland.

Out of Trinity College, and onto the nearest bus stop for the on-again-off-again city tours. We got our all-day tickets, and did our first round of sightseeing. We passed the Guinness factory, Phoenix Park and Zoo, and of course the famous statue of Molly Malone. Our tour guide had a wicked sense of humour, even though you could tell most of his jokes were pre-written and standard for the guides. However, he also serenaded us with a selection of songs, including 'Molly Malone'. In addition to his wonderful singing, he told us of one of the nicknames of the famous statue: "The Tart with the Cart". He showed us the statues of two other ladies, with shopping bags on a nearby bench, called "The Hoors near the Sewers" or "The Hags with the Bags!".

Our first departure from the tour was at Guinness factory storehouse. To Jason this was like a pilgrimage to Mecca. The whole exhibition was done over 5 stories of the building, and was very slick and modern. Almost EPCOT-style in its design, it had several areas where you could smell the different types of hops and grains that went into the manufacture of the beer. You could see old barrels and copper tanks, one which held over 720,000 pints of Guinness. On the fifth floor, there was an exhibit that held all the old advertising and promotional items, including a little video with many of the TV commercials in it. We hadn't realized that Rutger Hauer was a Guinness boy! A little dancing reindeer, ala Wallace and Grommit, was dancing to the mambo throughout the commercials, as this was their theme tune. Very cute!

On the top floor was the Gravity Bar, a round glass enclosure where you could get your pint of Guinness, and see Dublin spread out before you like a sea of buildings. Since I don't drink Guinness, and neither do my parents, he could have had four pints up there. However, he said if he did so, we would have to carry him down, and none of us were up to the task. So he had his own pint and mine, and mom discovered that she could get a Coke instead with hers.

It was very crowded up there, so after our libations we headed downstairs, and perused the gift shop for a bit. Jason couldn't find anything there that he couldn't get in the States, so we went back to the bus stop for our next leg of sightseeing.

We took the tour bus back to Stop 1, and since there was a wait until the next bus started again, we stopped at the McDonalds right there for lunch. A very strange McDonalds, the bathrooms were on the 4th floor! They still used styrofoam as part of their packaging, and we noted that it said all patties were 100% Irish Beef. It did taste strangely different from our burgers! It was very crowded, so we ate quickly and went out to catch the next bus leaving.

We went on to the Phoenix Zoo, and Jason had a moment with the monkeys right away. He was watching the spider monkeys through the plastic screen, and one came over to him and started mimicking his faces. All of a sudden, the monkey pressed his privates against the screen and started dancing for Jason! Unfortunately, I was elsewhere with the camera, a fact that Jason still curses to this day.

After seeing some beautiful (but sleepy) snow leopards, polar bears, snow owls, and sea lions, mom and I rested while Jason and dad toured the African section of the zoo. It was getting close to closing time, so we wandered towards the entrance, seeing some red pandas on the way out.

We waited about 15 to 20 minutes for our bus to come pick us up, across from the Wellington Monument Obelisk in Phoenix Park, all the time wondering where the pick up point was (no sign was evident).

When we got back to stop 1, we decided to walk back to the car and find some food for dinner on the way. We ended up near Trinity College, but in the financial district, and Jason and I noted some pickpockets checking our group out, until they saw Jason. My husband is 6'4", and 350 pounds -- not anyone to mess with lightly.

We went into a rather large restaurant/pub called O'Neills, and then decided that it was too crowded and smoky to eat in. We realized that at this time of night, finding a quiet place to eat was nigh impossible, so Jason and I volunteered to go get the car and come pick them up. Mom had twisted her ankle, and was having trouble walking a lot. We walked back to the garage, paid for our parking (E20) and got the parents.

On our way out of town, (it was just dusk) we saw a place that looked right out of the Jetsons... it was called Joel's and it had a glass frontage, sort of angled out at the top, with neon signs. We decided to give it a try, and it was a good choice. Jason and I had the plaice, while mom had steak... it was very good. We noticed that there were several birthday cakes going out for singing Happy Birthday, and realized that they use the same cake each time, take it back, and bring out pre-sliced pieces for the diners -- very odd!

We drove the long way home, and luckily it was mostly Ms and Ns, and we made it home at 11pm, off to sleep.

April 25th

This morning, Jason didn't feel well, and didn't feel like spending all day cramped in the car, so he decided to stay at the Abbey while mom, dad and I went to the Ring of Kerry. We left around 7:30, and drove through Cork, and on to Kenmare. We tried to stick to the larger roads, and luckily there is one N that goes fairly straight through to the beginning of this Ring of Kerry. There are actually three Rings, and we were planning on driving around the middle one.

We reached our starting spot, Kenmare, around lunchtime, and bellied up to the local pub, called Moeran's, for some chicken sandwiches and potato soup. We chatted with a local contractor who was sitting next to a sign that said "Ye Olde Bullshit Corner!". Then off we went into Kerry!
As we entered County Kerry, we came across a standing stone on an outcropping near the road. There was some lovely barberry blooming beside it, and we stopped for a while there. Then, further in, we noticed someone had carved a unicorn and placed it on the side of the road, rearing up as the cars rode by. We stopped at Moll's Gap, a "scenic spot", and did a little shopping and some sightseeing. The view was absolutely wonderful. The mountains were sere and harsh, but soft and rounded as well. You could see the sky all around you as it met the tops of the hills...

We kept driving down, and eventually started driving along the coast of the peninsula, and saw some wonderful vistas to the sea. Now, at this point, the day was a bit stormy, and a cold wind was blowing strong, but you could still see blue waters next to bright green fields, and stony cliffs. We noticed many of the B&Bs had names like Seaview, Forestview, Cliffview, etc. We made some others up: Sheepview, Rainview, Roadworkview...

At one point they were completely resurfacing the road, and was at the point where all there was left was gravel, so for half a mile, we drove on the side of a mountain, on a narrow road, on loose gravel. What fun!

We ran into our second set of suicidal sheep here, including a lamb aching to become stew. We had to wait for the sheep to get out of the road. We noticed that we were in pink sheep country (the farmers stain their sheep's butts with dye to identify them), while back near Kilkenny we saw more green sheep.

Once we got to the tip of the peninsula, we switched drivers, and saw the Dingle Peninsula on the other side of the bay. There were very narrow roads (more than normal, even) and very little traffic. Perhaps the fact that it was raining and cold helped, but by the time we got into Tralee, we were more than ready for a hot dinner and no driving for awhile!

We stopped at a Chinese restaurant for dinner. I have yet to have a poor or mediocre dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the British Isles. I had a fried king prawn appetizer that absolutely delicious, and wished Jason was there so he could figure out what was in it (and make it himself someday). I guess you get used to having a husband with supernatural taste buds. Dinner was mussels in a spicy sea sauce, also delicious and something I couldn't identify.

When summing up the Ring of Kerry, mom said it definitely deserves its reputation of being the most beautiful drive in Europe. Dad simply said it was beautiful. I would say breathtaking. And we only drove one third of it, in the rain!

We drove back through Limerick, and got home late, around 11:15pm. I slept very well!

April 26th

We slept in today, at least compared to prior days, and got up around 9:30. We went in to Kilkenny before a leisurely breakfast at a local bistro, which had the most delicious mushrooms! The bistro was behind a shopping centre, where we parked our car, and we walked on to Kilkenny Castle, which was all of two blocks down the road.

Our guide was Eamon, and we weren't allowed any photography or filming inside the Castle. However, we were taken on a wonderfully informative tour of the rooms. Much of it has been restored recently to its 18th century grandeur, including gilt on the moldings and rails. The stairway was made entirely of Jamaican mahogany, and there were Italian marble fireplaces and tables.

We went downstairs after the tour for a short glimpse of the medieval section of the castle, which looked like a brick oven, for the most part.

We went to search for a woolen shop, as I was still searching for a shawl for Kim, like the one I got on my last visit to Ireland. We couldn't find any, but stopped at the "Abracadaba Café" for some drinks.

We went on to Thomastown to see Jerpoint Abbey, but went to have lunch first at Bradshaw's Pub. While trying to find a parking spot in town, we noticed a terrific traffic jam, and decided to park behind the Supervalu. We went in to purchase some Cadbury chocolate first, to bring home with us. (so Jason wouldn't go through withdrawals quite so soon.) The food was OK, although the sherry trifle chantilly was heavenly.
Leaving the pub, we noticed the traffic jam still quite heavy. I wondered aloud if this was common, and a little old lady said "Yes!" as she walked by. We laughed a bit and went off to wait in traffic to get to the abbey.

Jerpoint Abbey was a Cisterian Abbey in the 12th century, and while we were touring the place, a storm worthy of south Florida blew in, blew up, and blew out, all in a half hour's time. Afterwards it was sunny and the birds were chirping. Luckily, we were able to weather out the storm in the Abbot's quarters!

We saw a carving of a dragon in one of the pillars of the colonnade, and were told that the forked or knotted tail in a dragon means it represents the devil. No fork or knot in the tail means it represents power. We also saw carvings of the Lord and Lady of Kilkenny, the Butler family, with little monkeys carved next to them. The story goes that they had a pet monkey, who woke up when there was a fire in the castle, and saved the family by screeching. Ever since, they have been the patron animal of the family.

We drove back into Kilkenny for dinner at Breathnach's (we didn't feel like experimenting on our last evening), and got almost too full to drive home. But drive home we must, as we had to wake at 6am for our noon flight out.

April 27th

Up at 6am... ugh! We were packed, showered, and downstairs by 7am, and on the road back to Dublin. An uneventful drive, we got to the airport, and reserved our seats for the trip from Dublin to JFK. For some reason, the clerk could not find our reservations from JFK to PBI, and this worried us a bit! We went down to customs by about 9:30, and discovered they don't open until 10:30, so we relaxed a bit. I went up to the duty free shops and did some last minute shopping, and when we were allowed in through customs, I went over to the Delta counter and asked them to verify our reservations, as well as get seats for us. Done and done, no problems, and a BIG worry off our minds.

The plane ride back was quiet and easy, we had a free seat between us and our armrests lifted nicely. Once in JFK we had about a half mile walk (with luggage!) from the American terminal to the Delta terminal. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was in the airport, but we had to walk outside, across busy streets, in the heat, dragging bags. You would think they would engineer things a bit better than that, no?

Once in Delta territory, we blessed our Etickets, as we avoided a long line, and once again Jason had to remove his shoes for check in. We took it in good humor, though, and went on to our flight. A quick lunch (we learned from last time) at Burger King in the airport and we were ready to fly home.

Very uneventful trip home -- I much prefer them that way. Of course, coming back into PBI was like walking into a sauna with a hot, wet towel slapped in your face, but hey, I guess it's home!

Father: Our trip home wasn't quite as smooth. We got the car returned to the rental agency while the kids were working their way through the various lines as our flight didn't depart for a few hours after theirs. In fact, we got back to the airport to find that they weren't accepting check-ins for our flight yet so we just cooled our heels in the outer terminal lobby, until they got around to posting our flight. No early check-ins, I guess. Then, while we were waiting in line to check in, a security person had us step out of line so they could hand-inspect our luggage! The good news is, we got to return to a special line that moved pretty fast, since our luggage was already checked.

We then proceeded through security (again) and to the gate. I exchanged all my Euros for dollars at the local exchanger and bought us some lunch at a local kiosk. Then it was down to customs (which, again, were off duty until an hour before the flight left). So sit some more. Then some more in the gate area. Our route back was Dublin to Chicago and then back to San Francisco. So, we would go through Immigration in Chicago. At least the flights were somewhat shorter - 8 hours and 4 hours. But we got to see the same movies again. You see, we flew over on United, but returned on American. We arrived back in SF about on schedule and caught the shuttle home. We had pre-paid for the trip home on the way out (discount) so we just had vouchers to give to the driver. Since we were the last stop out of several passengers, we finally arrived home shortly after midnight. A loooong day.

Christy Nicholas and D. Paul Klein