Back to the real world

What an awesome trip.  I have decided that I really like cruising.  It was awesome to be totally disconnected from everything.  It was great to sit at the dinner table every night with friends and have actual conversations and not have everyone constantly looking at their phones.  I think we should all disconnect more often.

Will do a full recap later in the week when I finally have time to breathe.  For now, just some disjointed thoughts.

I’m still trying to catch up here.  I can’t believe it’s already October.  I’m still digging through personal emails and work emails are a disaster.  (And to answer a question I’ve gotten – I’m a federal employee but in a non-appropriated agency, so I’m still working and getting paid, thank goodness.)

I managed to get in a bit of running while on the cruise.  Two different runs on the deck of the ship – much nicer while the ship was moving because the breeze was awesome –  and then the Castaway Cay 5K.  That was more of a walk than a run, but it was hot!  I’ve got one more weekend to get into half marathon shape.  Pretty sure Baltimore won’t be pretty, but it’s nice to no longer be on the injured list!

Coming back from vacation is rough.  I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.  Doesn’t help that the cats were plastered to my side all night so I didn’t sleep all that well.

I’m participating in Katy Widrick’s Octoblog Challenge, so I’m hoping to make some significant improvements to the blog this month.  Gonna be a busy one!

Ireland Recap – Part 3

I hope no one minds that I have dragged this recap out this long.  And if you do mind, well it’s my blog. 🙂  Come back tomorrow for more talk about running.

Day Seven – Travel to Kerry, Blarney Castle

Finally, it was time to leave Dublin.  Not to disparage the city, or anything.  It was a lovely city, just too crowded.  I would like to go back someday when there aren’t insane football fans on every corner.

On the way to Kerry, we stopped at Blarney Castle.

Bad news guys, I did not kiss the Blarney Stone.  I would have liked to climb up into the castle, but the line to get in was about 90 minutes long, and since we were limited in how much time we had there, I wanted to be sure to explore the grounds rather than just stand in a line.  Besides, that sounds very unsanitary.  And does anyone really think I need the gift of gab?

So instead, we wandered the castle grounds.  That was amazing.  It was gorgeous.  And it was another reminder that we were in a place very different from the United States.  No railings.  No protections.  And then there was this.

A poison garden!  With nothing keeping people from picking things!  But don’t worry, I didn’t pick anything.  I’m such a rule follower.

I did not attempt to pull it up to find out if it really screams.

It was definitely a place where you could imagine wizards and witches living though.  Very magical.

And finally, we made it to Tralee and checked in to our hotel.  We were all so tired that we just opted to eat in the hotel bar. Which was delicious.  I need to find the recipe for the brown bread we ate everywhere.

Day Eight – Ring of Kerry Tour

Yet another bus tour, but this one was amazing.  We had a wonderful tour guide who told us all about the history of Ireland and about her adventures as a tour guide.  She was the sort of person I want to be friends with. She does all sorts of tours on foot and bike around the Ring of Kerry, and I want to join her for one some day.

Also, she encouraged us to have an Irish Coffee (coffee, cream, sugar, and Jameson) early in the morning.  I had one and I cannot disagree with her.

My photos don’t do this trip justice.  It was gorgeous and I want to go back and bike the route.

The trip ended with a boat ride.

Followed by a horse drawn carriage ride.

All in all, a very cool trip, and a perfect way to end our visit to Ireland.

We were scheduled to go to another show that night, but we were so tired and the people going to the show wouldn’t get back til almost midnight, so we decided to skip it and just be lazy and enjoy our last night in the country.

Day Nine – Travel Home

Goodbye, Ireland.  This day was filled with stress, culminating in me getting scolded by an American Airlines agent for somehow violating federal law (note: she was wrong).  It definitely made me glad to be home, and glad that I’m not doing any big travel for a while.  But don’t worry, Ireland.  I will be back.

Ireland Recap – Part Two

And back to the trip recap!

Day Four – Travel to Dublin, Birr Castle, Pep Rally

Today, we checked out of our lovely hotel in Galway and headed to Dublin.  It’s not a very long drive, but it was made extra special scenic with a stop at Birr Castle.  (And in pulling up that link, I discovered they do weddings there.  Who wants to marry me in Ireland?)

Also, someone actually lives in that castle.  Crazy.

The site is also the location of some amazing gardens and a telescope from 1845 that is insanely huge and also awesome.

We made it to Dublin.  Dublin was CRAZY.  Probably because of all the Notre Dame and Navy fans there.  I think I heard there were 60,000 people there for the game?  Yikes.

That night, we went to the “pep rally,” but I think that was the wrong term for it.  It was a giant performance of sorts, with musicians and dancers and local politicians and celebrities.  It was strange, but awesome.

Also, it was televised on local networks.  I wonder what the locals thought as they watched the end, with the whole crowd singing and swaying along to the Alma Mater.

Day Five – Notre Dame v. Navy

Ahh yes, the official reason for our trip.  FOOTBALL!

We opted to sleep in today and not start drinking at the crack of dawn.  We were TIRED!  So we had a lazy morning and then walked over to the stadium.

Yes, we were there a little early, but we had to make sure we got our beer, after all.

The game was awesome.  Navy had a good bunch of their Midshipmen there, as well as (some of?) their band, and ND had their upperclassmen band members.  Clearly, that’s crucial for my enjoyment of college football.

You can’t tell very well from this shot, but the band is making the shape of Ireland.  Awesome.

The game was definitely a good start to Notre Dame’s season.

No complaints here.

After the game, we walked back to our hotel, beating all the busses that were driving people back.  For dinner, more alcohol and cake.  This is possibly why I gained four pounds while on vacation.

Day Six – Tour of Dublin, Guinness Storehouse Party

First off, Dublin was insane this entire weekend.  Not only was it the Notre Dame/Navy game, but it was also the Gaelic Football All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Mayo.  Our tour guide was from Mayo and tried to explain things, and cutely stated that there was no way Mayo would win because Dublin was awesome, but she would always be a fan.   Spoiler alert: Mayo won.

So this day, we drove around Dublin, seeing the sights and stopping at a few (very crowded) places.

Before 11 am, this was in front of me.

I’m not a huge whiskey fan, but this was really fascinating.  I think my liquor cabinet needs a bottle of Jameson now.  And it was just interesting to learn how whiskey is made.  The distillery is a very cool place.

Then we went on to Christ Church Cathedral, which was beautiful, though we didn’t have much time there.

It was a bit strange to walk down into the crypts and find not only a gift shop but free wi-fi.  I also ran into Chrissy down there, who lived across the hall from me during our freshman year.  She and a friend were doing a five day bike tour of the southern part of Ireland in a few days.  I’m jealous.

Traffic was horrific in Dublin this day, so in general, it was a bit of a bummer.  We went to Trinity College to see The Book of Kells, but it was so crowded that I just wanted to get out.  We ultimately ditched our tour and wandered the city on our own.  It was easier to get around on foot than by bus.

That evening, we had tickets to a Notre Dame Party at the Guinness Storehouse.

Yes, it was a day filled with alcohol.  But it was delicious.  I would like to go back to the brewery for the official tour, but we had a good time and the food was good.  Also, the beer.  You can go all the way to the top and see a 360 degree view of Dublin, but by the time we got there, it was dark and also crowded.  That was sort of the story of the weekend, but what do you expect with 60,000 American football fans in the city?

Still to come? Days 7-9!

Ireland Recap – Part One

I really should have worked on this trip report as the days went along, but I didn’t, so you’re stuck with whatever I can pull out of my still jet-lagged brain.

So here we go.

Days One and Two – Travel to Galway

The trip didn’t have the world’s best start.  On Tuesday, my mom, dad, and sister were scheduled to fly out early in the morning.  They got to the airport what they thought was three hours early, but it turns out their flights were changed and their first of three planes left in just 20 minutes.  No way for them to make that.  So they went through a bit of a travel debacle that made everyone a bit nervous.  My flights still looked good, but I decided to get to the airport early.  Ended up getting on an earlier flight to Boston, where I met up with the rest of the family, as well as some high school football players also heading to Ireland for a series of high school football games being played over there as part of this crazy weekend.

The plane ride was fine.  I like that Aer Lingus has screens in each seat so I could watch a movie or two.  We landed in Shannon around 6am local time, which was 1:00 at home.  I was exhausted.  We then waited around for a while and had coffee and then headed to the bus to Galway.  Let’s just say that exhaustion, coffee on an empty stomach, and a swaying bus ride didn’t make for the greatest combination and I spent the rest of the morning sleeping.

By the afternoon, I felt much better and joined the family in Galway for some shopping.  This was the only day that we saw any rain – just on and off spotty showers.  The town itself was a lot of fun. Lots of charming little shops and street musicians all over the place.  And the rain meant that we saw the most gorgeous rainbows later in the day.

Day Three – The Cliffs of Moher and Trad on the Prom

On our first full day in Ireland, we headed out on a bus tour.  Unfortunately, this was the day that we had the worst tour guide.  I’m kind of glad that we came upon him first – we didn’t know what we were missing.

This tour was supposed to include a visit to the Burren region, but we somehow didn’t get there.  Great job, tour guide.

But we did make it out to The Cliffs of Moher.  It was easy to see why this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland.

It was absolutely gorgeous.

One thing that was amazing was the lack of railings or any sort of protection to prevent people from jumping or falling.  There were warning signs, but that was it.   You were there at your own risk.  There were a number of signs with a phone number to call if you needed someone to talk to, trying to prevent jumpers.  It was one of those times where we realized just how different the United States is.  In the US, there would have been fences and railings everywhere, which would have marred the view.

After the day out, we headed to a show called Trad on the Prom.  I knew very little, only that it was a show featuring someone who had been a featured soloist with The Chieftains.  Oh my goodness, this show was fabulous.  Amazing instrumentalists, great vocals, awesome dancers.   It was definitely worth going, and if you are ever going to Galway, definitely check it out.

And that ends the first part of the recap.  For my running friends, tomorrow, I will return to running discussions, with the second part of the recap scheduled for Friday.



I Survived Vacation!

Ireland is amazing.  It is so beautiful.  If you’ve never been, definitely go.  It really is as green as the pictures make it seem.

(Yes, I do have pictures.  They are still on my camera.  I’m planning to download them all this weekend and try to get them online.  Really, I should just wait and link to my dad’s photos though.  He takes amazing pictures.)

We went as part of a gigantic tour group for the Notre Dame v. Navy game in Dublin last weekend (sorry, Annapolis friends – for the rest of the season, I will cheer for Navy).  The running joke among the guides was that the last time this many foreigners arrived in Ireland, the Normans were invading.  The trip was booked about two years ago, and we had to select activities and tours without really knowing how the schedule worked out.  Ultimately, it meant we were busy.  But we certainly saw a lot.  And we had some incredible guides.  Though I did struggle to stay awake on some of the bus tours.

Because there were so many people in the country for the football game, things were crowded.  We went to Blarney Castle, but opted to not wait the 90 minutes to kiss the Blarney Stone.  I don’t know that I need to be more gabby anyway.  But for the most part, people were genuinely friendly, and we were repeatedly thanked for bringing our money to the country.

I think my favorite part of the trip (after the 10 am drinks at the Jameson Distillery) was the tour of the Ring of Kerry, which is a tourist trail in the southwestern part of the country.  It was beautiful.  And I learned that there are bike trips along the trail.  My friend Chrissy was going on a multi-day bike trip, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes.  I want to go back and bike around.  Maybe in a few years.  Anyone want to go along?

(Oh yes, and then yesterday, I signed up for my first Tri. EEEEK!)