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!)

Not so interesting things

I’m really not sure what I’ve been doing with my time lately.  Being lazy, mostly, though the other day my boss said “I don’t know how you keep up with everything you do in your life.”  I guess we have different versions of lazy.

Last night was our last choir concert of the season.  It went really well, I think.  It was nice to only be performing one piece (the orchestra did the Organ Symphony as the first half, which was absolutely amazing – if you’ve seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, you would recognize the piece).  It meant that rehearsals weren’t as strenuous, which was nice, after March’s concert .  We rehearse Monday nights til 10:00, which means running home after work, changing and scarfing down some dinner, and then straight to the Cathedral.  I’m really going to enjoy having my Mondays back, but I’m going to miss seeing those people all the time.  There’s a huge age range in the choir.  Our youngest member is probably a girl in her freshman year of college, and we definitely have members in their 80’s.  And there are so many different professions represented too.  It’s just nice to be around completely different people for a change.  Otherwise, I’m with people my age or federal employees.  We re-audition at the end of May, and then next season starts up after Labor Day.  I shouldn’t be, but I’m a little worried about re-auditions.  I’ve got the music and I know most of it, but I’m still concerned.  There are some amazing singers in our choir, most of them still being trained.  While I have a number of years of training under my belt, it’s been a while since I’ve had a lesson.  D.C. has also just lost one of its big chorales, and so all of those members will be looking for new places to sing.  Thankfully, we re-audition first, but our directors have to know that there’s a whole lot of other talent out there.

I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Race again this year.  I actually trained properly this year and knocked more than 5 minutes off my time.  I’m still insanely slow, but I’d rather be slow and finish happy than be fast and want to vomit as soon as I cross the finish line.  I’m running the Army Ten Miler in October, and the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando in March.  I’m ridiculously excited about that race, and I want to be sure I’m in good running shape for it.  I’ll never be a marathoner, but a half marathon sounds like a good challenge. 

I ran a whopping 3 miles this weekend.  Clearly, more running is necessary.

I went to Hawaii for a week in April.  It was awesome and beautiful and relaxing, and I wish I had more time for vacations.  It’s so rare that I just take a day to do nothing but sit and read and not worry about things.  When I’m home, even if I have a day off, I have a list of tasks that I feel the need to complete.  I need to work on being a better relaxer.  I don’t see that happening anytime soon though.

Other than that, I’m not sure what takes up all of my time, but it’s definitely busy.  I guess that’s a good thing.

A surprise trip

This weekend, I flew home to St. Louis to surprise my dad for Father’s Day.  He’s hard to surprise, so I’m really impressed that we managed to pull this one off.  My mom knew I was coming – the plan was partially hers – but she had told a number of people, so I was worried that Dad would somehow find out.  Amazingly, he didn’t.  I was so sure that someone would let it slip, not realizing that it was a surprise.

Even though it was a short weekend, it was nice to have time at home with the family when nothing was really scheduled.  Even at Christmas, things were really busy with Christmas celebrations, and rehearsals for Mass, and my swearing in.  This time, it was just relaxing and fun. 

Conveniently, I even got an extra day there – I was at the airport sitting at the gate on Monday when they announced that the flight was cancelled.  By this point in time, my parents were already nearly home (a 45ish minute drive).  I called the airline and could still have made it home on Monday night, but there was a good chance that I would arrive in D.C. after the Metro had closed – and while I have good friends here, asking someone to pick me up after midnight on a Monday night seemed like a lot to ask.  I instead opted to take a flight late Tuesday morning. 

I hadn’t been back since Christmas, and hadn’t seen my grandparents since then either, so it was really a great trip.  It was fun to get to play with the dogs too.  I miss having dogs around, but my schedule doesn’t really allow for a dog right now. 

I won’t be back again til this Christmas (already booked my flights!), but I’ll see the family sporadically throughout the fall, mostly thanks to football.  Nothing like Notre Dame football to bring a family together.

This is the end of my traveling for a few months, thankfully.  I like being gone, but it’s so hard to get back to a routine once I get home!