Ireland

Taylor and I got married September 2, 2017.  It was a 1920’s Gatsby Soiree.  Our wedding was beautiful, but I will share that story later.  We decided to hold off on our honeymoon because we had chosen Ireland as our destination and we wanted to be able to save up more money for our trip.  From what I had researched about Ireland, April was right around the time that the weather started warming up.  It was also right before their tourist season, so everything was way cheaper booking wise.  Taylor was able to get April 21-29th off and so the booking began.

After researching and making a list of everything we were interested in seeing while in Ireland, most of the sights we wanted to see were in Dublin and Galway.  We decided to stick to these two major cities.  I booked our flights through British Airways.  They were the cheapest and had the best flight options.  They also flew into Dublin.  We had also decided we didn’t want to get a rental car, so sticking to the two major cities would help with that goal.  We had heard driving there was a bit confusing and scary at times.   I found that you could take a train from Dublin to Galway or vise versa, so this was how we were going to travel from one side of Ireland to the other.  We would be able to take in the beautiful countryside as we rode, which was very appealing to us, so I booked us tickets to Galway and then back to Dublin a few days later.  While starting to plan things in both these cities, I made sure to google the places we wanted to go and found hotel rooms that were central to these areas as well as close to some form of public transportation.  Our plan was to either walk, take a taxi or go on a tour bus to all the places we wanted to see.   I pretty much booked everything we were going to do online before we got there.  There was only one tour I booked on the fly because I happened to see it driving past on the street.

Being the organized person that I am, I went to Dollar Tree and purchased a few things.  I love Dollar Tree!  These things would include a three ring binder, some tab dividers, a pencil case that hooks into a binder, a notebook and some pens.  I then set up my binder with each tab showing the dates that we were going to be there.  As I booked things, I would print the tickets, confirmations, emails and I would put them in each days section in order of the time that the events would occur.  This was very helpful as the trip went on because I had all the information I needed on me at all times and it was easily accessible.  I also printed a map of Ireland and highlighted the areas we were going to visit.   This binder also contained a copy of each of our passports, and I emailed a copy of them to myself.  This is important because it would help us in the process of getting new ones made to be able to get home if for some reason they were lost or stolen.  My mom also held a copy of our full itinerary and passports.  The next thing I was sure to do was go to the bank and order up Euro a head of time.   That way we would have the currency as soon as we got there and not have to stop in the airport to exchange our currency.   This was very handy.  We carried 400 Euro on us.  Most places in Ireland accept Visa and Mastercard, but I figured it would be wise to have cash on us for the shops that were cash only and also for the taxi rides.  I also researched what type of adapter we needed to be able to charge our phones and charger banks.  I found a really nice one on Amazon that had 3 outlets.  I will post a link on the bottom of this post.  Rain jackets to go over our normal clothing since Ireland tends to be rainy was a must and lastly I purchased a fanny pack that you wear under your clothing.  The fanny pack might have been a bit excessive, but I didn’t want our passports or extra money we carried stolen.  Lots of things I read mentioned that if you carried your passports in a bag and it happened to get stolen/you got mugged/or you lost it, you would have a fun time trying to get back home without your passports. Taylor wore it under his clothing and didn’t think it was the most comfortable thing, but he was wearing it on bare skin. I am sure a t-shirt underneath probably would have been the better way to go.  Didn’t lose our passports though!    I’ll also post a link of these jackets down at the bottom as well as the fanny pack.

 

Day 0-1, April 21st & 22nd

Quite quickly, April 21 came around and it was time to go to the airport. Our flight was at 5:10 pm.  My sister and mom gave us a ride to the airport at 2:00 pm just to be safe.  We checked our bags and headed through security.  Surprisingly, for being a Saturday, the airport wasn’t very crowded.  We grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant in the airport because we knew we had a long flight ahead of us.  10 hours to be exact.  After eating, we called everyone and said hi before we got on the plane.  The plane was huge!  3 seats on either side and 4 in the middle.  So 10 seats across on the inside.

Once we got loaded on the plane we got comfortable and ready for our super long flight.  They provide a pillow, blanket and earphones.  Every seat had a screen in the back of it were you could watch new release movies, TV shows, listen to music, shop and see your flight path and info.  On the way there I watched Ferdinand, Downsizing and Kingsman Golden Circle.  They also provide 2 meals on the flight.  One towards the beginning of the flight and one towards the end.  All food and drinks are complementary.  For dinner we had a salad with vinaigrette, cheese ravioli, a dinner roll with butter, crackers with cheese, hot coffee/tea/wine/etc. and a delicious shortbread for dessert.

After dinner and my second movie, which was 5 hours in, I tried to sleep.  Tried being the main word in that sentence. We just couldn’t fall asleep for more than an hour.   The seats were not the most comfortable.  If  I ever travel that far again, I am buying the expensive first class seats. About an hour and 45 minutes before we landed they fed us breakfast.  It included a cranberry muffin, strawberry yogurt, a fruit cup, a breakfast wrap(cheese, mushroom and spinach) and of course our choice of tea/coffee/juice.  I was very thankful they fed us because after we landed, we were exhausted and had a 2 hour layover in the London Heathrow airport.  Then we had another 1.5 hour flight to Dublin.  We needed all the energy we could get.   At this point it is now April 22nd at 11:30 am. We get off the plane to learn that we have to find our way through a labyrinth of corridors, stairs and following signs.  The airports were set up so crazy and confusing.  The signage wasn’t always the easiest to follow or understand.  We followed the signs for connecting flights and found out that we had to jump on a bus that takes us to the next terminal.  Once we reached the next terminal, we had to go through customs. We ask the man directing at the start of the line where we need to go and he said to get in line. This is all fine and dandy, but he did not tell us we need to fill out an immigrant card.  We asked the flight attendant on our plane this question also when she was handing them out and she said we didn’t need one.  We get in line and get all the way to the front when they tell us we both need to fill one out.  Thankfully the guy directing the line at the front got us some and let us stay at the front while we were filling them out.  At this point I am super frazzled since we are on a time crunch.  We finally get them filled out and go up to the customs agent.  He takes our passports and immigrant cards.  He asked us a few questions, congratulated us on our honeymoon and sent us on our way.  We then find out we have to get through security again.  I am swearing off of international travel at this point since I am exhausted and frazzled.  Thankfully we get through pretty quickly.  After all that craziness, we now have a short amount of time to figure out where our next flight gate is.  The signage once again is pretty confusing and we ask information for help.  We find our gate and go buy new waters since we had to throw away our other brand new ones when we went through security again.  What a waste of money! We finally get to relax for a few minutes before we board the next flight.  We get on our next flight and it took forever to get to take off, all the while I have to pee like a racehorse.  The plane takes off and we get in the air.  I finally get to go to the bathroom.  At this point I am over traveling.  Thankfully on this flight I slept almost the whole time.  We land in Dublin.  Once again, a huge labyrinth of craziness and of course I have to pee again.  Let me preface that I just learned I had kidney stones I was passing and I was drinking a lot of liquid.  We are trying to find me a bathroom in this labyrinth and reach the customs line.  I now had to wait in this long line all the while having to pee so bad.  We get up to the customs officer, she asks us questions, congratulates us and we are on our way again. Thankfully we find a restroom shortly after and I empty my bladder.  We then get our luggage super fast which was nice and leave the airport.  We get in the taxi line and grab a taxi to our hotel the Hilton Dublin Airport.  The taxi driver is pretty quiet as we take in all the craziness that is riding on the freeway on the wrong side of the street.  We admire all the little houses along the way.

Hilton Dublin Airport

We make it to our hotel, check in and head up to our room.  Once again, this building is also set up super crazy.  The hallways are always full of twists and turns. We get into our room, I wipe everything down with Lysol wipes since I am a germaphobe and we decide to take a 3 hour nap.  We got there at about 3:00pm and slept till about 6:30pm.  At this point we wake up, but not enthusiastically.  We decide to go down to the hotel restaurant as we are super hungry.  Taylor gets his first Guinness with a bacon cheeseburger and I order a pepperoni pizza.  Unfortunately,  my pizza was not very good.  Taylor agrees.  If he agrees a pizza isnt good, then it isnt good.  It’s his favorite. So I only eat a bit and he gives me some of his food.

Here he is with his first Guinness. Bad picture of him though. Just the look of exhaustion. lol

After dinner, we decide to walk to Tesco.  Tesco is like a Walmart type store.  We needed some more water bottles and I wanted a sleep aide.  Tesco is 5 minutes away from our hotel.  We have to cross to the other side of the street.  It takes 6 cross walks to get there.  That’s how silly the streets are set up.  The Tesco is inside a mall that is closed other than the Tesco.  We get inside and take a gander.  We found water but they didn’t have a pharmacy area.  No drugs at all.  That’s ok though.  Definitely didn’t need the sleep aid that night.  We walk back to the room, we open our Pokemon Go apps and catch a MR. MIME and a Volbeat.  Super exciting.  We both grab a shower and then lay down.  He finishes his movie he was watching on his Ipad earlier on the flight and I pass out.

Day 2, April 23

Today is the day we take the train over to Galway.  Very exciting.  We get up, get ready to go, and go down to the continental breakfast in our hotel.  Cost us 30 Euro but it was pretty delicious.   The breakfast options are very different then they are here.  They had dry cereal, waffles and pancakes.  They also had meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurts, eggs, potatoes, muffins and some other stuff I wasn’t sure of.   This is where Taylor learns that no one drinks black coffee over there.  It is very rare.  All in all it was a fancy breakfast buffet and we enjoyed it.  We grab our stuff from the room and grab another taxi.  This driver was very friendly. I tell him where we are headed (Connelly Station) and he tells us that my paper is telling us to go to the wrong train station.  This freaks me out a bit but he assures us it will be fine, that we just have to take the tram from the station it is telling us, to the train station we were taking off from(Heuston). He tells us some cool things to do and see as we ride.  When we get to the station, we go to the kiosk to pick up our train tickets. It tells us we don’t have valid info.  We look around and there are no signs or people to help.  We realize the train station is up the stairs to the left of us and that the kiosk was for the tram, so we walk upstairs and find the correct kiosk to pick up our tickets.  We then talk to the info desk to find out how to get to the correct station.  We have to go back down the stairs to the LUAS tram and buy tickets to the Heuston station.  We get our tram tickets and jump on.  We enjoy looking at all the interesting buildings in this area as we ride.  We make it to the Heuston station and jump off.  We made it to the train!  We walk in the station and try to find out what platform our train is on.  Once again the signage is not helpful and we asked the info desk for help.  Thankfully they are always very nice and helpful.  We end up having a bit of a wait time since I always plan a lot of extra time so we aren’t late.  Once again I have to go to the bathroom.  There are no signs showing where they are.  We look all over and don’t see them.  After walking around a store and purchasing some postcards, we ask the lady working there and she explains where they are.  Yay!  So I make my bladder flatter.  Finally around that time the board shows what platform our train is on.  We board the train and find our seats.  The whole ride was very fun.  We got to see all the countryside as we rode.  Lots of green and animals.  Very beautiful.  There were about 6 or 7 stops till Galway.  It was very relaxing.

We make it to Galway and we are excited since it is right up against the bay.  The water was gorgeous and the air was so fresh.  Our next hotel was the Balcony House Bed and Breakfast run by a very nice lady named Teresa.  It was a bit of a walk from the train station, but not too bad.  We got to pass the Galway City Hall on our walk.  The B&B was on a street full of B&B’s.  There was one open plot of land and we joked about building our own B&B there and never coming home.

Balcony House B&B

 

Our little plot of land for our dream B&B.

Balcony House B&B is an old home.  Very beautiful inside downstairs, but the rooms were a bit outdated and could have been a bit nicer.  Our only thing we weren’t fans of was the bathroom.  No where to set stuff and the faucets were very messy and annoying.  After checking in, we walked down to the main city area to grab something to eat.  We stopped to grab pictures on the way.

We walked around down in the city a bit and finally settled on An Pucan Restaurant and Pub for dinner.

I had some sort of pasta dish. Taylor ordered Bacon and Cabbage.  They were both really delicious, his especially.  He also had his Guinness.  After dinner I wasn’t feeling well and we decided to just go relax back at the room.  When we got back our room was freezing since I left the window open.  We both got in our Pj’s and jumped into the bed for warmth.  The only heat came from the radiator in the room and we had no idea how that worked!  We You Tubed how to turn up the heat and finally got warm.  We just relaxed and watched random TV.  There were only 13 channels.  My favorite commercial was Insuremyvan.ie.  I liked the little song in it.  That was a joke the rest of the trip.

It started getting late and we had our first tour the next day we had to wake up for early.  We turn off the TV and sleep for about 30 minutes to and hour and wake up.  We cannot sleep.  We end up staying up till about 2:30 am snacking and watching more random TV.  Finally we fall asleep.

 

Day 3, April 24

On Tuesday we woke up early so we had enough time to eat breakfast and get to the bus station for our tour.  The shower was very odd to use.  You had to turn on a pump and then select what temperature you wanted the water.  Here is a picture for reference.

Very different if you have never seen one before.  This hotel is also where we learned that no one uses wash cloths.  The Hiton was the only hotel that had washcloths and even when we asked them for more washcloths they brought us hand towels.  Maybe that’s why a lot of the people are stinky?  We will get to that later.  Back to our day…. After getting ready to go we walked downstairs to the breakfast room.  It had a very vintage sitting room feel with beautiful dishes displayed.  There were four tables with four chairs each.

When we get down there and the owner Teresa is setting up the buffet table.  We were the first people down.  She tells us to have a seat.  We sit at the table in the picture and wait to serve ourselves.  Meanwhile she is in and out of the kitchen trying to get this breakfast set up.  To her defense we were a bit early.  A family of three walks in and starts grabbing food off the buffet and drinks.  They sit down and dig in.  Taylor and I are looking at each other like “should we get food? do we wait?.”  We are still just sitting at the table when Teresa comes back in and she asks us if we are going to eat, so we finally go over and get our food.  The buffet had meat, cheese, muffins, pancakes, cereals, homemade scones, fruit salad, yogurt, all the breakfast type drinks and I am sure there were a couple other things.  We grab our food and start eating.  She then comes over and asks if we would like any eggs, ham, toast, etc.  We order some eggs and toast.  She brings them out and we eat.  This is when we realize that eggs are cooked different over here.  I am not sure how to explain it, but they are always a little strange.  No matter where we ordered them or how we ordered them.  We finish our plates as to not be rude.  Then we are off to the bus station.  We had decided the night before when we couldn’t sleep that we would go down to the pharmacy across from the bus station and buy a sleep aid as to not have the problems we had that night.  It was supposed to be open at 9:00 am and when we got there at 9:00 am, it was not open.  We didn’t have any idea when they would open and didn’t have much time to wait, so we had to pass on the sleep aid again.  Funny thing is I was going to pack some and decided at the last minute not to bring it.  The bus station, Galway Coach Station, is right across the street, so we head over to check in for our tour.  I had booked a tour online through Galway Tour Company to take a ride to see the Cliffs of Moher as well as Dunguaire Castle.  The cliffs are down the coast a ways and we wanted to see them, and with no rental car, this was the best way to get there. Of course we were early again, so we sat for a bit.  I then had to use the restroom.  I get over there and you had to pay 20 cents to get in.  I had to walk back to Taylor to collect the coin.  I get back over to the turnstiles and drop my coin in.  Of course the side I choose to go through, the turnstile doesn’t work.  So now I have to climb under the turnstile.  I finally get in the bathroom and use it.  I guess this is a good spot to mention that the toilets are normally square here and they don’t have toilet seat covers.   Anyways,  it comes time to check in and we get on the bus.  It was a pretty full bus for this tour.  Thankfully we got a spot next to each other.  Our tour guide does a couple counts and explains the rules.  His name is Gary.   Gary was a very positive, upbeat and fun person.  He kept telling us to smile and have positive thoughts, so when we reached the Cliffs we would have good weather and visibility.   The ride takes off and Gary is telling us information left and right.  He informs us of the itinerary for the day and there was way more packed into this tour than I had thought!  It was 8 hours long and had lots of stops.  We were very excited.  Our first stop was Dunguaire Castle.  Very cool to get to walk up into a castle.  We didn’t have enough time to go inside the building, but we did get to go in the courtyard.   It is from the 16th century and has a 75ft tower.  They now use it as a banquet hall.

We all jumped back on the bus and made our way further toward the cliffs.  As we rode Gary told us as well as showed us about the traditional roofing on some of the cottages we saw.  They are thatched and depending on the person who works on the roofs, the thatch has a different design.  Not many people have this traditional style roofing anymore since it is expensive, harder to get insurance for and also has to be changed after 4 years.

 

We found that to be super interesting.  He also stopped and explained dry stone walls that occur all over the region.  Apparently all these stone walls we see are extremely old and are all built without any mortar.  The farmers find all the stone in their fields and use them to build these walls.  They are stacked many different ways.  Horizontal, vertical, diagonal.  The farmers or builders take every stone and stack it just so to make up these walls.  Gary said he wanted to do one in his yard and it is a lot more work than you would think.  Ireland is covered in limestone since it all used to be under the ocean at some point.  These are all limestone pieces found on their properties.  The walls help with keeping their livestock where they want them to graze as well as marking off their fields.   They are very amazing to see and they cover the countryside.

 

 

 

He then stopped at the Ballyalban Fairy Fort which was a dirt mound ring where the people long ago built up these huge round circles of dirt to serve as a fort that they would then build their homes and keep their livestock on the inside of to protect them from the elements and even other people.  It was very interesting to see.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get out to see it since it is protected by the government.  We didn’t get a good picture either.

Our next stop was the Poulnabrone dolmen .   It is located in the Burren area of County Clare.  This tomb dates back to the Neolithic Age/ Bronze age probably between 4200 BC and 2900 BC.  This tomb was also built without anything holding the stones together.  He told us they used to place the dead body on top of the tombs like this one and let the birds and animals eat until they cleaned the bones.  The bones were then placed down inside.  This specific one is the largest they have found I believe.

 

Also in this area in 1932, in a rock crevice near this area a boy found the famous Gleninsheen Collar: a 31cm gold gorget, probably a neck ornament, dated to about 700 BC and it is now on display at the National Museum in Dublin.

Our next stop on the tour was an old church in Kilfenora.  It was very ornate and beautiful.  The Celtic High Cross grave markers are so cool.

 

After stopping in the church we hopped back on the bus and headed to a pub in Doolin to grab some lunch before heading to the Cliffs.  The pub is called Gus O’Connors.  They had super fast service and delicious food.  Taylor had the beef stew and a Guinness and I had some sort of chicken dish cooked in a wine sauce with green beans, carrots, mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

After eating, we all get back on the bus and head to the Cliffs.  We are super excited at this point because we have heard this is one of the most gorgeous sights you can ever see.  Gary explains the best places to view the Cliffs once you get up there and tells us to check out the visitor center on our way back from the Cliffs.  We get our tickets from Gary and start the trek up to the top of the Cliffs.  Thankfully when we got there, the clouds had moved away and it was nice and bright.  It is still pretty chilly with a bit of wind. We start making our way up the huge staircase and stop every so often to get a different view of the Cliffs.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  I will post some pictures, but they will in no way do justice to the sight that is the Cliffs.  There is also O’Briens Tower you can go up in, but it wasn’t so much higher that it would make a difference of the view.

It was absolutely breathtaking and moving.  This was one of my favorite spots we got to see on the trip.  After taking in the beauty we went down into the visitors center.  They have a bit of the history of the cliffs and what animal life is around it.  Lots of puffins.  They also had a cafe and a gift shop.  I had an interesting experience of using a bathroom that both men and women could use.  Not much different really, just kind of strange when you go to wash your hands and there are men next to you.  Not something you are used to if you are from the states.  Of course we perused the gift shop.  I got a magnet with the White family crest on it for the fridge.  Taylor got his patchwork Guinness hat and a Guinness bottle opener.  We also found a screen in the exhibit that listed all the family names and you could see your family crest.  Here’s a picture of ours:

I looked for Driscoll’s or O’Driscolls, but there were none in this county.  Apparently they were from the southern county of Cork.  We also had to get a crushed penny for our nephew who has a collection of them.  We didn’t have any 5 cent pieces, but the nice couple behind us happened to have one and let us have it.  Our time was running out before we had to get to the bus, so we started walking back.  It was much more cloudy, windy and rainy.  We got really lucky we got there when we did.  Once everyone made it back to the bus it was time to start heading back to Galway.  We had two more stops on the way back.  Gary took us to a part of the coast which I think was called Fanore and let us get off and be right up close to the ocean.  It was as gorgeous as the Cliffs.  It was a bit windy here as well as very rocky!  So much limestone everywhere.

We cruised down the coast we saw this little lighthouse.

We also saw a whole bunch of really cute cottages and beautiful farmland.  Lots of animals.  We drove past a momma cow that had just given birth and was licking her baby clean.  Even had the afterbirth hanging out.  The next and last thing Gary showed us was the Leprechaun in the side of the mountain.  If you look really hard you can see his eyes, pointy nose, ear and hair.

One other thing we learned on this tour, but didn’t get to see one was fairy trees.  Fairy trees are normally Hawthorne trees.  Apparently all over Ireland there are fairy trees.  These trees cannot be removed or destroyed or bad things happen. Some farmers even build walls around them so their livestock stays away from them.  You should also not walk through fairy rings.  There are lots of stories about bad things happening to people.  For example, there is a freeway they were building in Ireland and they came upon a tree that needed to be removed in order to continue the freeway.  They brought in a big piece of machinery to dig the tree out. As soon as the machine dug dirt by the tree the whole machine stopped.  They had a mechanic come out and fix the issue and they began to dig again.  As soon as dirt was disturbed by the tree the machinery stopped dead.  They brought in another piece of machinery to dig it out and the same happened to it.  They tried using saws and chainsaws to cut down the tree and every time they touched the tree they broke.  Finally, they gave up and left the tree.  Now the freeway is straight and only bends around this tree.  They built the freeway around the tree and fenced it in.  You can actually drive and see this tree.  We didn’t get to.  Another story Gary told us was that back in the day, the company who made the DeLorean car from the movie Back to the Future, built their manufacturing factory here in Ireland.  They were having a grand opening and invited everyone who lived nearby.  A woman showed up to the event and asked to speak to the owner of the company.  She finally found him as the night went on and told him that his company would never be successful because the land they built their factory on had a fairy tree on it and they removed it.  Not long after, the factory was not successful and shut down.  The owner of the factory fell into a downward spiral and ended up in jail.  Now Gary did tell us that there are some fairy trees with healing powers.  It is said if you take a strip of fabric from your clothing or a ribbon and tie it to one of these trees, as the fabric strip wears down and falls off the tree, your sickness will disappear.  There are also stories of fairy streams that have healing abilities.

As we cruised back to Galway we got to see Galway bay and it is beautiful.  We were really sad our tour was coming to and end.  We had seen so many cool, interesting and beautiful things.  Gary told everyone some good places to eat while in Galway and then dropped us off back at the Galway Coach Station.  It was still light out, as it doesn’t get dark till 9:30pm, so we decided to take a taxi to see the Spanish Arch.  The Spanish Arch was built in 1584.  It is on the left bank of the River Corrib.  It is the last remaining piece of a 16th century bastion.  It was added to the town’s walls to protect merchant ships from looting.

It was pretty cool to be able to see something that old up close and be able to touch it. There were also some stairs off the the right of it that led down to the water.  The air was so clean and you could smell the salt.  After checking out the arch, we were hungry.  We started walking into the main shopping street there to look for food.  We ran into this cute little tea shop that was closed but I took a picture of their storefront because I thought it was fun.  I wish we had, had more time in Galway so I could have had tea!

We walked quite a ways and ran into a lot of pubs.  The only problem with pub food is the menus are all the same.  I wasn’t feeling pub food at this point.  Finally we came across a McDonalds.  I know I know….why?!  After a long day it was quick, easy, and familiar.  I got a Big Mac with fries and a vanilla shake.  Taylor got one of those delicious chicken wraps they had a few years back but got rid of here in the states.  We ate our food and filled our tummies.  We continued down the street back to our hotel.  We passed through Eyre Square on the way back.  We checked it out more the next day.  It was as long full day. Got back to our room, jumped in bed, watched some random TV and did not have a hard time sleeping that night at all.

Day 4, April 25th

We started our day as normal.  Got up, got ready and went down for breakfast.  This time, it was time to check out of our B&B as we were heading back to Dublin today.  We said goodbye to Teresa and grabbed our luggage and headed back to town.  I had found a museum on maps about the Legend of the Claddagh Ring.  I wanted to go check it out.  We got there just in time to watch the video.  Apparently a man named Richard Joyce was a fisherman from Galway who was captured at sea and sold into slavery.   He was sold to a rich jeweler and overtime the jeweler began to teach Richard his craft.  Richard became very talented.  The jeweler wanted Richard to enter a piece in a local competition that he was to create all his own.  Richard had a sweetheart he missed very much and designed a ring that symbolized his love(the heart), his loyalty to his homeland(the crown) and the friendships he missed(the hands).  He entered the piece and it won.  He was able to buy his freedom from his master and he headed home.  He came back and found his sweetheart, gave her the ring he made and they were married.  Very romantic story.  The people of Ireland have worn these for many years and they are passed down as heirlooms.  They don’t have to represent a romantic love.  If you wear the heart facing toward you it means your heart is taken and if you wear it facing out it means you are looking for love.  These rings were used as wedding bands and were passed down from mother to daughter on their wedding day.  They now come in all sorts of forms of jewelry.  Some are very basic while others have colored stones.  We looked around the shop and saw some very beautiful pieces.  The funny thing is Taylor bought me one of these rings for Christmas a few years ago and I had never heard of them before.  He explained what it meant to me then and I thought it was super sweet.  Here is an example:

After checking out the museum/store, we still had some time to kill before our train ride. We looked in all sorts of shops.  There was one shop called Monsoon Accessorize that had lots of beautiful clothes.  Taylor bought me a pretty floral blouse.  After walking through the shops we went to Erye Square and just hung out for a bit.  It’s just a big park in the middle of the town.  We remembered a church we had passed on the way from our hotel, so we went to check it out to kill time.

Church had just let out so we didn’t stay too long.  We just liked the look of it.  It was getting closer to the time we had to get on the train, so we headed to the station, picked up our tickets and just waited. Here’s the train station:

 

The train ride back was very nice.  It was a beautiful day and you could just sit back and watch the countryside roll by.  I filled out some postcards as we rode.  We were looking forward to the food cart coming by because it was lunch time.  We really wanted some sandwiches.  Of course we were in the back car and by the time he got to us, he ran out of sandwiches :/  We did get a chocolate muffin, a lemon pound cake slice and Taylor got his Guinness.  We finally made it back to Dublin and it started drizzling as we pulled up.  We then had to figure out which way we needed to take the tram to get to our hotel and it took us a minute.  We got on and the tram was packed.  You were right up next to people and some of the people were stinky!  We encountered this frequently.  Take a shower people.  If they would just use washcloths to scrub! lol  Our stop came around thankfully and we got off to a very bustling street.  The last hotel of our journey was the Holiday Inn Express Dublin.  I made sure to pick one on the main thoroughfare.  It was amazing how many people were in Dublin.  They were everywhere.  The shops and restaurants are everywhere.  We made it to the hotel after dodging millions of people.  We checked in and got settled.  Our room was on the 5th level.  There was a pub down below our room window and it was fun to look down at the people and hear them cheer on the rugby game.  We were very hungry at this point and decided to walk to find some food.   On the way we stopped at the post office and I mailed the postcards from earlier.

The post office

We ended up way down the street on the other side of the river at a restaurant/pub called J.W. Sweetmans.  It was very confusing as we walked in a side door.  We couldnt figure out where we needed to be to get food.  Found a small sign saying the food was upstairs.  So we walk upstairs and find a table. We ordered a cheese platter for two, I ordered a salmon dish with spinach, mashed potatoes, sundried tomatoes in a delicious sauce, Taylor got his Guinness and the Gaelic whisky chicken.  We start with the cheese platter.  It was soooooo goood and sooo huge.  It had brie, goats cheese, bleu cheese, a smoked cheese, grapes, crackers, baguettes and tomato relish.  The tomato relish was sooooooooooo good.  I need to find a recipe.  The cheeses were very yummy too.  Taylor was a bit bummed about the bleu cheese as it wasn’t potent enough for his liking.

We would have never been able to finish all of it.  So much cheese.  We gave up at some point.  As we waited for our other food, we noticed people who came in way after us started getting their food.  An hour later we flagged down the waiter and asked when we would get our food.  He replied, “when you are done with your cheese plate.”  We told him we were most definitely done and he went to order our meals.  They came out fast and hot.  Also very delicious food.  This was the point where we learned you have to tell them when you are done with your appetizer to get your next part of your meal.  The waiter talked Taylor into another Guinness of course.  We finished our meals and headed back down the main street to the hotel.  On the way we stopped in a store called Pennys.  Pennys had lots of cute stuff and it wasn’t very expensive.  I ended up buying a couple shirts and a sweater.  After perusing Penny’s we went back to the hotel room to wind down for the night.  It was at this point I wanted to do some laundry.  Any Holiday Inn Express I have ever stayed in has always hand a laundry room, so I didn’t pack a full weeks amount of pants.  We quickly realized that they didn’t have a do it yourself laundry room.  Just laundry service.  I looked around the area we were in for a laundrymat but didn’t find one.  I decided to use their service to clean 3 pairs of pants.  It ended up being 18 euro!  6 euro per pair of pants.  Just crazy!  I got the pants ready to drop off the next morning.  We then climbed in bed, watched more random TV that we loved and sort of regretted eating that much cheese for a bit.  We were very gassy and our farts were rank!  After trying to kill each other for a bit with our gasses, we went to sleep.

Day 5, April 26

I had not made any plans this day so we could do whatever we wanted.  We got up early and went downstairs for the free breakfast.  We also dropped off my pants to get cleaned.  The free breakfast was yummy and just like the others we had had over the last couple days.  The eggs once again were cooked differently.  After breakfast we headed out down the main street and over the river to go see Trinity College.  The campus is fantastic!  Very beautiful.  I can’t imagine going to school everyday in such a beautiful place.

Trinity College is the home to the Book of Kells.  The Book of Kells is the first 4 gospels of the new testament.  They believe it was created in 800 AD.  The pages are very ornamental and ornate.  They believe that there were four artists who created the beautiful art found inside.  We couldn’t take any pictures in the museum unfortunately.  We did get to see the original book and it was beautiful.  It was very interesting to see all the things they used to make the dyes/pigments they used in the writings and artwork.  After you see the Book of Kells you go upstairs to the colleges old library.  It was breathtaking!  I loved the old book smell.  Floor to ceiling there were books.  Photos don’t do it justice.

What a library!  We then headed out of Trinity College and headed to Stephen’s Green through Grafton Street.  Grafton Street has lots of shops and is one of the main streets.   There are also flower stands up and down all the main streets.  I loved it.  They smelled so good.

We reached the entrance to Stephen’s Green and walked into a breathtaking park.  So much green, so many beautiful flowers and trees, a beautiful lake with lots of birds, water fountains, statues, a playground and many gorgeous spots to sit and take it all in.  You were not allowed on the grass though.  It was fenced off.

This is also where we caught our first Absol!  Its a Pokemon Go thing.  Thanks random guy who jumped in our raid and helped.

After taking in the gorgeousness of Stephen’s Green, we are hungry again and surprise…. I have to pee again.  We somehow stumble into a mall.  It’s called the Stephen’s Green Shopping Center.  This mall is just inside these random old buildings.   I have a feeling that this mall used to be some sort if apartment complex back in the day.  It’s very ornamental and open on the inside with three levels.

The bathroom is on the top level and it costs 20 cents to use.  After I empty my bladder once more, we head downstairs to a little cafe called Le Centre-Ville Cafe.  They have soups, sandwiches and coffee. I ordered a sandwich with sun dried tomato, arugula, feta cheese and some sort of dressing and I couldn’t pass up a chocolate macaroon.  Taylor gets one with bacon, avocado, and tomato and an Americano coffee.  We enjoy our food and people watching.  It is now time to keep moving.  We are headed to the Leprechaun Museum!  A friend of mine recently visited Dublin and told me about the museum.  It’s a good walk away from Grafton street.  We finally make it there and buy our tickets.  The manager and one of the employees talks to us until the tour starts. The tour is more of an oratory tour than a museum.  Apparently they do day tours and then at night they do Dark Worlds tours.  The Dark Worlds tours go over the darker side of the Irish stories, legends and fairy tales.  I would have liked to check one of those out, but we never made it back over.  We get our tickets for the 1:00 pm tour.

The first room we enter has display cases full of leprechaun memorabilia, artwork, as well as excerpts from books.  It’s very fun to look at and read.  There is no doorway in this room that you can see at least.  Then the tour guide entered ( I don’t remember her name :/) and began to tell us a bit about leprechauns as well as what we are going to see and hear on the tour.  Leprechauns are about three feet tall, normally wear brown to blend in to their surroundings in the forest and wear a red vest or hat.  The stereotypical leprechaun we see wears all green and most people believe it to be this way from watching the Walt Disney picture Darby O’ Gill and the Little People.  The king of the leprechauns in that movie was wearing all green and since he was the main character, that idea got stuck in peoples heads.  The Leprechauns job is to repair all the shoes of the fairies (since they love to dance and wear their shoes out fast) and they do have a pot of gold.  They have to keep their promises, but can be tricky and find loopholes, so be careful if you ever run into one.

The next part of the tour led us through a hidden door and into a hallway that shrinks us down into leprechauns.   Then we are underground and find our way to a door that leads into a giants house through his chest of drawers!  The room full of giant chairs, tables, lamps, and a fire place.  You can jump up on the chairs and take pictures on them.  It was very cool.  We didn’t get a picture on them since we weren’t sure if it was allowed. Other people in the tour did and as we watched them, this other girl on the tour by herself walks up to us because we weren’t taking pictures and begins to get all philosophical about the experience.  She goes on to say her generation was raised to be cool and how she would never do that but its great this tour makes people have fun and be silly and how the people taking pictures on the chairs were like rats in a maze getting led to sugary cereal and they just said “ok!” and just ate it.  It was odd.  We just looked at her like “huh?”  We just didn’t do it because we didn’t see anything saying we could or anything helping you get up on the furniture, so we didn’t climb on it.  It was funny.  Here is Taylor in front of one of the chairs.

After this room we are lead into the fire place which leads us into a cottage.  The cottage is set up like an old traditional Irish cottage.  The guide explains that all these stories and traditions were passed down in all the little cottages at night and people would come together to hear the stories. We then head into another room with a full scale model of Ireland and a light show is played over the top of it as it tells us about the realms of the faeries, leprechauns and other magic beings and how they came to be hidden and what areas they were from.  It was really interesting, but I can’t remember much of it.  After the light show we head into a hallway that is made up of fringe of the colors of the rainbow as if you are walking down a rainbow to find a leprechauns gold at the end of it.  The room it leads into has a pot of gold in the center of the room.  The guide tells us a story about how you have to be careful if you ever catch a leprechaun and want his gold.  A man found and caught a leprechaun while walking in the woods one day and told the leprechaun to tell him where he hid his gold.  The leprechaun tells him he has hidden it under a tree over there, which wasn’t a lie.  He had buried it there.  The man had no tools to dig it up and needed to go home and grab some but he was afraid the leprechaun would take off with the gold.  He made the leprechaun promise that he would still be there when he got back and that he would not take his gold.  The leprechaun promised.  The man then became afraid that when he came back he wouldn’t remember what tree it was under, so he took off his red sock and tied it on the tree.  He made the leprechaun promise not to remove the sock from the tree, so the leprechaun promised.  The man went home quickly to get his tools and came back into the forest.  The leprechaun kept his promise and was still there and he hadn’t touched the gold.  He also hadn’t removed the sock from the tree.  The only problem was, every tree in the clearing now had a red sock tied to it.   The man would never figure out where the gold was buried.  The moral of the story is, if you ask a leprechaun to promise you something, he will keep the promise, but he is quite clever and will find a loophole.

The guide then took us to the next room which was made up as a faerie mound.  Faeries live underground in the dark.  All their homes are connected underground.  They rarely come up above ground and if they do its at night.  They were banished underground after the humans battled them for Ireland.  Faeries are not the cute versions we know them to be.  They are mean, love shiny things, love to dance, love to steal and kill, they can look like me and you, they don’t have wings, and they love things to be clean and tidy.  If you want to keep them out of your home, you must put dirt around the openings or poor dirty water at your front door.  They like to steal babies, especially males, to keep their bloodlines strong.   Once they were banished underground they became anemic.  They never get the sunlight and nutrients they need underground. They raise the boys and have them breed when they get older which keeps the good strong human blood in the mix.  They replace the stolen babies with a changeling, which is a faerie baby.  The changeling then takes the form of the baby that was stolen but it is a much weaker, fussier version and slowly die.  That’s why babies of both genders were put in dresses till they were older so the faeries thought they were girls and would leave them.

The next room we were lead to was a forest with a well.  There our guide told us the story of a boy named Setanta.  He was only seven years old and was very strong.  He could beat all the local boys at a game much like baseball that involved these hammer type things and a ball. The king of the region saw his strength and wanted to take him to a party he was going to.  The boy wanted to stay and finish his game before he would head over to the party and the king agreed.  The king told him they would go all ahead and he could later follow the caravans tracks to the party.  The king and his caravan made it to the party and they all started having a great time.  It was getting pretty late and no one was watching the gates of the city.  The king had a hound that he was very fond of and it was a big scary beast that no one liked.  So the king went out, shut the gates to the city and left his hound to patrol inside the city walls so they could continue partying.  He forgot the boy would soon arrive because he was drunk.  The boy shows up much later with his hammer and ball to find that no one was at the gate to let him in.  He decides to jump the wall to get in.  He throws his hammer and ball over and proceeds to climb over himself.  As he drops down he finds that the hound had been woken up by all the noise he made and began to run at him.  The boy realizes that this hound is going to kill him if he doesn’t do something fast.  He picks up his hammer and throws his ball up.  He swings the hammer so hard and hits the ball so hard at the hound that it goes right through the hounds open mouth all the way through it to the back end.  The hound was dead.  At this point all the ruckus alerts the party and the king.  He comes out thinking he was going to find the boy dead as he remembers he was going to show up.  Instead he finds his prized hound dead.  Everyone else was cheering and applauding the boy but the king is furious!  He is about to have the boy banished when the boy tells the king he had no choice but to kill the hound since it was going to kill him, tells him how sorry he is and offers to be his bodyguard from then on until he personally can train the king a new prized hound. From then on the boy was his bodyguard and would do anything for the king.  Everyone began calling the boy Ch Chulainn, which means the hound of Chulan.

After that story the tour was over and we were lead outside to a courtyard where we could take a picture as a leprechaun.

The courtyard led into a gift shop full of super fun stuff.  Lots of books and memorabilia.  I liked these little guys in jars and would have bought one, but thought it would get broken on the way home.

It was a fun tour and we really enjoyed it.  We started to walk back to our hotel to chill for a bit and stumbled into a bookstore called Bookworms.  I ended up buying these fun little books:

I am excited to try these out at some point.  Maybe I can share one of the recipes on here.  After the bookstore we headed back down the main street and ended up back in Pennys.  I figured it would be a good idea to buy one extra pair of pants in case mine didn’t get cleaned fast enough.  I also bought a new jacket.  Then we stumbled into Carroll’s Irish Gifts shop.  We bought some souvenirs for some people and spent forever in this store it seemed.  We also found a nice version of the White family crest which we bought for our wall.  Carroll’s has everything Ireland and green.  We also bought ourselves some Aran Sweaters.  These sweaters are made on the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway.  These sweaters have been how the women made money out on these islands while their men were fisherman.  They are all hand knit.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  Sorry I don’t have better pictures of them.  The next time we wear them I will try to get a picture.

 

With all the stuff we had just bought, we took it back to our room to drop it all off.  I would like to mention at this point in the story that we expected my pants to come back on the same day as the laundry service paper said it should.  We had seen laundry bags hung on peoples doors and assumed that this was how my pants were going to come back.  When we got to the room there were no bags on the door.  I figured I would probably see them the next day.  Good thing I bought an extra pair of pants!  By this point in the day we were getting hungry for dinner and walked down the street to La Pizza.  We sat down and it seemed like it took forever to get someone to come over.  We finally ordered, I got a BBQ chicken pizza and a cup of tea, Taylor got the meal deal including a pepperoni pizza, a salad, some fries and he had to get his Guinness.  This pizza was a lot better than the one we had at the Hilton.  We filled our tummy’s and we were nice and full.  At this point in the trip we realized its custom over there for you to ask for your check.  They see it as rude if they give you the check like they are rushing you out.  We paid for our meal and walked across the street to a place we had noticed called Dr. Quirkey’s Fun Time Emporium.

On the outside it looked like an arcade.  We stepped inside to find some arcade games, but mostly a casino.  They had casinos all over Dublin.  I dropped a tenner in the Rumble machine just to kill some time.  I was up at some point, but lost it all.  We then went back to the room and watched TV for a bit.  We decided this was the night we would go out and try to catch some traditional live Irish music in the pub.  We hung out in our room till about nine and walked to the pub down the street called Brannigan’s Pub.

We walk upstairs where the music is and find the room to be pretty small, super packed and very hot.  There is only standing room.  Taylor orders a Guinness and we listen to them play about 3 songs and tell couple stories and then we had to leave.  It was so blistering hot in there I couldn’t handle it.  I overheat all the time and this was not a good place for me to be standing in full winter clothing.  We gave up and went back to the room, watched TV and went to bed.  I would just like to point out that there are only about 23 channels and they play the most random TV.  We loved it though! We looked forward to watching it every night.  Lots of documentary stuff, Antiques Roadtrip, gameshows, movies, etc.

 

Day 6, April 27th

Today we had decided to sleep in a bit and not catch the free breakfast.  We got ready to go and went out in search of food.  Today it was rainy when we walked outside.  We happened to be passing Carrol’s Irish Gifts and we bought a small umbrella.  Right down from Carrol’s was Flanagan’s.

Taylor ordered a breakfast BAP, which is a sandwich, and I ordered the pancakes with fresh strawberries.  Both of our meals came with hot tea.  I have to say, the pancakes in Ireland are the best I have ever had.  They are fluffy but dense at the same time.  I really enjoyed that breakfast.  We took our time eating and enjoyed the rainy morning.  We finished our meals and headed out to the tram.  We had a tour of the Guinness Storehouse booked at noon as well as a Vintage Tea Tour booked for 3:00 pm.  We rode the tram to the St. James Hospital stop and walked to the Storehouse from there.  We got there pretty early but they let us go in anyway.

It was pretty amazing.  The original founder, Arthur Guinness, signed a 9000 year lease in 1759 at 45 Pounds.

The property is huge.  The whole tour was set up on the seven levels of the giant pint glass shaped building.  Each level had a different part of the process of making the beer.  They talked about the hops, barley, the machines used, how long they cook the barley, how they came up with the nitrogen/carbon dioxide, how they used to make their barrels, and so much more.

They had a room where you could go taste it and how to properly do so.  They had a level with all their old marketing, which included all sorts of strange animal campaigns.  There was a whistling oyster on that level. lol

They had a level where you could learn to pour a pint of Guinness correctly.  The top level was the Gravity Bar and it had a 360 degree view of Dublin.  On that level you got a free pint.  We reached the top and grabbed our free pint.  We raised a glass for my Uncle Duane.  Unfortunately we lost my Uncle this year, but he loved his beers.  The whole tour was a bit hard for me as all I could think about was how he would have loved to have been there and see it.  I could not finish mine and gave it to Taylor.  The view was beautiful from up there.

 

When we were done at the top, we went back down the levels to the gift shop and browsed.  I got a cool baseball style long sleeve with the Guinness logo and a magnet with the crazy Guinness toucan for our fridge.  At that point, we had to get back to the other side of town and make our way over to our next tour.  We walked back to the tram at St. James Hospital.  We saw a cool church on the way.

 

We rode the tram a bit farther than we had before.  The next tour we were going to take was the Vintage Tea Tour.  I happened to see this when we got to Dublin and booked it spur of the moment.  I really wanted to do afternoon tea while we were there and thought this one would be fun.  It is a vintage double decker bus that is decorated very cute on the inside. There are little booths for groups of people from 2-4.  The bus takes you around town showing you the sights as you ride and have afternoon tea!

We sat on the upper level.  They served egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches with apple jam, a spicy chicken salad sandwich, cranberry scones, strawberry cheesecake, brownies, fruit tarts, and we had a choice of lots of teas.  The food was all very good.  It was fun to see another view of Dublin and hear the guide tells us interesting facts around the city.  When he wasn’t telling us facts, they played our oldies music and old standards.  I really enjoyed this tour.  We got to see some of the places we had visited already, but it also went by St. Patricks Cathedral which we hadn’t made it to as well as Phoenix Park.  So that was cool!

One of my favorite parts was the cups they served the tea in.  I was so happy to find out we got to keep them!

After our tour, we decided to walk to a pub our friends had recommended.  Devitt’s Pub.

We didn’t realize how far of a walk it was!  It was ok though because we walked past lots of interesting stores including a vintage jewelry shop.  I wanted a lot of the pieces, especially the art deco ones, but everything was very overpriced.  Even the costume jewelry pieces.  We made our way to the pub and the downstairs was packed! So we went upstairs.  Not very busy up there at all.  The bartender was a nice young guy who sat and talked to us for a while.  Taylor got a Guinness and I just ordered a Coke.  The bartender was shocked! He poked at me about it.  We talked about Vegas and how he was coming here in 4 months to visit and then work at Huntington Beach for awhile.  I hope he likes it out here.  At some point his shift was over and another nice young man came in and took over.  He also sat and chatted with us for some time.  I had a bit of a hard time understanding him though.  He was of Asian descent and had an Asian and Irish accent!  Had to be the hardest accent to understand while we were over there.  At some point another young man approached the bar and apologized to the bartender.  Apparently the night before he had called the bartender a few choice words while he was drunk and the bartender did not take kindly to it.  The bartender accepted his apology and told him not to do it again or he would kick him out.  It was pretty funny.  After we finished our drinks we decided to head back to our hotel.  Thankfully there was a tram station down the street that took us right to the front door.  We were tired of walking!  We got back and got to the room and once again, no laundry on the door.  When we got inside I called down and asked about it.  They told me it had been ready and  I had to come down and pick it up.  That is one of the things I didn’t like about over there.  They don’t really tell you anything or how things work.  You just have to figure it all out on your own.  Thankfully I got my pants back and had clean ones for the rest of the trip.  I looked on maps for somewhere to grab some ramen and found a place across the river.  We walked over and it was just a tiny place but very packed.  It was called Eatokyo Sushi & Noodles.

I ordered the beef ramen and Taylor got the chicken ramen.  It was sooo yummy and it was nice to eat something warm. Taylor had a hard time with his chopsticks, but figured it out in the end.  After dinner we walked back to the hotel, watched our TV for the day and passed out.

Day 7, April 28th

I had planned nothing for this day and we decided to sleep in and make it a relaxing day.  We skipped breakfast entirely and went out for lunch.  We found a place called SOMA.

I ordered lemonade and a cheese burger with Cajun spiced fries, Taylor got his black coffee and avocado toast with poached eggs and chorizo.  This is one of my most favorite restaurants we ate at.  It was delicious!  I don’t know what sauce was on that burger but I loved it.  As well as the Cajun fries.  After lunch we just went for a stroll in a direction we hadn’t gone down yet. We walked into this huge 3 story store for a moment and looked around.  After that we walked back outside and found a gelato shop.  I got a scoop of Snickers gelato.  It was pretty good.  Not as chocolaty as I would have liked, but good. Then we walked into an H&M which was part of another large mall.  We browsed for a bit and went a ways further in the mall to a store called Flying Tiger.

Flying Tiger has all sorts of random things in it.  I loved it!  And it wasn’t very expensive.  At this point in the trip I knew I was going to start my blog, so I bought a notebook with the Periodic Table on the front and a pack of 2 pens for just 4 euro.

When we left the store we noticed a claw machine.  We had a ton of coins and I decided to try it.  It was 1 euro and the prizes were mystery grab bags.  And wouldn’t you know it on my first try I won!  When we opened the bag there was a power bank, a fidget spinner and a large bar of milk chocolate!  They aren’t skimpy on their claw machine prizes in Ireland!

After the mall we decide to Geocache.  I had to get a badge for Ireland. Geocaching is where people hide these little containers all over and you have to find them with your gps and some hints. Once you find it, you sign the log inside and log that you found it on your phone.  I will explain this in more detail some other time. We found one down on a bridge next to the river and I logged we found it.  After geocaching, we had to go to a music shop, Music Minds, to get Taylor his flute in low D that he so badly wanted.

After that, we went back to our hotel and relaxed.  I wrote down ideas for my blog and he practiced his flute.  Like I said, this day was very chill.  We went downstairs and sat in hotel bar while I had a cup of tea and Taylor, another Guinness.  We just hung out for a bit till we got hungry for dinner.  This night we had Mexican food from a place called Boojum.

It is essentially their version of Chipotle or Zabas.  I got a bowl with chicken and a coke and Taylor got a chicken burrito.  I really loved their Mexican rice.  Wish we had that here.  We took it back to the hotel lobby and chilled and ate it.  Taylor actually ordered a Smithwicks instead of a Guinness!!!! Bum bum bum!!! I tasted it and it was actually pretty good.  After dinner, we went back upstairs and I had to try to repack everything so it would fit in our bags.  We bought a good amount of stuff while there and didn’t want to buy an extra bag.  After that, we just relaxed all night and went to bed.

 

Day 8, April 29th

It was time to go home.  We got up really early since our flight was at 8:40 am.  We checked out of out hotel, grabbed a taxi and headed for the airport.  Once we got there, we printed our tickets, checked our luggage, and went through security.  After that we headed to the tax free counter.  I guess I never got around to explaining the tax free thing.  There is a tax called the VAT tax in Ireland.  As a tourist, you can claim all your VAT tax back on items you purchase throughout the trip.  You collect all your receipts and ask for a voucher when you check out.  You save your receipts and fill out the vouchers.  Then when you get to the airport you drop them off and they send them in to get your money back.  There seems to be two tax free system things in place.  The stores do one or the other.  I wish they would just pick one and all jump on board.  There is the Horizon Card which you can apply for before your trip.  There is also Premier Tax Free. The Horizon card is nice because the store just swipes your card and all the info goes on there, then you register your card.  Then when you get to the airport there are self serve kiosks where you swipe your card and enter some info and you are done.  The Premier Tax Free one they give you an envelope, you fill out your vouchers that came with your receipts, stick them all in the envelope and hand them to the lady at the counter.  Both ways are pretty easy, its just the Horizon card is easier then collecting all your receipts and hand filling out info.  So anyway, we dropped off our envelope and swiped our card and we are waiting for our funds to get back now.  We find a cafe and grab some banana bread, water and coffee before our flight.  Thankfully the short flight is first.  That way we could just get off the long flight and go home and sleep.  I actually slept the whole flight this time.  Taylor not as much because we had a little one in front of us that was upset a lot of the time.  When the plane landed the little one was a bit upset still.  She noticed us over the back of her dad’s seat.  We started making faces and playing peekabo and she started giggling.  She was less than a year.  I would guess 6-8 months old.  We then hear her dad say, “whatever you are doing, keep doing it.”  We laughed and kept playing with her.  He also told us that she normally doesn’t like people so its odd that she is playing with us.  Taylor is a child whisperer.  Or she was just amused because Taylor’s a funny looking guy.  One or the other.  Once again we deplane on the tarmac.  We are then bused to another terminal.  Then we have to find our way back through the airport, go through security, etc.  Then we had a super long walk to our gate.  By the time we get there they are about to start boarding.  I run to a shop nearby and grab us some sandwiches since we were getting hungry and had a long flight ahead of us.  They start to board and of course we are in the last group.  We get to the counter and they are swiping the passports and they have a hard time with ours for some reason.  We get on the plane, sit down and a man comes back and asks Taylor to come back off since they are doing additional security screening.  It is always Taylor that has to do additional security screening.  He just has bad luck. lol  He comes back on and sits down. We finally take off.  We both slept for a bit. When we woke up they were serving food.  This meal was a squash and quinoa salad, a roll with butter, a piece of cheese, chicken and spinach in a red sauce with veggies, salted caramel cheesecake and whatever we wanted to drink and I had hot tea.  It was pretty yummy.  The movies I watched on the way back were Thor:Ragnarok, The Queen and Abdul, The Hitman’s Bodyguard and The Greatest Showman.  Tried to sleep some more in between those, but I couldn’t.  Later on after our first meal, they passed out Magnum ice cream bars.  That was a nice surprise!  Our second meal right before we landed was a pizza pocket type thing, a pesto pasta salad and BBQ corn nuts.  Here is a stock photo I found:

It came to the time when we were going to land.  It was a very bumpy ride.  We were all over the place.  Taylor’s parents actually watched our plane land and they said it was crazy and rough.  They weren’t wrong!  We were glad to land safe and sound though at 2:45 pm. My sister and mom came to pick us up again.  We got off the plane and we were so glad that our airport was set up so nicely.  There were bathrooms as we came off the plane and there were signs telling us how to get where we needed to go.  We got to the customs line and there was only one line for citizens.  We got up to the front and talked to the customs agent.  He was very nice.  We answered his questions and he sent us on our way.  We got to the luggage carousel and picked up our luggage.  Then we had to get in line to leave.  They randomly decide who’s bags to look through to make sure they aren’t bringing bad things in the country.  We handed them our import declaration we filled out on the plane and walked through the line without being randomly checked.  We were finally going to get to leave the airport.  I am over flying for a while now.  We walk out to the passenger pickup and my mom and sister pick us up and drive us home to their house where my car was. We sit and visit for and hour with my family and then we head to Taylor’s parents to grab his car.  We visit with them for an hour and then finally head home.  I immediately go upstairs, take a shower and go to bed at 6:30 pm.  When I normally get home from a trip, I unpack everything and put it away, I start the laundry and I clean up the house.  When I got home from this trip, I didn’t do anything but shower and sleep.  Taylor stayed up longer and worked on his stuff.  It’s been a whole week and I think I am finally getting my sleep schedule back on track. All in all, we had a fantastic time.  I would encourage everyone to see Ireland in person if they can travel there.  It is one of the most gorgeous places you could ever see.

 

So here are the list of things we wrote down while we were there that we found interesting or odd or annoying, or helpful or good to know before traveling there:

-The signage will be confusing at times and not straight forward. On the same vein, they don’t really give good instructions.  You just have to ask for help or figure it out!

-There are no washcloths! Bring some if you want some.

-Toilets are different.  There are no dividers in the mens room and no seat covers in the ladies room.  Sometimes you have to pay 20 cents to use the restroom.

-If you order an appetizer, you need to tell them when you are done and want the next part of the meal.  Same goes for when you want the check.

-Still water=tap water.  Eggs are weird there no matter how you order them.

-People are stinky!(Probably because they don’t use washcloths to scrub.)

-TV is random and weird, but awesome.

-All pubs have a similar menu and look to them.

-Public transportation is helpful.  If you plan on using the tram for more than one day, buy a flex pass.

-We NEVER encountered warm beer.  People told Taylor the Guinness would be served warm and it never was.

-Sometimes when you ask a question or for help, people look at you funny.

-Most people don’t wait for the cross walk sign to change.

-Most places that aren’t restaurants or pubs close at 6:00 pm.

-Tesco does not have a pharmacy.

-Get to the pubs early to get a spot to listen to the live music.

-Coca Cola is the soda of choice over there and is served with a lemon or lime.

-Hot tea is served with almost everything.

-Coffee is much stronger there.  Isn’t always served truly black even when you request it that way.

-Tomato relish is the bomb.

-Gary our Cliff’s tour guide was amazing.

-People aren’t afraid to share close quarters with people they don’t know.

-The only music you hear over there is our oldies, our new stuff or traditional Irish music.

-There isn’t a right or wrong side to walk on.  There are people everywhere.

-No one says bless you when you sneeze.

-Elevators are much smaller.

-Buildings are set up so poorly and crazy.

 

Here are the links to the items I mentioned earlier:

Fanny Pack:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074C9QC1F/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Outlet Adapter:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ND006YB/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Rain Jackets:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018YBDM74/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071GT8WB3/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

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