Ireland! Why didn't we do this many years ago? What a wonderful place, I'm still giddy with joy whenever I think about our trip and all of the beautiful places and friendly people that we enjoyed there!
I travel every year with my Mom. My step-Mom always traveled with my Dad, but never outside of the U.S. and Canada. Since my Dad passed in 2014, I've been encouraging my step-Mom to take a trip with me. She hates to fly. It terrifies her! Over time however, I was able to convince her of how safe it is (and also, how short life is... let's get a move on!) The payoff came one day finally, when up popped the idea of - Ireland! Yes, let's go! We're Irish! (Well, mostly .) We have to do this. She decided she wanted to foot the bill all around on this one (and yes, vehement protests ensued, until she proclaimed that she was just spending my inheritance... Well in that case - fine!) and that it would be a girls only trip: she, my Aunt (her sister), myself and my younger sister. Alas, as younger sister is squarely ensconced in raising a second set of kids (my nieces), she chose to beg off. So we found ourselves to be a company of - three. Let the planning begin!
Ohh, the planning... Ireland is comprised of four provinces: Ulster, which encompasses the whole of Northern Ireland (six counties), plus a small bit of the Republic of Ireland (the remaining three counties - it can get a bit confusing), and then Leinster, Connacht and Munster provinces, which make up most of the Republic of Ireland. (The provinces of Ireland serve no political or administrative purpose, they are merely historical and cultural in nature, and today are seen mostly in the context of sports.) The chief cities of these provinces are: Belfast (Ulster), Dublin (Leinster), Galway (Connacht) and Cork (Munster). Thirty-two counties in all, bejacob, now that's a county collecting project I can get behind! Heaven's alas, my Mom wanted to visit them all! I gently, but persistently suggested that we only do about half of the Emerald Isle, but to no avail. She wanted to go to Belfast in the north, because that's where her family is from (mine happens to be from Cork.) Auntie had only one priority, to kiss the Blarney Stone (Cork). As for me, my heart was leaning towards the province of Leinster, so much to do and see in Dublin, plus Powerscourt, Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains... but then there is also the Antrim Coastal Route, Giants Causeway, Donegal, Galway, the Wild Atlantic Way and Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry... Oh no! Oh - yes! As this was to be her only shot, she was determined. We did it all. Yes, if it's Tuesday I must be in...
And so... we were off to the races! My travel day began early, with a flight to San Diego, from my little hometown airport in Central California.
Final approach into San Diego.
From there, we headed up to Long Beach, where we picked up Auntie, who flew in from Las Vegas.
Finally, at 5:55pm, our on time AA flight (on the beautiful triple-seven-three-hundred) lifted off of LAX runway 25R, and soared into a clear, evening sky.
We arrived LHR on time, nonetheless, our connection time was too short for such an enormous airport, and we missed our BA flight to Dublin. BA then booked us on the next Aer Lingus flight, but there was a mix up. We couldn't board and so had to catch a yet later flight, costing us precious time.
(LHR, grrr. The airport is fine if it's your origination or final destination, but terrible to connect through!) At DUB, we caught the Aircoach bus into the city center (we booked our tickets online in advance. Aircoach), where it was an easy walk down Kildare Street to the Shelbourne Dublin Renaissance (you can read my review here).
And finally, we're here! In Ireland! At the Shelbourne Dublin!! Yay, what a gorgeous hotel. By the time we got settled, it was getting on to about 9pm. As we had a big day on the morrow (our only full day in Dublin - remember, we're off to the races), and in consideration of the jet lag, we thought it wise to just dine in at the hotel, settling on the No. 27 Bar & Lounge, which is a popular hangout for guests and locals alike. It had an energetic, upbeat vibe, yet at the same time, we were able to relax and unwind. My Mom and Aunt shared a plate of fish and chips. I had a cup of clam chowder, and it was out of this world! OMG! It had large chunks of clam in just basically, cream! None of this potato filler stuff... just delicious clams in sweet, creamy goodness. Wow. So good. A glass of wine rounded out the meal, and it was off to dreamland in an oh so comfy Shelbourne bed in my gorgeous room!
The next morning arrived bright and early. I was excited about the day. We met downstairs for a fabulous breakfast (more fully described in the hotel review I posted). From there, we set off on the "Do Dublin" bus, which we picked up on Dawson Street, a very short block away. The concierge did a nice job of hooking us up. We got a great perspective and orientation of the city by doing this. Our driver, Paddy, was absolutely hilarious. He had everyone in stitches, and spared the roasting of - no one! We were able to get on and off as we liked, to visit some of the sights. Here are some photos:
Knobs and Knockers... I really dig this sort of stuff...
Guinness Storehouse, alas, no time for it.
I loved these lampposts! Just cool! And pretty. And very - Gaelic-y. They varied from street to street.
The Wellington Monument at Phoenix Park
Now see, this is what happens when you wait two months to review/organize photos. Don't have the slightest recollection as to what the name of this church is...
A cool relief on the side of a building...
The name of this that comes to mind is - not mentionable! Dubliners enjoy making vulgar references to this - edifice (look it up if you're curious enough). It's officially called the Spire of Dublin, or Monument of Light.
Ribs! In Christchurch Cathedral.
Christchurch Cathedral pillar relief.
I adored the street signs. Even though only about one-third of the population in Ireland speak Irish, all of the public signs are in both Irish and English.
Just outside Temple Bar
A Curiosity at Temple Bar
St. Patricks Cathedral
We covered quite a lot during the day. We had an appointment for tea at the hotel at 5:30pm. We booked it late, so it would serve as an (early) dinner. Since it runs a bit pricey, we tried to stretch the value. Before tea however, we wanted time to do a little shopping on Grafton Street.
Grafton Street shopping
Afternoon Tea at The Shelbourne
My tea was sooo good! It was an herbal ginger and lemongrass tea. It was delicious and it had some "after kick." I normally don't drink tea, as it upsets my tummy, but this was a real find! I asked them where I could buy some. I was turned on to Clement & Pekoe, a serious tea shop not far from the hotel. In the morning prior to our departure, I was up and out early hunting that tea down. Clement & Pekoe | Specialist of Fine Teas & Coffees
Good eats after a long day of sightseeing!
Lord Mayor's Lounge
Alas, that comprised our one full day in Dublin. We barely scratched the surface! There remains much left to come back and explore. Tomorrow, off to Belfast! Time for sleep.