Pug Does the Emerald Isle - Part 6

Mar 6th, 2007, 06:19 AM
  #1  
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Pug Does the Emerald Isle - Part 6

If people are really interested in reading ALL of my sorry Irish adventure tales -- all you have to do is type "pug_yup" (my author name) in the Fodor's search box and click search. All parts of my incredible tale will
then show up to the left.

Anyhoo, here it is Part 6 of my trip to Ireland in May 2006. One more part to go, there is light at the end of the tunnel, I swear!
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DAY 8:

Woke up.

Looked outside.

No rain. Only dark looming clouds.

My prayers had been answered.

Me, my sis, my brother and my brother-in-law checked out of Smarmore Castle at 10:00 am in order to get to Dublin Airport to return the rental car by 11:30 am.

It took about an hour to get to the airport from Ardee, and surprisingly the traffic was not bad on the M1.

Once at the airport we must have drove around the main roundabout 3-4 times looking for a sign pointing to the Dan Dooley Car Rental pickup and dropoff. We saw a sign for Hertz, and other car rental companies, but none for Dan Dooley.

Huh? You would think there would be a sign for Dan Dooley, being it is one of the biggest car rental companies in Ireland. If there was a sign, us American fools missed it -- numerous times.

Where is that Irish whiskey when you need it?

Well, after we tired of going round and round, we finally stopped and asked another car rental company where Dan Dooley was located and determined it was the Swords exit at the main roundabout, about two miles down the road.

NOTE TO SELF: Next time get directions to car rental places, one can't "ass"-ume they are located directly at the airport.

After saying goodbye to our good friend, the blue Ford with the precariously hanging driver's mirror, and just a few more scratches put on it for good measure (those damn hedges I tell you!), we took the Dan Dooley shuttle to the airport to catch the Air Coach bus into Dublin.

Dublin airport is not one of the largest airports in the world, so it was rather easy to find the Air Coach bus.

We bought our roundtrip tickets from the driver (good to always have euros on hand) and the bus left the airport at noon to drive into Dublin. It took thirty minutes to reach the Schoolhouse Hotel (which is on the
bus line -- the bus stops right in front of it). Surprisingly our rooms were ready and we checked in early.

Wow! I was amazed the day was going quite smoothly. Little rain, no hassles at the car rental place or the airport, and we were checked in at the hotel by 12:45 pm.

Things were looking up!

Now, I want to say that before I went on this Irish adventure, I researched the Fodor's Ireland talk forum to see if others recommended visiting Dublin when one plans on traveling to Ireland. Seemingly, most people remarked that Dublin is OK, but they wouldn't recommend staying there any longer than two days -- as the "real" Ireland is outside of Dublin. Also, many people remarked that Dublin was "dirty."

Well, I'll have to be one to disagree with the two day limit on Dublin and the "dirtiness." You don't know dirty until you hang out in Syracuse, NY (where I am from) in the middle of winter as the slush and garbage melts on the sidewalks. I found Dublin to be a beautiful city with lots of places to see and things to do. I wish I had stayed longer in Dublin and spent less time in the Connemara area.

NOTE TO SELF: Must take what people say on Fodor's with a grain of salt and a bit of humor thrown in, including my sorry Irish tale. ;-)

Anyway, our first afternoon in Dublin we grabbed our umbrellas and walked to Trinity College to take in the Book of Kells. Even though the Schoolhouse Hotel is not in the center of Dublin, pretty much most sights
are walkable. We then hightailed it over to the National Gallery before it closed to view the collection. I must admit, Dublin's National Gallery is A-one in my opinion. Not too big, but not too small. Many well known
artists and a nice selection from Irish artists.

After visiting the National Gallery we walked back outside and noticed the wind had picked up and it was raining.

Drats! The darn Rain God was following me all over Ireland! With my fist held high to the sky I bellowed "I smite you Rain God!"

Surprisingly, within thirty minutes the rain stopped.

Who would have thought it could be that easy?

NOTE TO SELF: When in Ireland make sure to smite the Rain God.

We then walked around Merrion Square, St. Stephen's Green and Grafton Street. Unfortunately, in Dublin pretty much all stores shut down after 6:00 pm, so none of the shops were open. In fact I was amazed for a capital city that the streets looked so deserted after 6:00 pm.

Hungry we found an Irish pub, Foley's, and went inside for a bite to eat. Our waitress was a typical Irish miss -- NOT! She was a young Polish girl who knew not a stitch of English. Welcome to Ireland. Now I understand why my Irish relatives mentioned to us that the Polish are coming to Ireland in droves. Anyway, after hand signals and much ado, we received our meal, decent Irish pub food.

Tired, we schlepped it back to our hotel and all of us were in bed by 9:00 pm.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 6/10 (Dublin is not so bad)

DAY 9:

Woke up today and was flabbergasted.

Not a cloud in the sky. Sunshine was pouring through the hotel window. I grabbed my camera to take a picture of this once in a lifetime event.

Knowing we might only have a short reprieve before the rains started once again, we ate breakfast (breakfast is included in the room price) and we were out the door of the hotel by 10:00 am to take in more Dublin sights. We bought tickets for the Greyline Dublin Hop on/Hop off bus at the hotel and walked to Merrion Square to pick up the bus. Note the buses only run between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm, so you have to cram a lot of sights in a short time to get your money's worth.

First stop: Dublin Castle

What we saw: Chester Memorial Library (very good)

What we didn't see: The Castle Tour as it was closed because they were filming; The Police Museum (not enough time)
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Second Stop: Guinness Storehouse

What we saw: Self Guided Tour of history of Guinness (pretty good); nice view of Dublin from top of Storehouse.

What one doesn't do: Drink only a quarter of the "free" Guinness at the top of the Storehouse (as I did, I am not a big beer drinker). It is sacrilegious to hand back an almost full glass of the black beer to the bar maid.

Talk about funny looks!
--------------------------------

Third Stop: Kilmainham Gaol

What we saw: One hour guided tour of jail (very good)

What we didn't see: Museum of jail on upper floor (not enough time)

After visiting the jail we walked over to the Modern Art museum, but did not have time to visit it as we had to grab the bus at 4:30 pm (the last one was at 5:00 pm) and it was already 4:00. As we waited a half an
hour for the bus, the Rain God just had to give me the finger one more time. A large black cloud blew in and like magic a gale force wind appeared turning my umbrella inside out. Then swoosh! a pelting freezing rain poured down on us as we huddled by the bus stop. It rained for the entire thirty minutes we stood at the bus.

Joy. It felt like old times again.

Once on the bus the rain mysteriously stopped, I kid you not. We got off the bus at the Trinity College stop and walked around Grafton street until the shops closed at 6:00 pm. We then walked around looking for a place to eat, and not finding any pub serving dinner so early, we found this Thai restaurant called TK's on Baggot Street. The restaurant was empty except my bedraggled party of four and another American couple.

The restaurant had great service, the food was good and reasonably priced.

NOTE TO SELF: Americans like to eat dinner early, the rest of the world -- not so.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, had a drink in the hotel bar and went to sleep early as the next day was to be the last day of our Irish adventure.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 6/10 (Would have rated higher if the darn Rain God had not made an appearance just to piss me off)

Coming up: Conclusion - Saying Goodbye to the Emerald Isle and proof that pug is not crazy.
pug_yup is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Posts: 65,991
"If people are really interested in reading ALL of my sorry Irish adventure tales -- all you have to do is type "pug_yup" (my author name) in the Fodor's search box and click search. All parts of my incredible tale will then show up to the left"

Yes, but as we've explained - if you would put all the various installments on the same thread it will be better for the readers AND for you since more people will see your whole report . . . .
janisj is online now  
Mar 6th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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Jed
 
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janisj- Good try with good advice.
Jed is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 03:26 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Author: pug_yup
Date: 03/04/2007, 09:49 am
This report is from my gripping tale of international globe hopping to Ireland in May 2006. Yes, I am a bit late posting it, but as they say "better late than never."

NOTE: What I write may not be for all tastes, just take it with a grain of salt and enjoy. Lord knows I tried to.

DAY 1:

Pug, and her entourage consisting of her brother, her misanthropic twin and her twin's hubby, proceeded to hop a plane to skip across the Atlantic for ten days of glorious Irish adventure. I believe, God, fate, and pug's constant companion "bad luck," decided that the word "glorious" was not the correct adjective to describe pug's Irish adventure, and instead decided to substitute the word "wet" in its place. Hey, God, fate, and "bad luck" must be consistent when dealing with pug's world.

We had to take two planes (Jet Blue to JFK and Aer Lingus to Shannon), as there are no direct flights to Ireland from CNY. Surprisingly, both flights were on time, which is amazing in this post 911 "the terrorists only care about airplanes" world. Of course one still had to "strip" to have the pleasure of flying on a commercial airplane, but thank God none of our group had to be lovingly "patted down" by the slack-jawed TSA agents.

Thank God for small favors!

It was a six hour flight from JFK to Shannon, Ireland, we flew overnight so we would arrive early the next day and be nice and tired for our first day in Ireland.

All in all, as most people on the plane were adults, pug managed to get about 20 minutes of semi-sleep, sitting upright using her coat as a pillow. There was only one slight problem with the plane, for some reason it continually smelled like a public bathroom. No one else seemed to be bothered with the smell, I suppose pug is just not used to being squeezed into a small steel cylinder with 300 other people.

Oh well, you have to concede to some discomfort when you are cheap SOB traveling "economy."

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 5/10 (for pug finding out that she is currently not on the "no-fly" list)


DAY 2:

We arrived at Shannon on time at 9:15 am, and by some miracle, all our bags made it to Shannon, without the obligatory baggage side trip to Shannon via Milan, Italy. We all hightailed it to the lone ATM machine to withdraw Euros to begin our "wet" Irish adventure. Lo and behold, my twin sister's ATM card did not work. Go figure.

Me, being the incredibly smart unemployable database whiz, stated to my sis that it was probably because her ATM PIN number has a leading zero, and more than likely the ATM machines in Ireland did not recognize leading zeros as a numeric character, and therefore her PIN number did not have the required four digits needed to work correctly in Europe.

My twin sneered at me with that "I don't give a bleep" look and stomped off to the rental car counter.

Yes, the *fun* was just beginning!

We decided to rent a car from the local Irish favorite "Dan Dooley Car Rentals" as its cars are known to be cheap and rather beat up, which is just the type of car needed to maneuver the "shoulders" that Ireland calls roads. We were given a blue, four door, Ford Focus, with a loose passenger side mirror (see I told you) and proceeded to drive to our first B&B as we were all extremely tired from traveling for the past 11 hours. Yeah, nothing like being tired and then having to drive on the left side of the road while simultaneously looking for road signs that do not exist.

NOTE TO SELF: Ireland does not have road signs. Deal with it you anal retentive SOB.

The weather was overcast with the threat for rain. Still overall it was not too bad as the temperatures were in the mid 60's. We made it to the Bunratty Courtyard B&B at 10:15 am after getting lost and were allowed to check in early as the B&B owner probably felt sorry for our disheveled looking party. The B&B was nice, clean and quiet. We all decided to sleep for a couple of hours and get up at 3:00 pm to take in the sights in and around the B&B before going to dinner.

After sleeping and taking showers to wash off the "bathroom smell" from the six hours on the plane, we all took off to the Bunratty Folk Park. Yes, it is a hokey tourist area, but we were hokey tourists, and hell if we were going to attempt to drive anymore this day on the winding "shoulders" that Ireland calls roads. We walked around taking photos of Bunratty Castle, when the wind began to pick up ever so slightly. Still no rain.

Later that night, we went to the "Traditional Irish Night" at the Bunratty Corn Barn. Yes, yet another hokey tourist attraction that I thought was quite entertaining. In a nutshell, you are placed in a large barn, where you sit among other hokey tourists to watch traditional Irish dancers, musicians, singers and storytellers, while you are served a "traditional" Irish meal.

We were placed next to another American group, consisting of two men and two women (in their 50's). For some strange reason the woman sitting next to my sis took an instant liking to her (she must have been drunk). They conversed throughout the night with such sparkling conversation as:

SIS (to woman): "Have you tried Irish whiskey and Guinness since you have been in Ireland?"

WOMAN (slightly drunk): "No, I don't like beer or hard liquor, I have been mainly drinking Irish coffee."

SIS: "Irish coffee has whiskey in it."

WOMAN (amazed): "It does?"

SIS: "Yes, that is why it is called Irish coffee."

WOMAN (laughing in a drunken way): "Huh, I didn't know that!"

The second woman sitting next to me shakes her head and looks at the first slightly drunk woman in a "She has been drunk the whole trip and doesn't even know it" way.

Did I mention that the Ireland is a good country to get drunk in?

Besides the American couples sitting next to us, there were also two large tables full of drunken Australians. Let me tell you, I thought Americans had the patent on loud and obnoxious behavior...well...I was wrong. Drunken Aussies are a sight and earful to behold. However, little did I know, I should have not been too harsh on judging such drunken behavior that night, for the Aussie's and Americans sitting next to us, it was their last night in Ireland, and after another three nights in Ireland I was ready to drown my sorrows in fine Irish alcohol, also.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 5/10 (for being able to hold off "The Deluge" for one day and being entertained by drunkards at the Corn Barn)
---------------------------------------------

Coming up: Part 2 - Connemara and the beginning of "The Deluge
Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 03:27 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,647
Author: pug_yup
Date: 03/04/2007, 02:01 pm
I'm back...part two of my trip to Ireland in May 2006.

DAY 3:

I got up early and looked out the window of my bedroom in the Bunratty B&B, and noticed that it was raining and quite windy.

Darn.

Well, I packed an umbrella, raincoat, and rain shoes, there should be no problem sightseeing today...or so I thought.

The party of four, myself, my sis, my brother and my brother-in-law checked out of the B&B at 9:30 am and hopped into the blue Ford to start our *real* wet Irish adventure.

It then started to rain harder.

My brother-in-law was the designated driver as dear 'ol pug was too scared to attempt to drive in Ireland during "The Deluge." It is bad enough Irish roads are shoulders instead of "real" roads, but to try to maneuver the car over the shoulders with 2-3 inches of standing water, well that is too much for my blood.

We all decided to drive to the Cliffs of Moher, which was about an hour and a half from Bunratty. The pictures of the Cliffs look very nice in the travel books. People taking pictures of the massive Cliffs
and the Atlantic Ocean with the sun beating down on them...

[Sigh]

God, fate, and "bad luck" had other plans for our quartet.

As we neared the Cliffs, the rain started to come down in sheets, horizontally, as the winds were now gale force.

Lovely. I am the luckiest SOB on the face of this earth, yes indeed.

We arrived at the Cliffs and paid the attendant 4 euro to park among the 10-15 tour buses. Besides the buses, there was construction everywhere. The beautiful Cliffs of Irish travel books, now resembled
Boston's Big Dig.

Lovely. Thank God for technology.

I knew once I exited the car, that my umbrella was useless against gale force winds and sheeting horizontal rains. But being we had driven all this way on dangerous shoulders to see the Cliffs, I wasn't going to let The Deluge stop me.

To get to the Cliffs you need to walk through the Gift Shop (brilliant marketing ploy), as we entered the gift shop doors, we were greeted by a wall of people huddled in the gift shop. Ahh...so this is where all
the people from the 10-15 buses were hanging out. No one in their right mind was stupid enough to actually go outside and walk to the Cliffs in the terrible weather that was swirling outside.

Except for pug and her gang of three, as we all know pug is NOT in her right mind.

We squeezed past the pissed off bus tourists and went through the door which led to the Cliffs.

Gosh darn! I swear it could not get any more windy (little did I know it could and would). We all pushed against the wind and the pelting rain (which started to resemble sleet) toward the edge of the Cliffs in
order to take some "wonderful" pictures.

Yup. Just wonderful.

Even in good weather, with all the construction, it was no longer possible for anyone to get any good pictures or views of the Cliffs.

In crappy weather, it sure wasn't even worth minimal effort.

I took out my camera and snapped one pathetic shot, which showed only a darkened sky with some black cliffs in the distant, oh...and the obligatory water spots from the pelting rain and sleet.

I turned around and hightailed it out of the "Cliffs of Mordor" and pushed my way back against the wind and rain toward the gift shop (yes, the wind and rain continually changed directions to spite me, I swear, 'tis true). Now I was just as pissed off as the hundreds of bus tourists still hanging out in the cramped building. My twin sis, her
husband, and my brother, all managed to get at least one crummy photo of the Cliffs, a memento to remind us of our trek into abyss during "The Deluge."

Grumbling, we all skipped the obligatory perusing of the gift shop and went back to our car, soaked to the skin. We spent a total of fifteen minutes at the Cliffs.

Lovely. We had a three hour drive to our next B&B in Clifden.

Yeah, I was in a bad mood, and wet.

The road...oops...shoulder to Clifden was...well...pure, utter "corkscrew winding" agony. I kid you not.

NOTE TO SELF: You have to be a masochist to drive any vehicle larger than a bicycle on Ireland's "roads."

Thank God I wasn't driving, being I am not a masochist (wink, wink) and with my bad mood and all.

As we had skipped the gift shop at the Cliffs, we all had to "do nature's duty." We decided to stop at the Connemara Marble Shop as there was a visitor's center next door with bathrooms. Oh yeah, bad move. Buses, buses everywhere. Even in "The Deluge" nothing can stop the tourists from swarming over Ireland's wonders and attractions. Me and sis attempted to push through the choking mob of silver-haired tourists walking blindly in the marble shop, in order to do a little shopping, but being we are both misanthropes, it was not worth the
unbearable suffocation amongst the masses.

Once again our wet and miserable gang was in the blue Ford corkscrewing and hydroplaning through Ireland's Connemara wilderness.

Joy.

We decided to take a side trip to a small Perfume Shop in the middle of the Burren (Ireland's answer to the "moon", rocks, rocks and more rocks), as supposedly there was a large herb garden there where one
could walk and look at the various local herbs grown in Ireland.

Oh yeah...lest you should think differently, it was still raining, and the winds were still at gale force speeds. Again, I kid you not.

After maneuvering on dirt roads that were more like walking paths, we found the entrance to the perfume shop. A big sign stated, "No Buses Allowed."

No kidding.

Not even the most skilled bus driver could take a bus into the nether regions that was the middle of the Burren and the "Burren
Perfumery."

Unfortunately, with the rain still coming down in horizontal buckets, and the wind at a never ending gale, once again I could not use my umbrella, and the walk in the perfumery's herb garden was a lesson in
futility.

Back to the car. Still soaked to the skin. Still miserable.

God I love Ireland.

We arrived at the B&B in Clifden at 5 pm, hungry, tired, miserable and need I say...wet.

The hosts at the B&B remarked to us as we entered the home:

"It looks like you all had a miserable day."

Umm...perhaps that is a bit of an understatement.

Thank God for Irish peat fires. Myself, my sis, my brother and brother-in-law, took a seat by the fireplace and attempted to dry off from the day spent in "The Deluge."

We all decided that the next day, if our clothes and shoes were dry, we would attempt to hike Croagh Patrick. The weather couldn't be any worse? ONLY a hurricane could be worse.

Yeah, we all know, the North Atlantic never gets hurricanes.

Yup.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 2/10 (Need I say more?)
-----------------------------------------

Coming up: Part 3 - Continuation of "The Deluge" and pug gets intimate with peat fires.




Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 03:28 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,647
Author: pug_yup
Date: 03/04/2007, 02:19 pm
Anyway, should anyone be interested, here is Part 3 of my trip to Ireland in May 2006. Riveting reading...I know...
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DAY 4:

After a day of drenching downpours and gale force winds, which kind of put a damper on my vision of Ireland being a "cheery, green land full of Shamrocks and dancing leprechauns;" I woke up this morning *hoping*
for a better day.

Little did I know, yet again the forces of fate-God-whatever had other plans, which usually included the words "bleep you pug!"

After awaking I strolled on in to the Faul House guest room which housed the wonderful peat fireplace. To my dismay, there was no fire lit, but hey I was looking forward to a good breakfast and a day filled with hiking
and exercise out in the Irish countryside.

Yeah right...as the words "bleep you pug!" echoed from the heavens, I looked outside and saw that for some strange reason, it was still raining.

Not drizzling, not showering, not sputtering on and off --- it was RAINING! The kind of rain you see in pictures of hurricanes, tropical storms, and strong damaging thunderstorms.

OH...and the winds were still at gale force, as the trees were bending in alarming 90 degree angles. As the family back home would never believe us about the horrible weather, my brother took a short video of the
rain and swaying trees outside the B&B's window with his digital camera, just to prove that yes indeed...it seems hurricanes can travel up to the North Atlantic. Well, at least every 40 years when pug is in
town.

Little would I know, that as my brother was taking the video, fate-God-whatever had other plans for that engrossing video footage, and such plans did not include an airplane trip back to the states.

I met my brother, twin sis and her husband in the guest room and I saw that my brother was putting paper towels in his shoes.

Weird.

I asked him why he was putting paper towels in his shoes, and he stated his shoes were still wet from the previous day when we had such a wonderful time maneuvering through "The Deluge" at the Cliffs of Moher.

I said to him "why don't you just wear another pair of shoes today?"

He answered that he had brought only one pair of shoes to Ireland.

NOTE TO SELF: It rains in Ireland, shoes get wet, bring at least three pairs of shoes, and fishing waders wouldn't be a bad idea either.

As we ate breakfast, we asked our hosts if they knew of the weather report for the day, as we had planned to go hiking at Croagh Patrick. For some reason the Irish are not as obsessed with the weather as are
Americans, and our hosts stated that they didn't know what weather was predicted for the day.

The husband, ever cheerful, stated that in Ireland most days usually have some sort of rain, but also the sun might peek out from time to time, and to not be discouraged from attempting to hike Croagh Patrick.

OK...we were game, we didn't come to Ireland to sit in front of peat fires and drink tea, although such a scenario was rather fetching
considering the sheet-pouring rain and tree bending winds that continued to rage outside the B&B's windows.

So, packing up our "stuff," my brother's shoes stuffed with paper towels, and my trusty umbrella in hand that I still *could not* use because of the continual gale force winds blowing outside; we took off in the Blue Ford with the precariously hanging outside driver's side mirror for the Irish countryside, hoping to hike to the top of
Ireland's most "sacred" mountain, Croagh Patrick.

Can someone say "pathetic losers?"

OK, I will...pathetic losers.

That was our merry group of four in a nutshell...pathetic losers, but in a funny "ha, ha" sort of way mind you, and with the perpetual "bleep you pug!" comment thrown in for good measure by fate-God-whatever.

Thank God there was little traffic, hydroplaning over Connemara's shoulders that the Irish call roads. I suppose most of the sane people were sitting in front of peat fires drinking tea, not driving to a
mountain during the storm of the century to have a "pleasant day of hiking."

I will say it again...we were the epitome of pathetic losers.

We found the mountain in all its dreary, rock strewn dark-looming-threatening cloud covered summit. I suppose on any other
day the mountain was quite beautiful and fetching, but today was not any other day, today was the day pug had planned and was going to hike to the summit of Croagh Patrick.

So in unison everyone say: "BLEEP YOU PUG!"

Yeah, it is all about me.

Being us merry gang of four are troopers, and darn if we were going to let the weather ruin another day of our Irish holiday, we grabbed our backpacks and trundled off to begin our ascent to the summit of the mountain.

A small sign at the bottom of the mountain stated that "It is recommended that Croagh Patrick not to be hiked during inclement
weather."

Pish posh, what do the Irish take us Americans for? Some sort of panty-wearing wimps who melt in the rain?

Off we went...to the summit...

Strange how the so-called "path" was in reality a small stream that made the hiking quite slippery and difficult, not to mention the continual gale force winds and the sheeting rain...hmmm...what did that sign say?

On we continued to the summit...

Up ahead, we saw two lone stooped drenched figures. We caught up with them and saw that the female was sitting on a rock, with a hurt ankle, and the male was standing by her, demoralized. Oh come on, we are having fun!

We spoke to them for a short while, determined they were French, and asked if they had reached the summit and were in fact coming back down. The female stated that her ankle gave out on her and she had only reached as far as the rock she was sitting on. She stated she was going back down the mountain to their car and her male partner was still going to try to reach the summit. We asked if she needed help, and she stated she was fine and she could make it back down by herself, but she wanted her male friend to go with us to the summit.

We said that would be fine, but for some reason he decided to go it alone (as a misanthrope, I had no problem with *that* decision).

Off we went to the storm brewing summit....still climbing, or I should say slipping on the stream bed which was now turning into a river bed.

We were having fun now!

Needless to say, my brother-in-law and brother decided halfway up the mountain to not go any further, and they would wait for me and my sis, as we continued on our futile trek to the summit.

After about an hour and a half, with no let up on the wind and rain, we saw a large group of people huddled near the top of the first bend, before the final ascent to the top. We caught up with the group and
determined that it was a large group of German tourists, with two typically German troop leaders "cracking the whip" to get the huddled masses off their "duffs" and on to the summit.

While I was standing among the discouraged, weakened group of Germans, a large wind gust almost knocked me hurtling down the mountain toward a group of mountain sheep huddled together, sheep that had the foresight and smarts not to attempt to reach the summit in "inclement weather;" and it was then that I realized "I am NOT having fun."

In fact I was miserable, tired and rather sick of the Emerald Isle.

My sis, being just as a pathetic loser as me (we are twins, don't you know) wanted to continue on to the summit, it was only another 800' straight up. How hard could it be?

I looked up at the summit, which was covered with a dark swirling cloud, a cloud one would run from if one was in Kansas, and I realized there was no way I was going to go up *there.*

Nope. I told my sis, I was turning back, and began sliding my way back down the mountain. Dejected my sis followed suit as the group of
Germans continued on to the beckoning dark cloud.

On the way down the mountain, me and my sis met up with my brother and brother-in-law, and a weird "happy-go-lucky" or should I say insane Australian. He was literally flying up the mountain, coat unbuttoned and flowing in the wind and rain, no backpack, no hat, plain old tennis sneakers on his feet.

Amazing.

He asked us if we had reached the summit. We stated we only went as far as the first bend but turned back as the path was getting more
dangerous from the continual rain and the wind was dangerously ferocious the nearer you reached the top. He laughed and said he was going to give it a "shot" as he already had one day ruined by the horrible weather on his Irish vacation.

NOTE TO SELF: Can it be possible that Australians are even less wimpish and crazier than Americans? Hmmm....

Off this Aussie shot like the wind. Less than ten minutes later, I looked back and saw that the crazy Aussie was flying over the bend, probably never to be seen again.

On the way down, we passed the French male who was still making his way up alone, and his female companion who was still making her way down alone. They smiled at us in that demoralized, depressed smiles
hikers do when yet again another mountain and mother nature foils our plans of grandeur.

At the base of the mountain, as the storm was getting worse (I swear it was not possible) we saw an official looking person, hurrying up the mountain with an angry look on his face. I assumed he was an Irish
official who was going up the mountain to warn the ignorant, non-sign reading foreigners who were attempting to hike in such "inclement" weather:

"TO GET TE BLOODY HELL OFF TE MOUNTAIN!"
(the Irish are too lazy to pronounce their H's...eh why bother? Just kidding.)

Wet to the skin, hungry, tired and yes, demoralized, we all made it to our car and piled in to drive back to the B&B after our fun day out in the Irish countryside.

On the drive back to the B&B, my brother determined that his digital camera was missing. We stopped the car and searched everywhere for the camera among our wet belongings. We did not find it. My brother then stated that he believed his camera probably fell out into the parking
lot when he took his wet jacket off by the car after we had made it down the mountain.

Darn. We were almost back to the B&B (a 1.5 hour drive one way), and there was no way we were going to turn around and drive back
to Croagh Patrick in the sleeting rain in order to fetch his camera from the parking lot; as more than likely it was either a flat pancake from our car driving over it as we fled from the mountain; or it was
now in the hands of the dejected French female, who was probably sitting in her car laughing hysterically at that weird video of
bending trees that some freak (probably an American) took on his digital camera.

I told you we were pathetic losers.

Back at the B&B, our hosts were astonished at our appearance, and said "I guess te sun did not come out?"

You got that right.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 3/10 (Gotta give some points for trying)
----------------------------------
Coming up: Part 4 - Yup, you guessed it, more of "the Deluge" and pug meets her misanthropic Irish clan.




Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 03:29 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,647
Author: pug_yup
Date: 03/04/2007, 02:34 pm
Here it is Part 4 of my trip to Ireland in May 2006. It only gets better, trust me...
-------------------------------------------

DAY 5:

Woke up today and 'lo and behold it was raining and the trees were bending in weird 90 degree angles once again.

We all planned a trip to the Aran Islands today which is the main reason my brother decided to go to Ireland. OK, we know when we are beat. We cancelled the trip to the Islands as 1) more than likely the ferries weren't running because of the gale force winds and rain, and 2) we were all a little tired of being soaked to the skin 24/7.

So after another great breakfast at the Faul House we decided to drive down to the small village of Roundstone. Roundstone is about a 35 minute drive from Clifden. The rain let up a bit as we hydroplaned along the winding roads, but as we were nearing the village large black clouds were looming over the horizon. Hmmm I wonder if more rain and wind was coming? Nah...

Once in the village we stopped in various craft shops (they make those bodhran drums there). We also attempted to take pictures of the pretty village but alas the dark clouds were no longer looming on the horizon, instead they were right above us and the Gods decided to open up and awash us yet again with wind, rain and gale force winds.

NOTE TO SELF: An umbrella is useless in gale force winds. One must learn to enjoy squishing and squashing through Ireland.

Back to the car we went and were back at the B&B by 11:30 am to wring out our clothes and shoes once again. Later that afternoon we pushed fate and hydroplaned to Letterfrack to visit the cemetery of our relatives which was perched precariously on a hill, out in the open in full view of the wind and rain.

Perhaps now I know why my grandfather and great-grandfather decided to take a chance on America. The weather couldn't get any worse...or could it? Hmmmm...

Like a broken record, we went back to the B&B to dry off by the peat fire until dinner. Later that night we went to the Derryclare restaurant in Clifden to wind down our three day stay in the Connemara region. All in all, I recommend the fish cakes. Yummy.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 3/10 (At least the fish cakes were good)

DAY 6:

Awoke to a partly cloudy day -- and what is that I saw in the sky? -- could it be -- no -- it is NOT possible -- I saw some weird bright yellow ball peeping from behind the fast moving dark clouds.

My God, it was the sun.

We all packed up our "stuff" and checked out of the B&B to begin our drive to Tipperary. One thing I do recommend is if you are paying cash for a B&B, you pay with exact change. I was short-changed by the Faul House owners ten euros because they did not have enough "cash change" on hand to give me. Kind of odd in my opinion.

Oh well, I wasn't going to argue over ten euros, plus I was kind of sick of the whole Connemara region, so off we went in our blue car following the peeping sun. We drove south through Galway to Templederry in Tipperary, a three hour drive.

NOTE TO SELF: The Tipperary region has some nice wide roads, you can actually catch your breath there in between maneuvering the smaller hedge bordered roads.

In Templederry we stopped to visit our freaking weird relatives -- you know -- the rest of the clan that decided to stick it out in wet and wild Ireland.

We had a typical Irish lunch at our cousin's home, brown bread, sausage, tea -- yummy. Unfortunately, the day we arrived some BIG soccer match was going on, so our relatives were more interested in watching what was happening on the television than shooting the breeze with some freaky American relatives that they hardly even knew.

So being nice we decided to leave and visit another cemetery filled with dead relatives and then visit some of our other living relatives in Nenagh. Surprisingly they were at home and we all chatted for an hour. It was getting on 4:30 pm, so we said our goodbyes and headed off to Shannon Harbor to check into our next B&B, "The Harbour Master's House."

The day was actually pretty decent weather-wise, peeping sun under dark clouds with very little wind. Too bad everything we planned for today (besides the cemeteries) involved indoor activities (visiting relatives) -- but what are you going to do?

We arrived at the B&B at 5:20 pm and parked on the grass in front of the house near the canal. The B&B is a beautiful house located right in front of the Grand Canal where boats sit moored and a long walking trail goes up both sides of the canal. Honestly, I found this area to be much prettier than the Connemara region. I suppose having a bit of sun makes anything look prettier.

Me and my sis walked a little bit of the path, dodging mud puddles left and right. Later that night we drove into Banagher and had dinner at a nice restaurant -- Fogerty's(?), reasonable prices with a large bar.

Once back at the B&B we went to bed early as me and my sis planned on getting up early the next day to walk the path again, but the rain Gods had other plans, unfortunately.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 6/10 (Sunshine, wide roads and wacky relatives make a good combination)

Coming up: Part 5 - "The Deluge" returns with a vengeance.


Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 03:30 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,647
Author: pug_yup
Date: 03/05/2007, 09:05 am
Oops, guess I messed up posting each part separately. Oh well, there are only a few parts left (Thank God!) so I will continue posting them as separate posts.

Here it is Part 5 of my trip to Ireland in May 2006. You have to have a sense of humor when in Ireland...
-------------------------------------------

DAY 7:

Sunday morning and the birds are chirping and the sun is shining.

And then I woke up from my dream.

Me and my sis woke up early to take a stroll along the Grand Canal path, but one look outside the B&B's windows made us realize we should both just go back to sleep.

Darn. "The Deluge" had set up camp once again in Ireland.

It was raining once again. Not drizzling, not showering, not sputtering on and off --- it was RAINING! The kind of rain you see in pictures of hurricanes, tropical storms, and strong damaging thunderstorms.

Lovely.

After breakfast, as I sat in the guest parlor and was watching a TV show about wolves, an American/Australian couple walked in and we got to talking.

Yup you guessed it -- we talked about the weather. How sad is that?

They told me that it had been raining pretty much everyday since they landed in Ireland for their ten day vacation, and they were amazed that it rained so much in late May. Not drizzling, not showering, not sputtering on and off --- but RAINING!

They planned on taking in Clonmacnoise and other outdoor sights in the Shannon region but were a little put off by the howling winds and sheet pouring rain hammering the outside of the B&B. But being troopers they decided they would not let the storm of the century spoil their Irish adventure.

Now that's the spirit!

An hour later myself, my sis, my brother and my brother-in-law were back in our blue car with the precariously hanging driver side mirror, and were hydroplaning toward Birr Castle to see the big telescope, science museum and gardens. Yes we are some crazy Americans. On arrival at Birr, we parked in the parking lot for the castle and noticed our car was the only car in the lot.

Hmmm....

On we walked to the castle entrance and when we opened the main door, the man at the admissions desk gave us a double-take. He must have thought he saw ghosts. Four bedraggled, wet Americans wanting to visit the castle during the storm of the century. You crazy Americans, you!

Indoor we dried off as we walked through the science museum which was pretty good. Then we had to make a decision. Should would attempt the rain Gods and walk through the gardens? Darn, we paid for the ticket, we had to give it a chance. On we walked out into the rain and wind to walk through Birr's supposedly beautiful gardens. Crazy Americans. I put up my umbrella, hoping against hope it wouldn't turn inside out from the wind and at least protect the top of my head from the constant rain. One can always hope...

The "beautiful" gardens left a lot to be desired. Most of the flowers (of the little that were there) were wilted and dragging on the ground from the soaking rain and gale force winds. My sis, taking fate in her hands, stopped to smell a purple lilac drooping under the weight of a month's worth of rain. Bad move. The flower exploded from her touch and water sprayed into her face, blinding her for a split second.

She turned to me and burst out laughing, wiping her dripping face and said "all I wanted to do was smell one freaking flower in Ireland and even that turned out to be a disaster!"

I had to agree the scene of the flower viciously attacking my sis with water was pretty funny.

All four of us agreed we had had enough of Birr and after only one hour, dripping wet, we walked back to our car to hydroplane to the Tullamore Heritage Center in County Offay. I have to admit it was a pretty good museum if one is interested in whiskey. Plus it is inside where it is warm and dry. The whiskey sample at the end of the tour hit the spot for us four wet, cold Irish adventurers.

As we still had time left before driving to our next B&B, we stopped at Locke's Distillery in Kilbeggin. This was a very short, self-guided tour with yet another sample of whiskey given out at the end. Nothing spectacular, but yet again the whiskey hit the spot for us four wet, cold Irish adventurers.

I don't know if it was the whiskey, but for some reason I felt it was time for me to bite the bullet and take my hand at driving in Ireland. Up to this time my sis and my brother-in-law had been the designated drivers (as they have been to Ireland before).

No more! It was time for pug to pin her "I drove in Ireland and made it home alive" badge proudly on her chest.

Hands tightly gripping the steering wheel, I hydroplaned toward Ardee on windy, rainy, flooded roads.

I am having fun now!

Two hours later we all arrived in Ardee, safe and somewhat secure.

I asked my sis "do you have the directions for Smarmore Castle? (the B&B we were staying at)"

She said "No, I left them home, there should be signs."

Ha, ha, ha. What are we, idiots? Fifteen minutes later, driving around like fools, no signs to be seen, we had to stop and ask someone where that darn castle was hiding itself.

Many twists and turns later, down various roads, we turned into the castle's parking lot.

I guess I don't need to remind you that it was still raining and the wind was still howling?...nahh...that is a given.

Tired, wet, and hungry we entered the castle and were greeted warmly by Eamon who asked us "Did you follow my directions I emailed you?"

My sis replied "No, unfortunately I forgot to bring the directions, I assumed there would be signs pointing the way to the castle."

Eamon laughed and said "That is why I stated in the email you must bring the directions as there are no signs to our Castle, the locality won't allow us to put up signs."

Duh! As we slapped our wet foreheads.

The castle is a beautiful B&B which also houses an Italian restaurant (which we ate at that night) and a leisure club (which was a rather odd combination). There is also a beautiful blue room where guests can go to relax, drink tea and play card games, etc. Our party stayed in the "Count's room" and the "Earl's room." Smarmore Castle is one cool place! The rooms are clean and huge and very reasonably priced! I highly recommend it to anyone staying outside of Dublin.

Later that night as I looked outside the huge windows in my room and watched the rain pelt against the glass I realized why people drink in Ireland... without that whiskey I would have been a basket case, but now I felt at one with Ireland's gloominess.

PUG RATING FOR THE DAY: 3/10 (Love that Blue Room!)

Coming up: Part 6 - Dublin - what a pleasant surprise!




Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 03:30 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,647
Hope this makes everybody happy.

Bob
Itallian_Chauffer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 08:27 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 137
Bob, you are a genius. : )
suelh is offline  
Mar 7th, 2007, 01:13 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 355
I.C.- you are so nice to us all! (although I have been following and hunting 'em down from the beginning- it's great!

Pug- LOVE IT! The acerbic witticism, the notes to self, the Rain God...it was laugh out loud! Being an ex-Syracusian (West Genesee) who now resides in Los Angeles it was a trip itself to read from my 'old' side of the country!

After so many years in So. Cal DH and I find the cold and rain very refreshing (we did not catch any horizontal sheeting rain on our trip though- we made a peace offering before we got there- did no one tell you about that)???

As for Dublin I too am one of the 'others' that prefers to be in the countryside, perhaps because I feel surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a gigantic city each and every day? Dunno but glad I saw it, had fun- gimme the countryside!

Can't wait for the end and can only imagine what 'appens next!

Thanks for the fun!
Dawn



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