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day 7 blog -- dublin

day 7 -- dublin

the beginning of a new week sees us leaving the pub, and the "country", as we were off to dublin.

enfield marriott...

we paid for the stay at the spa with points, but with the add-ons of meals and spa treatments this definitely was not a free stay! ouch. thank god we paid for the room with points!

alpine cleaners on the way to dublin...

we opted to stay off the main toll road as there was no good sight seeing from it. so onto the n4 heading east through maynooth. then a bit north (for the sights) to the r157 through dunboyne. no matter what the route, you will end up in city traffic. ugh. this is the first, and only, time we got stuck in any traffic. and the only place where we had to deal with "city" traffic. slowly but surely we skirted the river liffey to o'connell street and the hotel gresham.

beginning the bus tour -- dublin

we arrived in dublin well before our check in time, so we found a nearby car park and immediately purchased a 24-hour off-and-on ticket for a dublin city bus tour. we felt we would make the most of our travels through the city this way, as we had only scheduled 2 days in dublin. dublin can certainly be a walking city -- and was for us in many ways -- but the tour bus allowed us to do two important things: a) not have to figure out public transportation in the short time we had and b) have something that we could use to map out a plan of things we wanted to see by touring the whole city by bus first.

luckily the first stop on the bus was outside our hotel, so onto the bus we went.

we were on a mission to find the ticket booth for the viking splash tours. this is a similar tour to the duck tours in boston, if you happen to know them. basically you are in a amphibious vehicle, and do both a land and water tour.

saint patrick

the ticket booth was near st. patricks cathedral.

alison and the light of god...  at saint patrick

once purchasing the tickets we had 2 hours to kill before the tour, so we toured st. patricks. what an incredible cathedral!! there was so much to see inside, and outside, the building.

saint patrick

every three feet there was something of interest -- so you do the "museum shuffle" along the side.

saint patrick

it was both majestic and had a feeling of "home" as many great churches do.

we then hopped back on the bus to the hotel to get checked in. then scrambled back on the bus to make it back in time for the viking tour. and scramble we did, as we nearly missed the departure. (the last of the day)

so off we were.

alison the viking! - dublin

yelling and shaking our fists at tourists and wearing viking hats. the land tour was typical, but the water tour brought us into the grand canal basin. there is a lot of new development in this area, including lots of new waterfront condos.

U2 recording studio - dublin

but the best site was the recording studio where u2 recorded their last album.

now that we weren't on a schedule, we leisurely took the bus around the city and took in the history.

in/around dublin at night

by the time we returned to the hotel we were beat. so tired that room service was all we could manage to get ourselves to eat. the food at the gresham was great. eric had a nice steak. alison had a yummy prawn pasta. after dinner we were out cold.

this was by far our longest day of being out and about mostly by foot, and put us to bed the earliest yet!

day 6 blog -- enfield/navan/knowth

day 6 -- enfield/navan/knowth

today was a day for sleeping late. it is our last full day at the spa.

on the way to navan...

after lounging around for awhile it was time to hit the road again. we headed on a northerly route that took us through trim again, and through navan. our first destination was to see slane castle, although it was closed for tours. unfortunately, slane castle is quite set off from the main roads. so we continued on without getting a glimpse. we had spent enough castle time in trim the day before.

near bru na boinne vistor center...

our true destination was brú na bóinne. this is in the valley of river boyne, and contains both newgrange and knowth - ancient, stone age burial grounds. knowth is the largest of all passage graves situated within the brú na bóinne complex.

at knowth...

the site consists of one large mound and 17 smaller satellite tombs. what they really look like are huge grassy mounds held up with stone walls which contain some still visible megalithic art. although newgrange is more well known, knowth is where we visited. at knowth, you can actually enter the main tomb, which you cannot do at newgrange. the area has a long and varied history, which the tour includes a video of and extensive exhibits. knowth is particularly interesting, as the top of the main tomb continued to be a small village for many many years.

from the top of the largest burial mound you can see far and wide. drogheda is off in the distance to the east.

at knowth... from the top of the mound

to the southwest you can see the hill of tara - another spiritual place in ireland where tombs have been found, as well as the ancient home of the high kings.

alison - at knowth...
our knowth tour guide...

brú na bóinne is not too far from dublin, and if you are ever there we highly recommend visiting. not only is it ancient it is really super cool. and you kind of feel like a smurf while you are there. definitely check out the pics, they are worth it. and it will give you an idea of the scale of the main grassy mound! and, eric felt at home as our tour guide had a colorado avalanche cap on!!

sunset at the marriott enfield...

as we were tardy getting on the road, we headed straight back to the spa for our final evening in enfield. as expected we hit the pub for dinner and drinks!!!

day 5 blog -- enfield/mullingar/trim

day 5 -- enfield/mullingar/trim

alison at the spa!

today was our spa day. the spa was amazing. very relaxing and well worth it! there is even a picture or two inside the spa.

cathedral of christ the king in mullingar

although we were relaxed and comfy after spending the morning being pampered at the spa, we still made the most of our day. back in the car we go and hop on the n4 to mullingar. we visited the cathedral of christ king (check out the photos) and wandered about the town.

leaving mullingar we hopped on a smaller rural road (r156) to go to trim. on our way there it began to really rain. up to now we had a few sprinkles here and there, but mostly the weather was very nice and the clouds would clear for at least part of the day.

in/around trim...

upon arriving in trim we had to break out the umbrellas for the first time as we walked around town and then to trim castle.

trim castle is fairly well known. one of its claims to fame is that it was the castle used for almost all the castle backdrops in braveheart (which, of course, we rented and watched again upon returning home).

at trim castle...

trim castle is quite unique in that it has never been restored - it is a true ruin. they give daily guided tours and our tour guide was certainly a great source of info. as we were waiting for the next tour to start, the skies suddenly cleared and produced the most magnificent double rainbow we had ever seen!

rainbow at trim castle...

all it was missing was the leprechaun with a pot of gold at its end!

rainbow at trim castle...

there are many spectacular pictures of the rainbow posted.

the tour of the castle was fascinating. we learned a lot about the norman history in ireland, about castle living and engineering, as well as some insider information on the filming of braveheart. t

views from top of trim castle...

he views from the top of the castle are beautiful as well! by far, our trip to trim was one of the highlights of the honeymoon!

then it was back to the hotel for dinner. we had made reservations in the super pavilion restaurant. eric had a delicious tomato and scallion tart and diver scallops with beets and couscous. alison had am amazing cream of broccoli soup and a tomato and swiss cheese stuffed chicken breast. we enjoyed a nice bottle of australian shiraz and each other's company. this is also when we learned that waiters in ireland don't really come back to bother or check in on you once you've been served. we sat around for quite some time before finally getting their attention for a check!

then we returned to our room with full bellies to listen to the sabres game and call it a wonderful day.

day 4 blog -- enfield/tullamore

day 4 -- enfield/tullamore

after many drinks the night before, we slept late this morning (did not help getting us on the right time schedule!). we stopped by the spa to make appointments to be pampered before heading out for the day. unfortunately the weekend was mostly booked, but we managed to make some appointments for massages over the next two days.

then back to our trusty car to head to tullamore to see the distillery.

tullamore dew distillery

the bartender was right, it was not a long drive. tullamore is a nice little town situated on a canal that made it a big trading post for goods out of dublin in times past. the distillery is right on the canal.

canal in tullamore

we don't think they get a lot of people on their tours, as we were the only ones around that day. but we went on a tour of the distillery. learned a lot about the history of tullamore dew whiskey -- and irish whiskey in general. tullamore also makes irish mist. go figure. the tour also included quite an extensive history of the region surrounding the distillery and the town of tullamore itself. check out pictures from the distillery!

tullamore dew distillery tour

and, of course, the best part of the tour is the free tasting. before departing we had to stop by their gift store for memorabilia and to bring back a bottle of whiskey for the hotel room!

after wandering a bit around tullamore, we headed back to the hotel as eric had a massage scheduled that evening. the one thing we did discover in tullamore was centra….. very much like a 7-11 here. we made many stops at various centras along the way for snacks and wine. in our rush to make it back to the hotel in time for eric's massage, we must have made a wrong turn at one of the many roundabouts because suddenly we ended up on a large multiple lane toll road.

sunset  on way back to enfield

we later discovered that there are a bunch of these new modern toll roads near dublin - so new in fact that they weren't on the gps maps! but as luck would have it, the toll road (although is cost us a couple of euros) got us back to the hotel much faster than if we had taken the n6 back on the return trip! although it was a nice road to drive on, we vowed to stay off of it in the future as it provided no sightseeing along the way.

so eric was off to his massage, and alison got to chill out in the hotel room, now amply stocked with whiskey and wine. both of us now being in a mellow mood, we opted for a nice room service dinner and a movie. there was a wedding going on in the hotel that night, so the bar wasn't much of an option anyhow. before going to bed we found the online radio broadcast of the sabres game, so we listened to that to cap off our day!

day 3 blog -- galway to enfield

after attempting to get on ireland time, which neither of us did very successfully, we were up early. we had a huge breakfast at the hotel - gotta love the included breakfasts! then we set out to the electronics store as our power adapter we bought in the states for some stupid reason was not a grounded plug which did us no good for charging the laptop.

eyre square... in/around galway...
we spent some more time walking around the city and taking pictures. we spent a fair amount of time walking through the city center, eyre square and down past all the shops and such. there be poles in galway! we saw a lot of signs in polish in the shop windows and even caught a few polish shops!
polish shop in galway
outside the collegiate church of st. nicholas, we saw a truly old school skull and crossbones -- weird!
skull/crossbones at a church?
then it was back to the hotel to make last minute decisions on our route for the rest of the day and check out.

back in the car we headed off west on n6 to loughrea. we walked around the town and visited st. brendan's church.
st. brendan
this was a cool old church that still had an ancient moat that ran through its grounds -- which once surrounded the entire city of loughrea.
moat at st. brendan
we took some great pictures of the church and its moat, as well as the old medieval town gate.

then it was back to the car where we ventured out on some small local roads in search of the turoe stone. this is when we first learned that tanya, the gps system, was lousy at directing us towards areas of interest. so we drove around, nearly got horribly lost, and ended up finding a farm slash petting zoo. we looked out at a big rock in the middle of a field, decided it was the turoe stone, and said "wow, that's cool". so it was back to find the bigger roads and concede defeat.
ruins on the road

we made it back to the n6 and headed to ballinasloe. after rolling through ballinasloe we thought we would press our luck again and venture off onto the rural roads (r357 to r444) in search of clonmacnoise. these are ruins of an old monastic community. again, the gps system offered us no guidance. we did get a bit closer to our goal this time, but we clearly missed a left and drove by clonmacnoise at 40 miles an hour. getting BACK there was more of an issue than we can describe here -- turning around on small rural roads is NOT easy so... we continued on. r444 lead us to n62, which we took north into althone. after rolling through althone, it was time to head to our ultimate destination for the day…. the marriott johnstown house hotel & spa in enfield.

alison at coach house bar
enfield is about 45 minutes driving time east of dublin, so we had crossed nearly all of ireland from west to east today. we checked in at the hotel, relaxed for awhile and headed down to the hotel coach house bar. it was nice to enjoy a relaxing dinner and drinks! this evening also began our on-going discovery of new irish whiskeys! after a few jamesons, eric ventured out of his normal routine to have a tullamore dew and paddys.
eric drinking whiskey
we talked with the bartender a while about tullamore, and learned the distillery was not too far a drive from the hotel, so we decided we must go on the distillery tour!

drinking champagne in enfield
it was then back to the room to try and sleep. but first we indulged in the champagne the flight attends had given us on the flight to ireland. ahem.

day 1 blog -- nyc to shannon

day 1 -- nyc to shannon


we followed jesus. straight to newark. really.
follow jesus truck!

we started off in a nice car from our home to newark airport (ewr). yes, newark. as we have mentioned before, eric had a bunch of miles on continental still left from his travels while with a previous company and we decided to spend them on first class seats on continental. we ended up in the holland tunnel following a box truck marked with "follow jesus" on the back. clearly, we were headed in the right direction!
alison at the president

getting checked in was a breeze! flying first class allowed us to go to the the "elite" section of check-in. 5 minutes of passport checking and baggage tagging later we were on our way over to the president's club in terminal c. we were quite early for our flight and had a bunch of time to kill. the PC in terminal c is HUGE and VERY nice. we settled in for a bit with a coupla beverages and just chilled. a few folks that eric plays hockey with came in 15 minutes, or so, before we left the PC -- a very weird occurrence that resulted in a some handshakes and a few comments about the sabres (as eric was wearing his old skool jersey...).

we left the PC about 35 minutes before our flight. this is important because the reception desk indicated that they would ANNOUNCE when our flight was boarding. we stopped over at duty free for a bit and bought some cigarettes for the trip. when the cashier saw our boarding pass she kind of "yelped" and quickly cashed us out and ran us to the gate. apparently: a) duty free needs to escort you to your gate and b) our flight had been boarded for the better part of 30 minutes and was about to be closed out!!

we did catch a white wine -- a chardonnay, we think -- before taking off. by the time we got on the plane all the red wine had been "stored".

it was a 757-200, which eric has flown many times, but first class was configured with 16 seats instead of 24. the seats themselves were very big and the leg room was beyond crazy... (eric lifted and stretched out his legs and was still a good 6 to 8 inches shy of touching the seat in front of him...) we took off on time -- which was an amazing feat, we think, for a rainy/windy day just after rush hour in newark. the average arrival delay was over 167 minutes!
drinks on da plane

dinner service started as we hit 10,000 feet. the food was great! printed menus and all. we tried many/most of the wines and ports they had. it was certainly a nice selection!

alison was able to catch a bunch of zzzzzzs on the plane, but eric stayed up and looked out the window into pitch black for a good part of the flight.

day 2 blog -- shannon to galway

day 2 -- shannon to galway

distances traveled --

by car: 128.4 kilometers


 

jetway at SNN

we landed in shannon, ireland very early on the morning of the 18th. so early that it was still dark. we just walked off the plane and straight to baggage claim. we thought it might be a bit more difficult to enter a foreign country, but it was easy as pie! once we had all our bags, we found the airport atms to get our hands on some euro!

where we bought the atlas

and then found the airport store for driving drinks and snacks and the oh so important atlas! this atlas was crucial to the rest of our trip!

off to pick up the rental car and also the oh so important gps system. we never would have found our way without it!! we named the voice tanya. as an aside, on the weekend we got married at eric's parents place upstate we tested the hertz gps system out. our friend mike named her nancy after the amtrak phone system voice. so now they must have names! we should have thought of a better name, however, as we were intent on seeing our friend tanya in dublin, and it got a bit confusing not knowing at times if we were talking about tanya the person or tanya the machine!

so we were off! eric took well to driving on the wrong side of the road, as long as we kept repeating, out loud, stay to the left! the left! the roads out of shannon airport are some of the best in the country so we were doing well and thought this will be easy! little did we know….

sunrise on the way to ennis

on the road (n18) towards the town of ennis there was a beautiful sunrise. we pulled over and took some great pictures of our first sunrise in ireland. we were both so excited to be there and amazingly awake even after the over-night flight.
we rolled through ennis and got on n85 towards ennistymon. we really loved just driving through the little towns! we had little on our agenda this day other than to make it to the west coast to the cliffs of moher and then up to galway where we would spend our first night. as we headed towards the coast (on r478) the road got narrower and narrower. this is when we learned that driving though ireland would be a unique experience in, and of, itself!

cliffs of moher

of course it is still so very early, so when we arrive at the cliffs of moher the visitor center is not even open. so we hung out in the car and developed a plan for the rest of the day. at 9 am we ventured out to the cliffs. wow! what an amazing site. check out the pics, they are amazing!

GPS road through the burren

we were then headed north toward are ultimate destination of galway city. the area between the cliffs of moher and galway is called the burren. it is a national park and the roads are super narrow and super-duper windy. there is a great pic of the gps system screen showing you the crazy route of the road. the scenery was absolutely beautiful but we both prayed for our lives a few time during this drive! our trip took us along r478 north through ballyvaughan, then onto n67 to kinvara, and back to n18 to kilcogan, clarinbridge, and oranmore. around noon we found ourselves on local roads heading in to galway.

finnegans in galway

we found a car park and were happy to get out an walk around for awhile. it was too early to check in at our hotel, so we set out to see galway. galway is a great city. the center of the city is eyre square, a large park area, offset by lots of pedestrian-only, cobblestone streets and lots of shopping. we wandered aimlessly for awhile and then hit a small restaurant called finnegan's for lunch. after eating the long flight started to catch up with us and we checked in at the park house hotel, moved our car to their free parking, and were happy to take a nap!

alison at dinner

one thing to note is we picked our hotels with an eye to those that had the best restaurants in town, according to our many trusty guidebooks. we had a lovely dinner at the park house restaurant, enjoyed a bottle of wine and began mapping our plans for the next day.

Just when I thought we were done.....

I felt so accomplished when we made it through all the wedding photos and got them all posted. There really are some great photos! We got all the great family portraits that we really wanted. We cannot thank April and Mark, our photographers from Pret-a-Poser enough! But then it occurred to me that we still have thousands of honeymoon pictures to sort through. Ugh. Oh, and we promised everyone a blog, which has become a recap, of our honeymoon escapades. I promise you, dear readers, that these things are all coming. Whenever it is we find the time! And if anyone took pictures at the wedding, send them along our way and we will try and post them here, this way everyone can share! Hope all are well. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!!!

trying...

we have tried. really.

but blogging every day -- at the level we would like to -- is damn near impossible. we have taken notes on each day (currently we are in enfield at da spa...) and have taken a LOT of side trips to all kinds of towns.

we DO have tons of pictures. uploading them is a time consuming and painful process that requires a lot of patience and wine.

we WILL say... we are having a GREAT time!

we will get the blog entries and pics up to date as soon as we can...

day 1 blog -- nyc to shannon

day 1 -- nyc to shannon

distances traveled --

by air: 3114 miles


we followed jesus. straight to newark. really.
follow jesus truck!

we started off in a nice car from our home to newark airport (ewr). yes, newark. as we have mentioned before, eric had a bunch of miles on continental still left from his travels while with a previous company and we decided to spend them on first class seats on continental. we ended up in the holland tunnel following a box truck marked with "follow jesus" on the back. clearly, we were headed in the right direction!
alison at the president

getting checked in was a breeze! flying first class allowed us to go to the the "elite" section of check-in. 5 minutes of passport checking and baggage tagging later we were on our way over to the president's club in terminal c. we were quite early for our flight and had a bunch of time to kill. the PC in terminal c is HUGE and VERY nice. we settled in for a bit with a coupla beverages and just chilled. a few folks that eric plays hockey with came in 15 minutes, or so, before we left the PC -- a very weird occurrence that resulted in a some handshakes and a few comments about the sabres (as eric was wearing his old skool jersey...).

we left the PC about 35 minutes before our flight. this is important because the reception desk indicated that they would ANNOUNCE when our flight was boarding. we stopped over at duty free for a bit and bought some cigarettes for the trip. when the cashier saw our boarding pass she kind of "yelped" and quickly cashed us out and ran us to the gate. apparently: a) duty free needs to escort you to your gate and b) our flight had been boarded for the better part of 30 minutes and was about to be closed out!!

we did catch a white wine -- a chardonnay, we think -- before taking off. by the time we got on the plane all the red wine had been "stored".

it was a 757-200, which eric has flown many times, but first class was configured with 16 seats instead of 24. the seats themselves were very big and the leg room was beyond crazy... (eric lifted and stretched out his legs and was still a good 6 to 8 inches shy of touching the seat in front of him...) we took off on time -- which was an amazing feat, we think, for a rainy/windy day just after rush hour in newark. the average arrival delay was over 167 minutes!
drinks on da plane

dinner service started as we hit 10,000 feet. the food was great! printed menus and all. we tried many/most of the wines and ports they had. it was certainly a nice selection!

alison was able to catch a bunch of zzzzzzs on the plane, but eric stayed up and looked out the window into pitch black for a good part of the flight.


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