Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free at Last

Now we get to enjoy four days in Dublin, free of daily travel.

We caught up with Jenna's sister Pat at the hotel. The whole Heilemann family reunites in Ireland to celebrate their mother's roots.

So begins our leisurely exploration of the city. A city rich in European history, with buildings and books back a thousand years.

We saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells.  A masterpiece of calligraphy from 800 AD, it is considered Ireland's greatest treasure. We knew we could not afford it.

We walked strolled around the Temple Bar district, perused national museums, and meandered through the Guinness Storehouse (visitor center). Plus a little more souvenir shopping.

We depart tomorrow quite early for the long flights home. "Clancy, we comin' for ya!"


PS Brought back over 400 pictures.   Will take a few days to winnow down the collection to a manageable slide show.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Last full day of the tour

Yesterday we spent most of the day in Belfast. Our inspiring local tour guide walked and drove us around, describing the history of the city and the country. He spoke passionately about recent progress recovering from the destruction during "The Troubles.". And he lived it.

Then we spent two hours at the newly opened Titanic museum in Belfast. The building towers above the visitor, as high as the hull of the ship. Belfast workers built the massive vessel in their shipyard on the site of the museum. Even two hours was not quite enough time to take in all the exhibits.

That evening we stayed in a rambling converted castle, complete with Irish wolfhound. The best for last. We immediately grew accustomed to the lifestyles, and fruitlessly cast about for some rationale to stay.

With none offered, we departed for a final ride in the tour bus to our seaside hotel outside of Dublin. 

Next - four days on our own in Dublin.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day nine of our tour of Ireland

We have seen natural beauty and historical sites galore. And they offer real history here, with castles and towers dating back to 1100 AD. Artifacts of western civilization far earlier than American historical attractions back to our Revolutionary War. Shoot, we ate in a pub that predated 1776.

The tour has been relentless. Most days we arise at 6.00am for 7.30am breakfast and an 8.30am departure. Then we endure hours on the tour bus. We live out of suitcases, a new hotel almost every night.

Twice we bailed out of the itinerary, the second time for a full day during a two night stop in Donegal. Needed some down time.

In Donegal we strolled about the town. Stopped in a pub for a pint (or two) of Guinness. Chatted with the locals about this and that.

We also dropped by a woolens store for a look around. Jenna bought a nice wool sweater, to replace her jacket stained on an unmarked painted railing. Bruce picked up a smart woolen cap. As we paid, the capmaker appeared with a new batch, and he thanked me for my purchase. Don't expect that at the local Walmart, as Chinese merchants don't make housecalls.

More ahead.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nothing to Report

Our dedicated reader has come to expect a certain degree of disdain and cynicism from the author as he, the aforementioned author, reports his observations and experiences, both novel and mundane.  The author seldom disappoints.  After plodding through enough five dollar words, some cents appear.   The reader's patience is eventually rewarded.  Tho not in this paragraph.

Which somehow brings us to today's topic:  airport security.   Today we boarded our flights to Ireland, starting at the Phoenix airport.  After reading many stories about the horrors of unreasonable searches and seizures by Neanderthal TSA agents , I fully expected much grist for this virtual mill.  In particular, I intended to refuse a radiological examination in favor of a more personal interaction.

But the experience turned out to be quite the opposite.  After a speedy and efficient check-in procedure, which I started at home on the airline website, we proceeded to the security queue.

Jenna walked into the xray machine, waved her appendages about as if forming a snow angel, and passed the test.  I could have told them she was no terrorist, had they asked.  But who would have believed a husband's assurances?

She caused some consternation by leaving her hearing aid in her jacket pocket.  Leads one to wonder, "If a hearing aid explodes and you're not wearing it, does it make a sound?"

Yes, I wonder about these things.

Next I indicated my preference for the old ways.

"We've got an opt-out.", called the guard.   Indeed!  A short wait ensued and I met my new BFF.

We sauntered over to a table.  He patted me down thoroughly but inoffensively, then placed his gloves in an electronic sniffer.  

"All done!"  

"Really? "

In the Chicago airport, we repeated this routine.  Nothin more.

And so I have neither snide nor revealing comments about TSA security.  For this I apologize.  To them.  And to you, gentle reader.

I can't even promise to improve during this trip.  The Irish people are too damned nice.


P.S.  During this trip, I must write these posts on my cellphone.  Tappy tappy tappy.  Not sure that I can post pictures until I return to use the laptop.  

The Dude will abide.

Friday, May 4, 2012


into the wild green yonder. 

We have fully prepared for a long day of travel in a cramped space.  Kinda like traveling in an RV, come to think about it.  Except for the extreme airport security.  The worst we encountered in our RV travels was vegetable inspections into CA and CA, i.e. California and Canada. 

Say, I wonder if those guys ever noticed their identical initials.  Maybe they could share a professional ball team, considering the savings on T shirts and jerseys and mugs.  Maybe the Maple Leaf Sprouts.  Or the Canuk Cantaloupes.  Just a thought.

We arrive in Dublin tomorrow at 0 dark 30 our time.  8.30AM their time.  With all their interest in tourism, you'd think the Irish could adjust their time zone to EST or PST.  Join the civilized world, so to speak. 

Well, maybe I won't speak of that.

Just don't get me started about European voltage.  Or Freedom Fries.