Wednesday, June 29, 2016


(I'm actually writing this a about a week later. I wasn't awake long enough to do it once I got home!)

I kind of hate that this entry on our adventure is sort of anticlimactic, but really, aren't return trips always a little bit that way?

We drove the two hours to Dublin in the rain and got to the airport almost exactly at the time the tour company said we would!  If you ever need to book an Ireland trip for a group, go with Donoghues of Galway!  Ask for Desmond or John.  They were both awesome!

The airport was packed. PACKED, people.  Our group snaked our way through the Delta line, and I swear, security comes out early in the process.  Someone was going through, getting some of the info for our trip out of the way early so they could print something for us, but they were asking questions that sounded suspiciously like we were getting screened. What do you do for a living? What were you doing in Ireland?

When we finally got to the head of the line, I tried taking my suitcase to the counter, only to be rebuffed by an incredibly fey Irish Delta employee who "Sorrrrrry, can't help you heeeere. I'm just supposed to help the preferred memberssssssss."  Well, OK then!  Of course, the next person to step up to the counter was an actor I recognized, even through his Full Incognito Disguise of hat, glasses, and full beard.  He was on a show I used to watch, and I liked him, so, you know, fine.  He had to get his golf clubs checked.  I understand! :)

We got the bags checked (and didn't go over the weight limit, which caused me to break out in a celebratory dance) and four of us headed off to what I learned was the complicated security labyrinth of Getting Back To the USA!

You know, I've complained, and complained bitterly, about going through security in the U.S.A.  I don't like taking off my shoes, I don't like having to pretty much unpack my backpack and repack it again while irritated people are shoving past me, and I don't like having to stand in a booth and have an X-ray picture of myself taken to make sure I'm not concealing a weapon in one of my orifices. I can appreciate the situation, as I'd rather not have someone on board my plane have a bomb or a machete, but it is always an irritating process.  Now I think I'll feel a bit better about the situation when I'm flying within the US, because that is NOTHING compared to getting back into the United States from overseas.

All four of us had been giving this cardboard ticket that we were supposed to fill out.  It was a customs thing, asking who we were, what our boarding pass number was, what were we bringing back into the country and etc.  We stopped at a row of garbage cans and filled out our cards.  Great. Fine.  If it'll make things go faster, then I'm all for it.  We pass through the first step of security, you know, that person who checks your ID as well as your boarding pass.  We got past him and into the line for the x-rays and stuff.  I was wearing boots, which I'll admit was not the smartest move, but I wanted them out of the suitcase because they were heavy.  I unzipped them and carried them a ways before I noticed that people weren't taking off their shoes, so I put them back on.  By the way, knee high, zip up boots are not easy to take on and off while you're walking.  When I got to the conveyor belt, I was asked to take them off again, and I was also asked to remove my iPad from my backpack, which I've never had to do before, but whatever.  I'd had to take off my belt, watch and bracelet before stepping through the metal detector and I STILL set it off.  One of the gate agents rubbed my hands and around my waistline with a thing.  As it turns out, my underwire was what set off of the metal detector and the thing that they rubbed over my skin was testing for drug residue.  Apparently I passed the drug test, so I got to grab my stuff, go through, and get redressed.  I'm also glad I got to keep my bra.

As we walked through the airport, there were a couple of places I wanted to stop, but I didn't get to because we still had to go through "pre-processing" for customs.  We followed signs until we got to a line that terminated in a row of computer kiosks.  Steve and I got to go to the same one since we were traveling together, and it turned out that it was a digital version of the cardboard thing we'd filled out earlier.  SIGH.  Ok, then.  It asked us all the same type of questions and then took your picture.  Y'all, I wish so hard I could have kept that picture, because it was hilarious.  I was too short to reach the square in the middle of the screen where you were supposed to position your face, so I had to stretch way up to get near it, and Steve was looking around me to see what I was doing and ended up photobombing me, and the picture was just weird and hilarious.  Once we both got through the line and had a chance to look at it, I swear I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants!  So we thought we were done and through, but alas, we were not!  We approached yet another series of conveyor belts.  We didn't have to walk through metal detectors again, but I had to take off my boots and take out the iPad again. I wonder what they thought I could get from one security line to the next in the airport?  I have no idea, but I had to repack the damn backpack again and put on my shoes again.  You think we were done?  Nope.  The four of us who had been together wound up getting split up about this time, and we were directed to go into a new line that ended with yet another gate manned by security guards.  By then I was just preparing myself for a cavity search, and really, at this point, the thought didn't bother me all that much if it just meant I could get to the danged boarding gate!  We had to go forward one at a time, and the man or woman at the gate we ended up at asked a series of odd questions.  The lady in my line took the printed out customs form and my passport, looked me up and down and we had this conversation:

Her: Where do you live?
Me: Alabama
Her: What do you do for a living?
Me: Secretary (and how she'd know if I was telling the truth? I have no idea because that isn't on my passport!)
Her: What are you bringing back with you?
Me: Uh, sweaters? (I mean, I had other things too, but volume wise, sweaters were the most.)
Her: Did you purchase any alcohol to bring back?
Me: No. (Which is the truth. We'd gotten some whiskey for my brother in law, but Steve bought it and it was in his checked bag.)
Her: Is this your bag? (shows me a security photo of my suitcase.)
Me: Yes.
Her: Go ahead.

Of course, by this point, I was nervous and probably would have said anything just to get through.  She waved me on and I waited for Steve (who apparently just looks more trustworthy than I do, I guess) who didn't have to answer nearly as many questions.  From here on out, we could finally go towards out boarding gate.  I also finally got to go to the bathroom, which had become very important since security took as long as it did.  I was hungry and thirsty by then, but I didn't have any change and the vending machine wouldn't take paper money.  There was one tiny Duty Free shop where I bought a magnet so I could get change, but they didn't give me enough coins to use for anything to drink, so I got some chips and made it to the seating area right before we had to start lining up to board the plane.  I was very grateful that we hadn't stopped  anywhere before we went through the rigamarole of security, or I might not have made it to the plane in time.

We also found out that one of the members of the band had been detained at the last gate.  There was never any explanation why, because he hadn't done anything wrong, but they took him back to a security room where they had his checked bag open and searched, and they asked him a lot of questions about the people he'd been traveling with.  Apparently they knew every place we'd stayed, every venue the band had played in, and lots of other things about who we were.  That's kind of scary.  But to be fair, I suppose it's necessary these days, so I won't do more than a token complaint.  Luckily the guy made it back to the boarding area in time to get on the plane.

Steve and I were seated in the middle row of the plane, which wasn't as uncomfortable as I'd feared.  I kept trying to sleep, but couldn't get comfortable enough, and we were being constantly fed on the way back.  We also had an impressive amount of movies to watch, which I can appreciate, but still, we were crammed in a cramped metal tube, flown 8 hours back to the US, and constantly crammed with airplane food. I suppose it could have been worse.

When we touched down in Atlanta we went to grab our bags and I saw that the TV actor had been on our plane!  I surreptitiously took a photo of him, but immediately felt like a creep for doing so.  The man had just been on a long flight, he was wearing flip-flops, and I'm fairly certain he was on the phone in a panic because his ride wasn't there yet.  I won't post the picture online.  He doesn't deserve that!  I'd make a terrible paparazzi!  Steve and I caught a shuttle to the parking area, got the car, and after stopping for lunch (again with the food!) we started home.  I had originally thought we'd stay in Atlanta over night, but Steve has a new client and had to be back for meetings on Monday, so we drove home.  I tried to stay awake for his sake, I swear I did, but I kept dozing off.  I was basically delirious by the time we made it back to Huntsville.  Once we got ourselves and and our stuff inside, we went to bed and slept until the next morning.

In the days that followed, I did learn a couple of things. 1)  Jet lag is real, and it is awful.  I didn't think it was a real thing, but I was exhausted for nearly an entire week, except when I'd wake up in the middle of the night and be wide awake. No fun! 2) This is such a stupid thing, but I did find out that I wasn't allergic to the pillows in that hotel, at least! I hadn't felt well almost the entire time I'd been gone, but I was never as bad as I was that one night.  My nose was terribly stopped up, I was so freaking tired all the time, my face broke out, of course, I was nauseated constantly and I was just feeling generally blah. It was annoying, but not terrible. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that maybe some of the medication I'd been on was making me sick.  One of my prescriptions had been changed to generic right before we left, and I hadn't been able to keep on my normal schedule of taking any of my meds because of the time change. I felt the same way for a week after I got home and got back to my normal schedule, though.  I finally decided that I'd just start eliminating my medicine one thing at a time until I found out what was going on.  As it turns out, it wasn't any of my prescription meds at all.  Right before we left for Ireland, I started taking a probiotic pill every day, hoping that it would stave off any issues that might arise from the change of food, water, and the kinds of unpleasantness that sometimes comes along with travel.  I eliminated that one first, and immediately felt better.  My skin cleared up, I was able to eat normally, and I could stay awake.  Apparently, I was allergic to something in that OTC pill that was causing every symptom I'd had the entire time!  I'd only been super sick that one day because I'd barely eaten, and had really only taken that probiotic!  I felt so stupid.  It was like someone with a non lethal peanut allergy just swallowing one tiny peanut a day. But at least it was a relief to know what was going on.  Live and learn, right?

Anyway, so my Irish adventure is over, and I had so much fun I'd do it all again exactly the same (sick and all.)  Now to plan our next adventure!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Late last night Steve and I realized that if we didn't get up early and go down to breakfast, we'd have to eat at the same time as a hoard of screaming, half-dressed, ill mannered, non-supervised children.  Ick.

So we got up early and went down to eat, even though we technically had more time to sleep today.  Our schedule was going to be fairly low key, and since this was our last full day in Ireland (BOO) we wanted to enjoy as much of it as we could!

My mother had bought me a really pretty sweater from a boutique in Athens so that I could take it on this trip.  It's not something I'd have ever picked out on my own (mainly because I'm an adult woman who doesn't know how to properly dress herself) but it's long, it has a fringy bit around the bottom, and the back has a panel of inset lace right in the back.  I really like it.  I call it my Coachella sweater, because it's hipper than pretty much all of my other clothes.  People from our group kept stopping me and petting the sweater, and telling me how beautiful it was and asking me if I'd bought it while we had been in Ireland. I guess it was the lace? I have no idea, but it happened so often that it started to get silly.  I kept telling everyone that it was bought in Athens, Alabama, but who knows if they believed me. 

We didn't have far to go today, really, as our two destinations were in Galway.  We first stopped at King John's Castle, which was located right on the River Shannon.  King John's Castle is a legit castle, built by the King John that we know from the Robin Hood stories (although he was never there, apparently) in the 13th century.  It was a major fortress that had kept control over the area for centuries.  It had been turned into a museum that actually reminded me a lot of Constitution Hall Village in Huntsville.  It was a neat museum that explained the history of the area and what had happened during the castle siege.  There was even an archeological dig going on underneath the building where they found some old viking house foundations.  It was fun, but it seemed more like it was designed for children than for adults.  There were some costumed characters around who had to stay in character, but I did not engage.  I didn't need bored teenagers forsoothing at me!

 King John's Castle is behind our big heads

The courtyard at King John's Castle, and the River Shannon, the slowest river in Ireland.
No offense. I'm sure it goes as fast as it can.

Our next destination was described to me as Ireland's Colonial Williamsburg, called Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.  It really was like Colonial Williamsburg, in that there were costumed characters (although thankfully they didn't always stay in character,) and it had recreated an area of houses, a blacksmith shop, and things like that, all with the big castle (not a recreation) on one end of the property.  Des, our tour guide, was going to give a tour of the place himself to anyone interested in going along.  Steve and I were going to go, but the first thing the group voted on was to immediately eat.  I wasn't hungry and didn't want to waste time sitting and watching other people eat, so I split off from the group to explore on my own.

I actually came across the same guy I'd walked around with at Blarney Castle and Cork, so we walked a ways together and looked at the mills and the animals.  I lost him at some point while I was taking pictures, so I ended up wandering around the place alone, which was fine.  I went at my own pace and asked questions if I had them.  It was a beautiful day, so it was a very nice walk.  I actually made it over to the castle at the same time as Steve's tour group, so I joined them during the first part of that tour.  Bunratty Castle was a 15th century stronghold for the O'Brien Clan.  I say that like I can explain it, but I can't.  It was another big-ass castle, though! Also, I learned that William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, once lived there for some time. Use that info for whatever you want.  Maybe you'll need it for trivia one of these days!

Sheeps! I tried talking to them, but they never answered me. Maybe they don't speak English.

Bunratty Castle! It was very tall. Yea, verily.

This castle really was huge, and when we walked inside, we ended up in this big room filled with tables.  Apparently they hold medieval-style dinners there (like Medieval Times, maybe?) but it had once been the main room that soldiers had chilled out in.  There was another tour guide (not Des) that told us about the room and what went on in there.  Several members of our group sat down at a long table that ran up one side of the room while he was talking, and in the process of telling us what the room was for, he pointed to out table and said "And that table right there is over 500 years old!" Every single person leaned back from it in unison. The guide didn't care, though, because apparently it is still used as a table.  If it had been someplace in the States, we would have never been allowed to get near it, much less sit down at it!  I hope no one scratched it.  I stayed with the tour until it disbanded.  I lost Steve while I was climbing up to the top of the castle, but this time I didn't make it up the spiral staircase.  I couldn't!  I don't know if it was the lack of windows, or the knowledge that I was climbing so high, but I had to come down.  I wish I'd seen the view from the top, but otherwise I don't care a bit.  I'm not going to risk my mental health just to see a view.  I did that once at the San Jacinto monument in Texas and almost ran down some old ladies trying to get down from the top!

I walked back to the main gift shop and looked around for a bit.  There are so many pretty things in Ireland.  I had to exercise my self control not to bring back one of everything! :)  I did happen to notice that just up from the castle was a Blarney Woolen Mill store, just like the one that had been at the hotel we'd stayed at earlier, so I was able to go in an buy the thing I'd forgotten before.  It was yarn, ok, yarn!  I couldn't help it!  I needed some!  You'll be proud to know that I didn't buy a case of it, though, only three skeins, and I will not make a hat out of any of it!  So there, I bought yarn while in Ireland.  It is very nice wool yarn. :)

It had started to rain again by the time I made it back to the castle and folk park.  I went to the coffee shop and bought myself the last thing I had on my "must eat" list, which was a scone.  I've made scones before, but the ones I made don't look like the ones here.  So I bought a fruit scone, with cream and jam, and it was delicious.  It was really just a fancy biscuit with raisins in it, but it was good!  Afterwards I stayed in the gift shop and wound up buying some kind of skin cream in hopes it would help my faux leprosy issue.  It smells weird, but I'm willing to try anything at this point.  Not long after the group came through and we got back on the coach to go to the hotel for a bit.  We were supposed to return to Bunratty for one of the medieval meals, but as it turned out we wouldn't be doing that.  Instead we would be having some Traditional Irish Food and Folk Dancing.  I thought we'd already done that bit, but I guess you can't have enough of that, really!

When we got back to the hotel, the little girl dancers had pretty much gone rogue.  They were everywhere, and they were absolutely not supervised at all.  I don't think I saw one parent with any of the roving, screaming groups of children that ran through the place.  This didn't bode well.  We got cleaned up and changed for dinner, and we sat down at the bottom of the stairs while we waited for it to be time to leave.  The dancer girls came in and out of the area, and then a a grown up, adult woman walked down the stairs, and y'all...she was pretty much naked.  I mean, she was wearing a dress, sort of.  It was like two scarves tied around her shoulders and crossed across her chest (although she had some severe boobage hanging out all around) but that was about it.  It was cut down to her navel, cut up to her armpits, and if she had turned too sharply, that whole stairwell would have been her gynecologist.   Of course I stared, how could I help but stare?  As it turned out, she had something to do with the dance competition going on, so that mostly naked lady was in the same place as the little girls.  I have no idea what the hell is going on in this hotel!!!!!

We made it back to the Bunratty Corn Barn, where our dinner was going to be served.  We were immediately given alcohol.  Like, literally, before we walked into the door I was given a glass of mead.  It was sweet, and it tasted fine, but I was being careful.  We were all seated family-style around long tables, and there was a stage along the front of the room.  This show was so much fun to watch!  We saw some of the same kind of dancing that we saw earlier in the week while in Howth, but there was traditional singing, a small band with a violinist, guitarist, and a, uh, squeezy box lady (sorry, I don't know what they are properly called!), and 4 step dancers!  It was just a lot of fun to watch and listen to, and we had some really delicious, simple, traditional food. We had a great time tonight!  It didn't seem to last as long as I would have thought, but it might have been because there were no breaks in between the acts and the food and things.

Once we got back to the hotel, we finally had to start getting things organized for the trip home.  We were lucky that neither Steve nor I had over packed (for the first time ever) so we had no trouble getting my sweaters packed away! Yay!  We pretty much packed everything except for the essentials, because tomorrow morning we have a 3:30 AM wake up call so we can go back to Dublin to catch our flight.  We weren't supposed to have such an early start, because we originally were supposed to fly out of the Shannon Airport which was very close to where we were staying, but apparently Delta stopped flying out of Shannon after we'd already organized the trip, so back to Dublin we must go.  Bleh.  That's a long trip before another long trip!  Oh, well, what can we do?

So now it's time to get some sleep.  The little bastard children are running up and down the halls and knocking on doors on our floor tonight.  Just a minute ago I heard an argument between two people, one of which is a dance mom, I think.  I don't know what the Irish equivalent to trailer trash is, but I'm pretty sure one of those people out there fits the bill.  Oy, vey.  I just want to get some sleep before we have to get up again.

But bastard children aside, I have had an amazingly wonderful trip!  I'm so glad I got to come to Ireland!!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016


WTF is going on with my face?!?!?!!

When I woke up this morning and looked into the mirror, I thought I was seeing things.  Just overnight it seems that I have contracted leprosy.  Do you remember last year when I was in Florida and I accidentally sprayed bug poison on my face and got a terrible rash?  The same thing happened again! Not the bug poison part, because I tend to look at bottles now, but the rash!  Holy hell, I look terrible!  I think I've narrowed it down to the pillows here, because I can't think of anything else it could be.  I've got sensitive skin (my skin is as sensitive as my soul...sigh) and I think I must be allergic whatever they wash the pillowcases with.  Oy, vey.  Now I have a lovely face rash to go along with my eye splotch and arm bruise.  Seriously, along with the dark, sleepless rings around my eyes. hair that refuses to cooperate, and everything else, God is having a laugh.  I must have been going to meet up with someone who would otherwise be tempted by my beauty and would have stolen me away, and the universe is trying to stop it.  (Ok, I can't even think that with a straight face, so you can go ahead and laugh.)

You can stop it now, Universe!  This is just plain mean!

OK, well, other than that, we did have a very grand adventure planned for today!  Today was the day we were going to the Cliffs of Moher (or the Cliffs of Mordor as I've been calling them, mainly because I wasn't sure how to pronounce Moher at first.) Ever since some friends of mine (Hi, guys!) went there, I've been dying to see the cliffs in person.  Steve was excited about this particular trip as well, so after breakfast we headed out the door and towards the cliffs.  As I mentioned before, we were supposed to have a concert in Galway, but it got canceled.  We weren't supposed to be so far away from the cliffs, but the drive over there was fun.  Des is actually from Galway, so he kept up a steady stream of information about the area while we headed up that way.  He seemed really excited about taking us over there, and his excitement was catching!  He told us all about the history of the area we were traveling in, and about the trees, and how a lot of the places were just abandoned when the famine began. We went through some tiny towns (although, to be fair, most of the towns were tiny) and he talked about those.  He even explained how to thatch a house, about the slate shingles that we saw on some houses, about cutting and drying turf for fuel, and that Cromwell (who was just a bastard and a half) ran some of the families out of their land by telling them that they could go to "Hell or Connaught!" Hell, meaning he'd kill them and Connaught being a very wild, uncultivated area where they'd probably starve while trying to scratch out a place to live.  We saw it.  It wasn't a friendly place.

We finally made it to the cliffs.  Again, Des seemed to be concerned that I was going to get cold, even though I had a jacket on.  I wonder if he thinks I'm sick or something?  I look sick, but I'm not. Did he think I really had leprosy?  I don't know, but again he seemed convinced I'd be too cold and offered me a raincoat. I respectfully declined. I'm not that delicate! Maybe I am. Maybe I do have leprosy!  Aaaaaah!

Anyway, the cliffs were AWESOME!!!!! 

It was quite a climb up some stairs, and the wind was blowing really hard, but when you get to where you can see them, oh, it was gorgeous.  The Cliffs of Moher have been filmed for a lot of different things, but I knew them best from the scene in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, when Harry and Dumbledore go to find the horcrux that was hidden in a cave.  As nerdy as that undoubtedly is, I was so excited to see it!!!!!!  They were so big and wild that it was kind of hard to take it all in. That's the kind of odd thing that has happened to me when we've gone to the National Parks back in the states.  It's all so big and different from what I'm used to that it almost doesn't seem real.  It's a wonderful, beautiful place, though.  If you ever get a chance to go, you should!   Des told us that when people started immigrating to America, the mothers would climb the cliffs and say prayers over the Atlantic to their loved ones because they knew they'd never see them again.  Huh.  Way to harsh the mellow, Des!  Nah, I actually thought that was a nice bit of info.  We took a ton of pictures, and Steve helped me take a particular picture that I meant as a joke (although, sadly, I'm not sure anyone got it) but otherwise we just stood and stared out over the water.  We were so busy taking photos and just looking that I forgot to take one of my foot!  I'm so mad about that.  Grrrr.  It's the only place I've forgotten to do it so far, dangit.

I wasn't content with walking behind the wall, so I climbed over it and walked along the edge.  I have no idea why I did this. I'm scared of heights, but I was compelled.  Maybe it because Steve didn't want me to!  Haha!  I got some very good photos, though, and at one point I lay down on my stomach to hang over the edge a bit.  Steve stood behind the wall hoping I wasn't going to fall over.  He said if I did, at least he could tell everyone I wouldn't be back on the coach and they wouldn't have to wait on me!!

I don't know how long we stayed out there, but we were out there a long time.  We finally walked back to the gift shop to get some things and let Steve get lunch. When we left, we traveled along the west coast of Ireland, which I think I prefer to the east coast.  It's all the Wild Atlantic Way, and it's all rocky coastlines, old farms, newer farms, fields and cows and such.  I loved it!  The road was very, very narrow, though, so sitting next to the window and looking straight down to a certain death was kind of unnerving.  We drove a long ways, but again, Desmond kept up a fairly steady stream of interesting talk, so the drive wasn't so bad.

Next we went into Galway proper, and Steve and I went along with a few other people to eat at a fish and chips shop!  That was the next food on my list of things I wanted to make sure and eat!  The place was called McDonaughs, which sounded enough like McDonald's that we got kind of tickled over it.  The food was good, although I'm not sure I was crazy about the chips. They didn't taste bad, but they were very thick and soft.  I liked the fish, though!  After that we walked around for quite a long time on what I think was called Shop Street.  It's closed off to traffic and it's lined with pubs, restaurants, and of course, shops.  I finally bought my Aran sweaters!  We didn't get a chance to go to the Aran Islands, but Desmond told us about a shop where the legit ones are shipped, so I got a couple there.  That makes three sweaters, and I might have accidentally bought a man's sweater. Oh well, it's big and soft, and I'll war it or figure out what to do with it later.  I'm bringing home a lot of wool to a place where it's rarely cold.  The sweaters were the one thing I promised myself I would buy, so I'll put it on and stand in the freezer section of Publix if I have to!  At one point during our walk, the most random thing happened.  We saw a bunch of people in kilts with bagpipes. That's a Scottish thing, right?  We saw them gather and start playing, and they marched down the street.  They went about 100 yards, stopped playing and left.  It was weird.  We thought they were advertising something, but we never found out what.  But, you know, SURPRISE BAGPIPES! 

We walked around and saw everything twice, I think, and by the time we got back to the bus, we were so tired!  It had been fun, though, so I was glad we'd gone down there. I'm not altogether sure how we're going to get the things we bought home.  Mainly it's the sweaters I'm worried about.  They're very thick.  Everything else will be easy.  Eh, we'll figure it out.

We finally got back to the hotel and when we walked in we saw that the hotel was now full of...I don't know what they are...little girl dancers or something.  They are very strange, and a lot of them have on inappropriate outfits and heavy makeup and wild hair. They look like those troupes of little girls you see in Christmas parades back home that are usually a part of something called "Melinda's School of Dance and Baton" or whatever, but these kids are dressed way worse.  There is heavy music playing somewhere in the hotel and a competition of some kind going on.  We haven't been allowed to go in there to see what's happening.  I don't blame them, though.  They're children and we are strangers, and who wants that hassle down the road?

Steve and I went down to the bar area to get something to eat later on and the kids kept coming into the bar.  Who lets a kid walk into a bar?  I don't think the dance mommies are watching their little snowflakes because they're running around in packs causing havoc.  Seriously, we see the moms going outside to smoke and have a drink, and these little kids are just left to their own devices and they are not being well mannered.  It's very weird.  Do these people not care that their little girls are in a hotel with a lot of rooms and possibly some very bad people behind a few of them?  Geez. It's scary to think about.

These kids are also really freaking loud, and if I have to go out into the hall and cut a bitch to get some sleep, I'm going to do it.  I don't care if they're 7 years old!  We can hear them running upstairs and knocking on doors. Part of me hopes they disturb some of the grumpier people in our group.  That would be entertaining! 


Well, this is nice. At some point, a tiny blood vessel in my eye popped. I don't know how or why, and I never felt it, but now I have a gross red splotch in my right eye, and I bet that's all anyone will be able to look at when I talk to them. Gross. I need an eyepatch now. :(
We left our cute little hotel this morning and drove over to Cobh (pronounced Cove) to see the Titanic Experience. I thought it was going to be like the one we saw in Nashville a while ago, but it was much, much smaller and it didn't even have any artifacts! What was awesome, though, was that the museum was housed in the original White Star Line ticketing office and it was the last place that the Titanic visited before it set sail across the Atlantic, and the last place that passengers loaded. It was still a neat museum, even if it wasn't that big. I stood where the last third class passengers stood before getting on the boats.  Like the exhibit in Nashville, they'd given is cards with information about a passenger on it, and that was supposed to be who we were during the tour. When it was over, we got to see if our person survived.  I got a third class passenger called Julia Smythe.  Luckily, she survived.  I don't know what it is about the Titanic that gets to me, but during one part of the tour I almost cried.  I can't stand the thought of people leaving their husbands and fathers behind, I guess.  I didn't cry, though, because that would have been weird.  It was an interesting little tour.

Afterwards Steve and I went to get something to eat and wound up in a tiny place called Leonardo's. There were a few  people from our group in there, and the weirdest thing happened. Maybe I misunderstood, but it was such a weird thing to say that I'm not sure, so you tell me what you think. 

One of the people we'd had dinner with the night before was in there with two other band members. At dinner he made a joke about a mad leprechaun coming in and messing up some clothes because he hadn't kissed the Blarney Stone. (It was a strange conversation, so bear with me.) Anyway, I stopped at his table and told him his leprechaun was on our bus throwing stuff around. Stuff had actually been falling off the overhead bins on our coach for no foreseeable reason, which is when someone mentioned the mad leprechaun.  Anyway, the guy said "Well, it visited me this morning and stole my gift of gab, because I haven't felt much like talking." then he turned around and kept on talking to the ladies he was talking to when we walked in. I just nodded and went on to our table, but after thinking about it for a few minutes I felt like maybe he was telling me to go away because he didn't particularly want to talk to me.  Yes, I know that sounds paranoid, but I think I got a very creative brush off, which was weird because I wasn't trying to...uh...brush on. Eh, well, I don't know that guy, so it doesn't really matter, I guess. It was just a weird thing. I wasn't upset about it or anything.  Who knows?

We got back on the coach and made it to Limerick, which is where we will be staying for the remainder of our trip.  We were originally supposed to have a concert in Galway, but for some reason it got canceled, so Limerick was the destination and we made it there in due time.  We are staying at the Radisson Blu, which is the most "American" hotel we've stayed in thus far.  It is nice, and seems relatively new, but things keep breaking on us.  Hopefully the hotel staff don't think we're doing it on purpose. I suspect it's a shiny new hotel with cheap fixtures.  We'll see if anyone shouts about having to pay damages later.

We had dinner at the hotel and then turned around and headed back out to the next concert, which was at this ancient church called St. Mary's Cathedral.

It was so beautiful, and the acoustics were amazing. It was actually a dual concert with a local community band, the Boherbuoy Brass and Reed Band, that has been playing since 1850, the joke being that not everyone is an original member...har har. :)

 Boherbuoy Brass and Reed Band. Say that five times fast.

Twickenham Winds. No need to say it more than once.

Both bands did a great job, and my only complaint is that Steve's band went on a bit long. The church is huge and old, and it was freezing inside. I thought I was going to succumb to hypothermia, but as you can tell, I survived.  Barely.  :)  Usually you can go outside if you're cold, but it was colder outside than in. Everyone seemed to enjoy the concert and the other band invited us all to a pub down the street called The Locke where we had pints of stuff and plates of nibbles.  It was so much fun, and it seemed like this band and our band mixed a lot easier than the one earlier in the week.  We got loud, but apparently that's how you do the pub thing over here.  It's miles more fun than going to a bar back home.   I didn't drink much, so I wasn't even buzzing or anything, but I still almost fell down the steps of our tour bus because I missed a step. Desmond  thinks I'm drunk instead of just clumsy.  I wasn't, I promise!  I wasn't even a tiny bit drunk.  I just can't win!  Also, Hit my arm when I reached to catch myself and I have a gross bruise forming on my right arm to go with my gross eye blotch.  Seriously, I couldn't get sexier right now if I tried!

Tomorrow is another adventure and I'm very excited about it!

Thursday, June 23, 2016


We were a little better rested when we got up this morning. We are having relatively easy day today, because we are within walking distance to Blarney Castle, which is our activity today, and Steve's concert will be on the castle grounds at noon. Nothing else was really planned! Yay!

We started out with breakfast, and I FINALLY got to eat some black pudding! We've had catered breakfasts so far all this week and they haven't had any black pudding, but we got some this morning. In fact, we had both black and white pudding! I knew black pudding is made with pig blood, but I had no idea what white pudding was. The black pudding wasn't bad at all. It tasted a bit like liver, but with the consistency of sausage. I wasn't crazy about it, but it wasn't bad. The white pudding tasted a bit like thanksgiving stuffing, but I still don't know what it's made of. Oh well, I'll look it up later. (EDIT: White pudding is the same as black pudding without the pig's blood. So, there you go!)

We walked to Blarney Castle and gardens and it was gorgeous! I mean, of course the ruins of a castle are going to be impressive, but this was some straight out of a fairy tale type stuff! The gardens are house and cultivated a lot like a botanical garden, as well as having the places that had been set up by former residents of the castle.

Steve and I took pictures, but we rushed to the castle so that we could kiss the Blarney Stone. I figured that we could walk the grounds later. As it turned out, that was the best course of action, because we basically walked straight up to the stone staircase that led to the stone with no problem. The winding staircase was so small and claustrophobic, that I almost didn't make it. If it hadn't had the arrow slits (or whatever they were) cut into the stone, I wouldn't had been able to do it. As we got higher, the staircase got  narrower and the stairs got smaller. It was not fun, but I kept telling myself not to be a jerk face and get up there to kiss the thing. Who knows if I'd ever get another chance?  We made it up really quickly and I did it!

It is a weird thing in that you have to lie down and stick your head into a kind of notch in the parapet (?), lie leaning over backwards and kiss the tiny rock set way down into the wall. The attendant looked miserable, but how else could he feel when he has to hold on to a thousand people a day who he doesn't know and who probably make the same jokes and stuff all day? He gets a lot of tips. I'd imagine that's all that keeps him there!  

Actually,  I accidentally licked the stone after I kissed it because I got excited, and since it was so much effort to climb the stairway, I guess I thought it owed me a French kiss! Haha!  No, really, I think I must have been licking my lips after kissing it, as sort of a reflex because the stone is cold and I was still close enough to reach it with my tongue. I didn't actually mean to do it. All I I could think of after that was that I probably got hepatitis or herpes or something. Cold sores, here I come. Steve tried to get a picture of me, but it happens so fast that the picture is really of me getting back up and it's all awkward under chin and boobs. Luckily, they take a picture of you while you're doing it, kind of like the ones you get when you ride on a roller coaster, so I bought the one of me that they took, which is much better. It's still weird looking, but it's much better. 

Steve was going to do it too. But he happened to look down when he got to the hole and he got vertigo. I kind of can't blame him, but I'm sorry I didn't get to see him do it! When I made my way down the path, I saw that literally hundreds of people were standing in line at this point. I was so lucky that I made it up when I did, because now I had time to look around the grounds instead of standing in line all day!

I got lost trying to make my way down to the ground and ended up in some kind of corral.  It didn't have an exit.  I kind of panicked for a minute, because I didn't want to be stuck in some kind of weird pen, so I had to climb way back up until I could walk back down the entrance line.  There was another way down, but I never found it.  I walked down and found Steve, who'd made it to the bottom before I did, and handed him my picture while he sat and people watched. I explored the grounds a bit. I actually caught up with one of Steve's band mates and we explored together for a while, which was fun. I finally found Steve again right before he had to go back and change his clothes for the concert, but we didn't have much time to talk. I walked around, and kept thinking that I'd sit for a bit and rest, but I kept finding things I wanted to see! I finally went over to listen the the band play, and they did a great job, except that the wind was blowing so hard that their music was going everywhere. It was funny to watch them try and hold on to everything while the wind blew.  Well, funny for me.  I bet they were pissed!

They day had been gorgeous, with sun and even some warmth (I got sunburned. In Ireland! Go fig...) but right at the last song, it started to rain. They did finish the song and we got everything packed up and we went back to the hotel. As it turned out, the bus was going to be going to Cork city, and after I did some souvenir shopping at the hotel shop, (and I forgot to get one of the things I meant to get and won't have time to go back...damnit) Steve and I went with it. I didn't want to miss out on anything since I was still relatively awake this time.

If Dublin is the New York of Ireland, Cork is kind of like its Chicago. It's the second largest city in Ireland, but it's a bit dirty, a bit seedy, and maybe a bit more dangerous. Steve and I walked around with the same guy I'd explored the castle grounds with, and we had a good time! We didn't really do much more than walk, but we did a bit of shopping here and there and a lot of looking around. We saw more of the every day part of Cork than we did the tourist parts.  We also found out that we had to pay to use some toilets and that sucked, because you have to have the right coin to even open the door! I had to stand in line to get a euro
exchanged into different coins just so I could pee! Then I had to wait until I saw someone come out before I knew how the door worked. That is some bull crap, y'all. Nice bathrooms, though.

We were all exhausted and had been rained on pretty much for most of the time we'd been out, but we made it back to our bus and back to the hotel so that we could have dinner. I had cottage pie, which was good,
if not a bit too filling, and some chocolate eclair things that were just right!

Speaking of chocolate, Ireland has a lot of little chocolate shops! I haven't had a chance to get into one just yet, but I still have a couple of days! We'll just be driving and come across one!  I can appreciate surprise chocolate shops!

We came back to the room and Steve fell asleep right away. Now I have to make myself get up and organize my stuff. We're checking out if this awesome place tomorrow (Boo!) and we are heading on to Limerick.