Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ireland ... part 1

We just got home from Ireland, and had so much fun. It truly was the trip of a lifetime, and we are so happy that we were able to go. We loved it. We were so lucky to have incredible weather the entire time. It never rained, and was sunny 2 of the days. We were in heaven.

Here is our quick trip overview: we flew out Friday evening after work and returned Wednesday afternoon. We spent all day Saturday and Sunday cruising the streets of Dublin. We got the City Pass and did one of those double decker bus tours of the city. We saw St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christ's Church, City Hall, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Jail, and the National Museum of Ireland. They were 2 pretty packed days.

Em really liked Kilmainham Jail, and thought that the personal stories were fascinating. It was a very similar setup to the jail in Shawshank Redemption (Clean Flix version of course). Christ's Church had a really cool underground crypt. And the top of the Guinness storehouse was a cool 360 degree view of Dublin. Also, at Trinity College we saw the Book of Kells. The coolest part of the trip in my opinion was the library where it was in. This library was enormous. It was probably 4 stories high, and 150 feet long - filled with old books. I snuck a picture (even though I was not supposed to) - but it just looked so cool. I loved it.

Dublin is such a fun place and we loved it. At night, we would get a nice Irish bite to eat (whether Boxty's or Meat and Mash). Em and I both loved the food there. Pretty much all kinds of meat and potatoes, so you cant go wrong. We also went Pub hopping, to check out the coolest places. We were able to hear some really fun Irish music and rub shoulders with the locals (and one even spilled beer all over Kevin). Our favorite was going to either O'Neal's to eat dinner or the Singing and Dancing show at the Arlington Hotel. They performed an incredible River Dance number (it was all I could do from not jumping up and joining them). It was phenomenal. As it turns out, we really love the Irish music as well.

For Mon & Tues, we rented a car and drove around the countryside of Ireland. On Monday, we drove North to Newgrange (Bru Na Boine) and saw the coolest hill/tomb that dates older than the Egyptian pyramid. It was awesome to actually go inside. Afterwards we drove down to the Malahide Castle, and then drove South of Dublin to Glendalough. This was a gorgous drive. The countryside is absolutely breathtaking! After we saw the ruins at Glendalough, we drove through the Wicklow mountains on our way back to Dublin.

On Tuesday, we drove South towards Cashel. On the way, we randomly saw this Castle, so pulled off the road. It is incredible, there are Castles everywhere in Ireland. This one was not a monument or anything, just on someone's land. So of course, I had to climb the castle and get inside. It reminded me of one of the Castle's from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. So cool.

When we got to Cashel, we toured the Rock of Cashel, one of the largest and most breath-taking castles ever. It was truly incredible. Afterwards, we drove to Kilkenny, and saw the Castle there, as well as St. Mary's Church and another Cathedral. We went back to Dublin and ate one more time at O'Neal's since it was so good and said goodbye to Ireland.

Couple of interesting facts from the trip:

Every morning we had this huge buffet breakfast at our hotel. It was the perfect thing to get us out bed every morning. It actually almost cost us our flight home as you will see....

If your international flight leaves at 8:55 AM, do not eat breakfast and leave your hotel at 7:30 - we had to drive to the airport, drop off the rental car, and hail a cab. We got to the Delta check in booth at 8:00 AM. The workers there said that the plane may be closed, since you should show up 3 hours early for an international flight. Woops! Luckily, they said we still had time if we sprinted. They checked us in, we ran through security, dashed through customs/immigration, and made our flight. We were so lucky!!

The friends that we traveled with (Kevin and Heather Hirst) were put on the 5th floor, while we were stuck on the 1st floor with a beautiful view of a brick wall. After complaining for 2 days, we were upgraded to the Master Suite. It was well worth it.

All in all - we had a fantastic trip!! It was better than we ever imagined and had so much fun!! Check out the pictures below -- there is more to come.