Archive | June, 2013

Day 16 – Last Day in Ireland spent drinking in Dublin. :)

29 Jun

I’m on my last full day in Ireland. Spending it drinking in Dublin. We were going to visit the Glasnevin cemetery, which is highly rated, but decided one more day of pub hopping was more fitting for our type of visit. The girls shopped and we’re now planted at the Celtic Lodge bar. We won’t be here the rest of the day, but it’s a nice start.

Here’s my final Musings on a wonderful trip.

  • Ireland is green.  I’ve seen the 50 shades of green and then some.
  • The people are as warm, friendly, and genuine as you could ever meet.
  • The country side and the fresh air and the simpler way of life are probably not my cup of tea, but a great place to put your feet up and relax.
  • The driving in Ireland is spectacular provided you’re not too cautious.  Grin & gun it.  And watch the sides! 
  • Guiness beer is fucking awesome!  I love whiskey, but couldn’t get past the Guiness.  I’ve drank whiskey in Scotland.  I’m good.  That’s the best!  Don’t tell an Irishman that though!  However, Guiness rules all.  I’m sure I’ve drank about 100 pints since I’ve been in country.  No shit.
  • Hostel life is awesome.  You shouldn’t be afraid of it when travelling.  Everywhere we stay is clean, safe, and relatively quiet.  A little light street noise at night I find quite relaxing.  There’s folks of every generation from all walks of life there and you can’t beat the price!  It’s the only way to travel here in my book.
  • Staying away from other tourists is a great thing!  Nothing more disappointing than meeting other Americans at the bar.
  • Just like our country, the different sides of Ireland are all very different from each other.  East, West, North, and South has it’s own ways of life and I think they’re all brilliant.
  • I think everyone in the world is basically the same and all want the same things in life.  The chance to make an honest living.  Food, shelter, a safe place for you and your kids.  An opportunity for education and somewhere to unwind and have fun.  Scenery’s nice too.  I don’t believe it gets much more complicated than that.  We’re all the same wherever we’re from or who we call God.  Why is the world so complicated?  It really doesn’t need to be.
  • Nothing beats walking in the footsteps of history. 
  • Learning about a country, it’s people, it’s past, it’s present, and it’s future helps me appreciate and discriminate against my own way of life.  The more you know, the better person you are I say.
  • Travelling with friends and family can only bring you closer to the ones you love.  The ones with you and afar.
  • Oftentimes strangers are just as interested in you as you are in them and I firmly believe a stranger is simply someone you haven’t met yet.
  • McDonalds Quarter Pounders everywhere in the world taste exactly the same.
  • Irish & English beef kicks ass contrary to what anyone says.  The food we’ve eaten from takeaway to pubs to nice restaurants has never been anything short of delicious.
  • Leprechauns are hard to find.
  • Kissing the Blarney Stone is as much fun as it sounds!
  • Temple Bar district sucks.  There are no Irish people anywhere.
  • Gaslight Anthem is an OK rock band I suppose.
  • Not all showers are created equal.
  • Ask anybody anything and they’ll have an answer.  Might not be the right one, but you can rest assured your question will be answered.
  • Big flocks of sheep grazing in the countryside are always cool to look at.
  • Cows are bigger here.  Means they make bigger burgers and steaks.
  • There are no coin operated laundries anywhere in Galway.
  • The Giants Causeway is like nothing you have ever seen.  Truly unique and one-of-a-kind.
  • Don’t wear hats when visiting the Cliffs of Moher.
  • When ordering off a menu with Jenny and Michelle, make sure they begin perusing the menu at least an hour before the kitchen closes or you’ll be sorry.  And hungry. 
  • Always dress for all types of weather.
  • Axe bodywash doubles as shampoo just fine.
  • Metallica, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin are the greatest bands of all time and make excellent travelling partners.
  • Seeing Iron Maiden live at Donnington is extraordinary.  I saw Sabbath and Metallica there last year.  How fucking lucky am I?
  • You can charge 17 things off a single power outlet with a little ingenuity.
  • When leaving Phoenix Park from the south end, if you value living, do NOT try to find shortcuts.  Just go the way you came from.  We walked right through the “hood” and fortunately didn’t have to regret it.
  • If you’re driving, take a GPS with the appropriate map or rent one from the car dealer.  And having a good navigator is a good thing too!  Thanks Michelle!  It makes driving a lot easier!
  • After watching Irish dancing, I know where square dancing comes from!
  • Traditional Irish “Trad” music sounds, to me, like the same song over and over to a headboard-banging-against-the-wall beat.  Good for fucking I suppose.  While I enjoyed it and it’s definitely right for the drinking environment with folks stomping, clapping, and singing along, I don’t see me  picking up any CDs in the near future. 
  • The Irish say “Céad míle fáilte” which is Gaelic and translates to “100,000 Welcomes”.  Now, as I see it, 3 or 4 welcomes is plenty for anyone, but I felt the full 100,000 and appreciate every single one of them. 

Thank you Ireland. Love always,

Brentallica xoxoxo

 

Taken by the girls on Sla Head beach on the far west coast of Ireland.

Taken by the girls on Sla Head beach on the far west coast of Ireland.

Partying at The Dingle Pub in Dingle, Ireland.

Partying at The Dingle Pub in Dingle, Ireland.

 

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Day 15 – Dublin

28 Jun

Had a quick stop this morning at my surprise restaurant for the girls. I had seen this article about 2 months ago (http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/03/02/10-coolest-mcdonalds-around-the-world/1957761/) detailing the 10 Coolest McDonalds in the world. One of them happens to be in Bray, Ireland which is just about 30 minutes south of Dublin and on our way back to the airport to drop off the car.  That’s gotta be worth a stop.

The building was the old Bray town hall from the mid 19th century and McDonalds gave it a once-over and now it sits at the town centre.  The branding on the outside is very subtle, and if you didn’t know it was a McDonalds, I suppose you could easily miss it.  It was pretty cool and Egg McMuffins were enjoyed by all courtesy of this big spender.  I paid for breakfast.

I'm lovin' it!

I’m lovin’ it!

Next stop was to gas up the car and drop it off.  We’d had it a week and while I was anxious to be “car free” again, I was very sad to see it go.  With the car you always have at the back of your mind that somethings going to happen to it, and what a pain in the ass, and what do I do….I appreciated that anxiety leaving.  However foundless it was.  The car was great!  And we had no problems at all.  I actually enjoyed driving in Ireland very much.  I love road trips and this was kind of the ultimate.  Especially taking the little country roads with no sides to speak of.  Very narrow.  Very windy.  Very fun.  Not many freeways, but highways here and there.  After 24 hours behind the wheel I felt very much at home and would have no problems driving anywhere else in Europe now.   The signage and roads, for the most part, are terrific.  And we did about 1400 km, so around 900 miles or so I suppose.  What a blast to drive through Ireland.  I highly recommended it.

Here's me and my Skoda.  I'm not sure if I've ever heard of a Skoda, but it was a kick ass little hatchback and a great ride around Ireland.

Here’s me and my Skoda. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of a Skoda, but it was a kick ass little hatchback and a great ride around Ireland.

Here's the route map of our jouney through this awesome country.  We saw a lot in a very short amount of time, but you know we stopped to smell the roses (and drink the Guiness) frequently.

Here’s the route map of our jouney through this awesome country. We saw a lot in a very short amount of time, but you know we stopped to smell the roses (and drink the Guiness) frequently.

Back in Dublin now, we took the Airlink back to the city centre and checked into our hotel.  Dropped the bags, and went out to get drunk.  Wound back up at one of our favorite pubs so far, O’Sheas.  Very cool.  Very traditional.  Not a ton of tourists.  Spent the afternoon drinking and reminicising and deciding what we’ll do tomorrow.

We learned there were would be traditional Irish music there that night and Irish dancing.  Ran back to the hotel to nap and rest.  The girls did girly shit and didn’t sleep, but I took full advantage.  We headed back to O’Sheas for a wonderful dinner.  We noted this place is always packed at meal time so they must serve great food.  We concur.  It was awessome.  The music turned out to just be a guitarist and accordian player.  The 8 Irish dancers must’ve been from the old folks home as the baby of the group was probably 60.  However, it was fun as we watched them boogie down.  Didn’t stay more than an hour before we sought out a different kind of fun.

Found a bar up the street called The Celtic, which was a must younger crowd.  The place doubles as a hostel and Michelle is staying here a few extra nights before she heads home to Seattle.  Jenny and I leave on Saturday.  The place was fun and the music flowed.  Not so much traditional Irish music, but more covers with an Irish twist.  Much more lively and we had another fun night listening to the music, soaking up the energy and ambience around us, and having a general all around good time.

Off to bed, and our last full day in Dublin is tomorrow.

Love,

Brentallica

Day 14 – Back towards Dublin

28 Jun

Woke up today totally refreshed. We all slept until about 9:30am which meant we had to jam out in an hour. After unsuccessfully figuring out how to get hot water (you had to press a boost button out on the wall outside the loo and wait a bit. Well we hit it, we waited, but the water was as cold as it was when we started.) Michelle and I braved a cold shower, but Jenny (stinky) wasn’t as bold.

Anyways, off back towards Dublin now and our first stop today was at the Rock of Cashel. I don’t know if any of us knew exactly what the Rock was, but it wasn’t what we thought it was. However, it wound up being very cool. It’s the ruins of an old monastery. Not a castle at all. And it’s a huge monastery. Or it was. Toured through the ruins and there’s some remarkable remnants of days gone by including what was once an amazing painted ceiling which I imagine is somewhat similar to the Sistine chapel. (Or as Justin Beiber, douche, would say, the Sixteenth Chapel). Anyways there was enough left you could tell this place was once very rare, very holy, and very beautiful. There was some scaffolding up which kind of distracted from the visit, but nothing too bad. Also got to see St. Patrick’s cross, or what’s left of it, housed here inside where it’s protected. Proved to be a very good and educating stop thanks to our wonderful guide.

Jenny at The Rock.  There is no actual rock.  It's just what it's called as it's built on a massive rock.

Jenny at The Rock. There is no actual rock. It’s just what it’s called as it’s built on a massive rock.

The Rock.  Big.  Foreboding.  But again, not a castle.  A monastery.

The Rock. Big. Foreboding. But again, not a castle. A monastery.

Pushed further towards Dublin with a stop at Kilkenny Castle. Now this actually was a castle, however, one like we’ve not come across yet. It was completed restored and redecorated as it appeared in the 17th & 18th centuries. Room after room decorated for the period was really amazing to see what it was once like. So elegant. You can tell the fuckers who lived here were mega rich (the Butler family).

The Rose Garden at Kilkenny Castle.

The Rose Garden at Kilkenny Castle.

The 19th century flushing toilet I think was my favorite thing, but only because it was so bizarre. And they must have had huge asses. They bowl was huge! I also liked all the old oil paintings of various characters from the castle’s past. These people mostly looked like assholes to me and I would say they were all pretty unattractive, but to see these centuries’ old paintings was very cool. To look at the clothes that were fashionable at that time was very interesting. They really do look like complete assholes, but I’m sure they were lovely chaps. If you were rich too.

My beautiful rose in the garden.

My beautiful rose in the garden.

The grounds and outside was immaculate. Reminded me of Wayne Manor (from Batman). Lush lawns that stretched away forever and a beautiful rose garden rounded out the visit.

 

Jenny & I at Kilkenny Castle.

Jenny & I at Kilkenny Castle.

Also didn’t mention that all those oil paintings which also contained a lot of scenery art, which was equally old, is really quite valuable and the place doubles as an art gallery. I’m not an art guy, but I really did enjoy looking at all the paintings, and I loved wandering through the restored and fully decorated castle.

That was another fun stop.

Passing through Hollywood, Ireland.

Passing through Hollywood, Ireland.  See the hillside sign?

Pressed on even further and tonight we find ourselves in the Wicklow mountains, south of Dublin, for the night. We’ve found the local pub and just had a terrific dinner and are enjoying pints deckside. A lovely evening is in store, I know.
We’ll be up in the morning and I’ve told the girls I’m taking them to breakfast at a place I learned about a few months ago in the town of Bray, Ireland on the way back to Dublin airport to drop the car. I can’t tell you here because Michelle will probably read this, but I’ll share it tomorrow and we’ll get pictures. I promise it’s cool.

The girls at some roadside ruin we stopped at in the Wicklow Mountains.

The girls at some roadside ruin we stopped at in the Wicklow Mountains.

That’s it for tonight.

Love,
Brentallica.

Day 13 – Blarney Castle

27 Jun

Well we loved our accommodation so much at the Hostel Cork City we decided to stay another night. Which is nice, because Michelle and I didn’t feel so hot when we woke up and Jenny was stone cold hung over. Rookie. After our fabulous night in Cork, we didn’t get to bed until late and had to get up early … let me rephrase that, I had to get up early to go put a parking disc on the car. That bought us a couple extra hours of sleep.

Met the man, and paid for another night as well so we were all set. Finally, we set out for Blarney Castle, which is nearby, and the reason we stopped in Cork in the first place.

Cork is a really cool city. They laughed at us in Dingle and asked us why we’d want to go there. I think everyone here is particularly proud of their own little niche in this great island. Makes sense. I’m damn proud of Lynnwood, WA, but only because that’s my home. I know most people think it sucks, but I truly love it there.

The castle grounds and things to see was much larger than we anticipated so we wound up there about 3 hours. We had lunch in the small town of Blarney and forced Jenny to eat so she rebounded a bit. After that we entered the castle grounds and it’s everything you would expect from a world class castle ruin. It’s fantastic. We took the 100 step climb to the top and all of kissed the Blarney stone.

Me at Blarney Castle

Me at Blarney Castle

They lean you over on your back with your head off the edge and you plant one on a big old rock. Where hundreds have just kissed before you. I don’t know if it’s going to win any hygiene awards, but at the bottom we all remarked how fun and quirky it was. Supposedly, it will grant us all “the gift of gab”, but I really am not sure any of us need it. Especially after a few pints of Guiness.

Whoa....

Whoa….

Jenny plants a big old fatty on the rock.

Jenny plants a big old fatty on the rock.

I gave it a quick little peck.

I gave it a quick little peck.

Michelle was licking it which I don't think you're supposed to do.  It took two men to pull her off it.  I don't think she's gotten laid in a while.

Michelle was licking it which I don’t think you’re supposed to do. It took two men to pull her off it. I don’t think she’s gotten laid in a while.

Did I mention I love Guiness now? Who knew? I drink it every day. My favorite sip is the first sip which I call “the mustache sip”. That’s the one where the lovely foamy, creamy head gets caught in your stache and you have to kind of lick it, suck it, wipe it out. It’s a really good sip.

The mustache sip.

The mustache sip.

Sadly after the castle, none of us were in the mood to party. Even Michelle, the biggest partier amongst us, with me a close second, agreed, that we could use a night off. We’ve been out every single night since we left so a night in sounded nice to all.

Michelle and I sat out on the patio at our hostel just hanging out researching what to do the next day, where to stay, and all that fun stuff while Jenny took a well needed nap. I convinced these “menu divas” to actually try some take out food after eating all our meals in restaurants, cafes, or pubs. I was scared if we went out we’d start drinking and wanted to get an early start. These chicks usually will look at a menu for an hour or so and by the time they’re ready to order, the fucking kitchen is closed. Happened more than once this trip.

Anyways, I’m happy to say I was successful. We got some pizzas, watched some Irish TV for a bit, and I think we all hit the hay before 9:30pm. I mean 21:30.

See you tomorrow. Love,

Brentallica

Day 12 – The Dingle Penninsula

25 Jun

We dropped the laundry in the morning! Hooray! We were all completely out of clothes!

Hit the road to do the Dingle Penninsula loop trip. Travelling through the beautiful roads of far Western Ireland. The roads were narrow and we stopped frequently to look at this or that.  The drive takes us mainly along the incredible coast.

Gettin' pissed at The Dingle Pub!

Gettin’ pissed at The Dingle Pub!

This is a beehive hut.  Named because it looks like a beehive.  This was a single-family house about 1200 years ago.  A little small...

This is a beehive hut. Named because it looks like a beehive. This was a single-family house about 1200 years ago. A little small…

Me at the end of the world.  Next stop, Boston, Massachusetts is what the locals say!

Me at the end of the world. Next stop, Boston, Massachusetts is what the locals say!

Hey look!  I got a new hat!  It has an official tag inside that says “made in Ireland”.  I’m not the souvenier type, but losing my hat at the Cliffs of Moher, turned out ok.  This is perfect.

Hawaii?  Nope.  Try Sla Head beach on the west coast of Ireland.

Hawaii? Nope. Try Sla Head beach on the west coast of Ireland.  The girls went wading.

The chicks really dig Ireland.

The chicks really dig Ireland.

This is the Gallarus Oratory.  This is one of the earliest Christian churches.  No one knows how old for sure, but 1200 years seems to be a good guess.  These dudes copied holy scripts, farmed, prayed and got along just swell until the Vikings and the Normans invaded and fucked everything up.

This is the Gallarus Oratory. This is one of the earliest Christian churches. No one knows how old for sure, but 1200 years seems to be a good guess. These dudes copied holy scripts, farmed, prayed and got along just swell until the Vikings and the Normans invaded and fucked everything up.

It’s really quite interesting as every stone is cut perfectly and put together like a puzzle.  They really knew how to build something that would last.  Again, there’s no one here.  It’s been great.

After we finished the loop, we picked up our clothes (yay! clean clothes!) and made our way towards Cork, Ireland.  That’s in the southern part of the country.  Driving away from the country and getting back towards the bustling cities in the east.

Cork seems somewhere in between to me.  It was kind of not even on our radar planning the trip, but it seemed like a good place to stop for the night as we wanted to tour the nearby Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney stone.

Stumbled around the town centre looking at all the shops and things which were mostly closed as we had gotten in late.  Could not find any pubs serving food, so we pub hopped our way about.  I had sworn I would only have one or two beers as I really needed a night off.  We have been partying every night.

Anyways, 2 beers led to 3.  3 led to 4….and pretty soon I’m smashed.  We spent the night partying in a pub, that was more like a Parisian bar, than a traditional Irish pub and met some Irish gentlemen.

Con was a dead ringer for President Obama and had a thick Irish accent that we had a bit of trouble communicating at first.  We learned the gold circular pin he wears on his lapel is his badge to claim he’s 100% fluent in the native tounge here, Gaelic.  Predominately spoke on the west coast amongst the locals, but they know English just fine as well.  I’m told they generally speak to each other in Gaelic.  The rest of the country is taught it in school, but it sounds to me as if it’s slowly dying out as the rest of Ireland doesn’t get much of a chance to practice and English is the main language around the majority of the island.

John was an older fella and he was a natural born story tellers.  He was a real kick in the ass.  And we all proceeded to get absolutely fucking hammered.  Really hammered.  And we still hadn’t eaten!  Ugh.  John wound up falling in love with Michelle and begged us to be chaperones so he could walk Michelle home.  We decided if John could find us a takeaway joint nearby, we’d allow that.  John came through and we found a couple of rickshaws to carry us to a joint that was still open.  Food at last!

Michelle broke John’s heart and we parted ways for the night.  He was a real genuine Irishman and kept us entertained telling us non-stop stories.  Very genuine.  We had a blast tonight!

Michelle knows what hotel he’s at though if she changes her mind.

Love, Brentallica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11 – Cliffs of Moher & Road to Dingle

23 Jun

Started the morning headed south towards the mighty Cliffs of Moher.

Jenny has become quite adept at finding us great breakfast spots and this mornings stop at The Strawberry Hedgehog in….I’m afraid I forgot the name, was brilliant. We talked with the owners who served up a delicious breakfast in the smallest, quaintest, little cafe you could ever imagine. Perched right on the edge of a fishing village, it was heaven. I’ll have to figure out the name of that town.

Looking out at the Atlantic over the countryside on our trip to the Cliffs.

Looking out at the Atlantic over the countryside on our trip to the Cliffs.

Next up were the Cliffs of Moher and they’re every bit as impressive as you’ve heard.  Rising 700 feet straight out of the ocean they run for 8km along the western coast of Ireland.  Waves smashing and crashing in below and the scenery is just breathtaking.  The wind was ferocious today.  I’d guess 35mph sustained winds and gusts to at least 60mph.  Probably more.  They were strong enough to move me and I was having fun leaning backwards into it to let it hold me up.  A couple gusts were strong enough to actually support me.

Sadly, my Kangol hat I’ve grown to love so much blew right off the top of my head and out onto the cliff.  It was only about 20 feet from the gate so I hopped it to go get it and someone told me the ground is very unstable and that would not be wise.  Jenny forbid me to go and so I said goodbye to my favorite hat.  😦

This picutre does NOT do these behemoths justice.  Truly awesome.

This picutre does NOT do these behemoths justice. Truly awesome.

It's hard to see, but there's my hat right at the edge of the cliff.  I wonder where it is tonight.  Lonely, missing me.... :(

It’s hard to see, but there’s my hat right at the edge of the cliff. I wonder where it is tonight. Lonely, missing me…. 😦

We boogied on down to the cutest little village of Adare and were lucky enough to get on the last tour of the day to the impressive Desmond Castle.  Really spectacular ruin and our tour guide was Mrs. Doubtfire, I swear to God.  There were maybe 12 of us and the only way to visit this castle is by guided tour from a heritage center in the middle of town.  Then they shuttle us up there.  More awesome castles completely off the beaten path.

Desmond Castle on the outskirts of Adare, Ireland.

Desmond Castle on the outskirts of Adare, Ireland.

I don't know if it gets any cooler than ancient castles.  This bitch went up in 1100.

I don’t know if it gets any cooler than ancient castles. This bitch went up in 1100.

We pressed on to Dingle which is a fishing village on the coast down in the south west of Ireland.  Had pints and dinner at Murphy’s Pub and then walked up through the small village.  It is so cute.

In the morn, we’re dropping off our laundry (finally, we think!) and then doing the Dingle Penninsula before we head back towards Cork tomorrow night.

All is well with the world.

Love, Brentallica.

Day 10 – Connemara Region & Galway

23 Jun

Headed north this morning to the Connemara Region of Ireland.

Stopped in the village of Cong and had the greatest breakfast at an awesome little coffee shop called The Hungry Monk. Small, local, traditional, and very quiet when we arrived. Breakfast consisted of some great coffee (I love the coffee here) and then I ordered a bacon sandwich with butter and ketchup on brown soda bread. I got a plate with two pieces of bread each stacked to the ceiling with bacon. It was heaven.

Right across the street are the ruins of the Cong Abbey and these wonderful old graveyards. The ruins were great. Totally accessible. And for the most part, completely free of tourists. We were where we strive to be: Off the beaten path. Took a short walk down to the crystal clear stream behind the abbey and watched a couple local boys pulling Salmon out of the river. Also, out here is a little Monk’s fishing hut where they would hang a net through a hole in the floor and tie a little bell on top. When the bell rang, it means a fish was caught in the net and they’d hoist it right up. Talk about easy!

The ruins of the Cong Abbey.  Beautiful, peaceful, serene, and pretty much empty!

The ruins of the Cong Abbey. Beautiful, peaceful, serene, and pretty much empty!

The Monk Fishing Hut!

The Monk Fishing Hut!

We then drove through peat bog fields, forests, and rolling hills to reach Clifden. This is another adorable little local village. Bigger than Cong, but not by much. It made the perfect stopping point for a pint out on the western coast.

Headed back inland, towards Galway, and came upon Aughnanure Castle which has been restored and provides an awesome backdrop for pictures. I like to sit in the yards and look around at the castle and buildings and try to imagine what life might of been like in 1100 when it went up and passed down through generations of families. Very beautiful, quiet, and serene. And for the most part, tourist free. The castle was totally accessible to all four floors up a winding midevil stone staircase. Each floor was visitable and we could learn about the families and life in the fortress. It’s restored wonderfully, but doesn’t have any furniture or decoration so you have to use a bit of imagination, but it proved to be a worthwhile stop.

Looking up at Aughnanure Castle

Looking up at Aughnanure Castle

There's the girls down at the bottom of the castle.  You could go right to the top.  Like six other people there.  Great!

There’s the girls down at the bottom of the castle. You could go right to the top. Like six other people there. Great!

Headed back to Galway in search of a laundromat, only to discover, there are no coin operated laundrys in Galway. Only drop-off/pick-up service. Being it was Saturday and we’re jamming out Sunday (they’re closed) this wasn’t going to work.

Before I came out here, I had heard an old friend from Einstein & Shoreline was a traditional fiddle player out here in Galway and that’s how he makes his living. His name is Mike Chang. He’s a tall Chinese man, and he’s become very well known in these parts and runs several “trad” sessions and plays in bands.  We had been in email contact and made plans to meet that night.  It’s been over 25 years since we’ve seen each other.

Walking out of the laundry, who do we see, but Mike Change walking across the street carrying his fiddle case.  Kinda cool.  I recognized him immediately.  Looks the same to me, just a bit of gray in the hair.  We catch up quickly and make plans to meet up in a few hours.

We meet Mike at Taaffes on Shop Street and have a great time catching up over pints.  Michelle knew Mike too.  So we played the game “…so what’d ya do after high school”.  By far, Mike’s story was far more interesting than either of ours.  Jenny commented his story was so interesting he should write a book!  How he got involved in Irish music and how he wound up in Galway 14 years ago is nothing short of a tale that will keep you wanting more.  What a life.  It was great to see him, and he promised to ring me the next time he gets back to Seattle.  All in all, it was an awesome day and a great finish.

We wound up at The Crane Bar where Mike leads a traditional, called “trad”, Irish music session.  These are traditionally, when musicians show up with their instruments in the middle of the bar and break out in a big jam session.  It was awesome.  Mike was the leader of this night’s trad and it was awesome watching the group of 20+ play tune after tune while the locals soaked it up.  Such a treat.

Us & Mike after a couple of pints.

Us & Mike after a couple of pints.

 

Galway is Seattle's "sister" city and here's the plaque to prove it right near Eyre Square.  Three's one in Seattle I have to go find now.

Galway is Seattle’s “sister” city and here’s the plaque to prove it right near Eyre Square. Three’s one in Seattle I have to go find now.

There's Mike near the back corner hammering away in this awesome gathering of traditional Irish musicians.  It was standing room only!  They all come out!

There’s Mike near the back corner hammering away in this awesome gathering of traditional Irish musicians. It was standing room only! They all come out!

Love,

Brentallica.

Day 9 – The Road to Galway

21 Jun

Got up and got out of Belfast and on the road north to the Antrim Coast. A popular vacation spot on the northern coast of Ireland.Our first stop was Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  After about a 3/4 mile hike out above the cliffs with breathtaking views we came to the actual rope bridge.  The weather, while not spectacular was dry and relatively clear so we could see way out to the Isle of Man in Scotland and the south of Ireland.  The bridge was just as it sounds, a rope bridge over I’d guess a 150 feet chasm, but I have no idea, and don’t remember seeing any literature about it.  Anyways, a little wobbly, a little shaky, and all was going well until I looked down.  WOW!  It’s a long way onto the water and rocks below.  The good news is I made it, as we all did, and wound up on one of about 4 outcroppings of rock that lead out into the sea.  The view from that rock was even better than along the hike out.  It was really awesome and we all loved it.

The girls on the bridge.  Don't look down!

The girls on the bridge. Don’t look down!

There's Brentallica's woman.  Those are the outcroppings that we walked the bridge out to.

There’s Brentallica’s woman. Those are the outcroppings that we walked the bridge out to.  The outcroppings in Jenny’s shirt, I also enjoyed last night.

Next, just up the coast came the Giant’s Causeway. About the coolest volcanic rock formations I’ve ever seen. Skip that. It is the coolest rock formation I’ve ever seen. Google it and check it out because it’s wild. The way the lava cooled millions of years ago and then cracked. All these cracks joined each other to form these wonderful stone pillars will 3-6 sides. It’s pretty awesome and I recognized it as the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. We toured a few of the bays, walked out all over the causeway, and heard a few tall tales about Ireland’s folk hero, Finn McCool. This was another winner site and Michelle was sad we couldn’t stay all day as she wanted to keep playing on the rocks. By this time it was about 3pm and we had a long way to go yet.

Isn't that cool?  There are literally thosands of stacks and you can climb all over them!

Isn’t that cool? There are literally thosands of stacks and you can climb all over them!

On the rocks!

On the rocks!

Fat Stacks!  \m/

Fat Stacks! \m/

Got on the road to Galway and pressed on through wind and rain and finally got in here about 9:20pm. As it’s the longest day of the year, it’s still completely light out even at 10:20pm as I type this. (Hey, last year I was partying in Iceland with Todd McDougall and Michelle until about 5am! I remember it clearly! It NEVER got dark that night!) The road trip was long, but beautiful and I think I’ve really settled into my driving roll now. Had no problems at all today and even passed a few cars as I gain my confidence. Sometimes you’re flying and sometimes you’re stuck behind a farm tractor. Gotta love Ireland.

That’s about it for tonight. Doing well and having fun seeing this great country! I love it!

Love,

Brentallica

Day 8 – The road to Belfast

21 Jun

Now one thing I won’t do is come over here driving again without a GPS. That was kind of wishful thinking. I rented a USB dongle that connects to the cigarette lighter in the car and provides a shared wi-fi access point. Using that wifi connection, I figured I could use the GPS feature on my cell phone. Well….it works, and it doesn’t work. Not sure why. And it runs on a cellular network, so it’s not a real big bandwidth pipe when the girls are doing their Facebooks and I’m trying to drive. And it doesn’t work in Northern Ireland putting us “on our own”. Anyways, fortunately, Michelle was able to get hers working well enough to at least get us in the direction of where we were headed. And that is to Brú na Bóinne.

Jenny in the Irish countryside.  Beautiful!

Jenny in the Irish countryside. Beautiful!

Now Brú na Bóinne, also known as Newgrange, is a collection of monolithic burial grounds dating back over 5,000 years. That’s 1,500 years older than the Pyramids of Giza. The site had a great visitiors center that gave us a lot of insight into these stone-age peoples way of life, how they got along, and their truly awesome burial monuments. Unfortunately, what is known about this people is not much. A lot of it is speculation. However, the burial mounds construction 5,000 years ago with that technology is quite incredible. That must of been some undertaking. We were even able to enter the chamber in small groups. To be able to step that far back in time was quite incredible and I am really glad we stopped. I don’t think I would return again, but it was great to have done this and add to my travel resume.

Jenny in front of the entrance to the Newgrange mound.

Jenny in front of the entrance to the Newgrange mound.

Michelle in front of Newgrange

Michelle in front of Newgrange

Now getting there was a different story. We had set Michelle’s GPS to take us to Newgrange which is the name of the largest and most popular mound. And it worked, it took us directly to the burial mound. Through backroads and all over, but we got there. The unfortunate thing was you can not get on the grounds this way. You must go through the visitor center which was an easy 15km back through those narrow irish roads. Well, at least I got some more expereince driving on the wrong side of the road and navigating some of these tricky passageways.

Once we got there, all was well, but we spent much longer than we thought we would. There is a shuttle that runs tours out to the mounds and is a mere 2 minutes from the visitor center as we recognized all the roads we had just been on navigating.

Anyways, it was oool. Then being close to Slane Castle, we decided to stop by. Bon Jovi had just played a massive concert on the grounds a few days eariler and they were still cleaning up. We had a quick walkabout the grounds and we were back on our way.

These castles are fantastic!  This one is in pristine shape whereas many are just ruins.

These castles are fantastic! This one is in pristine shape whereas many are just ruins.

Decided now, as we know longer have any “plans”, merely a route and things we’d like to see, that wee should stop off and secure accomodation somewhere up the road. Stopped in Jimmys Pub in Dundalk. We himmed-and-hawed about exactly where-to-go what-to-do, and I decided I don’t like not having some plan. Anyways, found a hotel in Belfast that was reasonable priced and booked a room for 2 adults, 2 kids. A room with two beds. Get into Belfast, now in Northern Ireland, a different country and part of the UK, not Ireland, and it took us a bit, but we eventually worked our way through the poorly signed streets and found our hotel. I only turned into the wrong lane once, and went up a one-way street once, and fortunately corrected my problems before they turned out badly. I finally find the hotel with a lot of help from Michelle and pull into the alleyway next to the hotel to send the girls into check-in and find a place I can park.

During the time they’re inside, a hotel staff member comes out to tell me I can’t park there, and she’s very nice. I explain what’s going on and she’s fine. I figure I better turn the car around in this very narrow alleyway so I’m all ready to go when they return. And then I proceeded to have my Austin Powers moment where he backs that cart in between two walls in one of the movies. I turned my car in the same manner. I didn’t get it stuck, but it probably wasn’t pretty watching me get it turned around with my 13-point turn. Glad nobody saw that!

The girls come out and tell me there’s some problem with the reservation. I go in, while Michelle guards the car, to find out I booked a room for 2 adults, 2 kids. As I said, I figured Michelle could sleep in the other bed, and Jenny and I would take one. It’s their policy to not allow more than 2 adults in any room. I didn’t argue or anything, just asked how do we fix the problem. The only way is to get another room, so long story short, we’re paying twice what we figured for tonight, but the good news is we have our own room, Jenny’s buzzed, so I’ll probably get laid. Jury’s still out. I’ll let you know tomorrow. Oh, and we get in the room to find a beautiful queen bed, and two perfectly fine single beds right next to it. Silly, but it’s not my town. I’m on vacation and really don’t care either way.

Oh, also, I find out there’s a video camera right there at the check in desk so everyone was able to enjoy my 13-point alleyway car turnaround. Michelle even video’d it. Anyways, once the check-in was done, we had to put the car somewhere for the night.

They tell us it’s no problem and give us directions to an easy 24/7 car park very nearby. The only problem is I can’t tell what the hell these people are saying! 🙂 It took me and Michelle about 30 minutes to find the place (which is 2 blocks away). However, we know every street and have personally drove every street within a 6 block radius all without crashing, getting on the freeway accidently, and only pissing off one person (that I know of.) He squealed off in annoyance of my Irish driving ineptitude. Fuck him…

Anyways, finally got the car stowed safely (I hope!) and checked into our rooms. Dropped the bags and to the bar where we had drinks and dinner and a loverly night watching the young sluts walk down the street to some club that must’ve nearby. The girls couldn’t believe “the shoes” on them, but I’m not sure what that means. Men don’t look at shoes. But they were very entertained.

Went to the bar to order dinner, to find out the kitchen had closed a few minutes earlier. But they were kind enough to call in takeaway food for us, which upon delivery, they told us we couldn’t eat in the bar. So we went into the hotel lobby and sat down to what looked like a trailer park Thanksgiving feast! Pizza and Chinese food!! Mmmmm….

Off to bed now and another day tomorrow. Have a couple of sites to hit on our way to Galway. Tomorrow should be our longest driving day. Figuring about 7 hours, but then it’s peanuts after that. Again, I hope!

Well, that’s all for tonight gang. Be back tomorrow. Pray for me as I continue to learn how to drive in Ireland! I think I did pretty good.

Brentallica

Day 7 – Dublin

20 Jun

Started out today late!  Wanted to let Jenny sleep in and get caught up.  Michelle and I were tired too.  Got up and had a great lunch and then set out.

Took the LUAS tram through the city, which is a very easy way to get from one end of town to the other, down to the western edge of the city and visited Kilmainham Gaol.  “Gaol” is pronounced “jail”.  It’s an old prison built by the English in the later 1700’s to house the citys convicts.  From beggars to murderers.  They all went there.  And were intermixed as well; men, women & children.  Sounded pretty rough.  Later in the history it housed all the various failed revolution leaders throughour Ireland’s turmultous attempt at gaining their own independence.  It was the final stop for many of them as they were executed.  Interesting and loaded with history.  We all enjoyed it.

They escaped.

They escaped.

No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guiness Storehouse.  While we’d heard mixed reviews, and it is a tad overpriced, we figured it was a “must do”.  We weren’t dissapointed at all.  The self-guided tour is laid out well and takes you through the ingredients, brewing, cooperage, transport, advertising and marketing, history, and-then-some of everything Guiness.  It was a great tour culminating with a visit to the world famous Gravity Bar atop the storehouse where you can not only get a pint (included with admission!) but a 360 panoramic view of the city through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls.  We thought the place was great.

Let's go INSIDE!

Let’s go INSIDE!

Me and Gilroy

Me and Gilroy

In the Gravity Bar

In the Gravity Bar

Obligatory artistic photo.

Obligatory artistic photo.

As we headed back towards our room, we stopped off at Phoenix Park which is a gigantic park on the city’s west end.  We barely scratched the surface as it literally is massive.  Think New York’s Central Park.  I don’t think it’s quite that big, but impressive none the less.  Sat on the bench people watching and talking for I don’t know how long.  The best part of the show was some lad, we figured 18 or so, who was completely plastered and laying on a bench.  His mates were with him so he had someone there to help him.  And berate him as he continued to awake from time to time and puke or dry heave off the edge of the bench.  Eventually they got him too his feet and took him home.  I hope!

The rest of the evening we pub hopped our way home and found a few more favorites.

Oh, I forgot to mention, as we left the park, I thought I could make a quicker route back towards the tram.  What started as a very nice looking street, led us into a more sketchy area, and before we knew it, we were smack dab in the middle of “the hood”.  This was clearly not a good area and I think we stood out like a sore thumb, but I’m happy to tell you we made it through without incident, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little concerned.  Nice to see how “the other half lives”, and make me grateful I’m on “my half”.  Really, really terrible looking neighborhood in what appeared to be condemed buildings with loads of people living in them, but who knows.

Once we made it back to safety, it was nice to drink in the pubs that don’t get the tourists.  We like getting off the beaten path!  That’s our way to roll.  And we finally got to hear some traditional Irish music as one bar had a man and woman singing and playing a variety of instruments to the attentive crowd.  That was pretty cool.

Heading back to the airport tomorrow morning and pick up a car for a week.  We have a general route to follow with sites along the way, but no accomodations or anything.  We’re making it all up as we go.

Don’t know if it’s wise or not, but it’s sure to be an adventure and that’s what we’re looking for!

Love all,

Brentallica

Love, Brentallica

Love, Brentallica