Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday September 11th

Vacation 2009 - Ireland!

Almost one year later - and it's time for another vacation. This time I picked another place high on my "I wanna go there!-list"; Ireland. And since it seems like a few people liked the blog I did last time, I figured I might as well do it this time as well.
It also gives me a nice photo & story album when I get old and forget things (this point in time has already been reached and passed a long time btw).

Anyhow, Ireland it is - but this vacation starts with a small detour: London to attend a friends wedding.

So this morning I got to the smaller of the airports we have in Gothenburg to take a flight to Stanstead. Starts with checking in my luggage - and I have 6 kilo overweight. It's not me packing a lot (well, maybe), it's mostly the airline company with small limits (15 kg). But since I can also have 10 kg in hand luggage - and I had basically none when I got there, it was a simple thing of just putting all the heavy stuff in my smaller trunk and it was ok. Question is what will happen on the way home - I am bound to buy something on my vacation...
Well, well - I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Uneventful flight (it is 9/11 which some say is the safest day to fly - I am not convinced yet) and a few hours later I am i London. Again. <3>

Quick check in at the hotel (Abcone) and off to walk around a bit in the town (visited Forbidden Planet and Camden).

After that, back to the hotel room (see below). Will probably go out and eat something in a pub later on - other than that I will just laze on my first day on this vacation. And believe me - I have deserved it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday September 12th

Me and two friends, Martin & Anette went for a walk in Hyde Park in the morning before returning to the hotel to get ready for the big day.

Today my friend Daniel, who has spent the last 8 years in London, will get married to his girlfriend Edna. It was real fun to be able to get over to London for this occation.

This is how good-looking I manage to dress up:

And some pictures of the other swedes that attended; Martin & Anette:

and Katarina & Mike with their Elrik:

.. and another one on me:

It was very interesting to attend a English wedding, some differences, like they are really more traditional and have seem to have more rules than in Sweden. There was also a lot more talks about God and much prayers and Bible reading than I am used to, but that could also be because the bride and her family is very religious.

Picture from the church (St Mary The Boltons):
And here are the newly-weds (and their parents)!

After the church thingie, we were off to the dinner (at Holiday Inn close by in Kensington). It was a very pleasant dinner with a little more speaches than "normal" - and the music was... interesting. They needed to accomondate people from Scandinavia, England and Africa - and mix in us guys with a weird electronic life style. But it was fun - and we did get a few good songs to listen to in the end.

At 1am they closed and I went to my hotel (just across the street from Holiday Inn) and wrote this.

Tomorrow I am off to Ireland!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sunday September 13th

Woke up with a slight hang over, but I still managed to get up in time. After the hotel breakfast (which isn't really good here) I went back to Stanstead Airport and caught my flight to Shannon, Ireland.
Flight was about an hour and then a bus took me to my first Irish stop, the little village of Ennis (Go Lions?).

While I was walking through the city, I heard a lot of cheering of some game from the pubs, I later discovered that Clare, the County where Ennis is situated, won the national championship in hurling - apperently for the first time ever.

The B&B I am staying at here were suppose to be 2 km from the city centre, but I doubt it, since I had to walk for over an hour to get there. Not too much fun with all my luggage in a hot sunny day. Could be worse, I guess - could have been raining. But then again if that had happen, I would probably have taken a taxi right away...

The B&B (Rye Hill) doesn't have any internet connection so I am now writing this down in my computer for easy copy/pasting when I get to a place that has it.

The B&B (my room on second floor)

and the room I am staying at:

Right now I am making plans for tomorrow; will try to catch a buss to Doolin take a ferry there to see the Cliffs of Moher from the sea (and possibly also the Aran islands). I also intend to look at the cliffs from land as well.We'll see how it goes. :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Monday September 14th

Up early and get to the bus station (taxi this time); where I found out the there were only 3 busses / day to Doolin, the place I was heading. And of course next wasn't departing for another 1½ hour. With proper internet connection, this I would have found out yesterday.
And btw; only three departures per day?! Meh!

Luckely I had brought a book (finished the Ms Moneypenny triologi yesterday so am now about to re-read Orwell's classic '1984') so I passed the time easily.

Clare landscape:

The buss took about another hour and a half and got me to the pier of Doolin. There I entered the ferry and got to the first of the Aran islands; Inisheer - unfortunally I didn't have time to visit the other two Aran islands.
Inisheer is a small island with about 300 citizens.

There were some ruins and plenty of stone walls.

Like everywhere.

No, seriously, everywhere:

Then the ferry took us beneath the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs rise about 215 meters above the Atlantic ocean (and about 50 meters under).

A real impressive view!

After we had ported, I wanted to see the Cliffs again, but this time from land so I had to take a taxi (10+5 Euros) to get there.

Again; an amazing view!
The weather today was really perfect; sunny and not too windy (apperently they had had rain the whole summer and it just got better a few days ago - just like back in Sweden).
But I can't stop and wonder; the sight of the Cliffs is really great, but it shouldn't surprise me if it would have been better with some worse weather; seeing the crabby sea, maybe a little rain and watch how the big Atlanic waves are pounding away at the cliffs, breaking them down, little by little...
Back on the buss (last one for today; leaving the Cliffs of Moher at 6:10 pm) and about an hour later back at Ennis. There I came back right in the middle of the celebraition of the Hurling champions on the Ennis city square. I stood and watched for a bit, then headed for the pub to get something to eat. I also drank a Guinness, just to see if it was better on the island than off it - and maybe, slightly. I do believe however that this was my last Guinness before I will try it again in the Guinness brewery in Dublin.

After the dinner I decided to walk back to the B&B. Still took me around 50 mins...

Looked in the mirror when I got back. You can really tell I've been out all day - I am really sunburned. :-/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday September 15th

Time to leave Ennis and the County of Clare. Took a bus to Cork, the next stop on my Tour de Ireland. The busride was a few hours which I spent sleeping, reading and watching the green and lush Irish country side.

In my tries to be spontaneous, I hadn't booked anything before coming here, but since I didn't pass any B&B or hotels on my way to the tourist information, I figured I might as well book something while I was in there.
The choice fell for a Hotel Montenotte, mostly because it had internet, but it also seemed nice (a little expensive, but not too much).

When I got there (45 mins later - walking again), I found a very nice hotel with a sauna, jacuzzi and more.

The hotel:

and my room:

Put my stuff in the room - and went out again to look at the city of Cork.
Pretty nice town - small, but seem to have most of what you want out of a town.

There is also two famous breweries here, Beamish (which is apperently closing down soon after being bought by Heineken) and Murphy's.

Beamish brewery (Murphy's was a bit out from the city):

Oh, and after walking around in the Irish cities a bit, I have decided to fight for school uniforms when I get back to Sweden. At least in the Universities, since students below that are too young for me anyway...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday September 16th

Before I got to Ireland I had pretty much decided I would not rent a car due to the left traffic (obviously) but also for the small and narrow roads they have here. After being here a few days and seeing these roads - and the traffic - for myself, as well as talking to the locals, I made the final decision not to rent a car.
Last night while looking at what to do today, I found (for the first time so far) the negative side of it; I can not go to the Skellig Islands nor to the Whale watching as I wanted to do, because it takes a long time to get there (and the bus times does not allow for one-days trips there) - and there was no good place to stay down there.
So sadly, I had to skip those sights. :(

Therefor I started today with going to the nearby village of Midleton - and to the Jameson distillery (whiskey for those who doesn't know).

That was my only plan for today so I expected the afternoon to be pretty dull, but I figured that I might as well go out there and see what the day would bring.
Lucky me that I did that.

Doing the tour of the distillery, there was this pretty girl in the group that I just had to talk to and when I saw her feet I knew what to talk about:

Nicest, and most interesting tattoos I have seen in a while.
They read "Life" and "Death" - but turned up-side-down they read the opposite.

So after Jameson she was going to Blarney Castle (and their Blarney Stone) and since I wasn't doing anything she asked me to join her there, which I did.
Seems not only did she look really good - she also had a great taste of music. She actually liked EBM (and other things, but still). How often does that happen when you meet someone abroad and you are not on a club/festival...?

So her name was Tessa, came from Australia and was touring Europe for 4-5 months (sadly not going to Scandinavia - this time).
This is what she looked like:

So we took the bus to Blarney, got something to eat at the pub and then headed to the castle grounds.
Here is the Blarney Castle, which we went up in:

and here is where you kiss the Blarney Stone. Yes, kiss it.

The legend says that if you kiss a certain piece of the castle, you gain the gift of eloquence. So we did. Both me and Tessa were certain that the local Blarney boys probably pee on this part of the castle when they get drunk just to have fun at the tourists (I know I would), but we did it anyway.
It's a hard job being a tourist, but someone has to do it!

Anyway, here is a picture of the stone from down below. The stone is in the little whole you see on the top of the wall. You lay down and lean backwards until you reach it. Very strange tradition indeed...

After this we walked a while on the grounds which was nice and then headed back to Cork, where Tessa was to meet a friend. I must say she was a really nice girl with great sense of humour. All in all a grand day indeed. :)

After droping her off in Cork, I went to the movies (always like to do that when I am abroad) and saw "Funny People", Adam Sandlers new movie, which was pretty OK.

Then I went to the hotel and got into the jacuzzi for a while before heading up for my room.

Tomorrow I will leave Cork and go to Kilkenny.
I don't expect to have internet there, but you never know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thursday September 17th

Bus to Kilkenny took about 3 hours. Going through the beautiful landscape I finished my book. As good as ever before.
When I arrived at Kilkenny I started to look for somewhere to stay the next two nights. I found this pub (Egan's) that rented out rooms and even had internet - so they said. Not that I can get it to work though, seems like I get too bad reception in my room. :(
But I will try some more later on.

Here is the pub...

and my room:

I went out and looked at the ciy of Kilkenny. That didn't take long since it isn't very large. You go through it in a matter of minutes.

During the afternoon I got to see the Kilkenny Castle:
...and a few churches; St Canices Cathedral:
Black Abbey:
and St Mary's Cathedral:
After this there isn't that much left to do...
Since I am planning on staying yet another day anyway, tomorrow will be a lazy day I think, might see if I can go to a brewery or something.
But some rest would be nice too. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday September 18th

Stayed in bed until 11am, then I went out to see the town again. I read yesterday that you could actually go up in the round tower at the St Canices Cathedral so I went there. Apparently the tower outdates the church several hundred years and was built by the vikings as a watchtower.
It is about 30 meters high and getting up there was a through several steep ladders:

But the view was great from up there:

Then I wanted to go to the brewery in Kilkenny (at St Francis Abbey brewery)

They didn't have a proper tour but what they had was you could go with to their pub, watch a DVD - and get a pint of their beer.
I did that - and charmed my way to get a pint of each of the beer they brew here; Kilkenny, Smithwick's and Budweiser (taste more than the american kind, but still pretty non-impressive). Looks like I can charm my way to more beer here - but nothing else... :-/

So getting from the tour - slightly drunk, but still the clock was only 4pm, I went to the pub downstairs from my room, where I get better reception (and where I publish these blogs) - and more of the good beer. :)

Going to eat something soon then back to my room. Tomorrow I will get up kinda early to get to Norhtern Ireland and Belfast.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday September 19th

Bus to Dublin on which I slept most of the 2½ hour ride, then directly on to my next bus that would take me further.
3 hours later I am in Northern Ireland - and the city of Belfast.

I started to read my new book on the bus here, Ian Mcdonald's "River of Gods" - someone wrote that this is the best Cyberpunk book from the 00's and since he had the same favourite books from the 80's ("Neuromancer") and the 90's ("Snow Crash"), I am looking forward to this one. :)
I got a room at a B&B called Helga Lodge, which is in the southern part of the city.

A very small room with bathroom & shower in the hallway, but that's really no problem.

Bigger problem is that I can't get their network to function. I'll work on that...

I went out on a stroll in the city during the evening. They seem to have a London complex here - and they even have a mini London Eye, called the Wheel of Belfast:

I went up on it and got some pictures of the town from above.

Something interesting I notice here is that there are a lot of young alternative people. More than I have seen even in London. Like a punk-era revival. Maybe because of high unemplyment? I have no clue if I am correct about that part though.
Maybe they just have a lot of artsy univercities in Belfast...

Anyway, back to the B&B to take it easy. Will take a tour to the Giant Causeway tomorrow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday September 20th

Time to do the tourist thing - and take a whole day tour with a bus!

My main goal with this tour was to get to the northern coast and see the Giant Causeway. All other things was a bonus really. I was hoping to get some sleep and/or reading on the bus (the whole trip took about 9 hours), but apart for the last hour back, the bus driver talked constantly. Maybe he kept quiet for 30 seconds once or twice but not more. Some stuff was interesting to hear, naturally - but not this much. He really liked to hear his own voice...
In any case, we got to the Giant Causeway, which is a weird formation created by nature. tens of thousand pillars in mostly hexagonal shape - and all of different lenght. Kinda.

Very interesting to see this.
Here are some pictures:

Then the trip continued - and look at that! Another Whiskey distillery. :)
This time it's Bushmill's:

I tasted the whiskey, but I am still no lover of it.
But it was free so of course I had to try.

Next stop of interest on the tour was the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge.
It's basically a rope bridge between the main land and a small island.

And it's narrow. And high up.
And made of rope.

And high up.

More scarier to go over it than I thought actually.
From this place you could also see Scotland:

The island in the middle is Islay - with the Scotish mainland behind it.

After the rope bridge, back to Belfast.
I had something to eat, then back to the room to take it easy. Lots of walking today...

Tomorrow I plan to go see the rest of Belfast, before I leave for Dublin on Tuesday.