I have one more free breakfast at my hotel since I am still enjoying the rate my friend booked. My friend is out the door when I am still half sleeping and I am sad to see her go. I have one more day in Dublin and today I am taking a day trip to the peninsula of Howth. It is supposed to be pretty out there and worthy of a day trip.

Lobby of my hotel

I leave at 8:30 and walk 30 minutes to the Dart station (Dublin Pearce). On the way I walk through a park I have yet to walk through. I definitely need to spend more time in Dublin. I will return.

When I get off the train I consult the trail map and admire all the boats in the water.

I pick a trail that walks the coast and go on my way. The trails are color coded and most follow the same path for a long while but mine suddenly disappears. I follow one of the other ones for a while until I get near the lighthouse and then there is a visible exit to a parking lot. I decide to head back that way. I follow the roads back into town. I want to head in to catch some fresh crab and lobster for lunch.

I am disappointed to find that I can find no fresh crab or lobster anywhere today. I am assuming they are not in season. I decide to get lunch at King Sitric Seafood Bar, the place I had picked out for today anyway. I enjoyed a snack of oysters and a cheese crab dish thing (not fresh crab apparently).

I walk around the rest of town. Noticing no crabs available anywhere. I am still a little hungry and intrigued about the half and half fish and chips (half traditional fish and half smoked fish). I wouldn’t say it tastes bad because under normal circumstances I would like it but I am absolutely sick of greasy fish and chips. I have a very hard time eating it. Unfortunately I end up tossing most of it.

After already getting the most out of the town for the day I head back by train to Dublin.

At the start of the day I had planned to come back from Howth and see the Epic museum and go see an evening Celtic show. None of that is happening. The most I can do is walk back through town, get ice cream and get another look at St Patrick cathedral.

The next morning I find my flight already delayed so I switch my itinerary to fly into a different airport in the USA.

I have one more whisky at the airport. I realize I have already gone through customs here in Dublin so I don’t need to do so in the USA. I could have carried on some bottles from duty free all the way back home if I really wanted too. I am not sure why I didn’t pick up some bottles of local whisky.

I going home for a month or so. I have a music festival, a friend coming into town, a grand birthday to celebrate in New Orleans at the French Quarter Fest, and hope to catch up with some friends and family back home before I go out to travel again.

After two months what have I learned?

I am heading home after two months of traveling.

What have I learned from this go around of traveling, because really for me traveling is about learning and growing and not necessarily relaxation.

  • I can no longer stay in moist climates or moldy/moist lodging for too long or I will have sinus issues.
  • Some people’s idea of paradise can be hell for others – Bali. There are plenty of good things about Bali but for me the bad outweighed the good.
  • Even with my broken body and advanced age I can still do many things with time and patience (surfing). Imagine what I could have accomplished if I didn’t get sick during my surf week!
  • I value my alone time but I also don’t mind much having travel companions. In fact it is quite nice.
  • I am amazed of how friendly and accepting people can be outside of the USA. At home I feel invisible most of the time outside of my friend group or network. While traveling people see me and are generally interested in me. It is a good feeling and makes me try to come out of my shell to reciprocate. 
  • Many of my “issues” are due to the standard American lifestyle and diet. Over the weeks of traveling I noticed my need for over the counter anti-acid medicine and topical pain cream lessened and almost disappeared. I hope I don’t go home a return to like it was before.

Catch up with you soon when I am back on the road.

Taking a ride on the Paddywagon

I’ve already taken a couple of bus tours in Ireland and while doing so I’ve noticed the Paddywagon tour buses look much more fun that the tours I am on. For today my friend has booked us one of these tours. We are heading to Rock of Cashel, Cork City and Blarney Castle.

Our first stop is at Rock of Cashel, a place of religious significance in Ireland. St Patrick came here to try to convert a king to christianity. Today the rock are ruins that are fun to look at. It’s cool to wander around and wonder how it looked during its time.

Rock of Cashel

The second stop is at Blarney Castle. Blarney castle is basically an old medieval castle. People come for the beautiful lure of the castle, the nice grounds around the castle and the most popular Blarney Stone. The legend is that if one kisses the stone they get the gift of gab, or ability to speak with eloquence. I don’t know about all that but I waited in a pretty long line to kiss the stone and not sure much has changed with me. My friend decided to forgo it all and I don’t blame her, who in their right mind would kiss a stone that millions of others kiss. Anyway I am here and I am doing it. As I wait in the long line I admire the castle but it would be nicer to see it without a line snaking through it. I get closer to the top and ask these two girls near me to take my picture figuring they would do a decent job since I see them taking other photos of each other. However at the last minute the man in front of me, also by himself, wants to work out an agreement that we take each others pictures. I reluctantly agree. They do sell photos here of the kiss but I want my own instead. When it is time for the guy to go do the thing he freaks out and cannot do it. We wait there for him to gain his composure which he never does. You see you need to lay on your back and lean your head over while one of the men lower you down. I can see how some would find this whole thing scary but I just turn off the fear switch and do stupid stuff like this so it is no sweat to me. Did I mention it is raining the whole time so everything around is like wet? He decides not to do it so I give him my phone making him at least hold up his part of the bargain. The whole thing happens so fast but I think I am really good at this and have reached down low. I pop back up and my guy says to me “I’m sorry I forgot”. What?!? He forgot to take my picture, his one job? I am annoyed and he is still up there contemplating everything and I resolve to buy the photo the castle takes. He eventually gives up and goes back down. I buy my photos since they are not too terrible anyway. Since I spend so much time in line I basically have no time left to explore the grounds. I head to the bathrooms to meet my friend and return to the bus. While I wait for her I look at photos on my phone and realize he did actually take some pictures. They aren’t the best but he wasn’t totally unsuccessful. Now I feel bad for being annoyed since his anxiety about the whole thing problem had him all out of sorts (plus language barriers). I’ve been there with the anxiety so I know. I feel fortunate that I am able to control my anxiety most of the time these days.

This is another I could have skipped the lunch days. We stop for lunch and the guide makes it seem like they’ve held some space for us at this upcoming restaurant so we can get in and out very quickly. What we find is an extremely busy restaurant packed with diners and possibly other tour groups. It is a buffet with a line out the door. However it is not an all you can eat, it is more cafeteria style where you pick out your main dish and sides. We are here for the long haul so I decide to eat. It is expensive and way too much food. I should have opted for a side dish like my friend. We finish early but have to wait around because the line was so long that some in our group just got their meals. While we wait my friend plays bus driver.

We finalize our day by a stop in Cork. We don’t have much time in cork because our long lunch. The roads are torn up in town and things don’t look too pretty today. I already know I am going to have to return another time to really see it. We just pop into a pub for a drink because its all we have time for.

We do stop at one more pub before we get back closer to Dublin. We sit down and chat with some girls from our tour and have a drink.

Soon we head back to town. Overall the tour is fun but the second half feels rushed. This is where a car would come in handy. I definitely plan to come back and do Ireland properly by car.

A late night Italian dinner is in the agenda. My friend is leaving tomorrow and I’m on my own again for another day. However I am heading back to the USA too. I will be taking a break from traveling to do some stuff back home. But first tomorrow is Howth. More on that later.


Outside Duke of York pub

It is 2 am and I head to the airport in Muscat. Everywhere says arrive three hours before your flight but I arrive 2.5 hours before my flight and I feel like I am waiting around forever, especially trying to stay awake the early hours of the morning. My first flight is a short 1.5 hours to Doha and then around 7.5 hours to Dublin.

Immigration at Dublin isn’t too bad. The line could be shorter but it also isn’t the longest I’ve waited in. I actually got a stamp in my passport. It’s a nice memory that seems to be slowly going away in some countries.

I am heading straight to Belfast. I don’t stop at the Atm this time because I brought British pounds from home from a previous trip (that I find out are obsolete when I try to use them). I also converted the excess Omani money to euros (I got confused with conversion rates/cost of traveling and took out way too much money in Oman). Northern Ireland is still technically part of the UK so they use British pounds as their currency. Basically in Belfast it is pounds and when I am back in Dublin I will use Euros.

I bought my bus ticket to Belfast in advance but not knowing how long it would take for immigration or flight delays my bus is not scheduled for many hours. There is a bus coming soon, it is cold, raining and I am not yet prepared for it the weather so I ask to board an earlier bus. It is a space available situation after the correct ticket holders are seated first. Luckily there are a few seats available so I get an earlier start to Belfast. It is a two hour ride. I can’t see anything because rain and aisle seat so I do some reading. My hotel is a seven minute walk from the bus stop. I brave the cold (again I have not really taken my winter clothes out yet) and walk to my hotel. I can see snow covered hills in the distance. I love the cold so I don’t want to complain about the weather. I am staying at a Hilton property so I am happy to have a comfortable consistent hotel experience for a change.

I change and head out to do laundry because I am very close to having zero clean undergarments. On the way I am getting wet because I decide to wear my winter coat instead of my rain jacket. I go buy an umbrella because I figure it is a good investment here since it never seems to stop raining. This is when I find my British pounds are old. I try to use them to pay for my umbrella. I guess they really are souvenirs now. I can convert them at a bank but it is the weekend so I’ll probably just end up keeping them.

While doing laundry I look for places to eat dinner while I watch group after group on the pub crawler pedal parties blasting their loud music down the street every 5 minutes. It is Saturday night so probably a big party night. When I do try to eat after laundry is done every pub I want to eat at is already full, including a few restaurants I try. I finally find a restaurant with tables available across from my hotel but that gets very busy as I eat. It is a nice comfort food dish for the cold rainy weather. I also try to have a cocktail or two. I have to get in practice for upcoming St Patricks day. I haven’t really been drinking alcohol for a couple weeks due to illness and conservative alcohol policies. I am really out of practice.

I keep seeing adorable bearded Irish men everywhere I go. They are all so nice and kind. I could get used to this.

I go back to my room originally planning to do trip research and other things but I struggle to stay awake. I give up and sleep. Of course I wake up at 2 am because I fall asleep too early plus jet lag. I am not getting back to sleep so I guess I play catch up now.

I head out early in the morning to sightsee. I have a mid-day titanic reservation but since I’m up early it is good time to start a self paced walking tour. It is still raining on and off so I make good use of my umbrella, it just doesn’t seem to be a good match for the wind though.

I stop at the chain Tim Horton for a coffee and a doughnut. I know its a Canadian chain but it is my first time trying it. It seems like a fancier Dunkin Doughnuts.

I walk by some churches and street art.

More on my morning later…

UK: Stonehenge

One must see Stonehenge at least once in their life but I have had the privilege of seeing it two times. It was my husband’s first trip to the UK. Any trip to the UK is not complete without a visit to those ancient rocks,
We visited as part of a 3 part day tour.
The stone structure has been thought of to have many different purposes over the years. Recent opinion dictates that it was a burial ground. In nearby lands you will see many mounds that had the same purpose.
No matter what their purpose was they are still a fascinating sight to see.

Animals on adjacent farmlands.