Waterford and the trip by car

Friday, Sept.12, 2014
We decided to take a cab to get the rental car but the driver told us that you actually have to go back to the airport and check in with the Hertz desk. I totally believe that I was smart not to bring a car into Dublin. Two reasons come to mind. 1. There is absolutely no parking and 2. The people drive like maniacs. So we took the cab and did what the driver told us, checked in and had to take the Hertz bus like we do at our airports. At the Hertz desk, I decided to get a GPS after seeing the numerous rotaries (circles) on the map. Also decided to get a hotspot for when the hotel does not have strong wifi. In addition I took the extra insurance which does not cover tires or rims. Let’s hope I don’t hit anything. They now send you a vehicle damage report of the car you are renting to email with photos of every damage spot on the car. One was left out but this car is pretty beat up. The mirror damage is in their photo so I know they will not worry about it. The extra insurance is a must.
I got a great map from Hertz and the nice guy gave me some direction. The cab driver had told us that we should stop on the way to Waterford at a beautiful place called Powerscourt. There are waterfalls and a garden similar to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada. I was so excited to stop there and although Tom’s back was killing him, he managed to walk a short distance and did pretty well hobbling along. We could not view the waterfalls because it was a 6km walk to the waterfalls so we were content with doing the gardens. They did not disappoint and were breathtakingly beautiful.

The drive to Waterford was a little over 2 hours and stopping made our arrival time in line with check in to the Tower Hotel. The parking was in a private lot behind the hotel and to avoid unwanted people from using the lot, they change the code daily which you need to exit.
Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland, when the Vikings established a settlement there in 853AD. The Vikings settlers founded it in 914AD. There are fortresses all over the city and Reginald’s Tower is nearly 1000 years old and is in the Irish Annals dating back to 1088. It is the oldest civic building in Ireland. In the 13th century many monasteries, friaries and churches were built. In the 17th century many other buildings were built and still stand, one of which is the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. We went to the vigil Mass there on Saturday night. It is as ornate as all the churches in Europe and is gigantic. It was a beautiful Mass.
We were very lucky that the day we arrived was the first day of the annual Harvest Festival. This city is known for its festivals, artsy folks and of course Waterford glass. The factory in town is the smallest of the working factories in the world and I am certain that the only reason they keep it open is to host visitors on the tour. I was able to get a wheelchair for Tom as he cannot do the stairs or stand in one place for very long. It was simple pushing him along and there was a small lift that the tour guide navigated for the different levels. The factory makes the glass by mixing three ingredients and then the glass is a block until it is heated and blown out. They make wooden molds for speciality pieces and cast iron molds for everything else. The Masters as they are called take 8 years to learn their craft and it is tedious work for 8 hours each day. There is a production line and each is expected to produce a certain amount of product each day. The engravers cut the crystal by hand and the glass is marked up with markers to show them where to cut. It is a fascinating process and now I know why we pay so much for Waterford Crystal. Did I buy anything? The answer is no. I don’t collect anymore. But I was able to take tons of photos and will remember what I saw. The food in Waterford was great and the Reg as it is called was impossible to get into for reservations so we ate at two nice restaurants. Two nights in Waterford may not seem like enough but we were able to see everything in town that mattered. It is a must see city if you go to Ireland.

Now, on to Cork….. Sorry again that the photos are unable to tag in. I am hoping that when I get home I can edit by adding photos later.

A Day in Belfast

9/11/14- watched the early news remembering exactly where we were when tragedy struck in NY, VA and PA. My prayers this morning are reflective of that day and I am thankful for the safety of the ones I love. May peace come to those who have family that did not survive. Even here in Ireland there were many connections because of the number of fireman, police and other Irish that serve and represent a heritage of people who sought a better life on our shores so many years ago.
As you all can well see, I am playing catch up again while I have the internet. Let me explain our second day in Ireland. With Tom’s back still in bad shape, I know all too well that we will not be taking that bus again to the airport. The plan for day 2 is a trip to Belfast for the day to see the Titanic Museum. My early research from home indicated an easy train ride form Dublin to Belfast in a little over two hours.
The train station was about a half mile away and totally walkable if you don’t have a bad back. Ha, yes we walked to the Connolly Train Station and caught the later morning train to Belfast. Belfast uses British pounds for currency and I had purchased only £100 to get us through the day. I paid for the round trip ticket in euros (€40 each) for train so basically had a ton of money to spend. We got there on time and came out of the station and I saw a gentleman and asked directions. He was so friendly and stopped to say “let me look it up on my mobile” He mapped it out and said that the museum was a 25 minute walk. I looked at Tom thinking how can I make it 25 minutes but he did it. We walked along the waterfront and over a “Key” bridge where there were literally hundreds of keys locked on the fencing along the rail overlooking the water. It was neat and yes I have a photo but am not able to add photos. From the bridge you could see the massive museum which looks so modern for an older city. We got there and bought tickets for an on our own walking tour of the museum. The entrance fee was not too bad at £22 but when I tried to pay with a £50 note, the girl told me that the particular note was no longer in circulation but I could exchange it at a bank without a problem. I am thinking, hmm, where and what time are the banks open as we are only here for one day and that is half of the money we have. It turned out it was not an issue because later I went to get bottled water and asked where to closest bank was located and the clerk said he would change it for me. Note to self: be sure to tell my money guy he has to update his currency.
The museum was so worth it, well done and chronological from the history of ship building in general to the modern methods of today. There were testimonials from survivors of the sinking of Titanic, the water testing and a great sit down ride that showed how the entire boat was built from the bottom up. The most fascination thing was watching the riveters hand rivet each piece without the benefit of safety glasses, gloves or heat coverings over their clothes. This job had to be the worst job ever and the laboring was unending. The men were paid by the rivet and somewhere in all this literature I have gathered is the number of rivets on Titanic. The museum ends with Robert Ballard’s submarine finding Titanic and also the later views of James Cameron in the making of Titanic.
Overall it was a fabulous trip to the North. Before boarding the last train to Dublin at 8:05pm, we walked to the Victoria Square where I saw an Apple Store and discovered the issue with the data plan I bought in the states, then walked to City Hall which is famous for being one of the oldest buildings in Belfast and then went to a pub for a bite to eat. Returning to Dublin, we walked over the bridge and to our hotel Trinity City Hotel.
Will stop here and do a separate entry on Waterford.

On our way to Ireland

It never fails when I try to make things easy on myself, somehow unusual things get in the way. This trip has been planned since March so there was plenty of time to get organized. I went to the AT&T store and bought a data package for my iPad so it would be easy to write. Well, low and behold, there are no networks in Ireland. It took a couple of days to figure this out but finally a stop at an Apple store yielded the very genius I needed to figure this out.
But let me start at the beginning of our travels and do a quick catch up with lots of photos.
The trip to the airport and on to Boston was uneventful. The plane from Dulles was delayed because of arriving late but we seem to make up time in the air and had a little over two hours to make our flight. Now I have not been to Boston airport since way back in the day when I just landed and skidded out of there really quickly. This time we had to change terminals from United to Aer Lingus. Well, you would think this is an easy process. Not in Boston! The bus we had to take said it would be there in 8 min which ten minutes before said the same thing. As soon as we got on the line it took five or so minutes and we were on our way to Terminal 1 from 2. We took off relatively on time and the flight across the pond was fine with a few spots of turbulence so seatbelt sign stayed on a lot. I do have a couple of photos outside the window which I will share.
I am not a great plane sleeper so when we landed at 8:17am Ireland time, it was really 1:17 am our time. Now we had to get to downtown Dublin and I had not bothered to figure this out ahead of time other than to research the bus. We found a bus that stopped within 5 blocks of our hotel and this would prove to be Tom’s undoing. He stepped wrong going down the large step on the bus and although it had hurt him before that, this put him over the edge. By the time we got off the bus in the Trinity area of Dublin, all I heard from him was how far is the hotel? I whispered to myself (five blocks) and to him I said it is just around the corner. Map in hand I led him to the door. Of course now it is not even 10 am so we dropped our bags off at the hotel and then walked back to where we were dropped off to go take the Trinity College tour and see the Book Of Kells. The tour was outside and we had a student who actually took his final exams in May but will not have commencement until December. Everyone who graduates does the same ceremony by waiting to see what they are ranked and graduate. The guide was really adorable and commented about being able to get married in the chapel but there is a time limit so he needed to find someone fast. He asked I any of us had available daughters. He is going into politics.
Looks like the iPad is not as easy to add photos with text so let me do this first.

The last days in Maine

Everyone who knows me understands how it is when I put my mind to doing something. I had set my head set on seeing Kennebunkport to specifically see Walker’s Point (The Bush family house) so we drove down there and of course hadn’t made a hotel reservation. Tom was freaking out that we needed to make a reservation and after checking a few places, all were full. So I told him that we were going to find the church first since it was Saturday and I wanted to have that complete before finding a place. If need be, I told him, we could drive to the next town along the coast and return in the morning before going home. I found a St. Anthony’s that appeared to have a 4pm Mass so I said let’s go there, then we will worry about the hotel. Turning down the block where the church was supposed to be we came across a sign that made my heart happy. It said, Franciscan Guest House- Vacancies. Yes indeed. We stayed there and it was so inexpensive. Mass was not at 4pm but at 8am the next morning. So we got our room, checked out the Church, grotto and other adornments along the huge space and then walked into town to have dinner. Saw the sunset over Kennebunkport and it was so nice. Restaurant was great, on the water and we even got Giffords ice cream, good ole Muddy Boots. The next day we went to Walkers Point and were able to get some nice photos, then made our way home to VA after a stop in Kittery to a great bakery where I spent some big bucks on stuff that tastes really good.

It was a great vacation. Next up-Ireland Sept. 2014. Be here before you know it. Ha, ha.

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Why not go to Canada-We are already so close

One of the best things I enjoy about my job is to talk to the great customers that I have who are well traveled. Yes, I am too but I so enjoy listening to the places that folks have already visited and get ideas to add on to trips. A customer came in one day and when I mentioned going to Bar Harbor, she said, oh you need to go to the Bay of Fundy. Now I have been alive for a very long time but had never heard of this Bay. I went home and looked it up on the internet. Thank goodness for computers. It was immediately added to the list of must do stops. I counted on two nights in Canada, one day to get there and check out St. John and the next day to explore the Bay of Fundy. We ended up staying at this B&B that was originally built in the 1800’s and restored in the early 70’s to bring two mansions together to be one fabulous place. The rooms were huge and each has a nautical name.

To enjoy the Bay of Fundy fully, we decided to drive to Hopewell Rocks. I know better to use a GPS and I am certain that it would have helped to update the silly device to International but who knew? So my phone actually worked the best with just maps. It took about three hours to get there and the whole park did not disappoint. The Bay of Fundy has a stairwell that places you at the bottom of the water when the tide goes out for a good six hour window and you are literally walking on the bottom of the bay that feeds into the ocean. Above you are what is called flower pot rocks and you can easily see the water marks which reach up 12 to 40 feet tall. It is an amazing site and I hope you all enjoy the photos.

After this, one more to go and I am caught up. Way past my bedtime but who is looking?

Photos-Homeport-Hopewell Rocks-Border-Welcome back to Maine

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The last of Bar Harbor

Here are some town photos, restaurants and a trip to whale watch. The whales are flat and do not come out of the water a great deal like they do in Alaska. We were too late for puffins and actually saw more birds than whales but I do have a few photos. We went to the carriage house to see the horses in Acadia and spent our last day on another short hike. Hard to get enough of the National Parks. We were extremely lucky because two weeks after we left, the National Parks were closed due to the government shut down. Can’t tell you how lucky I feel.

This playing catch up tonight has been a trip down memory lane. Tom asked me how I could possibly remember something that happened last year. My answer-I have the photos. Never underestimate a quick witted word.

This seagull visited our room every day. Pretty sure they are well fed by the tourists. Don’t feed wild birds.

We said so long to Bar Harbor and headed for St. John, NB, Canada. Thinking that someone at the border would ask where we were staying, I decided to make a reservation at the last minute. Chose a B&B called Homeport in St. John.

Restaurants and whales to follow:

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Bar Harbor, Jordan’s Pond and in town

The week we spent here in Bar Harbor was a week of real fun outdoor adventure. The hiking was great the views from overlooks inside Acadia were fantastic and it is among the great Bucket List must see places to go.

The sandbar street was interesting. There is a small window of time where you can walk to the island in the distance but we did not time it early enough to make it across. When the tide comes in people kayak across. The spot to get there was a few short blocks from our hotel. Bar Harbor is small enough to learn the entire town in one day.

Jordan’s Pond in inside Acadia and the hike around the pond is great. However, I would encourage anyone who wants to hike it to go clockwise around rather than counter clockwise. We went the hard way and were exhausted. The prize at the end it you can get in is a popover at the cafe. All it is is a piece of puffy dough but they are light and fluffy and unique to the region. Another yum.

Church was nice. Traditional Catholic, just the way I like it.

Before moving on to an add on to New Brunswick, Canada, here are a few more photos.

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