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Archive for August, 2008

BRILLIANT CRAIC!

The photos from this part of the trip can be found here, here and here.

So we were off to Ireland. Specifically, Dublin.

After some helpful advice from one of the kind ladies at my mothers work we had booked ourselves on a 6 day All Ireland tour with PaddyWagon Tours.
We arrived in Dublin on the 2nd of August and the tour did not start until the 4th so we had a few days to check out the city.
Dublin is a nice place and I would love to go back and explore more. Sadly I think I will need to take out a mortgage just to afford to spend any reasonable amount of time there.
People say London is expensive, Dublin is significantly more expensive. 13 euro (around $20) for 2 drinks at a pub/club is just bloody crazy.

We made sure to get some sleep the night before our tour started, this proved to be a smart decision as sleep was not exactly something we were going to get much of for the next 6 days.

Our tour left Paddy’s Palace in Dublin a little after 8 am.

Our first stop (more or less) was the Guinness Factory. This was supposed to be done in the afternoon on the last day but since they are usually pushed for time it was decided to do it on the first morning.

Part of the tour is a free pint. Drinking pints at 10am was not exactly something any of us were too excited about (that would change), but when in Rome (or Ireland for that matter)…

After the tour it was off to Belfast (with various photo stops along the way).
On the long drive we all started to get to know each other, by the time we hit Belfast everyone was almost old friends.

In Belfast we did a Black taxi tour of the city and visited some of the more historical parts of the city (where the fighting went down).
It was a really interesting city and I learnt a lot about the history of the city and the conflicts that have shaped it today.

After the tour we went out for dinner at one of the local pubs and then spent the night drinking and listening to some live Irish music.

A late night, followed by an early morning meant none of us were overly excited to be on the road the next morning, but we were on a schedule and had to be in Derry by the early evening.

We did quite a bit of walking during our photo stops on our way to Derry; we checked out the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, walked the Giants Causeway and got some photos of Dunluce Castle.

We arrived in Derry, checked into our hostel and then went on a walking tour of the city with a local guide.
Derry is fairly significant in the history of Northern Ireland as it was the location for some of the bigger fights in recent times.
Our guide gave us an insight into what it was like growing up in the middle of it all.

After our tour we headed back to the hostel, got changed and then went out for some dinner and drinks.
We partied till the early hours of the morning and finally headed home after we were asked to leave the club when it was closing.

Next morning it was off to Gallway. A long drive awaits with only a few stops to check out some of the sights on our way.
Gallway was billed as a party city so naturally we felt the need to party.

Another late night, another early morning.

Next stop was Dingle and the Randy Leprechaun pub (owned by the tour company).
On our way we stopped at various sights along the coast, saw the cliffs of moher and got some more great photos.

When we arrived in Dingle we checked into our room, had a shower and then headed next door to the pub for karaoke and party night.
Party night indeed, after we were kicked out of the pub we took the party back to the hostel where music less karaoke continued until the very early hours.

The following morning we jumped back on the bus and headed for Killarney.
On our way we drove out and around the Dingle Peninsular and spent a few hours doing a little shopping/lunch (more beer) in Dingle.

We arrived in Killarney and did a horse and kart ride around the National Park.
It was a fun way to see the park and our driver was a funny guy who made the trip fun.

Since this was our last night on tour, tonight was party night.
Party we did. Again we were asked to leave the club at closing time and then wandered back to the hostel not long before curfew.

The last day on tour we checked out the Blarney Castle (didn’t kiss the Blarney stone thanks to a busted shoulder from the night before) but took some cool photos and picked up some Irish momentos from the massive shop that is near the castle.

Picked up some beer for the ride home (since we were not really going to be stopping again) and then jumped back on the bus for the long ride back to Dublin.

On our way back we stopped for a quick photo at a castle and some more beer (anyone see a pattern developing here)?
The weather in Ireland is not exactly famous for being sunny and beautiful, but what we encountered on our way back to Dublin was crazy.
Flash floods had basically closed the city and with the Gaelic football on at Croke Park the city was a madhouse.

Some of the people on our tour missed their planes to get back to England as the roads to the airport were flooded and closed.

We got a lift to our hotel for the night and booked a cab for 3 am to make sure we made the airport in time for our flight.

After our late dinner (finished up around 11 pm) I decided it was not worth sleeping so I stayed up all night watching movies and going through my photos.

We made the airport on time and got on the right plane and made it back to England in 1 piece.

We were headed for Brighton to relax for a week by the beach.

More about that a little later.

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You take the high road. And I’ll take the low road.

And I’ll be in Scotland before you.

The photos from Scotland can once again be found in the gallery here, here and here.

It wasn’t quite the highlands (at least yet), but the next stop on our trip was Edinburgh.
A 9 hour bus ride between London and Edinburgh meant by the time we got there after 6pm and checked into our room there was really only enough energy to get some dinner and then pass out in our beds.

The next day we got up a little late and then after breakfast wandered around downtown Edinburgh.
Another city, another open top bus tour. This time there was 4 different buses to choose from. Thankfully they offered an “all in” type ticket which meant we could jump on all of them if we so wished.

Since the weather was nice and one of the buses involved a boat ride on the Firth of Forth, we opted for that bus.
The ride down to the boat was interesting enough but the main purpose of the tour was the boat trip.
When we arrived we boarded the boat and set off on our little adventure. Out of the harbour at South Queens ferry and towards an island in the middle of the water. Did a lap around there, picked up some people who had gotten off an earlier boat (we were the last for the day) and then headed back. We saw some seals warming themselves on the rocks nearby and some funky looking birds drying their wings.

Headed back towards the bus and then back into town.

By this stage it was getting late so we opted for some food, Maccas was closed and on our travels we spotted a pub with a similar menu to that of many we had eaten at in our travels through England.
I forget the name of the pub, but it is one of a chain call Whetherspoons (or something like that). They do really cheap good food so we sat down, ordered a drink and then went to order our food and were told that the kitchen was actually closed for the night.

CLOSED!! It was 7 pm. Who in their right mind closes a pub kitchen at 7 pm, even on a Sunday?
We left there and decided to head back towards our room as there were plenty of choices on the way back.

For those of you not aware, Vlad recently made a trip the USA so he is now infatuated with ribs. Specifically, ribs coated in Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce.
The only place to get this sauce (at least outside of the US) is TGI Fridays.
As we look up the street, sure enough there is a TGI’s so we head in and chow down on some very good ribs.
Dinner done we head back to the room and crash.

Next day we jumped on several of the open topped buses and did the tourist thing around Edinburgh.
As you might be able to tell from the photos it was not the nicest of days we have had on our trip.

There was a THICK fog that blanketed the entire city. We were lucky to be able to see anything 50m away.
Made for some funky looking photos, but a really cold ride on an open top bus (maybe that is why I keep getting sick).

After our tour we got some food and then had a few drinks at a couple of the local pubs.

The next day was basically our last in Edinburgh so we spent most of it just wandering around the city doing a little shopping.
That night we ate at a local pub, while we were sitting there the air conditioner decided to explode and rained water on the guy sitting about 2m away from us.

After a few drinks we headed off and had a few more at some other locations.

We called it a night sometime around midnight.

The following day we got up, checked out and headed for the train station. Destination, Glasgow.

When we finally arrived at our hostel we were told we could not check in till 3pm, since it was about 2.50 that was not too much of a problem. We left our bags in the luggage room and went to grab a late lunch.

The place we were staying at had a bar with free wifi and a jukebox and pool table so we went back to the bar, had a few drinks and listened to some music until the check in queue had died down a little.

We checked into our room and then wandered into town to book a highlands tour to Loch Ness (everyone has to go in search of Nessy at least once).
We booked our tour for the Friday (it was Wednesday) and then wandered around town a little.

On our travels we started getting a little hungry. This is when we noticed that there was a TGI Fridays in town so we decided that we needed ribs and went in for some dinner.

After dinner we headed back to the hostel had a few drinks in the bar downstairs and then called it a night.

Celtic Park was our destination for the day, sure we wanted to check out the 2 other stadiums in the area but since we got up late and most of the parks close up by 4 we only had the time to do the 1.
We jumped on a bus and headed to the stadium.

Another stadium tour, more of the same crap really but for those of us who are football fans, it is always a pleasure to see the ins and outs of the different clubs.

We left the stadium and headed back into town.
Grabbed a very late lunch and then went back and chilled at the hostel for a bit.

After a few drinks it was night time as we had an early start the next morning.

Our bus left for the highlands at about 8am, we would not return to Glasgow until about 7.30 pm that night.
It was a long day on a small bus, but it was really good.
The highlands in Scotland are quite impressive. The fact that it had rained like crazy the night before meant that there was an abundance of new waterfalls that were not there the previous day.
The only downer to the trip was that pesky fog that seemed to be following us from city to city.

We did a boat tour of Loch Ness, sadly no Nessy spottings but a good time regardless.

Back to Glasgow, grab a few drinks and hit the sack.

Next morning we are on a plane to Dublin. 10.50am flight yet we still had to be up at 6 to make sure we made it there on time. Getting sick of missing sleep because of bastard airlines.

More on the Ireland trip soon.

PS. For those who have been paying attention, you may have noticed that there is a week or so missing from my reports.
That is because we spent a week in London after Croatia and for the most part it was very uneventful.

I was sick, and we were both feeling the pinch after an unexpected $500 expense.

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