September 1, 2011

Last Bliss in Ireland

The last few days in Ireland were pure bliss! I've only been in Firenze for a day but already it seems like a week ago! Let me see what I can recall...

We spent our last day in Skerries exploring Ardgillan Castle which was a 2 mile {walk} from the B&B. Along the way we enjoyed the beautiful coastline of the Irish sea & laughing as drivers glanced confused at the American girls in their fancy winter coats walking along the side of the road on a summer day.

Joe {owner of White Cottages} recommended we walk up the back way to the castle which led us through lush greenery opening into full fields with a modern castle atop. Claire immediately ran to frolic in the fields {her one wish for Ireland come true}.

The grounds kept getting more beautiful from there with endless rose gardens & an old farmhouse. The castle wasn't as authentic as what you see in the deeper countryside and the main mansion was closed for the day but spending the day meandering through the grounds fit the bill. I took over 200 pictures on the grounds...

Needless to say we were tired from being on our feet & called a taxi back. Our taxi driver gave us directions to a cheap but tasty pizzeria* on the way back where we enjoyed our final meal in Skerries. The bruschetta made me crave Italy. We then walked back through the town to the B&B and enjoyed our last night talking to a mother & son pair from Switzerland over tea in the kitchen. I'll take this mention of the B&B to include a few more pictures {as promised}...

We left Skerries {wishing we weren't} to spend our last day & night back in Dublin. We stayed in Smithfield Square which was a quick & cheap LUAS Red Line {tram} ride from Connolly station. The Generator Hostel revived my faith in hostels! It has just opened a few weeks before so the modern decor was inviting and the staff was as friendly as ever!

We dropped our bags and walked to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour. I hate to say it, but the factory completely underwhelmed me. I'm not a beer drinker but I figured touring the factory and learning the process would be a cool experience! Rather I found a winding, modern tourist attraction with videos and impressive fountains. You don't actually see the beer being made!

The one part I did enjoy was the top floor of the Storehose which is a glass bar with an impressive 360 view of Dublin. Claire & I turned in our tickets for a free beer and goggled at the fact that they let the foam rise for two minutes before finally filling the glass to let the brew mix. The brewmaster put a four leaf clover in my froth! I had no intention of actually drinking the beer & after 2 sips, I decided it wasn't for me {sorry to the beer enthusiasts out there}. Claire made it a bit farther to about 7 sips...

Lukas from the Generator arranged a ride for Claire & I that night with Bryan, an Irish taxi driver who told us the great tale of his life in a ten minute ride {in his Mercedes Bus that Tiger Woods had formally been shuttled in}. If you ever go to Dublin, let me know so I can search high and low to arrange a ride with Bryan!

Claire and I then began a literary pub crawl led by two actors who re-enacted scenes from Joyce, Beckett, and the like while walking us through some famous Dublin literary sites & temple bar pubs. We met two science teachers/grad students from Los Angeles whom we compared notes with, instilling the bug in me to travel again to Ireland to see more of the west coast another day.

Kait and I woke up the next morning bright and early for our flights to Florence! I had a bit of a stress breakdown when they asked to check my carry-on because we had a tight connection and the traveling caught up with me. Thankfully, letting it all out eased what I had let build up & I was able to enjoy the flights!

We sat next to a businessman from Milan on the first leg who told us all about the North of Italy {and that Naples would not be safe for two American girls meandering through} and gave us his card in case we ever wanted to ask him if any Italians we're trying to rip us off!

When we arrived in London City {a small commuter airport} we had twenty minutes to get off the plane, get my carry-on, go back through security, and make it onto the next leg. My anxiety level completely dissipated through when the Air France attendant met us at the gate and walked us through every step of the way, alerting our gate every 5 minutes where we were. Our baggage wasn't due to make the flight but the gate attendants saw the worry in our eyes and literally held the plane for our bags. I've NEVER been so impressed by an airline or gate crew! I proceeded to enjoy the travel, spending the entire leg talking to a woman from England who frequently travels to Tuscany for business, adding onto my list of reccommended places to see & stay!

Finally we made it and the journey of the next four months began! I'll leave you here for next time but I have to get my own bearings in this city first...

*Pasta Pizza, Skerries

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