31 March 2009

Soccer or Rugby or Whatever

After leaving Kilmainham Gaol, we hopped on the city bus to Trinity College. Then we walked over to Merrion Square and found Ken's real address. After that, we walked back to St. Stephen's Green.

March is a wonderful time to walk through St. Stephen's Green. Everything was blooming. It was Saturday so the families were there with their children. Lovely!

We walked back to the hotel following the Luas. We got back in time to have a nap before dinner. Oh how precious nap times will be on this vacation.

After a good hour, we head out to find a place for dinner. We know there is a match tonight between Ireland and Bulgaria. Two of our party are at Croke Park to see it. But we aren't sure what sport. We think it is probably Football (soccer). As we try to find a place for dinner, we run into a lot of crowded places. Finally, we come upon a lovely bar/bistro. The front part was packed, but the back (which has no few of any TV screen) was empty so we had dinner. I had probably the best salmon of my entire life!

We were there about three hours because the poor bar staff were completely overwhelmed with the crowd. It was indeed football and the final score was 1-1.

We met up with the gang in the hotel lobby for a bit and then headed up to bed.

Tomorrow we are off to see the countryside.


Our first full day in Ireland. We were up and breakfasted and decided to set out on an adventure before boarding the bus. We had gotten Ken’s address from Chris and thought it would be fun to find the house and snap a photo of the door. We walked down to the canal and then followed the canal.

It was a beautiful walk. We saw a heron and a cormorant. We saw the locks and even a historical marker. After a bit, we came to the Leeson Bridge which I recognized from my last trip to Dublin. We turned on to Fitzwilliam Place and continued in the direction that I had gotten from our driver. That’s when I noticed that I had lost a glove. My first indication that all was not going swimmingly. When we came to the street, we were a bit confused because the odds and evens are on the same side of the street and also because street names can change at every block. Ken had told us that his house was no longer a house. But we were surprised to see what was there.

We took a few photos and then hailed a cab back to the hotel. Back in the room, I remembered that I had put the address in my phone. We had been on the wrong street! We decided to try again later in the day if we could.

We boarded our coach for the ride out to Glasnevin Cemetery. This is where many of the patriots from the Easter Rising are buried. It was quite something to go out there and I would not have done it otherwise. On the way back in to town, our driver asked if anyone wanted to see Kilmainham Gaol. There were 13 of us that did. He pulled over near The Patriots Inn and dropped us off.

Five of us walked up to the Gaol directly. The other 8 held back a bit. As we were about to go in, I asked the desk if they could accommodate 13 on one tour and they sold us all tickets for the same tour. We went to the tearoom for a cuppa and then toured the museum until our tour time.

Our guide was very good and knowledgeable about the penal system, prison reform, etc. and not just the history of Kilmainham. I won the prize for knowing that “In The Name Of The Father” had been filmed there. I showed Chris Mrs. Plunkett’s cell and snapped his photo. Barbara & I actually stepped into a cell and closed the door. It was kind of creepy to do that.

As we were leaving, Chris & Rob hung back in the entryway. Suddenly, they began to sing “Grace”. It was amazing. People walking by on the sidewalk stopped to listen. People stepped out of the museum to watch. It was quite something and definitely a moment I will not forget.

Your Place or Mao?

Our first night in Dublin, we all went to Cassidy’s Bar for a drink. I was scheduled to meet my friend Mark’s friends Kate & Collum for dinner but didn’t have a firm time and place so I went along to Cassidy’s as well. My first drink in Ireland: a glass of Guinness. I was severely teased for drinking a glass and not a pint, but I held my ground. I didn’t know what the evening had in store and wanted to pace myself. Plus I hadn’t really eaten anything at all since the Aer Lingus dinner the night before.

While at Cassidy’s, Kate texted me to meet them at the Fitzwilliam at 7:30pm. I took my leave of the group, but Suzanne decided to stay and see what the evening plans turned out to be.

It was only a short walk to the Fitzwilliam which is a very nice modern hotel on St. Stephen’s Green near the top of Grafton St. We met in the lobby (after a bit of kerfuffle) and decided to try one or another of two Asian places close by just off Grafton St. The first had a line at the door so we move on to the second.

Mao – an Asian fusion bistro – is a great place to eat in Dublin or Dun Laoghaire. I know it’s in at least those two places and maybe more. We started with cocktails and appetizers. Collum had an Erdinger (non-alcoholic beer) and Kate & I had gin & tonics. Collum & I had the Honey Sesame Prawns and Kate had the Chili Squid. Kate originally offered us to try her squid but we never got the chance as she wolfed them down declaring them DELICIOUS. The prawns were sweet and crunchy on a bed of rocket with cilantro lime dressing for a sweet/spicy mix.

For mains, Collum had water and Kate & I split a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. It was smooth and wonderful. Collum had the Tempura Sole, I had the Mango Chili Duck, and Kate had the Chili-Lime Tiger Prawns. We had a choice of noodles or rice. I chose the rice and the others the noodles. Again, we all polished off every bit of food & drink declaring everything very tasty.

The surprise was the dessert menu. They had Cheesecake, Ice cream & Sorbet. We had one of each. Not what I might expect with Asian food, but delicious.

After our dinner, they drove me back to my hotel. Some of the gang were still in the lobby, but it had been a long day and it was time for bed.

Busy day tomorrow!!

27 March 2009


I am in Dublin. There is free wi-fi in the room so I thought I would log on briefly to re-cap the goings on so far.

Suz and I had business class seats for the flight from LAX to Chicago. We were chatty with the ticket agent and we think she upgraded us. We got our American miles on that flight.

In Chicago, we went to the Aer Lingus counter and they confirmed that we had an aisle and a middle seat which wasn't too bad, and they gave us our United miles. Also very good! There's no food past security in that terminal so we went to the Food Court. I opted for Pizzeria Uno, Suz went to the Hot Dog place (but didn't get a dog) and the others visited the Golden Arches.

We landed 30 minutes early, met a nice woman in the line to go through Passport Control. The Immigration Officer was chatty and asked me if I was "here to do a bit o dancin' & drinkin' with the band". We met up with the guys in the arrivals hall.

We teased Rob that he was there to kiss all the girls "Hello"! But it was great to see all the old friends from the last trip and meet some new friends as well.

We are on Bus #1. Which I promptly dubbed the "Girls Gone Wild" bus. Terry liked that!

Democracy seems to be in action as we have voted on nearly everything that we have done so far. Bus #2 was doing their own thing as well. Our driver/guide is Keith (keet). He is nice, flirty, funny. Already started working for the end of trip tip!We voted to have a tour of the city and then go to the hotel. We voted to get off the bus twice. First stop was St. Patrick's Cathedral. I hadn't seen that last time so it was great to stop and walk around. Mass was going on so we didn't go in.

Our next stop was Trinity College. We walked through the college to O'Connell Street. Went to Eason stationers to use the loo and Suz & I bought Irish dictionaries. Our first souvenirs! Then to the GPO to see the site of the 1916 Easter Uprising. I mailed two letters and bought stamps for postcards. Walked back toward Grafton Street and stopped at a shop that sold postcards & other trinkets. then went to the bank, then headed up to the "Tart with the Cart" - otherwise known as Molly Malone.

Molly is at the foot of Grafton Street. We walked up a bit and saw a busker singing just like Glen Hansard in "Once", then it started to rain so we headed back to the bus, stopping briefly at the sweet shop for Cokes and Aeros.

Keith suggested that we might want to go to the cemetery where Michael Collins et al are buried tomorrow instead of going to Trim Castle. He is going to talk to the other driver and we will find out in the morning what we are doing. Maybe we will split up and do both. We had already decided not to go to Trim as the others really want to see Kilmanhaim Jail & Guinness. Keith said we would stop at Kilmanhaim on the way back from the cemetery.

Then we drove around Dublin a bit more and came to our hotel. Good news & bad news: only some of the rooms were ready. Margaret & Sally's was, but not ours. So we were sitting in the lobby and Terry was walking around passing out room keys as they came available. He came by and said he didn't have anything for us but a smile. We said that was okay. But he walked over to the desk and came right back and said "you are going to want to kiss me now" and handed us our key. Our luggage was not too buried in the pile so we claimed it and are now in the room.

We are freshening up, taking a short nap and then heading out later. I've texted Mark's friend Kate and I am planning to meet her tonight or possibly tomorrow.

This is going to be a GREAT vacation!

19 March 2009

Caution! Rant is coming!

I don't mean to disparage men in general. But what are you guys thinking? Every corner I turn these days, there's some crazy man lurking...

I feel like Helen Hunt in "As Good As It Gets" lately (If you don't know what I mean, then maybe you should rent it).

I almost want to climb up on my Feminist soapbox and scream at the top of my lungs. But instead, I am just going to blow off all my steam right here right now.


Okay. I'm done. I feel better. I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

17 March 2009

Luck O' The Irish

Just a quick recap of St. Patrick's Day. I had one rather unlucky thing happen but then I had two very lucky things happen. I think that means I came out positive in the luck department which is only right.

The positively luckiest thing was that Viv Campbell showed up at the pub tonight to jam with PJ. How cool is that?

I hope that you, Gentle Reader, had a wonderful and memorable St. Patrick's Day!

11 March 2009

Dateline Dublin

I have decided to take my laptop with me to Ireland. A variety of reasons contributed to this decision. First - I will have Internet in my hotel room for 6 of the 8 nights of my trip. Second - Last time I was in Ireland, I filled up my 2GB card and had to switch to a film camera the day we were in Killarney State Park which also explains why there aren't any photos of that to post on Facebook. Third - and this is probably most important - I just got my tickets yesterday and I will have a three hour layover on the way to Ireland and a six hour layover on the way home. Both in Chicago. I figured, at the very least, I could entertain myself at O'Hare.

I can't promise to blog, Facebook, or tweet every single day. But I will do my best.

Adh mor!

04 March 2009

Everything Old is New Again!

Today was my first meeting back on the 411 Team for Employee Events & Activities. I was Member of the Year in 2006, but had to leave the team when I was laid off. I just made the application deadline for 2009! WHEW!

It was great to see old friends and new faces. I am really looking forward to all of the events we will do over the year. My only sadness was seeing the people who weren't there because they have been laid off recently.

ML, JD, MD. I missed you!!!