stevenpiziks: (Default)
Darwin and I are going to Ireland.  Yay!

We've been talking about it for a long time.  I love Ireland and have visited before.  Darwin has always wanted to go.  He was uncertain about going this summer, and I pointed out that for the first time in years, I'm not under contract this summer, meaning I can go without worrying about a writing deadline.  So he decided it would be a good idea.

The first part was settling on a date.  After some finagling, we choose the second and third weeks of August.  And then when we had the dates all set, I played with the ticket buying program and discovered if we stayed one more day, the plane ticket prices dropped by over $200 each.  That would more than pay for an extra night in Dublin, so we happily extended the trip.

Then we had to figure out where to stay.  After more finagling and discussion, we decided to do what I did last time--spend a few days in Dublin, move to a rural cottage for several days, and then come back to Dublin for the end.  In fact, I discovered the same cottage I stayed before at was available!  Clonleason Gate Lodge  is an easily driveable distance from several archaeological sites we want to see, and there's a bog and a ruined castle nearby, so it's a perfect place for us.  We booked it.

And we ran into problems with finding places to stay in Dublin.  Man!

Darwin and I don't like hotels much.  (Who does, right?)  They're sterile, the amenities are limited, they're small, and if you're tired and just want to hang out for part of a day, you feel foolish sitting in a hotel room to do it.  That's why we like renting cottages or flats.  You have all the amenities of home, you have more space, and if you want to zone out for a day, you feel like you're doing it in your own living room. 

Like a lot of people, we use Airbnb to book places and have had wonderful results in the past.  This time, though, the places that turned up were too expensive or badly located.  When we were looking for a place to stay at our arrival, two times we tried to book places and the host turned the booking down, once because the host said she was looking for people to stay for at least a week, and another who just didn't answer.  At last we managed to find a nice flat.

But the REAL challenge was for the few days before we left.  We needed a place Friday through Monday, and the number of places dwindled sharply, or were REALLY expensive.  In the end, we gritted our teeth and booked a place that was quite a distance from the center of the city and still more than we wanted to pay.

And then . . .

I was surfing around the web site for Trinity College.  TC houses the Book of Kells, which we'll want to see, and I wanted to find out what the College's museum hours were.  Quite by accident, I discovered Trinity College rents out its student rooms and apartments during the summer. (!)  The location would be perfect, of course, and the prices were startlingly low.  In fact, booking a two-person apartment for three nights would cost about $200 less than the flat we'd found, and several hundred less than any hotel.

I canceled the flat and booked the flat at Trinity.  My only regret is that there wasn't an apartment available for when we arrived--they only had rooms with a single bed.

So now we just need to rent a car!

stevenpiziks: (Light)
I've been pointed toward a wonderful photo of the tomb at Newgrange, taken at sunrise today:

Photo behind the cut )
It even looks like there's a spirit there, though it's a ghost image caused when a researcher got in the way of the time-lapse camera.

stevenpiziks: (Default)
Temple Bar is a district in Dublin ("bar" as in "sand bar," not "pub").  It's near the spot where the Vikings first landed in Dublin around 800 CE, and it's one of the oldest sections of Dublin.  As a city, Dublin dates back to the Bronze Age, possibly to the Stone Age, so that's saying a lot.  In recent history, Temple Bar fell into disrepute.  It turned poor, then it turned crappy, then it turned dangerous.  Then artists and craftspeople started moving in because the rent was cheap.  A bit of gentrification started up.  Craft shops and art galleries opened like shy flowers.  Tourists started to wander in.  In the 70s, the government, in the wisdom of governments everywhere, decided to demolish the recovering Temple Bar district and replace it with a central bus station and other government buildings.

A hue and cry went up.  People protested mightily, the government looked a little closer, and saw that actual big money was to be had. 
stevenpiziks: (Default)
Shauna tried to post this here, but LiveJournal wouldn't allow it.  I'll try:
Hi Steven- this is a story from Irish Abroad and is right up your  alley. Enjoy! Shauna

Me, I wonder if the stone at Tara roared for him.
stevenpiziks: (Fountain)
We have photos of Ireland!  I set a bunch up at Flickr.  If you want to see them, click here.
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)


Got up at 5:00 for a 9:30 flight.  Gah!  Showered quickly, finished packing, and ate a breakfast of tea and rolls I’d bought yesterday.  Brought everything downstairs and found Alan still working.  He was on a twelve-hour shift.  Checked out, bid Alan good-bye (“Cheers!” he said), and headed out.

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)

Slept in and took a long shower when I got up.  This wasn’t a luxury available to me in the cottage.  The hot water there was supposed to be on-demand, but what that meant was you switched on the little hot water heater a few minutes before you wanted hot water.  It always ran out during a shower, so I couldn’t take long.  In the hotel, though, I could take as long as I liked.  V. nice.

Had the carrot cake, a banana, and tea for breakfast in my room, then went out.  First thing I did was make sure I knew where the shuttle bus for the airport left from.  Discovered it’s about a ten-minute walk from the hotel, and the spot is near the Spire, so it’s easy to find.  So I’m all set for tomorrow.

Also stopped in at a shop and bought myself a keychain with a tri-fold Celtic design on it and a tea mug with a spiral painted on it.  My only souvenirs besides pictures.

Then I headed down to the Dublinia Museum and Christchurch Cathedral.

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)


Woke early, ate a simple breakfast, and finished packing.  I was nervous about the drive into Dublin.  Didn’t help that it was raining hard.

Finished cleaning the cottage.  Not that I was dusting and vacuuming.  I threw away my leftover food, bundled up the towels in the bathroom, that sort of thing.  Got everything into the car by 8:30 as planned.  Dropped the cottage keys into the mail slot at the main house, and drove off.

The drive to Dublin was fine.  The drive within Dublin was terror.

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)


I wrote today.  It was neat!  I wrote a long section of a short story and made some notes for a novel in my Irish cottage.  How cool was that?  I also watched a couple videos.  I’m on vacation, after all.

I went on a long, long bike ride.  There’s a bike path--actually, it’s a section of road with arrows pointing the way--called the Tain Trail.  I discovered it a couple days ago on a drive elsewhere, and followed up on it today.  It was a very nice ride through fantastic Irish countryside.  I found a couple historical markers that made no sense to me whatsoever, but I read them anyway.

I also took a set of pictures of the NO PYLONS signs. 
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)

Hmmm . . . it rained all day today.  I’d thought about trying to go horseback riding, but it’s been miserable out.  I ate a leisurely breakfast, then puttered around some more and wrote a bit.  (I was writing in my cottage in Ireland!)  The rain continued to fall, a nasty, driving rain that I just didn’t want to brave.  Besides, I’d really seen just about everything I wanted to see around here.  The only exception is Four Knocks, another set of passage tombs.  But Four Knocks is on private land.  It isn’t hard to get permission--you just knock on the landowner’s door and they’re happy to let you have the key--but the directions to get there are complicated, and I just didn’t feel up to searching for the place, especially since it’s way out in the middle of nowhere.

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
Slowly sorting everything out fromthe trip.  The new picture for the Ireland entries, incidentally, is from Loughcrew.  It's what a collapsed tomb looks like from above.  I was standing on top of Cairn T when I took it.


I declared Wednesday a day off from siteseeing.  This turned out to be a good idea.  It was raining terribly when I woke up, a nasty, driving rain.

Took a hot shower, made breakfast (cereal and eggs), then ran a couple errands.  First, I needed to do some laundry.  There’s a laundry in Athboy, one of the many low, stone buildings downtown.  It’s called the Washboard, and I remembered seeing it many times on my way through town.  I put my laundry in the shoulder bag I’d bought in Dublin and headed off.
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
I heaved a fast right and followed the usual narrow, hedge-lined road.  This one was also steep, steep, steep.  I found myself in an empty car park at the top of the hill.  A low stone wall with an iron gate in it stood guard.  Past the gate was a wide, green field of grass.  In the middle of the field sat a pairs of ruined stone buildings.  One of the buildings was surrounded by a graveyard.
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
I'm splitting this one in half because it's so long.


This is weird, but I’m actually feeling ready to go home.  It’s because everything is so unfamiliar and I’m alone.  I don’t even have Internet access, so I can’t check e-mail or my blog.  I like being here; I just wish everything weren’t a challenge.  Though compared to being in Ukraine, everything here is a breeze.  I speak and read the local language, understand the money, and know how to shop perfectly well.  Getting around is the difficult part.

Ireland has public transportation, but it’s pretty much confined to large cities.  I asked Siobhan about trains to Quin, where there’s a bunch of prehistoric stuff I wanted to visit, and she said they aren’t any that she knew of, though there are some buses.  On the radio, I head a talk show about cars and the environment, and one of the speakers pointed out that Ireland is second only to America in dependence on the automobile.  So outside of Dublin, it’s drive or stay home.  That’s what’s a bit difficult.  Driving is a challenge, a scary challenge.  Every time I go around a curve and find a car coming toward me, it looks to me like I’m in the wrong lane and I’m about to get into an accident.  An automatic jolt of panic hits me, and I have to forcibly remind myself of two things: 1) that I’m not going to get hit, and 2) to stay in my current lane and not swerve into the other one.  In cities, it’s worse.  Trying to negotiate turns is really hard because everything is screwed up for me.  If I want to turn right, I have to cross the intersection and pull into what twenty-five years of driving instinct tells me is patently the wrong lane going the wrong way.  When it’s a busy intersection, there’s no time to think or figure things out, so I often make a wrong turn.  It’s a difficult, nervous business, and the stress tires me out.

Today, I decided to go back to Knowth.  I didn’t feel the need to see Newgrange again, but I did want to look at Knowth a second time.  Later, I was glad I did.
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
My mother won't like this entry very much . . .


I was up too late organizing my notes, dowloading photos, and writing in my journal, so I slept way, way in.  Finally got up at 9:30, made a big breakfast, and puttered around the cottage.  I finally realized I was stalling going anywhere because I just don’t like driving around Ireland.  The whole driving on the left side thing makes me unhappy, and it’s so very easy to get lost.  Sternly told myself to quit being a baby and get moving.

Up today was Trim, or “Troim,” if you speak Gaelic, and the Bective Abbey.
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
This entry runs a little long, but stay with it--it's worth it.  This one details a very strange event, and you really have to read it.


Today I slept way in, the first time I’d done so, really.  Every other day was so filled with Things To Do, sleep was a low priority, and the lack was catching up with me.  In any case, Loughcrew was on my itinerary for today, and the site doesn’t open until noon on Sundays, so there was no hurry.

And, just to let you know, something very strange happened when I got there.
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
I'm in Dublin again, here until Monday morning.  It was an awful drive, let me tell you!  I made it safely, but only barely, and I was thoroughly relieved to get rid of my car.  Now I'm safely ensconced in the Eliza Lodge hotel.  More on this part later.  Here's some more journal.  Once I get home, by the way, I'll be able to get some pictures loaded.

Some of my journal gets into mysticism.  For those of you who don't like it or who don't believe in it, I've put labels where that sort of thing begins and ends so you can skip over that sort of thing.


Woke up early because someone’s car alarm down below was going off.  I inserted my ear plugs and went back to sleep.  Note to self: ear plugs drown out the alarm of the traveling alarm clock.  Woke up half an hour late.  Oops!

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)


Got up at 7:30. Why? Because I wanted to hit a day tour. A company I found runs tours that take you to various places for a reasonable fee. One is called the Celtic Tour, and they take you to several lesser-known sites north of Dublin. They leave the Tourist Information Centre on Suffolk Street at 9:00, and it’s about a 15- minute walk.

I ate a full Irish breakfast in the hotel’s sunny breakfast room. This meant I had a very strange sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, beans, bacon, ham, and tea. Very filling. Then I headed off. Got turned around once, but finally arrived at the Centre by 8:50. The Centre used to be St. Andrews Church, a large stone cathedral-type affair, and it looks like one on the outside. Inside, it’s a souvenir shop and ticket stand for various tours. The tour I wanted always sends a bus to wait outside. I didn’t see the right bus. By 9:10, I still hadn’t seen it. I had the phone number of the tour group, so I called them and learned the Celtic Tour had left because it had filled up. Crap! The Newgrange/Knowth Tour bus, however, would be arriving at 11:00. Did I want to book a seat?

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
I'm in the library in Athboy.  Athboy is a small village not far from the cottage where I'm staying.  The teeny-tiny library has ancient computers with brand-new monitors and a very friendly librarian.

Anyway, I'm going to post my Ireland journal in pieces.  If I post everything at once, it'll be too long to read easily.

Incidentally, it rained all day yesterday and all day today so far.  It's supposed to clear a bit tonight and tomorrow.  Sheesh.  The locals tell me this much rain is unusual, even for Ireland.

Now to the journal.


Arrived in Ireland safely, but without Corey. This is a major disappointment. I really wanted to play my harp in Ireland. But the check-in worker said there was a $150 surcharge no matter what, and that was it. I couldn’t justify the expense, so I called Kala and she came to take him home. I was very upset.

On the other hand, I didn’t have to worry about the logistics of hauling a large, 45-pound harp case through the Dublin airport and to my hotel.

Both my flights went without a hitch and we landed in Dublin right on time. Delta is so much more reliable than Northwest Air, and I’m glad I paid the extra $100 to fly with them. My seat-mates during the Atlanta-Dublin leg of the flight were doing a tour of southern Ireland, and we talked a little about why we were going. They were impressed that a Real Live Author was sitting on the plane with them. :)


Jun. 30th, 2008 03:12 pm
stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
Okay, I'm in an Internet cafe in Trim.  I don't have wifi or other Internet access at the cottage, so I'm basically off-line most of the time.  Short version for the moment:

--driving on the left side is nerve-wracking, especially when you're driving curving roads bordered by hedges and you can't see what's coming at you

--So far I've visited lots of places in Dublin (including the Book of Kells and the Long Room), Newgrange, Knowth, Loughcrew, a ruined castle whose name I keep forgetting, two graveyards, and Trim Castle. 

--I have a bicycle!  This is a majorly cool development, since I can ride around the Irish countryside.

--I've taken something like 800 pictures and short videos so far, and it's only Monday.

--I don't want to live in Ireland.  It's high summer here, and the weather hasn't once gotten above 62.  Twice I've lit fires in the fireplace to warm the living room.  That said, I have to say the countryside is the most beautiful I've ever seen anywhere.  (Sorry, Michigan.)

--Never seen so many redheads in my entire life.

Now I'm heading off to see the Bective Abbey, another ruin.

stevenpiziks: (Ireland)
I've arrived in Dublin.  No joy with the harp.  :(  Baggage person said it was $150 surcharge.  End of story.  I was forced to leave Corey behind.

However, I didn't have to carry him through the airports or through the streets of Dublin, either.  And I'm probably going to buy a few small (inexpensive) musical instruments I already know how to play.

Already gone on a bus tour of Dublin.  Now I'm off to get a (very) late lunch and do some more sightseeing.  Full details later, when I have more time to write.


stevenpiziks: (Default)

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