February 14th, 2020 – Day 6: Dublin to The European Continent

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

COFFEE!!! We need coffee.

It’s up well before the chickens and off to the airport. Destination: Germany. One more trip (for me) to Köln (Cologne) to see that huge cathedral. We didn’t sleep much last night.

We are flying the ultra-budget carrier Ryanair over as I got a screaming deal on the flights and it was cheap enough to put up with the no-frills BS – a savings of $200 a seat. Unfortunately it comes with another price for us – getting out of bed at 3:30 in the morning. Honestly, the price of the flights makes it easy to say “yes” if you can travel with a small carry-on bag. For example, I saw flights from DUB to London for 12 euro. That is amazingly cheap.


On the tarmac at Dublin airport and up the stairs! Boarding like this is very common in Europe.

Over here, airplanes are looked upon as a bus with wings and that’s what helps Ryanair succeed. Public transportation is what makes Europe run pretty efficiently. It’s too bad we don’t have more of it in the States. In fact, Ireland is going to ban petrol fuel vehicles in 12 years. That is forward thinking.

We landed at Cologne-Bonn airport and got our train tickets to the city.


Train station in the airport – Bonn, Germany

We got to Köln Hbf and went in to leave our bags. At the train station there is an automated baggage storage- put in €3.00 and your bags whisk away to parts unknown and are stored for two hours so you can walk around unencumbered by luggage.

We stepped outside there was that huge, imposing behemoth in all its dark-stained gothic glory – Cologne Cathedral. I think the girls were quite surprised just how big the building actually is and the look on their faces when we stepped outside said it all.

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The cathedral is still mesmerizing to me. I can’t stop looking at it in amazement and wonder. I just cannot fathom how this was built so long ago without modern methods and tools.

We went into the old market area and I bought frites and a curry wurst for the girls to try. Like the girls said – it’s good but they wouldn’t eat it regularly.



Köln, Germany


Old Market area – Köln, Germany


Old Market area – Köln, Germany

Köln was our entry into the European Continent. After our visit we needed to get train tickets for the next leg of our journey. It was a bit of a challenge but with the help of a nice lady we got it done finally and went to the train platform.

This is probably my final trip to Köln as a destination. I have been here twice now and if I am this way again with someone who wants to see it I would stop again for a quick visit but not on my own. Nothing wrong g with the city – I just want to see other places.

We got on the train and headed north toward our next destination- Amsterdam. It was a 2.5 hour or so ride, with the girls on their own in one car and I was in another due to reserved seating. Once we arrived we took a quick lap a few blocks from Amsterdam Centraal Station to see some sites.


Goes great with a visit to the coffeeshop!


For the meat-loving traveler – Amsterdam, The Netherlands


For another kind of meat-loving traveler – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We then figured out getting transit to our place in the ‘burbs.

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It was such an early morning and busy travel day we were tired so we relaxed for another early morning tomorrow.

Check back!

February 12th, 2020 – Day 4: Dublin, Ireland

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized


Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. The bench on the lower left is actually a sculpture of Jesus as a homeless person sleeping on a bench, complete with crucifixion holes in his feet.


Close-up of sculpture at Christchurch, Dublin, Ireland

When we dropped the car last night we got a bus pass for a RT from the airport and a 48-hour Hop On/Hop Off bus tour around the city. Basically the buses (which operate in many cities around the world) circle in a loop and hit a stop about every 15 minutes. Just as the title says, you can hop on and hop off anywhere along the route for 48 hours after the first use.

We woke up this morning at 10:00 and there was a giant orange ball in the azure blue sky. Finally a good day! I guess we were still a bit jet lagged somewhat but part of the trouble falling asleep may be the excitement. We got ready and hit the bus for a drive around Ireland.

The first part of the tour was recorded. We got on it near our hotel an d went all over the city and saw various sites. It is a great value to get on one of these buses with the access you have to points of interest all over the city.

The big park in Dublin is called Phoenix Park and it is beautiful. It is FIVE times the size of Central Park in NYC. It’s over 1700 acres! It has a polo field, the President’s House and other state buildings, a zoo, hospital and other buildings. It supports 50% of the mammal species in Ireland as well as 40% of the bird species.

We pulled up in front of the bus office and a new driver took the wheel. He did a live narration as he drove us around and it was fun and entertaining. The Spire of Dublin is a huge spire on O’Connell Street – the main street through the city. The tour driver said locals have given it some wonderful names, such as “the Stiffey on the Liffey” (The River Liffey runs through Dublin), “the Stilletto in the Ghetto” and “the Erection at the Intersecrtion”. Apparently some don’t like it.


Spire of Dublin

We hopped off the bus near the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum and walked across the street to see the Irish Famine Memorial. Very haunting statues commemorating the Potato Famine, which killed about half of Ireland’s population and it didn’t get back to the same level for many many years.


EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum – Dublin, Ireland


The Famine Memorial – Dublin, Ireland


The Famine Memorial – Dublin, Ireland


Sailing ship museum on the River Liffey – Dublin Ireland

We headed back toward Temple Bar area and went into The Temple Bar for a pint and picked up a few souvenirs. Temple Bar area is where many famous Irish musicians honed their craft and earning their place in Irish music history.


Chelsea and Angie at The Temple Bar in the Temple Bar area – Dublin, Ireland

When we came out of the bar a guy was coming around the corner up the sidewalk and instead of colliding we hugged and swung around each other. Then the guy behind him, about 6’4″ tall, yells out “I want a hug!” So I said “come on over here!” and we hugged it out and he started jumping up and down like a pogo stick and we were hugging so I did too, my feet off the ground!. We had a great laugh and went on our way. One of those awesome travel memories!

We walked around a little more and I got to see the Rory Gallagher Corner memorial, which was on my list of things to see.


A tribute to a guitar legend – Temple Bar area, Dubin, Ireland

Rory was a legend; an amazing blues guitarist who unfortunately died in 1995. I was lucky enough to see him open for Rush back in the 80s though. Someone once asked Jimi Hendrix what it was like to be the world’s greatest guitar player. He responded “I don’t know…go ask Rory Gallagher.”. That says quite a lot about the man. I like the album “Top Priority” – check it out.

We then went back to our hotel to heat up some of that delicious leftover dinner from last night. We had wanted to go to visit a historic church a few blocks away but didn’t make it in time.

After some dinner Angie and I went out for a walk and Chelsea stayed in to kick back a bit. We wanted to burn off a little energy to hopefully sleep earlier and also grab a few things for breakfast at the local market. Dublin is quite alive at night and is so much fun. So many interesting people to see and things to eat.

While we were out we also walked over to the Phil Lynott statue. Phil was another legendary Irish musician who founded Thin Lizzy. He died in 1986 but in his short time he influenced many musicians. “Emerald” and “The Cowboy Song” are my favorite Thin Lizzy songs.


Phil Lynott statue – Dublin, Ireland


Urban artwork in Dublin, Ireland alley

We grabbed some dinner for Angie and some breakfast groceries then went back to our rental. Tomorrow we move to a different place so we are doing up some laundry and trying to get a little more rest while we can.

More adventures tomorrow! Be here!

February 11th, 2020 – Day 3: Athlone, Ireland to Dublin, Ireland

Adventure, food, Just things, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized


Yes…it means exactly what you think it means

We got up and got packed then went for breakfast across the street at Bastion Kitchen. I had the bap (a sausage sandwich) with coffee and it was so delicious. They topped it with some greens and something I had never had before – a tomato/onion jam that took that sandwich to a whole new level.

After breakfast we went back up to get our bags and we took off again, this time back west to see the Cliffs of Moher. We ran out of time yesterday and we all wanted to see them so off we went!


Driving near ‎⁨Tubber⁩, ⁨Co. Clare⁩, ⁨Ireland⁩

The drive was really interesting and beautiful. Cliot, the name given to our Renault Clio by Chelsea and Angie, barely fit in one lane of the road almost all the way there, and the rest were single lane roads. This car is small and still had to squeeze by more than once.


Roads are not very wide! Notice the sticker on the car dashboard to remind you to drive on the left.


Roads are not very wide!

Driving around Ireland you will see castles literally everywhere.


Castle near ‎⁨Kilfenora⁩, ⁨Co. Clare⁩, ⁨Ireland⁩


‎⁨Castle near Gort⁩, ⁨Co. Galway⁩, ⁨Ireland⁩

Again, the weather has been absolutely horrible and, incredibly, it was even worse at the cliffs in the form of spray and 60 mph winds that almost knocked us over more than once. We were glad we made the drive, though, and walked through the fury. It was a spectacular view and I wish we could’ve hiked up to the highest point but the winds are known to blow people over the edge. Not interested in that.


Chelsea and Angie checking out the view at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland


The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland

We left and went back eastbound to Dublin. On the way we stopped for a break at the Barack Obama Plaza rest stop to stretch and get a few snacks. That was rather interesting to see in the middle of Ireland.

We decided to get a hotel in Temple Bar area for a few nights. Doing this we could do laundry in our rental place and be able to stay put a few nights and get to see everything we want to see.

The other part of the plan was to get rid of Cliot since it had to be returned first thing in the morning anyway. This meant getting it back to the airport, and that meant I had to drive a manual shift, right-hand drive car in the middle of Dublin center city. I dropped the girls off to take stuff up to our room since there was no place to park Cliot. I took off and navigated Dublin traffic solo, wondering how that was a good idea.  Not sure what I was thinking but I found my way back to the hotel and we got to the airport eventually.


Dublin traffic. OMG. It is absolute insanity to drive in and I bet it is about the same even if you know the place and traffic flows and vehicles. I thought Seattle traffic sucked to drive in. I just looked up the population numbers and Dublin has 76% more people by a count done in 2011. I think we saw them all as we drove in the city that night.

Anyhoo, we got a bus back from the airport and went for dinner at The Shack in Temple Bar near our room. I had the Cottage Pie and it was so filling I brought home leftovers. I had more of that delicious black bread with mine and it was the perfect pairing.


The Shack’s Cottage Pie with sourdough – Temple Bar area, Dublin, Ireland

Our rental has a kitchen as well as a washer/dryer combo machine (yes, it does both!). We can heat our leftovers and we went to the store for a few things to eat in and save a few €.

We discovered the laundry machine was really not good – to get things dry it heats up to the temperature of the sun and then runs for 4 hours. I had to just turn it off to stop it – we could not figure out any other way on the controls.

It was a neat place though. The view from the balconies was pretty good.


View of Christchurch from our rental apartment in Temple Bar area – Dublin, Ireland

There was a courtyard with some interesting history down below our balconies. There is a statue standing on top of pipes from a pipe organ coming up out of the ground. The statue has his arms raised with a conductor’s baton. It was to commemorate the place Handel performed his classic “Messiah” in public for the first time.


Courtyard commemorating Handel’s first public performance of “Messiah” – Dublin, Ireland

I found something rather odd in our apartment.


The bathroom fan is on the left. The switch is on the right.

Looks normal, you say? Think again. To turn on the switch you have to stand IN the bathtub! Yes…IN THE BATHTUB! I am pretty certain that doesn’t meet code where I live.

Time for sleep. See you tomorrow!

February 10th, 2020 – Day 2: Galway, Ireland to Athlone, Ireland

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

Wow. What a day.

We got up and around at a leisurely pace this morning after a much-needed night’s sleep. I think we slept about 10-11 hours.

We have encountered some fierce winds, sleet, rain, snow…and no damn sun so far. Not what I need to get over my S. A. D. but if it is gonna be gray and rainy it might as well be REALLY shitty outside.

We dropped off our laundry at the laundrette and then went into downtown Galway to find breakfast. We went to a place called The Caprice Cafe. We all got coffee, local eggs scrambled with some amazing bacon and toast.


Look at that bacon! Breakfast at The Caprice Cafe – Dublin, Ireland

I ended up getting black pudding (blood sausage) so we could try it. We all tried it and the consensus was that it was okay but wouldn’t order it again. Everything else was delicious. The eggs were local organic eggs and they were the best eggs I have ever eaten. I don’t know what they feed the chickens there but the eggs were amazing. The toast I had was made from black bread – a dense, filling delicious bread thick-sliced with Irish butter.

We went walking around to see the city and do a little shopping.


Galway, Ireland

What a fun city to hang out in. We went to see the Galway Cathedral.


Swan on the River Corrib in Galway, Ireland


Galway Cathedral – Galway, Ireland

Then we got back in the car for a drive into the country.

We were off to see the castle where my family originated. I have to admit I got a bit choked up seeing the castle as we drove up, and a little bit more as I walked up to the front gate. It’s where our Irish family heritage began and that is a pretty powerful and emotional thing to think about. We couldn’t go inside since it was closed for the season but we got to get fairly close – up to the front door. It’s a pretty moving experience to visit a place like that and one that everyone should be so lucky to have in their lifetime. I am now that lucky.

It’s also a place where my parents visited many years ago, and the last text I got from my good friend Paul before he died unexpectedly was a picture of this castle telling me all about it. This place really has a lot of meaning to me.

Aughnanure Castle – Oughterard, Ireland

We left there and headed east for our next night’s stay at The Bastion B&B in a town called Athlone.

One reason for going to Athlone was to visit the oldest bar in Ireland – Sean’s Bar. It was so much fun. We stopped by to see it and decided to go find food before the pints started tipping.


Athlone, Ireland


Sean’s Bar – Athlone, Ireland

We ended up at The Snug for a starter pint and some pizzas from Pavarotti’s Pizza next door. We had seats by a peat fireplace and it was a very cozy place. They had something I had heard of previously and wanted to try called poitín – Irish moonshine (pronounced “po-tcheen”). Our publican there, Pat, gave me a small taste after warning me.


Inside The Snug – Athlone, Ireland

I now know what they have done with leftover napalm. That poitín was the harshest thing I have ever drank and burned oh-so badly. I tried to wash it down with a Guinness but it did little to put out the fire in my throat and stomach. Luckily the pizzas showed up to help but the moonshine had cauterized my tastebuds. What I could taste was delicious though!

We left and went back to Sean’s and kicked the evening into overdrive. Several pints later two musicians named Jim and Mick rolled in and the night got even better. We were sitting right next to them and we all had a great time.


Jim and Mick at Sean’s Bar – Athlone, Ireland

Another thing we did there at Sean’s was to add an old Kansas license plate to the collection on their wall with all of our names on it. This was to honor my dad and his love of Ireland.

We eventually managed to get back to our BnB and went to sleep.

It was a great day.

February 8th/9th, 2020 – Day 1: Flights Over and Arrival!

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized


Yeah there is!!!

After a very sleepless night (go figure!) we left KC early this morning and flew to Atlanta. Atlanta is a five hour layover so we will need to find something to occupy that time. First Class, a couple of cocktails, and we are on our way in grand fashion!

I finally decided to just stay up all night. I am trying to adjust my schedule to get in sync with where we will end up. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and figured it was breakfast again when I woke up.

The guy sitting next to me showed up fairly late and we chatted a few minutes about destinations. He was a really nice guy and asked where we’re headed so I told him our plans. He said it sounded like a great trip. We then put on our headphones and watched some TV. It was a fairly short flight so I got about a 20-minute nap.

I got coherent again after my nap and ordered another drink. I looked over and noticed a big ring on the finger of my seatmate. It sure looked like a Super Bowl ring but my eyes were so tired I couldn’t focus on it completely.

We were preparing to land and he asked me “You watch much football?”. I said “a little” and he then proceeded to introduce himself as we shook hands. “My name is Willie Lanier and I was on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Team.”. My jaw hit the floor and I looked at Chelsea and Angie and mouthed the words “Holy shit!”. It really WAS a Super Bowl ring! He had been in KC for the parade. We talked until we deplaned. He was an incredibly nice man. He told us to enjoy and have fun on our trip. We shook hands again as we got up to leave.


That’s Willie Lanier by the window!

I seem to have this uncanny knack of running into people I may know personally or a few celebrities in the most unusual places. For instance, I once ran into long-time family friends from Kansas at Little Big Horn of all places.

We got on the train in ATL to go find food. We found a place that had delicious wraps and sat and watched planes while eating. We got back on the train to get to our gate. Lo and behold…ANOTHER celebrity looked to be standing right behind Angie. I believe it was Oliver North.


Oliver North on the airport train in Atlanta airport; he’s in the blue suit partially covered and not the one in red pants

The next leg of our journey takes us from Atlanta to NYC and from First Class back to Coach. This is a shorter layover (thankfully).

Then there was a problem. The last of the flights over had a few issues. I had received an email from Delta just as we got on the plane out of ATL saying our last flight over was delayed three hours. This means getting to our first destination close to noon. It also meant having to change plans and miss out on seeing stuff the first half of our first day. And the other flights they offered were ON SUNDAY!

Well that was absolutely unacceptable. We have used a day for all of the travel and an overnight flight across (hence the dates in the title of this post). We are NOT going to lose an other day or even a few hours.

To make a long story short, I raised absolute hell with Delta and got us on another flight with Aer Lingus. Our original flight had issues due to the weather and it caused many people to reroute. This meant we each had a row to ourselves on the flight over! We actually got in over an hour before our original flight so we hit the ground running…in Dublin, Ireland!

The first order of business after landing and going through Customs is finding our rental car place. Yes, we are renting a car and none of us have driven in Europe. That means that none of us have driven on the opposite side of the road intentionally.

From the pictures of our car it looked to be about the size of a shoe. Turns out it was a little bigger – more like a boot. Good thing we are traveling light!

At the car rental booth we were told the weather was really bad and to be careful. Major storms were going through and it was not looking good. So much for an escape to better weather. We arrived in Dublin and the weather was horrendous so we figured we knew what to expect. The winds were ferocious when landing and it was raining torrentially hard.


Our transportation – the Clio

We got in the car, a Peugeot Clio with a manual transmission, and took off into Dublin airport traffic. I was chosen to drive first by a majority vote. It’s really not difficult driving a right-hand drive car. The difficulty comes in driving on the other side of the road and your reflexes in an emergency.


It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick


It’s green, all right! Along the M7 on our way to Galway, Ireland via Limerick

We drove southwest toward Limerick then northwest through Shannon. Along the way we saw a castle on the side of the road so we stopped for a look.

It was the Bunratty Castle. We did not go in since were were trying to get to our destination, but we stopped for a look.


Thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland


Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland


Bunratty Castle near Shannon, Ireland

We then took off to Galway where we stayed at The Western. We got cleaned up and relaxed a few then went to find good. Just down the street was a pub we went to called McGettigan’s and had dinner, where we tried fries that had been cooked in duck fat. Oh man. It went great with the obligatory pint. Then we went for a short walk. We were not only beyond exhausted but the weather was, as they say in Ireland, shite.


The Western Hotel in Galway, Ireland

Yeah, I was wanting better weather but it is far from that. We are well-prepared for the conditions and are staying warm and dry. Then again, we are on vacation…IN IRELAND! Small price to pay!

We were jet-lagged badly and fell asleep about 8:30. Sleep was going to be good.

Until tomorrow…