Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ireland 2008

Video is from 2008 when the five of us took a wonderful 10 day trip to Ireland.
We spent a couple days in Dublin before joining a group to do a large loop of Ireland.  We stayed in Dun Laoghaire at the grand old Marine Hotel, we found this hotel quite by random internet search and what a special place.

 We arrived very early after coffee & tea in the lobby we walked into town for lunch.  Later that night we traveled into Dublin on the DART and did the Literary Pub Crawl actors stop along the walk acting out pieces from famous Irish novels.  We all highly recommend it if you get the chance to do it.

The following day we walked all along the Dublin Harbor with a temp of 65 we were surprised to see a number of swimmers in the Irish Sea.  Taking the DART back into Dublin we toured Trinity College and then took a walking history tour with one of the students.

Lunch at "Leo Burdock's" was a highlight, we got our fish and chips then walked over to Christ Church garden area to eat.  We then moved to the Mount Herbert Hotel in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin where we would join our group tour.  After meeting up with them we toured Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park, and the Guinness Factory. 
 After dinner at Bellamy's Pub we walked around the Ballsbridge area past the US Embassy and a concert Hall where Mark Knopfler was performing.......boy we wish we had known that sooner.  Waking early we traveled from Dublin south through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendolough Monastic site connected to St. Kevin of Glendolough who was born in the 6th century.

We then traveled south through Enniscorthy and on to Waterford where we stayed for the night.  We toured the Waterford Factory, having a fascination with glass making I loved this tour.

We left Waterford heading southwest driving along the coast we stopped at The Castle Country House in Dungarvan for tea and scones.  After  relaxing with our tea we wandered through the gardens and around the farm, a really lovely spot.  When you sign up for a tour you look for the tour that covers the majority of the things you want to do and there are always things on the tour that wouldn't have been our your list either because you just didn't think about it or you weren't really interested in it.  I have to say I wouldn't have thought about just stopping for tea and scones, we would have missed a really nice visit in the country.  As we travel we find when we get home some of the most memorable moments are when we are just visiting with the people.  As we go through our photos they are also some of our favorite pictures.

We traveled on through Youghal a fishing village famous for the filming of "Moby Dick", on through Cork and then arriving at Blarney Castle for the obligatory "kissing of the stone" after the climb to the top.

What had been a bit of a cloudy day became a rainy day rather quickly and as we got to the Castle it was a driving rain.  Not deterred we climbed to the top to explore every nook and cranny of the place.  Although you have the tourist hype of the Blarney Stone it is a unique place to climb through and imagine how it must have been so long ago.

We left the Castle happy to be in a warm vehicle and drove on to Killarney where we would stay for a few days.  We spent the following day driving the Ring of Kerry, a circular drive famous for its landscapes.  The coastal scenery from Dingle Bay, the Atlantic and the Kenmare River along with the Mountainous scape's are breathtaking.
We stopped along the way for coffee, photo stops, and a quick climb at some spots.

When you see the sheep coming up the road at your vehicle like this you have to think this is a set up for the tourist industry but no that is the Shepard there just moving his flock.  We had this happen several times throughout Ireland and it brought excitement every time from all of us.  The sheep are so fun to watch and certainly move at their own pace.
At the end of each day we enjoyed Irish music in the local pubs which were all warm, cozy & had good food.  We left Killarney early and traveled north taking a ferry across the River Shannon heading up to the Cliffs of Moher.  

looking north

looking south
Notice the sheep in the grassy area in the distance.

Galway Bay we then arrived in Galway staying at another grand old hotel right on Eyre Square.  Hotel Meyrick was built in 1845 and has been preserved with such care but yet with modern ammenities.  We toured Galway on our own seeing Galway Cathedral, walking along River Corrib, and seeing their newest Naval Ship (they only had 6 ships we were told).  Galway being a college town was very active.
We drove on through Connemara famous for its marble, stopped at Celtic Crystal, had lunch in Ballina, County Mayo (a lot of our ancestors were from this area) arriving at "The Downhill Hotel" along the river Moy.  Spectacular location with fly fisherman in the river, a wedding taking place and picture perfect weather.

 We then traveled on now headed southeast across Ireland back toward Dublin stopping at  Strokestown Park House in County Roscommon, to visit the home, the Famine Museum and the beautiful gardens.  The home was built in the late 17th century and it is as if they just closed the doors and left the home as it was when the last of the family lived there.
Strokestown Park House

We arrived just north of Dublin for our last night in Ireland staying in Malahide at the "Grand Hotel".  We went into Howth for a traditional Irish music and dinner show.  Having got to know some of the others on our tour it was fun to laugh and have a good time with them.  We said goodbye to our tour guide Frank Foster with CIE Tours who did a spectacular job the whole trip.  If you want to visit Ireland and do a tour we highly recommend CIE Tours.  I had gone back and forth trying to decide if we wanted to rent a car and do this on our own or tour.  We made the right choice wanting to see as much as possible the tour makes sure you get to see everything you want to see.  We enjoyed the few days before the tour on our own in Dublin and then joining the tour worked well for us.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Football Frenzy

 Fall for us brings lots of football and this year even more.  We have season tickets to Penn State Football so that involves some tailgating, 6-7 Saturdays starting with Labor Day weekend going through mid November.  Then Jim has been the team Doctor for the local high school for 28 years, so that involves Friday nights until November.  This year the team is once again in playoffs for districts so the season extends we hope till December.  The excitement of a team doing well is fun to be around and so far we have had some wonderful weather for it

First week of districts found us at Penn Argyl High School in Penn Argyl having never been there before we were surprised to see it located in the Poconos.  North Schuylkill must be about as far west as you can go and Penn Argyl as far east in District XI.  Perfect day for a football game and North Schuylkill came out the winner and moves on to play for the district title this Saturday with Northern Lehigh.

The Medical team Jim, Amanda & Joe Halko.
What a great setting for a field looking up at these rocks, they must have had some amazing fall colors.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mount Nittany State College

 With Jim scheduled for Continuing Ed meetings in State College I decided to tag along and hike Mount Nittany.  We drove out late Thurs. after a busy week, Jim's meetings started early so I headed off to breakfast at "The Waffle Shop"   The waffles are so light I ate every morsel, with a cup of Earl Grey tea and I was ready for my hike.  I drove through campus stopping to take a photo of the Nittany Lion Shrine, then over to hike Mount Nittany.

 I needed to be about 2 weeks earlier to see the fall foliage, but the weather for November was perfect.  The trail to the Mike Lynch Overlook is only .7 miles but it is 600 vertical feet up the western slope.  Once up there the rest of the trails are more rolling and fluctuate between 1,840 feet and 2,040 feet.

Mount Nittany

Looking at Beaver Stadium from Mike Lynch Overlook:

Boalsburg Overlook

Jim and I then visited with Bob and Dorothy Kelly at their new home in State College.  Bob and Jim's dad are first cousins, he and Dorothy moved from Girardville out to Centre County 3 years ago.  After reminiscing with them we drove home stopping at one of our all time favorite spots "The New Berlin Inn"  for a great dinner in a beautiful setting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Penn State vs Northwestern game

A little cold but a great day at Penn State with Mallory & Nick---visiting campus, Penn State/Northwestern game and another great meal at Spats.
The day started before sunrise to get to State College in time for Mallory to meet the Art Department at Penn State, definitely a program on the top of her short list for her Masters in Art Education.  With still other contenders we'll see where she ends up but this one definitely was more than we expected.  We knew it was a good program but after visiting realize it is far more than that.  We enjoyed dinner at Spats one of our favorites and then made the late night drive home, making a relaxing Sunday feel perfect. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Boston Weekend October 2010

 A few days in Boston with Alyson our oldest who is attending Boston College getting her MBA.  We had a great stay at the Fairmont Copley Hotel centrally located which made it easy for getting around the city.  We really enjoyed "Catie Copley" the hotel dog who really resembled our "Daphne", she hung out in the hotel lobby most days and received a ton of attention from every passerby.  Our first evening we enjoyed a great dinner at "City Girl Cafe" in Cambridge.   Fettuccine prosciutto & peas with the lemon shallot cream sauce was wonderful followed by Pumpkin bread and vanilla ice cream panini.  We each ordered something different and no one was disappointed.
The next day we went down to Faneuil Hall area for lunch at "Ned Devine's", the award winning "Chawda" was amazing.  It was a cold windy day which made it the perfect lunch.

We then walked through the farmers market, over to little Italy and then to Old North Church.  What a great neighborhood filled with fabulous bakeries, cafes and eateries.

We took the T out to Boston College to walk around the campus & visit the bookstore.  We needed to get some sweatshirts as the weather had gotten considerably colder and we were planning on the Boston College/University of Maryland football game the next day.   Alyson outside the MBA building where she spends most of her class time.

Friday night we ate dinner at "Skipjacks" a restaurant just a block from our hotel by Copley square, we didn't have reservations ahead of time so luckily the concierge was able to get us in.

Game day started with breakfast at "Zaftigs"
huge, yummy portions in a buzzing atmosphere.  My Challah French Toast was amazing, a slight crunchy outside with soft bread on the inside.  The others had Empire Eggs-(poached eggs, spinach, salmon on potato pancakes with Hollendaise) and also a Macintosh apple & Cheddar omelet.


After a beautiful day of weather and a loss to the Terrapins we had dinner at a Thai Restaurant "Bamboo" near Alyson's apartment.  We had eaten there the weekend she moved in and once again the food & service was great.  They do a great presentation with the "flower" vegetables and we enjoy the serenity of the Red Lion Fish swimming by our table.

Sunday morning brought us taking it easy, after a nice walk up Newbury Street Jim and I got breakfast at "Trident Booksellers and Cafe".  Despite being a busy time the service was terrific, we had a delightful breakfast in the best setting.........books, coffee, tea, breakfast........we're happy.   We walked the neighborhood, did some shopping stopped for a drink mid afternoon at "The Oak Bar" and to our surprise the garnish gave us a good laugh:

Being from Pennsylvania we should have thought of a pretzel as a garnish!
 We wound our trip up with dinner at "The Union Oyster House" having been there many years ago we wanted to go back for the seafood, great service and the atmosphere you get from such an old building.  The building is more than 250 years old, it has a unique semicircular oyster bar, and wood work throughout the sprawling restaurant rarely seen anymore.