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The Luck of the Irish

Nelly's Blessing May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

Trinity and I are in Ireland. It's been an interesting trip so far. Ireland is a beautiful country and I hope to get back here and explore some more. We (meaning I) didn't plan this trip very well though so we ended up spending a lot of our time on a bus traveling from town to town. I assure you that this IS NOT the optimal way to see Ireland. There are so many places that I would have loved to have stopped and spent a little time to explore and others that I wish we had not spent quite so much time in.


My advice....RENT A CAR! Get over the fact that they drive on the 'wrong' side of the road and the fact that you may die on the narrow roads with cliffs on either side of you and simply DRIVE! A lesson learned for me.

The land is so lush and green. Green beyond any green I have ever experienced. When the sun comes out it's nearly like being in the Land of OZ (from the Wizard of OZ; not Down Under).

We started our trip by landing in the worlds smallest airport in Kerry Ireland. I really mean this....I have seen some small airports but this one is by far the smallest! Three buses and several hours later; we finally arrived at the Dingle Gate Hostel for a two night stay. We were told to just tell the driver to drop us at Dingle Gate Hostel which we did with fingers crossed.

We hadn't seen the glimpse of a real town in quite a while and I was a bit fearful of what we had gotten ourselves into when the bus driver pulled to the side of the road with nothing in sight and announced 'Dingle Gate Hostel'.


We stepped off the bus and grabbed our bags and glimpsed the hostel just down a short lane. As we walked up to the hostel, a short bearded Irishman slide out from under a van marked Dingle Gate Hostel. His hands coated in grease and a mumbling of something not working and parts needed. I was having a difficult time understanding the thick Irish accent. Turns out that this was our host; Brian.

Brian promptly showed us to our room and gave us the key. We asked to be taken to Annascaul to pick up some food for our hostel stay and some dinner at a local place. Although I felt a little imposing, he loaded us into his beat up personal vehicle with fliers on the floorboard in the front seat and a baby seat in the back and dropped us off at a local pub for dinner. We were instructed to call when we were ready to return and realized during our dinner that we didn't have a working phone. It only took a few short minutes to get into town from the hostel; so we decided to walk back.

Our walk back to the hostel was longer than we thought. It took about 15-20 minutes to walk along the narrow road with no brim or sidewalk for most of it. It was a little scary with the cars careening around curves and speeding past. We stopped along the way to take a few picture of the sheep and countryside.

Now, I knew that this place was out of town....I just didn't realize how far out of town! Initially I thought that we could rent bikes and ride to the closest town (about 2km away). Then catch the bus to Dingle Town whenever we liked. The reality was that there are only 2 buses a day from Annascaul to Dingle Town and unless you don't value your life, biking is not an option (this leaned from the earlier walk)!

On our first night; we met one of the residents at the hostel, named Rhonan (sp?). He was cooking a wonderful smelling meal in the hostel kitchen and hanging in the common room alone. We struck up conversation and ended up getting beaten pretty badly at Monopoly by him. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to suffer through the end of the game because he had to leave to pick up a friend, Nile that was also staying at Dingle Gate. Both Nile and Rhonan are from Northern Ireland and are working in one of the restaurants in Dingle Town.

The next morning...well, actually late morning; we made our way to Dingle Town. We were too late in the day for most of the tours so we ended up taking a one hour harbor tour to see Fungi the local dolphin. I really wanted to get our on the water and see the town looking in; but really had mixed feelings about taking a tour to 'stalk' the dolphin. I was right...there were times on the tour that I felt like we (along with several other boats) were crowding in on Fungi and being a nuisance. Trinity and I tasted our first-ever deep fried candy bar...we choose a Mars Bar. A little much for me....

We ended up having a lovely visit and got to see most everything that we had planned; including a lovely surprise that we hadn't planed; thanks to Brian. A wonderful walk to a pristine lake and up to the waterfall that fed it. Nothing like hiking up the Irish mountainside! Our 'Luck of the Irish' hit when attempting to get a picture of Trinity at the waterfall. She stepped onto a moss covered rock and landed on both knees; banging up one pretty good. No one ever told me that the 'luck of the Irish' wasn't always good...


The rest of our down-time at Dingle Gate was spent with me getting beaten at pool and alternately; ping pong. Trinity spared no mercy!

On leaving our home away from home; it was another day of buses. We stood outside the hostel 'watching for the bus' for nearly an hour. It felt quite odd standing on the side of the road waiting to flag down the bus as it passed, especially knowing that if we missed it; there wouldn't be another for several hours. It turned out ok and we made the bus. Two transfers later and we arrived in Cork. At our stop for our second transfer; the 'luck of the Irish' hit again. As I stepped off the bus with my backpack on, I slipped on the steps and twisted my back. This really scared me; all I could think is that this might be the end of my traveling...I know, pretty lame to think of traveling and not work but I got my annual social security summary about a month ago and I will be pretty well taken care of if I should become 'disabled'. ;o)

As if we hadn't already had enough of buses; we decided to take a bus tour with Paddywagon Tours the following day to see the Cliffs of Mohr, Burren & Bunratty Castle. It was a fair day and I'm glad that we did the tour but I am SICK of buses! I don't know if it was the fact that I had already been on buses too much or if it was the tour itself, but I wasn't very impressed with the tour. I felt that we could have spent more time in some places and less in others. When we stopped at Bunratty Castle, we were given a short 30 minutes. Instead of exploring the castle and re-created town (which would have been interesting), Trinity and I decided to have an Irish Coffee at Durty Nellys next door. Durty Nellys was a quaint little Irish Pub with great atmosphere and strong drinks. I strongly recommend a stop here for a pint or grub.


Initially, we planned for 4 nights in Cork but realized that we needed to get back closer to the airport for our departure flight. We canceled the last day in Cork and booked a day in Killarney; just a short trip from the airport. We have two full days in Cork one of which was consumed by the bus tour to Mohr and today; which I feel we are attempting to recuperate from all the bus riding!


To be continued.....

Day two in Cork turned out to be quite disappointing. The highlight being a stop at Lush for some new products. Yes, I am addicted to Lush! Being a Sunday, most everything was closed in Cork and we ended up spending much of the day back at the hostel online playing with photos and being bored.

We arrived in Killarney and I was nearly pissed....THIS is where we should have stayed for the trip. It's very centrally located to all of the sights of the Ring of Kerry. Neptune's Hostel was very inviting (even if the beds were hard). The staff friendly and all the amenities needed; including reasonably priced day-tours. I may have to return...

Only two short days and my baby girl goes home to the states and my friends Teresa and Jeni arrive for a visit...https://www.travellerspoint.com/my_blogeditentry.cfm?blogid=17181&entryid=212202.it's going to be fun!

More Kilarney Photos
More Cork Photos
More Dingle Town Photos

Posted by Khandilee 17:41 Archived in Ireland Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

2 Days; 2 Countries

View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

Trinity and I had a bit of a rough start with our Belgium trip. We went to get the rental car on Friday afternoon and after staying up all day after working and finally filling out all the paperwork around 3pm, we got the car loaded up with our things and ready to hit the road......almost. When I sat down in the car; I immediately realized that it didn't have air!! F>(k THIS! I went back into the rental office and point blank told them that I didn't want it without air....

Well, the car that has air is 'on it's way here'. If we wanted to wait, we could. I told them to call me when the car was back, cleaned and ready and Trinity and I headed home. I wasn't home for 5 minutes and they called me....seems that they thought I was going to Prague and there's something to do with lack of insurance for Prague and Poland. I need to find out if this is true with all rental agencies or just this one....

So, we made plans for me to pick up the car in the morning; postponing our departure. Not really a problem as at this point Trinity and I are both exhausted!

Saturday morning; we picked up the rental car and headed out to Brussels. Our to-do list included; Belgian chocolate; beer; fries; waffles and the Mannequin de pis and his (much less known) female counterpart. As an add-on we decided to go see the atomium. Can you believe that there were people zip-lining from it...crazy is all I can say!!

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This was all accomplished by around 5pm...including drive time.

It's interesting that the more we travel the less impressed we are with things like the Grand Place Grote Market. As beautiful as it is, there is not the 'wow' factor that there once was....it's almost sad.

We had planned to stop back at the hotel for a quick nap then out to dinner and sample a few more Belgian beers....we woke up at 2330!! So much for dinner....neither of us felt like 'fixing up' for the weekend crowds at the bars so after a quick walk with Aco, we were back to bed. I blame it on the wonderfully soft beds at the NewHotel.

Sunday morning we decided to make our way to Luxembourg on the way home. We took the CitySightSeeing Hop On Hop Off bus and made our tour of the small city. Everything was closed (Sunday's !!!) so we grabbed a quick bite to eat then decided to head back home to Germany.


We found our way easily enough back to the parking garage where the car was parked only to find it totally locked down....seems it closes early on Sundays as well. After traipsing around the building several times looking like we were trying to break into the place; we decided that we were NOT getting in. Next stop...tourist info at Central Station across the street. The man at the tourist office was kind and helpful and tried to call the number that we had gotten off the garage security window to no avail...there was no answer! Once more around the parking building just to make sure that there wasn't some hidden door that we didn't see before then our final stop...the police station!!

I wasn't allowed into the building; had to push a button outside and try to explain my situation from the speaker. Finally a kind (and cute) policeman appeared at the door. He offered to call the owner and see if he would come out to open it for us and suggested that we wait by the garage; which we did. We sat at the garage like vagrants for about 20 minutes; I was resigned to the fact that we just needed to get a hotel room and stay the night and get the car when the garage opened in the morning. Trinity was not as resigned as I was....

Then a man emerged from the garage and opened the gate to let us in.....YEAH...SUCCESS! Off we went...

It was a swift visit to Belgium and Luxembourg. Much more to see and do another time but a fun way to spend the weekend. Now I really need to get the Ireland trip booked.....

More Photos Here

Posted by Khandilee 09:49 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Bittersweet End to Part I Europe 2010

Wow...three weeks have flown by. Kailee will be taking a flight in the morning and re-joining her family for the remainder of summer break. I will be headed back to work for my normal schedule and Trinity will be hanging out at home while I'm working missing everyone back home....

It's been a great summer so far. Having Kaillee here was was a wonderful addition to Trinity's visit and I'm sure that Trinity is going to miss her tons.

We still have to finish PCS'ing Trinity here at the base; I only wish she would stay and continue to explore Europe with me. I guess that I have to be content with the time that I do have with her, but it seems so very long between the end of summer and Christmas when I will see her next :o(

We have much more to see and do this summer and I hope that we can fit it all in with work....silly how work gets in the way sometimes! Trinity and I are planning to take an extended weekend in Ireland before she leaves and I am hoping that we can make a few other trips before that. Wish me luck with the planning and organization.

I'm fortunate that I have friends flying in from the states at the same time that Trinity will be leaving. It will distract me and take my mind off the fact that she is gone home for a while. Teresa and Jen will be arriving the same day that Trinity leaves. We haven't finalized any plans yet but it should be an enjoyable couple of weeks of exploring and hopefully some wine tasting!

I will try to update soon.....

Posted by Khandilee 05:17 Archived in Germany Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

An American In London....

View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

Ahhhh...the sweet sounds of the city; a jack-hammer against the hard concrete, sounds of hammers hitting metal; the clang of metal banging together at heights well above ground, and the whir of a saw. In my dreams, it reminded me of the show Stomp. As I woke, I realized that it wasn't the sweet choreographed sounds that I was hearing from Stomp but the annoying sounds from the construction site just outside my hostel window. This was repeated every morning in London....an alarm clock of construction sounds beginning around 0700.

Thought of changing hostels were disregarded when I thought about packing up all three of us girls and trekking across the London crowds to find something new....so we stayed.

I think I fell in Love with London this week. There is something about being able to feel lost in the hustle of the crowd that draws me in. Thoughts of how much it would cost to rent a flat crossed my mind. The fact that you can get anything you want or need just around the corner is enticing to me. There is an abundance of culture and your never far from an event or something to entertain. London reminds me of San Francisco which will always be one of my favorite places.

We never made it out of London during our trip. I would love to return to see the British countryside and probably will some day.

Two shows were booked and enjoyed. Stomp and Wicked. I think we all agreed that we enjoyed Stomp best. It's so full of energy and excitement. Wicked was good as well, on a different spectrum. I only wish that I could have had a bit better seats and I think that Wicked would have came far up on the 'wow' factor.

London Pride was amazing fun; made more so by new friends we met. For a great little drag show go see Bette @ Molly Moggs This little pub was ultra friendly.

Miles of walking through the city streets, our feet were not happy. I never feel like I get to see as much as I would like; I guess that is reason enough to return.

The 4th of July was spent without fireworks this year but I don't think any of us even gave it a second thought; we were too busy enjoying the London sites.

Trinity's birthday was celebrated (somewhat weakly) with an amazing cake purchased at Caffe' Concerto. It was the most beautiful and delicious cake I have ever purchased. It was shared with new friends at the hostel...

A few tips that I want to note (mostly so I don't forget for my return trip):

- Cheap and good lunch food can be had at the local groceries. I like Simply Food the best (Victoria Station). M&S was also good as well as the local Tessco
- Great cheap clothes shopping can be found @ Primark on Oxford Street
- Get the Oyster Card....no worries about transit.
- Discount theater tickets can be found all over town, but make sure that you check the prices against the theater first.
- Sandeman's free Tours again.....great! If your hostel offers a pick-up for the tour, you can save about 30 minutes of walking by finding out where the full tour meets and taking the Underground! If your like me with sore feet from walking the 30 minutes spared will be worth it.
- Silly American that I am; please note that the London Bridge is NOT the Tower of London! We walked all over to find the London Bridge only to realize that it is a tiny little bridge over the river with no real interest. The Tower of London is further down the river. Spend some time here...it's a great place to people watch.

Link to London Pics
Link to London PRIDE Pics

Posted by Khandilee 05:12 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Euro Summer 2010

Trinity and Kailee in Germany


Trinity and her girlfriend Kailee made it safe to Germany after a long international flight. We were all exhausted as the girls had traveled overnight and I had worked. We ended up falling asleep early after their arrival.

The following day (@0300), we were headed on an early bus to Paris for a day-trip. It was a long 6 hour ride there and back. We were lucky enough to have 2 seats each so we could at least stretch out and relax on the ride.

Paris was much nicer this time than the last....I might actually even like Paris....a little bit ;o) I'm sure that the lack of snow and cold had something to do with it.

We took a free tour with Sandeman's and had a great time. Our tour guide was a cute Irish gal and we laughed through the entire tour. It was a fun time, and I recommend Sandeman's to anyone wanting a great youthful tour of any city. (I also used this group for a tour of Amsterdam and it was just as good) The tour lasted about 3.5 hours though and we were all beat by the time we were finished walking all over the city.

We then made our way to see the fabled Eiffel Tower.... The girls were going to go to the top but the line was so long that I didn't think we would make it back to our bus in time. We opted for pics at the base, while it rained on us intermittently.

We rested at home for a couple days while I was *sick and headed out to Alghero Italy. It's on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean between Spain and Italy. It was beautiful. I have to say that I wasn't very excited about going back to Italy after last summers excursion but I really enjoyed myself. It's a beautiful old town with tons of character. The atmosphere was very casual. Like always in Italy, we ate LOTS of quatro Formagio Pizza...one of Trinity and I's favorites.

We rented bikes for 2 days while there and were able to traverse most of the city. We spent one afternoon on the beach and got a little sun (fortunately, none of us overdid it). Kailee got to try crepes and tons of Gelato was consumed...a first for Kailee. I think we managed to work off all the calories with the bikes. After two days on the bikes, our backsides were telling us 'enough'!!

We are now back home and relaxing for a couple of days then off to London...

Links for Paris and Alghero Pics

Posted by Khandilee 05:06 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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