Look Up, Look Down: Dublin Garden of Remembrance

Since it was Remembrance Day this week, I thought it would be appropriate to use some pictures of Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance for my entry to the Look Up, Look Down challenge. The two photos below were both taken looking down on the garden, one from near the entrance and one from the steps at the far end.

Dublin Garden of Remembrance

Dublin Garden of Remembrance

The Garden of Remembrance is dedicated to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”. The main feature of the park is a pool of water in the shape of the cross. On the bottom of the pool, there are pictures of shields and weapons – in Celtic custom, after a battle it was custom to break up weapons and throw them in the river to signify the end of hostilities.

Think you have a photo that would be perfect for the Look Up, Look Down theme?
Check out
Travel With Intent’s blog post to join in and see what everyone else has come up with this week.

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Travel theme: Multi-coloured

Another fun travel theme from Ailsa this week… multi-coloured. There are so many photos I could have used for this that I didn’t know where to start, but eventually I managed to narrow it down to the following few. A very Germany-centred travel theme this one, with only two shots taken elsewhere…

My first photo is from Dublin. We spotted this pre-school down by the river and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it. It looks so cheerful!

Dublin preschool

This colourful bear is just one of many you can find dotted around Berlin:

Berlin bear

I love rows of buildings painted in different colours and almost always take photos of them when we visit somewhere. These ones are in Würzburg.

Würzburg

Staying in Germany, but switching towns… I’ve posted this colourful lantern on the blog before but it fits so well with the theme that I wanted to include it here. I spotted it in Heidelberg when my sister came to visit.

My next photo was taken in Sweden – this colourful Dala horse stands outside the City Hall in Stockholm.

Dala horse

And finally, I would like to end my post the same way Ailsa started hers… with a rainbow. I didn’t have to travel very for for this photo… it was taken right here in Karlsruhe, next to the train station.

rainbow

To see how other people have interpreted the theme (including some much more impressive photos of rainbows!) and to join in yourself, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

Look Up, Look Down: Flowers on the wall

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for Travel With Intent’s weekly Look Up, Look Down photo challenge.

As the title suggests, the aim is to post a photo looking either up or down. Here’s my effort:

Wall flowers

The above photo was taken in the grounds of the Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham, Dublin. The flowers were growing on top of a wall, and I had to look up to see them. The building that houses the art museum is the former Kilmainham Royal Hospital and beyond this wall is the Officer’s Graveyard, where high-ranking army officers were buried (across the way from this graveyard is Bully’s Acre, where the ordinary citizens of Dublin were buried).

To join in with the challenge and see how other people have interpreted it, check out Travel with Intent’s blog post.

Ireland, days 13-14: Galway to Dublin and the end of the holiday

On the morning of Thursday 20 June, we checked out of our hotel and set off in the rental car for the last time. Destination: Dublin.

On the way we stopped in Athenry. Sadly, I didn’t see any fields there, otherwise I would definitely have taken a photo for the sole purpose of labelling it “The Fields of Athenry”.

A building in Athenry
A building in Athenry

Apart from the well-known song, Athenry’s main claim to fame is that it’s one of the most notable medieval walled towns surviving in Ireland. Our first stop was at St Mary’s Church, which is now Athenry Heritage Centre.

St Mary's, Athenry
St Mary’s, Athenry
St Mary's Church/Athenry Heritage Centre
St Mary’s Church/Athenry Heritage Centre

There was a school group there when we arrived, but we were told if we came back at 12 we could do the tour/experience thingy. That would have involved being given a history of Athenry, dressing up in medieval clothes and having a go at archery. We decided against it as the time on the car ran out at 12 and we also wanted to be in Dublin relatively early as we were meeting K’s dad there, so after we’d taken a few photos, we moved on to the castle.

Athenry Castle
Athenry Castle

The guided tour was ok, but not the most informative of the trip. The guide mentioned something about a dissertation though, so I suppose he was still learning. The audio visual show he switched on for us after the tour had some absolutely stunning photos from around Ireland – it made me wish we were staying longer so I could track down some of the castles and ruined abbeys. But whoever did the speaking was totally overdramatic. It was all a bit odd!

After the castle, we walked across a little park to take a look at Athenry Priory.

Athenry Priory
Athenry Priory

Athenry Priory 2

With the time on the car almost up, we decided it was time to continue our drive, so off we went, not stopping again until we reached Dublin.After dropping off two members of the group at Temple Bar – K to meet her dad and P because he was staying in a hostel near there – the remaining three of us headed to Rathmines Travelodge, where we were staying, to check in and drop off the bags. It was pretty decent for a Travelodge, I must say! Then Jan drove off to the airport to drop off the car while A and I went for a walk into town. We stopped at a small cafe on the way, where I wrote a postcard, then Jan told us he would be at the Spire at 5 so we let the others know then strolled over to O’Connell street. In the two weeks since we’d been there last, Dublin had become noticeably more crowded – it was easy to tell the real high season for tourists was now on its way! After meeting up with the others, we walked around a bit, did some window shopping (I was very good and did not buy anything in the second hand bookshop we went to!) it was off to the pub to meet K’s dad and eat our last evening meal in Ireland. The pub was Sweetman’s and is worth a visit!

Charlie relaxes in the pub
Charlie relaxes in the pub

The next morning we had breakfast at Travelodge (described as an all-you-can-eat continental breakfast, it consisted of various cereals, some roll things with chocolate chips in, fruit, yoghurts,, various jams and toast, as well as tea, coffee, apple juice, orange juice and milk to drink. Not bad for the price) then headed into town for souvenir shopping. I bought a fridge magnet for my mum and we met a leprechaun! He told us he was born in Germany but moved to the US when he was 8 and considers himself American. He had been in Ireland for 3 years now after meeting and marrying an Irish girl (who turned him into a leprechaun), and the two of them now have a little pot of gold. Everyone say awww!

Charlie meets a leprechaun!
Charlie meets a leprechaun!

We then decided to split up, with the other two going to buy more gifts for people while Jan and I found a cafe where he could write his postcards. We ended up at Cafe Oya, which was very cute! I ordered my last cup of tea with milk for a while… no point in even trying that in Germany! (Tea with coffee creamer is just plain wrong!)

Strawberry cheesecake and tea... with milk!
Strawberry cheesecake and tea… with milk!

At 2pm, we met up again, collected our luggage from Travelodge and took the bus into town, where we caught the airport express from O’Connell Street. Our flight ended up being delayed by an hour, which gave me time to purchase – and eat – one last packet of yummy crisps, then it was off back to Germany. Two weeks in Ireland had flown by! I don’t know about the others, but I had an amazing time and I hope I make it back there some day.

And that’s the end of my series on what we did in Ireland. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it! Next up on Confuzzledom: a post about biscuits and yet more on my travels… this time within Germany. Stay tuned!

Ireland, Days 1–3: Dublin

We started our Ireland trip with a long weekend in Dublin, and the very first thing we did on Saturday morning was buy suncream from the Boots near our B&B. Why would one do that in Ireland you ask? Well, this:

Ha'Penny Birdge lantern
Ha’Penny Bridge lantern

The above photo shows one of the lanterns on the Ha’penny Bridge. And behind it? Nothing but blue sky! And the weather continued to be like that for the entire time we were in Dublin. Or at least until we were walking back from the pub on Monday night, which is good enough for me.

Once we were all suncreamed up, we walked on towards town where the first touristy thing we came across was St. Stephen’s Green. We saw swans with cygnets! And also ducks, seagulls and a very cute little girl feeding all the birds (even the pigeons). Then we discovered that the waterfall that’s drawn on the map was a lie, so we went and looked for the statue of The Fates instead, and found out that it had been a gift to the city of Dublin from Germany.

St Stephen's Green
St Stephen’s Green
The Fates
The Fates

Next came shopping because the other female in the group had forgotten to bring a hat out with her and the sun was HOT! We visited TK Maxx first and I looked at sunglasses while she looked at hats, but neither of us found anything. Next stop was Claire’s, where I actually found a pair of sunglasses that suited me (miracle!!) and my friend purchased a fabulous straw hat with cat ears!! Then we stopped by a fancy dress/joke shop, where we had our first encounter with horses heads. We did not buy Charlie at that point though.

Once the girly shopping type stuff was done, we headed towards the river and then on to Leo Burdock’s – Dublin’s oldest fish and chip shop. We arrived at just the right time – there was no queue when we got there and a huge one by the time we left! It being such a gorgeous day, we took our food across the road and ate it on the grass round the back of Christchurch Cathedral, watched by a very well behaved seagull. After he’d let us take several photos of him and not attempted to steal any of our food, we rewarded him with fish. Then we walked into the grounds of the cathedral, where there was a stall selling fudge of various kinds. Jan and I got four varieties: Chocolate, chocolate orange, honeycomb and rum & raisin. Yum, yum!!

Yum yum!
Nom, nom, nom!

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around looking at various things, failing to see Dublin castle because it’s closed to the public while Ireland is hosting the EU presidency, hanging round in a cute little garden near the castle, sneakily using the facilities at the Chester Beatty Library and going inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral before ending up back at the joke shop where we decided we did want a horses head after all.

Inside St Patrick's Cathedral
Inside St Patrick’s Cathedral

Next on the agenda was a cocktail at a bar called Dandelion. The drinks came in plastic glasses and while mine tasted okay it was so weak you could barely tell there was alcohol in it. If you want to drink cocktails, don’t bother with this place! Following our unimpressive cocktails, we went off in search of food, which we found at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I quite enjoyed my avocado and bacon beefburger – at least it had a decent amount of bacon in it! Other members of the group were less impressed with their choices though.

Avocado and bacon burger
Avocado and bacon burger

The food thing out of the way, it was time for a few drinks in a real Irish pub… and for some fun with Charlie the horse.

Charlie stole my hat!
Charlie stole my hat!

And thus concludes day one.

The next day was Trinity College day. We decided to pay 10 euros for the tour plus Book of Kells, rather than 9 for just the book. The tour was interesting and out tour guide (David) was pretty cool. The exhibition on the Book of Kells was quite informative, but the book itself was precisely as underwhelming as our Lonely Planet had warned us it would be – with all the many people crowding around it, there simply wasn’t time to get a proper look at  all the detail on the pages. However, the Long Library which you go through to get from the Book to the exit was AMAZING! So many old books… it was like I’d died and gone to heaven!

Lovely, lovely books!
Lovely, lovely books!

It being Sunday, we wanted to look for a roast dinner, but in the end we didn’t actually find one. We went to a pubcalled Slattery’s where I did have some very nice roast chicken, but it came with chips, which is just not the same thing at all. We also spent quite some time persuading a couple of the boys that it’s perfectly okay to order a soft drink in a pub!

Food done, we walked through the shopping area for a bit and finally came to O’Connell Street and the famous Spire of Dublin (officially the Monument of Light for reasons I am unable to fathom).

The Spire of Dublin
The Spire of Dublin

Again, note the blueness of the sky! We couldn’t have had better weather in Dublin if we’d programmed it ourselves!

The next stop was the Garden of Remembrance, where we watched some local kids climb the statue and then scram when the Garda (Irish police) turned up. Very entertaining! Shortly after that, we were asked to leave because the place was closing, so we went and had ourselves a nice cup of tea instead. Charlie was ready for a cuppa too after all that walking!

Aah... a nice cup of tea!
Aah… a nice cup of tea!

Once everyone was refreshed, we walked back down to the river to take photos of more bridges and check out the Famine Memorial.

A very good question to ask of a bridge...
A very good question to ask of a bridge…
The River Liffey and the Harp Bridge (officially Samuel Beckett Bridge)
The River Liffey and the Harp Bridge (officially Samuel Beckett Bridge)
Famine Memorial in the evning sun
Famine Memorial in the evening sun

We finished the day at another pub, where I chose to drink Swedish cider rather than Irish beer and where we discovered an interesting flavour of crisps.

Very Irish crisps!
Very Irish crisps!

Sadly, the taste was rather disappointing. I’ve no idea what shamrock should taste like, but these just tasted like plain old sour cream flavour to me.

On our third and final day in Dublin, the group split up with three of us getting up early to go to Kilmainham Gaol while the other three had a lie in before going shopping. I was with the Kilmainham Gaol group, as I had wanted to go there the last time Jan and I were in Dublin but didn’t get the chance. Both the museum and the guided tour were very informative and at times I found myself almost feeling ashamed to be British –for example after hearing about how James Connolly, one of the ringleaders of the 1916 uprising, who was unable to stand to be executed and was instead tied to a chair to be shot. No wonder so many Irish people hate us!

The "New" east wing of KIlmainham Gaol
The “new” east wing of KIlmainham Gaol

The serious business of the jail done, it was off to the park opposite where we discovered signs with various animals on. There was a sheep, a hedgehog, a squirrel, a cat and this fox:

Foxy!
Foxy!

We then needed change for the bus back in to town (if anyone is going to Dublin be warned: buses are generally correct change only and no notes are allowed – the only exception is the airport express!). We popped into Spar to see if we could buy something and discovered this:

It's a chocolate bar... with crisps in it?!
It’s a chocolate bar… with crisps in it?!

Yes, that really is a chocolate bar with pieces of cheese and onion crisps in. Surprisingly it worked quite well, although I wouldn’t want to eat a whole bar!

Back in town we met up with the others and the two girls went for a hair cut (something I have yet to bring myself to do in Germany). Freshly cut and blow dried, we headed to the café next door where the boys were waiting and had a sandwich before heading on to our next activity: a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery. For all those who are thinking of doing the tour… don’t bother!! It’s basically a giant advert for Jameson’s and a total tourist trap!! However, the hot whiskey cocktails we had in the bar afterwards were incredibly tasty, so you could always pop along just for that!

Jameson's Irish coffee
Jameson’s Irish coffee

Whiskey drinking done, we walked back to the town centre to spend out last evening eating and drinking at O’Neill’s bar on Suffolk Street. I may not have got my Sunday dinner the day before, but the carvery at this place more than made up for it!! I had turkey and ham with all the trimmings and I also got to try some of my friend’s lamb, which was amazing!! The food was so good that nobody even thought about taking photos until every last bite of all six meals had been demolished. I’m feeling hungry all over again just typing this!!

And that was the end of our trip to Dublin. Next up: ROAD TRIP!!

Friday letters (off to Ireland)

This is the last blog post I’ll be writing for a while! I do have a couple of posts scheduled for you while I’m away, but the “real” me shall be much to busy living it up in Ireland to post on my blog. (Also, my only access to the Internet will be via a BlackBerry, which is utterly useless for WordPress!). But before I go, I want to post some Friday letters one last time…

letterbox
letterbox (Photo credit: 1541)

Dear whoever brought Jaffa Cakes to work. Don’t you realise you single-handedly destroyed my intentions to eat healthily until Ireland? Jaffa Cakes are one of the few things I absolutely cannot resist…

Dear German sunshine. Nice of you to finally come out now I’m leaving for two weeks. Pffft. Whatever… I don’t need you! Dublin is sunny too…

Dear Dublin. See you in a few hours!

Dear flight. Please be turbulence free and non-delayed!

Dear Irish food. I am coming for you!!

Dear readers. Have a great weekend! See you in two weeks.

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Cross stitch woes and Friday letters

Hiiii!

Posting on my blog has been a bit sporadic recently. I do apologise! Cross stitching like mad was the main culprit. I really needed to get the finished article in the postbox before the first collection this morning to be in with even a slight chance of it being delivered on time (the wedding is tomorrow), but despite staying up until midnight last night, this is as far as I got:

Unfinished...
Unfinished…

I will still complete it tonight and get it sent off first thing tomorrow morning, but the earliest it will arrive now is Monday. Most disappointing! I suppose more cross stitching and less going to the Irish Pub for the Champion’s League final would have helped…

Anyway… it is Friday again, and that means it’s time for some letters.

Snail Mail Terminal
Snail Mail Terminal (Photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers)

Dear Dublin. This time next Friday I will be boarding a flight to you! So exciting.

Dear weather Gods. I very much appreciate you sending the sun out to play yesterday for the fourth (and final) holiday of May, but was it really necessary to follow up be chucking buckets of rain at us today? Sitting at work with wet legs was not fun!

Dear waist measurement. Why aren’t you getting any smaller? I know I haven’t exercised quite as much as I was intending to, but it’s definitely an improvement on before!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for taking pity on me on Monday (when I ended up working for an extra hour and  half after arriving home) and suggesting we order pizza so I wouldn’t have to cook. Love you.

Dear self. Pizza (and brownies and other treats) are probably the explanation for the waist measurement thing. Just saying….

OK, that’s all. I need to go and have a cup of tea then decide what on Earth I’m going to cook tonight. Happy weekend folks!

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