We started the New Year in Switzerland! It was a wonderful trip. Lots of beautiful scenery – really, that trip alone was the trip of a lifetime.
From there, it was back to Nazarene Theological College in Manchester. We enjoyed our year there; especially making many great friends at the college, where we lived and volunteered, and at Longsight Community Church of the Nazarene, where we worshipped.
In June we said farewell to our friends in the UK and returned to Houston for an entirely different sort of Adventure. After looking at serval houses we settled on one – but with a bit of concern about various projects that would need doing fairly soon.
The next day, a different listing became available. One look at this house and we felt it was “the one!” A bit of negotiating and we signed on the dotted line – after years of fulltime RVing and then a year in England we had a “stix and brix” place of our own.
As I said, “what a year it was!”
While we are happy with our new house we still have the itch to do some traveling. Our New Year will start with a Carribean cruise and there are a few other things on the horizon.
We know we are blessed in every way. Thanks for following along.
Part two of our quick trip to Ireland began with a Sunday afternoon high speed train trip from Dublin to Galway. We really enjoy train travel (evidenced by our big train trip to Italy and the Swiss Alps). The trains are fast and reasonably quiet. They are also reasonably priced. We enjoyed the two-hour trip across the country as the train reached speeds of up to 100 mph at times.
I picked our hotel in Galway specifically because of it being practically next door to the train/bus station and being only a five-minute walk to the Spanish Quarter, a lively area featuring many shops and restaurants. Our hotel was actually part of the 13 on the Green Pub. As it turned out, our small, but serviceable, room was directly above the pub! As far as I could tell, we never heard anything from down below. However, out our window we looked down on the pedestrian crossing of a narrow city street. Every time the crossing went to green we heard the “beep, beep, beep” pedestrian signal. After 11:00 or so at night traffic calmed down and people stopped pushing the “wait to cross” button. Still, it was a rather noisy place to stay and we didn’t sleep well either night that we were there.
After arriving in Galway we headed across Eyre Square and into the Latin Quarter. We window shopped and people watched, stretching our legs after the train ride. There were buskers playing and singing to the crowds. Nearby we found the Spanish Arch and Wall, which are hundreds of years old. Later on we went into a shopping mall and saw that part of that wall has been preserved inside the mall!
The next morning we walked just a few minutes to the pickup point for our bus tour. This is an all day tour that features the Cliffs of Moher and other destinations to the south of Galway along the coast. There are other tours and I wish we had had the time to take them, but I think this one is considered the major one and I’m glad we took it. Highlights included a look at Dunguarie Castle, Aillwee Cave (with a nice underground waterfall), a rocky area called the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher. The route follows part of the Wild Atlantic Way – a scenic drive along the ocean. This area is very popular with both locals and tourists. Many festivals take place in the small towns along the way and during the summer the area is packed with visitors.
The main draw for us was the Cliffs of Moher. There are wide, paved trails up onto the cliffs. However, you can also ask for a lift on a golf cart (called the “Lifts of Moher”). We opted for that and a driver cheerfully took us up to two different overlooks. I have to say that we stayed a shorter time than we would have liked because of the cold, strong wind! As I understand it, it is quite common so if you make the trip, check the weather conditions on the Cliffs.
We hopped a national bus the next morning for a two hour trip to Shannon Airport. That airport was the exact opposite of Manchester Airport. Shannon was quiet and laid back. Our trip through security was just a formality and our plane left pretty much on time.
I’d say our visit to Ireland give us just a taste of the island. It is interesting to consider that if we were coming to Ireland from the states the airfare would be hundreds of dollars more than what we spent for the short hop across the Irish Sea. When you spend more you want to stay long enough to feel you have received value for the cost. In our case, we just did a long weekend. We saw less, but then again we spent considerably less. I guess everything in life has its tradeoffs. Long stay or short, we do recommend Ireland as an interesting and beautiful destination.
It’s only 165 miles from Manchester to Dublin, but most of that distance is over the Irish Sea so the only two ways to get there are by air or by ferry. Air travel is less expensive and should be much faster. Any way you do it from Manchester is much less expensive than flying from the States.
You will note that I said air travel should be “much faster.” In our case, the trip took longer than it should have. Our original flight was canceled due to technical difficulties. No complaint about that; I have no interest in flying in a plane that is in questionable condition! However, our Ryanair flight kept being delayed as we were bumped from one plane to another as they searched for a spare aircraft for the short hop. When all was said and done we arrived in Dublin in a plane full of drunks (you can guess how they passed their time during the delay). All’s well that ends well, and we arrived in Dublin without further issue.
We were booked into the Metro Airport Hotel and appreciated their free airport shuttle. Upon checking in they told us we were being upgraded to a suite! It was as nice a hotel accommodation as we’ve ever had – a three room unit! One wall of the bedroom was filled with windows. Our only complaint was that just below us was a major highway intersection. I think we managed to arrive on an especially busy night as we heard sirens off and on throughout the night. Since the intersection is a major one the emergency vehicles turn their sirens on as they approach the intersection and then turn them off once they are through. Happily, things were much calmer the second night.
The city bus passes right through that intersection, making it easy to hop a bus and ride directly to the heart of Dublin. You might want to know that Dublin buses don’t accept credit cards. Upon arrival at the airport I stopped off and bought a one day “Leap” transport ticket, so we just held it against the card reader as we got on the bus and on other trips that day.
One thing we wanted to see was Dublin Castle. It was different than we expected, more of a palace than castle. There’s lots of artwork by famous artists plus rooms of fancy furniture and such.
From there we walked along the River Liffey where we happened on a college rowing event. It is amazing how fast the teams can get their boats going! We walked on the famous Ha-penny Bridge and then checked out O’Connell Street in the heart of the city.
From there we hopped a bus for a short ride to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. This is a surviving copy of the Gospels dating from the 800s – a beautifully handwritten and illustrated portion of the Bible. It was impressive to see it, but unfortunately for us, no photography is allowed. However, the Book of Kells is adjacent to the “Old Library” which dates back to the 18th Century. We took lots of photos there. There is a harp on display there that is several hundred years older than the Library itself. It is called the “Brian Boru’s harp.” Since the harp is considered to be a symbol of Ireland, seeing this ancient one there in Dublin is pretty cool.
A bus ride back out to the hotel with a stop for fish and chips finished our day in Dublin.