Dublin-Bound and So Much Food - Ireland Day 5

September 16

9a - Traveling through the Irish Countryside at high speeds

We're an hour into our journey to Dublin. The rain has stopped and we can see the sights from the window of the train. Our car was supposed to be just our group, but a bunch of rowdy Irishmen are on here with us. They're cute. They're just loud and laughing and having a good time. It's nice to hear them chatting between themselves. Our group is mostly quiet. It seemed like many people went to the pub again last night and didn't get a huge amount of sleep. Good for them. I couldn't do it today. We had such an early wake up call that the wine from last night was enough for me.

It was kind of sad to leave the hotel this morning. It was such a glorious place that no one can imagine the next hotel even coming close to what we'd experienced already. I am looking forward to a few things though. Mostly, I'm ready to do some wandering around Dublin. The hard part about the hotel in Killarney was that it was so far removed from the city itself. I'd love to do some walking around, but you have to spend €13 on a one way taxi into town. I was willing to do that once. I was not willing to do that more than once. €13 is a lot of money. And I'd rather spend that on food.

I figured the train to Dublin was a perfect time to do some stream of consciousness musings on Ireland so far. It won't be too much. But I'd hate to forget some of these things...

On our first day, one of the folks asked our driver about gas prices. They said, "It looks like gas prices are pretty cheap.". Denny, our driver, set the guy straight pretty quick. €1.50 per liter. 4.something something something liters per gallon. It is over €6.00 per gallon, so $8.00+ per gallon?? Basically it is at least double the price for gas here in Ireland than it is back home. It shut the guy up pretty quickly (though he did mumble about the conversion from liter to gallon. Whatever, dude. I think he was the same guy that made the "Wrong Side of the Road" comment the first day). Ireland has always been promoted as a place to rent a car and drive around the country. I can't imagine actually paying for petrol on a trip. Food is expensive enough. Gas is insanely expensive. I can't imagine how much it would cost for a B&B Vacation Tour of the country. I'm guessing many people have sticker shock when they actually get here.

Mom was cute. She said, "There really isn't much TV selection here.". Compared to Moscow (one English language station - CNN International) and South America (very sporadic English stations), our selections are pretty good. RTE seems to be the Irish National Channel (Radio Television Eire, maybe). They have BBC programs. I'm assuming they're somehow related to BBC. Our first hotel also had BBC One, Two and Three, plus ITV One and Two (maybe Three as well). My BBCAmerica viewing has me recognizing many things on the air or personalities. Imagine my shock when the Law and Order UK police officer (not Jamie Bamber) was thin and hosting a game show on Daytime Telly!! The hardest part is not knowing what is on or when shows are going to air. I have figured out that Downton Abbey is running on ITV on Sunday at 9p, then on RTE on Sunday at 10p. I'm hoping our new hotel will have a guide to help us figure out the TV, cause I can't count on WiFi this time. Dang WiFi not being free at this new place. Just stupid.

9p - Post-Dinner Reflection

The train was really very nice. I enjoy a train ride. This is helpful during the daily commute in real life. But it was nice to see the Irish Countryside. Even though at a certain point I pulled out the iPad to keep entertained. Gotta love the Kindle app and the magazine subscriptions on the device. Mom and I read People Magazine about Kate Plus Eight. I had been proactive last night...I downloaded the newest issue of People. Sadly though, I didn't have enough experience downloading issues of the magazine, cause I thought I had downloaded the next episode. Sadly, only 4% was downloaded and I won't have WiFi for a while. Now I won't know who is best and worst dressed until I get home!! I don't think I can wait that long!!

We piled on a bus when we arrived at Heuston Station around 1115a. We knew lunch was scheduled at 230p, but we didn't know what we were going to be in for until then. The driver and tour guide drove us around Dublin. We started at the Phoenix Park. This was a lovely area of Dublin that was super green. They had a community garden, an old stone tower and plenty of room to twirl. It was nice, since we were able to get out and stretch a bit. We'd been cooped up so long that we needed a chance to get out and about. It was also nice to see flowers. Since I consider myself a pseudo-nature photographer, I liked going in for the close-ups.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a ton of stuff to do at the park and we had to get back to the bus, so we couldn't linger for long. It was 1215p and lunch was at 230p. We were all really tired and starting to get hungry. Oy. The afternoon was a struggle. Yes, we saw the United State's Ambassador's House ($2 rent per year...we think in dollars. They might be Euros). Yes, we saw the Irish President's house (they have a seven year term and can be elected twice, but it is a purely ceremonial position. They also have a Prime Minister). But we were so tired!!

I don't know completely what we saw. We seemed to keep going around in circles. I swear, I saw the Harp Bridge (not it's real name) three or four times. But it was finally time for lunch. We stopped at the Town Bar and Grill. Really good food. I started with a pear and gorgonzola salad (poached pear!! Love!!), had a duck main course and ended with a strawberry panna cotta. The part that concerned me the most was that we had dinner reservations at 730p. Luckily, neither one of us were insanely full. There was definitely luck involved. Especially since I am blowing the whole WW thing. I can't help it at this point. They keep feeding us!!

Our new hotel was The Shelbourne. I was looking forward to it because it was on the list of 1000 Places to See Before You Die. I think Mom explained it best. The hotel is just stuffy. Now, this place is glorious and ornate and stylish and everything, but it's like a sitting room in an old house. You don't actually feel comfortable using the furniture. The Hotel Europe in Killarney was comfortable. It was the sofa that you can fall asleep on. The Shelbourne is the high back chair at the dinner table. The rooms are nice, but compared to the other hotel, we were a bit more disappointed. The beds, however. The beds are glorious. We also miss our view. The vistas we saw from the other hotel made you want to sit on the balcony and stare at the water and the mountains for hours. Here, we have a view of the courtyard. And by courtyard, I mean alley. Oh well...did I mention the beds??

We didn't waste much time in the hotel at this point. We were tired, but the Concierge told us that the shops closed between 630p and 7p. We had a general plan. Grafton was the main shopping street near us. We would walk a few blocks, turn right and shop. Then turn right again and find our dinner. Then turn right again and at the corner, we'd be back at the hotel. I love it when a plan comes together.

Grafton is where shopping lives. I kept reading about Grafton in the weeks before we came. It really ended up being perfect timing for shopping. We would wander in a few places, do some browsing (and maybe trying on), then head out. It wasn't crowded. It wasn't dead either. I was happy to see Monsoon. When Michelle and I went to Moscow, we found this place called Monsoon. There were cute clothes and a skirt that I wanted. But I was sick and had hit the point where I didn't want to spend any more money. I did remember loving Monsoon and was so excited to see it here. I didn't buy anything, but I did love looking.

Soon enough, it was time for dinner. We really weren't completely hungry, but I had made the reservations a few weeks before. We walked into The Pig's Ear and it couldn't have been nicer. There were maybe about 10 tables in the place. It was very tiny. But it reminded me a little of any small restaurant in Chicago. It did what it did and did it well. We originally thought we'd get one starter, one entree and a few sides. I knew this food wasn't completely in Mom's wheelhouse. She knows this food exists, but isn't entirely familiar with them. She's also a little wary because she doesn't know what to expect. We couldn't find a starter that we were both jazzed about, so we did end up with two entrees. Mom got the Shepherd's Pie. I got a steak thing, but it had stuffed bone marrow. That was what got me. Cause I'm not really a steak eater. We also ended up with some Brown Bread Ice Cream for dessert. We are loving the brown bread here. Just one more thing to add to the baking list from this trip.

Before we went into the restaurant, we noticed a pub next door to the restaurant. We mused over the idea of going there after we ate for a drink. When we got out, we were tired enough (and way full) that we decided against the pub scene. We knew we were going to a pub with the group on Sunday night. It's going to be super touristy, but it's a pub experience. It gets the job done.

We were pretty happy, because tomorrow is almost a full day on our own. This works for me. I'd like to not be herded for a while...

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