Thursday, 29 June 2017

The cool and rainy weather continues and I’m liking it. Almost turned on the heat this morning.

Forgot to mention in my update yesterday – regarding my one-year travel anniversary. Still no tattoos or piercings. I’m still the guy from Oregon traveling around. Nothing stolen or have been mistreated in any way. Most everyone I meet has been super nice and helpful. At most I find some people indifferent at most, but that is about it.

As planned, made chicken salad and ate that for lunch. Then started to make chicken soup for dinner. Made the chicken broth from the roasted chicken bones from last night’s dinner, then the soup.

Cost of Items from Grocery Store

Individual Yogurt (Blueberry) 2.45 Euro ($2.74)
Jar of Raspberry Jam 3.99 Euro ($4.55)
Dishwashing Liquid 2.00 Euro ($2.28)
Small Bag of Sugar 1.65 Euro ($1.88)

My brother Rick asked me how much I was paying for my place here in Dublin. It works out to be $122 per night. The hostel next to this building charges $80 per night – and there you share a bathroom.

After dinner I went to a concert at Christ Church Cathedral. Actually two groups performed. One was a local amateur orchestra who performed first – mostly popular songs, then the Charlottesville High School orchestra. For the last piece, they performed with the first group the Highland Cathedral. (See this YouTube link.) This song was performed again as an encore. Both groups performed exceptionally well.

About halfway to Christ Church I realized I didn’t have my phone. Rarely do I leave home without the phone. But I survived. I seem to be finding my way around Dublin without a map or the phone. My fallback is to hail a taxi.

 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

One year ago today I left Portland to begin my 3-year journey. Guess this could also be called an odyssey – since this could be an extended adventure. In any case, it was one year ago when I left Portland.

I remember the day very well. So much remaining to do and had a hard stop at 6:00 p.m. when I was to meet friends for drinks and then another friend was taking me to the airport a bit later.

My rented furniture was picked up in the morning, the TV was taken to a friend, then my car (which was sold) to be left with another friend. Ironically the people who purchased my car were in Europe. Then back home to finish packing and cleaning the apartment. And take a shower. Finished 10 minutes late.

But it all got done – well sort of. I ended up taking more than I needed and still had items unfinished on my to-do list – but nothing critical. One way or another I was going to get on the plane onto my first stop – NYC. The only hitch was boarding was delayed, but it was a non-stop flight so I didn’t care.

And here I am in Dublin a year later. Looking out over the Smithfield Plaza (picture below), chicken in the oven, and writing my blog. A friend wrote a note to me on Facebook, “I’ll be curious to see where you end up.” I replied, “Me too!”  My plan is still to travel a full three years and then return to Portland. I’ve left myself open to staying longer if I want to .

View from my window (below)

Onward to Year Two!

I mentioned the chicken earlier. I’m getting good at roasting a chicken, using the leftover meat for sandwiches, then the bones go into making chicken broth which becomes chicken soup.

My brother was asking about prices. I paid 3.99 Euro ($4.55) for the chicken. Other items I bought at the grocery store: (The store I go to is similar to a Zupans so the prices might be a bit higher.)

Loaf of sliced whole wheat bread 2.35 Euros ($2.62)
5 Chicken Breast Fillets 5.00 Euros ($5.69)
Bag of Carrots (15 carrots) 1.60 Euros ($1.82)
Bottle of Orange Juice 3.55 Euros ($4.04)
1/2 lbs of coffee 5.65 Euros ($6.43)
Bag of Onions (10 medium onions) 1.30 Euros ($1.48)

Finally my dentist appointment has been made. After calling the Budapest dentist office and again being told I’d receive a call shortly, I decided to send my paperwork from the Budapest dentist via email and see if that would work. It did. So while my U.S. friends are celebrating the 4th of July, I’ll be in a dentist chair getting my teeth cleaned. I don’t have dental insurance, so I’ll pay 95 euros ($108) for the exam and cleaning – at a full-service dental office.

While making my dental appointment and looking at the price for Airbnb housing in the Scandinavian countries, I was having my afternoon tea and scones. What a great idea this afternoon tea. Also a good excuse to have a scone?

Dinner is done! Time to eat!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Definitely enjoying the cooler weather here in Dublin. Today, it was raining most of the morning then partly cloudy with a high of 73 in the afternoon. Perfect! The remainder of the week will be a little cooler with more rain but that is okay with me.

Been busy over the past few days taking care of personal accounting, updating contact and account information, and also doing what I can to wrap up my cousin’s estate. These are things that would take minutes if I were in the U.S. but seem to take hours here in Ireland. Even mailing letters to the U.S. can take extra time since I can’t leave them in the outgoing mail box without the correct postage.

Last night I made “Skinny Lasagna Soup” for dinner and will have leftovers of the soup through tomorrow. Now starts the process of buying just enough food to last until I leave on July 8. Some food I can leave here for the next guest, but the perishables will need to be eaten. Food costs here are about the same as the U.S.

Was surprised to receive a phone call from my brother a couple of days ago. Glad I was sitting down when the phone rang. My niece installed Messenger on his phone and now all he has to do is press the icon, select my name, and my phone rings.  Also had calls with a few other friends and family too. Texting and emails are fine, but hearing someone’s voice is much better.

In regards to the phone and SIM card, as of this month it looks like I can now use the same SIM card for all countries in the EU. Good news is that I’m on a plan here in Ireland where I pay only 30 Euros a month (1 Euro = 1.13 US Dollars) for data, local calls and international calls.

This afternoon I’ve been making arrangements to get my teeth cleaned. Now arranging for the dentist in Budapest to send records to the dentist here in Dublin.

Just received confirmation a few minutes ago that a friend from the U.S. will be here in Dublin. Though he arrives the same day that I’m leaving for Athens. In any case, will be good to see a familiar face next week.

Well, tomorrow will be my first anniversary. I left Portland last year on June 28th for New York City to start my multi-year travels. Below is a map of where I’ve been so far. Google has been tracking my progress. Will see how many more red dots I can accumulate in the next couple of years.

Major areas and countries still to be visited:

  1. Iberian Peninsula
  2. Scandinavia
  3. Eastern Europe
  4. Italy
  5. Russia
  6. Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania)
  7. Israel and Jordan
  8. Turkey (?)
  9. Ukraine (?)
  10. Morocco (?)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Finally got rain this morning and the “heat wave” in Dublin is officially over. I follow the weather in Oregon and know that the 90+ temperatures are not fun. Was interesting to read Facebook comments about the heat – from the same people commenting earlier on how long the cold weather was hanging on. Guess many Oregonians like the winter weather to stay in the winter. And if we want hot weather, we head south.

I’m still coping with the long daylight hours. I’m at the same latitude as the lower half of Alaska and have just a few hours of darkness.  I’m retired. Waking up at 6:00 a.m. is not in my daily plan.

I’ve been lazy for the past few days and catching up on my sleep. Have been walking around quite a bit. Interesting that I’m frequently asked for directions and even more interesting that I can actually help my fellow tourists. Dublin is very easy for travelers once you’re here for a few days.

I have two weeks left here in Dublin and now ready for my next adventure. I’ve made plans to visit Egypt again and hang out in a resort for a week or so. Then visit friends in London and from there travel by train through England and will take a ferry ride back to Ireland. Once I return to Ireland I will start my driving tour around the island.

Before leaving Dublin I want to do a Segway tour of Phoenix Park and visit some other sites. River Dance is playing here and would be fun to see it in person. Had a sample of the Irish dance at Murray’s Pub and would like to see more. I posted the Murray Pub dancers here on YouTube. (Click YouTube link.)

I’ve been doing some shopping while here found a few summer shirts at H&M and a pair of travel pants. Now need to look for another pair of walking shoes and some light weight pants. (Sorry, trousers). Around here “pants” mean underwear.

Henry Street is one of the main shopping streets in Dublin. Think I posted one or two pictures of the shoppers in a previous post. This one has a view of the “Spire” that is located on O’Connell Street. Another is a picture of the tea and scone for my afternoon tea that day.

I’m also enjoying going to the movies too. Have seen a few films at the cinema across the way from my flat and Cineworld which is the biggest cinema in Ireland, with 4 floors and 17 screens. It was a great way to escape the afternoon heat.

In a few days I will be celebrating my first year anniversary – when I left Portland to start my travels. Has my time passed quickly? Perhaps so. Getting very accustomed to moving around.

 

 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Woke up to a morning rain shower with the expectation that we would have afternoon clearing. It is kinda like Oregon here – you never know for sure until it happens.

Met up with Mary at 9:00 a.m. and we headed first to Kilmainham Gaol (Jail), then to the Guinness Storehouse and finished up at Dublin Castle. We took the tram as far as we could to the Jail and walked the remaining distance on foot.

We were told there were 40 steps here. A local landmark from what we understand. Funny – I Googled it and this (below) wasn’t “THE” 40 steps.

Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) was “the” principle jail in the Dublin area. It operated from the early 1800’s to the 1930’s. Many famous Irish revolutionaries were incarcerated here and several of them executed within the jail premises. Was abandoned for many years before it was cleaned up and made ready for the tourists.

We were able to see the early jail cells which were no more than limestone walls and a big door. In the mid 1800’s the jails were packed with people during the famine years as a result of an increase in crimes and some people actually looked for ways to get into the jail so they could get a bite to eat.

A look inside one of the older cells. (At least it had a window.)

The jail expanded over the years and the cells became a little more (but not much) humane with the idea possible redemption. We saw the vast expanse of a more modern jail where light was considered to help the prisoners.

Our final stop was where the executions occurred. Hangings and firing squads. Very grim. I was very ready to leave at this point.

The Guinness Storehouse was another 20 minute walk away. The weather was starting to clear up and the walk was good way to see a few of the neighborhoods along the way.

You really don’t see much of the beer-making process. It is really just an exhibition hall spread out over 8 floors. Great amounts of beer is produced in this factory for Ireland, UK, and USA. There are other factories around the world. We learned how beer was made, advertising, beer tasting, and we ate lunch there too. At the top of the building they served beer and you had a 360 degree view of the city. This is one of the most popular attractions in the city.

Tasting Room. The samples we were given were no larger than a shot glass. The ones pictured with Mary (below) look much larger.

The floor with the advertising was fun to walk through.

Lunch!

Nice view from the top. The first picture shows just a part of the whole factory in Dublin.

After leaving Guinness, it was starting to get hot and muggy. I offered to pay for a taxi to take us to Dublin Castle for a tour of the state rooms.

There has been a settlement on the Dublin Castle grounds for more than 1,000 years – since the days of the Vikings. It has been built up over the millennium, which you can see from the different styles of architecture. Now it is used for ceremonial activities, state events, and traveling exhibitions.  Our tour was just of the formal state rooms.

Was very impressed with the formality of the rooms. On par with Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. We saw the usual rooms used to welcome guests, dinning room, meeting hall, sitting rooms, etc.

By now the sun was out and humidity was rising. We took a taxi over to the other side of the city and each went our own way with plans to meet up later in the evening.

Later, we decided to return for drinks at The Oval Bar with its walls lined with  seasoned wood – like Huber’s in Portland. From there we went back to Murray’s Pub for dinner and enjoyed the entertainment – a band who sang traditional songs and Irish dancers.

I should have taken a picture of the food. No one leaves there with an empty stomach! Food was excellent. I even had dessert! Figured that we burned a bunch of calories from walking around earlier in the day.

Mary was leaving in the morning for Glasgow to visit with her kids so we said our goodbyes with plans to meet up maybe in a few months. When I got home I was in bed within a hour and slept very well.

 

 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Welcome to sunny Dublin! That isn’t something you hear too often around here from what I understand. As the temperature approaches 80, the heat wave has become a major topic among the local people. In my flat, which is not air conditioned, it is getting a bit warm during the late afternoon with the full sun coming in the floor to ceiling windows. Like an oven! I’ve been going to late afternoon movies to escape the heat.

Made another Shepherd’s Pie, using another recipe I found. Think I’ll use this one going forward. I made it at night when the temperature in the flat was a little more comfortable.

I haven’t been posting much for the past few days. Have been enjoying the sites and sounds of Dublin. Think I’m really becoming a local. Have been meeting new people almost every day and enjoy hearing their stories about growing up in Ireland.

Was surprised Sunday when I learned my friend Mary was visiting Dublin starting on Monday and will be through Wednesday this week. I met Mary last October when a mutual friend of ours, Barb, invited me on a trek through the Outer Herbrides with Mary and her mom. Since then we have continued to correspond. Good to have someone to join me while visiting Dublin.

We met up late afternoon on Monday and had dinner and went to a Dublin Pub for a drink and to enjoy the entertainment. We saw some Irish dancing that I’ll post on YouTube later this week.

Today we got on a “Hop On / Hop Off” bus for a tour of Dublin. Got off at Trinity College and walked through the grounds there and then visited the Book of Kells and Library. From there we had lunch at a pub in the Temple Bar district. Then got back on the bus and finished the city tour by bus – noting places to visit on foot tomorrow.

We met up later in the evening and had drinks at a pub then dinner at a restaurant on O’Connell Street – Dublin’s main thoroughfare. We have been meeting up at the “Spire of Dublin” a landmark in the middle of O’Connell Street.

I’m still planning on staying in Dublin through the 7th of July. Still making travel plans for July.

Glad it cooled down a bit last night. Only took an hour to cool down the flat so I could sleep. Not to worry – Dublin’s cool summer weather (and a bit of rain) will return soon enough.

Will try to post most over the next couple of weeks while I’m still in Dublin.

Here are some pictures (not many) that I took over the past few days.

Shepherd’s Pie

Trinity College

Book of Kells and Library

The Brian Boru Harp

Trinity College Library

Oscar Wilde Birthplace and Statue

Shopping on Henry Street

Leinster House

Mary and Me    

Thursday, 14 June 2017

Over the past couple of days I’ve taken a break from touring Dublin. I’m very much enjoying just living here and doing basic day-to-day activities.

Addressing the tasks needed to close out my cousin’s estate has been on my mind. We’ve decided to hold off closing out the estate until September so that gives me more time to ensure that any open invoices have been paid.

Found out this week that a childhood family friend passed away from cancer this week. Our families were close when we were younger and she was the same age as my brother. Also another family friend, and our dad’s attorney, had a stroke. A good reminder to do what I can to stay active and healthy.

Met (via Viber) with my financial planner this week as well. Of course, planning around how-long-do-I-expect-to-live was a topic. I developed a budget planning spreadsheet that we used to work out various scenarios. We decided to work out the plan in chunks – budget for my time traveling over the next couple of years, then from age 65 – 70, then reset plan for 70 and beyond. And by all means reduce risk as much as possible.

Also, attended my first InterNations event in Dublin – to watch Wonder Woman at the Savoy Theater on O’Connell Street (Dublin’s main thoroughfare). The movie was borderline in terms of how much violence I care to see in a movie, but well done otherwise. Looking forward to more InterNations events over the next few weeks.

Yesterday, I made some beef stew. One of these days I’ll settle on a recipe but happy trying out new ways to make an old favorite. The vegetables in many countries seem to take longer to cook. For example, the celery that I purchased here was still a bit crunchy even after being cooked for a couple of hours. Generally it is the carrots that take longer to cook. Sometimes the potatoes take extra time as well. Also, I’ve learned the flavor of each is unique to the country.

Had quite an email exchange with my Airbnb host over the last couple of days. I mentioned a smell in the kitchen that has been here since I moved in. I’m getting more used to the street noise at night. Some nights it is quiet and other nights I can hear people at 4:00 a.m. Life in the big city I guess.

Next week I’ll try to get out and visit more sites. Maybe a few more days of being a citizen of Dublin will be a good idea for me. Think I need some new clothes too.

 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Got out of the house for part of the day while the bike exhibition was finishing up then came back for a nap before heading to a theater for a performance in the evening. It was a one-man show named, “I Am A Bird Now”. I saw the poster for the play while walking down the street and decided to buy a ticket. Think I’ll try out more of these small theater productions.

I’m starting to plan in earnest my trip around Ireland in July. Also thinking about going to Isle of Man (located between Ireland and Great Britain).

Found a movie theater across the way. I knew it was there – just never checked it out. I went to a movie there last week, “My Cousin Rachael” and was surprised how big it was inside. The theaters are not very big – which is okay with me.

Getting better sleep now that I’m getting used to the street noise. Wearing ear plugs work somewhat. More “lessons learned” for me to ask more questions. Being a retired person, I enjoy getting sleep.

 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Looks like a good day to go by train to Belfast. I’ve wanted to see the Titanic exhibit there and also to see the city itself. Then given that there is a velodrome outside by flat (as a Dublin sporting and community event) it is a good idea to find a daytime event to keep me busy.

Getting to Belfast is easy. Take the tram to the train station, just a few stops away, and get on the train to Belfast. I bought tickets online so all I needed to do was pick them up on the station once I got there. There are several trains to and from Belfast each day.

The scenery was amazing on the way up. Green farmlands with cows and sheep, small towns and villages, and great views of harbors and the the Irish Sea. The train was very modern and the two-hour ride was comfortable.

At the Belfast station I didn’t know if I would need to present my passport, given that Belfast is in Northern Ireland and part of the U.K. and not in the Republic of Ireland. But there was no need for a passport – just walked off the train and out the door to explore Belfast.

The weather was holding up so it was okay to walk the 30 minutes to the Titanic Exhibit. Along the way I took pictures of the immense harbor and the River Lagan that runs through Belfast and into the harbor. A walkway took me most of the way from the train station to the Titanic Exhibit building. From a distance it didn’t look that big.

The Titanic Exhibit Building is in the picture below, to the right.

There was artwork along the way. This one I thought was interesting.

When I arrived I headed straight for a place where I could get something to eat. Was starved!

After lunch I went outside to get some pictures of the building. The outside was inspired by the bow of the ship and a compass – build in the shipyard where the Titanic was built in the Harland & Wolff shipyard.

After buying a ticket you go upstairs to start the journey. There were exhibits on the materials that went into building the ship and then learned about the people who actually built the Titanic and her sister ships. There was a ride that took groups of people through the various stages of building the ships – suspended high above the ground. It was very hard labor.

We were shown where this building is in relationship to where the Titanic was built. The second picture below shows where the Titanic was built.

We were shown the rooms where the passengers (all class of passengers) lived during the voyage.

Then we experienced the ship’s encounter with the iceberg, the rescues, the deaths, and the days following the sinking. Very dramatic!

At the end of the tour, we saw large screen projections of the wreckage field of the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean. A whole different experience than seeing a documentary on TV.

After about 90 minutes, I was ready to leave. It was starting to rain so I hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to the city center. From there I walked around and then eventually walked to the train station since the weather had cleared up.

Walked into St. George’s Market on the way back. Wow! I should have planned more time to walk through the market. A little bit of everything!

I took a picture of the Belfast train station. Also, seeing the carpet, I decided to do a “shoes and carpet” picture.

I had a snack and some tea waiting for the train and boarded about 15 minutes before departure. This time I sat on the opposite side of the train and saw what I didn’t see on the way up. I highly recommend this ride – for only 38 pounds.

Was tired when I got home – so picked up a pizza for dinner then had a nap. Good to just relax after a lot of walking and site-seeing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 9 June 2017

Nice! It looked like a good day brewing outside and I had a few places to visit. I followed a church tour I put together that included some Irish history.

First stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral – founded in 1191. It is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is the tallest church in Ireland with a 43 meter spire.

When I entered the cathedral, there were so many people. Seemed like there were more people in this church than in St. Paul’s in London. Enjoyed talked with the person in charge of the tickets – she asked where I was from and I said “Oregon” and she announced that the state capital is Salem. Wow! All this while taking my money and issuing the ticket. She was good! I also heard her say a few words in Italian to the people ahead of me. Nice when someone really likes what they do – and adds their own special touch.

One of most notable people associated (and buried) with the church is Jonathan Swift, who among other things, wrote Gulliver’s Travels. Along with a nice marker on the floor (below) of the cathedral, there was a death mask of him and his skull. Irish are not too shy about these sort of things.

When I got outside, it looks the Marsh family in Ireland helped with a library for the church. I have no idea if we’re related. Our Marsh line is from Kent, England.

From there I returned to Christchurch Cathedral. I had only taken pictures from the outside and hadn’t gone into the building. This church, while at an older location (1028 AD), was remodeled at the end of the 19th century. Here you will find the resting place of Strongbow (Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke) who lead the Norman invasion of Ireland (against the Vikings).

Christchurch is shown below and in the background is the church that is home to Dublinia.

Strongbow (below)

In the large crypt there are a number of exhibits including the priceless church artifacts.

Across the street is Dublinia, a historical exhibit highlighting Ireland’s history from the Vikings and Medieval periods and built on the site of the medieval church of St. Michael. The exhibits were very well done and staff with volunteers who where there to answer questions. On the upper floor, we saw current archaeological work currently underway and the tools used for this work. From there, crossing the bridge  back over to Christchurch, we were able to climb the 96 steps up the tower of the church. You can take pictures of Dublin from all directions.

A lot of churches for one day. I feel well-informed of Ireland’s history – but understand there is more still waiting for me to discover. But that will be another day.

Nice to come back to the flat and relax at the end of the day.