Well, Well, Well

We have been back home in Arizona for about a week now and the Jingle-Jangle has smoothed out so we should add a few final thoughts. We keep saying, “Perhaps 14 weeks is just too long.” Perhaps it is. Still, we loved everything we saw, did, experienced, enjoyed, dug up, found and highlighted. There was not a single place we would have skipped and not a single sight we wished we had just walked around. In fact, right up to the last few days in Ireland we were looking at each other and exclaiming, “Wow, this is just gorgeous!” Now, to be perfectly honest the illness, constant rain, the cold, the food poisoning, getting lost, the train strike in France, the over priced hotels in Dublin, the car scrapes, and the car crumples did have a dampening impact on parts of the adventure. But then, the sun, the warmth, the wonderful sights, the spectacular landscapes, the constant flood of gorgeous cathedrals, the old friends we meet and the new friends we made, the museums, the galleries, the food, the wine, the beaches and the mountains all made for an absolutely unforgettable 14 weeks. I think we’ll start planning our next trip right away. Until then here is “Touchdown Mary.” I don’t think the good people of Santa Margherita Ligure call her that, but Duane does. CA80ACDE-DDD0-4D52-BAB8-D7F6BE0F54DA

 

Up – Up and Away

We zipped across Ireland in nothing flat. It’s a tiny island, but gorgeous from edge to edge and tip to tip. In Duane and Paula’s old world we would have crammed in a extra day of activities until the sun went down then raced to the airport at the last minute. Today we got up late, ate a slow breakfast with Mariam and slowly made our way to Dublin, our Hotel and turned the car in. They were inquisitive about the blown out tire, curious about the tiny hub cover, wondered where Duane had hid the tire jack and why we had torn the lugnut covers to shreds, but they were nice. We are expecting the other shoe to drop at any time when they discover Duane tore up the wheel well, but so far they are simply silent. We don’t think it is that easy, but several years ago we turned in a car to those wonderful people at Hertz with a side view mirror almost completely ripped off and “ No Problem”. . . Some days I think they are just happy we returned it. Tomorrow morning (Horrors) they have asked us to be at the airport 3 hours before our flight. With that much time we can have a nap after we check in, buy gifts and eat breakfast before our flight to London’s Heathrow. Flying backwards to England seems completely wrong, but they promised a bigger, faster plane, so we jumped at it. We only have 150 minutes to find this bigger, faster plane and at Heathrow that will be a race against time. When talking about “Airports that are NO fun” Heathrow is #1. BGT is on so I have to go. See you in Tucson.

We’ve Lost our Travel Mojo

We leave out of Dublin on Thursday morning. Today we have completely given up on  this holiday. That’s not a bad thing, just a thing. The Travel Mojo has done got up and left. It’s all right! With that out there . . . . Here are a few travel observations: We’ve always rented from Hertz, we’ve never seriously hurt one of their cars. We’ve never had to try to collect from American Express either. . . We will this time! We’ve done considerable damage to their Golf and they’re going to be pissed. We’ll keep you posted. We’ve noticed. . . There are NO water fountains in all of Europe. . . NONE! How do these people stay hydrated? The nasty bottled water people have something to do with this I’ll bet! Perhaps because it is completely new to us, but Ireland is way more fascinating than we expected. WAY More! We’ve only hit the surface of this beautiful island and it has blown us away. We learned again on this trip why we don’t plan ahead. . . . We always change our minds when we get someplace. It is good to have options! Driving really is the only way to do this. We see these poor people on tour buses and feel sorry for them. They must be having a terrible time. Sure we wreck cars, get hopelessly lost, don’t know where we’re going most of the time and we have to carry our own luggage, but damn we do see some stuff! We have found that if you get out there and talk to people they are genuinely nice. This goes both for the locals and our fellow tourist. We’ve found nothing but delightful people everywhere including the guy in Dublin who told us to guard our cameras from thieves. You really do go through money like crazy . . CRAZY! Their money looks funny, you can’t figure out the exchange rate so you just go to a box (ATM) on the corner every 2 days and get more. Hotels, more than other things, have really gone up in price over the years. Perhaps we are only remembering years and years ago, but hotels are really, really expensive now . . . And sometimes hard to find. The big sights are still “The BIG Sights” and shouldn’t be missed, but we do find great joy in the lesser sights that can be enjoyed without the tour buses ruining everything. Those places are getting harder and harder to find. In the old days we traveled Europe with one book, Rick Steve’s, “Europe through the Backdoor.” It was the only book Rick had. Now he has dozens of books on every country and most large cities and has more or less ruined Europe. Europe will survive, but there are way too many of us tourists over here now and that has lessened the travel experience to a point where, as a friend recently told me, “Travel is just too much of a hassle.” We’ll keep going but we will get smarter about it. Paula has noticed that in Europe you always get a bidet in the bathroom (Duane uses it to wash out his socks). In the U.K. you get NO bidet, but you do get a tea pot in every room. Nice switch out. The bidet was handy to soak your feet in after a long day of walking on rocks. We hit a lot of rain and cold this year in March. We expected the weather to be bit chilly and packed accordingly, but the rain, the constant rain, was a drag. People tell us it was a once on a decade rainy spring. Usually it is nice in March! Maybe. We have learned to travel slower this year spending 3 days when we used to spend one and taking extended stays from time to time really makes a difference. We have learned that no matter how light we pack, we could always pack lighter and carry less. Duane still has things in his suitcase he has never used . . . Who needs a shirt with a stupid collar anyway? Who needs 4 black T-Shirts? No One! Paula said just this morning, “I still haven’t worn that extra pair of shoes I brought.” Word to the wise. Carry very little. . . Wash out things at night and wear them again and again and again. I have one black T-Shirt that has been hand washed so often it has turned charcoal. I will leave it here. We used to say, “Never go back to the same place twice.” It is not bad advice, but we’ve learned that if you really, really loved a city in 1999 you will love it again in 2018, (Bruges). Paris, you can visit as often as you like, there is no limit. London, I think is the same. I could walk in St. James Park in London every day and never get tired of it. Plus, you may get to see the Queen. We had planned several day trips out of London this year, but canceled them all because of the rain. We are averse to getting soaked on a train and walking through water puddles with puppies. Nothing against puppies, we just don’t want them around when they’re wet. Driving on the opposite (Left) side of the road is a daily relearning exercise. Duane has gotten pretty adept at it and rarely runs over things or into things any more, but it requires constant attention. We used to think that coffee in Europe was better, now we are certain they have all forgotten how to make coffee. Even it Italy, it is harder and harder to get a decent cup of coffee. Me thinks that this shrinking world has ruined the art of coffee making. Everyone just slams it out now and hopes for the best. Many hotels have machines that will give you practically anything with a touch of your finger. . . It is usually mediocre coffee. I want the old Italian man grinding coffee one cup at a time in a tiny shop in Florence. You can’t find him anymore. Instead you get a youngster with a machine. He may have a fancy name (Barrista) but he can’t make coffee like his grandma used to.

We call it Roggow Adventures

We call it Roggow Adventures for a reason. Two nights ago we found appropriate lodging in Ballybunion (We thought), walked the golf course, (200€ per round) had a delightful dinner and then Duane promptly (Actually within about 11 hours) came down with a wild, crazy, eruptive and event filled 2 days of food poisoning and all the activities associated with that affliction. I won’t go into detail (It was all to awful!), but to summarize, there were several violent eruptions that took place before we got Duane’s stomach resettled. Rest and rehydration gave us new options for today. The Cliffs of Moher are stunningly beautiful to the point that simple words just can’t describe them. We’ve played with words and still don’t have it down: Starkly beautiful, barren wonderfulness, uniquely gorgeous were just a few. I know we’ve been going on for days now about how gorgeous this little island is, but it is all true. Each day we find something new to be dazzled by. If this isn’t on your bucket list you must add it. We have decided that things and structures, and museums, and galleries, and palaces, and churches and mammoth cathedrals are not what you come to Ireland for . . . You come for Ireland! So far we have seen nothing that is not uniquely fabulous!

14102D85-5816-4C9F-8410-51F411997252First, however, here’s a picture of Duane down on his knees, on a narrow road with no shoulder, on a curve in the road, in the grass and the weeds and the mud and the bugs putting the jack under the car. The first attempt was flawed and Duane did serious damage to his bright red GOLF VW, but the second attempt was successful. Tire changed (after screwing up the lugnut covers). Does anyone know how to get those off without ruining them? During this rough and ready roadside activity Duane was violently attacked and bitten on his ass by a bumblebee. Now if that doesn’t finish off your day nothing will. We are now, as you may have guessed, holed up in a delightful B&B hiding from the outside world in Doolin licking our wounds, resting our knees, icing my ass and blogging. Here’s a picture or two of the Cliffs of Moher.

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0F49DF80-AE22-4944-8290-85E669BCEB49There, I told you it was gorgeous! There were thousands of seagulls flying, shitting, nesting, breeding and being spectacular. Most of the white stuff you see on that rock is either birds are more likely bird shit. No matter, it was gorgeous. We are told that later this afternoon there will be hundreds of puffins who return here to nest at night. During the day they are out feeding in the ocean.

258A3349-9B02-4F17-8304-F7A4C302C850That, my friends, is a lot of Bird Shit. To turn and entire tiny mountain white is some feat! Then again, there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of seagulls all doing their part to make the experience unforgettable. One would think that after over 3 months  on the road we would be jaded, bored, tired, worn out and flummoxed, but NO! We see new things every day that make us go WOW! Did we just see that? We return home in 2 days and we are certain we’ll be glad to sleep in our own bed, but we will miss the donkeys, bees, seagulls, the rotten food, the sheep, cows, the GREEN and the excitement of getting up each day and saying, “What are we going to see today?”

Oh My Goodness!

Just when we thought we’d seen the most beautiful part of Ireland we visited the Dingle Peninsula. Now we are certain we have landed in one of the most gorgeous places on the planet! We will share some photos, but as we all know, photos just don’t fully capture the beauty of a place. We all know they call it “The Emerald Isle” and yes, we expect it to be striking, but then you see it and your mind is blown. Paula keeps slapping me and shouting, “Why didn’t you tell me it was this beautiful?” And without further ado. . . .

7496FFB5-C875-442D-8CBB-8C5CEAFB64A6Duane knows this is just a picture of some cows in a green, green, green pasture. Still, being an old dairy farmer (Among other things) Duane is fascinated by these cows! Note, they are unlike any cows you’ve ever seen! Black on either end with a giant white stripe right through the middle! Now that’s a fancy cow!

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24147B1D-3352-4609-AEED-27F8A62815D8This guy (The seagull, probably Jonathan) sat here while hundreds of eager tourists snapped his picture. Me thinks he’s just trolling for some tasty human snacks.

0D497B7E-E068-44AD-B51E-A54A11D99756You will notice a few flowers in the bottom right hand corner. Wait for it! There are more!

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00001728-3493-421C-B8CB-2D34AE8B2DBBCows and sheep and donkeys and dogs and seagulls galore. And there are rocks and grass and flowers everywhere. We are in Love!

D46FD5C1-8FFF-4273-8B64-52BB7397AFBEBut first you have to see Paula’s Ride. This is kind of a pretend Porsche, but it is Red!

433B4C5D-EA50-4A2B-B603-E4052DA3AD0BHere’s your daily sheep picture.

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We promised Donkeys and here are the Donkeys! They are in the most beautiful pasture in The Whole World!

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Eventually, however, we have to feed ourselves and the town of Dingle delivers! Downtown Dingle features an entire industry which has taken over (Painters) and delivered the most striking downtown on our trip!

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Land yes, we stopped for lunch and an ice cream 🍦. . . . Both were extraordinary!

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Every once in awhile the splendid people of Ireland revert to their native tongue and just go for it.  BALODALA. . . This was painted on the pavement in Dingle and after considerable research we determined that this piece of ground was a Handicapped parking space. Our favorite Gaelic term, however, is one painted on the roads (Literally ON the Road) as we race around. . . GO MALL. . . . Duane assumed this meant Go faster (Why Not?) and was quickly reminded that he has no linguistic skills as the term GO MALL actually means SLOW DOWN! Speeding up around a dangerous corner can be exhilarating, of course, but Paula hates going around corners on two wheels, so Duane learned the language. 😉

B3BC6E9D-2E4A-4D3B-A297-89E072C049F9This ambitious young painter reminds us that you don’t have to Drink Guinness all the time. . . There is an alternative!

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13B2113C-623F-4A39-9E9D-ED466D3DDA7DWe would love to show you more pictures (We took Hundreds) but we know there is a limit.

535E5F8A-9D9D-4692-B1E8-9BB818FFEF90We leave you with this friendly reminder from these fabulous people. The EARTH without ART is just EH! Keep ART Alive! Speaking of Art, our spectacular Grand Daughter, Piper, just won a major Art Award 🥇 in Bloomington, MN. She’s going to be extraordinary! And Reagan, our other magical Granddaughter led her preschool class in their year ending song and killed it! She’s going to be Fabulous!

The Ring of Kerry is not Round

Still, we drove around “The Ring of Kerry” to our great delight. Paula said, “You never told me Ireland was this pretty.” My bad! I was focused on other things and just neglected telling you. Now we are glad we are here and encourage everyone to come see this country.

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Now you know why they call it, “The Emerald Isle.” It is absolutely breathtaking and so different than beauty we’ve seen before, and we’ve seen some beauties.

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It is hard to believe that Duane is speechless, but he is. Words, as they say, just can’t do this kind of wonder justice. Photos, as sometimes happens, can’t quite show the true spectacularity of this chunk of land.

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Still, we drove completely around “The Ring of Kerry” and with a little luck will see even more beauty tomorrow as we head for the Dingle Peninsula

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Just down the street from our hotel in Tralee, is this dandy statue of two lovers with a rose. “The Rose of Tralee.” There is a giant rose garden in this park (No, really, really huge!) that is going to explode with roses in about 7 – 10 days. We would like to stay, but we have a plane to catch. Visiting this part of the world in the Spring is always a great explosion of color as everything blooms. Unfortunately, we miss some.

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Our hotel, “The Grand” is right on Main Street of Tralee and we couldn’t be happier. 6E6DFB19-E84C-401C-B595-86DE5B72267D

Inside is this fabulous bar with every Irish Whiskey known to man. We do not have time to try it all, but we’ll try.

I Have Broken my Promise

I promised a few pictures of the gorgeous countryside, but I do NOT have any. It was that kind of day. Yes, we drove from Waterford to Cork and yes, we saw some lovely scenery, some cows, a lot of sheep, a few goats, thousands of sea gulls and a drunk, but we have pictures of none of that. Today, however, if all goes as planned, we will visit “The Ring of Kerry” and people tell us it is the most picturesque place on the planet. . . We shall see. In the meantime we are still in Cork thinking about what to do next.

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But, back to Waterford. LOOK ar THIS! The NCAA Football from the Waterford Crystal factory! How cool is that?

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Doesn’t Paula look Great! ? I told the Waterford guy that I was a RB in high school and never fumbled. He was nervous. Yet, we got this picture and it felt good to hold a VERY Expensive football and Paula at the same time. I never got to do that in HS as Paula was in the 6th Grade!

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This will have to pass for “Scenery” today. . . Isn’t it gorgeous?

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Arriving in Cork we met up with a great old friend, (And work mate) David Alan Baker, from my working days in Atlanta. It is so much fun to meet with with old friends on the road. We hadn’t seen David for about 13 years. . . We both looked great we decided!

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This guy has been doing this for 37 years, 30 of that as a Master Cutter. It was unbelievable to watch these guys cut the Waterford. VERY Skilled!

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This guy told us that he was the Most Important Person at Waterford. He marks every piece so that the “Cutters” know where to cut. He does it all with a Sharpie!

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Nothing quite like spending your day blowing into a molten hot glob of HOT Glass! That is this guy’s job. The end products are gorgeous and the process is extremely interesting. I gotta go now! More later. The Ring of Kerry awaits.