Dinning and touring in Dublin and Belfast!

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Our next port of call, after Cobh, was Dublin. I had high expectations, maybe too high. I knew I would have to settle for just a few sights and, of course, it was raining. More like pouring really, so we had a lot of wet, soggy ground to cover in just a few hours!

As we pulled into port it was obvious that the skies were not going to clear anytime soon.

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we could make out the new soccer stadium in the gloom

Our shuttle bus dropped us in the downtown area and we set out on foot for Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university founded in 1592. It is also the home of the Book of Kells. Now, I am not a religious person but this collection was penned in 384 AD, and I am a person who greatly values the written word and was hoping to see this exhibit. So we started off toward the college.

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Sights along the way

Trinity College was beautiful. I tried to get a few shots of the campus as we wandered around in the rain.

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The arrow pointing the way to the line to enter The Book of Kells

Unfortunately, the line was long and the rain was steady so the decision was made to move onto sight number two. The next stop on our walking tour was The Dublin Castle and we pointed ourselves in that direction. Along the way there were some beautiful sights lining the path.

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We ducked into a bakery and I snapped a few shots of the local yummies!

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We saw this building titled: Sick & Indicent Roomkeepers Society. What is this about?? Glad I wasn’t alive in 1790 AD!

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As we rounded the corner we saw The Dublin Castle. It was built in the 13th century on a Viking settlement and used primarily by the British until 1922 when the Irish Government took over. What is really cool is that it is a working building that is used for state functions and houses governmental bodies.

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The inside foyer was studded with sculptures.

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Many politicians have posed in front of this area.

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A portion of the tour included this gorgeous hallway.

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One room off the hallway contained these amazing books which have been painstakingly restored. I may not have made it into the Book of Kells but I was thrilled to see this display.

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Another room off that same hallway was this spectacular red room that routinely holds state functions.

 

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By now we were hungry and a little tired from all this walking around. We went out into the street to search for a pub and dry off a bit from the rain.

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We found The Bankers Lounge, which was adorable. In fact I loved the mural on the wall so much that I used it to log our run on Instagram.

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All four of us had the lamb stew with black bread. It was amazing, and I don’t like lamb! Maybe I just needed an Irishman to prepare it for me!

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This was a great way to wrap up our Dublin experience. We next moved onto Belfast, home of the Titanic museum. Our cruise ship sailed for Northern Ireland while we slept and we woke up to this view!

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We boarded another shuttle bus and were, once again, dropped in the middle of the downtown area. This time, no rain! Once again we set out on foot to find the Titanic Museum. We started down the street and I took a few shots along the way.

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There was a McDonlad’s and a KFC everywhere!

 

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I thought this clock tower was gorgeous!

 

The Titanic Museum was pretty easy to spot! The outside of the this massive building is shaped like the bow of a ship, stunning!

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I was looking back toward our cruise ship which was across the water. It was a little eerie spending the better part of the day studying the demise of the Titanic then heading back to our cruise ship!

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I did not take a lot of photos in the museum as it was dark and a very interactive exhibit. There were holograms, an Imax movie, a 3D experience room that took you on a tour of the ship and even a ride in the building! I really do recommend this museum as it was like no other I have ever been to, it was truly unique! There were a couple images that stood out and I did try to capture some of them.

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This was a poster from that era advertising for the ill fated cruise line.

There were several exhibits illustrating the accommodations for the different classes on board. Below is the third class cabin complete with holograms and a recording playing a hypothetical conversation between these two girls. They spoke of how excited they were to be going to New York.

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This map showed the voyage of the Titanic as it sailed from its construction site in Belfast to Southampton where the passengers embarked, then travelled to Queenstown (now know as Cobh, Ireland) to pick up the last of the passengers, her last port of call before the tragedy. It really struck me, when I viewed this map, how closely my trip was mirroring the Titanic’s itinerary.

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These final images of the museum were the slow sinking of the massive ship as Celine Dion sang her famous ballad from the Titanic movie (you knew that had to be in there somewhere).

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We safely made our way back to our own ship and said good bye to Ireland. There is so much more I would like to see and do here, I will definitely be heading back in the future!

Our next port of call will be Greenock, Scotland and there may be some whisky involved!

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Half Marathon Training, August Recap

August 2017 is in the books and it was a crazy time for us to be training as we were traveling a total of 17 or 18 days of the month. I say 17 or 18 because we lost hours going to Europe, then gained hours on the way back, and lost control of all bodily functions to jet lag both directions. Jet lag gets worse the older I get and running with jet lag is not what I recommend to anyone! ย Here is a reminder of what we were trying to accomplish this month.

 

August 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3 4 5 6
  Run 4   Run 4   Run 6  
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
  Run 5   Run 5   Run 7  
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
  Run 5   Run 5   Run 7  
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
  Run 6   Run 4   Run 8  
28 29 30 31
  Run 6   Run 4      
         
           

The first two weeks went great, right up to the 13th when we left for England. After we got our bearings, and survived driving on the left side of the road, we went out into Southampton for a 5 mile run. We were staying near a harbor and I tried to hug the waterline as best I could.

 

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It was a slow run, and this route resembles my lower intestines, but I got it done. My hubby ran 5 miles as well. Here is a better picture of his run!

 

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We toured the HMS Victory in Portsmouth

The next 5 miles that was scheduled had to be done at sea as we had boarded the Caribbean Princess and set sail for Ireland. Our choices were to run on a treadmill in the fitness center, or around the Promenade deck which was narrow, had two sets of stairs and 2.7 laps=1 mile. I chose the treadmill and my hubby went with the deck.

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Pretty nice view for my run

 

So far we were doing pretty good with keeping true to the plan. Our first longer run was 7 miles in Dublin. Of course, since this was Ireland, it was raining. Hard rain, pouring rain, but the temp was good (low 60s) and, more importantly there was zero wind.

The tough part about this run was that we had to start from the port where the ship was docked which meant navigating a busy, industrial area to make our way toward some sort of city. Once again the traffic was predominantly coming from the left and there were overpasses and onramps to cross. We had a basic plan, which my husband stuck to, but I decided to remain closer to the waterline to (hopefully) avoid getting lost. My strategy barely worked. I ended up running around a water sewage treatment plant which stunk, really really badly! Probably because of the backed up drains due to the heavy rain we were experiencing. And the hope that I would not get lost? Ya, I took two wrong turns and my 7 mile run was really 7.65. Oh well, we got back to the ship, showered and went back into town for lunch at a great pub and enjoyed a hot lamb stew!

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We pulled away from the dock in Ireland and made our way to Greenock, in Scotland. Once again we had to figure out a path from the port and run 6 miles into town. This was much easier and far more straightforward this time. We exited the ship and turned right, ran 3 miles then came back. Of course, I still managed to take a wrong turn somewhere and went 6.60. How is it my mistakes always cost me a half mile more?!

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Now, if you are keeping track, which I doubt you are or want to, we should have a 4 mile run to report next. We looked at the itinerary for our next stop and saw that Invergordon, Scotland was the next port of call. Much like Greenock, this was a spot where we could run right from the dock into town and felt it would be best to go for the 8 mile run and just skip the 4. It was a little tougher to fit in 8, more so than I originally thought it would be, due to the small size of the town.

 

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No, I didn’t run on the water! There was a massive pier that went straight out toward some sort of rigs that dotted the waterway. The guard on duty was kind enough to let me go out and back, which ate up a good 1 1/2 miles from my route. It was a really pretty run out there. My husband wasn’t feeling it that run and decided to cut it to 5 for his day.

Aside from a couple shorter jogs on the ship this was our last real mileage of note for the trip. The picture below sums up our training for this month. I was really happy with my total mileage for August, especially when you account for all the travel time.

scotland run

All totaled, we were pretty happy with our ability to keep training while getting in some sightseeing as well. The pictures from our travels are being (slowly) posted on the travel portion of my blog hereย and here.

As for running in September, here is the plan

September 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3
          Run 8  
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  Run 5   Run 4   Run 9  
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
  Run 5   Run 4   Run 9 10k fun run
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
  Run 6   Run5   Run10  
25 26 27 28 29 30
  Run 6   Run5   Run10

So far so good, we are on track as of 9/4 but we are traveling again from 9/9 to 9/23. I will have to update next month with our training efforts in Tucson as we are visiting our new home and trying to get it set up. We also have added a 10K in Tucson for the 17th and will have to rearrange some training runs around that event.

I am grateful for so many wonderful things in my life right now. Running, traveling and our second home. Life is good! Hope all is well with you too ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Cobh, Ireland

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Our first stop, after Southampton, England and our visit toย Stonehenge, was in the port city of Cobh, Ireland. Cobh is a little town on the south side of Ireland and part of Cork County. It is a quaint, little area with farmlands and homes. It is important to the history of Ireland as it is the biggest harbor for transport of goods and assisted with the mass emigration during the tough times suffered by the Irish. It was also the last port of call for the Titanic, where 123 passengers were picked up for the fatal voyage. It was a beautiful day and we had some pretty views as we approached the port.

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These home almost look like toys, they are so close together on the hillside and so colorful

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Cobh Cathedral was stunning!

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This ivy covered home really stood out on the hillside

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My traveling companions! Hubby and his parents.

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We had a limited amount of time (a common theme for any cruise) so we chose to see the Blarney Castle and Gardens in the town of Cork, which was nearby. Our bus dropped us at the visitor’s center and I was surprised at how large the estate was. We began to walk toward the Castle itself.

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I have no idea why these trees are wrapped like this!

 

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This was our first view of the Castle

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It seems that every monument I saw on this trip had some sort of restoration or repair in progress, of course it was built over 600 years ago!

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Every good Castle needs a moat!

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I love how nature invades these ancient buildings

The Blarney Castle is most famous for its Blarney Stone, which people stand in line to visit. I had no desire to kiss a stone that had seen the lips of thousands of my fellow tourists. ย I had doubts that doing so would give me the “gift of gab”, which I have never coveted anyway, but was sure that I would contract the gift of herpes! What I did not know was that the line to kiss the stone, and to gain entry into the Castle, were one in the same. So, unfortunately I had to settle for the outside of the building.

First stop was the dungeon area and the network of tunnels that were below the castle.

 

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Not much of a view from this cell

I took in as much of the perimeter as I could. Love these old walls!

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There were a number of gardens on the property and one of our favorites was the “Poison Garden”.

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There were some truly nasty plantings in here like: Ricin, Opium, Mandrake, and Wolfsbane. There were also some lesser “poison” items that we know today to be not quite as life threatening, like Cannabis and Rosemary (yes, culinary Rosemary was thought to cause miscarriages in the 1800s!)

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I love the cage concept!

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This was a beautiful garden and located just behind the battlements of the castle. See that stone wall above? We had some excellent views from over that wall across the valley.

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The wall itself was home to many plants.

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The wall led up to a turret of sorts which could have been for storage or for imprisonment.

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It was fairly deep and also well covered with plant life.

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We left the Poison Garden and started down one of the many pathways on the grounds, taking in the beauty as we went.

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This tree was huge, I can’t even guess at its age!

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Then we saw Blarney House-WOW! I regret not going inside this home, I am sure it would have been stunning!

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This was from my Instagram feed

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Got my husband in this shot!

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This garden is smaller but no less impressive

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I would have loved to see the view from this little room

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Some stones found along the path leading to the house.

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The Blarney home was definitely a high light for me. We needed to return to the village to meet our tour bus, and grab a quick Irish coffee, so we ambled down another path to circle back to the start.

And we ran into this….

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We are from the Pacific Northwest where ferns and moss were practically invented! But this was a new fern species for us to be sure! It is tall and the leaves are produced at the top of the stalk.

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I was expecting a dinosaur to come strolling along, they look so prehistoric.

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As the path continued it wound down into a gully where this waterfall showed up out of nowhere.

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Our final sights as we left the grounds were the residents of the manor. Both cattle and sheep were taking in the warm sun and grazing nearby.

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The estate was glorious (and the Irish coffee was pretty great too)! If you go, make sure you have your expectation set. There will be a line, it will take the better part of the day to see it all and yes, it is worth it! I am already plotting my return!

Up next on the travel portion of my blog: Dublin and Belfast

Sightseeing at Stonehenge

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The first part of our European adventure started in Southampton, England, mainly because the cruise we are taking leaves from this port city. This is my first trip to England and I was hoping to get to London for obvious reasons! I mean, who goes to England and doesn’t visit London! But, we only ย had three days before the ship sets sail so London will have to be the next time around. The great news is that Stonehenge is only an hour from Southampton, and my hubby loves to drive on the wrong side of the road, so that was our first stop. We headed to Salisbury, the closest city to the monument. It was a beautiful day!

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I was shocked at how close we were allowed to get to the structures.

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I did not know that there are stones along the outer edge of the main monument, each with a different meaning, I think this is the heel stone

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I was also unaware how out in the open this field is, not only was the structure amazing, so was the surrounding landscape. I turned in each direction and saw only fields.

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It appears that we are the only people visiting this day, but there were many other folks around! Again, I was impressed with the feeling that we were alone with this structure!

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Here is another stone along the outside of the ring, it looks like a face to me.

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It could be a smile?!

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This flat stone in the foreground is the slaughter stone, I think I know its purpose!

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A second view of the slaughter stone

We decided to walk back to the visitors center instead of taking the shuttle. We saw these sheep in the field, they were everywhere as where cattle.

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See the white specks? I will get closer in a moment.

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As we walked along we spotted these mounds. This is where ancient people were buried so they would always be able to see Stonehenge during their eternal rest.

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As we walked along I could not help but think of Sherwood Forest.

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Can’t you just see Robin Hood and his men riding down this road!

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I have a couple more pictures of sheep and some huts that were replicas from the time that the workers lived in this area. However, the internet is so spotty that I am just trying to upload now! We head to Ireland next!