Dublin, Ireland

Well, through an evil coworker I was shown a new airline that is promoting cheap flights. For less then a weekend in the states I was able to go to Dublin. I’ve never been to Ireland before and I was looking forward to a long weekend away. So that is how I ended up in Ireland. I arrived at about 8am. I was able to find the bus to an Airbnb I had reserved. I recently discovered that google maps lets you download area maps. This was amazing and I easily found the place. I was renting a small room that was within walking distance to downtown. It was a very brisk morning more cool then I expected it to be but bundled up and a quick walk kept me warm. I worked my way towards Phoenix park. In the park was the Dublin Zoo. I am a sucker for zoos and aquariums. With such a cold morning most of the animals wereinside their warm homes. However, a few brave creatures were out in the sun soaking up the rays. Jet lag hadn’t set in yet and I worked my way towards downtown. I passed Jameson and Guinness breweries. Followed the River Liffey to a pub for lunch. Beer and soup. Yummy. I continued to wander around looking at ancient cathedrals, Dublin castle, and the Chester Beatty Library. This library holds some of the oldest manuscripts ever found. Antique Bibles, Qurans, and Buddhist texts. The artwork alone was amazing but to actually witness these documents was humbling. To think these writings from BC and AD made it long enough for me to witness them. It was wonderful. Starting to get a bit footsore I worked my way back to my home-stay for a nap.

I did get up for a bit to have a fabulous dinner at a local pub. However, I had an early day for a ride to Northern Ireland. In case you forgot, Northern Ireland is a separate country from Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and uses the Sterling Pound for currency. Ireland is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. I have to say I had to be reminded of this fact. We worked our way north to the Carrick-a-rede bridge. This bridge was constructed so that fisherman could get a bit farther out from shore. The bridge is constructed of two 2×12 boards and about 100 feet long. I must admit I got a bit weak kneed halfway across but I managed.

 

 

 

 

 

After the bridge we went toward the Giants Causeway. Now this is a natural formation of basalt rock. The story goes that a Scottish Giant (the formations go all the way to Scotland) came across the causeway to conquer the Irish giant. Through the wisdom of Mrs. Irish Giant the Scottish one was sent running home with his tail between his legs. The formation and the walk to the causeway is amazing. Huge cliffs and roaring sea add to the the giant atmosphere. We past this ruined castle on the way back to Dublin. Ireland, it seems, holds more ancient structures then I ever expected. The Bushmill Brewery, which we also passed, was founded in the 1700s and is one of the oldest working brewery in Ireland. Just amazing. Just wow.

The next and my final full day in Ireland I went to all the museums and touristy sights that I didn’t get to on my first day. The natural history museums had some of the most antique specimens I have ever seen. Many from the early 1900s or late 1800s. The grouping of creatures was amazing. Not just one twig of the species tree but whole branches. The National Gallery held such wonderful works of local artists. I brought home a reprint of J.B. Yeats White Horse, among others. My final last half day I visited the Botanical Gardens and the Gasnevin Cemetery. Both were beyond imagination and quite P1060202.JPGfantastic. The entire trip was perfect getaway. Great way to recharge the batteries. I recommend checking out Norwegian Air in your area. The one bit advice, be aware that the 10kg is for both of your bags. So either check (extra fee) or pack extremely light. Now back to the daily grind. I might have accidentally, on purpose, signed up to work the next three weeks straight. I will be on midnights so that should be fine. I will just be a hermit. Until my next trip… which might be Costa Rica.

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Sunday Meditations

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Life is stressful. That is part of life. There is always something going on or something to do. It is important to take moments to relax. I booked a trip about 6 weeks ago to Dublin. I had no real idea how busy my life would be at the time of the trip. Really it probably isn’t the best time to leave. However, it is only for the weekend and nothing will burn down while I am away. It is important to take opportunities as they present themselves. Instead of being stressed that I am leaving I will focus on enjoying my weekend. Hope you enjoy yours.

Book Review: January

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Another great start to the new year. Finished last year with 53 books. Not bad!

Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: Wow! What a crazy collection of stories. It is good fun and fun to read. A very easy and enjoyable read. I have it on audio and the narrator is great.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey: I have been putting off these books of Pern for no good reason. I don’t know why I was so stubborn because these are really great stories with a fantastic premise. If you like a good fantasy book with dragons and crazy planets read these books.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer: After all the drama of the Twilight movies many people have blacklisted her books. Meyers is a great author. Just because of the poor acting that made the movies a joke doesn’t mean her other books are bad. The Chemist is another great story. Another strong woman main character that works to keep from getting killed. A must read for any mystery/ action lover.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin: This is an award winning SciFi book. It is a fantastic read. While it takes a bit getting used to the “language” of Planet Winter, the most interesting thing is the inhabitants are genderless. Being a genderless culture has really affected the growth of the planet. If you love SciFi or just want to read something new. Try this book!

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood:  Another great Post Apocalyptic story. It talks about genetic enhanced animals and a world gone awry. A young man, with flashbacks to his childhood, tries to make sense of the world around him.

Sunday Meditations

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Often times we hear that we should be “in the world but not of the world.” I do agree with that but I have noticed something. We aren’t even “in the world” any more. All we do is have stare at our devises and ignore our surroundings. So I say to you… BE IN THE WORLD. Interact with strangers, friends, and family. See the flowers and the shapes of clouds. Be as a child and embrace your life!

Winnipeg, Canada

I finally had a couple days off (I work 8 on 2 off/ 8 on 4 off). My schedule is horrible. No one is able to work that many days in a row and keep their sanity. I have been struggling but fighting back. I hope to get a transfer this year. Wish me luck ‘cause I am going to need it. Well anyways I had a long weekend and my roomie and I decided to visit Winnipeg, Canada.  We had been talking about it for some time and actually had days of together so we headed north. I have finally purchased my new truck and I wanted to take it to see if she was worthy of the purchase. She, Beatrice, did not disappoint. The drive was about 3 hours and I have to say there isn’t much in Canada. We drove through swampland and country side until about 40 minutes outside of Winnipeg where there was another small town. I understand that Canada’s roads are crap, I hear it all the time, but seeing is believing. They are really bad. I lost traction doing 30 on a dry road, that’s how bad. However, we carefully made it to our hotel in downtown Winnipeg. We were not able to get our keys but could park and then walk to get some food.  We chose downtown because of a place called the Forks. It is a little artisans place with a bunch of handicraft shops and ethnic food. For our breakfast we had Caribbean and maybe a few local beers. Afterward we were feed and watered we took note of the other food places we would want to eat at and wandered through the stores. Then we worked back to the hotel to get our keys and unpack a bit. Maybe a nap. The room was large and very comfortable.  On the way back to the hotel from the Forks we saw a sign for a Cirque du Solei show in the area.  Tickets were the right price and we booked for the next night. We had a few recommendations for places to eat for dinner and went out for Tapas and drinks. Food was exotic and good and a pitcher of sangria made us quiet happy.

The next day we awoke early and went to our continental breakfast. I have to say that these other guest were the most rude people ever. Cutting in front of you to grab a fork or piece of toast. There was very limited places to sit and many people, having finished their meals, were sitting reading the paper.  Super rude and inconsiderate. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about. So we ate quick and made our way to the Winnipeg Zoo. Both of us are big zoo and aquarium fans and we stop at any that we can. This once was a little poorly designed and many of the exhibits were under construction. We still saw many animals such as, polar bears, camels, wild horses, tigers, and many smaller mammals and birds. It was a great way to spend the morning.  We returned to the room and walked around down town looking for used book stores. We found a few and wandered. We found a place that was selling shawarma meals, which is a North African dish. You must try it.  We found an Ethiopian place near there and we figured that would be perfect for dinner. Naps were in order to prepare for a long evening of entertainment and good food. This du Solei was called Kurios and was in an actual big top tent. Like the real circus are in. So cool. Our meal at the Ethiopian place ran long and we were a bit rushed to get to the show on time. We were about 3 minutes late and only missed the announcements about no cameras or recording. The next two hours went by way too fast. There was great music, outstanding acrobats, and fabulous tricks. It was beyond imagination and was the perfect way to spend a few hours. After the show and still floating on a cloud we parked at the hotel and walked to a restaurant bar that was open really late. Beers and munchies were delicious and carried us happily to bed.

The next day we needed to be back in the states to meet a friend who has a food wagon. For breakfast we went to the Forks (better than the hotels) and had good ol’ eggs and sausage, deli quiche, and porgies. All very good! We walked around the park and were trying to kill time to stop in a local brewery before we went south. Happily packed with beer and food we started back south. We stopped at the “middle of Canada” and made it in time to meet my friend to pick up some more food. All in all it was fantastic break from the dull grind of work. However, I am back to that dull grind and hoping for a break again… My mom is on her way up… gulp

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Fun, Quick Weekend

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So last Tuesday, my Roomie and I went to La Boheme. This is the opera of operas or at least that is what I thought. Beyond Phantom of the Opera what other opera can most non-opera people list. La Boheme. I really didn’t know much about the story line. The little bit of research I did said it was a love story of a group Bohemian people. Regardless of lack of information I was very excited. We left home and started the forever long drive to the big city. We stopped at our favorite thrift store and Shopko, taking our time heading to our hotel. I found our hotel on Hotels.com and was very excited to stay there. If you have never been to downtown St. Paul, MN (or even if you have) I recommend staying at Hotel 340. This is the old St. Paul Athletic Club. It is an amazing building with a lot history. Being from an era long past it was like stepping into the past. The ceiling, many stories above the lobby, had hand crafted detail and there was a fireplace so large you could walk into it. Just gorgeous. The hardwood floor looked original and there was random cabinets with beautifully carved detail. Our room was a tad small but we didn’t spend much time in it so that was ok. As soon as we unpacked we wandered around the area by the hotel.

We had dinner reservations a Pazzaluna Urban Italian Restaurant. It was a grand restaurant and quite loud. We were looking forward to having some very yummy food and a glass or two of wine. Our appetizer of Tomato Basil Bruschetta was divine. The mozzarella puffs on top were like heaven in your mouth. Roomie had Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli that looked like a deep dish of goodness. The ricotta made the ravioli creamy and the spinach gave it the perfect zing. I had Three Meat Cannelloni that was almost too good to eat. But I did anyways. The meat was beautifully spiced. The white and red sauces, mixed together, complemented each other perfectly. The only complaint I had was there was too much cheese! I know I am going to hell just for saying that. You can never have too much cheese but it detracted from the meal. We complemented our meals with a glass of white wine. Over all fabulous.

From the restaurant it was just a few minutes’ walk to the Opera House. I was a little self-conscience walking around in an evening dress but soon we caught up with the Opera going crowd and fit right in. We were seated on the Balcony with a great view of the orchestra pit and nearly center stage. The story opens with 4 gentleman in a rundown apartment. They are very poor and in the dead of winter they all were freezing. The poet volunteers to burn one of his stories. “Quiet, my play is beginning…/…to the fire. I find it really sparkling!” The entire story is amusing with little lines like that. However, as a story it was somewhat light. Not a lot of depth. I will say these young men (and women) were fantastic. I imagine to sing opera in a foreign language and act at the same time takes a lot of talent. It was a wonderful experience.

The next day, on the way home, we stopped and shopped and spent way too much money. It was nice to have access to things we don’t in the Frozen North. We also found a new second hand book store that we spent way to much time browsing. This is a great way to spend the weekend. Now back to the grindstone. However, I leave in a week to Orlando and spend some time with my mom and sister. So much to do, so little time.