Friday, July 10, 2015

Dublin Day #3 (2015 Summer Adventures Part 8)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. I teach math - not writing.  We did not take any picture on this day/the things we wanted to take picture of were not allowed to be photographed.

We both woke up at 6am.  Ian showered while Alissa ran.  We ate breakfast at 7am at the hostel.  Someone had closed the window in our room overnight and it was so stuffy in there! After breakfast, Alissa showered and we packed up. We checked out of the hostel. Today was the first warm day that we had experienced; we did not need our jackets. We walked to the Dublin Castle and sat in the garden and played hangman. We were waiting for the Chester Beatty Library to open, but realized that it was not going to open for at least another hour. So we headed to a nearby bank and used the ATM and explored some streets near Trinity College that we had not seen yet.

image via google images

We decided that we were hungry and ready for second breakfast. We went to The Elephant and Castle in the Temple Bar area. I remember that it looked like a super upscale place (and we had our backpacks and everything with us) but it ended up being really reasonable and still nice!  We both decided on the California Breakfast - it was so delicious! Orange juice, two eggs, potatoes, bacon, french toast and coffee all for €21 for two people (that was about 25 dollars for two people). *I did not write this part down in our travel journal, but I think I was slightly grumpy before we had second breakfast.  I remember being so thankful that we found good food at a reasonable price and felt much better after some coffee.

Properly fueled we now set off (again) for Chester Beatty Library (which I think is right behind or connected to the Dublin Castle). We looked around a bit - a lot of really old pieces of literature.  I, of course, did not write down what we saw and have now forgotten. I think we saw the original (or very early copy) of Handel's Messiah Chorus along with some of Shakespeare's originals. There was a lot to see and I get overwhelmed easily in situations like that, so I took breaks on the benches they provided. There was a special exhibit featuring Asian (mainly Japanese I think) pieces, but we walked through it pretty quickly as I felt like we saw everything when we were in Asia.  

Ian had to use the restroom (which was like a block away) so I grabbed some brochures about the library to look at and sat on a bench. I thought, "Surely there must be more than just one exhibit in this place." (There was also a gift shop and a restaurant). After Ian came back from the restroom, we found out that indeed there was one more exhibit. There were three parts to the exhibit - Christianity, Islamic, and Eastern Religion. We spent all of our time in the Christian section. It was unbelievable! We saw ancient recordings of Scripture. Pieces of manuscript on papyrus ranging from 150AD-250AD and third and fourth century pieces of Numbers, Genesis, Daniel, Esther, Romans, Acts, Hebrews, and 1 Corinthians...really incredible. It was a challenge to take in and process that we were seeing writings (copies) of what we read in the Bible only a few generations after Jesus was on the earth.  Thanks to Ian studying Greek in seminary, I know a little bit and was able to look at the 1 Corinthians 13 papyrus and find the word, "agape" over and over.  After we went through the exhibit twice we went to the rooftop garden and tried take in what we had just seen.  The crazy thing is - we almost missed it.  When I think about our trip to the Europe - this is definitely one of the highlights.

We went to the Revenue Museum next - it was a fail.  It was literally about taxes and revenue.  We went through the entire museum in about 5 minutes.  We decided to find a park.  We walked to St. Steven's Green and sat on a bench.  The weather was so nice that we were quite comfortable.  After 30 minutes or so of people watching we headed back to Dame Street (what Ian and I would consider the "downtown" area of Dublin) and grabbed a snack at Starbucks and took the bus to the airport.  Check-in and security went well.  

I remember thinking that I could run the airport much better than whomever was in charge (Ian would say that I say this somewhat often about many things though).  Our flight was delayed an hour or so.  It was only 40 minutes in the air - which I remember being thankful for.  It was a large plane but the seats were tight and there was a bachelor party on the flight.  One of the guys in the wedding party was dressed as a bride.  Once we landed we walked through "customs". I really wanted my passport stamped so I was not happy about the lack of customs.

We took an AirLink bus into Edinburgh's City Center.  Our hostel was an easy short walk from the bus stop.  The two guys that checked us in at the hostel were really informative and nice. We found our {private aka not a dorm} room and put our stuff down.  Then we went in search of dinner.  We walked to Rose Street.  We found a Scottish restaurant on the second floor of a building.  Alissa had the Sausage and Mash with a Innis & Gunn Pale Ale.  Ian had fish and chips with a Yardhouse (from London?) Pale Ale.  It was great food - big portions.  We gave the place a 8/10.  The carpet was a red and blue plaid design - nice Scottish touch.  We walked back to our hostel. Ian headed out the Black Dragon for a pre-release of Magic Origins. Ian picked white and ended up playing green-blue deck. He went 2 wins, 1 tie, an d2 losses. He met many locals and had fun chatting and playing games.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dublin Day #2 (2015 Summer Adventure Part 7)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures. Also, I teach math - not writing.

Second full day in Dublin!  Ian woke up at 6am showered and ate breakfast.  I woke up closer to 7-7:30am and took a fake shower.  We went to Costa Coffee (located near our hostel) for coffee and protein.  (The hostel had free breakfast but it was all carbs - white bread/toast, sugary cereal, not really anything to stick to your bones if you are walking around all day.)  We planned out our day and talked about how hard it is to stay in dorm-style hostels.  But we like to travel so we hope we can stay young (in spirit) and continue to stay in hostels.

We set off for Christ Church.  We read the history on a plague outside.  It was established in 1030! We decided to attend/participate in Morning Prayer (therefore free admission!).  There were 2 Anglican Priests, us, and 1 other person there for morning prayer.  We did responsive readings from the Common Book of Prayer.  It lasted about 15 minutes and was pretty straightforward.

One of the stain glass windows from Christ Church
Afterwards, we went down into the crypt.  This was not my cup of tea.  It was spooky.  The crypt was more commercialized than Ian remember it being (Ian was in Dublin in Spring 2007).  It was a pretty big crypt (I am not sure what the average size of crypts are, but bigger than I thought it would be).  There was a copy of the Magna Carta, old communion sets, and some outfits from "The Tutors" (a TV series that was recorded in the Crypt at times.)  Also there was a display of a dead cat and rat - so gross and yuck.
This is the exterior of Christ Church...I can't remember exactly why we took this picture or why we used this angle....
We walked to Jameson Distillery next and purchased tickets for 30 euros for a tour.  During the 20 minute wait for the tour to begin, Ian had an Irish Coffee.  He rated it an 8/10.

A picture from our tour, Ian with his Irish Coffee, and a cool light fixture made from Jameson bottles

The tour was great!  We hit the jackpot as far as tour guides go.  Niles (our awesome tour guide) was kind, enthusiastic, entertaining, and an encourager of photographs and questions.  Each tour stop was well done and not boring.  It was a good concise mix of history and current operations.  At one point Niles was talking about the specific ratio of malted to unmalted barely that is used in Jameson Whiskey.  I thought, "Ding! Ding! Ding!  I am going to find out the ratio and then tell my students about math in real life!" So I asked about the ratios.  Niles answered that the ratios are a secret and different for each of Jameson's 39 whiskeys.  He went on to explain that you have to have a PhD in Chemical Engineering to be considered for the job of a distiller.  (How fascinating and mathtastic!)

The tour ended with a tasting.  There was a Scottish Wiskey - twice distilled - it was my favorite and Ian said he could taste the smoky-peaty flavor.  There was Jamesons - distilled three times - Ian's favorite and it was a crisp and clean taste.  Then there was Jack Daniels - single distilled - corn flavored (we found out which was after we had tasted each.)

The reason that Jameson is not clear is due to be aged in recycled barrels - either port wine, sherry, or bourbon barrels. After the tasting, we got either a shot of Jameson or Ginger Ale, Jameson, and Lime.  Ian had the first, I had the second (it was delicious!).  We thought the tour was well-done.  We would definitely do it again or suggest it to others.

We went to Christopher's (super close to Jamesons) for lunch.  Alissa had a pannini and Ian had a bagel sandwich with soup.  After lunch we sent off of a hunt for a sweatshirt/jacket for Alissa.  I planned on bringing one but forgot it at 3am the day we left.  We browsed for about an hour on Henry Street.  Not much to choose from, but I ended up finding a grey fleece for about 17 euros (and there is no tax charged on clothes)!

We saw this when we were out walking - how Irish!

We walked backed to the hostel and napped for over 3 hours!  We woke up refreshed and headed out to find dinner.  We went in search of an "Irish pub".  After walking around the Temple Bar Area we ended up at the Trinity Bar.  Ian had Arthur & Guinness Pie and Alissa had Beef Stew.  It was good, filling food.  We also had potato skins.  The music was loud and Mumford & Sons was the band of choice.  We ended our day at Starbucks - recording our day and reviewing our budget.

The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

First Full Day in Dublin (2015 Summer Adventure Part 6)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our trip in the summer of 2015. There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements. Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures. Also, I teach math - not writing.

Our first full 24 hour day in Dublin was FULL!  Ian woke up around 5am and took a shower.  He hung out in the community room until 7am - planning our day and researching fun things to do.  I woke up around 5:30am and went for a 4 mile run along the river.  When I got done, we ate the free breakfast provided by the hostel - bread, cereal, juice, and coffee.  After breakfast, I took a shower and we got organized for the day.

We set off to Starbucks and had a real cup of coffee.  We decided what we wanted to do for the day.  We walked to Guiness factory and bought our ticket for the day.  (If I remember correctly, they only sell so many tickets per day.  Once you have the admission ticket, you can enter at any time.)  I filled my water bottle in their restroom. (This happened constantly on our trip - find a place for Alissa to get some water.)  Once we had our tickets (that cost 36 euros) we headed back across town to Trinity College.  On our way there, we stopped in a grocery store and bought some cheese, a smoothie, and a scone.  The small shop had a lot of carbs - crackers, bread, etc and dairy.

We were only interested in part of Trinity College and that was the Long Room and Book of Kells.  The intro exhibits to the Book of Kells were interesting and informative.  The viewing room of the Book of Kells was unfortunate.  (The Book of Kells is an (overly?) illustrated book of the Gospels in Latin from around 800 - if this trip was anything, it was a history lesson).  People stood around the display and looked and did NOT move.  I thought some assertive pace-setters would have been helpful.  We got a couple of glances at it (no pictures allowed).  I got frustrated so we headed upstairs to the Long Room.
The Long Room looked like a Harry Potter Room
The coolest thing on display was a harp.  It is the oldest harp in Ireland and the design for Ireland's seal/symbol was based on the shape of the harp.  The second coolest thing was a parchment calling the citizens of Ireland to freedom in 1916.
Oldest Harp in Ireland 
The Long Room housed 200,000 of the oldest books of Trinity College.  They had busts of famous figures such Plato and Irish statesmen in front of each bookshelf.  They also had displays down the middle of the room.  The Hobbit was on display and categorized under Norse Myth.  We finished exploring the Long Room and headed to the Dublin Castle.
Dublin Castle - bust (for us).  We used the restroom, looked around, and headed out.  We decided to grab some lunch and went to Bobo's.  I had a full Irish breakfast - YUM! Ian had The Dubliner burger - it had a special sauce and good fries.  I will forever be a fan of Irish and English breakfasts!  They usually include bacon and ham, eggs, tomato, baked beans, and bread.  Bobo's was my childhood dream come true - there were murals of cows on the wall and cowhide on the back of the benches.  It was a fun restaurant.  We were both a bit tired at the end of the lunch (jet lag?).
We walked to St. Patrick's (THEE Saint Patrick's Cathedral).  We did not want to pay to go inside, so we sat outside in the park and took pictures.  The park was nice, the church was pretty.  We saw the well where Saint Patrick used to baptize people in the 5th Century.
We started to meander towards the Guinness Factory.  We stopped in several thrift store on our way, but did not find any gems.  One thing I learned while living in Korea - don't just do the tourist-y things.  Walk into small shops, look into the barber's, peruse the post office - try to take in the ordinary along with the extraordinary.  It reinforces the idea that the way they do things in other countries and cultures is not necessarily good or bad, just different.
The Guinness Storehouse is a seven story building where we learned about the brewing process.  It was a really well done museum (I don't know if museum is the right word to use, but it is the best I can come up with).  It is a self-guided tour of each stage of the brewing process - which is scientific and has changed over the years.  It was interactive and engaging.  We skipped the Tasting Room where you learn how to pour (from a tap) the perfect pint.  The tour ends on the seventh floor with a free pint and a 360 degree view of the city.
On our way back towards the hostel, we stopped in St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist Cathedral (the longest name ever?).  We voted (lit an electric candle) and prayed to Jesus.  We hope Jesus wins.  In our experience, Mary usually does.  We ate dinner at Apache Pizza for dinner - Hawaiian pizza.  It was odd to us that a restaurant in Ireland is named after a Native American Tribe.  The pizza was only 10 euros - we felt like it was a good deal.  We headed to the hostel, checked our email, and went to bed between 7-8pm.  We were exhausted.

What a full day! Looking back, I am impressed with how much we did in a day.  I made a note that the weather was windy and chilly.  If the sun was out, it was comfortable.  I also made a note about how good the coffee shop music is in Ireland.  It is from 10-15 years ago, but far superior to American coffee shop music.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day 1 in Dublin (2015 Summer Adventures Part 5)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our amazing trip in the summer of 2015.  There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements.  Feel free to scan and just look at pictures.  Also, I am a runner - not a writer.

We arrived in Dublin around 11:30am local time.  Customs were a breeze.  I was on the hunt for water.  I was feeling fairly nauseous from the lack of sleep and too much coffee drank on the flight.  Would you believe that there is only one drinking fountain in all of Dublin's International Airport!?!?  My perseverance paid off and I found it.

We took an express bus from the airport into the city.  There were about 9 stops during its 30 minute route.  My very first memory of seeing Dublin was Aldi's.  They have Aldi's in Ireland, but not in Colorado - how is that possible?  We also saw a fun bridge that was designed to look like a harp - harps are the national emblem of Ireland.  We got off on at the correct stop (in the pouring rain) and then proceeded to get quite lost.  Well maybe we were not lost, we just could not locate the hostel for the life of us.  We did not understand how the streets were labeled and we just kept wandering.  The streets were not straight and some times they would change names at intersections.

We finally found our hostel (Barnacles Temple Bar House) and checked in. Our bunks were not ready so we walked to the nearby Joy Cafe.  It was a quaint place.  They had sandwiches and tea.  Alissa had 7up and Ian had a HUGE chicken club sandwich.  It was delicious and hit the spot for both of us.
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be backpacking through the UK for 3+ weeks with just one backpack - I would not have believed you.  But we did it and not only survived, but thrived.  AND I packed running clothes.  

When we got back to the hostel, we were allowed to head up to our room.  We dropped the uneaten half of Ian's sandwich off in the fridge and located the restrooms.  We settled our bags in our lockers.  We got bunk beds - Ian took the lower one and I claimed the top bunk.  I grabbed my eye mask and feel asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  I think at this point we had gotten about 4 hours of sleep in the past 50 hours.  We slept from 3pm to 5am the next morning.  I did wake up somewhere around 10pm and eat half of the delicious chicken club sandwich.  We both slept fairly soundly but we were treated to a free concert through the open window in our room.  We shared the room with about 10 other people.  The bathroom was attached to the room - which was nice.  Our hostel was located in a central and fun area of Dublin.  I would definitely stay there again.

So our first day in Dublin was not that exciting - I don't think we even took any pictures.  But we made it!  And adventure was just waiting for us!

This was taken in Ireland - later in our trip.
The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7

Monday, July 6, 2015

San Francisco Layover (2015 Summer Adventures Part 4)

Disclaimer: The main reason for these posts is to remember our amazing trip in the summer of 2015.  There will probably be too many details and lots of parenthetic statements.  Feel free to scroll through and just look at pictures.  Also, I am a runner - not a writer.

On Monday, July 6th we started our UK Backpacking Adventure Trip at 3am.  We had gone to bed pretty late the night before, but we were so excited that we did not feel too tired.  You know who your friends are when you ask, "Can you drive us to the airport at 4am?"

We got to the airport and realized that we were not the only people catching an early flight the Monday morning after the July 4th weekend (whoops!).  We got in a long security line at 4:53am and got through security by 5:30.  Our flight boarded at 5:40am.  We napped and read the in-flight magazine on our way to San Fran (it is a somewhat long story as to why flew from Denver to SFO to Dublin if you want to hear the whole long thing ask me)  We arrived in SFO at 7:45am (local time).  We met Michael (who had been a volunteer since 2001) at the tourist info desk.  He gave us a briefing on BART (Bay Area Public Transportation) and attractions to check out.

Equipped with some maps and info, we set off.  I thought California had played a bad trick on us - it was freezing!  And the subway/BART was ghe-tto! (Ian would say that I am acting like a first world white girl right now...ahem).  Once we got to the Empardicio stop, I was happy to see palm trees and the ocean - wootwoot!  We started at Pier 0 and started walking towards Pier 40 (maybe a mile-ish).  We stopped for coffee along the way.  All the piers were along the ocean.  We toured Pier 39, it had cool shops.  We tried to see the seals that usually hang out in the area, but there was only 1 and it was not a healthy seal.  We learned that the seals swim to Mexico in the summer and then return in early to mid August.
We could see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Thankfully, California was good to us and it warmed up.

San Francisco is to China as bike rides are to 1 dollah, 1 dollah, 1 dollllaaahhhh.  (Everywhere you go, there are people aggressively trying to talk you into a taking a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge just like the one dollar people in China).

We found the Buena Vista Cafe.  It is about 2 blocks off the ocean and known as the American Home of the Irish Coffee.  We hang out with some friends every Friday night and every Friday night we have an Irish Coffee after dinner.  It signals "weekend" to us.  We split an Irish Coffee - the best part (in my opinion) is the hand whipped, whipped cream - yum!  The bartender was quirky and beyond laid-back.  He made the Irish Coffees without a care if he splashed too much coffee or accidentally spilled some.

Then we walked up a long steep hill (we had our backpacks with us all day) to see Lombard Street.  There were great views of the ocean.  We took a few pictures once we found Lombard Street and then headed back down to Fisherman's Warf.

Everyone (and I do mean every single person that we know from the west coast) holds a high opinion of In-N-Out.  Neither Ian or I had eaten there before so we thought, "when in California, eat some InNOut".
The place was PACKED.  We both had a burger and fries, the burger scored a 6.5/10 for us.  Once we finished lunch, we had back to the BART stop and returned to the airport.  We got through security fast.  We found our gate and just hung out for a while.  We boarded the plane around 4:45-5pm.  I remember thinking, "We could fly home right now and I would feel like we have been on vacation...and the adventure hasn't even started."

It was not the best flight of my life, but it was definitely not the worst.  It was also a long flight (10ish hours) but we have definitely flown for longer.  I drank too much coffee, not enough water.  There were unsupervised teenagers.  And the little TV on the back of the seats was hit or miss.  On the upside, we had a great "goody bag" with inflatable neck pillows, earbuds, earplugs, green socks, toothbrush and toothpaste.

The verse we memorized during our trip was "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."  Psalm 28:7