Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Leprechaun land

Ahoy mate.  Rather than flip flopping blogs and posting on the other one just because it's in the northern hemisphere I'm going to stick to this one now and going forward. After all, I don't want to confuse what few readers I have.  The catalyst for this trip was...............you guessed it.......a wedding.  I'm fortunate that my friends choose exotic places to get married, but I've made them the promise that there's no destination short of the moon I won't go to celebrate a matrimony.  I once even went to LA and then to India 6 months later for the same nuptials.

This time it was for an ex-coworker of mine from London and a good mate of mine, Mark Williams.  After many, many years of dating the finally decided to tie the knot in a small town in Southwest Ireland called Adare.  It was my first time in Ireland and my only real goals on the trip were to A) find a Leprechaun  B) steal or at least negotiate with him for his pot of gold and C) have a Guinness.  The wedding venue was a manor and from what I can tell, it is the main attraction in Adare.  Initially, I was led to believe it was a castle, but in my strict definition of a castle, there must be a moat and a drawbridge.  Bonus points for something deadly swimming in the moat.  This one had water on one side and even though it didn't qualify as a castle in my book, it was nothing short of spectacular.

That out-of-place looking tree on the left is a Lebanese cedar that someone planted 100 years before the US existed.  

This picture is self explanatory.  That's my ex boss hanging out in the Pet Cemetery. 

Of course there was a wedding and it was glorious.  The bride looked beautiful and my mate, well, he looked good too.   

The blurriness of that picture is a direct result of me figuring out how to use the spiffy new camera my sister got me.  I think I was using about 8% of it's functionality during this trip so the good news is that it can only go up from here.  The important thing is that the newlyweds look happy cutting the cake and my mate is flashing his usual ear to ear grin.


Nothing like a gong to signal when it's time to move from one room to the next.  This was used about 5 times during the course of the night.  Really, there's nothing like it, I'm serious!   

On the list of things I shouldn't have taken a picture of, but did anyway, here is the beautiful bride helping out a fallen wedding guest who had a little too much Jameson and Guinness. It was a fun night filled with dancing and other shenanigans (that seems like an Irish word to me), but there was no leprechauns around.  

The next day I went to check out the golf course and to see if there was anything menacing in the river.  There wasn't anything so I posed on the bridge instead.  

After the weekend, I got a ride with the Best Man to Dublin which was 2 hours East of Adare.  I was initially surprised at how small a city Dublin is.  It wasn't the huge metropolis I was expecting, but this gave it a cozier feeling and was undoubtedly a good thing. 

It was there that I accomplished my 3rd goal.  I have never been a big Guinness fan, forcing it down once a  year on St. Paddy's day.  However, the rumor that it is better in Ireland is unequivocally true!  I love to taste the beers of the world wherever I go, and over there it was so much smoother going down.  A real pleasure. 

After Dublin I was so tired of planes after having taken a 14 hour flight from Argentina a couple days before my Ireland flight that I took the ferry over to the UK.  I later found out that most Londoners don't  know you can take a ferry to and from Ireland.  I'd shake my head, but most Floridians don't know the capital of Florida.  

Hey!  Look what I found on the ferry?  It's the newlyweds looking much more relaxed and chilled out.  Always much better to spend time post wedding with those that just tied the not.  Mark hates ferries, but they were able to load their car onto this one so he did it + fared quite well on it.  I have to apologize for basically wearing the same thing in every shot.  Even though my suitcase weighed a ton I only packed two sweaters and this was the warmest.  I normally don't care how much it weighs, but one wheel broke off on the way over so I was left carrying my luggage like it was the mid 80s for ten days in Europe.  They say the caveman invented the wheel + why it took till the 1990s to apply it to luggage I'll never know.  

After the ferry, I decided to take a train to London.  In case you're wondering, it takes about 2 hours and requires 2 transfers but like most European trains it's comfortable and easy.  On this ride there was a bonus of some unexpected entertainment going around my seat.  Even though I had my ipod in and was trying to catch the sunset scenery I could sense some mischief going on around me.  Basically there were two women and a child sitting in the same row on the other side of the aisle from me and a drunken guy in the seats in front of me.  I thought they knew each other at first.  The women were drinking too out of a flask + between the think accents, drunkenness and  cursing every other word, I could make out a tenth of what they were saying even though it was English (I think).  It was worse than being in Brazil and hearing Portuguese around me.  Anyway, after about 50 minutes of animated speaking someone alerted the police and they took the drunk man down.

This all happened behind my seat so I had to sneak pictures without the bobby seeing.  After being cuffed, the guy denied he said anything offensive and that he only wanted to get to London.  

Moving right along, I spent 5 days in London staying with my friend Ali, her husband and their adorable 4 year old Emma.  I even did some babysitting which was fun and got to see lots of friends.  I barely consider London an international city so no pictures from that one.  

I stopped in Scotland for a night to complete the tour of the UK and although it rained I had fun.  Their accents are the least decipherable of anywhere in the UK.  On my way back I had to go through Shannon (where I first landed) and had a half day to kill.  I was going to see a nearby castle, but it was a beautiful day and I was feeling ambitious so I went to the airport, compared all the car rentals and got on the road.  I was worried I would wreck since they drive on the other (not wrong) side of the road, but I took my chances and headed to North West Ireland.  My destination was...

The Cliffs of Moher

Like most natural marvels, pictures can't adequately convey the feeling of being there.  I had seen many pictures of the Grand Canyon and they looked cool, but the first time you see the Canyon in person it is breathtaking.  These cliffs were close to that level of magnificence, just not on the same large scale.  

 This is yet another of the 28 finalists for the New Seven wonders of the World.  To see the latest rankings go to http://www.new7wonders.com/community/en/new7wonders/new7wonders_of_nature/latest_ranking.  Surprisingly, the Canyon is not ranked very high at the moment.  Guess I have more to experience.  

I returned to NY not finding any leprechauns or pots of gold but was rich on experience (is that cheezy enough?).  The Irish people were very warm and helpful in every possible way.  I enjoyed seeing their country + the Irish bars in New York are reasonable facsimiles for food and Guinness, but I can honestly say that nothing beats the real thing.  

The Best Beef Stew I've ever had.