My brother and I decided to
ring in the New Year's in Ireland in 2016-17. Joy did not have
that much vacation so it was just a brother's bonding trip for
us. We flew out of SFO on Wow Airlines, which is an Icelandic
airline. The flight took us a little over 7 hours to Keflavik
International Airport (KEF) in Iceland. It is about 45 minutes
outside of their capital city. Since it was winter, it was pitch
dark until about 10:00 AM in Iceland. We did get to see the
Northern Lights from the plane as we were approaching Iceland!
They were so neat! We had a short layover there before we took
off for Dublin, Ireland.
After arriving in
Dublin, we took a cab to the Hilton Dublin Kilmainham Hotel. The
hotel had their usual welcome gift for me since I am a Diamond guest in
the room which was some nice Irish chocolates. After getting
cleaned up, we took the Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour of Dublin. The
three hour trip took us to Phoenix Park, which is the largest park in
any large city in Europe. The park has a monument to a famous
Irish Duke who defeated Napoleon. There is also the residence of
the American Ambassador and the Irish Presidential House in Phoenix
Park. We saw the Ha'Penny Bridge from the top of the open top bus
also. It was freezing cold however up top! The tour
continued around Dublin, and we even saw the famous Guinness Brewery
Gate from their commercials. After returning to the hotel, we
took a cab over to Nando's for New Year's Eve Dinner. My brother
and I love Nando's. We first went to one in England a few years
back. They specialize in a spicy South African Peri Peri
Chicken. After dinner, we walked over the Ha'Penny Bridge to
Temple Bar, where a lot of their pubs are. We went inside the
actual Temple Bar there to get some Jameson and take in the New Year's
Eve crowds. I had my backup iPhone with me, and it had a
Freedompop sim card in there that works in most of Europe so I was able
to get voice and data services on the trip. It was limited to 3G
however. We went back to the hotel to nap before midnight since
we were so tired from the flights. I rang in the New Year's at
the hotel party in their lounge area. The hotel gave us a few
drink coupons so I just kept ordering Irish whiskey. I was able
to video chat with Joy too during the countdown to 2017!
The next morning, we
had to get up early to take a cab to the famous statue of Molly Mallone
in Dublin to catch our tour to Cork and Blarney Castle. The hotel
packed us a small breakfast and lunch too for our journey. The
Hilton had great service. My brother spilled some tea in the cab
however, and we experienced the Irish "cussing." The cab driver
said "f**king (in a thick Irish accent)" as he got a cloth to clean it
up. LOL. The Irish cuss and drink a lot! The tour van
took us out of Dublin towards Cork on the Motorway. We stopped at
the Rock of Cashel first to check that out. It was an old
monastary built over a 1,000 years ago! Then, we went to Blarney
Castle where I kissed the famous "Blarney Stone." We got some
time to wander around Cork also before we headed back to Dublin.
We went to Northern
Ireland the following day. I used the same tour company.
This time, we had a large motorcoach. There are no more border
controls between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of
Ireland. There was a Peace Accord signed in 1998. Prior to
that, there was heavy violence in Belfast. Our first stop in
Belfast was Falls Road. That was a nationalist strong hold where
mostly Catholics live. They had all these liberal crappy
murals. I never liked the IRA. I sided with Her Majesty's
government back then. I still have a strong affinity for the
British Crown since they gave my family the name "Roy" and made us
nobles in the Indian Peerage system when Britian ruled India.
Afterwards, we crossed the Peace Wall border to the Protestant side of
Belfast. The Peace Walls are still up to keep order between the
two communities. They close the gates at 6:00 PM each night
The bus took us to the Titanic Museum next. Belfast was a large
shipbuilding area before. The Titanic was made there too.
We saw the slipway where the Titanic was put to sea. Moreover, we
saw a tender that took 1st and 2nd class passengers to the
Titanic. Afterwards, we toured Belfast on our own. We had
lunch at a famous pub called Crown Liquors (Bar). The bus took us
to the grave of St. Patrick in Downpatrick next. St. Patrick
brought Christianity to Ireland, and he is highly regarded throughout
the island. After returning to Dublin, my brother and I checked
out Celtic Nights at the Arlington Hotel. It is a nice dinner and
music show with some Irish dancing too. The Irish dancer girls
The next day, we had a
full day in Dublin. We saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College
after a nice Irish breakfast. Then, we did some whiskey tasting
at the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin. Afterwards, we went to
Kilmainham Courthouse and Gaol. This was where leaders of the
famous 1916 Easter uprising against the British Crown were tried and
executed. This inspired the Irish to eventually seek independence
from the United Kingdom. The jail was built in the 1700s.
We went to Guinness next to try their beer. I never liked
Guinness in the US since it is so bitter. In Ireland, it is
great! The beer is smooth and sweet! We had a pint and a
half of Guinness each before heading over to Nando's for dinner again.
awesome! The countryside is really green and beautiful.
Moreover, the people were nice. We also enjoyed the cuisine too.