New Year's Trip To Ireland (2016/17)

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We took Wow Airlines from SFO to Dublin via Keflavik International Airport in Iceland.  Wow uses new Airbus equipment for the approximately 10 hour flight to Iceland from San Francisco.

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Here is a can of Pepsi Max from Iceland served on board the flight to KEF from SFO.

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This is a an old wise Viking Saying written on the wall at Keflavik International Airport (KEF) in Iceland upon arrival.

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Since we were in Iceland during winter, it was dark until about 11:00 AM.  This picture was taken between 9:00 and 10:00 AM.  One can see the IcelandAir plane in the background.

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This is an Icelandic Breakfast of Champions!  LOL.  Appelsin is their favorite soda.  I also got a parfait made of Skyr which is a cross between yogurt and cheese.  It was too strong for my tastes!

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I bought some Brennivin, which is an Icelandic Spirit, at the duty free shop in Keflavik.

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We had to board the aircraft in Iceland through stairs, and it was freezing outside!

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The snow was all piled up too at the airport in Keflavik.

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After arriving in Dublin, we took a taxi to the Hilton Dublin Kilmainham.

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I was greeted as a Hilton HHonors Diamond guest and given a box of nice local chocolates at the Hilton.

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We took a hop on, hop off open top bus tour of Dublin after checking into the hotel.  This is the gate outside the residence of the US Ambassador in Phoenix Park.

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The Irish Presidential Mansion is shown here.

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Phoenix Park is the largest city park in Europe.  This monument is dedicated to Duke Wellington who defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.

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We had dinner at one of the local Nando's in Dublin!  They make the best Peri Peri Chicken!  Peri Peri Chicken is originally a South African dish.

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I am crossing the Ha'Penny Bridge in Dublin to get to the Temple Bar area.

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This is the entrance to the Temple Bar area where there are lots of pubs.

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I am enjoying some Jameson with my brother at the actual Temple Bar.

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We went on a tour the next day to the Southern part of Ireland.  Our first stop was the Rock of Cashel.

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My brother and I are trying to stay warm while touring the Rock of Cashel.

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The Rock of Cashel used to be a monastary hundreds of years ago.

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This is the Cross of St. Patrick, which is on display at the Rock of Cashel.

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Our next stop was Blarney Castle.  That little opening at the top is where the famous Blarney Stone resides.

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Here is a cool tower at Blarney Castle.

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I am exploring the dungeon at Blarney Castle here.  It was pretty narrow there.

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We noticed that there was no glass windows at the castle.  I wonder how they dealt with the frigid wind as it came through the openings!

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We climbed these steep stairs all the way to the top to kiss the famous stone.

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This is a picture of me kissing the Blarney Stone and getting the gift of eloquence.

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We went to Cork on our final stop on that tour that day.  Cork is an industrial city in Ireland, and it is the 2nd largest city in the Republic of Ireland.

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The street signs in Ireland are in both English and Gaelic.

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This is tower has a clock on each of the four sides, but all the clocks have different times so they call it the lieing clock in Cork.

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We stopped at a rest stop along the Motorway on the way back to Dublin from Cork.  I tried Supermac's, which is like a McDonalds.  Their version of the "Big Mac" was not bad.

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Our 2nd tour was to Belfast in Northern Ireland.  This is the area around Falls Street where the IRA supporters painted their socialist murals.  I was not a big fan of the communist propaganda that the IRA put on here.

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The Peace Wall in Belfast keeps the Catholic and Protestant communities seperated to prevent the violence that was seen before.  The gates between these walls still close and lock at 6:00 PM each night.

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Belfast was known for shipbuilding before.  The two big cranes in the background was known as Sampson and Goliath.

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The Titanic was built in Belfast too.  This museum is dedicated to the Titanic.

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The Nomadic was a tender ship used to transport first and second class passengers to the Titantic.  This is on display now in Belfast.

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The Europa Hotel was once the most bombed hotel in Europe.  It is located in Belfast also.

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This is the cathedral in Downpatrick near the grave of St. Patrick, who is the patron Saint of Ireland.

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This is the grave of St. Patrick in Downpatrick.

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We went to a dinner and music show called Celtic Nights at the Arlington Hotel in Dublin after returning from our tour of Northern Ireland.  It was a really cool show!

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This is a night shot of buildings in Dublin.

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Here are the gates to Trinity College in Dublin.  Trinity College was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500s.

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The Long Library at Trinity College features many antique books from centuries ago.  The famous Book Of Kells is located downstairs.

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My brother and I tried some whiskey tasting also at the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin.

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This is the Kilmainham Courthouse where many political prisoners were tried during the Irish Independence movement from the UK.

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Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) is located next to the courthouse.  Prisoners were taken here after sentencing.

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The original prison was built in the 1700s.  This is one of the oldest parts of the prison.  During the Irish Famine, there was so much overcrowding that many inmates could have been housed in the hallway here too.

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The "newer" section of the prison was built during the Victorian Era.

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My brother and I toured the Guinness Brewery also in Dublin.

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This is the famous 900 year lease that Arthur Guinness signed in the 1800s to acquire his brewery.

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I am enjoying a pint of Guinness in their Sky Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin!  The Guinness tasted much better over there!

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Here are some half pints of Guinness that my brother ordered for our 2nd round.  There are some nice Eye Candy too in the background.  Irish women are hot!

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I added another time Swiss timepiece to my collection during this trip.  I could resist getting a Hamilton Field Khaki Automatic watch with the H10 movement at the duty free store at Dublin International Airport.


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One of our cute stewardesses from the Wow Flight back to SFO reminded me of "Miranda Frost" from that Bond movie, Die Another Day.

   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 also.  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 were hot!

    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.

    Ireland was awesome!  The countryside is really green and beautiful.  Moreover, the people were nice.  We also enjoyed the cuisine too.


Last Updated:  January 8, 2017 9:10 PM
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