Under Seefin

February 6, 2018

24 April 2010

Set off this morning to Ardpatrick in Co Limerick to our next cottage at CastleOliver Farm.  We drove to Carlow then onto Woodenbridge and Tullow.  Stopped to see the Browne’s Hill Dolmen.  Headed off again towards Kilkenny but stopped in at the Fox and Goose Pub in Maddockstown for lunch.  Decided we didn’t have time to visit Kilkenny after all, so we headed off to Thomastown to see Jerpoint Abbey.  This place is incredible and has some of the most spectacular stone carvings on the tombs of the nobles buried there.  It was raining, almost sleeting and very cold.  Then it was on to Cashel where we stopped to do some grocery shopping prior to our arrival at Ardpatrick.  The last part of our trip to CastleOliver farm was done in very foggy conditions which made the driving very interesting.  Driving 20 km while rarely seeing more than 100 metres in front of you requires a fair degree of concentration. But that is normal for a lot of Ireland. Doing such a drive while conditions are foggy was a lot more interesting.  We finally arrived at the farm about 9.00pm.

25 April 2010

Today we got up and drove to Blarney Castle in Co Cork.  We climbed the incredibly tiny staircase on the many steps to the top.  I (Glenda) didn’t like the climb at all, my backpack kept scraping on the sides of the wall while I was trying to grip tight to the thick rope which was all I had to hang on to.  I don’t profess to have very good stair legs, terrible in fact.  Finally to the top, what a spectacular view.  Chris of course has very good climbing legs and heights don’t bother him at all.  Neither of us kissed the Blarney Stone… Chris has done it before, and I didn’t trust my back.  The stone is about 5 stories up and you have to bend over backwards while holding onto two iron bars.  No thank you.  We then spend some time wandering amongst the gardens interrupted a number of times by heavy showers requiring us to find shelter under various structures.

Next it was off to Cork City to get some money out and have a cuppa. Got a bit of a fright when one of our bank balances showed that we had insufficient funds so we drove around until we found a McDonalds to sit in and get onto the internet.  Wouldn’t you know, it turns out that McDonalds WiFi isn’t working today.  Shite Shite Shite…..  We drove further into Cork and found a shopping mall that had free WiFi.  On checking our bank and several phone calls to Australia later we discovered that the Hotel Ibis had held $800 for our room that we had cancelled and the Budget Hire car company had held $1200 for the insurance on the car.  Initially a bit of a scare but all sorted in a few hours.  However this meant that we ended up not seeing much of Cork at all. On the way home, we stopped off at the Mourne Abbey at Ballynamora.

26 April 2010

Today we thought we would drive to Adare Village to see all the thatched roof houses.  We couldn’t get into Adare Castle as it was closed and didn’t open up to the public until June sometime.  We had lunch in Collins’  Pub then strolled around town taking in the atmosphere and grabbing a few snap shots of the houses and shops. Adare is a nice little village but one can’t help think that it has been “touristified” a little. We got a little distracted in a nice little shop talking to the ladies who ran the shop about the roads in Ireland and how dangerous they could be.  One of them lost their brother two years ago driving home at night, he hit the machinery that was attached to the back of a tractor.  He passed the tractor but didn’t see the machinery because it had no lights on it.  On the journey back to Ardpatrick we stopped off at Aeskeaton to take pictures of church ruins.  Stopped again at Killmallock to take photos of the Abbey ruins.

27 April 2010

We were a bit tired today and need to get some washing done before we move on to the next cottage. It was a bit cold so we lit the fire, did some washing and watched a bit of TV.  Relaxing was great and we both needed it.  We strolled up in the afternoon to talk to Alyce and Michael.  They are great people and have given us some great advice of what to see around the country. Alyce had been caught by the volcano as well and had only just managed to get back from Spain.  We ended up having to put our things in the dryer as it was a bit sprinkly and we couldn’t get them dry on the clothes line.  Chris went to Kilfenane the closest village to get some coal and then did a little drive around the area to see what he could see.  He drove up to CastleOliver View part way up Seefin Mountain, but wasn’t prepared to pay 5 euro to park at the mountain bike centre that had the only available parking.  We found out later that apparently the centre owners has blocked off the free parking areas to force people to park at their centre.  This was apparently something that they could get away with but was not very well received by the locals.

28 April 2010

Got up early and headed off to Killarney which was about an hour and a half drive from Ardpatrick.  The roads were quite wet as it had rained heavily overnight and we spent about a third of the trip following a large truck that we couldn’t overtake as he kept going through the puddles which meant we couldn’t follow close enough to safely overtake in time.
Once we got to Kilpatrick, we went for a walk around the town before dropping in to a pub for some lunch.  While in town, Chris managed to get most of the Christy Moore CDs missing from his collection and also bought himself a bodhran.  Once lunch was over we went out to Muckross House.  The weather was misty and we couldn’t really see much of the famous Killarney lakes.  We did a very interesting tour of Muckross house including the rooms where Queen Victoria stayed when she visited Ireland.  The owners of Muckross House at the time had 2 years notice of the queens visit and practically remodelled the entire house.  They had big plans to benefit from the fact that the queen had stayed there, but their plans fell through and they ended up going bankrupt due to the debt they had built up and had to sell the house. After Muckross we went for a drive to see a bit of the Ring of Kerry.  We’d already decided that we weren’t going to drive the full Ring as we didn’t have the time.  We headed off in what we thought was the right direction before finding out we were on the wrong road.  I (Glenda) was navigating and worked out we could cut through to the road we wanted via a road called the Gap of Dunloe.  Oh my, what a choice.  The road started off OK travelling through some loveley country, but thinned down to a very winding single-lane road.  There was not really any room to turn around and when any cars came from the other way, we had to find little pulloff areas wher one could stop and let the other pass.  Chris, of course loved it and insisted on stopping often to take photos, but I was terrfied and was hoping all the way thwt we wouldn’t come across a bus or other form of large vehicle coming the other way.  Eventually we found our way through to the other side and made our way back to Killarney for a coffee and then tackled the drive back to CastleOloier Farm.  We arrived home after a very frustrating trip with lots of traffic.


Towards Normandy

April 26, 2010

We got up early on 18 April and had an early breakfast at the Hotel Ibis while we waited for our 7:45 taxi. The previous evening we’d gone for a walk through the suburbs around the hotel.  It seems to be a popular thing in Zurich to go for an evening walk.  We met several people out and about with their children or their dogs.  We found ourselves at the local Co-op and spent some time wandering the shelves just checking out all the different food s available. We left with a small variety of nibbles including, of course, some chocolate.

Our cab came early and we found ourselves at the Zurich main station well before 8:00 AM.  This gave us time to visit the pharmacy for some lozenges for my throat which had slowly been getting worse. We then found our train and settled into our second class seats which were very nice and far better than economy on the plane.  The train left dead on time thanks to Swiss railway efficiency.  The journey to Basel was uneventful and we soon found ourselves at Basel bahnhof drinking a coffee while waiting for our Paris connection.

The train to Paris travelling first class was very nice.  The seats reclined and had fold down tables, armrests and footrests and were very comfortable.  All up a very civilised way to travel.  The journey to Paris was again uneventful and we passed the time watching the countryside change.  The only indication of how fast we were travelling was the occassional jump from Glenda as we passed a train travelling in the other direction.

We arrived in Paris at Gare D’Est without incident and then had to find our way to the Metro. This was a little more challenging as the French don’t seem to have many escalators in the older stations and we had to lug our cases up and down stairs to get to the Metro station.  A little confusion over buying our tickets was our only real problem and we soon found ourselves on the Number 7 metro with a number of others with suitcases.  A quick change of trains at Opera with more stairs to negotiate soon found us on the number 5 Metro to Gare Le’zare.

Once there we spent a little time getting our bearings (ie we got lost) until we worked out we had to follow the Le Grande Lines signs. Doing so we soon found ourselves on the streets of Paris which were a little assault on the senses after the relative quiet of Zurich.  More steps awaited us as the escalator was not operating.  Glenda waited while I went looking for where we were supposed to go.  The information kiosk was closed so I resorted to reading the signs and worked out we had to follow the Pink line.  This was harder to achieve as it appeared as there was a lot of construction going on at the station installing new escalators.
We found ourselves negotiating our way around the construction zone and had to pass by several homeless people, one of whom was busily plucking and apparently eating raw a pigeon he had just caught.  While this was confronting, What impressed me least about this was the number of tourists who had stopped and were taking photographs.

We found our way to the platform without indicent, via yet more stairs.  Once there Glenda grabbed us a couple of seats while I went looking for an ATM so we could grab some lunch  The only ATM at the station appeared to be back where we had left the Metro, so I found myself effectively retracing our steps back to the ATM.  Grabbed a couple of baguettes and some drinks and returned to Glenda who had had some trouble keeping a seat for me.

When our train finally arrived, there was a mad dash of people for the train and we felt glad that we had booked seats.  That was until we found out that we had seats on Wagon 7 and the first wagon was wagon 8.  The conductor told us to get onto wagon 8 and we fought our way down the corridor and found seats 61 and 62 and were about to settle in when another couple said that they were their seats.  Confusion reigned until I decided to get off the train 5 mins before it was due to leave (and giving Glenda a scare by doing so) and talk to the conductor again.  This time a lady translated for me and I was told again that there was no wagon 7 and we were supposed to be on wagon 8.

As I got back on the train, there was an announcement in French that got everyone laughing. Or at least everyone that understood French.  The man who had taken seat 61 translated for us and told us that because of the rail strike there was no wagon 7 and the reserved seats for wagon 7 had been reallocated`to wagon 8 and we had to look for a ticket above the seats.  I did this and found our seats about 4 seats down the carriage.  This then involved persuading those sitting in those seats that we had them reserved.  All up we finally found ourselves sitting in our seats about 15 minutes after the train was supposed to have left.

This confusion was taking place all through the carriage as people were looking for their seats and asking others to leave seats once found.  It also turns out that there were people on the train without reserved`seats who were basically told to sit in seats that were unoccupied.  The train left well after it was supposed to and with people who couldn’t get a seat sitting in the corridors.  BTW The first class seats on this train were of a much lower standard than the second class seats on the Zurich-Basel leg. but we were glad just to be sitting down.

Sitting opposite us was a very nice French man and his Japanese wife who was visiting his father in Bayeux.  He gave us a running commentary about some of the places we were passing through and gave us a potted history of the D-Day landings which happened nearby.

Eventually we arrived at Cherbourg and after a very long walk down the platform, we found ourselves at the station forecourt with no idea what to do next.  We were not alone.  We had people asking us where the ferry left from.  All I could do was point them at the sign that said “Car Ferries” and hope I was sending them in the right direction.  We on the other hand were looking for a hotel, so we headed in the other direction looking for some indication of where they might be. Eventually we found a bus stop map which we used to gain our bearings and then used Glenda’s iPhone to locate the tourist info office.  So we set off to find it.

After a while we came across the Maison de Tourisme which was of course closed.  But it did have a map of the some of the hotels available outside which gave us an idea where to start looking.  We walked into one hotel which didn’t impress us but did give us a map of the town including a list of the hotels by rating.  At this stage we were so buggered that we decided that we would go for the Hotel Mercure which was the only 3 star hotel in the town.  The map said it was in map reference B11 and I am sure we walked every street within that square without finding it.  Eventually we asked someone in the street who wasn’t a local but was able to ask a local.  He pointed out that the hotel was on the other side of the harbour in the very tip of B11 that we hadn’t walked.  We considered a taxi but then decided that a little more walking wouldn’t hurt.  But first we rang to confirm that they had rooms which they did, so we then hoofed it around the harbour and down to the hotel.

The Hotel Marine (formerly Mercure) was in the middle of renovations, but we didn’t really care at this point, so we grabbed our room key and found our way to our room (with a harbour view). We spent about ten minutes trying to open the door until finally on the verge of going back to the reception, the door finally opened and we could collapse in our room.

Given the time [it was about 9:00pm] we decided to quickly freshen up and head down to the hotel restuarant.  I ordered the Grilled Beef Steak and French Fries and Glenda ordered the Mixed Grill.  These both were very delicious but it was the Double Chocolate Pudding with Mint Icecream that stole the show.   After dinner, we decided that we’d well and truly had enough and hit the sack.

Moving to WordPress

February 21, 2010

In the middle of moving the hosting of this blog to WordPress, so there may be slight interruptions to service.

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

July 12, 2009

Test post