Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Binge Blog Three - the Final Chapter

 (read bottoms up for chronological progression)

Well, here it was.  Our final day in Ireland for this year..

We began with our usual “Full Irish Breakfast” in the lovely Grand Hotel in Malahide, with a pensive MFO getting ready for the day of travel back home

Then it was once more into the breach, in this case the coach and all the familiar vagaries of travel.  I must say, that the experience in the Dublin Airport was harrowing, they instituted a “clearing US customs’ procedure on site, which while it sounds attractive, resulted in TWO rounds of disrobing, showing your “stuff”, quite aggravating.
After surviving that in a foul mood, the final experience of air travel ensued, with its lines

wonderful food

At Dulles, the pain of the two shake downs in Dublin kind of paid off, since you went straight to the baggage claim.

And finally the journey ended in the same way it began

Standing in the rain in Hollywood (Md) Fire Hall by a Keller Bus, with the tireless Ed Cole helping everyone.

So ended another (last?) of our journeys to Ireland, a place that will forever hold a special place in my heart, along with new friends, JP McMahon, Michael Moran, Guinness (it REALLY IS different there) and the wonderful people who live there.  And a big thank you to Pat and Ed Cole (of Cole Travel), and Dr. Henry Miller (of Historic St. Mary’s City) who make it not just another “trip”, but a gathering of friends old and new, enjoying seeing and learning about new places.  And the strict adherence to


Binge Blogging two

there is BB one below this

On our final day which was a return to the Dublin area for the trip back home the next day, we first visited another famous Irish landmark, located in the town of

Famous for its “rock” where, as legend has it, St. Patrick converted the Kind of Munster in the 5th Century.    It is also called the “Rock of….” Because of its location high on a rock outcropping overlooking the town of Cashel.  Once again, location, location, location, when it comes to obtaining a defensive postion.  And the very same reason that it makes it hard for the bad guys to attack the place, it makes it hard for the intrepid tourists to visit.  That is, you have to walk up and up and up to get there.   Shuttle?  Ptoooie, start walking.  So, once again the Feeder fearing the trek down more than up, rested his knees and remained down below in the town. 

But, but doing that, I got to witness the dexterity of the coach drivers.  After discharging the passengers for the trek up the rock, we attempted to get the coach into the coach park.  Oh, did I mention that it was an extremely foggy day, and you couldn’t even see the “Rock” fortification from down below.   Well, the coach got into the car park okay

But then negotiating a turn proved nearly impossible, requiring a two man operation with much gesturing and shouting...

But, eventually with enough “too-ing and froo-ing” the bus freed itself from the prison of cars and all was well.

I strolled down into the town and did some shopping, and enjoyed the little square

And listened to a street musician

About this time, the fog began to lift and “the Rock” began to emerge from the mist

As did the climbers, and since it was lunch time we gathered at a little pub

And enjoyed (a neighbor's glass)

And I think my only ham and cheese “toastie” of the trip.  A bit upgraded as it appeared to have been done on a Pannini press.  Still great, however, they are "just right"

On the way to our evening’s lodging in Malahide (nearer the airport than Dublin)
We had a surprise visit to the town of Thurles, and the Cathedral of the Assumption which contained our long awaited “surprise”

In the form of a Tabernacle that Dr. Miller thought bore a strong resemblance to the one that stood at Historic St. Mary’s City in the Brick Chapel

And with the help of some of the taller members of the party took some measurements

It did indeed bear a strong resemblance to “ours”

We finally made it to Malahide, where we were in the “Grand Hotel”

And we all had a lovely farewell dinner overlooking the river

and shared our favorite experiences..

After the dinner I was treated to a wee dram of Irish Whisky by Ed Cole as a wrap up to a wonderful trip.

I think maybe one more quick edition to go..and I don’t think I was


Time to....

put a Cork in it...  get it?jl  I may "binge blog" if i get the time today

editor's note.  we need to leave Ireland as we are about to embark on another journey over the Thanksgiving Weekend, which will provide even more riveting reading upon our return.  It is short enough that i probably won't try to post from there, but you FaceBookers might pay attention.

We began our day in Cork with the usual breakfast, served buffet style as usual,

I think I may have commented on this before, but all of these places tend to serve eggs in some form, poached or “fried”.  It’s always a crap shoot as to the condition of the yolks.  These were not bad, and actually were runny, at least at the time of sampling.

But more time under those heat lamps, and hard boiled, here we come.

Our touring day started out with a visit to one of the most famous (is there a “least” famous?) sites in Ireland

I think it’s a world heritage site, and they do a nice job with it.  Quite a pretty castle

Although you kind of have to crane your neck when closer

Of course the big attraction is to smooch the blarney stone, and they market that to the max

The stupid stone is at the top of the Castle, meaning you have to get up there, by means of several circular stair cases, which at this point, the Feeder’s knees kind of said: “well, you can hear about it” so I didn’t attempt it.  Kind of a good thing, some poor soul fell near the top and broke her arm, requiring the emergency folks to get to her.
I did go up the first couple of flights before deciding to bail, and there were some nice views

I love these “window shots”

After hearing about kissing the stone from those who climbed and bussed it, we boarded the coach and stopped at the little town of Cobh, which used to be Queenstown.  The city is sort of “famous” for being the last port of call for both the Lusitania and the Titantic.  It was also the traditional departing point for emigrants bound for the new world.   There were several tributes the people lost at sea, like this quilt

We then returned to our hotel in Cork, and this being a “free night” MFO and I fulfilled the last of our pre-determined restaurant visit at a place called Market Lane.  The restaurant is one of those that doesn’t accept reservations, but I got a nice email from the owner when I tried, and said he would make sure we got a table.  It was pretty crowded, so we were seated at the bar, and I spied a gin on their spirit list called “Saffron Gin”, and requested a Martini.  For once it didn’t confound the bartender, and it got me a rather interesting and good drink.

Which I enjoyed while perusing the offered menu, which normally I don’t care to do.  In just a little bit they came and got us as our table was ready..

I don’t know if I talked about this before, I think not here, maybe on TripAdvisor, but we were seated along the wall on a banquette that was right below the kitchen.

Now some folks might think “Oh, you poor tourist they sat you at a bad table!”.   Aha!  Not the bottom feeder.   I got to watch and hear (if I listened attentively, they were quite quiet).  I just love to watch the dance of the ticket emerging, the captain telling the staff, and people swinging (or keep swinging) into their station.  Pure choreography, no yelling, just quiet efficiency resulting in dishes placed on the pass, inspected by the captain, and then delivered to the table.  A real plus for this diner.

We were given an extra sheet with the daily specials on it

And lo and behold, notice the Blasket Island Lamb!  No fuzz on what I ordered!  I started out with a lovely Pate (sucker dish for me)

Followed by the lovely lamb

It reminded me of the “Salt Marsh” lamb we enjoyed on our French journey at Mt. San Michel in Normandy.  MFO enjoyed her “Pan Seared Salmon with spiced arancini, in coconut, ginger and coriander curry with pickled pepper relish

I must admit it was right on, if not a bit over the line of spicy for me, but she likes it.  

We paired it with an Argentinean Malbec,

A lovely meal indeed.  Notice no mention of the service?  That’s because it was just right.  There when you wished, not when not needed, although a watchful eye was noticed as he passed the table on occasion.  A nice touch was that when he made his initial approach to the table, he kneeled so that we were eye to eye not looking up.

A wonderful experience.  And of course we were


Friday, November 20, 2015

Back Across to the Island

I hardly know where we are.  Are we in Virginia?  Lexington Park?  Ireland?  I think we’ll choose the latter and bring this journey closer toward a conclusion.. really.  I mean it.  For sure..

A nice breakfast in the Malton Hotel in Killarney started our journey back toward the East, kind of leaving the Western coast to itself again..  This classic hotel had a classic breakfast, done with style - I like the names of what you're looking at

Served in a lovely setting

Not your snack room at Fairfield Inn

We checked out of our room that had a nice view of some ivy remembering it is fall, and will cease its climb up the wall for a while

So back on the coach heading for Cork enjoying the more rugged scenery, dotted with the requisite sheep. 

Our first stop was at

Which dates from the early 18th century, and has been in the same family since that mid century, and now operates as a B&B.  Its full name is Bantry House and Gardens, which indeed it has

And some things were still in bloom

The building itself does show its age, which I suppose it is entitled to do.

After enjoying strolling around the grounds (I didn’t go inside) we once again boarded the coach, only stopping for lunch in Kinsale at our friend

Which enjoys a good reputation.  I think we’ve already discussed this lunch, good food, lousy and confused service, and a string of excuses from the owner, none of which contained the words: “I’m Sorry”.  I did enjoy a sign outside with a quote from Oscar Wilde

By the way, skeptical old me, I looked it up, and yup, it IS an actual quote from the raconteur.  

We then visited

As kind of an aside, i think by law they must include the Irish spelling of these things.  With a lot of languages, you can kind of get the drift even if you don't have an understanding of the language.  Not Irish!  Doesn't even look remotely like "Charles Fort".  Could say: "what's for lunch?" for all i know

It was built in the late 17th century to protect the harbor around Kinsale (that was before Fishy Fishy opened).  At the time, it was built using the latest theories of defense and so on and in a style referred to as a “Star Fort” for obvious reasons

Can’t quite sneak up on them.  It was built overlooking the water (for protection), 

but for some reason, nobody worried about the higher ground behind the fort.  So, during the Williamite war, an enterprising Duke of Marlborough put his cannons on the hill and shot three pointers down into the fort.. One has to wonder..

Anyway, we had a guided tour of the grounds, overseen by some dour crows.  

Speaking of dour, and this is completely unfair, as I’m sure she was a very nice person, but this is pretty much how our tour went

And, although informative, it was kind of fry and humorless and the expression of Dr. Miller pretty much characterizes the group’s reaction.

Back on the coach to our digs for the night, the River Lee Hotel, where we dined in their dining facility as a group, with the normal Prix Fixe menu

For no particular reason, I chose the chicken (tastes like chicken) with the Fondant Potato, which came out looking like chicken with a Fondant Potato.  It was good, but it was also getting late in our journey, and hotel food is mostly like hotel food after a while..

Always watchful of the back of the house stuff, I did get a nice peek into the kitchen

Which provided a nicely framed portrait of the Chef..

We only had a couple of more days before heading home, and that starts to wear on you a bit.  Anyway, it was a good day (with the exception of the arrogant manager at Fishy Fishy) and we were glad to retire to our room where we undid


And hit the sack..