A Travellerspoint blog

Gelato, Pizza, Pasta & chaos on the roads

... we must be in Roma!

rain 15 °C
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We decided to take it easy for the morning, and discovered on a short walk that our hotel is in the middle of a commercial area (several TV stations, motor reg etc.) and nowhere near anything of interest or any shops. It was advertised as being able to get to the centre of Rome easily - and by their definition that means a 20 minute bus (or hotel shuttle) trip to a railway station and a 10 minute trip on the metro. Not bad - but not quite what we had expected.

Anyway we headed off around midday on the shuttle with 12 Euros to our name and desperate to find an ATM that worked with our cards. We didn't find one at the starting train station but had no problems at the main Termini Stazione, so at least that was one less thing to worry about. We then paid a visit to a tourist information centre that promised English speaking assistants & they were great, gave us all the basic information, including how to use the buses & metro and sold us the Roma Pass which gives us 3 days unlimited use of public transport and free entry to 2 of the museum sites of our choice.

We decided for our first day to just wander and basically go a few blocks, consult the map and work out which direction to go next - seeing what we could as we wandered.

This approach took us to some of the more well known sites as well as a few lesser known areas, but was fun and interesting. We had to put up with the full range of weather from fairly heavy rain to the sun almost coming out at one stage.

We walked around the Santa Maria degli Angeli (Basilica of St. Mary of the angels and martyrs) without realising it - but at the side of it were the excavations of some ancient Roman baths. Across the road was the Piazza della Republica which had a decorative fountain in it surrounded for 180 degrees by 2 quarter circular buildings that are now an upmarket hotel.

We then wandered past the Palazzo Margherita which has been through several princely owners but is now the home of the American Embassy. This led us to Galappatolo Park - and the less said the better, most of what we saw was not very inspiring. But from the park we ended up at Villa Medici which has wonderful gardens (which we didn't get to see due to heavy rain & uncertainty about how to gain access) and is now the home of the Acadamie France - so includes work by French artists.

Right next to it was the Trinita dei Monti which is a baroque style church and was interesting because the various chapels off the side of the main area had each been purchased or given to notable people (16th & 17th century) and decorated by them at their own expense. One was purchased by a courtesan (fancy name for a lady who sold her services to the nobility).

In fron of the church were the well known Spanish Steps, which were

    Designed by an Italian
    Paid for by the French
    Named for the Spaniards
    Occupied by the British
    Currently feature American greats like Ronald mcDonald

I had read that they were most famous these days for the number of local lads sitting on them oggling the attractive female tourists - but the rain today would have scared them away.

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Wandering off from there we eventually got to the Trevi Fountain - and there were heaps of people there, it would be impossible to get anywhere near it in summer if it was that busy on a wet autumn day. Opposite the fountain was the Chiesa Dei Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio - a church that was at one time known as the Pontifical Parish because it was just below the palace where the Pope resided (more on that in a minute) and it is also the place where the embalmed hearts & lungs of popes from 1590 through to 1903 are kept in the crypts.

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Just a short distance away is a royal palace referred to as Quirinale which at one stage was the home of the Pope but these days is the home of the President of the Republic of Italy - hence plenty of police and guards carrying sub-machine guns.

a bit more wandering took us past the Palazzo delie Esposizioni, the Teatro dell'Opera ( a bit of a let down) and Santa Maria Maggiore (Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major - one of the four major or four papal basilicas) which wasn't open so we didn't get to see inside it.

from the churches we saw the frescoes and art work were as magnificent as expected - and we haven't seen the major ones yet.

Finding our bus at the station was fun - buses everywhere and not very good signage telling you where each number bus left from. Not helped by a transport worker who sent us in the totally wrong direction.

Anyway that ended our first half day of exploring - add in several cappuccino's or hot chocolates, gelto and Italian food and it was quite a good day. It started with us not being all that comfortable with Rome, but ended with us at least feeling we could find our way around.

Posted by thomastour 13:07 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Buda Hills

( Budapest)

overcast 9 °C
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After having a good look at the Pest side of the river yesterday we set out to explore Buda. Using our Budapest Card we made good use of the public transport system; our first stop was Buda Castle and the surrounding district. The district is full of winding, statue- filled streets and a mixture of architectural styles. The castle houses several fine museums and gives impressive views over the city. Matthias church is in this area and though it is currently being repaired it is still an amazing building with a touch of Turkish influence. You can certainly see some of Budapest's chequered history in the architecture of it's buildings. This church for instance having at one stage been a mosque and then converted back to a church. Nearby the Fisherman's bastion offers spires and walls with great views.

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We decided to go beneath the Castle and check out the Castle Labyrinths;1200 metres of winding passages giving a glimpse of the ancient subterranean city.When we came out we weren't sure where we were! So making our way down hill we caught a tram to Gellert Hill; Gellert was sent by the Pope in AD1001 to convert the Magyars unfortunately they weren't convinced and hurled him to his death from the summit. Later they decided he was actually a good guy and hence the Hill and park in his memory! From there you can see the citadel, built as a symbol of Hapsburg power. Next tram stop was the Church of St Anne with more beautiful architecture and great views across the Danube to the House of Parliament. It is the most stunning parliament building by day or night.

Becoming seasoned travelers on the tramways we took 2 more and made our back across the Danube to the Central Market. This 2 storey building was designed by Eiffel ( the same guy who designed the Tower )and houses a huge market with numerous food stalls downstairs and lots of craft, clothing, souvenir stalls upstairs as well as sit-down cafes/restaurants. We bought ourselves a couple of apple strudels and enjoyed watching a group of young Hungarian folk dancers performing there. We did the rounds of the stalls and finished our time in Budapest by strolling through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere. A young busker was playing The William Tell overture on water filled glasses; he was brilliant!

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The hotel had arranged for a taxi to take us to the airport so we collected our luggage and set off on another crazy, fast taxi ride through Budapest. Our flight was with Wizz Air and they'd hired a dragon lady on check-ins especially for the occasion! She told us to please read this notice (which said you could only take 1 piece of carry on luggage or you would be refused entry to the plane ). I had my handbag as well as a back pack which has been fine on every other flight but we decided to put the handbag in Geoff's back pack even though it seemed lots of others had handbags as well as something else. So glad we did as the dragon lady moved to the last checkpoint before you left the airport for the plane and she was refusing to allow people through left, right and centre! The carry on baggage never got weighed though so it all seemed a bit pointless. We all had to hop on a bus outside the airport to drive us to the plane! After that our flight was fairly uneventful and we arrived safely in Rome.

We've been relying on ATM's to get the currency of the country we're in but I was a bit concerned when the 2 we tried at the airport said our cards were not able to be used internationally! The same cards we've been using in every other country! Fortunately we had enough Euros between us to pay the taxi driver to our hotel on the northern outskirts of Rome.

Posted by thomastour 11:59 Archived in Hungary Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The 'Pest' in Budapest

... broad boulevards and beautiful buildings

semi-overcast 5 °C
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The overnight train from Prague to Budapest was quite good, we both managed to get some sleep. However there was one not so great side to it - at around 4.30am we were woken up and told that there was a problem with our carriage and we all had to swap to another carriage. at the other end of the train. So there we were (Cathy in her PJ's and a big coat) walking the length of Breclav station with suitcases in tow. Others on the train who looked out would have been suprised.

But we did get back to sleep and got to Budapest about 8.30am and got a taxi straight to our hotel. The taxi ride was an experience, I'm not sure the driver knew what brakes were for and the he kept saying 'aye aye aye' in describing the traffic. The he backed down a cobblestoned driveway to the hotel entrance, but halfway down got the wheels on one side onto the steps instead of the driveway.

We were really fortunate that the hotel was actually able to give us our room straight away - we had thought that we would just leave our cases there and get access to the room later. However getting access meant we were aboe to freshen up before we started walking.

The hotel is in 'Buda' which is the the south-western side of the river and is right under the palace complex and only 50 metres from the Chain Bridge (Budapest's oldest bridge) over the Danube.

We decided to spend today exploring 'Pest' - the other side of the river, so walked across the Chain Bridge and started wandering around. We also got a 'Budapest Pass' which gave us discounted enty and full use of the transport system. 'Pest' is a lot newer, basically because of wars etc. it was totally rebuilt from the time of the mid 1800's through to today (still building going on) and is based around wide boulevards.

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We spent a bit of time at the National Museum, where they stepped you through the history of Hungary & Budapest from the tiime of Roman control right throughh to today's post-communist Republic. It became obvious that this is a country that has struggled to go for extended periods with stable political control, going through various kings with allegiances with other parts of Europe (often with Austria or the Czech's) but also having an extended period of Turkish rule, and then also the years of communist rule. They also have a history of blaming their leaders for what befalls them (and executing them) but then later exonerating them and moving the grave to somewhere better as befalls someone who they thought highly off.

We also looked through St. Stephens Basilica and climbed the dome to get great views of the city. The frescoes and adornment in the basilica was amazing. Following up from that we took a peek at the Opera House, but didn't go right inside the hall - just the foyer was enough of a wow factor. And we found this little 'Bible Museum' that was dedicated to the early western translations and copies of the Bible - very interesting looking at remnants of some of the earlier transcriptions.

Wandering the streets was great - the real pearls were spread out so we needed to cover a lot of ground and unfortunately didn't get to see as much as we would have liked. But we did go on an evening cruise on the Danube which included a commentary (using voices representing parts of the city's history) to point out and explain some of the major elements of the city.

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Much more to do tomorrow before we rush off to Rome. We're both looking forward to a good night's sleep.

Posted by thomastour 12:33 Archived in Hungary Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Beware of those admiring your scarf

... because in the early days of Prague, death by strangling with their scarf was used to get rid of members of the royal family.

semi-overcast 6 °C

Another day in Prague – but this time without the rain (it did try a couple of times but certainly didn't make us wet). Our aim was to see Prague Castle (Prazsky Hrad) which was started in the 9th century and still had changes being made as late as the 1980's 9after the fall of communism in the Czech Republic).

To get to the castle involved a walk back through the Old Town, which we managed to do without getting lost, then across Charles Bridge to the Lesser Town (Mala Strana) and then up the hill for about a kilometre to get us to the entrance to the castle right on the top of hill (Hradcany Hill) with a commanding view over Prague.

We watched the hourly swapping over of the Palace Guards – not a word was spoken and all commands were given by the stamping of the lead guard's rifle but onto the ground. We followed the retiring guards into the castle and paid for the so called 'long route' which gave us entrance into all open parts of the castle and an audio guide. Little did we realise that we would spend around 6 hours going through it all.

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We started with St. Vitus Cathedral, right in the centre of the castle complex. We found out about the various rulers, especially King Wencelas (of Christmas Carol fame) who was considered a very pious ruler but was knocked off by his brother who then had the nerve to take advantage of his canonisation to increase the importance of his own kingship. We also found out that strangling a monarch or the queen with their scarf was used several times as a way of removing an enemy.

Next we went through the Old Palace and saw things as they were back in the middle ages – it's main hall was in it's time the largest known hall without any central pillars. For the entertainment of the ladies of the court they used to bring horses in and the knights would have jousting contests. At the start of the 30 year war (protestants versus catholics) the catholic treasurers were thrown out of the window and survived a 16 metre fall. It also included the parliament where the king sat in charge of the noblemen, with a direct link through to the palace treaury where all the records of debts, grants etc. were kept.

The Basilica of St. George was an older church with some painted ceilings still remaining, but was more focused on the remains and relics contained within it. Next door to it was St. George's Convent which had been set up as a gallery for notable Czech artists and contained some great art (landscapes and portraits).

The Golden Lane was a narrow street against the castle wall where soldiers and artisans had been given permission to build houses for themselves (at their own expense off course) – these were generally very small, but over time they got sold off to artisans who plied their trade there. The lane also gave us access to the gun gallery along the top of the wall which was a covered walkway with firing holes for the soldiers. It was set up with displays of armor and helmets from throughout the ages.

A visit to the Daliburka Tower took us into the world of prisoners and the various instruments of torture – not at all nice.

And one of the last parts of the castle we visited was the Picture Gallery where Prague's best collection of Old Masters is kept.

From the castle we wandered back down through the Lesser Town and found our way back over the river to the Old Town and tea at the same restaurant as yesterday. This time the blackboard promise of free music eventuated and we were entertained by 2 violinist,s a double bass player, guitarist and keyboard player. They played 2 songs especially for Cathy – the first was from Evita and the second was Waltzing Matilda.

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We were able to walk to the station and this blog was drafted in our sleeper compartment as we headed off from Prague toward new adventures in Budapest.

Posted by thomastour 12:17 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Prague/Praha

... full of suprises every time you turn around

rain 4 °C
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The day started in Prague with rain - and it rained (or drizzled all day), also it was cold - a maximum of 4 degrees.

However that didn't put us off and we discovered why there are so many good things written about Prague. We love this place, you could spend lots and lots of time here exploring the streets and still be seeing something new all the time.

Anyway, onto some specifics. We started the morning off (after breakfast at the hotel) with a walk to Prague's main railway station Hlavni Nadrazi which was only minutes from our hotel and booked tickets for a sleeper compartment on the night train to Budapest for Tuesday night. This proved to be so easy and so much cheaper than if we had booked over the net. Then we headed toward the 'Old Town' which was also just minutes away from our hotel. We basically spent the day wandering the streets of the Old Town, exploring little shops and alley ways and in Cathy's case taking heaps of photo's.

The architecture in Prague is stunning. In the 14th century, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV added to the city's charm, refurbishing it with stone bridges and lavish palaces still visible today. At night Prague is a fairy land and you can understand why many describe it as Europe's most beautiful capital. From the opulence of Obecni Dum (the Municipal House ) to the charm of Prasna Brana ( Powder Tower) this place is amazing.

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We also visited Josefov, Central Europe's oldest Jewish settlement, just north of Old Town. From the Maiselova Synagogue, museums and cemetry we learnt much about the persecution suffered by the Jews here over the centuries and Jewish practices today. Drawings by children interred at Terezin camp who were later moved to Auschwitz are displayed upstairs together with photos of the children where possible. The drawings, together with the names of 80,000 Czech Jews who died in the Holocaust touched my heart. Then we read how over the centuries the hope of the awaited Messiah has encouraged the Jewish people but false claims of self-proclaimed Messiahs over the years have worn thin and it seems they no longer hope! Oh, how sad that they cannot see THE MESSIAH IS ALIVE AND REIGNS NOW!
How sad too that much of their persecution has come from so called Christians.....pray for God's grace and redemption for His people, the Jews.

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On a lighter note we finished the afternoon by walking over Charles Bridge, us and a hundred or so other people! Wonder what it's like in peak season? The views from the bridge are gorgeous even in a light rain! Our evening was capped off with a folk music and song concert at the Obecni Dum; a violinist and viola player, guitarist and double bass made up the trio and they played and sang very well. Fortunately explaining the Czech folk songs a little in English for us before they sang!

Posted by thomastour 13:04 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

slán go Éire & vítat Praha

... farewell to Ireland & welcome Prague

rain 12 °C
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We woke up this morning to a wet day in Dublin - not great for doing a bit more sightseeing before we headed off to Prague. And then we had some excitement in the hotel with the fire alarm going off. After a while the hotel staff all converged on a nearby room and after asking some questions, gave the all clear. I found out later that someone had managed to generate enough steam in the shower to set off the alarms.

For our last day we headed away from the city itself and went to Howth, one of Dublin's coastal suburbs. It was a beautiful place, but slightly let down by rain and strong chilly winds. However the rain eased off and eventually disappeared (but the winds didn't).

We initially parked down near the harbour and got to see a number of skiffs coming into the harbour from a race. The were really flying with the wind behind them and it was very choppy in the entrance, so a number capsized. Two ended up on the rocks near the base of a lighthouse and had to be manhandled up the breakwater to be taken away & I saw 2 being towed in with broken masts. There were a number of larger yachts also out (I presume racing as well) but most of them motored into the harbour. Several came in under sail power and one almost lost it and was heading straight for the breakwater, but he recovered and got it going the right way again.

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Nearby we also saw a number of seals in the harbour, hanging around the fishing trawlers. Apparently they get fed daily and are a local attraction - they were still hanging around several hours later.

We drove around the peninsula that Howth was on and saw some great views - with Cathy also doing a short walk along the cliff edge towards a lighthouse - but you couldn't get close to the lighthouse because it was still in regular use.

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Our time in Dublin finished at the airport - rental car returned, booked in and feeling as if we had to walk miles from the check-in area to the gate that our plane left from. It was also delayed by close to an hour which was a pain.

Anyway - final comments about Dublin: to me, Dublin had a hard feel about it, one of those cities with plenty of nice aspects but a toughness that would make you think twice about living there.

And onto Prague - only a 2 hour flight and then through immigration, picked up our bags, through non-existant customs and met our driver who took us to the hotel - pointing out several of the major landmarks on the way. In less than an hour from landing we were in our room - wonderful!! Our driver and the hotel clerk spoke very good
English, so hopefully we won't have too many language problems. It was interesting sitting in the back of the car and seeing the driver on the left hand side, and then to be driving down the 'wrong' side of the road. I better get used to it, in a bit over a week, I'll have to be doing it myself.

Prague is cold - around 0 degrees when we arrived at 9pm. forecast for tomorrow is around 6 degrees maximum.

Posted by thomastour 13:47 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

What do fish, egg and rope have in common?

They are all words in the English language given to us by the Vikings.

all seasons in one day 15 °C
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After a relaxed start to the day we headed back into Dublin city. We visited Dublinia and stepped inside some of the history of Dublin. Dublinia sets out to help you explore the world of the Vikings and medievil Dublin and then show you how archaeology has helped to provide the information on Dublin's history. It was very well done. The peat bogs of Ireland have turned out to be a gold mine archaelogically as they help to preserve anything buried there. They have found lots of bodies of Vikings with swords, bowls, ornaments, etc and then more recent burials from medieval times. The viking words still in use in English was a surprise to me but the term that took my fancy was `cheek forest' ( a beard! )

With modern archaeology they can now date their finds, establish the probable cause of death, age of the person or object and even tell what sort of diet the person had been eating for the 4 months previous to death! Basically modern Dublin is built on top of the previous city. Some of it they have rescued but other parts were destroyed for progress!

Geoff and I took a look at Dublin Castle, hidden away in the city.

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There are so many beautiful old buildings in Dublin that some of them they don't even bother to tell you about. Temple Bar was our next destination : an interesting and popular area full of eating places, pubs, cobbled streets , markets and buskers.

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We had woken to a beautiful day this morning and clear blue sky but gradually clouds gathered and it started to rain while we were in Temple Bar. We decided we'd have a late lunch/ early tea to escape the rain. Dublin is quite multi-cultural;we sat in an Italian restaurant in Irish Temple Bar listening to Swedish Abba being played! When the rain cleared we did a bit of shopping and headed back to our hotel to reorganize our bags again ready for our flight to Prague tomorrow evening.

Posted by thomastour 14:15 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Shrine of St. Bridget's Shoe

... and other elements of Irelands history.

rain 17 °C
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Today we left the western side of Ireland and headed back east to Dublin - a drive of just over 200km (even though the GPS insisted that there was a quicker way that only involved travelling 290km - which we ignored much to the chagrin of the lady in the GPS).

But before talking about that - just an aside, we kept the Aussie links going in Galway with the owner of the B&B being Australian (he came over here 10 years ago) and our waitress for tea the first night being an Australian girl on a working holiday. Plus when being served in a shop my accent was recognised, the shop assistant's father apparently lives in Australia.

Anyway - back to today - the drive was uneventful with quite a bit of motorway so we were in Dublin by lunchtime. We did have to deviate at one point to avoid a short stretch of toll road, but the alternate road was good so it wasn't a problem.

It has been raining most of the day, but eased off when we got to Dublin, then we had sporadic drizzle for most of the afternoon before a big downpour after 5pm when we were on the road trying to find our accommodation.

In Dublin we walked around the city centre, through a couple of shopping arcades but then more around the fringes where the more notable sights were.

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Amongst the things we saw were:

    Trinity College - part of the University and in what is referrred to as Georgian Dublin. It is also the home of the Book of Kells which is an early Gaelic translation of the gospels.
    Leinster House - the building that now houses the National Parliament of Ireland.
    The National Museum of Ireland - where we found out quite about about Irelands very early and medieval history. We discovered that they put a lot of credence on holy relics, hence the shrine to St Bridgets shoe. They had a bronze version her shoe in the museum that had come from the original shrine.
    St. Stephens Green - a really great park, pity it was raining!
    St. Patrick's Cathedral - and we were suprised to find out that it wasn't the Catholic Cathedral, it is actually the main church for the Church of Ireland (their offshoot of the C of E).
    St. Audoen's Church - this was actually 2 buildings, one a very old church and the other a newer (but still old by Australian standards) that was more like a Greek temple in appearance. Apparently it is the Polish Catholic Church.

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Finding our accommodation was fun - peak hour traffic in pouring rain made it hard, but an ambigous address made it even harder. We ended up driving around an area just near our final destination but with no idea where we were going. In the end a phone call to the hotel sorted it out.

We are now here for 2 nights, so will see more of Dublin over the next 2 days before we fly to Prague on Sunday evening.

Posted by thomastour 11:50 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

We see the 'Na Beanna Beola' & visit the 'Conmhaicne Mara'

... that is the 12 Bens mountain range in the region where the descendents from the sea live (Connemara)

semi-overcast 17 °C
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With a bit of time before breakfast at 8.30am I headed for The Claddagh, an area of Galway that was inhabited by Irish speaking fishermen until the late 1930's. Fronting onto the water there were lots of attached small cottages, memorial to a child who died in the Potato famine and the pier named after a Scotsman who built it to help the fisherfolk. After breakfast we walked into Galway and checked out St Nicholas' cathedral, The King's Head Pub ( the executioner of Charles 1 purportedly was given it as reward for his services), Eyre Square, Shop Street and High Street ( full of interesting stores ), the Docks and bridges over the River Corrib.

We'd decided to head for Clifden and the Connemarra National Park in the afternoon.We passed through rugged, alpine looking plains and mountains, lakes with lots of rock islands, stone walled paddocks, sheep, sheep, sheep! Quaint villages and beautiful streams dotted our way while the signs that had appeared in Irish and English changed to just Irish! Our first stop was Spiddal, noted for it's craft shops. We passed several deserted old stone homes apparently left from the Potato famine in the 1840's. The population in this area is only about half what it was before the Famine, it had such an impact. In Leenane we stopped to admire Killary Harbour with it's backdrop of surrounding mountains; the Maamturk mountains closeby and The Twelve Bens in the distance.

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Our next stop, Kylemore Abbey is amazingly huge and neo-gothic. It stands out overlooking Kylemore Lough (lake).

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We passed some of the Connemara ponies on our way to Clifden. Clifden surprised us with it's size and two very large spired churches. I think it is used as a base for those wanting to spend time exploring Connemarra. By this time we were conscious of running out of daylight so we passed through the lovely town of Recess and stopped at Maam Cross so I could photograph `The Quiet Man's Cottage' ( thatch roof and all- actually we've seen more thatched rooves here in the west of Ireland than anywhere else)and then onto `The Quiet Man's Bridge'. Both these sites were used in the movie `The Quiet Man' which starred John Wayne and was made in 1951. Apparently it is listed as one of the top 100 movies of all time.

On our `tour' we passed lots of peat bogs and peat hills (where they have been gathering the peat- obviously still very much in use). We made our way home and had a delicious tea at Salthill before we found our accommodation at `Ocean Crest.'

Posted by thomastour 12:26 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

There was an Old Man of Kilkenny,

Who never had more than a penny; He spent all that money, In onions and honey, That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny

semi-overcast 18 °C
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Just to stop any complaints - today's blog is not about Kilkenny - but the rhyme above is relevant, so read on to find out why.

Before we start on today's events - just a short instructional note for anyone intending to take up property development in Ireland.

    Step 1 - buy a package of land, preferably outside the current village area.
    Step 2 - have someone design a house, preferably in a Georgian style.
    Step 3 - build 10 or 20 or even more of these houses (all the same) on the land.
    Step 4 - render and paint each house the same colour.

Our travels today had us continuing on along the Ring of Kerry and unfortunately the day started out much as yesterday finished with low cloud and poor visibility, which made photo taking difficult. But we still saw more of the south-west coastal areas with their steeply rolling hills and houses dotted around them. The weather gradually improved all day and ended up relatively warm at around 18 degrees, but fairly windy which added a bit of a chill factor to it. By the end of the day it was predominantly sunny.

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Anyway from our starting point of Caherciveen we passed through numerous villages (all with wonderful unpronouncable Irish names) on our way to Killorglin and then to Tralee, Castleisland (which was nowhere near the sea and where we didn't see any castles on islands) and to Limerick around lunchtime.

Limerick was not very inspiring, and apparently until the 1990's was officially not a great place to live, but since then efforts have been made to improve it with the help of EU funding.

From Limerick we headed to the coast again to see the Cliffs of Mohr - Cathy read about their chaotic car park but we thought that it would be quiet this time of year. Wrong! There were heaps of people there and a car park that must make a fortune - 8 Euros (around $13) and we were only there for around an hour! But the cliffs were worth the stop - being up to 260metres high and a sheer drop from land down into the Atlantic Ocean. The views weren't perfect because of a slight haze, but were still great.

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From there it was on the road again for the drive to Galway our base for the next 2 nights.

In our travels today we saw lots of ruined castles (normally the single tower type castle preferred by the Irish chieftains) and a couple that looked like they were still in reasonable condition. As we came closer to Galway we passed through the Burrens a range of hills that are quite barren (maybe explains the name) but with the appearance of being terraced with rocks. Also plenty of the beautiful green paddocks surrounded by stone fences.

Posted by thomastour 10:43 Archived in Ireland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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