Monday, August 27, 2012

Tall Ships

Tomorrow is back to school!  Tonight I'm looking through my photos and looking back at a busy and funfilled summer, where the warmth of friends made up for the lack of sunny weather. And now we are just 2 going back to school! How did I suddenly become the mother of 2 college students?
This weekend, Dublin hosted the Tall Ships Race, and it was a very busy festival.
  I didn't go in on Friday to see it, and Saturday the weather was too miserable. Reminds me of that Irish saying "it would be a great country if you could put a roof on it!".

But yesterday was the farewell, and hubby and I went out to Dun Laoghaire. It was busy! Apparently there were 100,000 people watching from shore.

Those ships are so elegant!

 A photographer took our photo, and I thought "if you can take us, we can take you"- here's the result!
Lots of small boats were out in the bay, waving goodbye to the Tall Ships. And we got a blue sky!!

 It may be 15 years before they come back, so I'm kicking myself that I didn't go to the Docklands where I could have boarded. Lesson learned..grab the opportunity!
That will be my motto for this (school) year!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Mountain Walk

I've neglected my blog again, and have so much to talk about that I don't know where to begin.

Maybe start with a recent lovely walk on the Dublin Mountains.. that's Dublin city in the background.

 The weather this summer has been bad, cold with lots of rain, but we were blessed on this Saturday, just the right amount of sunshine!
 There are some very interesting heathers up there
 and this green stuff only grows where the air is pure, so I'm told..
 the 3 amigos on top of the mountain!
 in the forest..
 looking into the forest, looks like snow in this pic!
 This is one of my favourites, just so much flora in it
 and cheering when we came down. It's hard to believe that this place of beauty is about 15 minutes drive from my house!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

London 2012, part 2

Saturday night we went to a fab Turkish restaurant with a friend of my brother's. The food was absolutely delicious, and it was lovely to catch up with Loch.

Sunday we went to Volleyball in Earls Court.
It was a journey back in time for me, as I worked just across the road in a hotel one summer when I was a student! Would have loved to have stayed in that hotel, but at short notice it was booked out.
It looks as though we were miles away from the action, but we actually had a brilliant view, this photo just doesn't show it.
Our seats were behind the seating for athletes; with our "gold medals", we thought we were in the appropriate place!!

See, we had a great view! Just look at all the action going on in this photo! And it was the same throughout each game.
Wouldn't mind having this team of floor cleaners at home!!
And, of course, there was entertainment between shots! I enjoyed them, but the rest of my family weren't in favour.

We had to drag ourselves away in the middle of a brilliant match, to get to the airport and catch our flights. It broke my heart to leave.
There was an early version of a 500m sprint to get to the gate on time: we arrived at Gatwick at 2.35 for a 3.00 flight! The traffic was absolutely awful the whole way there. Luckily, security wasn't busy, and we are all good runners! Made it on time!

The UK did a fantastic job of organising it, especially in relation to VOLUNTEERS everywhere to show us the way, FRIENDLY people with a great welcome, FREE HYDE PARK events,  SECURITY that worked efficiently, NO TROUBLE at any event, UNDERGROUND TICKETS included with our event tickets, PRICES in restaurants weren't any more expensive than normal.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics!

London 2012 Part 1

London was a blast!

We arrived on Thursday night, my brother picked us up at Gatwick and brought us to the apartment where we were staying. We were originally supposed to stay in his caravan at a site near Gatwick, which he assures us is really good, but then we realised we'd be travelling all across London each day. So, with 2 days to go, I searched every website I could find, and picked the scrapings of the pot.
It was grand, very central, clean and plenty of space.
Friday morning we walked 20 minutes from the apartment to Lords Cricket ground for Archery.
The concentration of these guys was amazing.
I couldn't believe how disrespectful people could be- announcements were made at least 10 times asking people to stop taking flash photos, and still it went on. Each time, it was explained that these athletes have trained for 4 years for this moment, and a flash in their eyes could ruin everything. Arrgh!
The Cricket Ground is a fabulous place!

 What really astonished me was the distance these arrows travelled, and the accuracy with which the athletes could hit, even though sometimes a wind would start up just after they took their shot. I'd have no sense of that from watching it on tv.
After the Archery, we went off and had brunch, then went to Hyde Park, where there were big screens with events, and a stage with bands, and magically, although there were clouds, most of the time the sun shone. And we had no rain!!
There also was no trouble of any kind, I saw nobody drunk or showing signs of drugs. A great security job.
There were lots of interesting things for kiddies too.
We listened to the Clemson College Symphonic Band from the US.
 and then we watched that very long tennis match between Federer and Del Potro.

And we got some cute Cadbury Gold Medals! More on that later!

My family are completely nuts, and we also had many laughs, including in this picture of us pretending we had won!  Ireland didn't even have ANY medals at this stage, but we had 4 Gold ones!
 The rest of London 2012 follows tomorrow. Before the Katie Taylor boxing match Final (fingers crossed for her!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bratislava and Vienna 3 (and final!)

Just want to finish off the account of this trip before I start on the London one! This is the statue of Stalin in Bratislava. It's huge!

And another of the "street statues"; this one was human! I can't imagine how he balanced on that all day.

There were so many beautiful buildings in Vienna. The church below was one of many, one more gorgeous than the next.
 On the bus tour, we passed by this Fair, I love the colours!

Another stunning church!

 Bratislava had some great graffiti. This was visible from the boat trip to Vienna.
 There were also some fine houses along the route of the boat trip.
 And finally, some fun! This was at the bridge at the entrance to Bratislava. What a view they have (not real people!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bratislava and Vienna 2

Day 2 in Bratislava we had a nice leisurely look around, lots of walking and exploring. There was a cute little bus that did a tour of the old part of the city, so we did that.

Afterwards we went to find the train station, and that was a long, long walk, but did allow us a view of the newer part of the city. We preferred the old part.

We spent the afternoon getting information about trips to Vienna, and had a real stroke of luck! We wanted to go to a concert in Vienna, which finished around 10.30pm, and were exploring ways of getting back to Bratislava. The tourist office only gave us train times, and it would be very late getting back. Then we asked the girl at reception in the hotel, and she came up with a much better option... a bus! The timing was perfect, and it was a lot cheaper! Result!

So, we got a boat up the Danube in the morning from Bratislava to Vienna, had our lunch and also a little treat that I've wanted to do all my life!
and a bus tour of this beautiful city.

Then we went to the concert! It was disappointing, in that the seats we had were very cramped, there was no air in the concert hall (A.C. not working?) and a group of students in front of us kept taking photos and videos with mobile phones held up high, which blocked our view. I suspect the concert is a "touristy" thing, as they didn't seem to mind people taking photos, with flash, and videos! This picture was before it filled up; the hall was full during the concert.

The concert itself was just ok, but it was still wonderful to be inside the Vienna Opera House!

The costumes were lovely, but, for me, the musical performance lacked soul.

We made our way to the bus stop and got our bus back, all on time and all went like clockwork!
Very, very enjoyable day.

We would not have gone ahead with it were it not for the receptionist telling us about the bus. The staff in that hotel were really exceptional, better at touristy stuff than the tourist office.