Saturday, April 22, 2006
A girlie after my own heart
Nerds. She likes 'em too. But then she loves anything that comes in a tiny box.

After getting all hopped up on sugar she sets herself to ransacking Noni's purse.

Wright's Dairy-Rite
This is where we went for dinner. It's a 50's style drive-in and diner. You phone in your order from your table. We had a great supper there, high in cholestoral and all those things that slow you down and stop you up.

Here's what Emma's kids meal arrived in. Pretty luxe, huh?

The yellow token taped to the hood of her car was for her dessert. You can turn in the dessert token for ice cream. Here she is proudly feeding herself.

My daughter has an innate sense of fairness. Since she had ransacked Noni's purse earlier she felt it only fair to rifle Popi's pocket.

What a Bargain!
Today we went to Target and when we came to the Easter stuff everything was 90% off. Yes, you read that right, 90%. Here is what I got:

A stuffed Elmo with bunny ears.
A stuffed Tigger that giggles (for next year's basket)
Egg dye for next year
Hershey's chocolate covered marshmallow eggs.
Whoppers eggs.
Whoppers mini eggs.
3 pairs of socks for me.
2 bracelets for Emma.
A purse for Emma (maybe birthday)
3 wooden puzzles.

All of this cost me $4.77.
The rest of the evening
That evening, exhausted by our search for a good restaurant, we wussed out and went to Hard Rock Dublin. It was fun anyway. I knew I was supposed to be there when I found myself seated across from the wide screen TV showing music videos and a poster of Queen. After a long and leisurely dinner we hit the streets in search of a pub. No luck. I'll tell you, at night the streets are filled with a certain sense of menace in Dublin. People there are serious about their quest for booze. Us...not so much. After cruising a few blocks we decided that our best bet might be the pub at our hotel. When we got there it was packed full and hot as hell. We walked in, did a turn and walked out. We headed back to our rooms for another night of bad Irish TV. In all honesty it was after 10:00 p.m. and we had walked miles and miles all day and I was shot.

Here is a scene from our walk that evening. Some street performers. The guy is doing a fire dance while the hippies are beating on bongos.

St. Patrick's Cathedral
To learn more about this cathedral you can click here, here and here.

Beautiful stained glass windows:

A secondary pulpit (?)

The tile floor:

The collection for the organ fund, a keg for Guinness:

Lunch and the churches
We found lunch at Duke's Pub just off of Grafton Street. They offered buffet style lunch. I wussed out and got a turkey sandwich. It was pretty expensive but you got a lot for your Euro. After that we bought some tourist junk at Carroll's. It was a shop full of Irish junk and I wanted to be sure I got my stuff there. Later I figured out they had more than half a dozen locations in Dublin, two of which I had passed on the way from my hotel. Sigh.

We walked several blocks to reach Christchurch Cathedral. It was quite beautiful and just what I was there to see, old stuff. We went inside and discovered that they wanted to charge us 5 Euro just for a look. I decided that if I was going to blow 5 Euro to look then I'd wait for St. Patrick's Cathedral. So here are your lovely exterior shots...

Poor Molly Malone
Around lunch time we were to meet up again with the rest of the group. As it happened our meeting spot was near the statue of Molly Malone. She's also known at the "Trollop with the Scallops" and the "Tart with the Cart." I'm sure she's subject to molestation scores of times a day. Of course our men weren't going to pass up the opportunity for a grope.

Of course my husband was determined to have "boobs on his head." Don't ask. It's a little one-upsmanship from Mardi Gras.

Trinity College and the Book of Kells
Our second destination of the morning was Trinity College. I wanted to see the college and to see the Book of Kells. It's an manuscript of the four gospels written and illustrated by monks around 800 A.D. It's quite ornate and one of the must-say-you-saw-its of Ireland. Here are some pictures from the college.

St. Stephen's Green
This was my first destination. It's a park at City Centre with a long and interesting history. We walked the outer area of the park and then the interior.

Here is the gate where we entered the park. It's called the Fusilier's Arch.

This is a little house we found tucked into the corner of the park. I still haven't found out what it was all about.

Behind those hedges this is what we found...

The center of the park was quite beautiful.

We really enjoyed the flowers in bloom. It was a darned shame we had to come to Ireland to find relatively clear skies.

Grafton Street
We hopped off the bus at the corner of Grafton and Suffolk. The rest of them went on to the Guiness plant to take the tour there. When we learned that it was 14 Euro a piece to learn how they make chewy beer, we decided we'd go for higher culture instead ;)

Grafton street is a major shopping area. They had a lot of upscale shops, all with security guards at the door. Even lower rent stores had security at the door.

Here I was trying to capture the white building down the way with the greenery hanging off. What I seem to have gotten is McDonalds.

It turns out this was a shopping center. I didn't realize that until I just did the wikipedia research on St. Stephen's Green. Oh well. I missed one.

This is St. Anne's Cathedral. It wasn't one of the more significant churches. Must just be an everyday church.

Hop On Hop Off Bus
This is how we chose to get around on our day exploring Dublin. It did a tour to twenty some points and then would repeat all day long. Your bus pass let you come a go as you pleased.

This is our German travel companion surveying the area. We'll call him George.

Here we are. I believe I was stowing my bus pass in my breast pocket.

This is the General Post Office. A location of some significance that I will discuss later.

Here is the bus and our tour guide. We asked around and made sure we caught a bus with a live guide and not a recorded one.

Friday, April 21, 2006
Emma today
She's still throwing a major fit when I leave her a Mary's in the morning. I think it will take quite a while to re-establish trust that we're coming back for her. Of course the fit passed seconds after I was gone, but she still throws a good one.

Here is the best picture I got of her outfit today. She's wearing khaki capris from Aunt T., a shirt from Aunt K's box, and the new shoes Noni got for her:

Flanagan's and feeling foreign
We found this restaurant on O'Connell street the first night. We had a long and leisurely supper there. We later learned that Flanagan's is mentioned in the book "Patriot Games" by Tom Clancy. At the end of our meal we encountered our first "foreigner" panic when we realized no one knew how to tip in Ireland. We fudged it and ran ;) It turns out that the books recommend 10% so we were very close, if not too generous. After supper we went back to our hotel and back to our rooms. There we learned that Irish television kinda sucks. They're really big on people sitting on couches and talking. And they watch old U.S. movies that sucked. But they did have a channel that was only in the gaelic language, so that was kind of cool.

That night I also discovered another oddity of Ireland (Europe?) They don't have wash cloths. At first I wasn't sure if it was an oversight by the maid, or if they just really don't use them. I thought, what the hell? How do I get my makeup off? How do I scrub my body? I called the front desk and asked about wash cloths.


"Wash cloths, you know, what you use to scrub your body?"



So the next morning I made due with a hand towel. That evening we stopped by a 1 Euro store and I bought a 3-pack of "face flannels." You know...wash cloths.
The Spire of Dublin

This controversial monument stands at an intersection of O'Connell street, a main thoroughfare and reference point in the city. It replaced a monument that was blown up by the IRA in 1966. The Spire is controversial because many Dubliners felt the design was rammed down their throats when they preferred a design that had an observation deck on top. The nicknames we heard for the Spire were the Stiletto in the Ghetto, the Rod to God, the Stiffy on the Liffey (river), and the Erection at the Intersection.

It actually proved quite handy to us because our hotel was several blocks away and it was a beacon so we knew where we were going.
Black Friday
On our way to the hotel from the airport our driver, Mickey, hit us with the news that we had arrived on "black Friday" a. k. a. Good Friday. It's "black Friday" because it's the one day of the year all of the pubs are closed. What!?! The pubs are CLOSED!?! Yep, he said that it's the one night of the year when all of the men take their wives out to a restaurant for dinner.

This is where we stayed, the North Star Hotel in Dublin. I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore when the first thing I realized coming through the front door was that I had to carry my suitcase up the stairs to reach the registration desk. Hey, they don't make you do that at home!

The hotel is located directly across from Connolly Station, and wouldn't you know it the tracks for the local rail pass right over the lobby of the hotel. Our room ended up being directly across from the rail, but if we closed the window and pulled the drapes it was muffled quite nicely.
We flew Ryanair to Dublin and back. Ryanair doesn't assign seats, they let you compete for the good seats. Fortunately we had some competitors in our crew. We did pretty well going and coming. In Dublin they dumped us off right onto the tarmac. I had never gotten to do that before, walk right off the plane, across the tarmac, and into the airport.

For this picture I sat in my seat, held the camera up over my head, pointed it backwards and hoped I got something. As you can see they were very cooperative.

Despite the look on their faces we were not about to crash. I have no idea what was going on.

Crazy people on the loose in Ireland.

Hauf Brauhaus Hatz
On Friday we didn't have to catch our flight to Dublin until 4:00 or so. We really didn't have any idea how long it would take us to get to the Karlsruhe-Baden Baden airport so we ended up getting there really early. We decided to catch lunch in the neighboring town. The restaurant we chose seemed to be a family restaurant. They stuck us in a room all by ourselves. I had a sneaking suspicion they wanted to spare the rest of the customers any close proximity to the obnoxious Americans. Nonetheless they were very courteous. Our traveling companions on this trip were B. and K. and their close friends. He is German and she's American but lives in Germany now.

My third schnitzel of the week. This time I got the gravy, but the schnitzel was barely breaded so it was definitely different than the other two.

Lacking imagination, just like me, my brother got something-or-other Hawaii again. ;)


Thursday, April 20, 2006
An excess of riches
Several days ago I was worried because Emma had very few outfits for summer. I needed to go shopping. Plus she needed some short sleeve shirts to transition through the spring. I needn't have worried. Aunt K. had shipped us a box of clothes before we got to Germany. There was a ton of great stuff in there, a good bit of which she'll be able to wear this summer, including three brand new pairs of size 5 sandals. Then Noni had bought Emma four new outfits plus a pair of shoes while she was staying with them. THEN, my other SIL bought Emma a bunch of clothes for Easter. She had four new outfits, two pairs of shoes and a bag of consignment clothes she'd found. Now we're set pretty well.

Here's one of the outfits Aunt K. sent (THANK YOU!!!)

We spent the rest of the afternoon there. Unfortunately our battery quit on us early. We did pick up a disposable camera so I hope to have more pictures for you next week. You'll just have to wait to see the monkey balls ;)
Bier Brezel
For lunch we stopped at the Bier Brezel, a place my brother had recommended. This was the first place we tried on our own. They did have English on their menu so it wasn't too scary. I ordered a flatbread with a cream sauce, cheese, turkey strips and mushrooms. I was amazed to find that it was absolutely delicious.

In the car on the way there I asked K. to remind me how to ask for the check, because you pretty much have to ask in Germany. She told me and I practiced, practiced so I wouldn't forget. Then I asked her to spell it so it would help me remember, so she did. And...I forgot.

Fortunately our waitress knew a little English so "check, bitte" worked just fine.


Heidelberg Castle
M. took the castle pictures that morning, as I was concentrating on staying warm. We have a ton of pics, but this is the creme of the crop. For more information on the history of the castle you can click here and here. I can't remember anything I learned that day...