Ireland and Wales, Farewell to England too! November 2010

Back to Dublin for the game.  Landed on Thursday and the game was Saturday.  Friday we spent looking around the town and went to see the Kilmainham prison, where many of the leaders of the uprising were held. Quite a sobering experience and very educational about the politics and history of Ireland.  The prison has been in many major films so we actually recognised it.

Kilmainham Prison New Wing

Saturday we looked at some shops and found the “Woolshed” bar – that of the Aussies and Kiwis.  It had an amazing amount of TV screens and played soccer and rugby all day and night long. Peter was pleased as the y were playing a replay of the All Black Australia game from Hong Kong.  I was more interested in the menu, where they had “Vegemite on Toast” for 3.50 euros!!

From there we made our way to the stadium – we walked and “tiki toured” on the way.  The new Aviva Stadium is quite something – very space age looking. We had a good view although we were quite high up. 

Haka at Aviva Stadium

Aviva Stadium curved roof line

 

Afterwards we managed to catch the train back in to town.  All very simple really.  We had arranged to meet a couple who live in Dublin, who we met in Edinburgh, after the game.  Phil is Irish and her husband Wayne is a kiwi.  They had not gone to the game in protest at the price of the tickets.  Many Irish were doing the same.

We met them, and their daughter Christine, at the Woolshed where they had watched the game, and then we all went to a local Chinese restaurant for a meal. It was a great night and we loved getting to know them all.

Sunday we met up with Catherine for a drink, the Irish woman who lives in Saissac, in France.  As it happens Catherine and some French girlfriends were in Dublin the same weekend as us. It was great to see her and have a few laughs together. One of her friends is in love with Dan Carter, so we were able to give her the programme from the game, with his photo in it. Much hilarity.

Jo with some statue friends in Dublin

We then wandered in to an amazing place for lunch, called the Bank.  It was the original Belfast Bank, and is now a protected building. It was so beautiful and the food was great too.  They had large posters everywhere saying “Banned.  Tana Umanga” with a photo of him on it.  Apparently years ago he beat someone up there………….

Bank rerstaurant ceiling

On the Monday we picked up a rental car and drove to Northern Ireland to stay with relatives of Peter’s. We hadn’t met them before, not to mention we didn’t know where they lived.  But the trusty GPS, Susie, got us there………….. well, nearly! Margaret had to come and get us from about 4 kms away. Not too bad we thought.

It was wonderful to meet all the relatives – lots of them.  Margaret and Billy were the most amazing hosts and very, very generous. They had arranged for some of the other relatives to call in for drinks the night we arrived. By the end of the night we were not quite sure who was a direct descendant of who in the family tree, but it was a grand night indeed – lots of good craic!

Billy, Peter and Paxal - rellies!

Jo with a few of the female rellies.............

Then the following day, after a local drive around up to the loch, we went off to see the Giant’s Causeway.

Us at the local Loch

It was a great drive and we saw some lovely Ireland.  Cute little seaside towns especially.  The weather was pretty wet but it did mean we got to see some amazing rainbows.  Even double ones.  

Rainbow

Bay in Northern Ireland

 

We had also hoped to tour the Bushmill’s Whiskey Distillery, but we got there at 4.15 to find it closed at 4.30.  Never mind – we saw it from the outside…………. 🙂

That night Patsy and Ina, other relatives, picked the four of us up and off we went to dinner at a nearby village restaurant. It was starting to get very icy by then. We then went back to Patsty and Ina’s for a drink and met more of their family.  It was so nice.

Billy, Ina, Patsy, Margaret and Peter

The next day dawned icy, icy, icy.  It was so think I wondered if it was snow! So beautiful indeed.

Frost at 10am

We went for a drive this day to Donegal, back in the Republic of Oreland.  It was such an amazing place – raw, rugged coastline……… once again not flash weather, but it made the extreme coast look even more amazing.

County Donegal

Last night with the relatives, and we went to visit Billy’s sister.  Her daughter was getting married that week so the house was full of people and we met some more family. They generously invited us to the wedding, but we couldn’t stay as we had flights booked to get to Cardiff to see the last game of the All Blacks.

The last day in Ireland dawned EXTREMELY frosty and icy.  So we drove very tentatively on the local rural roads, on our way to visit Annie Diamond, on our way to Belfast airport.  Once again amazing Irish hospitality and many members of her family called in to meet us.

Then to Belfast. We had planned to do a “black cab” tour to see Falls Road and parts of Belfat apparently the typical tour operators don’t show you.  But we had stayed at Annie’s too long and didn’t have time.  So we got the GPS to take us to Falls Road, so at least we could say we had been there and seen the murals.  It was quite something to think of all the pain and fighting that had happened there, and still so recent.

Bobby Sands Mural

Peter wanted to pop in to a local for a drink.  Well, that was an experience!!!!!!!!! We met some locals…….. one of whom told us “Me wife thinks I am out walking the f….n dog, but I hid the f….n dog in the back yard and told it not to f….n bark”.  They were all very interested in us, not being local ourselves!

Belfast airport had just had a bomb scare a few days before we were there, so we were pleased to experience the high level of security scrutiny in place! But what a palaver – you have to literally get half undressed to get through. Shoes, belts, coats, jerseys, etc all off.

The flight to Cardiff was only 50 minutes – we are still being surprised by the closeness of everything here (maybe we are just slow learners hee hee). The following morning Shaun and Michele from Rome joined us and off we went to explore Cardiff.  Heck it was cold though – so we mainly ended up trying a few pubs! And when we came out from a late pub lunch – voila – snow!!!! It was snowing and nearly dark being 4pm, and with the Christmas lights on it was all very pretty!

Peter and Michele outside cafe with snow

Cardiff snow and Christmas lights

By the way, that photo is at 3.45pm…………..

It continued snowing overnight and the day of the rugby dawned VERY cold and icy!

Snowy view from apartment room

We all got ourselves decked out for the game and off we slid in to town. 

Ready for the rugby........

We only got to the bus stop when we decided waiting for the bus might be safer than walking. As we went to get on the bus 9it was empty except for us) the driver is saying “No all black supporters on MY bus – off off” and laughing,.  He had a great sense of humor and we enjoyed our warm ride in to town.

We had good seats at the stadium again and it was extremely moving when there was a minute’s silence held for the NZ West Coast miners. Just imagine 70,000 people in one stadium, all silent. The atmosphere was quite something.

Haka at the Millenium Stadium

The Welsh supporters all around us were extremely fun and we had a right old jovial time.

Afterwards we slid around to find some dinner and had a lovely night catching up with Michele and Shaun. Sunday we caught a lift with them to Gatwick, where they flew out to Rome and we trained in to Brighton to see Kate.

Snow in Brighton too! Even on the beach. It was really great to see Kate, and some of her friends, again and also start to experience some Christmas fun!

Kate and Jo Christmas antlers

Peter and Darina at Kates - couch dancing????

 

But then………… snow and more snow……. We got up at 4am on the day of departure, to find Gatwick was closed!  Long story cut short but it ended up we missed our flight to the Canary Islands in Spain, and landed on Benedict’s doorstep in London again. Thanks Benedict! We had (with Kate’s help) managed to book a flight to the Canary Islands from London’s Luton airport for the Friday. But the ice and snow was such we decided to make our way out there on the Thursday and stay at an airport hotel, so we were close.  Good move!

On our way to the tube station from Benedict's

So snow, ice and all we left Luton only one hour late to fly out of the UK. It felt both sad and happy to be leaving, especially as we were saying goodbye for awhile to so many good friends. But happy as we were moving from such cold weather (a high of minus 4 predicted for the day we left) to this……………. (the view from our new hotel room!)

Canary Islands - view from our deck

We have 11 nights here and already are relaxing in to it, on day one! It is an amazing landscape – we liken it to being on the moon. They get very little rain here and so there is no vegetation or trees. Very interesting and quite stunning.

Hello to you all and we hope your Christmas planning is all going well.

Love Jo and Peter.

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