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Tuesday, February 10, 2004
The Ring Of Kerry
Mood:  special
Now Playing: The Ring is a Thing. A Very Special Thing
You're listening to Maura O'Connell sing Ireland.
Turn the sound off using the control above.

We started our next to last day in Ireland with a little walk around this very pretty tourist town. We're happy to be here in February, even with the rather somber weather, because the tour books all tell us that Killarney is the "megalopoplis" of tourist cities of the country and is descended upon during summer months by hordes of tourists, cars and buses. It's quite empty now with many hotels and restaurants closed for the season. That's OK with us.

A little side trip out of town to Ross Castle and a view of one of three of the Lakes Of Killarney. Like this is just as beautiful as it gets. Except, later in the day, it gets even more beautiful because today we're going to do the "Ring". Yes, the Ring Of Kerry - which will take us out onto one of the several peninsulas jutting out of Ireland into the Atlantic on its southwest coast. The trip will take us around the perimeter of the peninsula (say that 10 times fast). This is highly recommended by Lonnie's colleague (who wrote us a trip guide in advance, having been here many times), the so-called Flynn of The Times. (aka Beth Flynn).

Trying on a wool sweater at the Aran Sweater Market in Killarney.

Ross Castle from 700 AD, just outside of Killarney on one of its three lakes.

Now we're off on our ride around the Ring of Kerry. It's a terribly narrow (with signs to warn you about oncoming "coaches", i.e. buses), twisting road with incredible vistas that change at every turn. Lakes, mountains, seascapes, quaint villages, one after another roll into view. It's, once again, cloudy, foggy but no rain. And we don't get started (we are so slow in getting up, showered, eating, shopping and then off) until 12 and we have 100 miles of this tortuous road to cover.

Out onto the Ring and the views of nature are magnificent.

Lonnie poses along side a beautiful mountain lake.

Another Ring view.

Hmm...these little guys would make an awfully nice sweater.
Sheep are everywhere on our route, including on our route.

Stopping every once in a while to appreciate (say "appreesiate") the views, we make our way slowly and arrive at one of several small towns on the Ring: this is Kenmare, one of the larger ones, where we pick up sandwiches, crisps (chips), and coffee. We're gonna have a picnic. But not before we check out a pub for some hot carrot/parsnip soup and a Guinness.

The main street of Kenmare, a cute town on the Ring of Kerry.

As I've said, it's cloudy and foggy but I didn't say: it's very mild today; seems to be in the 50's and no wind like we had in Dublin. Apparently, Ireland is at the top end of the Gulf Stream and, therefore, has relatively mild weather. It rarely freezes or snows; it's very wet and the two contribute to a fabulous flora, including, believe it or not, small palm trees everywhere.

Palm trees in evidence everywhere in Ireland. "Susanne, Al! Is that a palm tree??"

We stopped in the town square of Sneem, another small town
on the Ring and ate our sandwiches in front of the "Hungry Knight" pub.

We love the signposts. This in Sneem tells you to make 3 right turns
to find a stuido. And hiking paths, including the Kerry Way,
which runs for 10s of miles throughout the area. are everywhere.

Riding on we pass ruins of castles, homes, farms and then a view of a home with 5 cows in the front yard. Lonnie wants to take some pictures so I pull over. An 84 year old woman who "worked in Asbury Park, NJ, in the `50s" comes out from the house with her dog, Pup to chat with us. She's very sharp but quite frayed, looking like she's had a hard life. She's all alone in this very rundown house on the ocean. Her sister was killed by a car on this road a year ago and she lived here with her parents from the time she was 16 years old.

Conversations ensued with an old lady living all alone in this
rundown house. Beautiful and depressing, all in one.

"I lived here from the age of sixteen. My sister was killed by a
car that she didn't hear as she crossed this road."

It's getting late as we make our way around the other side of the peninsula. I want to somehow memorize each and every scene. When you travel you want to breathe in the sights, sounds, smells and the very essence of the places you've been to. Maybe this BLOG is one way of doing that. But it's hard to put into words the incredible and rugged beauty of these fingers that jut into the ocean on Ireland's coast.

The beauty that is Ireland's Kerry.

Ocean and mountain, fence of rock, field of green.

We reach the top of the Ring (just 10 miles back across to reach our hotel in Killarney). The sun (yes, the silly sun comes out at sunset but hid from us during daylight!) is setting behind the mountains and it's been a beautiful and memorable day. We're tired but our souls are full of the beauty of this wonderful place. It's my third visit; it's Lonnie's first. But we both feel we must return once again to explore some more.

The sun set over the beautiful Ring of Kerry.

Tomorrow we leave for Shannon and our plane trip home at 3:30. We'll reach JFK at 5:30 pm and will re-engage our other lives. That's what travel is all about isn't it? It's wonderful to discover other worlds. It's nice to return home.

Hope you enjoyed this diary. I enjoyed writing it for all of you who have bothered reading it and for Lonnie and me and our memories of this great trip together.


Posted by Matthew at 5:58 PM EST
Updated: Friday, February 13, 2004 3:20 PM EST
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On To Killarney and Ring of Kerry.
Mood:  mischievious
Now Playing: Dingle. Dingle. Here we come!
One great thing about our hotel today was this: it had a
beautiful gym, pool and sauna. I availed myself of the first,
returned to our room and Lonnie and I set off for breakfast. This
is really a nice place and very moderately priced: 90 but when
you travel with a friend you only pay half! On the other hand
Lonnie is very hairy and not a lot of fun to cuddle with.

The dining room and the hotel, itself, are on the River Nore, a
swift-flowing water. During nicer weather you can dine on the
patio directly on the river. It must be beautiful in the spring.

The view from the dining room of our Kilkenny hotel.

This town is centered around the 12th century Kilkenny Castle
which passed through three important families. The third was the
Butlers who possessed it and its lands (hundreds of thousands of
acres) from the 1600's until 1962. These were cousins of the
British royalty and their wealth was astounding. Glancing out of
the window from the dining room I see mountains in the distance
about 10 miles or so away. "What mountains are those?" I asked
the guide. "Those are the so and so's", he replies. The Butlers
owned the land all the way to those mountains." A lot of land
they owned, we thought.

The two lads in front of the Butler home.

Viewing the family photo album in the "long" room.

The family's "long" room. This was added in the 1800's as part of a restoration.

On the way back to our hotel (and to our car to leave Kilkenny)
we pass this cute pub and the owner poses for us.

Matt at Matt the Miller's place.

We get on the "main" road which is more like a back-country road
in the lane in each direction, narrow and twisting.
We're going to take "The Vee" a "shortcut" that cuts through
magnificent mountains covered with heather and lots of sheep.

Before that, we see a ruined castle and graveyard just off the
"main" road down a really narrow road and decide to take
a look-see.

A narrow road leads to some ruins and an old cemetery.

Some back roads on the way to Killarney.

A cemetary and ruins.

We leave the main road for "The Vee" and the road climbs into the
mountains with one switchback after another. It's like being in
an airplane. However, it's foggy and gray, sort of quintessential
Irish weather: moody and brooding. I love it. Lonnie wishes it was a bit sunnier.

A panoramic view of fields from The Vee.

We leave The Vee and get onto the "main" road again: the N72
which will take us straight across to Killarney. It's getting
late and we stop for a mid-afternoon lunch at a pub in a little
town on the way.

A pub for some potato-leek soup and a sandwich...

...and, em, a Guinness also.

It's a gray day and it remains so for the rest of our trip to
Killarney, which is the gateway to the Dingle Peninsula and the
Ring Of Kerry. Lonnie has convinced me to drive all they way
through instead of stopping at Cork which he dismisses as "just
another city" ("like Dublin", he says). He wants to see
natural Ireland. I haven't been there either so, what
the hey! Let's go.

We end up in Killarney, which seems (in the dark; it's 8 o'clock)
like a charming tourist town and find a very sweet b&b called The
Fairview Guesthouse. Since it's low season, the price is right,
we unpack and hurry out to dinner.

Tomorrow Natural Ireland! Till then I remain your humble
blogger, Matt The Miller.

The Fairview Guesthouse in Killarney.

Posted by Matthew at 5:14 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 5:41 AM EST
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Sunday, February 8, 2004
Out Of Dublin - On To Kilkenny
Mood:  special
Now Playing: The Green, Green Fields Of Home
Lonnie, not being a city person, finally feels he has arrived in Ireland. Even 30 miles out of Dublin, the scene transforms from urban to remote countryside: sheep, horses, cows everywhere and yes, the famous green countryside and rolling hills.

We started by breakfasting and then a taxi to the Sixt car rental facility out by the airport. They give us a nice-sized 4-door Nissan. It has a CD player so we can play all the Irish CD's Lonnie has purchased. Out onto the M80 motorway and then to the N7 which takes us to the south and west toward Kilkenny, the midevil center of Ireland.

We only have Monday and Tuesday left after today so I'm afraid we're trying to cram too much into the remaining time but we'll play it by ear. We're headed ultimately to the Ring of Kerry with its breathtaking views of ocean and mountain. Then on Wednesday to Shannon and the flight home. (We were supposed to fly home from Dublin but have made arrangements that better fit our tour.

Our first stop today was in Kildare where lunched at the Silken Thomas pub with soup and a Thai chicken panini. It's a tiny town but very quaint and picturesque (are there any towns that aren't?)

Lunch at the Silken Thomas.

Matt enjoys a Guinness at the Silken Thomas.

After lunch we got back on the motorway but quickly ditched it for some back roads. They were not quite an inch or two wider than our car (and we're driving on the left "side" of the road, remember?) A little freaky but beautiful farms. Hedges line the road. We come across, totally by accident, the ruins of a 12th century castle sitting atop the Rock of Dunamase. It's not a rock but a giant outcropping of rock in a rather flat topography and hence it's called a "rock." The sun is setting, an old church sits at the base of the rock and fabulous fields of green stretch into the distance. Idyllic!

Fields surrounding the Rock of Dunamase.

A lovely old church sits at the base of the "rock."

A young American lad with the Rock of Dunamase rising in the background.

The ruined castle at the Rock of Dunamase.

Onwards we go and pass through the tiny town of Castlecomer where we stop for some coffee but it's Sunday afternoon and nothing's opened. Some kids are standing around and I snap their picture because I love the Irish sign posts telling you which way to everyplace in creation (or so it seems).

Some lads hanging out in Castlecomer.

It's just a few miles to Kilkenny and we debate on how to find the right B&B for the night. We decide to just drive in and there's a beautiful place, the Kilkenny River Court Hotel. Lovely! Now a nap and then, despite its small size Kilkenny has 60 pubs on its one main street, we'll be off to dinner.

Our room at the Kilkenny River Court Hotel.

Strolling to dinner we view the fabulous castle at Kilkenny. Our hotel's patio is at the left. Not bad, ay?.

See ya. - Matt

Posted by Matthew at 2:51 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, February 8, 2004 6:06 PM EST
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Saturday, February 7, 2004
It's a colder day in Dublin
Mood:  cool
Now Playing: Academia and Antiquities
First a little addendum from last night's BLOG - a cute sign I happened to notice in the Raven's Head...something quaint the Irish used to sell in the olden days.

A charming retail practice in Dublin of olde. Well you might as well make money on it if you can!

And interesting, we didn't realize that matzoh balls were used in classic Irish stew. Apparently, it's so. But they call them knaid a lach which translates as "lake balls." Go know.

Lonnie enjoying Irish stew with knaid a lach.

Today (Saturday) was another beautiful day. Still no rain but for a minute or so mid-day. But the temperature is somewhat cooler and the wind somewhat stronger...the combination made for a somewhat unpleasant walking experience, but walk we must. Dublin is truly a walking city; it's compact and it's just the best way to get around. There are taxis (not cheap) and buses are plentiful (but the traffic is fierce and so they don't get far quickly) so walking is the way to go and that's what we've been doing. Oh yes, there are many, many bikes and not just for pleasure but lots of people commuting to and from work or shopping. I'm impressed and I didn't remember this from last time. It's just Europe I guess.

So we set out on this blustery day headed toward Trinity College. It was founded by Elizabeth I in 1592 and is a 42 acre oasis of peaceful calm in the middle of a bustling city. We want to take a look at the Book of Kells - four ancient illuminated gospels that are kept (and displayed, but only 2 pages at a time and turned daily to avoid damage from the light) in the college library. Since I saw them last time and since it costs $10 to enter, I wait outside while Lonnie enters.

The beautiful Trinity College campus.

Next we head to our walking tour for the day: the Liberties. That's the old part of Dublin (south of the Liffey and west from the college) and contains parts of the old city wall as well as two magnificent cathedrals: St. Patrick's and Christ Church as well as being the city's antique shops center.

On our way we pass through Temple Bar again and come across a street performer surrounded by uproarious laughter of a crowd that he has gathered around him. Of course, somehow he picks on me (I'm standing behind him taking pictures) and introduces me as his "manager".

Very funny ... except when he picked on Matt as his "manager".

First stop on our walking tour: Dublin Castle which represents some of the oldest architecture in the city. It was built between 1208 and 1220 and was the seat of British power for some seven centuries until the Irish took control of their own government in 1922. Because the European government was meeting there it was, unfortunately, closed to the public and we could only walk around outside.

There was a beautiful enclosed garden and it seems that the some parts of the castle have been painted in brilliant colors. The sun is low in the sky in the winter in Ireland. That makes for very striking "winter lighting" that seems to make everything look more brilliant to the eye.

A panoramic photo of Dublin Castle (with King Lonnie IV in the foreground.)

Detail of garden wall: Dublin Castle.

On the way out of the castle gate we came across a decrepit old building with a strange title decorating it's facade: "Sick & Indigent Roomkeepers Society. Founded A.D. 1790" We could only imagine who and what.

Looking for a few good men. Anybody interested?

The day was getting late and more blustery and it's Saturday and the antique stores on Francis Street that we wanted to hit were mostly closed. So were the two cathedrals (you've seen one, you've seen'em all). We walked around the Liberties section some more and then headed back to the hotel for a long nap. It's Temple Bar for dinner and drink for this, our last night in Dublin.

Tootleloo! - Matt

Charming but little row houses in the Liberties section of town.

Christ Church, one of the oldest and most beautiful in Dublin, dating to 1169 but closed to us today because we were too late..

St. Patrick's built in 1190. It's most famous dean was Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) who is entombed within. Here a view from a Liberties residential street. Work is being performed on the steeple.

Posted by Matthew at 3:25 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, February 8, 2004 1:34 PM EST
Friday, February 6, 2004
Shopping, Stopping and Guinness
Mood:  not sure
Now Playing: Drink and then sing!
After a good night's sleep, we woke and headed down to the ultra-mod restaurant for our full Irish breakfast. That refers to eggs,bacon, sausages, roast tomato, beans, etc. There was also a nice continental buffet for our selection. A high glass ceiling and a muralled wall with heroes of Irish traditional music depicted, struck a nice note for our chic digs. The Chief, himself, was apparently an ardent advocate and collector of traditional music from the turn of the last century through the 1930's.

Us and the restaurant at Chief O'Neill's hotel.

A mural covers the restaurant wall and it's emblazoned with the heroes of traditional music.

It's going to be another day of walking and exploring. So we start off at about 10 for our day's activity. It's a gray day,kind of what we expected Irish weather to be. But the good part -- so far no rain. The hotel is on the north side of the Liffey. Apparently, the north of Dublin is the poorer, more working-class section and hasn't received the attention of the south side of town. But, we note, it's coming. Right outside our hotel is the evidence. What was once an open market for horse sales, so-called Smithfield Village, is giving way to high rise, luxury condos (familiar phrase?).

Out with the old. In with the new. A horse market becomes luxury condos for the horsey set.

We're headed to Henry Street, another shopping venue. Lonnie's on a roll and I oblige. If Grafton is upscale shopping; Henry is decidedly lower scale for the working masses. Packed with people and stores, a green market, butchers, department stores
and more. We see a branch of the very dependable and affordable British department store, Marks and Spencer (or Marks and Sparksas the Brits call it) and venture in. I'm always on the lookout for woolen socks which are not easy to find in the states. Sure enough, they're loaded up with them here. And Lonnie picks up some underwear (which he forgot to pack).

Walking down Henry Street.

Matt tries on a hat in a camping store.

One thing I note about cities nowadays is that food has become so much more internationalized. Wow, it's like Manhattan: Every block has dozens of places to eat, drink coffee, drink beer, grab a sandwich. And such variety. If you thought that the Irish, like the British, are dullards when it comes to cuisine, think again: Thai, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Mid-eastern,

Malaysian, vegetarian; it's all here and in great quantity. Quality has been good also.

There's a very hip eating scene in Dublin.

We're back at the Liffey. At the time that Guiness was first making his porter (1760's) there was only one bridge to get across the river. Now there's a dozen. But this Ha'penny is the most charming I think. And it's so heavily used. Scads of people are always crossing from Temple Bar to the north side and back. Again, we remark to ourselves how young Ireland is.

The Ha'penny Bridge, crowded with walkers.

We stop for coffee and a self-portrait.

Making our way to another shop before our afternoon activity (a tour of the Guinness brewery) we have been impressed by the friendliness of the Irish. That's something I've learned from my previous two visits on bicycle trips. And other visitors to Ireland have said the same thing. They're also very witty and quick with a quip or story.

A group of skateboarders float into the camera frame.

And they immediately and enthusiastically join in the picture-taking.

A taxi takes us to the brewery. Again: friendly and funny; and a genuine character. Commentary all the way and jokes; jokes about beer-drinking, about women, about wives and also a little history of British/Irish relations thrown in as well. "See that church over there?", he asks. "I was handcuffed in that church." "What do you mean,handcuffed?", we ask increduously. "Well, that's where I got married" comes the rejoinder. On the way, he obligingly stops (at my inquiry) at the Raven's Head Inn so we can make a reservation for dinner tonight. It's the oldest pub in Dublin and comes highly recommended for its drink, food and music.

The brewery tour.

The brewery tour is in what used to be an immense warehouse on the Guinness site. The "site" is 68 acres of buildings, all working towards one goal: producing millions and millions of gallons of the famous brew for consumption around the world.

It's quite impressive. When last here in '98 the tour was in the brewery itself. Now it's in this converted warehouse with a Disney-like multi-media production to show the visitors the process. That's the downside. The upside is that you end up seven

floors above, in a beautiful bar/tower with an incredible panoramic view of Dublin and the surrounding bay, mountains and environs. And, of course, you get a pint of Guinness to boot!

The handiwork of the Cooper Whose job has been made redundant in more recent years with aluminum barrels replacing the hand-crafted wooden ones.

We couldn't resist this shot. "Cheers" says the young man when I thanked him for taking our picture .

Slainte! (pronounced: Slawncha, meaning "cheers!") I watched a group of girls celebrating and toasting and asked them to do it again for my camera. "Not a problem!"

The view from the Gravity Bar was 360? fabulous!

The Gravity Bar!.

We walk back to our hotel which is only a few blocks away across the Liffey once again. Now we can rest up for the evening's outing to the Raven's Head Inn for dinner.

One last look at St. James's Gate.

We took a little nap, did our ablutions and walked across the Liffey to Bridge Street and our dinner destination. Delicious seafood chowder and Irish stew for both in the restaurant upstairs, then down to the pub for some wonderful sets of Irish music. They were playing some my favorites by Christy Moore - some songs of social significance that bemoaned unemployment and the closing of the mills in some factory town. Haunting melodies. And many in the room, which was packed with young and old, sang along.

Checking the scene in the pub at the Raven Head's Inn.

Great music at the pub. Everyone was singing along.

Another great day in Dublin -- one more left before we hit the road. See you tomorrow!

Posted by Matthew at 7:39 PM EST
Updated: Friday, February 13, 2004 10:15 PM EST
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Thursday, February 5, 2004
Welcome To Dublin
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: A Car Ride, A Plane Ride, A Walk.
As I mentioned, I dished the idea of subway-LIRR-AirTrain in favor of good ol' car with my brother driving. Here's the rub. We live just 15 minutes on the Belt Parkway from JFK. It took us over an hour. One guy in a broken van and that's the end of that.

That's what we all love about flying, right? Getting to the airport. Once there, everything went smoothly. Lonnie had already arrived (he came from Manhattan and got there way before me!) We boarded the plane and took off precisely at 8:30.

The flight was uneventful and before you knew it, we were both fast asleep.

There was a stopover in Shannon and then on to Dublin, just 30 minutes away. Picked up our luggage and taxied into Dublin city, just 5 miles south. The taxi driver (a woman) kept up a running commentary about her fair town. She dropped us at our hotel, The Chief O'Neill, sort of an industrial-chic boutique hotel. Very cute.

Lonnie in the lobby of Chief O'Neill's Hotel.

After an hour of napping, off we started for some coffee and lunch. I wanted to show Lonnie the lay of the land. Last time I was in Dublin was in 1998. The place was heating up then and it's even hotter now: lots of construction everywhere; new streetcar lines being built; people look good and they appear to be very young! We start out across the River Liffey and over to Grafton Street, Dublin's hip shopping street. It's pedestrianized and so it's very pleasant and an oasis from the maddening and ever-present traffic.

On Grafton Street.

We head to the historic Bewley's Caf?, which has been around forever. It's an old and elegant coffee house and cafeteria and we devour some wondeful soup and chicken sandwiches.

Historic Beweley's Oriental Cafe on Grafton Street.

Walking further down Grafton we found ourselves at St. Stephen's Green, one of Dublin's Georgian Squares. Here we are in February, having just survived one of New York's coldest and most miserable winters. Guess what? Dublin is alive with flowers! Crocuses, dafodils, brilliant green grass...the only thing missing are leaves on the trees.

St. Stephen's Green in the late winter sunlight.

It was in the 60's here today. Very windy but for most of the day, not a cloud in the sky. Brilliant! (as they are fond of exclaiming here). Grand! (they like that word too.)

Lovers sparking in the park.

Lonnie slept straight through the plane ride and then an hour or so in the hotel. He's pretty rested. I really haven't slept at all (the plane shot was faked). And so, I'm getting really, really tired now. It's about 5 and starting to get dark and my friend wants to stop at every store and then at every store!

A store selling just traditional Irish music.

We make our way back toward our hotel by traipsing through Temple Bar (the Greenwich Village of Dublin) with its narrow streets, cute cafes and restaurants. A quick stop for a Guinness before heading back across the Liffey.

"We'll each have a pint please."

Ahead of us is still dinner (which, due to fatigue, is around the corner from the hotel at Kelly and Ping - good but expensive). But our day has been wonderful and we cross the Liffey as the sun sets and the full moon rises. It hasn't rained. In fact, it's been as perfect an introduction to Dublin as we could possibly have hoped for.

Tomorrow, we head for the Guinness Brewery for a look-see at how the brew is produced and then a walking tour of town.

Good night. It's 10:41 pm and I'm going to hit the sack. I'll dream about the "full Irish breakfast" that's included with our room and which will be waiting for us tomorrow morning.

A beautiful sunset on the River Liffey.

Lonnie on the He' Penny Bridge.

The sun sets. The moon comes up.

Posted by Matthew at 5:28 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 5, 2004 6:10 PM EST
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Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Tomorrow's The Day!
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Fly Away!
My friend Lori writes to me and wants to know what happened to the Blog. How come there are no entries since January 29th, she wants to know. And then Tamar asks me (when I call her): "Oh, you're back already??" Oh well.

So I'm compelled to write something, anything. Tomorrow's the big day...8:20 pm we leave from JFK on Aer Lingus. Lonnie has to get there from Manhattan. Me, from Brooklyn. I could take a car service...I'm only 20 minutes from the airport. But I'm dying to try the new AirTrain. It means a subway ride to Atlantic Avenue...then the LIRR to Jamaica (Queens) and finally, the AirTrain from Jamaica to JFK. I figure, liberally, 2 hours. Probably much less. Stacey wants to know if I'm crazy. "20 minutes or 2 hours??!!" But, being a member of Transportation Alternatives, I'd bike there if I could but mass transit is my second approach and I really want to try that new train that they built down the center of the Van Wyck Expressway. So I probably will do it.

The AirTrain being constructed above the Van Wyck Expressway

Didn't people always use to travel that way (and before that not travel at all)?

Everything else is ready and waiting: my camera and equipment. My electric conversion accessories: pin adaptors, extension cord. Knapsack, suitcase, rain protection. Oy, the it ever sunny there in February. Checking the weather almost daily it seems not.

I've been reading a great book, "Over The Hills" by David Lamb. He's a journalist and writer. Seems he took time off as a 50-something and decided to ride a bike cross country. Not just a wonderful paean to my favorite pastime but also a loving and nostalgic look at small town, off-the-interstate America and its people. Inspires a love of travel and back roads. Some interesting bike facts from the book.

OK....on to the AirTrain and off to Ireland. See you there!

Late Update: My big brother, Lee, says he'll take me by car. Scratch the AirTrain. Hmmm. Maybe on the way home?

Posted by Matthew at 9:41 AM EST
Updated: Friday, February 13, 2004 12:56 PM EST
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Thursday, January 29, 2004
Getting Ready To Get Ready
Mood:  caffeinated

Jan 29, 2004
Got home late tonight after a night out with friends, Ted and Cary. It's 1:30am and, strangely, I'm not sleepy (could be that cup of coffee I had at midnight). Anyway, thought I would get started on my new TRAVEL BLOG. Yeah, that's right. My college buddy and dear friend Lonnie and I are off to Ireland for a week's adventure on February 4th. That's only a week away and the excitement is starting to build.

It's been a while since we took a trip together (although Lonnie has asked me at least twice or three times a year to join him here or there)...since 1966. That's, ahem, 38 years ago! Can that possibly be? That year we drove a car cross country to San Francisco. We camped out the entire way.

No camping this time. We take off Wednesday night from JFK and land in Dublin on the 5th and check into the Chief O'Neill's Hotel for three nights. The place sounds pretty cool and the motif is Irish traditional music. Cool. Check it out: Chief O'Neill's Hotel

Then we plan to rent a car and head to the hinterlands to see some small Irish villages, some castles, some pubs and whatever else meets our fancy.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, at this time of year temps in Ireland run in the high 40's to lower 50's and it's W E T. Bought a new Gore-Tex shell which I hope will keep me and my camera dry. Dublin weather

Looking forward to this trip with my old friend Lonnie. Gotta start to pack. See you soon.

Oh, by the way. If you want you can write me at or Lonnie at or scroll down to the bottom and leave us a comment.


Lonnie and me, travelling again. First time since 1966!!

What we looked like in 1966!

Posted by Matthew at 1:41 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 3, 2004 7:39 PM EST
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