Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More photos from Paris

Sue in Prsay with Vincent

Our Last Days in Paris
I have organized and am posting the photos from our last two days in Paris, before returning to Dublin for our Ireland tour. I hope you enjoy these:

  • July 10, 2009; Big Paris walk <--- Click here to view! This was a big walking day. After walking through Rue Cler in the early morning, Sue and I met for breakfast back at our hotel. After that we walked to the Arc de Triump. Then, we walked the length of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, stopping in many shops. We went to Laviana, one of the best wine stores in Paris. We finished the evening with a boat ride on the Siene.

  • July 11, 2009; Day at the Orsay <--- Click here to view! On this Saturday, after breakfast, we walked over to the RER train station and caught a train to the Orsay Museum. We spent most of the day in the Orsay. We even had lunch there. Then we went back to our room, gathered up our bags and caught a Taxi. We took taxi to our bus connection to go to Paris-Beauvais to catch a late Ryanair flight back to Dublin. It was warm and the airport was chock-a-block. Folks were sitting outside waiting for their flights.

These are all from the Europe 2009 photo collection I am building on Flickr.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First vacation photos on Flickr

Night scene in Paris

The first three days of the trip in pictures
I have been spending a lot of time editing and preparing the thousands of photos from our trip to Europe. Here are some photos I have selected, ran through Photoshop, prepared for sharing and have posted to Flickr:

  • July 7, 2009; Fly to Europe <--- Click here to view!
    This morning Kenneth took us to the airport and we flew to Chicago where we changed planes and started our trans-Atlantic leg.

  • July 8, 2009; To Dublin <--- Click here to view!
    This morning we arrived first at London Heathrow then changed to Aer Lingus to go to Dublin. Arrived there and had the first of many Guinnesses.

  • July 9, 2009; Dublin to Paris <--- Click here to view!
    We left Dublin and took a 29 Euro Ryanair flight to Beauvais airport in France, then a bus to Paris. Then, we got on the RER train to go to where we stayed to check in.

    We had lunch on Rue Cler, then went to the Eiffel Tower. After that, we caught a very late 69 bus which we took to the Notre Dame. Finally, we shot night shots there, in the Latin Quarter and back by the Eiffel Tower.

These are all from the Europe 2009 photo collection I am building on Flickr.

Monday, July 27, 2009

London Quite Unexpectedly

Sunset at Big Ben

We did not expect our adventure to continue after we left Dublin, Ireland for home but that is just what happened. We had not gotten much sleep the night before leaving because there was loud music playing outside our room at the Dublin hotel. We were up late and had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to make our early flight because Dublin airport is such a zoo.

Our Aer Lingus flight was greatly delayed leaving Dublin and we missed our American Airlines London connection to Chicago. Aer Lingus in London was not able to get us a flight out of London until the next day so they put us up in a hotel in London near Heathrow Airport with all expenses paid!

Sue and I were dead tired and it would have been easy to have just gone to the room and taken a long nap, but I had never been to London and adventure called! So, after we got our room we got directions to the London Underground from a concierge and some helpful Brits and we took the a bus and the underground to downtown.

Time was limited, but we managed to get in the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The Parliment Building and Westminster Abbey! We ended up grabbing dinner at a take away (we did not use our hotel dinner voucher) and ate it at the base of Big Ben!

As often happens the underground and buses were also a grand part of the adventure. We got to do some fun people watching, talk to some Londoners and hear some snippets of conversations that provided a good window into everyday life in London.

So, we flew home the next day and had an added day of unexpected adventure for very little cost! Sometimes it is a good thing when things go "wrong."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Late Post from Northern Ireland

Peacewall in Belfast

Due to lousy Internet access this post has been delayed:

Written Friday July 24, 2009 1:24 p.m. - We are on the road heading toward Dublin. Behind us is Belfast and Northern Ireland. Belfast is a lovely and still very divided city. We drove past the wall separating the hard core Catholic Republican and Protestant Loyalist neighborhoods. We stopped and went up to the wall. It was like being at a battle ground or at ground zero, a real living symbol of the death of thousands who have killed each other in Northern Ireland. On the wall someone had written, "all you need is love."

All you need is love

We then went into the city center of Belfast. We got off the bus for a couple of hours.

The Downtown area of Belfast is lovely and peaceful, like a whole different city. We went to Saint George's Market and talked to some nice vendors. Sue bought jewelery and we bought food for tomorrow's return flights to home. Then we went for a nice walk in Belfast. We even went to a model shop that had model trains. That was very cool, European Model Trains!

Then, we got back on the bus and started for Dublin.

Late news flash: Saturday July 25... Our plane out of Dublin was late. We missed our London connection so we are overnighting here. Another big adventure...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

After leaving Derry

Free Derry Gate

Due to lousy Internet access this post has been delayed:

Wednesday July 22, 2009, 5:36 p.m. Derry, Northern Ireland - Today we visited Derry. Sue and I went through the free Derry nationalist neighborhood called the bog and the loyalist pro-British enclave on the west bank. It is a confusing mixture of religion, history and symbolism that is a part of my Irish history. Yet, to me it seems kinda pointless. I am Scot-Irish which means my people would be the loyalist Oranges, the Scots brought over by the Brits to take over the land taken from the Irish clans after they were defeated in the battle of Kinsale in 1601.

These were the same folks who later moved in huge numbers to the colonies, many settling in the Appalachians. Despite my Protestant roots I married a Catholic. Protestants and Catholics can, obviously get along.

We had an interesting experience and a bit disturbing experience at times.

NOTE iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor.

Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice a day. I cannot open most e-mail attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Headed to Northern Ireland

Sue in Cong Wood

July 22, 2009, Wednesday, 8:46 a.m., on the bus - We are headed to Northern Ireland, or as the Irish call it, "Norn Iron."

Yesterday morning in Galway we had some time and went jewelry shopping. This is the home of Claddagh rings. Sue and I got rings.

Last night we were in Westport and we did another pub crawl. We had dinner, and Guinness, at a cyber pub that was okay. A real nice young woman from Poland was working there who had just been in Ireland two weeks. She was sweet even though the owner seemed to be a bit of a jerk. I have been told some Irish view hiring an Eastern European to like buying a new toaster. Others are very nice to them. Most don't think they will stick around. But, I think Ireland will be much more diverse in a generation or two as more and more immigration occurs and those folks have babies and get homes.

I bought a map and Sue has really gotten into marking it up and tracing our route. That's very cool.

After dinner we went to J.J. O'Malley's pub it was full with an elementary school band playing. After they played a song an adult sang for them then said to them, "some day you will be at a pub on a Saturday night drinking beer and enjoying music..." Children are pretty common in Irish pubs. The drinking age is 18 but younger kids come in and drink.

It was very crowded so we went across the street to Matt Malloys pub. A singer came in and started singing a mixture of traditional and popular music. A group of kids age 14 to 18 came in and got drinks, one of the kids asked for a song and the singer, annoyed by the young drinkers said, "if you are still allowed to be up for my second set I may sing it then." Pubs in Ireland are not segregated by age. People of all ages will go to the pubs, teenagers mix with seniors very regularly in the same pubs, parents are common bringing their kids and downing pints while their sons and daughters are in the pub with them.

We enjoyed the music and more Guinness but decided to go back to J.J. O'Malley's pub. The elementary school band was now gone. The place was still pretty full and we made our way to the back room where this group was jamming on the banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, accordion and a bodhran drum. The place was packed like sardines and everyone was clapping and stomping to the music. It was great fun and we stayed until after closing time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We go to sea

July 20, 2009, Near Galway, Ireland Monday 9:42 a.m. - Written on the bus while heading for the boat to Inishmore the big island of the Aran Islands, off the Irish coast.

Yesterday we arrived in Galway. We went to Monroe's, a big pub in The Claddagh district of Galway for dinner. Later we went to a concert called Trad on the Prom that featured excellent fiddeling by Mairin Fahy and her brother Gerald on the pipes, her sister Yvonne Fahy on lotsa instruments as well as some kick ass Riverdance style dancing. It was great fun.

Later - we are bobbing like a cork in the North Atlantic as the boat plods its way to the Island. Susie is doing well despite the motion.

Even Later (4:13 p.m.) - We had a good day on Aran Island. The highlight of the day was going to the ancient fort Dun Aengus. This fort has stone walls and is backed up to high cliffs that plunge into the sea. Aran Island is a pretty hard scrabble place that is mostly limestone rocks with pockets of dirt. I can imagine this was once a hard place to live.
After our visit to the fort we got a bowl of chowder and more Guinness. We are now waiting for our ferry to leave for the island of Ireland.

NOTE iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor.
Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice a day. I cannot open most e-mail attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going to Galway

July 19, 2009, 3:54 p.m. On the road to Galway Ireland - We are bouncing along the west coast of Ireland through the Burren along spectacular scenery in Clare County. After our rest day yesterday we left early this morning to catch the early ferry over the River Shannon.

Then, we went to the spectacular cliffs of Moehr. Amazing, Sue and I had packed a picnic yesterday and the weather was perfect for a picnic, including wine, at the cliffs.

Then, the bus headed north again to the Burren, the only place where native, arctic and Mediterranean plants all grow together. To me they all looked like weeds.

Yesterday we relaxed in Dingle, went shopping and in the evening had dinner and beers and sang with everyone else after the band showed up at Murphy's pub. Another day another Irish pub!

NOTE iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor.

Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice a day. I cannot open most e-mail attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anniversary plus one

July 18 2009, Saturday, 11:08 a.m., Dingle Ireland - It is raining this morning in Dingle. This is the wettest day so far. Yesterday we had a great anniversary. We had a nice dinner at a fish restaurant called the Out of the Blue, which some say is Ireland's best seafood restaurant (in terms of food quality). They toasted us at the dinner.

Yesterday We had wine and champagne but no beer.

Then we went to a concert of traditional Irish music in town. My favorite is a piper named Eoin Duignan who plays the Low Whistle and Uilleann pipes. It was a good day.

Ireland is lovely. It has rained at least some every day. The streets are amazingly narrow. When the tour busses pass each other I don't see how they do it. The tour buses at least respect each other. The big trucks do not slow down for anything, including the buses.

Today is what they call a holiday from the holiday. I hope to just relax and get over this cold.

PLEASE NOTE --- iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor. It is hard to edit or spell check. Also, I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail once or twice daily and cannot open most attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Big 15 in Ireland

July 17, 2009, Friday 4:06 p.m. Ireland Time - Today is Sue and my 15th anniversary. It is neat we are getting to celebrate it in Ireland. We are going out to a nice dinner tonight and celebrating.

Today we had a great tour of the Dingle peninsula. This the western-most point in Europe. They say here the next parish over is Boston.

It was a pretty drive and the weather held for the better part of the day. The coast drive is kind of like highway 1 only narrower, much narrower. Most roads do not have shoulders and are frequented by tour buses.

We went to a nice scenic overlook. Then we went to the Blasket Island museum. This island was populated until the 1950's by rugged people who only spoke Irish.

The only negative is I got a lousy cold. That has slowed me down some.

iPod touch blog post! Please forgive all the typos. This is written on my iPod touch. This device is kinda clunky as a word processor. I have very limited Internet access and can only get e-mail and cannot open most attachments on available wi-fi connections when I get them!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dingle bound

July 16, 2009, 12:54 on the bus - Earlier today both Sue and I literally kissed the blarney stone at Blarney Castle. So now we officially have the gift of gab.

Our bus is now headed to the west coast of Ireland. Stephen the tour guide has been telling us about Irish history, today we learned about the Irish revolution, the civil war and the IRA.

This is an amazing trip, so many memories. Stephen is from Derry, in Northern Ireland. He is very passionate about Ireland and Irish history. We are pulling into Killarney.

There are 5,000 Irish residents, 7,500 Eastern European workers and 35,000 tourists in Kilarney.

4:07 p.m. We walked over to the fancy house along the lake. The local Jarvies (horse carriage operators) are picketing after being locked out of the park for refusing to follow a new law requiring their horses to wear nappies (diapers.)

Due to the great nappy labor dispute, which has been appealed to the highest court in Ireland, we had to take a back way into the park and our visit was cut short.

Now we are off to Dingle. Tonight will be another big music night. The music has been fantastic. We have been learning Irish songs and singing in the pubs. I found I prefer Murphy's Beer to Guinness. There is a lot of things called Murphy's in this country... But, it is all good.

The area we are going folks speak Irish as a first language. I have learned it is preferred by some to call it Irish than Gaelic!

Posts will be out of order

I am in the land of clunky Internet Ireland. My posts will be spotty and out of order.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


July 15, 2009, Kinsale, Ireland. 2:33 p.m. - At one time this was the western edge of the known world. After America was discovered this was a huge launching off point for trans-oceanic voyages. There is tons of history here. The Spanish and Irish fought the British here in 1601. The Brits won and it was the end of the Celtic clans in Ireland.
So what is Kinsale like?
Well; kinda like Capitola, Cambria and a little Inverness. Sue and I just took a nap and we're going to a nice seafood dinner tonight. Friday is our 15th anniversary. It is a relaxing day in a very pretty town.
iPod touch blog post! Please forgive any typos. This is written on my iPod touch and it is kinda clunky.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Left Dublin

Leaving Dublin on the Tour Bus - We are on the bus leaving Dublin. I wish we had one more day here. There are still places I would like to go. We bad a very nice time in Dublin. I think the highlight for me was going to a tiny pub totally away from the tourist area where local musicians gather to jam playing traditional Irish music and instruments. That was amazing. Irish music is so much like Appalachian Blue Grass music. The Irish use pipe instruments like the ulieen and low whistle and not banjos, other than that the resemblance to Blue Grass is striking.

There are 5.5 million people on the Irish island. It was over 8 million in 1840. Software is the number one industry. 1 million Americans come to Ireland every year. Tourism is the second biggest industry.

Stephen, our tour guide, is good and is very funny. All the people in our group seem nice. We have plenty of opportunity to get off on our own too.

There are a lot of young people in Ireland and they party a lot. We ran into a lot of very wasted young men. Young Irish men are not shy and love to have a good time from what we saw.
Ireland is so Green. It is like Washington, or Vermont. We just went to Powerscourt gardens. Very nice but it was raining buckets. We are off to the rock Kinsale.

Note: this is an iPod touch blog post! Please forgive any typos. This is written on my iPod touch and it is kinda clunky

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Leaving Paris

We are headed out of Paris on a dank bus. It is 7:22 pm on July 11, 2009 as this is being written. We spent most of the day at the Orsay museum looking at art works including Whistler's Mother and others including Van Goug, Degas, Monet and Manet.

We had lunch there and the price was comparable to what we would ha e paid outside. That was a pleasant suprise. I had a glass of Bordeaux with lunch.

After leaving the museum I got hit up by a beggar on the train in what I think was a scam to get me to pull out my wallet. That can happen in any city with tourists.

After riding back to our stop on the walk back to the hotel we got cheese and baked goods for dinner on Rue Cler.

We took a taxi to our bus stop. The taxi driver was tame compared to the New York City drivers. Still driving past the Arc D Triumph was fun. He took a tunnel that bypassed the fun part, the rotary around the arch. I will miss Paris. It was a great city and we just scratched the surface.
Now were off to Ireland and our next adventure. Tomorrow we are planning to hit the Guinness factory. Cheers!

Please forgive any typos. This is written on my iPod touch and it is kinda clunky.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Paris Morning

It is 6:30 in the morning in Paris and I am contemplating going out and taking pictures. I can hear the city waking up around me. Our room is on the top floor so I also hear pigeons cooing.

We had quite a day yesterday and walked a lot, from our room near Rue Cler to the Arc d Trumph, the length of the Champs Eleyse, the Grand and Petit Palaces, the Madelaine, Lavina (great wine store), the Louve, dinner in Saint Germain, ending with a twilight boat ride on the Seine. I have shot over 600 pictures and even done some night photography.

I have no idea how far we walled but our legs and feet hurt. We have had great espresso but also visited Starbucks, have had French wine as well as German beer

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Big day in Paris

We went to the Eiffel Tower and spent a lot of time there. Then we rode the 69 bus and shot a lot of evening photos around the Notre Dame Cathedral. Got some amazing photos there then went to the Latin Quarter. It was rocking.

We then took the RER back to Eiffel Tower where I got some night shots with the tower and boats on the river.

It was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dublin 3 a.m.

We are in Dublin, absolutely zonked from the flight. This morning bright and early we go to Paris. But, we managed to grab a bite and hoist a couple of Guinness's before taking a walk and going to bed last night at about 8 p.m.
It is now 3 a.m. Ireland time and I am wide awake. Guess that is to be understood since it is 7:15 p.m. yesterday in San Jose. So far Ireland in July is like California in March. It reminds me of Vermont.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Will be away for awhile

Steve Sloan

From Steve:
I am headed out of the area. I will not have my iPhone when I am gone because AT&T wants to charge me an extra $200 a month for an international data plan.
So, no phone or text messaging! Also, I am leaving the laptop behind, so there will be minimal blogging!

I will have my iPod Touch and so will have e-mail and
I will be posting mostly on my personal Twitter Feed, which gets forwarded to Facebook.

Please follow that here:

A friend is staying in our house so the cats will have company.

Monday, July 06, 2009

List of Literary Pubs of Dublin for trip


There has been a pub on this site since the 12th century, so the atmospheric Brazen Head can justly claim to be Dublin's oldest pub. Bridge Street


Maybe Bill Clinton can't be counted a great literary figure, but he did come for a drink at Cassidy's during one Dublin visit. 42 Lower Camden Street


Featured in James Joyce's novel Ulysses and focus for activities on June 16, Bloomsday, Davy Byrne's is now number one on the tourist trail. 21 Duke Street


A fine example of a traditional Victorian Dublin pub, retaining all that's best about Dublin's convivial drinking places. 51 South Great George's Street


Popular in the 1950s with Brendan Behan and other leading literary figures. 3 Harry Street


One of Brendan Behan's favorite drinking spots, although everywhere was a drinking spot for Brendan Behan. 1 Chatham Street


A sporting pub that gets its name from the Old Stand stadium at the home of Irish rugby, Lansdowne Road. One of Dublin's oldest pubs. 37 Exchequer Street


Built in 1895 and looking like it hasn't changed much since, enjoy its Victorian decor of wood, glass, brass and mirrors. 1 Dame Court


WB Yeats was not one of Dublin's great literary drinkers, and one of the Toner's claims to fame is that Yeats made his one and only visit to a pub here. 139 Lower Baggot Street

Sunday, July 05, 2009

July happenings

The cats help sue pack

Yesterday was the fourth of July and we went to Candy's house for a fun evening with friends. It was a great evening and we saw the Gilroy fireworks show from her house.

[Click here to see Fourth of July photos on Facebook]

Today we have been packing and getting ready for our trip. Day after tomorrow we fly to Europe.

[Click here to see cats and packing photos on Facebook]

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This is how I will update my blog

When we go to Europe the only computer I will be taking is my iPod touch. I called AT&T and they wanted $200 for an international data plan. That's way more tha I am willing to pay. My touch is like an iPhone without the phone or the camera So, pictures will have to wait until I return.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Train chasing day, July 2, 2009

Rails and reflections

Training Day
Yesterday was not a hard core train chase. Instead it was a relaxing day exploring old haunts, places I used to go to a lot to photograph trains. It was suprising to see a lot changed in some places, like the new Amtrak station in Martienez. I also tried to get some angles on places, I used to shoot at, but never shot quite the way I shot yesterday.

These are just some of the digital photos I took. I shot much more on film. I hope you like these. Yes, I still shoot film!

[Click here to see more photos on Facebook]

[Click here to see the photos on Flickr]

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