Thursday, April 30, 2015

Good Evening from the Emerald Isle

Yes I made it and as I am typing this I look to my left out of the window and see this...


As you can see it was a lovely day today so it was. 

My airbnb place is pretty good and a view of the sea doesn't offend me. 

First I have to tell you about yesterday though.  I made a lucky escape out of London as they are having power outages in the Clapham Junction/Victoria area which is the line I took into central London from Streatham Common..  Some commuters were stuck for hours on the train.  Ugh.  I made it in yesterday and got on the Megabus at 4:30.  Luckily I had food with me as we did not get off that bus until we pulled into Holyhead ferry dock at midnight.  Yep.  There was a toilet on board which was downstairs.  Megabus is a double decker however you only sit on the top...from what I could see anyway.  I had a bit of excitement as on the way back from my second trip to the loo I fell.  There is one place when you come up the stairs and step onto the floor that there is no place to hang onto.  The driver moved into another lane unexpectedly right at that moment and down I went.  Luckily my pride was hurt more than my body but I'm sure it didn't do my knees any good because of course I landed on them,.  I had another issue going on as well which I won't share on here as too much information - it has only been shared with a couple of close friends....and probably anyone else who wants to know once I've had a couple of glasses of wine. :). Let's just say it was not a good trip and I was almost beating myself on the side of the head saying "Laurie why didn't you spend the money and fly"?  Anyway the ferry crossing was fine and I was impressed with the Stena Lines...the boat was beautiful with all the mod cons.  Being the middle of the night I couldn't see anything - ah well it's over now and never to be repeated.  I can say I've crossed the Irish sea on a ferry. We arrived a few minutes late due to a head wind.  I got the bus to Connelly station and finally figured out the right train to get out here.  Another good reason not to travel all night - I'm getting too old to do that.  I was pretty clueless I will say and leave it at that.  I'm sure a certain train guard at Connelly station is still shaking his head. 

Ah well I got here and found my place just fine..I am staying on the south coast of Dublin and loving it.  Today was glorious - I guess the weather will change tomorrow and not for the better.  I had a big breakfast this morning and walked around then back here for a nap.  Then out again to visit the Joyce Tower (where James Joyce spent about six days until his room mates got so pissed off with him he left) - it is a Martello tower but was renamed the Joyce tower because of those few days.  Give me strength.  It is now a museum...I hate to plead ignorance but I have never read any of his books unless I was forced to in high school and have blanked it out. (I despised school and all my teachers...you see I hate being told what to do and that's what school basically is all about). The only one I remember reading is "To Kill a Mockingbird" which I love love love)

Anyway here are some pictures from my walk this afternoon...

This path is across the street from me

But first let's say goodbye to Colleen the dog...ha ha...that's my sister's name....first dog I've met named Colleen, she has arthritic knees too...the dog that is.  We bonded. 









 
 As you can see a it is a very beautiful area.  Blogger is acting up again but the second picture above you can see the "Joyce" tower,

Tomorrow I plan to go into central Dublin and do a bit of sightseeing.  On Monday I am taking a tour down to Wicklow and Glendalough but that is it.  The other tours are just too darn long - ten and eleven hours long.  There is lots to do here in Dublin - my airbnb host Sheila has been telling me of all the things I can do besides the normal tourist things of course  Tonight I could have gone to a local pub to hear traditional music but I am too darn tired.  Another night. I plan to take it slow and easy.  If the weather holds and my knees as well there are some great hikes in this area I can do.  I keep stopping and looking out my window to admire the view and watch the people walking.   I did my share today and now it's time for bed; my eyes are watering I am so tired.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A marathon, some sheep and a sky garden - what a day!

Watching the London Marathon was high on my bucket list so when I knew I would be in London this year I made sure I was here for the marathon.  While I didn't stay for the whole race I did see the wheelchair, amputee and visually impaired, elite men and womens and Paula Radcliffe so I was pleased.  A misty rain was falling when I left the house this morning.  I ended up taking a rail replacement bus to London Bridge as there was working being done on the rail line.  That was fine; I had plenty of time and I got to see even more of London. 

I then took the tube to Canada Water, called Buxton Water for the day as Buxton Water was a major sponsor.  We were given small bottles of water, a map and spectator's guide.  I was able to find a place to stand with some friendly people.  Here are some of the photos I took:








I was getting tired and cold so I decided to leave once the elite and faster men had gone by...so did quite a few other people....in order to get past the crowd we had to walk into a housing estate and back down stairs.  I had a heart stopping moment when momentarily distracted by a runner dressed in a one piece orange outfit I somehow missed a step.  I grabbed the nearest thing to hand which was a man...I think I grabbed him in a decent place but I can't be sure! I breathlessly said "sorry, I nearly fell" and was swept away by the crowd.  From standing so long and the cold my knees were very very stiff and painful.  There was a total blockage of people with people all over the place until the fellow in front of me yelled out instructions on which way we should go - going on the left and coming on the right.  It worked! 

I then took the tube to the Bank station and went on a little bit of a Shaun stalking session - I had my map with me and thought "why not" as I had time to kill..but first I stopped at Costa for a cappucino and a muffin to warm up. 

So here's a mini Shaun stalking session update:

Robo-Shaun at the Royal Exchange

Shanghai Shaun - Leadenhall Market

Kanzashi - Lloyds Bldg

Ruffles - Devonshire Square

The Pearly King - Liverpool Street Station

Mr. Shaun (Mr. Men) - Finsbury Square

Liberty Bell - Fenchurch Street station



 












And then the sky garden!  As you can see the weather was dank and dull but the views were amazing.  And all for free - you just need to book ahead.  They only open so many days ahead of time. 

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Talk to the animals...it will make you feel much better!

After our whirlwind (but wonderful) tour of Turkey I landed in Vienna.  I did not realize how tired I was until I started wandering around Vienna....it did not impress me, I found the people unfriendly after the warmth of the Turkish people.  I am not usually judgmental like that so I knew something was up...yep, I was exhausted.  Now that I am back in London I am back to normal (well as normal as I get!) but I do think (for future reference you see...) that perhaps four months is the ideal length of time to be away for a longer getaway if I am busy touring.  I did not feel homesick at all - just fed up with seeing something new. Call it information overload.  In retrospect I should have flown back to London but I had wanted to visit Vienna and Prague and thought it made sense to see them right after Turkey rather than back to London and then back to the continent again.  I knew May would be a very busy month for me here in England.  Anyway what's done is done...let's just say now the dust has cleared that perhaps another visit to Vienna and Prague is in the cards for me down the road....I never judge a place by one visit normally.  I hated Paris in 1976 but again I was at the end of a tour and exhausted...I decided to go back and quite liked it and have been back since....

Anyway Vienna redeemed itself with its beautiful zoo and my wonderful friend Lisa and her lovely husband Heinz. 

After a day off of sightseeing...just resting and going to the Nasch market (which was wonderful) I decided I needed to put a smile back on my face and animals always do that so off I went....

The zoo is behind Schonbrunn palace so I wandered through there (I did not go in as I  saw the long line and decided "no way") which was lovely.




So here we go on a visit to the zoo. I am very picky about which zoos I visit..it's the oldest zoo in Europe but seems to be well run.  And you have to love a place that has koalas and pandas all the time so you don't have to line up for a million years to see them.  So here they are - my favourite critters in the zoo...not a huge variety but my faves. Not my best zoo photos either as didn't bring my decent zoom lens but they will do. 


White Rhino - Nepal


Terrible photo through glass but love the monkey grooming the deer (well okay looking for good stuff to eat in the deer's coat)










The baby lemurs were hilarious jumping all over the place.