Friday, March 11, 2011

Celtic Trip (Day 9) - Edinburgh

Our last day in Scotland we decided to climb the extinct volcano that makes up the large park areas in the middle of the city.

There were two ways we could go up the mountain (we found out later) the easy paved road way, or the hiking trail with stone steps cut and built straight into the side of the walls.

Yeah we choose the second option. It was a really beautiful hike. So much of the city to see and very few people to meet.

View from the top of the extinct volcano.
Lunch was Haggis and Scottish pies at 'Auld Jock's Pie Shop'.

For our last dinner we ate at 'The Mussel Inn' where we got local raw Scottish Oysters with red wine vinegar and onions. Possibly the best ones I've ever had.
I got a pot of mussels in roasted red peppers and for dessert we had a Sticky Date Pudding soaked in Toffee with what seemed to be a Ground Cherry on top. We asked what it was, but the waitress didn't know, it tasted super sweet for looking like it's american twin.

Great vacation :)

Celtic Trip (Day 8) - Edinburgh

The city of Edinburgh was amazing. It very much exceeded our expectations going in. There are so many old and beautiful stone buildings. Our hotel was located right off of Prince Street, across from the castle that we visited the first day.

The day was pretty overcast and the coldest that we had, but it was a good day for seeing the Art Muesum with a Vermeer exhibit and shopping a bit. Still no rain so we were happy!

We climbed up the 287 spiral stairs in a black tower right in the heart of the city, much like the one in the above picture. The sight was very beautiful, but very very high up!
Lunch was Pork Belly and Haggis stuffed Chicken at some random restaurant after we got pretty much lost trying to find Peter's Yard in the middle of a Marathon that was starting.

For dinner we went to Oloroso on a recommendation from family friends. They served the most amazing Haggis and Tatties there (minced lamb and seasonings with potatoes and veggie puree)

Celtic Trip (Day 6 & 7) - Dublin

View of Ha Penny Bridge

Trinity College

We had attempted to get lunch a a restaurant across from Trinity College called 'The Pigs Ear' the previous day, but it's such a small place that they didn't have room for us without reservations, so the next day we had a wonderful meal with Salmon and Pork Patte dishes. So so yummy! Exactly the Irish-modern fusion meal I was looking for.

Afterwards we headed to a wonderful dessert shop called 'The Queen of Tarts', they've won a lot of awards, and it's not hard to see why. We ate the Plum and Pear tarts.

The evening of our Musical Pub Tour came and we had a (generally) wonderful time. I say generally because there was a group of three extreamly rude New Yorkers who spent most of the night with our group talking over the music and crabbing to the wait staff. Wonderful representation of the states ;-)

But regaurdless the music was wonderful and the musicians very knowledgeable and helpful in teaching us more about traditional Irish music 'sets' (ie just regular people who come to the pubs to play and drink beer, not sell thier CDs or gain tips)

We were lucky enough to see one of these sets at the last bar we went to that night. I group of three younger guys were in the bar, just playing and drinking. They didn't take requests, they didn't have a tip jar, and after an hour or two of playing they just packed up their stuff and left.

The last day was pretty quite, we finished up some shopping and stopped at a local Cheese Monger store (The Cheddar is SO amazing over there, and I can say that coming from Wisconsin)
The remainder of the day we saw the Book of Kells, some more of the college, the Castle, and went out for some 'pour your own Guiness'

On to Scotland!

Celtic Trip (Day 5) - Dublin

(Sausage and Egg Sandwiches for breakfast)

When we first landed in Dublin, 4 days prior to this, we took a taxi to our rental car. The cab driver asked us where we were from and when we said 'the states', the first thing he said in a very rich irish accent was "Oh yeah are? Have ya ever bin on that show 'Judge Judy'"?

I balked a bit and said, "No, no I've never needed to be on that show, I don't even know where they film that!" ....and "That is a very poor representation of the US"

Funny what other cultures associate America with. At the same time, I thought Dublin was going to be covered in pubs and stone walls, where in fact, it's a fairly new city. Historically it was a smaller villiage that was never in high demand for occupency (since the Irish chrished farm land more than sea sides) So when other contries invaded, the Irish willingly gave it up. So over the years it has been inhabited by different groups, but not as a 'proper' castle city.

Now it's a very bustling college city, with some beautiful gothic style churches and a strange conglomeration of a castle.

The family owned bar (called the Ha Penny Inn) told us that the Temple Bar area has only become 'popular' and touristy in the last 10 or so years. The first day we walked through the area, knowing that we had a Musical Pub Tour coming the next evening.

That night we had dinner with a co-worker of Mike's and soaked up some Guiness later on. So much better over there, I'm not sure what they do to it, but it's much more smoother and fresher tasting than what they serve here!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Celtic Trip (Day 4) - Cliffs of Moher

Our last morning in Killarney was a bit overcast as we headed north to the Cliffs of Moher. We were both hoping that the sun would be able to shine through the clouds soon enough.

There were many small towns up the coast with brightly colored houses. We stopped in one just south to get some Fish and Chips for lunch. Thankfully by the time we got to the cliffs the sun was shining.

It made for a beautiful misty day, great for pictures

Then a long ride into Dublin to drop off the car and get to our hotel.