Dublin.

After our last Full Scottish breakfast for awhile we headed to the airport. We talked about taking the bus which left from about a block away but the timing was difficult to understand and it was going to take over an hour, so we needed up taking a cab, which while it cost 20 pounds was much more convenient. We have found that we are more comfortable taking public transportation FROM the airport where time isn’t as critical as opposed to the airport where we don’t want (can’t) be late.

Ryan Air checkin was a breeze-they like many European airports have selfcheck in kiosks which issue the luggage tags which you attach and then take to a conveyor and drop off. So no lines unless you have an issue! EasyPeasy.

Security was busy but turned out to be fun. Apparently, a groom and his mates were off to Malaga for his stag party. And like the bachelor we ran into on the train from Salzburg to Passau a few years ago (check the archives for April of 2016 i think) the groom was in costume. So what we first thought was a very tall Emirates flight attendant wasn’t!

We enjoyed some of the artwork on the LOOOOONG walk to Ryan Air’s gates – it basically is in Cork, but at least it was a fun walk.

We soon boarded and were off to Ireland.

We have found Ryan Air to be no better or no worse than legacy airlines. We need to pay for luggage as our “rollaboards are expanded and are over the maximum weight for cabin bags and with one of their programs, you can assign exit row seats for a little bit more money, so we have plenty of leg room and typically the cost is about half of what one of the legacy airlines charges. Of course you have to bring your own drink or food, but with the 50% savings it really is a no brainer.

We arrived in Dublin and based on earlier research we bought the 72 hour LEAP pass at the tourist info stand in the airport. It cost under 20 euros (Ireland’s is not part of Britain so they are on the Euro) and was good for all public transport in Dublin for the three days we were there. The express airport bus (Route 747 – how cute is that?) whisked us into the city and to a bus stop about a 10 minute (flat) walk to our Airbnb. The roundtrip cost for the airport express was just over 12 euros so for only a little more we got three whole days of usage (and I gave two grateful Ryan Air gate agents our tickets when we left Dublin which meant they had a free ride home from the airport since there was still two or three hours validity.)

Our Airbnb https://abnb.me/D4oHLL1RiR was in a typical working class neighborhood of Dublin on the south side near Christchurch and St. Patrick’s (which is pictured at the top of this post). It was as expected though I had forgotten it was up two flights of stairs. I guess it was getting us prepared for what was to come in Porto.

We particularly enjoyed the shower and the comfortable sofa and the umbrella which was provided and which unfortunately we would need.

By the time we got settled in, it was almost dark and we were tired so we went around the corner and got a bake it yourself pizza and just relaxed.

After a great sleep, we got up early and rode (thank you Leap Card) the bus from just down the street across the river and halfway up O’connell Street (the main drag of the northside) to meet our “Free Walking Tour. We have found these tours to be great wherever we have taken them and Dublin was no exception. You tip what you think appropriate at the end of the tour.

We met at “The Spire” which was erected in 2003 as part of the redevelopment plan for the street. It stands on the site of a former column honoring Nelson which was bombed and destroyed in 19666 during the disagreements between North and South. Apparently it is a hot topic among Dubliners, our guide didn’t seem to like it much as it doesn’t have any tie to the historic nature of the city.

There were about 120 folks at the spire for the tour, luckily there were four guides so we split into four groups and set off towards the river. Along the way we were told about the history of Dublin and the buildings we were seeing.

After crossing the river, we saw Trinity College and walked through the Temple Bar area of town. This part used to be a dying part but is now nightlife central.

After a coffee break we headed towards Edinburgh Castle. This was once the Queen’s house in Ireland but now is the President’s place. Elizabeth was the first monarch to visit since 1922 when she was here in 2011. It’s history goes back to the 12th century but only one of the four round towers remains standing and the entire place has had many additions offer the years.

From the castle, we continued our tour to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This church is built at the site where St. Patrick baptized the heathens while he was the catholic church’s missionary. The grounds are beautiful and we wished it hadn’t of been raining and cold so we could have enjoyed them more. So we said goodbye to the group and we headed towards our apartment in search of lunch as it was after 2 pm.

We stopped into the pub just down the street and had the perfect meal. Guinness beef stew (with mashed potatoes) and a Guinness. Does it get any more Irish?

The pub was obviously popular with the locals and we were warmly welcomed by the Owner, Wayne who was proud to let us know he had once’s worked at a hotel in Dallas. There was a group of young (?) ladies preparing to head to Liverpool for a “Dirty Thirty” party for one of their birthdays. They all had apparently gone to the Bianca del Rio school of makeup and it seemed to add at least 10 years to each of them. However, they were having a good time and added to the ambiance! But the stew and beer really made the day, hot and tasty on a cold and wet day.

The next day was also rainy and cold so we elected to use our LEAP pass and ride the train as far north as we could to the seaside town of Hoath. It was an interesting ride through the closein suburbs and then we reached the North Sea and big houses that purportedly sell for upwards of a million pounds.

We wandered around the village, saw some sea lions, had fish and chips, and then made our way back to the City.

Afterwards, we retired to our apartment and I had my first nap in a long long time.

That evening it was still raining (we have been so lucky, Scotland and Ireland are the first places we have really used our umbrellas – well Mike has used his, I lost mine in Lisbon in June but thankfully lots of the Airbnb’s have had them. I am worried about next week in Italy -writing this from Portugal on 10/25/18 and the forecast for Italy all next week calls for showers) so we ran down to Wayne’s place and got two containers of potato soup…Yum!

Then we packed and prepared to heads to Porto.

There were no issues the next day taking the Airport Express bus back though we were worried there might be due to the hurricane, the first ever to make landfall in Portugal. Luckily it only delayed our flight by about and hour-we even had time to have one last Guinness for Mike and a G&T for me in the lounge before it was time to board.

So that should catch us up….I think I have been keeping up here in Portugal. While we hate to leave, we are looking forward to our week in Italy with Peggy and Lowell, especially bein able to drive and see the Tuscan countryside – here’s hoping Mike doesnt’ see some villa he wants to buy to fulfill his “Under the Tuscan Sun” fantasy…though I did overhear he and Peggy discussing which fountain they were going to jump into naked!

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Porto?

Doesn’t it figure that the first hurricane EVER to come ashore in Portugal would decide to be our welcoming party? We are supposed to be staying in Vila do Conde which is a beach town north of Porto. I’ve tried to indicate it with the red squiggles.

From what I can find online it appears the storm came ashore north of Lisbon (and therefore south of Porto) and has caused damage there and 300,000 are without power. Our Airbnb host says that the water is rough and some tree limbs down but otherwise all is good. ūü§ě

We are currently in the Dublin Airport Lounge where our flight is showing a 50 minute delayed departure. Hopefully that will not get extended but if it does then we will just continue to enjoy the lounge. #FirstWorldProblems

San Miguel de Allende

We have had a relaxing and uneventful two weeks here in Mexico. ¬†We have ventured out for meals and happy hour a couple of times but frankly really haven’t done much sightseeing. ¬†The town is picturesque and the center is only about a mile stroll (mostly flat) along cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks from our place but other than the churches and shopping there isn’t that much to see…its more about being here. ¬†And we have enjoyed that!

The locals and the expat Gringos are all very friendly and helpful. ¬†The weather has been incredible. ¬†We have had a day or two of temperatures above 80 degrees but the humidity is so low that as long as you aren’t in the sun it is very comfortable. ¬†In the evenings the temperatures fall to the lower 50s. ¬†So while most of our friends and family have been suffering through a very hot summer, we have been most pleased that we elected to be here! And having the pool has been nice in the warmer days.

Our “Vacations Rental by Owner” (VRBO) condo is one of about 30 in a small complex with a pool. ¬†While there is a huge rooftop terrace, it is accessed by a very tight spiral staircase from the kitchen balcony with the view of SMA you see at the top of the post, so we haven’t really used it. ¬†But I have enjoyed coffee in the morning and wine in the evenings from the kitchen balcony.

Several have asked about any issues with visits from Mantazuma. ¬†The condo has purified water in one of the kitchen faucets and by law all SMA restaurants have to use purified water for ice and since its such a tourist town, most of them use it for everything…so thankfully, we haven’t had any issues ¬†It is strange to have to wash everything from the store that isn’t going to be cooked in anti bacteria solution. ¬†But given the issues in the USA with romaine and such this summer, maybe we ought to all be doing that!

We visited the “Tuesday Market” this week. ¬†AMAZING. ¬†I couldn’t get over how big it was. ¬†Imagine the largest flea market you have been to, combine it with a farmer’s market and an arts and craft show, add in some food trucks and then double or triple it and you might be close to this spectacle. ¬†We had intended to eat lunch there and there were certainly lots and lots of tasty morsels we wanted to try but our lack of spanish combined with the crowds and not being sure how to order (do you order and then sit down, sit and order?) meant that we simply bought some veggies, fruits and aqua frescos (fruit waters) and then grabbed a cab back to the condo. ¬†Then we walked towards town for lunch.

Never seen huge chicoronnes before:

And who knew you could buy peeled watermelons?

Speaking of food, below is the SMA food porn to date. ¬†I am particularly enjoying the abundance of beans and mole’. ¬†We have also made good use of the well equipped kitchen here to eat in. ¬†There is a huge supermarket a short walk away (with $2 taxis waiting to bring us home) that has not only mexican foods but also american ones….peanut butter was a welcome sight after four months without any!

Chicken Mole and Chicken Enchiladas

There are a ton of places with Tacos El Pastor-stacked marinaded chicken cooked on a vertical spit and served with a slice of pineapple, onions, cilantro, lime and your choices of salsa. Yummy! Usually only 7 pesos each or about 35 cents!

Black bean soup, goat cheese stuffed chili’s in mole and “Mexican Vermicelli”

Mexican breakfasts-huevos with chorizo and chicquiles ( nacho chips with verde sauce) and eggs.

We are here until next Monday and then we head to Raleigh (via Mexico City, DFW and MIA) for two nights. From Raleigh we go to Seabrook Island for a few days to celebrate Claudia Freidank’s birthday (her 29th of course) before heading to Danville and Mike’s mom where we will generally be until we leave with her for Copenhagen and the Baltic Cruise.

While we have been here, we have also been working on our travels after Lois leaves us in Lisbon on 9/27. Jenny and Brian, a couple of Brits we met on the Viking Transatlantic foolishly invited us to come visit them in Scotland and to their surprise, we are taking them up on their offer. ¬†Hopefully they won’t come to regret it! ¬†We will leave Lisbon a few hours after Lois and spend four nights in London before flying to Aberdeen where if all goes as planned, Jenny will pick us up and take us to their place nearby. ¬†After some time at their place visiting the sights near Aberdeen (we have been promised the best fish and chips in the world) all four of us are going to spend a night near Loch Ness and then two in Glasgow. ¬†They will then head back to Aberdeen and we will jump a train to Edinburgh for two nights before we fly to Dublin for three. ¬†From there we fly to Porto where we will have rented an Airbnb on the coast for two weeks. ¬†Yost and Sam (our friends from DC who invited us to join them on our River Cruise a few years back) are coming to spend five nights with us there. ¬†From Porto we will fly on the 29th of October to Milan to meet Peggy and Lowell on the 30th. ¬†The four of us are going to take the next six days to drive to Rome (two nights outside Milan plus four more in Tuscany somewhere) to catch the transatlantic cruise home on November 5th.

We also have had several discussions here about our future plans. ¬†We agree that we both miss having our own place so I don’t think we will be becoming full time nomads…but we also agree that we have enjoyed slow travel and being someplace longer than just a few days. So we are beginning to think about what 2019 holds for us.

The possibilities are broad – Tommy Barrett, Mike’s friend from college is working up a plan to go to Cambodia and we are considering that, we really enjoyed the transatlantic cruise so that would be fun to do again, and we are loving the cool summer here in San Miguel so that is also a possibility for next year. Lucky for us, we don’t have to make any decisions anytime soon!