Vacation is over and boy, did it fly by! We arrived in Shannon on Wednesday morning, picked up our rental car, and headed north along the coast. I don't know if it was the flight time or the fact that I really tried hard to sleep a bit on the plane, but my jet lag wasn't nearly as awful as when we went to Europe in the spring. Anyway, our first stop was for lunch -- can't remember where. I had scrambled eggs and the most delish brown bread with strawberry jam. Our next stop was Milltown Malbay, where T's family came from. We found a bakery with the family name and stopped in to chat. T went to the Irish-looking woman to ask if the owner was around and she promptly pointed to the asian woman! LOL -- so much for stereotyping. She was married to the John Hanrahan who owned the bakery but they don't think it's any relation to T's family. We bought some stuff, which turned out to be dry and disappointing.
On down the road to the Cliffs of Moher, which were absolutely breathtaking. I was going to hang around in the gift shop because it was pouring and I was nervous about my footing, but it stopped raining and I hiked up there to meet T. I'm so glad I did -- it was a fabulous view. We drove on to Knock and stopped at the shrine there, more for T to have a chance to wake up a bit than anything else. We arrived in Sligo a bit after 7 and ran into the Morrissey clan in the parking lot of the B&B. We all drove downtown to dine at a terrific restaurant over a pub. T and I split a steak and it was tender, juicy, and delicious! I am not normally a steak fan, but this was great. We collapsed into bed and slept soundly til morning.
The B&B served a full Irish breakfast -- eggs, canadian bacon, sausage, grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, brown bread, toast, coffee, muesli, yogurt....needless to say I was stuffed until mid afternoon. T headed out the the links with "the boys" and I went into northern Ireland with Ellen and family. We went to the Beleek factory to see how Beleek is made. It was very interesting, and I bought a Christmas tree ornament to bring home. We stopped somewhere for lunch at a local place recommended by a woman on the street. I had shepherd's pie, which was quite good. We got back into Sligo just in time to head to Ballymote for the rehearsal.
T and I found out what piece we were reading at the wedding and the rehearsal went swimmingly. The priest was a very funny guy. We all zipped over to the castle for the rehearsal dinner, which was a cookout. I was quite chilly and spent the evening huddled under the outdoor heater, so I'm sorry to say I didn't socialize much. I was also far from the food, but unfortunately directly next to the dessert. It was an Irish concoction of bananas, caramel, and graham cracker crumbs with real cream for the top. Whoa -- Kim and I each had two helpings.
The next morning we again ate a large brekkie and headed to the castle to check in. It was really wonderful and we kept pinching ourselves. We were fascinated with everything from the HUGE fireplace in the lobby to the 1-foot wide staircase leading to the roof (which were probably weren't supposed to actually use). Our room was at the top of a turret -- how cool is that? We drove into town for shopping. There wasn't really much shopping to be had, however, and all I bought was the most expensive hair dryer I've ever owned in my life (I had brought the one with me that DIDN'T have the right voltage for Europe). Oh well, we'll simply have to travel back to Europe often.
We skipped lunch, but when we got back to the castle, they were serving sandwiches and tea, so we chowed a bit and got ready for the wedding. A&P had rented two buses to take guests to the church, so we had it easy. The wedding was really, really nice. It was a mixture of American, English, and Irish tradition and was just lovely. A&P looked as though they were having a ball too. After the wedding we headed back to the castle, ate a bunch of cookies, posed for photos, and headed into dinner. The food was terrific, followed by some funny speeches, and then dancing. We spent quite a bit of time in the bar, away from the dancing, but when a band arrived to play traditional Irish music, we went in to watch. They had some great dancers and it was highly entertaining. T joined in a dance that was similar to the Virginia Reel. "Afters" were served at 11pm (sandwiches) and that was about when the second band arrived. We stayed for an hour or so more, but went up to bed shortly after midnight. The last person left at 4am!
The next morning we again ate a huge breakfast, checked out, and headed to Dublin. We didn't really stop anywhere along the way and arrived in late afternoon. After checking in, a bunch of family met in the bar for a snack before going to rest a bit. We decided to head out to the Abbey Tavern to hear some music and see some traditional dancing, so had dinner in the hotel bar first. We had a good time at the Abbey, though the dancers only did about five songs and we were in the back. The music was toe-tappingly fun though.
The next day we went into Dublin on the train and saw the Guiness storehouse, lunched at a pub, and went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. It was very impressive -- beautiful! When we got back to the hotel, P was waiting to take us to dinner in Malahide at a Thai restaurant. We got a bunch of different dishes and shared them -- all were great. We went 'round the corner to have a pint at a pub there, and then fell into bed.
On our last day, we just ate a huge breakfast (natch), and walked down to the beach. We grabbed a cab to the airport and jetted off, arriving home this morning at 2am. I should be tired enough to sleep early tonight!
We had a really lovely time, but I will confess that my experience was marred a bit by my eating. I feel sad to confess that. I'm beginning to feel a bit hopeless -- that my whole life my eating will be out of control. I started out well, eating just til full, not overeating, etc. I even threw away my entire eclair from the bakery in Milltown Malbay because it wasn't really very good. Somehow, though, as our vacation went on, my eating got worse and worse. Yesterday was the absolute nadir of horrid eating -- I felt stuffed after breakfast because I ate so much. I didn't eat again til we were on the plane (oh, well unless you include the orange chocolate chip cookie and two Bailey's Irish Creme chocolates I ate) and then I had a healthy meal of salmon, veggies, rice, a roll, cheese, and a cracker. We got off the plane and ate during our layover. I was hungry, though not terribly so, but managed to stuff down a GIGANTIC (1/2 lb?) burger and fries. The burger alone probably had 1200 calories, as it had bacon, bbq sauce, bleu cheese...need I say more? I was really, really full.
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