Monday, October 6, 2008

I'm here!!!

First off I am going to apologize for taking so long to get on here. Saturday I was travelling all day and Sunday was a bit crazy and my mind was not with me all day. My flight actually got in an hour early to Dublin. Who has ever heard of that?!? The thing is... when you arrive that early, you have to wait in line for a gate to get off at. I cleared immigration pretty quickly and since I didn't have anything to claim in my luggage I got out of there fairly quickly. I didn't see anyone from Trafalgar there (I think I had just missed the first transfer) so I just caught another bus into the city and walked to my hotel.

The rooms weren't ready yet so they stored my luggage and I was able to shower and change in the locker room at the pool area. That was probably the most enjoyable shower I have ever taken in a locker room ever. I walked all the way to Guinness and spent a little time there. By this time, I was exhausted and I caught a cab back to the hotel and just spent some time in the lobby until it was time for our sightseeing tour... still didn't get into the room.

We went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. This is a handwritten copy of the Four Gosopels written and intricately illustrated by some monks in something like the 8th or 9th century. My favorite part of this stop was the Long Room of the library. It holds some really old books and it is absolutely beautiful. There were no pictures allowed so when I get home, I will have to find some pictures online to post on here so you can see what I mean. It really is a long room. Then we drove around and saw some of the city. We drove in the areas where they have some of the really pretty and colorful Georgian doors that you see in pictures quite a bit. I didn't get many pictures since we were on the coach the whole time.

We got back to the hotel, had our welcome drink and then I went for a walk toward St. Stephen's Green and Grafton St. with the other solo traveller who was on the tour. I stopped and grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the hotel to rearrange my luggage for the rest of the tour and get some rest. I was trying to write in my journal and didn't make it, I was just too tired. I think it was around 9:30 last night when I fell asleep.

I was up bright and early... 3am... I stayed up for a short time and then was able to get back to sleep for about an hour and a half before my wake-up call at 5:45. We had to have our bags out before 7am when breakfast started. We ate breakfast which was a pretty expansive buffet. I didn't eat much but I am thinking tomorrow I may stick with a pretty hefty breakfast so I am not having to eat as much through the day.

We headed out at 8am and our first stop was Kenmare, at the Irish National Stud Farm and Japanese Garden. This is a place that mostly provides stud services for race horses. They have one Stud there valued at €60,000,000!!! With todays exchange rate it would be about $90,000,000!!! That is alot of money for a horse. My favorite part of that stop was the Japanese Garden. I don't remember a whole lot of the history of the garden but it was really pretty.

We headed out toward Waterford, our stop for the night. Before heading to the hotel, we stopped at Waterford Crystal and took a tour of the factory. It's not like a lot of factory tours where what you see is set up just for the tours. They actually take you through the actually factory and aside from a few rails and ropes, you are actually on the factory floor. At the end, you actually get a demonstration by a Master. It is amazing how precise the work is. I learned that if a piece is imperfect, it is rejected, smashed, melted down and the materials are reused... and worst, the craftsman doesn't get paid for it. They get paid per piece that is completed and have no base salary! Talk about making sure you are at work and on your game. Your livelihood depends on the quality of your work. The guide said they only have about a 10% reject rate in the blowers department (where they actually blow the crystal into the desired shapes) and it is even lower than that in the engravers department. It was actually a really neat tour. Then as with any tour, they dump you out in the store. I actually caved and bought a small piece that was actually pretty affordable. Probably the only piece of Waterford Crystal I will ever own. I would love one of their vases but there is no way I am going to spend that kind of money on a vase.

So that is a quick overview of what I have done so far. There is an optional walking tour here tonight (I am not going) and then dinner at 7ish. I will try to post again tomorrow night!

Until then, I miss you all and I really wish you were here with me (really)!!

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