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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Thursday, August 8 2002 

Journal of our vacation journey - 3

En route with sons Mike, 28, and Kevin, 26

Wednesday, August 7: I'm now up to just one day to review in each Jonal entry, at least for now. We left our first hostel and our time in London this morning, getting up a little after 5:30 a.m. We had learned that a half-hour train trip from London's famous Victoria Station to Gatwick Airport could save us each about 50 percent of the price for a hotel shuttle connection to the airport. I had also made arrangements to fly Ryanair, an Irish-based low-price airline serving much of Europe.

The rules are much different with commuter airlines...I observed to the guys that with such outfits all flights are "standby." That's not quite true but, for example, we arrived at Gatwick at least a half hour before Ryanair began doing business for the day, and no one could tell us exactly where they would open shop for the day. But as the time for boarding came nearer the pieces fell in place. The flight was almost full, and the three of us were able to get between London and Dublin on a Boeing 347 for little more than the price for one fare on a "normal" airline.

The weather was beautiful in London when we left, though still too hot, but much more overcast in Dublin, though we've seen only sprinkles during our touring today. By evening, the heat was replaced by cool breezes, a welcome relief. We found our new hostel, the Avalon on Aungier Street, which my brother Bob and I had stayed in on our round-the-world trip in 1996, and got checked in. So many renovations have been made since my previous stay here that it is like a new hotel inside. Best of all, the many flights of stairs to our rooms before have been replaced by a lift, as they say in Ireland and England, or elevator. (But really, when you think about it, high-heeled shoes may elevate you, but these devices don't, do they?)

Our highlight for today was touring the Guinness Brewery, Dublin's largest industry and producer of Ireland's biggest world export. Though I'm no beer drinker, someone had told me years ago that I had to try Guinness at the source so, using the free token provided at the beginning of the tour, I had my first Guinness. It was indeed better than any other I'd drunk, and I downed most of the free (or included-in-the-price-of-the-tour) pint much quicker than any glass or bottle of beer I'd undertaken earlier. The tour was not guided, or was "self-guided," which seemed to leave much to be desired, if you really cared about learning about Guinness and the brewing process. I wasn't that interested anyway. Mike compared it with the Disneyland of Brewery Tours, which rang true. Nonetheless, he did get some good photos of the facility and it's top-floor 360-degree view of Dublin and the surrounding sea and land, which by itself was worth the price of admission, as they say (example above or, depending on your mail application, attached).

We had dinner at Bewley's, Ireland's premiere coffeehouse on Grafton, Dublin's most tourist-enabled street, the place for making and watching the scene of this increasingly cosmopolitan city (membership in the European Union has really paid off for Ireland, possibly more than any other member country, certainly more than any of the other Western European members; part of that is having a workforce from all parts of Europe now, so that makes Dublin a less "Irish" city every year). Though everything at Bewley's is well prepared and the coffee may be the world's best, we decided in retrospect that a less cafeteria-style dinner experience would have been more to our liking, and probably no more expensive. Next time I'll settle for dinner elsewhere and coffee at Bewley's afterward (because of Bewley's good record, I expect, there are no Starbuck's in Ireland, though there are scores, probably hundreds of locations in England...I'm speaking of my observations thus far; I may be corrected later in this trip).

We picked up our car which was part of our package for the trip and are now paying for its parking overnight, an unplanned expense. It's a Toyota Corolla from Hertz.

Tomorrow, we plan a daytrip drive to Glendalough, one of my favorite places in Ireland, an ancient monastic site founded by St. Kevin.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Things my mother taught me (series)

My mother taught me about IRONY
—"Keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about!"

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.

John Wayne

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