Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wicklow Mountain Tour

Destination: Wicklow, Ireland.
Date: 30 October 2009 (Friday)

Here it comes our second day in Ireland! This tour took us through the scenic route out of Dubliln through the Wicklow Gap and the Blessington Lakes. Unfortunately the weather was not very good as it was a rainy day. Anyhow most passangers on the bus wanted to take a look at the view point.

Sorry I do not have the Wicklow gap photo due to the rain :(

Next, the tour brought us to Glendalough “Valley of the Two Lakes”. This place is a fascinating monastic settlement in a very beautiful natural setting. According to our tour guide, the monastery was founded by St. Kevin who was a hermit monk that died about 618 AD.

Let's look around at this interesting place! Anyhow we did not walked to the lake as it was raining all day long.

Following the tour guide.

St. Kevin Chapel

The Bell Tower has 4 windows, one facing each direction. They were used for storage, but also for refuge during time of attack.

Stream at Glendalough

What a very green setting!

I just love to see these Autumn golden leaves

The tour continued to the pretty village of Avoca. Whereby it has a reputed Ireland's oldest surviving business, known as Avoca Handweavers.

Above is the shop whereby you can buy souvenirs.

Located above the shop, you can buy their products, but I guess they are quite expensive, anyhow for those who go for the quality, they might be worth to buy.

Our lunch! :)

The tour guide recommended to try Ireland local food here at the Avoca Handweavers Restaurant. So we had Quiche (€12.95), the set which included some broccolies, potatoes and egg with cheese. Besides that we tried the Avoca bread and soup (€5.55) and Hot Chocolate (€3.50).  I guess the food was quite expensive as there were nothing special regarding the taste. They are just ordinary taste which serve in many restaurants.

Once we were full enough, we enjoyed the mill tour! Inside, you can see how they weave the knitwears using both the tradisional and also modern weave machine :)

For more information about where we stayed and more interesting places we visited in Dublin, please refer to my two posts before this. Enjoy! :)

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dublin City Sightseeing Tour

Destination: Dublin City, Ireland.
Date: 29 October 2009 (Thursday)

As promised in my previous post, now is the time for me to share about Dublin City sightseeing tour!

Early in the morning I made some breakfast and brought some in our backpack for lunch. Just some simple sandwiches which the ingredients were bought from the Tesco Express nearby.  While I was preparing the breakfast, hubby bought the Dublin City sightseeing tour ticket online at City Sightseeing. We got 10% discount to buy the tickets online!

Around 9.00a.m. we were already got onto the hop on hop off bus.The first bus or the start point was at 14 Upper O'Connell Street, outside Dublin Tourism Office. As it was just in front of our hotel building, we could just walked there slowly.

Statue of James Larkin, the labour leader at the O'Connell Street, Dublin.

O'Connell Bridge at Liffey River, Dublin City.

Grafton Street.

On the right of the Grafton Street, there is the Molly Malone statue. Molly Malone is a tale of a beautiful fishmonger, who was a part-time hussy also.

Molly Malone statue.

As you can see in the above picture, the windows are getting smaller on the top. According to our bus tour guide, it is because they wanted to make the building looks higher and the second reason is to reduce the window tax.

Cycle track signboard in Ireland.

Most of the signboard in Ireland were translated into two languages, English and Gaeilge.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Above picture is the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Here is where the Anglo-Norman adventurer who conquered Dublin and married Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster, was buried.

In Dublin, you can always rent a bicycle, but I am not very sure about the price rate.

Later on we hopped off the bus and walked to Saint Stephen's Green, one of the oldest public parks in Ireland. We wished to capture some autumn pictures in Dublin. Below are some of the pictures taken.

Hubby and I at Saint Stephen's Green Park, Dublin, Ireland.

Resting at the park while enjoying the golden view of the park in autumn.

Above picture is the state drawing room, which was the principal reception room inside the Dublin Castle. Dublin Castle only provides guided tour and students get cheaper price by showing the student ID card! It is so interesting to know the history of Dublin Castle. I won't tell, you should visit yourself! He... he... :)

Powder Tower at Dublin Castle.

Guinness Storehouse.

We visited the Guinness Storehouse at St. James's Gate, Dublin as it is Ireland’s number one international visitors attraction. The entrance fee was quite expensive for us even though we got some discount from the Dublin City sightseeing tickets. For more information about Guinness Storehouse, visit this website.

The Guinness brewery was founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness. In 1759 Arthur signed a 9000 year lease for a site at St. James's Gate with access to the city watercourse. Can you count when will the lease end? :)

Inside the storehouse there is a tasting lab, where visitors can sample the finished product but as we are Muslims we couldn't taste it. We visited this place just to gain some knowledge. Besides learning the process of producing Guinness, visitors can also watch visuals about the making of barrels, the tradisional made of wooden staves enclosed by metal hoops.

On top ot the storehouse, there is the Gravity Bar, that have the unique 360° view of Dublin City and beyond. Here all visitors can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guiness. Again it was not for us as we are Muslims, so we just had two glasses of Coke! :)

Some of Irish souvenirs at Carrolls.

We found that Carrolls Irish Gift Shop is the best place to buy Irish souvenirs. Most of the souvenirs are cheaper than other places! In fact there are few Carrolls Irish Gift Shops in Dublin. For more information, visit their website.

Ireland is very famous with the step dance or people just call it Irish dancing. There are few places where you can watch the Irish dancing but you have to pay for the show. As for me and my hubby, our budget was quite tight, so we went to Arlington Hotel and watched free Irish dancing show. We only paid for the drinks and able to watch live Irish dancing show for about 30 minutes. If you want to enjoy a night of unforgettable Irish hospitality and food while watching the traditional entertainment, you may book the three course menu dinner at €29.95 per person.

Arlington Hotel.

As we came early to Arlinghon Hotel, we enjoyed listening to the above live band, while waiting for the Irish dancing show to start, located at lower ground of this hotel.

Irish dancing show at Arlington Hotel.

I really enjoyed watching the Irish dancing and listening to their traditional music. It made me felt like being in a fairy world :)

Once the show was over, hubby and I walked to the Temple Bar area. It was a quite happening night there as there were many street shows. Some more that night was Halloween, so many people were dressing in different costumes.

Part of the Temple Bar area.

Below are some of the street shows at the Temple Bar area.


Spire or Spike at O'connell Street, Dublin.

Before went back to our room at the Lynam's Hotel, we took some pictures at the Spire which is 120m tall, making it the tallest structure in Dublin City centre. Locally known as Spike, located at O'Connell Street, Dublin, which is also in front of our hotel. To know more about our hotel, please read the previous post! :)

We saw a machine which people can buy stamps, 24 hours a day! What a very convenience way to buy stamps. Hopefully Malaysia will have one like this :)

The whole day was a great tour but we felt that it was not enough time to visit the whole Dublin City in a day. Some more in autumn it gets dark early which is around 5.30p.m.

In my next post, I will share about our experiences during the Wicklow Tour! :)
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Journey from Manchester, England to Dublin, Ireland.

Destination: Dublin, Ireland.
Date: 28 October2009 (Wednesday)

Dublin was our first Europe tour mission, since we moved to Manchester, England. In less than two weeks we managed to book the transportation to Dublin from Manchester as well as the lodging in Dublin City, Ireland for 4 days and 3 nights from 28 October 2009.

Our journey began by taking the train at Piccadilly, Manchester. Hubby bought the return tickets online from Virgin Train and cost us £132.00, which included train and ferry tickets. Actually we missed our 9.45a.m. train but luckily we were allowed to take the next train at 11.00a.m. That was our first lesson to know that public transportation in United Kingdom move sharp on time. If your train ticket printed the departure time at 9.45a.m., it means that you must be on the train about 10 minutes before it departs.

Half way through, we had to change the train at Chester Station. We had about 1 hour in Chester before we could ride the next train to Port of Holyhead, Wales, England. So in Chester, we just walked around and took some pictures.

Around 3.30p.m. we arrived at the Port of Holyhead. The check-in time for the Irish Ferries was at 4.15p.m. So again, we had few minutes to take some photos.

Port of Holyhead

From this modern bridge at the port, we could see lots of seagulls and that was our first time listening to seagulls' sound live.

Irish Ferries.

Once checked-in through the immigration officer at the port, the Irish shuttle bus picked us to the ferry. Onboard you can buy food, drinks, play games, watch television and even shopping, but the souvenirs onboard are expensive. It is better to buy souvenirs at Dublin City. We were onboard for about 2 hours and felt so boring. So we just slept all they way to Dublin Port.

Once we reached Dublin Port, the Irish shuttle bus picked us to the port. We both were busy taking pictures and when a bus came to drop some passengers at the port, we were told by the bus driver that it was the last trip and the bus service was end for that day. Luckily the bus driver was very kind to willing to fetch us until the next bus stop for free, where we could take another bus to go to Dublin City. Once we managed to catch the next bus, suddenly we were told that the bus only accept exact amount of money. We did not have small change and since that area did not have any shop nearby, the bus driver was willing to let us ride the bus for free until the next stop where there were few shops which we could get some small change. Nice bus drivers in Dublin! May God bless them. Then we went to a shop and bought Kebab to get some small change. Later on, we managed to take the next bus to Dublin City and walked to Lynam's Hotel at the O’Connell Street. At first we were lost in finding the hotel's location but at last we found it. Right in the middle of Dublin City.

We both were quite tired after the whole journey. Anyhow, we felt relief to see our room was just nice. It cost us about £130.00 for 3 nights without breakfast. Hubby booked this hotel online at Budget Places. Do not forget to find the promotion code at their blog before proceed with the booking payment online, so that you could get some discount! :) That time the promotion code was "twitter". Below are some pictures of our room.

Lynam's Hotel, just beside McDonald.

Private bathroom with bathub.

Towels were provided and being changed daily.

A comfortable double bed and television.

Coffee and tea making facilities were also provided.

Not to forget the room was also provided with a safety deposit box and free wifi. So we managed to stay in touched with friends and family using the internet as we brought along our laptop.

We were very much satisfied with this hotel and would recommend to anyone who wants to have a good and easy time in Dublin as it is also situated at a very strategic place. Right in the middle of the city center, Spar and McDonald are just beside the hotel. Beside that, Tesco Express is just about 5 minutes walk. The tourist information center is on the opposite building and you can easily get a taxi right in front of the hotel. Moreover, if you want to take the city sightseeing tour, the buses starting point is just at the opposite road. Furthermore, you can just walk to go to few places like Temple Bar, Grafton Street, Trinity College, Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green and many more.

Keep on reading my next post or just subscribe it to get some information about our experiences enjoying the Dublin City sightseeing tour and Wicklow Mountain tour! Plus, I will tell you where to watch free Irish dancing show and also the cheapest shop to buy Irish souvenirs! ;)
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