Landed…and off and running!

31may12

After a very long, cramped flight, I arrived in Dublin this morning at 8am.  Dublin was experiencing a wee bit of precipitation.  Nothing major, but everything was wet, wet, wet.  I met up with Jan & Jim (two attendees of the tour I’ll be taking), grabbed a quick bite at the airport’s Meeting Place and took the shuttle to their hotel. They dropped their luggage (too early to check in) and then we took a taxi to my hostel, where I dropped my stuff.  The taxi was only 16 Euro — Jim chipped in a tenner and I ended up giving a monster tip by throwing another tenner in.  (those extravagant Americans!)

Pre-trip, we talked about going to the National Leprechaun Museum on that first day — and once there, decided to walk from the hostel to the museum–about a half hour walk…in the rain.  They had coats to protect themselves.  I forgot to grab my umbrella and didn’t want to get my sweater wet, but there wasn’t enough to be bothersome.  I did get damp, but after about a half hour out of the rain, I was dry and ready to get wet again.

The tour was fun, the storytelling entertaining — but, sitting and standing in the darkened rooms made my jet lag loom larger than life. As we walked back to O’Connell Street to catch a taxi (for my friends), it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  And all the sitting in the plane was beginning to effect my bad knee–pain with each step. I was so tempted to hop in the car with them & ask to be dropped at my hostel. But, I persevered and after they left in the taxi, I continued up about one block and bought a 2-day pass for the Dublin City Hop On-Hop Off Bus Tour. This is an excellent deal & a great way to get an overview of the city…and a sneaky way of getting around without exhausting yourself (or on a day like today, keeping dryer!)…and allowing my knee to recover slightly.

And where did I choose to sit? On the upper level, at the back edge of the covered area, so I did get wet (just my back and head–when we are stopped LOL), but I didn’t mind.

Out tour guide is hilarious–hope to get him tomorrow too! Or maybe I’m just slap-happy. But it’s keeping me entertained — and awake.  Nope, it’s him — other people are laughing and commenting on his commentary.

I waited for one of the last stops — the Jameson Distillery. I am not directly related to them, but I AM a Jameson, so anytime I’m in Dublin, it is on my list of things to do. But, no — I did not imbibe!  In March, I did try to sign up for their Ceilidh/dinner during the tie frame I’d be in town, but it was already booked!  So, I simply went there for their melt-in-the-mouth, awesome chocolate bars.  It costs a fortune to have them shipped, so I figure — I’m here…buy some!  Once that errand was done, I got back on the bus & took it to the first stop on O’Connell Street (Dublin’s “Main Street”.  From there, I walked…very slowly, back to the hostel, wishing a taxi would materialize so I could justify flagging it down and catching a ride.  All uphill, about ten blocks…

Right now, even after an hour cat-nap, my jet lag is starting making my eyes very hot and tired — and my focus is just a wee bit blurry.  If I continue, I’m not responsible for the gibberish that will result!

So, my friends, I will close for now.  Tomorrow is a new day — and hopefully my body will be well rested and I can comfortably get back into Downtown Dublin and check out some areas I haven’t ventured into in previous visits.  Tomorrow, I will remember my good camera — only thing on me was my iPhone and only got a few shots…and I left the cable in my room, so not able to upload any right now.  I’m wondering if I forgot to put a card reader in my collection of electronics, too!  Posting photos may have to wait till I get home!  We’ll see.

Slainté

MUSINGS and ramblings…

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Ireland, I have given myself plenty of time to find everything that I will need. Weeks upon weeks, in fact. Now I am down to four days–well, actually, three and a half–and I am just now remembering things to add and must still find. Where is that list when you need it?!

I like to think of myself as being fairly organized, but (at least with me) with age, goes memory. Once I used to find things in a flash…now, not so “flashy”. Having a very “lived-in” home does not help. And I have no one but myself to blame. It’s just me, myself and I…plus a dog and a cat. I’d much rather do anything else–literally anything — but houseclean, so just the basics are done. Occasionally, I get crazy and do tons of cleaning…then figure I can leave it for “awhile”. It would help to have enough proper storage, which I do not have. That’s on my list of things to do, but I think, I must consider that as part of the “housecleaning” conundrum because it hasn’t happened yet. (wink)

Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day searching for a stupid little global phone, last used on my trip in April, 2011. In my mind’s eye, I can see it clearly — in the quart-sized zip bag with it’s power cord and instructions, yet after spending so much time searching, I have yet to find it. I have checked all of the places it should be, the places it might have been placed and when 11pm finally rolled around, gave up looking in places it may have shifted to unintentionally. Such a small device in a large home is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

When I get home, it will probably be sitting there, in plain view, taunting me. Or, I figure some day, when I have the house cleaned down to it’s bare bones (and ready to move out?), I’ll come across it — and many other ‘lost’ items along the way, and think to myself: “So that’s where it got to!” Then, hopefully, I will place it in a safe, locatable home so the next time I need it, I will actually be able to find it.

A permanent list and permanent homes for all my travel things would be an excellent idea. Maybe, just maybe it will get taken care of when I get home.

Deep sigh. Maybe…

Ireland: The Countdown Begins…

I would not call myself a “seasoned traveler”.   Though I have traveled a fair amount in my life, I have not been “out there” every year.  Each time I travel, I bring the excitement of new adventures: things to see, things to do and different ways in which to do them!  This trip will be no different.  I am always finding different ways to complicate (and make interesting) my trips.

I have traveled with my college-age daughter (2008); with her again (only for a week–college beckoned her to return after Spring Break) in 2011 with the first two weeks being chauffeured around by some delightful friends who acted as tour guide (this is definitely the way to go!) — then I was on my own for the remainder of the trip. I must say, traveling with a friend or two seems to be the way I prefer.  I can — and do — enjoy being solitary, but this is the type of experience that begs sharing.  My  final weeks of solo travel was fun, but I now know it would have been even more enjoyable if I had someone with me.  I am going to have to con a few friends into saving up their pennies and joining me next time!

That said, this time — for the first time — I will do an entire trip with a tour group.  The jury is still out on this, since I have become accustomed to making my on time-table…coming and going as I please.  Eating from grocery stores & farmer’s markets — very few restaurant visits.  Now, I will be tied to a group, a plan of action and a schedule.  Not sure how flexible they will be for someone that can get seriously hung up on taking the “right” shot(s).

The next “first” is, due to a problem with my little “point and shoot” pocket camera, I will be bringing a new one.  It’s bigger, far from being “pocketable”, but not so heavy and bulky as a full-blown dslr — a friend called it a “tween” dslr.  Very appropriately named.  It’s a Fuji FinePix with auto and manual settings, built in zoom lens (24-500mm) ^,^(no lugging & switching out extra lenses–yes!!!), 14megapixels.  I’m still playing with it to get comfortable with how it works.  My decision to bring ONLY this camera may be a big mistake, but it’s only ten days worth of photo-ops in areas I have mostly seen before.  Opportunities to take — and compare (once home) — some old and new shots.  It looks like a good camera.  And a good option for traveling lighter.

I’ve traveled by car (full-time driver, so no photo ops unless I talked my daughter into taking them on the fly), by train, ferry and bus.  Now, I’ll be a passenger in a small (two vehicle) caravan as we travel across the countryside.  So, I will be able to take shots (hopefully I can get the front or openable-window seat–and be in the FIRST car) as we travel down the road.  This will be nice.  I think.

All in all, I am happy with my choice to travel with this small (ten of us in all) group of like-minded (music & Celtic-loving) adventuresome travelers.

The next “first” is staying in a single B&B (part of the package) for the whole trip.  I’ve stayed in mostly in hostels, some hotels and a couple of nights in B&B’s — to keep costs down, and this allows me to spend more money on what really counts:  having FUN!  All of our excursions will be day trips, I believe (though, there was talk of staying overnight on the Aran Islands).

And the final “first” is to begin and stick with a year-long photo journal, that happens to begin the day I arrive in Ireland.  Taking photos will NOT be the issue.  It will be getting them posted to the journal and finding a newspaper daily to add as the title (this is part of a project being done worldwide).  I am excited to start this and am determined to take it to completion.  I have only done a very simple, month-long photo j0urnal before and missed a number of days.  I know this is quite an undertaking, but it will be a wonderful way to mark a year in my life.

Now, back to packing.  Yes, there’s always that.  Must make sure everything is there!  Passport, Euros, international drivers license (just in case someone needs relief), clothes, camera & computer paraphernalia …the list goes on.

So, until the next post,

Slainté!

djsmith

And I’m off again!

I cannot believe it has been over a year since I posted in this blog!  My apologies!

So much has happened in the last year, but in summary, once I returned from my trip to Europe, my daughter announced she’d found the man of her dreams — after a whirlwind “courtship” period, and some crazy, last-minute planning for the wedding, the in-love couple tied the knot in front of friends and family in the fall.

I didn’t have much time to recover, as the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) began on 1 November.  This month-long writing frenzy netted me an almost-complete first-draft spin-off  for my already-in-progress novel.

November’s Thanksgiving and December’s Christmas, January’s New Year’s Eve — they all flew by without me taking much notice.  Where was time flying, anyway?  This getting old(er) is a challenge, but such a wonderful experience.  I love the adage that, like wine, women only improve with age!  Oh, yes!

So, in this new year, I get an email from a friend about a tour in Ireland.  Again, you say?  Well, if I had my way, I would either have a second residence there or have the funds to afford copious travel back and forth.  Ireland is the most beautiful country.  As is Scotland.  And England…and Germany…where do I stop?  I love to travel and meet people from different cultures, take in the extraordinary beauty of their homeland — the different gardens, buildings that are so ancient that stories dance in my head when I am around them — it is all so wonderful.

Of course, I’ll go!  A tour.  Something I said I’d never do…like being in a cattle car, shuffling from one “oooh, lookie” spot to another.  This one promises to be different.   There will only be ten of us.  Our musical guide (Marc Gunn, a musician) and his wife, plus eight others.  The tour will be focused on the musical side of the people.  We will tour Galway and westward by day and sing and laugh and drink pints by night.  So, this blog will get some good posts coming up soon.

I’ve spent little time on my manuscript — I still need to finish that first draft!  There has been no time (my fault) and this makes me sad….

Instead, I have procrastinated — found other pleasures and pursuits to follow.  I’ve been spending time behind my lens, working in the yard, going to classes to improve my artistic skills…

But mostly, my focus has been getting ready for this delightful trip and getting ready to be a mama to about 12 young chickens.  I’ve raised chickens before, but failing health required finding new homes for them.  I was called the Egg Lady at church.  There was always someone that needed some eggs.  Which was a good thing, because I had quite a few very productive hens, laying daily.

Now that my health has improved (finally), I have decided to start up again…but not until I get back from my trip.   I must say, I have some terrific neighbors, because, they help me out when I’m gallivanting off to other continents.  They love on my dog and cat while I’m gone.  Without them, my traveling days would be naught.  And I would be very sad, indeed.

So, as I said, heading to Ireland in June & blogging the trip (I still need to figure out how to post photos–my brain can be so lame sometimes!).  Working on my manuscript.  Starting a new project called 365: a photo journal on 1June — which you will be able to find on my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/creationsbydjamesonsmith/ (hope this is a link — if not, copy and paste to your address bar).  I may post a few of the photos on this blog. And beginning to put together new pr material for my local schools to promote my storytelling.

I am thinking 2012 is going to be one very busy year!

Until next time,

Slainte!