BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Monday, July 18, 2011

Here, There and Everywhere

Life has not all been centred around our diet the past few weeks... we have maintained our campaign of touristing all around Ireland!

This was a work based trip for Brad, with Nikolai and I just tagging along. Waterford seems just like any other typical Irish city, but truthfully it's hard for us to judge... because it poured the ENTIRE time we were there!

Everything we were told to do in Waterford basically involved leaving the city to go to the beach, an island, or something. I think Waterford is well renowned for it's bucolic scenery outside the city. But under an absolute onslaught of rain, I didn't really feel up for a trek to the beach. (It was also our 3rd and 4th days on the diet, so my energy was low, and my cravings were great.) Instead we did the ONLY indoor tourist sites available to us at the time (the main Waterford Museum of Treasures was in the process of being relocated and was closed), Reginald's Tower and Waterford Crystal. Reginald's tower has a tremendous history, currently houses Viking artifacts from around Waterford, and probably has a good view from the top (though it was too rainy for us to see). As with all OPW sites, it was very well done and low cost (€1, but free for us with our OPW cards).

Now a few of our Irish friends, told us that "they thought Waterford Crystal had gone out of business"? Which it had. But it has since reopened with new owners, and is running a very lucrative tour operation. It reminded me a lot of the Guinness Brewery tour... in that it was fairly highly priced (€12 each) and there was a lot of flash presentations. However, unlike Guinness, you actually get to tour a factory. It was pretty neat to see how crystal is blown and moulded, finished, etched and pieced together.

Personally I think crystal is not really to my taste (where's the colour?). But perhaps that's just because I could barely afford to buy a single wine glass, let alone the globe featured in the picture below (notice the price point on that one is a mere €2,300).
A day trip to Dalkey was our next adventure. The weather was much nicer, but the trip was also plagued by thwarted expectations. Dalkey, itself, is a cute little area, full of boutique shopping. We ran into a small artisan market which actually sold some food we could eat on our restricted diet (probiotic yogurt cheese!). We cruised the harbour and shared our lunch with some sailors' dogs.

But the real goal of our trip was to do the Dalkey Castle Tour. This tour features a series of vignettes in each of the rooms highlighting a particular era in the Castle's history (currently the Tutors). At only €6 each, it seems like a great day out! And it probably is a great day out... But on that faithful Saturday, all the tours were filled up by English Language Students.

(The bane of Dublin in the summer is the hoards of tourist which clog up most of the sidewalks and apparently the tourist locations. How I miss my free and easy Dublin of the winter months. Of note, Claire is complaining of the same thing in London. She had to give up on a museum trip last Saturday after seeing the insanely long line up.)
A quick cycle away from our house is the Straffan Butterfly Farm. So naturally, when the weather proved too fierce for an outing into Dublin we decided to gear up for this indoor activity! Yes we got poured on... but we also got to hang out in a tropical flower paradise surrounded by butterflies and moths. They also have a small "educational" room, full of butterfly pictures and various tropical bugs in tanks. Despite his fear of spiders around the house, Nikolai had no problem starring down a giant tarantula.

Check out the size of the moth below. Apparently it is a Atlas silk moth, and has no mouth parts, so it does not feed. Needless to say it only lives for a few days. In the picture above, I'm wearing a bright, Irish style dress that I am borrowing from my friend, Elaine. She is once again too pregnant to wear all her lovely clothes. Clearly the butterflies were attracted to the bright colours!

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