Written after midnight Monday night
As I expected I didn't sleep very well Saturday night; what I didn't anticipate was that due to not starting packing earlier in the evening I was still finishing after 1:00 in the morning. I think I fell asleep sometime before 2:00 AM, and woke up shortly after 6:00 and couldn't get back to sleep. I just kind of hung out in bed until 8:00 anyway, which was when I had planned on getting up.
It was rather lovely at home Sunday morning, somewhere in the low 80s or upper 70s. I was sitting on my chair on my front porch when my private shuttle driver came at 10:00 to pick me up. I locked the front door, then remembered I hadn't set the alarm, opened it up again, set the alarm and locked up again.
My flight was at 1:00 PM. I was at the departure gate around 11:00 AM with no troubles, probably because I got to go through TSA Prescreening. While I was waiting to board I had a large iced coffee and pastry from one of the smaller food kiosks nearby.
I was actually feeling well and awake enough to read using one of my Kindles or the Kindle app on my newer, home iPhone so that's what I did while waiting to board.
The flight from Ft Lauderdale to JFK takes about three hours. I didn't feel like watching anything on the plane's entertainment offerings but watched a couple of things I'd downloaded onto my Kindles and iPhones.
I was a bit annoyed when I actually boarded to find out that although I was sitting in an aisle seat in row 12, there was no room in any of the overhead bins within several rows of my seat because I was in the last group to board. I only had my pack with me, since I had checked my hat box along with my two larger suitcases, but the pack mostly fit under the seat in front of me and left mostly adequate leg room especially since I could often stick my right foot out into the aisle for a bit of extra flex when needed.
I had about a two hour layover at JFK, which was more than enough time to find that departure gate and the nearest restroom, especially since it turned out to only be a half dozen gates away. No having to make my way over to a completely different concourse this time. I think I had a bit of a snack while waiting.
I thought I had reserved something with extra leg room when I booked the flight a couple of months ago but had actually booked business class again, which I really like. I had the aisle seat in row 2, but there was no one in the seat next to mine which was even better.
As usual I couldn't sleep on the plane, and didn't even set the seat to recline or stretch out. I was feeling a bit too tired to read anything but listened to a couple of my podcasts I'd downloaded to my iPhones and watched a movie on the in flight entertainment (Wreck it Ralph 2Ralph wrecks the Internet, which I rather enjoyed) and a couple of things I'd downloaded to my Kindles.
Something in one of the appetizers before dinner gave me bad gas for the rest of the evening, which made things a bit uncomfortable although I didn't need to have a bowel movement but only to void my bladder a couple of times. I wasn't feeling well or hungry enough to have the breakfast, which sounded pretty decent, when it was served.
We got in about 8:00 AM. Getting through passport control was very quick, and we don't seem to have needed to go through Customs if we went through the "Nothing to declare" entrance.
It didn't take that long for all three of my bags to make it to the luggage carousel. Shannon's a small airport and the car rental desks are right there next to the three or four baggage carousels so I was over at the Enterprise desk quite soon.
It was rather chilly, windy and rainy here early this morning when I went out to my car. I am driving something produced by a manufacturer I'd never heard of back home before, Skoda, which is the largest of all the Czech car makers. It's an Octavia which is a rather nice mid-size four door sedan.
The hotel is right across the parking lot from the car rental area but I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to get there from the lot. I had to exit the lot and couldn't quite see how to get back where I needed to be. A nice guy, who I think worked for another of the rental car agencies at the airport, thought I was having trouble with driving on the left. Actually I was having a bit of trouble reading the road markings, and determining when it was one way and two ways. He had me follow him back up the road to the turnoff for the hotel.
I got to the reception desk about 10:00 in the morning. This is a hotel right next to a major international airport, after all, and I hoped they'd be used to travelers arriving early in the morning after all night flights and that they might have a room ready for me.
They did, but since the elevators weren't working then, I was able to get a room on a lower, ground floor. The Park Inn is an older hotel and the availability of electrical outlets in some of the rooms is sometimes rather odd and not very useful. I like having an electrical, always lit alarm clock on a table where I can see it while lying on my left side in the bed, and another one across the room on the desk where I've plugged in my laptop. The first room I was assigned didn't work out because although there were plenty of beds (a double bed in the middle and a twin on either side?), the only electrical outlet was along the far wall across from the beds where the desk and TV are. I went back up to the front desk, and they were able to assign me another room two down from the first, also on the ground floor, with a queen or king size bed and at least one outlet along the wall by the desk and TV although I did have to run an extension cord/power bar along behind the pillows to plug the alarm clock in and put it on the table on my preferred side of the bed.
One of the first things I always do is set up and plug in my alarm clocks which is what I did, although I seem to have somehow set the time incorrectly even if I looked at the time on my home iPhone.
I think I actually fell asleep for a couple of hours, and felt much better especially after I had taken a shower.
The small downtown area of Shannon itself is about ten minutes from here. There is a small shopping area with a couple of restaurants and a Supermac's, Ireland's own version of McDonald's..
There is also a small shopping mall with a hardware store, a liquor store, a couple of bakeries and cafes, at least one pharmacy, at least one mobile phone repair/accessories shop, and supposedly (from their web page which apparently hasn't been updated in years) a mobile phone store which actually is a branch of Vodaphone IE only. I went to one of the small mobile phone places, hoping the guy there could either help me figure out how to put money on the Three.ie SIM card I still have in my older iPhone from when I was in Galway over Christmas 2018/New Year's 2019 or I would just buy a new SIM from him. He gave me the automated top up number for Three, and I was able to add 35 Euros right then.
I brought with me more than enough UK/French/other adapters to charge all eight of my USB charging devices (older iPhone, current iPhone, two Kindles, and two USB-powered fans which I like for background noise at night when I'm trying to sleep) but half of the USB power cables I brought with me turned out to be for Apple Lightning so since the guy at the phone place had actually been quite helpful I bought six USB to micro USB cables from him. They're much longer than I usually like but that'll be OK.
I'll be traveling by car for the next four weeks, until I fly to London from Dublin, so I won't have to shove everything back into my two suitcases until then and wanted to find two reusable cloth shopping bags before I leave town tomorrow. I had passed a branch of Lidl, which is a chain of supermarkets here in Ireland and the UK, on the way in to town so I knew I could get a couple there. In the Skycourt, the shopping center in Shannon, there is a branch of Iceland so I got two there instead. Although the small bakery there looked nice, as did one of the cafes I passed, I decided to have lunch at the Supermac's on the way back here instead, which I did.
Before I left Skycourt I stopped off at the small liquor store and bought small bottles of Jameson's, rum, and brandy. I was a bit surprised and amused that they didn't carry Bushmills honey, which I hope to find elsewhere soon. (I never did.)
When I got back to my room I realized that I had somehow set the clocks almost an hour early. I checked with reception and was told that the cafe/bar on the main floor serves dinner until 10:00 PM, and since I didn't feel like driving back into town to find somewhere else to eat, I read or watched something streaming until around 9:00 and went upstairs. I didn't feel like having a full meal yet, since I was and am still having minor stomach problems from the appetizer last night, I had a spring roll which was also a bit too spicy and their wonderful seafood chowder which I've had the two other times I've stayed here and a fresh fruit salad with cream for dessert. Service in the bar was a bit slow, seeming to consist of a guy behind the bar and a woman doing the tables although she also had to take care of guests in the lounge area nearby.
I checked Facebook after I got back and that's how I learned about the horrible fire at Notre Dame in Paris, where I am going later and where I had booked tickets to two concerts there. I don't really have too much to say but although such damage to a wonderful and historic place is terrible no one was seriously hurt.
It's now about 1:30 AM here, 8;30 PM back home, and I'm ready for bed and think I might actually sleep fairly well.
I'm off to Dingle tomorrow. If I drive directly from here to Duinin House, my lovely B&B uphill from Dingle town center, it should only take 2.5 hours. If the weather's decent, before I leave I want to take some pictures of the airport, the hotel, and the River Shannon estuary behind the hotel on my iPhone to send to a woman named Shannon I met who worked at the hotel in Melbourne where I stayed for the Brevard Renaissance Faire a couple of months ago. Then I think I'll stop off at Bunratty, 15 minutes from here, to have a wander around and to buy a couple of bottles of their mead at the gift shop for the Castle & Folk park.
The lovely town of Tralee is along one of the two routes from Bunratty to Dingle, an hour and a half from Bunratty and then a further hour to Dingle. When I was here in Ireland during my grand tour for my 60th birthday I went into Tralee for a wonderful performance at Siamsa Tire, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, and drove through it the last time I went to Dingle two years ago. This time I want to pay a short visit to the Blennerville windmill and to stop by the Kerry County Museum there in Tralee as well.
If I can figure out how to do so, I'll call Anne & Pat, my hosts at Duinin House, about noon to let them know when I might get there, or at least send them an email.
And now to bed, late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, which seems a bit odd since it feels like only yesterday morning when I was sitting out on my front porch waiting for my ride to the airport.
Written early the afternoon of Wednesday, April 17th
The weather was much better Tuesday morning, if still grey and cloudy when I got up and for most of the morning. I didn't sleep much Monday night, only from around 2:00 AM to about 6:30. I decided to not get out of bed until 8ish, which is when I had originally planned to do so, but watched something streaming via wifi.
I decided to not bother taking pictures there in the local area to send to the woman I met named Shannon who worked at the hotel I stayed in up in Melbourne for a few reasons. One of course was that it was grey and cloudy. I also thought I'll probably never see her again; even if I stay in the same hotel when I next go up to Melbourne for the Brevard Renaissance Festival she might not even be working there then.
I also chose to not go into Bunratty; the only thing I wanted to do there was buy a couple of bottles of their mead, anyway.
The drive from the airport to Tralee is quite pleasant, on reasonably wide two lane roads (one in each direction) most of the time and sometimes on multilane roads. Caution is required, however, when driving through the several small towns along the road between parked cars on both sides. I hate passing cars that are parked on the left side where I can't see them well, but I did OK.
I wish I could remember the names of some of the towns I drove through, since many of them looked very nice as I went through them. One was Adare, with its fancy hotels and collection of thatched buildings, supposedly the largest in Ireland. I decided to not stop, since it looks very much as it did when I was on the tour there 13 years ago. I'd have had to cruise around looking for parking and double back anyway. When I drove through there two years ago, I had noticed at least one building missing its roof but that was not the case this time.
Tralee seems to be a very lovely city in its own right, and would be great to stay for a couple of nights with a large park near Siamsa Tire and the Kerry County Museum, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It's in an older building with no elevator but has exhibits on only three floors anyway, basement, ground and first floors, so that wasn't too bad. I thought all the exhibits were very well done, with excellent signage which I admit I as usual didn't take the time to read thoroughly most of the time.
I drove past the Blennerville windmill on my last trip to here in Dingle, and enjoyed stopping by there this time. It's actually a rather lovely structure, in a delightful location along Tralee Bay. The two staff members there on duty were quite nice and informative. There is a short video about the windmill's history, and it was restored not too long ago as a result of community involvement. Visitors can actually go all the way up to the topmost floor inside to see the actual grinding mechanism which I did not do. I did go up to the first, lower floor but the stairs inside are much more like a ladder and I really didn't want to go up any further.
The largish model train setup in the attached building is also very well done and fun to watch.
I think they are missing a trick, though. I know that in the US there are at least a few of what you could call boutique grain mills, selling their raw products on site and sometimes through established retail markets. They could then sell pastries or bread made from their own flour as well.
Unfortunately the small café next door to the windmill hasn't opened for the season yet, and I didn't feel like having lunch in the nearest pub or taking the time to wander around and find somewhere else to eat, which was a bit of a mistake since I had skipped breakfast and probably won't have any Slimfasts in my room until I hit Killarney (Pat and Anne provide excellent breakfasts here). There are a few cafes/pubs along the route betwen Tralee and here and I might have stopped if I had known they were there before driving past and half were on the other side of the road anyway.
Google Maps wanted to take me away from the main road from Tralee to Dingle and come here to Duinin House by cutting over and coming through Connor Pass which really isn't bad on a day with great weather like Tuesday and the views are often stunning, but I wanted to come into town and have a late lunch and go to the Visitors Centre and call and let Pat and Anne know I was in town and find out when they'd be around to let me in.
I eventually found a parking spot in the large visitors parking lot along the water by the Visitors Centre, and once again noted you pay to park up until 6:00 PM (a quite reasonable 1 Euro per hour). I picked up a couple of local maps and asked about where to hear some traditional music, and didn't learn of places I didn't already know about.
I had a lovely bowl of soup and a pastry and an iced coffee at An Cupan Tae (which doesn't seem to have their own web page and also doesn't seem to be related to the place with the same name in Galway) and finished about 3:00 PM and was up here at Duinin House not long past 4:00.
There was a bit of road construction on the road up the hill which confused me for a bit until I figured out I had to go through the parking lot for the small shopping mall next to it to get back to the road.
I like my hosts here at Duinin House, Anne & Pat, quite a bit. This is the third time I've stayed with them at their lovely, very comfortable B&B here in the hills over Dingle town and Bay. Pat is a retired local teacher, who taught music and history for many years, and knows many of the musicians in the area. I bought his book when I was here two years ago, shortly after it came out, and enjoyed it very much when I read it a bit later.
My calendar for this year, which I had ordered from Costco shortly after I got back into my own house a month and a half ago, uses pictures I took while I was here on Ireland's West, Atlantic coast two years ago, and I thought Anne & Pat might enjoy them especially since a couple were taken here in Dingle and right in their neighborhood so I packed it along with me. We had a very nice chat and they did indeed enjoy the pictures in my calendar.
During the week I did take several pictures of the house and the surrounding area, but took none of the room itself as I usually do. It was actually the same room I've stayed in before.
I always ask Pat where the best place to listen to Irish music is when I'm here. I know of several pubs downtown and have been to several while I was here before, and know of two concert series here in town but thought they both start in May. One indeed does, but Pat's friends, the father and son who own and run the Dingle Music Shop had already started having their in house series (I think they started after I left two years ago, but that was a couple of weeks earlier than I am here now). Pat and Anne told me about the concert, and called a couple of times until they could verify what time it started (7:30 PM, so people can move on to sessions at the local pubs).
I had unloaded the car before Anne, Pat and I had our visit but decided to wait and unpack until I got back after the concert. I headed back downhill around 5:45 PM, because I know the lot near the Visotors' Centre is free for parking after 6:00. A single lane through the work area that had been closed when I came uphill earlier was now open.
I headed right on over to the store and it was a good thing I did because they sell the tickets in advance, and it turned out that the first two rows of seats were reserved for a Rick Steves tour group whom the musicians had played for at a local pub last night.
Right next door to the music store is an excellent seafood restaurant owned and run by a family that started out as seafood suppliers, Sheehy's Anchor Down which doesn't have their own web site but is on Facebook. I had some of their delightful seafood chowder, steamed mussels, and a slice of an excellent apple & berry pie with cream for dessert.
The two musicians last night are both local, two older guys now in their 70s, neither of whom consider themselves full time, professional musicians although they have now played together all over the world. One of them introduced themselves as a farmer and a fisherman. Lawrence played mandolin and sang, Seamus plays an accordion and also sang. They were excellent, friendly, and already had great repartee with many of the audience members who had seen them the night before.
There was an intermission so people could use the shop's single, small restroom, and have an Irish coffee. I skipped the Irish coffee because I had a pint of Guinness for dinner and by then was starting to feel a little sleep deprived.
A surprise highlight of the evening was when a local cat, maybe even the shop cat, came in through a window and started wandering around and visiting with the audience.
When I got back up to the house, Anne was passing through the front hallway and let me in.
After I got back, I started actually unpacking which took a while. I also began having some mild but very annoying stomach problems which I am glad didn't happen earlier, and which lasted until a couple of hours ago and haven't entirely gone away yet (and it's now 2:45 PM the next day. I had been feeling tired and sleepy earlier but when I finished unpacking and was having the stomach problems I was feeling very tired but wide awake.
I thought I had remembered that Pat & Anne leave out teabags and an electric kettle somewhere in the sun room but all the lights were off and I couldn't remember where it was. I chose to skip having a cup of herbal or decaf tea with a shot of something in it until a later evening.
I didn't fall asleep until after 2:00 AM.
I slept pretty well until about 7:30 this morning. When I was chatting with Anne and Pat out in the conservatory/breakfast room yesterday afternoon the sun was out and it was warm in the house, especially in the sunroom, so I didn't ask for a small heater for my room. It was fairly chilly for me in my room last night, and seemed even more so when I woke up this morning.
Last night Anne told me I was their only guest, and we had arranged I'd have breakfast sometime after 9:00 this morning. I had the usual excellent shower, after eventually figuring out how to set the water temperature (with some shower handles you set the desired temperature by having the long pointed end turned in the direction for hot or cold and with others it's the rounded, fixed end) and was dressed and in the breakfast room about 9:15.
I had my usual breakfast here of porridge with Bailey's Irish cream and an omelette, this time with mushrooms and tomatoes. I remembered to ask Pat to please not make any toast for me, since I already had their two different kinds of bread. Breakfast was excellent as usual.
I was still having stomach problems after breakfast and wasn't in a hurry to get moving and out until I was pretty sure I wouldn't need to find a bathroom somewhere soon. I decided to wait and do the drive around the Peninsula or find a boat tour until later this week, and just have been hanging out in my room until now (3:00 PM). I watched something streaming via wifi, and might have even fallen asleep for a bit.
My stomach problems haven't entirely gone away even yet, but they seem to have settled down to just being more gassy than I like, which is OK and I can work with that. Last night I took everything I'll need until I leave for Killarney on Saturday out of my pack, two suitcases, and the shopping bags I bought back in Shannon on Monday and am going to load them back into the car.
I'll probably have a pastry and tea back at An Cupan Tae, go back to the Dingle Music Shop to find out what new local CDs have come out since I was here two years ago and find out about the concert tomorrow, go back to the Visitors Centre to ask about boat tours (Anne and Pat don't have any recommendations for those), and maybe find an ATM. I don't need one quite yet, but I will before I leave on Saturday since I think Pat & Anne prefer cash.
I finally headed out about 3:00 this afternoon, after loading bags I won't need until Friday night before I leave for Killarney on Saturday back in the car. I had been inside all day and was a bit surprised to find out it was chillier and more windy than I had thought but I felt warm enough with my fleece vest under a wind breaker.
I was able to find a conveniently located parking spot near the entrance of the lot by the Visitors Centre, which I had planned on coming back to to ask about boat tours. The first thing I wanted to do was find an ATM or cash machine as they call them here. I was pretty sure the Garvey's Supervalu right downtown has an ATM but I wanted to find one in a bank so I could get some 1 and 2 Euro coins as well (I probably could have done that at customer service at the store) and was trying to find the nearest branch of the Allied Irish Bank.. I was a couple of blocks from the parking lot when I heard a young red haired man playing very well on a button accordion. I stopped to listen for a couple of minutes and was going to tip him a couple of Euros when it occurred to me that I had neglected to pay for parking and put the tag on my car's dashboard back at the lot, so I went back to the car and did so.
The musician was still there when I got back the corner where I had seen him, so I listened to him again for a few minutes.
I often realize that even with Google Maps or other navigation/GPS software I can sometimes go wandering around in the wrong direction and completely go around or even past where I'm looking for which is what I did when I was looking for the bank. I hadn't found the bank when I realized I was right down the street from the very lovely St Mary's Catholic church (no web page) and the also lovely Diseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture, neither of which I went into this time since I wanted to find the bank before it closed at 4:00 PM. Mazz O'Flaherty's small but well stocked Dingle Record Store was open which is a rare thing these days due to Mazz's continued health and vision problems so I went in and introduced myself again and told her we'd met three years ago. I asked Mazz to please recommend about half a dozen new CDs by local musicians, which she did and which I bought. I then headed back downhill following the directions to an ATM which turned out to be in a very nice branch of a Centra, a large convenience store chain here in Ireland. By this time it was after 4:00 PM, when the bank closed, but I was able to get 10 2 Euro coins at the cash register.
And of course I then walked past the branch of the bank I'd been looking for two blocks later.
I worked my way back down the hill to the Dingle Music Shop, where I'd been last night, walking through parts of downtown Dingle I don't think I'd been through before. When I got to the store, Michael was working but not his son, Dara. I told him I'd really enjoyed the concert last night, and asked when the next one would be (they have an old sign up on the door that says they're Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) but they're only on Tuesdays now. I also asked Michael to pick about half a dozen CDs by local musicians that came out in the last two years, since I'd been there last, and he did. Michael told me he himself would be playing with some other local musicians elsewhere beginning at 9:00 PM. I told him that if I was still feeling awake I might be there, although I actually planned on coming back here after dinner and trying to have an early night.
I had skipped lunch today, because I didn't feel like doing much or eating anything until I left at 3:00. I didn't want to have a more substantial snack since I planned on having dinner relatively early. I skipped going back to An Cupan Tae. As I was wandering around trying to find the ATM I had noticed that the branch of Murphy's ice cream, which is based and made right here in Dingle, right near the Visitors Centre was still closed but I did walk past another branch a couple of blocks away which was indeed open and busy as usual. I was able to find a small table which I claimed for myself, and waited for the couple of large families in front of me in line to finish and they all left to eat their ice cream on the go.
I sat and read for a while as I ate my ice cream, and then worked my way back to my car in the parking lot. I was parked right across the street from the lovely and very good Boatyard seafood restaurant, where I've eaten before on my previous trips, and decided I'd just go there again this evening.
It was still kind of early, about 5:00 or 5:30, and I still wasn't ready for dinner, so I just sat in the warm car and read for about an hour before going across the street. Service was a bit slow this evening but the food was as excellent as the view across to the harbor. I had some very good calamari and their fisherman's pie and an Eton mess, a mix of meringue chunks, berries, and whipped cream, for dessert.
I got back here about 10:00 PM. It wasn't quite dark yet, so I hung around outside for a few minutes watching the changing light on the hills around here and the sheep and lambs who were in the pasture nearest the road next door.
I've been here in my room since then. I watched something streaming via the B&B's wifi before starting on today's notes, and it's now a bit after 1:00 AM. I think I should sleep well or at least OK tonight.
I have two more full days here in Dingle and the weather is supposed to be at least decent both days. I think I'll head off and do the drive around the Peninsula, the Slea Head Drive tomorrow morning and get back into town early enough to stop in at the Visitors Centre to ask about boat tours which I'll do on Friday, my last day here. Then I'll either come back here until 6:30 or so and head back downtown for dinner and some Irish music somewhere, or just hang around downtown again and have an earlier dinner before coming back here for the rest of the evening.
My stomach was still a bit rumbly and grumbly after breakfast, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn't need to find a bathroom soon whatever I chose to do today, so I hung out here until 11:00 AM after the usual excellent breakfast here in Duinin Houseporridge with Bailey's Irish cream and an omelette with mushrooms.
Although I didn't hear them last night, there were other guests this morning, a family of four from France, I think, based on what I thought I heard them speak at breakfast.
I still wanted to stop by the Visitors Centre downtown to find out about who is running boat trips at the moment and more about them and since doing the drive around most of the Dingle Peninsula only takes a few hours (the web site suggests "half a day") I did that, hoping I'd get back to downtown early enough to ask about the boat trips as well.
I saw most of the places I wanted to along the route, including some that I had never been to before and several others I have visited and missed two that I wanted to go to but couldn't find even with Google Maps but it was a lovely day for a drive through and past some incredible scenery that as usual reminded me very much of Oregon. And also as usual I didn't stop in most of the small towns I drove through.
My first stop was to see the lovely beach at Ventry, the first town along the way.
I also stopped at the small but very well done Celtic & Prehistoric Museum, which doesn't have their own web site. It's one of my favorite small museums, not only because the collections are interesting, well done and informative but because of the wonderful building itself. They're not on my tour map but the Discover Ireland web page for them says they're in Ventry.
At Dunbeg, the fort itself was closed due to storm damage and has been since January of 2018. The two donkeys I remember from my last trip two years ago were probably in their Winter quarters at the time, up near the visitors centre, which is where they are now. I was delighted to see that they were both wearing winter coatsliterally, although I guess they were more like horse blankets.
I learned later on my trip that Dunbeg had reopened sometime after I left Dingle.
(When I started typing these notes this evening, I didn't have the tour map with me but had left it in the car. Since I usually have a bit of trouble remembering multiple places I've been to in a day in the order I went to or through them, instead of getting them all mixed up I just put my jeans and shoes back on and went out to the car. It's still windy and quite a bit cooler than when I came home.)
The first time through I didn't stop at either of the clusters of beehive huts. I've never liked the way the first one looks (not the huts themselves but the surrounding buildings and setting are rather unattractive) and decided to skip the one I've been to twice before (on the CIE tour 13 years ago and when I was here two years ago) but go on to the other sites I wanted to visit. I also wasn't quite sure I recognized the buildings from the road as I drove past. I didn't stop at the nearby roadside shrine with the sheer drop off right across the road this time either but there wasn't space to park then anyway.
I didn't stop at another of my favorite museums anywhere, the Blasket Centre, which I've been to two or three times before.
The next place I wanted to visit was the Musaem Chorca Dhuibhne, or West Kerry Museum in the lovely small town of Ballyferriter but somehow missed it (it turned out it's very easy to missmore on that a bit later).
The next place I actually went to is the incredible Gallarus Oratory. (I just had to look up "oratory"Wikipedia says "In the Roman Catholic Church, an oratory is a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass".) This place is an amazing example of dry stone building (no mortar was used) and has been in excellent condition for over a thousand years, according to their web site, and is in a very beautiful scenic setting.
From Gallarus it is possible to get back on to Slea Head Drive in either direction. There were two places I wanted to go to that are near Gallarusthe ancient Reask monastic site and Kilmalkedar Church but I didn't see signs for either of them. It turned out that was because I had turned the wrong way onto Slea Head Drive and found myself all the way back at Ventry before I could get turned around.
This cost me about an hour but that was OK because this time around I stopped at a small Stone Age settlement I'd never been to before (it's not on my tour map and not on the Slea Head Drive web site either). My favorite of the two sites with beehive huts turned out to be right next door up the roadI did recognize the buildings once I was on the same level above the road.
This is another privately owned site, although it is administered by an official Irish tourist or heritage agency. This time of year they also make a bit of money by charging to have pictures taken with the lambs. I wandered around, taking pictures of the buildingsand, yes, of the lambs as well.
This time I brought the directions to the Musaem Chorca Dhuibhne/West Kerry Museum up on my Irish iPhone. When I found it, I realized that I had actually driven past it the first time through Ballyferriter. It was closed, and I now know from their website that they are only open by appointment. I took some pictures of the lovely church across the street anyway.
I still wanted to go to the Reasc monastic site and Kilmalkedar church. The first is supposed to be before the turnoff for Gallarus, and the second is supposed to be past it once you get back on the Slea Head Drive in the same direction. Not only did I not see signs for either, but Google Maps kept telling me to make turns onto roads that didn't seem to exist. It was after 2:00 PM by now, I hadn't eaten since breakfast, and wanted to have a snack somewhere early enough to be hungry again for dinner before too late in the evening. I also still wanted to find out about boat tours tomorrow, so I just continued along the route until I got back to Dingle.
The pay parking lot along the harbor was quite busy at the time, and I had to drive all the way down to the end near the Aquarium before I could find a place to park. I knew that if I stayed past 6:00, not only would parking be free but I'd probably be able to find a spot closer to the end by the Visitors Centre so that was OK.
First things firstI now required sustenance. Because I like it there, I thought I'd see if there was anywhere to sit at An Cupan Tae. All the tables outside were full, but there were a couple of free small tables inside so I snagged one. I had a good sausage roll, a slice of strawberry & rhubarb pie, and an iced coffee.
I had been wanting to get some juices for here in my room, and the Supervalu was right up the street so I went there. I was right, they do have an ATM, so that is the closest one to downtown. As I was unpacking Monday night I decided I also wanted another reusable cloth grocery bag to carry my caps in between now and when I leave Dublin for London instead of stuffing them back into my two suitcases so I got one at the Supervalu while I was there.
Because I had to go past the Visitors Centre and a couple of the boat tour places to get to my car, I stopped in on the way. They all have tours of some kind running tomorrow. The ones to see Fungie are about an hour long, no matter who's running them. There are a couple of longer tours. One that's an hour and a half is on a much smaller boat, a rigid inflatable one. I would much prefer a larger boat, which the Fungie tours use. There are also much longer tours, but they actually involve a stop on Great Blasket Island for a couple of hours, which I'm not interested in. I booked a seat on the first of the Fungie tours tomorrow at 11:00 AM, for which I need to be there before boarding at 10:30.
It was still too early for dinner, so I just sat around on a bench by the Visitors Centre reading and watching everyone who was playing with or sitting on the statue of Fungie until about 6:00 PM. I walked down to the far end of the parking lot where I left my bag in the car which I was able to move to a spot closer to the Visitors Centre.
There are many restaurants and pubs serving pretty good food here in Dingle, some of which I've been to and liked, but Sheehy's Anchor Inn is one I know where it is, like very much, and was very close to where I was at the time so I went back there for dinner tonight. I had their seafood chowder, a seafood pate, and a pint of Guinness and enjoyed all of it very much.
I skipped dessert there this evening, because I knew that the Murphy's ice cream around the corner was open, so that's where I went for dessert.
With most places that have music it doesn't start until 9:30 or 10:00 PM. It was now only around 7:30, and I really didn't feel like finding somewhere to kill a couple of hours, so I came home instead. It of course still wasn't dark yet, so as usual I stood around outside for a while watching the sheep and lambs next door and the changing light and shadows on the hills all around here.
It's now 1:00 AM, and I'm done typing up my notes from today and am ready for bed. As usual, I hope I'll sleep longer or at least better than I usually do.
My plan for tomorrow is to have breakfast around 8:30, and ask Pat where there will be music tomorrow evening, which is Good Friday so the choices might be more limited than on a usual Friday night. I have to be down at the Visitors Centre before boarding at 10:30. I think that after I have lunch tomorrow, probably back at An Cupan Tae, probably followed by ice cream at Murphy's, I'll just come back here until heading back downtown around 7:00 PM for dinner somewhere and music somewhere else.
I slept reasonably well if not as long as I'd like and woke up about 7:00 AM, an hour earlier than I had planned.
At first I was expecting nothing much in the way of music to be going on today due to it being Good Friday, but when I asked Pat at breakfast he said things should be much the same as any other Friday night.
I was downtown a bit before 10:00, and sat around in the sun waiting until we could board our boat for the tour. It certainly wasn't my favorite layout for a tour boat, with seating mostly along the sides facing in or along the sides of a large hatch, but the smaller front hatch was still unused so I snagged it. I usually don't have problems with sea sickness but I sometimes do if I am forced to sit sideways instead of facing the direction of travel.
As I told one of the two crew members later (skipper & mate), I was probably one of the few people on board who really didn't care if we saw Fungie since I was really there mostly to see the wonderful scenery. I wasn't able to take as many pictures as I did last time because it was just swelly enough most of the time to make me want to hang on to my seat so I really couldn't lift up my camera enough to shoot over the heads of the people sitting on the sides. There were two small kids on my left side so most of the time I had to wait until something I wanted to take a picture of was visible beyond them.
Fungie was a bit uncooperative today, only in the sense that it took quite a bit before the crew figured out where he was and then he did come up alongside both sides of the boat. I got lots of pictures of the scenery but I didn't even try and get any of him. It was still rough enough for me to constantly have to hang on the railing with one hand if I stood up and he wasn't on the surface all that often or for long.
I didn't ask about Fungie's English friend whom we saw last year and who I was told often came down to spend his vacations out on the water with Fungie and the boats who come out to visit him.
Before we left I had asked the women in the Visitors Centre if there would indeed be any places with traditional music tonight and one of them read me a list of at least half a dozen, three of which started at 7:30 or earlier. When we got back I of course couldn't remember where she had told me and when so I went back in and she wrote a little list out for me.
I wanted to make sure I had enough cash to pay Anne & Pat tomorrow, so I went up the street to the Supervalu to find their ATM. I knew that one had a cash limit but forgot it was only 120 Euros so I then had to make my way back up to the one at the AIB I had tried to find a couple of days ago.
I like An Cupan Tae, and it doesn't hurt that several of the women who work there are lovely, so I decided to go back there for lunch again today. When I had walked past on the way the Supervalu they were pretty busy and I didn't see any free tables but when I came back again there were a couple of small ones inside so I grabbed one. I had a ham and cheese toastie and some pureed vegetable soup and an iced coffee. I skipped dessert there because I wanted to go to the nearby Murphy's ice cream instead and did so.
It was still only about 3:00 PM and I had actually put enough money in to park until 4:00, so I sat around on one of the benches by the Visitors Centre and statue of Fungie and read. While I was there a rather attractive younger woman was there with a raptor of some sort on her arm. As I was going over to my car I stopped to chat for a couple of minutes. She works for Kingdom Falconry and was there with a one year old Harris hawk who is still being trained but is a lot calmer out in public with strange people and dogs than her siblings are. She already knew that raptor shows are popular at Ren Faires in the US and told me that they also do festivals as well.
I decided I would just come back up here and hang out for a while before going back downtown for dinner and some music about 6:30 or 7:00. Two of the places with music beginning at 7:00 and 7:30 are almost next to each other, so that's where I went. I was actually able to get a good parking space on the street almost right across the street from the Dingle Pub where the music had already started at 7:00. I was able to grab an empty small table in the end of the dining area where I could hear the musicians very well but only saw the one on the end nearest me from behind. I had a pint of the local IPA, seafood chowder, grilled or broiled hake and mashed potatoes and enjoyed them all.
I left before 9:00 PM, mostly because I needed to use the restroom and my knees and butt were hurting a bit from sitting on the hard stool at the table.
It's now almost midnight. I've been home for over two hours and didn't do a whole lot other than these notes from today, watching something streaming via wifi, and starting to update my podcasts playlists since last Saturday.
I'm not in a huge hurry to get started tomorrow. It's only an hour drive from here to my hotel in Killarney, and there doesn't seem to be too much to see or places to stop along the way. My fairly detailed Irish road atlas lists Ballymalis Castle , a ruin of a former fortified tower house, not far past Killorglin. Dunloe Castle, which is on the grounds of the Dunloe Hotel is not far from Ballymalis.
I should be in Killarney around lunch time. I'll stop at the hotel first, even if I can't check in yet. If laundry service isn't available until Monday or Tuesday, I might find the nearest laundromat and do a load tomorrow while waiting to check in.
I might even have time to go to the nearest Visitors Centre to find out what shows are on while I'll be in town.
More from Killarney tomorrow.
I had another excellent breakfast at Duinin House after taking a shower, getting dressed, and packing everything.
During breakfast, and before I left, I talked with Pat and Anne some more about why I think Pat should talk to an agent about getting his book listed on Amazon and Amazon.co.uk. I like both of them very much and hope they continue to enjoy many more years together but they are both several years older than I am. Before I left Anne told me in passing that within a six month period not long ago two of her brothers passed away, one 73 and the other 76 years old.
It was grey and cloudy with a light mist all over in Dingle this morning which looked lovely. The drive over from there to here was very pleasant with light to manageable traffic most of the time. Other than the lovely scenery there really isn't that much to see along the way except for three main areas.
I didn't stop to take pictures of the beautiful beach at Inch for two main reasonsit looked quite busy as I was driving by so I didn't want to take the time to have to find somewhere to park, and for quite a while I kept having to slow down behind and wait until I could safely pass what seemed to be an unusually large amount of groups of cyclers so I pretty much just wanted to keep going until I got ahead of them.
The only town between Dingle and the Ring of Kerry is Castlemaine which I also didn't stop in. I did notice something which confirmed what I had been wondering about all the cyclers I had been passing between Inch Strand and there. Apparently most of them were all part of an organized ride, the Unsung Hero 75 km charity ride for Down Syndrome.
Not too far after Castlemaine I did indeed get out in front of the cyclers and didn't see very many of them after that.
I didn't stop after Castlemaine either. The only city between there and Killarney is Killorglin. Like Ballymalis Castle and Dunloe Castle, Killorglin is on the Ring of Kerry which I plan on driving myself later this week.
I got here to the hotel about 1:00 PM. I was able to check in but it was way too early for my room to be ready, which wouldn't be until 3:00. The intersection this hotel is on is pretty convenient. The next building on the road downhill to town is a mini-mall with a gas station, a medium-sized Centra, and a couple of other shops. Right across the street is another mini-mall with a smaller Centra, a Supermac's and a deli in the same store with several other shops there as well. I went across the street to have lunch at the Supermac's since I knew I'd probably be having dinner in either the bar or restaurant in the hotel this evening. I also bought a couple of bottles of sparkling water and juices.
I then came back across the street to drop my stuff off in the car, and then walked the 10 or 15 minutes downhill to downtown. I had wanted to go to the Tourist Info Centre to ask about concerts this week but when I got there it was closed. On the way over I stopped to hear four young musicians playing who were very good. I thought I had taken a bit of a video of their playing but apparently I hadn't really done so but only took their picture instead.
While I was having lunch I was going to read something on Kindle on my home iPhone, and there was an text message from one of my two neighbors. They had noticed the Water Bureau had left a message on my front door, which I was unable to read the picture of. Michael kindly turned off the water for me. I called duting what should have been normal office hours on a Friday, but all city offices were closed for North Lauderdale Days. I'll have to call them on Monday.
One thing about calling the US before I get on with the rest of the day. Sprint US will gladly charge me extra to call anywhere back home, but on this trip once I got to Ireland every time I've connected to wifi with my home Sprint iPhone the phone asks me if I want to connect to Sprint Wifi Calling which I'll have to try.
On the way back to the main stretch from the closed Tourist Office I went past the International Hotel where I stayed on the CIE tour 13 years ago. I didn't see the Shire pub and wondered just now how I could possibly have missed it but when I looked at Google Maps I saw that I turned towards town on the street it's on instead of towards the Shire.
When I got back to the main street I stopped at a tour operator, where the last time I was here I had booked an excellent bus tour of the Ring of Kerry, who had a sign for the Lakes of Killarney boat tour on their door. The guy working then said he was unable to help me because I couldn't tell him specifically what day or time I wanted a ticket for. He didn't even tell me what days and hours the tour runs. This was very annoying because I knew that I'd be able to get that info from the tour's website and book a ticket when I got home, which I did.
I also stopped in another shop on the way that also advertised tourist information. I asked about what if any shows are going on now and the two young women working there didn't know of any.
I went past a bakery/donut shop and bought a couple which I'm going to have when I finish these notes.
It was still too early for my room to be ready so I had some ice cream at the local branch of Murphy's ice cream. I'll have to go to the even more locally produced Killarney ice cream across the street sometime while I'm here. I did go over for an iced coffee at the Underground (no website).
It took quite a while to catch a cab back up here. A cabby dropped off someone right where I was standing and waiting but he was actually picking some other people upwhile he was waiting he asked me where I was from and by coincidence the four women he was waiting for were all from Ft Lauderdale. He did call someone on his radio.
While I was standing there I looked up cab service in Killarney on Google on my Irish iPhone and called a couple of numbers. One number was a cell phone that was switched off. Another guy said he'd be there in five minutes. He didn't come but a couple of minutes after that the driver the first cabby had called came. When she dropped me off back here at the hotel I asked her if there is a central dispatch number I could call, and she gave me their business card.
My room was ready when I went inside. I was a bit pissed when I found out that this hotel doesn't have any luggage carts, and it's a pretty damn big hotel not to have one. That meant I'd have to make three trips, with each of my two larger suitcases and something else being two separate trips.
On my first trip I brought up my book pack and all of my reusable shopping bags. Like many hotels I've been to here in Ireland and London and Paris, there's a sensor where you have to insert your room key card before you can turn the lights on. I had done so and most of the other lights were working, but not the two between the two beds (one queen and one twin, excellent for putting stuff on). Before moving the rest of my stuff up I wanted to see if I could get that taken care of so I went back down to the reception desk and asked, and they said they'd have the manager come up to my room. I had noticed that my room was rather stuffy, and there's no AC so no centralized fan but they did have desk fans there so I asked for one. It's pleasantly loud enough that I won't need to use my two USB-powered fans here at all.
The manager got the lights working. Not only are there the power switches you can see below the lights there are switches on the fixture itself which are invisible but can only be felt along the bottom.
One of the first things I had asked about is whether this hotel has laundry service, and it does and not only that if I dropped my things off this evening it will all be back here by 7:00 PM tomorrow even if it's Easter Sunday. When I came in with my second load of stuff, I asked for a couple of laundry bags which I filled and took downstairs with me on my third and final trip.
When I asked if the in house restaurant had anything going for dinner tomorrow the women working then didn't think so, but shortly after I got back to my room after my last trip with the rest of my things one of them called to tell me that the restaurant here is indeed having Easter dinner and would I like to book a table?, which I have done for 7:00 PM tomorrow.
I also asked about any shows going on, and there are at least two which the women working reception then knew about, both of which I had seen while I was here two years ago and loved both of themGaelic Roots and Celtic Steps. I was able to book a ticket online for Celtic Steps but will need to call the box office for Gaelic Roots tomorrow.
I also remembered from my last trip two years ago that the INEC, Ireland's National Entertainment Center at the Gleneagle Hotel not too far of a walk from here, is another venue for concerts and other events. They have two concerts I'm interested in, the High Kings tomorrow and Mick Hanly & Donal Lunmy, two older and well known Irish trad performers, on Friday. I think I booked a ticket for each but there was a bit of a problem with the interface to Ticketmaster.ie, so I'll have to call the venue tomorrow and check.
I unpacked most of my stuff and went down to have dinner in the pub about 7:30 PM. I had a bowl of excellent cream of carrot and turnip soup, very good penne pasta with OK chicken (a little too well done for me), and a pint of Killarney IPA which also was excellent.
There were two things I could not easily do while at Duinin House. I wanted to import all the CDs I bought in Dingle into iTunes on my laptop. The only reason I couldn't do this at Duinin House is that the desk in my room had the area for your legs on the left, with open space on the right, and was against a wall to the left. I could have taken the CDs and my laptop to use a table in the breakfast room but since it was something I could do later, whenever I had more desk room such as I do here, I decided to wait until I got here.
The other thing I couldn't do at Duinin House was to recharge all of my Frio insulin cooling cases which is done by letting them soak in water deep enough to cover them. My en suite bathroom there at Duinin had a smallish pedestal sink and a walk in shower. I also knew from past experience that I probably had a couple more days before I actually needed to recharge all eight of them (pretty much one for each week I'll be gone) so I waited until I got here. My room has a largish sink and also the shower is in an actual tub. After the coolers had soaked the required amount of time, I just pulled the plug and am letting them dry out until morning.
After dinner I unpacked and put away the rest of my stuff. I don't think I'm going to take the bags and suitcases I won't need until the night before I leave for Galway back down to my car. This room is large enough and has more than enough room for storage to just keep everything here and not bump into them.
I then watched something streaming before starting on my notes for today. It's now almost 1:00 AM, and that's about it for today. Since my desktop computer was stolen when my house was broken into several years ago (before I had an alarm system) and after I had to have my laptop reformatted while in London three years ago, I've been a bit paranoid about backing up my files and pictures. During my grand tour for my 60th birthday three years ago for some reason I kept using mini USB flash drives, which I kept having to buy more of. This trip I have three USB external hard drives, one of which I already had, a second I recently bought for additional backup, and a third one I had forgotten I even owned. As soon as I finish I'm going to backup my files and pictures to each of those.
I have Easter dinner here at the hotel at 7:00 PM tomorrow and the concert is at 9:30 with no reserved seating. It's a 45 minute walk over to the venue, so I think I'll just take a cab over and back.
So what am I going to do the rest of the day? Probably have breakfast here in the hotel, which I included when I made the reservation. I think I'll wait and do the Ring of Kerry during the week. While I was downtown I noticed something I don't think I saw on any of my other three visits herea big red bus hop on, hop off tour of Killarney and the area which is what I think I'll do in the afternoon, with an ice cream stop before catching a cab back here.
It's now 12:30 AM Sunday night, and for the first time this trip the reason I'm just starting to type up my notes from the day is because I just got home.
I slept pretty well last night, waking up about 7:30. I just kind of farted around, watching something streaming via the hotel's quite good wifi, until sometime between 9:00 and 9:30. I called downstairs to check what breakfast hours are again, and learned that during the week it's served until 10:00 but since today and tomorrow are holidays it's served until 11:00.
When I asked at the reception desk if there was a desk lamp I could use, I learned that there should have been one here in my room and there was when I got back upstairs.
I had a good breakfast of fried eggs, fruit salad, Irish bacon, and tea.
After breakfast I called the box office at the INEC and confirmed that my two attempts to buy tickets online last night had failed, and that there had been some problem with the Ticketmaster interface, but I was able to book a ticket for the High Kings tonight and Mick Hanly & Donal Lunny on Friday.
I decided I wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere today, and would just hang out here until heading downhill to town sometime around 1:00 PM which is what I did. I thought I'd kind of look for the stop for the new big red bus tour of Killarney if I happened to go past it, and did over on Mission Road which runs alongside the National Park there. On the way to that corner I stopped for some ice cream at Killarney ice cream, which was excellent.
At the time, however, I misread the sign and thought there would be a tour leaving from there at 3:45 when the only two departure times are 12:35 PM and 2:15 PM, so I wandered back around the corner and up to the Murphy's ice cream for some of theirs and then across the street to the Underground for an iced coffee.
The concert wasn't until 9:30 this evening. It was now only a bit after 4:00 PM. I decided to not try and find somewhere to hang around downtown until having dinner about 7:00 before the concert but to just call a cab and come back up here, have dinner here at 7:00 as I had planned, and then catch a cab over to the INEC around 8:00.
When I tried to call the numbers for the cab company on the card the driver had given me last night, neither of them had worked, so I went into the hotel where I had been trying to catch a cab and asked them to call one for me. I wound up sharing the ride up to my hotel with a family going elsewhere who very kindly didn't mind my being dropped off up here first.
While waiting I dropped a couple of Euros tip for two young girls, sisters probably, one of whom played harp and the other accordion. They weren't very good and skilled yet, but not bad for beginners.
It seems as if there are drivers who work for one of the two main cab services, and others who are independent and have arrangements with the hotels directly, much the way I found it in London when I'd ask someone at reception in the hotel where I was staying to call a cab for me. The driver who brought me back up here was one of the latter. Right after I got out, I noticed a driver from the same company whose card I had received last night. I told him I had tried to call for a cab and it didn't work and asked him if he'd take a look at how I had put the numbers into my phone, and he told me I had left off the leading 0.
I was originally going to have dinner in the restaurant itself, which is where breakfast is served, but at 7:00 there was no one else there so I had dinner in the pub instead which I also like. The very nice waitress said I could have three courses there in the pub for the same price as I could if I ate in the restaurant, which does save a few Euros.
My cab dropped me off at the INEC before 8:30 PM, a full hour before the show, and I had a hard time finding a decent seat anywhere. In many ways the INEC is a crappy venue for music. It's set up like a banquet room, with almost all of the tables perpendicular to the stage so anyone sitting there has to turn to see the stage. There is a second large room behind the first, which was very crowded when I got there. I was able to find a seat closest to the front at a table in the second room, which was probably because it was behind a pillar with an even more restricted view of the stage. I just picked up the chair and sat next to the pillar.
The acoustics are also not particularly conducive to music, at least not to hearing the lyrics. From where I was sitting, even when I knew the lyrics I often had difficulty separately distinguishing all the words.
Another very odd thing about the venue is that although there are two very large monitors on either side of the stage, they don't project a video of the act on stage during the event but only use it to run ads for the facility beforehand.
The High Kings are an excellent band of very talented musicians and singers, and I enjoyed the show very much even when I couldn't discern all the words.
Sometime back this January, a group of boys from St Brendan's College here in Killarney achieved fame when they were videoed doing the High Kings' version of "Step it out, Mary" on an international flight and for tonight's encore the band had the lads come join them on stage.
My laundry was ready when I got back. It's quite expensive, 17 Euros per bag and I had two bags. I probably have enough clean clothes to make it until a week from tomorrow, when I get to my hotel in Galway, so I don't think I'll have laundry done here again. There really isn't that great of an alternative, though, not like at home where I have two decent laundromats within five minutes of my house for when I need to wash things like quilts that take too long in my dryer. The only alternative here seems to be something called Revolution Laundrette using self standing machines set up in the parking lots or forecourts of some gas stations and convenience stores in the area, like the one I saw at the gas station way out in the middle of nowhere two years ago. They are, however, open 24/7 and cost much less"2 to dry and 4 for an 8 kg wash, 8 for an 18 kg wash."
Tomorrow, Easter Monday, is an official holiday so I think I'll skip going anywhere on the Ring of Kerry until later this week. Although I will be busy several evenings this week, Tuesday is the only day when I have anything scheduled during the day, the Lakes of Killarney cruise from Ross Castle which can be combined with a visit to Muckross Abbey & House which are all in that area.
And that's it for tonight.
I had a very good day but it's not going to take too long to write up these notes about it.
I wasn't in a hurry to get moving this morning, largely because there wasn't anything I needed to do at any particular time all day. Even though breakfast was served until 11:00 AM because today was a holiday and I was actually up well before then I kind of accidentally skipped breakfast.
When I was getting dressed this morning, I noticed that the seam on my jeans were coming apart at the crotch and all the way down one leg. I know that there are probably many places in town where I could buy a new replacement pair but I also knew specifically that there is a Dunnes store pretty much right downtown so just to make sure I checked their catalog online. I knew that since I wear a larger size they might not have any in stock that fit me but their website advertises free next day shipping to a store so I knew I could get a new pair no later than Wednesday.
Other than finding the Dunnes store, my plans were to walk down to the lovely St Mary's Cathedral, stopping to have lunch somewhere along the way, go by the also lovely Franciscan Friary , have a beer at the Shire which is near the Friary, stop by St Mary's Church which is at the end of the main street downtown, have ice cream at either Killarney or Murphy's ice cream, and then either catch a cab back up here for a while before walking back downhill again for dinner and catching a cab back home, or possibly hanging around downtown long enough to have an early dinner downtown around 6:30 or 7:00 PM. That's pretty much the way the day went, with an unexpected inclusion although it was something I had planned on doing in the next couple of days anyway.
There are basically two ways of walking from here to the Cathedral. One loops around town from just before where I stayed last year at the Park Place Apartments and wanders around to Mission Road and the National Park, the other continues down a few blocks to New Street and around the other way to Mission Road and up to the Cathedral. I chose the second way because I needed to have lunch somewhere and there's nowhere to eat going the first way.
I knew that the Eddie Rockets, the Irish burger chain modeled on 1950s American diners, was open because I had walked past it yesterday. I think they were closed the last time I was here. I was going to go there but a couple of places down the street was somewhere I had never been, the slightly similar Denjoes so I had a burger and fries there. Dad would have loved their fries, which were hand cut in house and very well done.
A couple of doors down from Denjoes is the Dunnes store, which I had of course passed before but only noticed its location in passing since I'd never been there before, but that meant I knew where it was to go back to later. The store was open until 9:00 PM so I could go back before I came back up here.
I love all four churches here in KillarneySt Mary's Cathedral, St Mary's church, the Franciscan friary, and the Methodist church which I've never been in yet. I've been to the other three when they've been open each time I've come to Killarney and they were open again today.
As I was walking over from the Cathedral along Mission Road, I passed the bus stop for the Big Red Bus tour of Killarney and checked the schedule. I was there about fifteen minutes in advance of the 2:15 tour so I waited for it. That's also the stop for the Dublin Coach service which runs from Dublin through Kildare, Annacotty, Limerick, Bunratty, Ennis, Adare, Newcastlewest, Abbeyfeale, and here before ending up in Tralee four hours later. It was kind of fun watching the passengers show up and try and figure out where to put their luggage in the compartments underneath including two bicycles.
The Big Red Bus tour of Killarney really doesn't go very many places, but it basically connects downtown with Ross Castle, the Torc waterfall, Muckross Abbey, and Muckross House within the Killarney National Park and returns to town. It was a pleasant ride. There were only three of us catching the bus downtown, and the couple got off at Ross Castle. The driver came up top and I told him that I was actually just riding the circuit around for the fun of it. We stopped at Muckross House for a few minutes, long enough for me to use the nearby restroom. There were quite a few people who got on to make the trip back into town.
After we got back, I walked over to the Shire. I at first missed it again since I went around yet another different corner from the bus stop. I had to check Google Maps when I thought I was going uphill longer than I thought I should have been, and had missed it by a couple of blocks. It's actually just past the Franciscan friary, which is closer to town than I had remembered and isn't far from the International Hotel where I stayed 13 years ago.
When I looked up the Shire this morning, I noticed that they are now advertising it as a pub and café. There is also a B&B there, but I think it's been there since they opened. They now have a small but very nice looking café downstairs and it and the tables outside were busy when I was there. When I went in to have a pint of one of their own beers the guy at the bar told me they'd only opened the café this past November.
On the way back I stopped into the friary and when I got back to its corner St Mary's church was still open so I went in as well.
There weren't any buskers out this time. I stopped in at the Killarney ice cream shop and then continued up the street and around the corner back to the Dunnes store where I was able to find a pair of jeans in my size. I was pleased that they actually list the sizes in inches on the label with centimeters in smaller type.
By now it was sometime after 5:00 PM. I hoped I could just find a bench to sit on and read and kill some time before having dinner somewhere at 7:00. This time there were a couple of young boys, probably brothers, who were busking in front of a café where they had the only bench. The older brother played button accordion and was quite good. The younger one wasn't quite as confident on his pennywhistle. I stood around and listened to them for a bit then went across the street where I was able to sit on one of the benches there.
While I was there reading, a young woman whom I had seen yesterday was setting up a mike and an amplifier. She sang a variety of songs and accompanied herself on what looked like a ukulele and was pretty good as well and had a nice voice.
There were two restaurants where I thought I might have dinner tonight, Bricin boxty house (boxty is kind of like the Irish version of a French crepe or Breton galette but uses a potato batter) or Robertino's Italian restaurant , both of which I've been to before and liked but I remembered that last week when I was rereading my notes from my last trip here two years ago I had specifically mentioned that Robertino's has risotto on their menu. I can't find risotto at any of my Italian restaurants at home but have made it for vegetarian Rennie friends twice, so I went to Robertino's and had some creamed vegetable soup, their zucchini and prawn risotto, a glass of their house made sangria, and creme catalana (burnt cream) which were all excellent.
I called a cab which didn't take too long to come, and was back up here by 9:00 PM or so. I watched something streaming via the hotel's good wifi before beginning these notes for today.
I have specific plans for tomorrow at specific times. I'm pretty sure what I'm going to do in between. I'm just not sure how I'm going to get to and from them.
I have my boat trip on the Lakes of Killarney at 11:00 AM. From Ross Castle I plan on hiring a jaunting car to take me up to Muckross Abbey, Muckross House, and the Torc waterfall and then either back to Ross Castle or all the way back into town.
Then tomorrow night I have the Celtic Steps show out at the race course. I need to be there not much after 8:00 PM, especially since I only have the ticket on my phone and will need to stop by the box office. I've arranged to take the shuttle from downtown out to the race course but at the moment can't remember the pick up point or time.
If I walk from here to Ross Castle, it should take about an hour including stopping to take pictures. That means I'd need to leave here before 9:30. On the other hand it's only about a ten minute drive to Ross Castle, there's parking there, and at 10:30 on a non-holiday Tuesday morning there should be plenty of parking. There are also a couple of parking lots downtown so I could just spend the afternoon there before having dinner and driving out to the race course which is just outside of town. Or I could bring the car back up here, hang out for a couple of hours, walk back downhill to have dinner and catch the shuttle out to the show, and either catch the shuttle back downtown and take a cab from there or just call a cab from the racecourse.
We'll see how I feel in the morning. It's almost midnight.
Actually it's about 12:20 Wednesday morning. I only got home about an hour ago and only finished dinner half an hour ago. The first part of that was basically planned and expected, the second part was due to my error in planning.
I woke up this morning when my alarm clock went off, with plenty of time for the hour long walk from here to Ross Castle, but I really didn't feel like taking such a long walk. I wasn't feeling very rested, and was slightly stuffy headed and congested and very slightly but noticeably dizzy.
After another nice breakfast here in the hotel, I drove down to Ross Castle and was there well before 10:00 AM. I did notice, however, that Google Maps actually got me there using a couple of different routes I wouldn't have chosen myself. The first route was from right near here at the hotel around a different route to Mission Street and the Cathedral; then after I drove through downtown, the route to Ross Castle seemed a bit more convoluted than I expected. In fact, at one point I looked the other way at an intersection and saw that I was just down the street a couple of blocks from the International Hotel which I had driven past in a different direction about five minutes before.
It was grey and cloudy when I left here, and still a bit chilly out on the lake, but it was a very nice morning for the hour long cruise. The scenery at Ross Castle and out on the lake is incredibly lovely.
I'm glad I drove. Part of my plan had been to possibly walk from Ross Castle to where I could catch a jaunting cart to Muckross Abbey, Muckross House, and Torc waterfall but when we were waiting for the boat to launch I checked Google Maps and saw it would take me over an hour to walk to Muckross Abbey from the castle.
It was a short drive from the castle to where I could hire a jaunting cart. I had the horse, cart, and driver to myself. The cost was 40 Euros for a ride of about an hour and a half, through wonderful scenery. My driver, Patrick, could have been anywhere within five to ten years older than I am and was a very pleasant man.
By this time, the sun was breaking through the clouds and it was starting to look like it would be a lovely, almost warm day. A lot of the women walking or on bikes we passed seemed to think it already was.
On the way out we just went past the Abbey, and I told Patrick we didn't need to stop at Muckross House either because I'll be coming back there Saturday to have lunch and visit the Traditional Farms which are only open on weekends this time of year, so we continued on up to the parking area for both cars and carts and the access to Torc waterfall which is a bit uphill from there. It was pretty crowded when I got there, with a couple of small tour groups and families.
As usual, the walk up to the waterfall really reminded me of places I've been and seen back home in Oregon.
On the way back we stopped at the Abbey for about 10 minutes for me to wander around and take pictures.
It was after 3:00 PM when I got back to the parking lot near the Visitors Centre, and it was quite busy and crowded there but I did eventually find a place to park and left the car.
I wanted to find somewhere I hadn't been, at least not on this trip anyway, to have lunch and went down a short side street I hadn't been down this trip and found a place I know I hadn't been to before, which was quite lovely and pleasing and has very good food and excellent pastries, Jam Café .
Right in that area are at least two places selling Irish woven goods which also ship internationally. I thought I would look for a couple of queen-sized blankets, one for each bedroom at home, and have them sent but didn't see anything off hand and didn't ask while I was there. I might do so before I leave town on Sunday.
I had some ice cream at Murphy's and then an iced coffee at Underground followed by a cup of hot chocolate there until they were closing at 6.
I needed to be at the show before 8:00 to pick up my ticket at the box office. I thought that should give me enough time to grab a quick dinner somewhere but I was wrong. Part of my problem was that I like to find out how to get to my ultimate destination first, and then find somewhere to eat, and there really is nothing in the area around the race track.
When I was here last I went to their Irish evening dinner/show at a place then called the Jarvey's Resta jarvey is a driver of a horse drawn or jaunting cart. The place's current name is Major Colgan's. When I looked at their web page last night, I saw that the Irish evenings supposedly run only from May to October but I thought I'd try and have a quick dinner there this evening. By the time I found it, it was about 7:15 and I needed to order, be served, eat, and pay within half an hour at the latest. I told the server who gave me the menu this, but he didn't come back quickly enough so I just left. I may not have had anything to eat but the trip wasn't entirely wastedI learned that although the web page says the Irish evening isn't until May they are currently running. I pointed out to a different server that the information on their web page about the show isn't correct. I may make a reservation for Saturday night, the night before I leave for Galway.
Earlier when I had been checking Google Maps for the location of and directions to the show at the race course, I saw something called Wild Kerry Day Tours located in the immediate vicinity of the track. When I checked their web page, I saw I could save 15% on their Ring of Kerry day tour which goes to a couple of places the tour I went on last time didn't go so I booked a ticketI think it was for Friday, but I sent an email later asking to confirm and I might call them tomorrow.
I got to the show about 7:30 and people were already standing in line when I went into the box office to get my ticket. I wasn't the first in through the door but I did manage to get a seat in the front row immediately to the left of the center aisle. The place was pretty crowded when the show began; when we left, there were at least half a dozen different tour buses waiting.
The show, Celtic Steps, is extremely well done, in terms of all the performers and performances, the arrangements and selection and arrangement of tunes interspersed with songs and dances. All five of the musicians are incredibletwo older guys, one who plays bodhran, banjo and guitar, and the other plays bodhran and is the MC; a younger woman who plays fiddle and sings; a young man who plays flute and uileann pipes; another guy on accordion; and another guy on keyboard.
The dancers are all incredible as well, four gorgeous, graceful goddesses with long legs and short skirts gliding and flying across the stage, and three guys. Out of the seven I think at least three have been world Irish dance champions.
The show finished up about 10:30, with one 15 minute intermission.
I had left my normal, larger camera in my car for the show because I didn't think they allowed photography during it. They do, just no recordings, so I used my iPhone instead.
Unfortunately when I got back to the hotel, the parking lot was very busy and I parked in what isn't really a parking spot but at least it doesn't have a yellow painted stripe next to it. I learned when I asked at the desk that there is also parking on the other side of the hotel and an underground lot as well which I might have to use tomorrow or later this week.
Also unfortunately the Centra across the street and next door were also already closed, as was room service here in the hotel. I was anticipating a long night without having anything to eat except for the potato chips I didn't have last night, but when I typed "food delivery" in Google Maps on my Irish iPhone a couple of places came up.
Apache Pizza was still open and still delivering, and I ordered their steak wrap. It was a pretty simple orderI specified no onions and no peppersand they still managed to screw it up. It came with peppers and no mushrooms, but I ate it anyway and took a couple of Tums immediately afterwards.
While I was waiting I posted the pictures I'd taken throughout the day on my iPhone to Facebook and emailed all the ones from the show to myself which I downloaded and saved after I ate.
And that's it for tonight.
I have the Gaelic Roots show tomorrow. The doors open at 8:00 and the show is at 8:30. I already called to cancel the shuttle pickup because I won't need it; the show's at the Killarney Avenue Hotel which is right downtown. If I left from here for dinner before the show I could walk downhill and take a cab back up. I think I'll do pretty much what I did today, and drive to a couple of places on the Ring of Kerry the tour won't go to around lunch time, hang out downtown until having dinner somewhere around 6:30 at the latest and go to the show. The big parking lot by the Visitors Centre is not far away from where the show is.
The megalithic stone circle in Kenmare is about a 45 minute drive from here, and I don't think I've ever been to it before. The rather amazing Bonane Heritage Park which is basically an archaeological theme park in the best sense as several different archaeological sites are on the same property, is 15 minutes from the stone circle. Then it's a 45 to 65 minute drive back to the parking lot near the Visitors Centre downtown, depending on whether I take the route through the National Park.
Friday I plan on going to Ballymalis Castle, and Dunloe Castle, neither of which I've been to before and the tour of the Ring of Kerry I'll be taking this trip doesn't go there either. That evening is the Mick Hanly & Donal Lunny concert at the INEC; this time I'll drive and have dinner at one of their restaurants there.
Saturday I plan on heading on over to Muckross House about noon to have lunch at the Garden Café, visit the lovely gardens, and visit the Traditional Farm as well.
I still haven't decided whether I'll take another load of laundry to reception on Friday for pickup on Saturday evening before I leave, or spend the time sometime Saturday to find the Revolition Laundrette and do a load myself.
And that really is it for tonight. Time to take a couple more Tums.
It's just past 11:00 PM and it's not going to take me long to type up my notes for today.
I slept OK last night but not very long, falling asleep sometime shortly before 3:00 AM and waking up around 7:30 and not being able to fall back asleep.
I really wasn't in a hurry to do anything at all this morning, feeling a bit lethargic and slightly dizzy and still having indigestion from the steak wrap with peppers I had for dinner after I got home last night. I should have just unwrapped it and removed the peppers.
I had two plans for today. I wanted to be at the Gaelic Roots show not much after 8:00 PM to get my ticket at the box office and get a seat with as good a view of the stage as possible, which meant being downtown not much after 6:00 to have dinner somewhere before the show.
At home or whenever I travel by car or even rent a car back in the US, I always have some Slimfasts, Ensures, or Carnation instant breakfast mixes on hand for when I don't feel like having breakfast or miss breakfast for some reason or like last night miss dinner or have had to have dinner much earlier than I am used to. I didn't have any last night because I had breakfast every morning at Duinin House while in Dingle, and included breakfast here when I made my reservation.
After last night, I wanted to go to the only place in the area where I know I can find at least a couple of flavors of Slimfast, Boots. I'm sure that if I went into enough drug stores and asked in enough of them I'd find Slimfast elsewhere, but I know Boots carries them. So the only other thing I wanted to do today was drive on over to the nearest Boots, about 10 to 15 minutes away, and get some.
I skipped breakfast here and about noon felt well enough to drive over to the nearest Boots. I had actually walked from the Park Place Apartments right downtown all the way over to the same Boots last year but since I was starting out here uphill from the apartments the route Google Maps took me on was different.
I actually turned off a parking lot early and accidentally found where the Revolution Laundrette is located. The machines are sitting right out front of the largest Tesco I've ever seen but there is nothing else there. I probably will just pay the cost to get my clothes cleaned here at the hotel again, dropping them off and picking them up again Saturday to pack before I leave for Galway on Sunday. I am paranoid about leaving my clothes or other wash unattended when I use laundromats anywhere back home, and would need to park somewhere where I could see the machines from my car and just wait in it the entire time. That's not really how I want to spend an hour and a half so I think the convenience of dropping my wash off at reception and picking it up again the next day is worth it.
The Boots is in the shopping center on the far side of the Tesco, which also has a branch of Marks & Spencer, the chain of catalog order stores Argos (Very little on display in the stores but a huge stock in the warehouse in back and what's not in stock there can be picked up the next day), and fortunately for me a branch of Costa Coffee which had iced coffee and cookies and premade sandwiches so I had lunch there.
And that was it for this afternoon. When I got back here I wanted to check out the underground parking and the parking on the side the woman at reception reminded me about last night and to pick up some snacks at the Centra next door. There are only six spaces in the covered "underground" parking and not many more spaces on the side.
When I got out of the car I thought the left front tire looked a little flat so before I took my purchases upstairs I dug out the paperwork from Enterprise and called the roadside assistance number listed. While I was waiting I dropped my stuff off up in my room, went back downstairs to wait outside, and was looking up tire repair places on Google on my Irish iPhone and had found Killarney Tyre Centre when I got a call from the dispatcher saying that was who was being sent.
The service guy took a look at the tire, checked the tire pressure of it and the other front tire, and told me that they both matched so they both should be good. He reminded me that if the low tire pressure indicator comes on the next time I drive the car I should just call again.
I just hung out here in my room relaxing for the next couple of hours. I called the Muckross Park Hotel after the box office for the Irish evenings in the pub there, Major Colgan's opened at 5:00 PM and was able to book a seat for tomorrow's dinner and show.
I was feeling reasonably well enough to walk downhill at 5:30 to have dinner before the show instead of driving down and parking. It was still grey and cloudy but not rainy or drizzly and not too windy although I was very glad I was wearing my sweatshirt. There are many places to eat on the way to the Killarney Avenue Hotel, which is where tonight's show is.
I really wanted to try Bricin where one of the house specialties is boxty, which as I said last night is the Irish version of a crepe or galette but using potatoes instead. When I got down there just after 6:00 and looked at their menu outside I noticed that they have an early bird price between 6:00 and 6:45 PM, and I was able to get a table without a reservation because they weren't busy yet. Dinner was excellent. I had today's soup, creamy pea and coriander, the boxty with chicken, and the fruit and berry crumble for dessert.
When I was last here in Killarney two years ago I had noticed a rather strange much older busker who although a very good guitarist and a decent vocalist seemed to specialize in anti-Trump songs of his own composing. He was back out again last night, and this time was wearing an obviously bad Trump wig. I didn't stop to listen to him.
When I got to the Killarney Avenue Hotel they hadn't set the box office up yet. I was still waiting for the woman working there to let me know she was ready when a couple of American tourists went past where I was sitting to pass me by. I was next, and I'm glad I was because as usual the first three rows on one side and the first half dozen or so on the other were all reserved for tour groups. I might have been the only person there who wasn't part of a tour group or family or some other group. I grabbed the aisle seat in the fourth row from the front, and oddly enough no one chose that row from either side. The row behind me only had three women in the seats nearest the aisle.
The Gaelic Roots show is as excellent as it was when I saw it two years ago and as the Celtic Steps show was last night even if they may not have any former world champion dancers in the ensemble. The mix of pieces, dance, instrumental, vocal, and the arrangements, choreography, and all the performances were top notch. I did find it amusing that the female vocalist and the three female dancers changed outfits almost every time they came out. This ensemble is much younger than the average age of the Celtic Steps performers, and are all probably in their very late teens to early 30s. There were two younger male dancers, the three female dancers, the female vocalist, a woman who played harp and fiddle, a guy on accordions, a flutist, a drummer who also played guitar and banjo, and a guy on keyboards.
It didn't take long for a cab to come after I called, and I had a very pleasant if brief chat with the driver on the way back up.
Tomorrow I need to be over at Major Colgan's a bit before 7:00 PM. This afternoon I was checking Google Maps for distances to and back from places I might want to visit while I'm still here in Killarney, which would basically be just tomorrow and Saturday since I'm going on the Ring of Kerry day trip on Friday. And Saturday I would really like to head over to Muckross House for lunch and a tour of the gardens and the Traditional Farms, so if I went anywhere else I'd want to be back there not much later than 2:00 PM.
I had thought I might want to go to Kenmare and the megalithic stone circle there, then go to the wonderful Irish archaeological theme park that is Bonane Heritage Park but it's over an hour from here to Kenmare, about half an hour from the stone circle to Bonane, then about an hour and a half to get back here.
On the other hand, it's only about half an hour from here to Ballymalis Castle, 15 minutes from there to Dunloe Castle which is on the grounds of the Dunloe Hotel and gardens and then less than half an hour back to here or a little longer than that to park downtown for a while.
I really don't think I want to spend a couple of hours in the car tomorrow, since on Friday I'll be spending the day on a bus tour, and on Sunday I'll be driving from here to Galway which is 2.5 hours directly from here, or 2 hours from here to the wonderful archaeological theme park of Craggaunowen, with a further hour from there to Galway. If the weather's decent on Sunday that's what I'll do; if it's mediocre to crappy I'll just take my time driving from here directly to Galway, planning on getting there early enough to have lunch somewhere before going to my hotel.
I had a change of plans today. I slept pretty well, and apparently long enough to not feel too tired when I woke up. I did, however, decide I didn't really want to do very much today at all after all. I have the Irish dinner & show at Major Colgan's this evening. I decided quite some time ago that I don't have to do something major every day I'm on vacation, so today I took the day off and treated it like I often do in St Augustinego somewhere for lunch and probably a snack and a pint on the way back to my hotel, then go back out again for dinner. I was going to walk downtown and have lunch somewhere and then ice cream at either Killarney or Murphy's ice cream but I just hung out here in my room until about 1:00 PM. I even skipped going downstairs for breakfast but had one of my Slimfasts and a cereal bar instead.
The first thing I wanted to do was to stop by the car to put on my rain jacket which I'd left in it, since the forecast for today was for possible showers or a thunderstorm. I also wanted to check the tire I thought looked low yesterday, and it didn't look any different. I was going to turn the engine on and see if the low tire pressure light came on but I think it's OK. I'll just make sure I leave early enough tomorrow before my Ring of Kerry day tour to have the tire changed if necessary and get a puncture repaired sometime Saturday.
When I was out at the car I thought I wouldn't even bother heading downtown just for lunch, since there's the Supermac's in the Centra right across the street. I thought it also might be fun actually seeing what the other shops are in that mini-mall as well (a butcher, and a pharmacy and a couple of others). I had a good grilled chicken sandwich with fries and garlic mayo with cheese. I then took a look in the very nice pharmacy there before coming back across the street to the Centra next door to the hotel to pick up some juices. And then I had a pint in the pub downstairs before coming back up to my room.
Because I already had a bag with my juices and my camera I forgot to stop by reception for a couple more laundry bags on my way in, and had to go back down for them.
I took a cab on over to the Muckross Park Hotel which is where Major Colgan's is located and back.
It's now just 10:30 and I got back from the Irish dinner & show a few minutes ago. Once again it was excellent. I really like the place, Major Colgan's. The food was very goodcreamed vegetable soup, grilled or broiled salmon with polenta and veggies, and local fruit and berries for dessert, along with a bottle of Killarney IPA and a pot of tea. The musicians were very good, three guys probably in their 30s to early 40sone on accordion and two who played guitar and sang. There were two younger women who danced, both sean nos and the newer tap-like style. All in all it was excellent and one of the best deals in townvery good food and an excellent show for 40 Euros total.
I was thinking that tomorrow I would drive down to go on the tour and then from there on over to the INEC for dinner and the concert (and I just reminded myself to take my ticket for the concert out of the envelope it came in from the box office and put it in my wallet, and did so). Because parking can be so tight here, especially late at night, I'm reluctant to drive anywhere if I don't have to.
When I kind of idly checked Google Maps to see how long it would take to walk from here to the depot where the coach leaves from it's a lot shorter than I imagined and only takes 25 minutes to half an hour depending on which route I take. And then when I checked how far it is from the tour depot to the INEC at the Gleneagle Hotel that's also only about a 20 minute walk, and is mostly flat. So tomorrow I'm going to leave the car, walk from here to the tour depot, then from there over to the concert, and take a cab back up the hill to here.
Then on Saturday, my last day here, I think I'll drive out to Muckross House & Gardens and back because I'll be back here early enough in the afternoon that finding a parking spot here should be no problem or at least a lot easier. Then Saturday night I'll walk downhill for dinner and take a cab back up here one last time.
It's now about 10:30 PM and I've actually been home for over four hours, I think. Today turned out to be a rather funny day, in both senses of peculiar and amusing.
I woke up about 7:00 AM after sleeping reasonably well last night. I wanted to drop off a couple of bags of laundry to be done and picked up back here at the hotel tomorrow before I leave for Galway on Sunday. Laundry has to be dropped off at reception before 8:00 AM for pickup and return the following day, and since I had planned on going to the concert at the INEC after the Ring of Kerry tour and not getting back here until late, I dropped my laundry off when I went downstairs for breakfast.
This morning I had a couple of fried eggs and some white pudding. I was getting ready to leave when I heard one of the waitresses asking an older gentleman if he wanted porridge for breakfast again. I didn't know porridge was available, and plan on asking for it tomorrow and again on Sunday.
It was while I was having breakfast that I heard other guests saying that a major storm, Hurricane Hannah, was expected to hit Ireland's West Coast--where Killarney is--by this evening. As usual I had checked my weather forecasts on my Kindle even before I got out of bed this morning but all I had seen was a forecast of high wind and possible thunderstorms, but I hadn't checked the alerts for this area.
I was outside in plenty of time to walk from here down to the "depot" for the Wild Kerry tours, but it was grey and cloudy and windy and chilly and I called a cab instead. Unfortunately this meant that I got down to the "depot" before 9:15, way too early for our 10:00 pickup. There was no one in the office, and so I had to just hang around outside waiting. It wasn't raining at the time, and I had my fleece vest on under my raincoat so I was OK. I was rather amazed at how often I was passed by jaunting carts coming back from Ross Castle so early in the morning.
It turns out that the place we were supposed to meet is basically the large parking lot for a house where a smaller van picks people up to take them to where we actually got on our real tour van, which was back downtown near one of the larger hotels.
I didn't really count but I think our van held about two dozen people. We had John, an older possibly retired gent as our guide, and Dennis, possibly in his 40s but with grey hair, as our driver.
The tour from Wild Kerry Tours went pretty much to all the same places the Deros Ring of Kerry tour I went on two years ago did.
This time I am not going to try and list all the places we stopped or just went through on this trip. We started out at the Kerry bog village and the wonderful Red Fox bar there, where this time I had an Irish coffee. The next stop was to see the same farmer, his trained sheepdogs, and his small collection of sheep from around the world. This was still very interesting and a lot of fun even if the weather today was quite a bit more blustery and cooler and at times it seemed as if the rain was blowing horizontally.
As we did on the Deros tour, we stopped for lunch at the wonderful Scarriff Inn where their costs for pretty good food are quite reasonable, considering all the tour buses on the route stop there. They do an amazing job of getting patrons through the line and even carry your food tray out to a table for you.
When we got to Scarriff it was pretty much fogged in there, but as we were having lunch the clouds began to break up with some sun. The weather continued to improve for a while, but eventually turned much worse with stronger winds and rain. I had left my real camera in the coach but used my Irish iPhone to take some pictures and then email them to myself so I can save them on my laptop and to post them on Facebook.
We very briefly stopped off in Waterville, most famous for being where Charlie Chaplin and his family spent their summers for many years.
Later we stopped off at the Molls Gap outlet of Avoca, which started off as a cooperative back in 1723 and has become one of Ireland's most prestigious craft design lines.
And coming back into town we briefly stopped at Ladies View which is a lovely scenic spot which gained its name due to a visit by Queen Victoria and her ladies in waiting.
Not everything we went past was mentioned by our guide, John. And I'm not entirely certain I even saw a couple of things I thought I did. As we were driving through an area very similar to the Burren I thought I saw what looked like a small megalithic monument and later on I thought I saw a small dolmen.
When we got back into town, the weather was windy, rainy, and because of the wind it felt quite a bit colder than it actually was. They let us off on the main street not far from where we had got on the smaller van and where the rest of the passengers had left their cars. This was about 4:30, three and a half hours before the house would open for tonight's concert.
Even if the weather was quite miserable then, I still wanted to go to the concert. I knew that if I called a cab to take me to the INEC, the temptation to just have it bring me back up here would be almost unbeatable. I knew that to get from where I was to the INEC should have been a 15 or 20 minute walk. It was about the worst weather I've been in for a very long time, but I have to admit that's because the last time I was in a hurricane at home I was safely inside the hotel where I was living while waiting for work to be done on my house.
I got to the INEC/Gleneagle Hotel probably between 5 and 5:30. When I got inside I realized that there was some sort of huge event going on, probably having something to do with Irish dancing since I saw lots of very young women and girls in what looked like Irish dance outfits.
I was sitting in a comfy chair within sight of the INEC ticket office trying to decide which of the hotel's restaurants I wanted to try and have dinner at before the show when my Irish iPhone rang, which rather surprised me. It was one of the women working the ticket desk just down the hall. She told me that the concert had to be cancelled/postponed due to the horrible weather. Although the two musicians were actually already in town, most of the people coming to the concert were coming in large tour groups and the forecast basically was try and stay inside and please don't drive anywhere until at least past 8:00 PM this evening. I told the ladies working the ticket desk that it was rather ironicalthough I live in South Florida my first hurricane experience of the year was here in Killarney, Ireland. They gave me a refund for my ticket and I went down to the hotel reception desk on the other side of the building to call a cab to take me back here to my hotel.
Before I left the ticket desk I asked the two lovely women working there what was going on today. It was indeed Irish dance related. I didn't recognize the initials of the organization putting it on, and their web site is currently down, but it's part of the 2019 world Irish dance championships/
It was too early for dinner when I got back so I just hung out here in my room until 7:30 PM or so. Because of the weather it was much busier in the bar than usual so several of us wound up being seated in the restaurant and also because it was busier than usual service was a little slower than usual as well. I still had a pretty good soup, dinner, and dessert.
After I got back to my room about 9:30 or so, I watched something streaming on one of my iPhones before beginning to type up my notes for today. Here's an article I found when I was checking the current weatherI can hear the wind from here in my room. The current weather forecast for tomorrow, Saturday, and my last full day here in Killarney before driving to Galway on Sunday, is for partly cloudy with a high temperature of around 50 F.
If the weather is decent tomorrow, I still plan on going out for lunch and to visit the Traditional Farm at Muckross House. If I go, I'll probably do pretty much as I did today and leave the car here at the hotel. Sometime I want to go to a larger supermarket and find a small boxes of quart and gallon zip top bags, which I was going to do tomorrow, but that can wait until Sunday when I drive to Galway. So if the weather is good tomorrow I'll walk downtown and take either the Big Red Bus or the shuttle out to Muckross House and back, probably hanging out downtown until having dinner somewhere before coming back up here to my hotel, getting my clean laundry, packing, and moving everything I won't need Sunday morning down to the car tomorrow night.
After yesterday's shorter but much more stressful day than expected I wasn't in a hurry to do much of anything today especially since I have a long drive tomorrow. I decided I'd just have lunch here in the area instead of walking downtown for lunch and taking a cab back up, then walking back downtown for dinner and taking a cab back here again afterwards.
I've been over to the Supermac's in the Centra across the street so that's where I went for lunch. On my way over I took a look at the tire on the car I thought had looked a bit flat a couple of days ago and it still looks the same as it did when the guy from Killarney Tyre Centre came and checked it when I called roadside assisance.
I had a good ham & cheese toastie sandwich and some seriously underdone curly fries at the deli. I had been meaning to see if I could find some quart and gallon zip top bags at either a Lidl or an Aldi sometime when I went past one, and there is a Lidl across the street from the mini-mall where the Centra with the deli and Supermac's is, and there is actually a crosswalk with a walk light at that intersection.
I can't remember if the other Lidls I've been to are like the one here, but this one is an odd but interesting blend of a discount grocery and a remaindered store like Big Lots back homegood deals but lots of perhaps lesser known brands. There was a wide mix of merchandise available including a tent, charcoal grills, and other things I might see at a Super Target at home. I did find zip bags with a better sealer than the ones I brought with me.
I had some mild stomach problems after lunch so I've basically just been hanging out here in my room since I got back. I did go downstairs to sit and read in the lobby while housekeeping wanted to clean my room.
I was going to walk downtown about 6:00 PM to find somewhere for dinner but my mild stomach problem reasserted itself so I decided I'd better not chance being too far away from a bathroom if I need one, and will just have dinner downstairs in the pub again.
I've already transferred my pictures from this past week from my camera to my laptop, and after I finish these notes I'll back everything up to my three USB external hard drives.
My laundry should be back about now, and I'll pick it up from reception after dinner. I'll sort out what I want to wear tomorrow and what I won't need before I leave in the morning, pack all that, and move most of my suitcases and bags down to the car. That way I'll hopefully only need to take one trip down with the rest of my luggage.
The weather tomorrow is supposed to be slightly better than it was today, mostly sunny and with a high of about 60 F instead of around 50 as it was today. I think I will take the stop at Craggaunowen on the way up to Galway.
I had another very good dinner in the hotel's restaurantgrilled salmon, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, the very local Killarney lager, and a sherry trifle for dessert. My laundry was indeed waiting for me to pick it up on my way back up here to my room. I've watched something streaming via the hotel's excellent wifi, and am going to start sorting and packing as soon as I back up my pictures and files from the laptop to my USB external hard drives. Then I'll take a couple of trips down to the car with stuff I won't need in the morning so I'll have less to take when I go downstairs for my last breakfast here before driving to Galway via Craggaunowen.
On the whole, this is a very good place to be based for visiting Killarney. It's quite accessible getting here, and is very convenient to downtown, just a 10 minute walk downhill. There are two convenience stores, one of which has a deli and a Supermac's, gas stations, an off license liquor store, a pharmacy, even a small butcher shop, and the Lidl all either across the street or next door. The hotel has its own pub and restaurant. My room is quite pleasant, with a small table and chair as well as the desk and its chair.
There are a few minor things I don't like, but they really are all relatively minor. There isn't as much parking as I'd like, and finding a spot can be a problem when you get here later in the evening or at night, but there's the parking around back which I don't think is used as often. For some reason, the hotel has no luggage carts although there may be a porter to help with taking luggage to and from guests' rooms. The duvet on the double bed is not much larger than the mattress itselfthat's fine for just me, but probably inadequate with two people in the bed. There may be rooms with accessible bathrooms but the shower in my bathroom is in a deep soaker tub which I have difficulty getting in and out of. The shower itself is a hand held model with OK shower pressure for getting rinsed. The water temperature control is a bit odd, and seems to fluctuate a bit more than I am used to. And although there is a mat for the shower, it's more dangerous to use than not using itfor some reason it doesn't stick to the surface of the tub but will slide right out from under you.
That's pretty much it for my complaints about this hotel.
Time to backup my files and photos and get started sorting, packing, and running stuff down to the car. More from Galway tomorrow night.
It's now about 12:15 AM Sunday night. Although I've been here in Galway since about 1:00 PM, and have even been back in my rooms since I got back from dinner around 8:30 I am only just now getting around to typing these notes for today.
I slept very poorly last night, possibly partly because for the first time while I was there I could hear semi-loud groups of people out in the hallway by my room between 3:00 and 4:00 AM. I then woke up around 6:30 and couldn't get back to sleep.
Around 8:00 I got up, took a shower and got dressed, and finished packing my toiletries and laundry and electronics I used last night. I took one last load down to put in my car and went back inside for breakfast. This time I had porridge and a couple of fried eggs, a glass of juice, and some tea.
When I checked out, filled the car's gas tank at the station/store next door (Applegreen and Centra), and headed out it was 10:30 AM. The weather in Killarney was grey and dreary with showers threatening and it stayed that way for almost the entire drive here.
If the weather had been better I would have been a lot more tempted to go to Craggaunowen, which I really enjoyed when I went there before, or even stopped in at Bunratty which I drove past but since the weather was mediocre I just wanted to get here to Galway as early as possible in the hope that I could beat any worsening weather.
The trip took me through Adare which is known for its collection of thatched roofs as well as a luxury hotel & golf course but is in reality a rather small town, or at least the part you drive through on the main road doesn't take too long to get through.
The route most of the time was on a good two lane road, and once I got past Limerick the road became a lovely four lanes and for a while was even divided.
I got to my hotel here in Galway about 1:00 PM, way too early for a room to be ready. This is a very nice hotel, and I've stayed here twice before. The first time I was in one of the normal hotel rooms, and the second time and this time I booked one of the small one bedroom apartments. They're a little further from the main lobby, reception desk, and the bar & restaurant where breakfast is served but it's almost faster go out the door near the fitness center and walk around the outside to the front than it is to go through the hotel to get there.
The bar, restaurant, and large lobby areas are all very nice and rather pretty. I had a pretty good lunch in the bar and then sat around reading in the lobby until after 3:00 PM when my mini-apartment was ready. There is a lot of parking in the main area by the street entrance and where the restaurant, bar, reception and lobby are located and quite a bit more around the side where the entrance to the fitness center is and a fairly large underground lot as well. I parked in the underground lot first, thinking that the elevator there would get me upstairs to the wing where my mini-apartment is but it doesn't and I had to exit that wing, go around the corner, and back into the wing where I'm staying.
After that first load, I brought my car back up to ground level and parked in the covered area just around the corner from the entrance to the fitness center and the elevator up to this level.
I really freaked myself out and scared myself when I was bringing my last load inside. There are actually two laundry "services" available here. One is the usual drop off your laundry at reception in the morning and pick it up that eveningsame day, unlike at Killarney Court where I was until this morning. The second is that guests staying in the mini-apartments have access to two washers and driers in a room at the end of the hall on the third floor.
This is where I freaked myself out. I was carrying my last two bags and put them down outside what I thought was the door to my unit, 122 on the first floor, when I tried to get back in and my key card didn't work. Instead of taking my bags with me on the long walk around to the reception desk and then back to my room, I just left them there.
There were three different lights I hadn't been able to figure out how to turn on and asked at reception if someone could come by and check the bulbs and the outlets. When I got back to my room one of the managers had just got here and was waiting, and I started panicking when I didn't see either of my two bags which I thought I had left just outside my door. The manager asked a couple of the housekeeping staff and I think a maintenance guy and the maintenance guy said he had seen a couple of bags which matched the description I had given the manager sitting outside the door to 222 right above my unit, and he brought them down for me.
The manager came back shortly after that with a few replacement light bulbs and got all the desk and floor lamps working.
This mini-apartment has a decent sized bathroom with lots of places to put things including around the tub/shower, which unfortunately is in another high, deep soaking tub which will be a nuisance getting in and out of. There is a small front hallway, leading to the bathroom, the bedroom which has a double and twin bed, closet space, a desk, and an armchair, and the living area/desk/dining area with a small table and three chairs, a sofa bed, another armchair and a kitchen with microwave, dishwasher, oven and stovetop, sink, cabinets, and a half size refrigerator. That means I can keep things like milk, some cheese, and yogurt as well as my Slimfasts and juices and sparkling water cold.
Oddly enough the chair for the desk in the living area isn't quite high enough and is just a bit uncomfortable to use but the dining table and chairs are just right. There isn't a plug over by that table, though, and my laptop says the battery is low although I am sure I actually shut it down last night. Once it's charged I think I'll use it at the table and put it back on the desk to charge when I'm not using it.
Many of the Irish and UK hotels where I've stayed have odd wiring. The bedroom here is wired like the first room I tried at the Park Inn at Shannon where I stayed my first night here in Ireland on this trip. Although there are lights between and next to the beds the lights all have odd plugs and I can't plug the extension cord I already had into those sockets. There are, however, several compatible outlets by the desk on the other side of the room. So I decided to leave unpacking most of my stuff until I got back after dinner and headed out to find an extension cord long enough to get from the outlet across the room along the side to where I wanted to plug the alarm clock in so I could see it while lying on my left side in bed.
I figured I had a couple of places where I should find an extension cord that was long enough. The Spar convenience store right across the street might have one, as might a hardware store somewhere nearby. I was pretty sure that I could find one at an Argos, the chain of catalog stores, and there is one not far from here and it was open until 6:00 PM.
The store was in one of the shopping malls right down the street from the Maldron Hotel Sandy Road where I stayed when I was here in Galway for Christmas 2017/New Year's 2018. At first I had problems looking up what I was looking for in the online catalog but when I asked one of the nice women working the customer service desk she told me I needed to try "extension lead" instead of "extension cord" which worked.
On previous trips I've enjoyed eating at the restaurant at the boutique hotel the Huntsman which is right down the hill within walking distance from here, so I used Google Maps to get there from the Argos and had a very pleasant meal of steamed mussels, a risotto, and dessert.
When I got back up here to the hotel, I parked the car in the corner of the front lot across the street from the small but very good Spar convenience store and went across for some yogurts, milk, and sparkling water. I then moved the car around the corner to park nearer the entrance to and elevator for the apartments.
I took a bit of a break after I got back and watched something streaming via the hotel's good and strong wifi before unpacking, sorting out, and putting away my electronics, toiletries, and enough clothes for the week. I also sorted out all my medications into my seven day containers, and put all my Frio diabetes shots coolers in the tub to soak after taking all the syringes out first. They are all drying in the tub and I'll put them away in the morning before taking my shower.
Tomorrow I'm going to walk on in to the Tourist Information Office to find out if there are any shows or concerts of Irish traditional music going on while I'm here. Tuesday I'm taking the ferry out to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran islands where I'll be spending the night. I've been there before but that was basically for only a few hours. I need to leave here before 8:30 AM to make sure I have more than enough time to drive out to the ferry terminal and get my ticket.
Then Thursday I'm taking another day coach tour out into Connemara to Cong and the lovely Kylemore, where it was pouring down rain when I was there last.
And that's it for tonight.
It's only 5:30 PM and it's not going to take me too much time to type up my notes for today.
My plans for today ran something like head into town for lunch, do something downtown, maybe come back up here before dinner, either go back downtown for dinner or find somewhere closer or even eat here in the hotel's restaurant. Accordingly I was not in a hurry to get started, so I had one of my Slimfasts (cold from the refrigerator here in my little kitchenette) instead of going around to have breakfast in the hotel.
I started off walking into town about noon, along a route that's familiar to me from when I stayed here in this same hotel twice before. It's pleasant if not particularly scenic most of the time, but it does pass right by the lovely New Cemetery Bohermore.
My first stop downtown was the Discover Ireland tourist information center where I picked up a copy of their latest listing of music and other events. I'll look at it later this evening, especially to see if anything is going on Wednesday after I get back from Inishmore.
It was actually rather busy downtown when I got to the Claddagh area. I couldn't remember exactly where one of my favorite little cafes, the one with a surprisingly wide and varied menu, is located or what it was called and probably walked right past it. Instead I carried on down by the river and around the corner to one of my favorite little cafe/tea shops anywhere, Cupan Tae (this one does have their own web site). It was rather busy when I got there, and got even busier while I was there, but I was able to snag a small table for two and had their lovely, wonderful afternoon tea for lunch. I stopped in at one of the local banks to change 20 Euros for ten 2 Euro coins, and at the local outlet of Murphy's ice cream because I like their products.
There are at least two hop on, hop off bus tours of Galway which leave from right across from Eyre Square, the big red bus tour run by Lally , and one by Dublin's Healy's Bus Tours . I chose the latter solely because the bus that was there at the time I got to that location was open top while the big red bus which was also there and left a little before it was closed.
I don't have a lot to say about the tour other than it was a bit chilly up top, the driver/guide was informative and entertaining, and the scenery was often lovely and enjoyable.
I then took a cab from Eyre Square back here to the hotel. When I got into my mini-apartment, I was rather amused to see that housekeeping had removed the two doorstops I was using which I had gotten from reception after I checked in yesterday afternoon. When I called reception to see if I could get a couple more, the lass on duty told me that housekeeping was only doing their job since officially the interior doors in these units are supposed to be fire retardant but she'd try and "sneak a couple" over to me, which someone delivered not long afterwards. I guess that when I leave during the day I'll just have to hide the doorstops so I'll still have them when I get back.
I'm going to stick closer to the neighborhood for dinner tonight, but leave the hotel. Not too far down the hill, but not as far as the Huntsman Inn where I had dinner last night is the shopping area where the Eye Cinema and a few other stores are located as well as another of my favorite cafes, the G Counter (great place, crappy and not updated web site). They're only open until 7:30 PM, so I need to leave here about 6:15half an hour from nowto have plenty of time to walk downhill and have dinner there.
To possibly save time tomorrow, I booked a ticket online for the boat out to Inishmore. The ferry leaves at 10:30 AM, I need to be there at least half an hour before leaving, and it takes at least an hour to drive there from here so I need to leave the hotel before 9:00 AM so I need to get up earlier than I usually do, especially if I want to take a shower and have breakfast here in the hotel first. I'm currently booked to take a later ferry back across late Wednesday afternoon but I might see if I can catch the noon ferry instead.
I'm not sure what I'll do on the island all day tomorrow. I might take one of the horse drawn carriages or one of the vans, especially if I can find someone to take me to most of the archaeological and historical sites which are my main interest. I'm spending the night at the Aran Islands hotel which is right in the center of the small town of Kilronan, the largest town on the island, so I hope to find somewhere nice for dinner and possibly to hear some traditional Irish music later as well. I also look forward to probably taking a short walk around town and down to the water before turning in for the night.
I opened the windows here in my mini-apartment before I left earlier to get some air moving, and they're still open now. I'm pretty sure that I've either been hearing some activity from the fitness center here in the hotel, just down the hallway, or from the athletic field adjacent to this end of the property.
It's 6:00 PM now. Time to pop into my bathroom before walking downhill to the G Counter for dinner.
It's now about 7:45 PM, and I am back from dinner and in for the evening. It'll feel like an odd eveningafter 8:00 PM, I won't have anything I actually need to do, just relax and hope I can fall asleep more easily and perhaps earlier than usual.
The walk downhill was very pleasant. Dinner at the G Counter was pretty good as well. The creamed roasted onion and parsnip soup was delicious. The lamb burger was OKthe meat and feta cheese were pretty good, the bun was good, but there was so much stuff piled on top that it was kind of difficult to eat as a burger so I took it off the bun and cut it up. The G Counter is also a bakery, so I got a piece of their carrot cake to go for later.
It was interesting when I called for a cab to come and pick me up, because as the cabby pointed out when he got there the G Counter doesn't seem to have a sign out front with their name on it.
I'm not going to take my laptop with me tomorrow, just a small notepad to write down where I go and what I do while on the island. I usually don't use a book pack at home anymore since I started reading things on my iPhone or on one of my Kindles instead of in print, but I brought one with me specifically for use on my day trips away when I'll be spending the night somewhere else. That way I can pack a change of clothes, my toothbrush, a USB charger and adapter and cable for my phone, and my camera battery charger and adapter. I'll probably start out wearing my sweatshirt vest, sweatshirt, and rain jacket when I leave tomorrow morning and might wind up sticking either of the two sweatshirts in my pack before I check in to my hotel for the night.
The drive out to the ferry port at Rossaveal yesterday morning was rather pleasant, once I got through morning rush hour here in Galway city. The route took me through by now familiar territory, Salthill, Barna, and into the Burren .
The facilities at the ferry port are pretty rudimentary, with no restroom anywhere I could see. There's a customer car park (it cost me 5 Euros from 10:00 yesterday morning to 1:00 PM today, so that's very reasonable), and the ticket office in what is basically a trailer. These are a few minutes walk away from the boat dock itself. The only thing there at the dock is parking for the buses picking people up and dropping them off.
The ferry was pretty good sized, with restrooms down on the lower deck. I sat on the top deck for the scenery, as usual. There seemed to be a few large tour groups, mostly foreign apparently, although I did hear one Irish guy who told someone else he coordinates bike tours. One tour group was Italian, with a lovely younger guide and several older women, one of whom sat next to me and tried to carry on a conversation. I ran into them all a couple of times later.
The weather was decent if cold, and the seas were rough enough that I stayed in my seat the whole time. Lots of people, though, were standing up in their seats and the aisles and along the railing largely blocking out the view from where I was sitting. It was amusing later watching many of them staggering and stumbling around on the deck.
We got to the island and began disembarking about 11:30 AM. As usual, there were a few tour guides and horse cart drivers trying to drum up business all the way down by the boat.
My main priority was to find my hotel and drop off my pack so I wouldn't have to carry it around for the rest of the afternoon. The hotel was further than I had thought, not right near the ferry terminal but about a 10 minute walk away along a rather flat street.
I rather liked the exterior of the hotel. The main building itself is quite nice, and right next to it are two large, semi-permanent tents for weddings and special events. Adjacent to the main building are what look mini-cabins or small bungalows although there doesn't seem to be any mention of these on the hotel's web page. I really liked the lobby area as well.
There really isn't that much to Kilronan, the largest town on Inishmore and where the passenger ferries land. Nearest to the ferry terminal are a couple of large B&Bs, a couple of bike rental places, the visitors centre and public toilets, parking for the hop on, hop off tour vans and horse carriages, the Aran Sweater Market and one other tourist shopping outlet, and a branch of Spar, an Irish convenience store chain, as well as the Bayview Restaurant where I stopped on the way back into town after dropping off my pack. I had a very good lunch and dessert there although service was slower than it should have been considering there were two guys working the tables and not that many customers.
I had a small table looking out the window towards the water, and while I was having my lunch I kept seeing an older gentleman with his horse and small carriage. From where I was sitting, I couldn't tell if the carriage would be large enough for me to get sufficient leg room for my knees and I was planning on going closer to the ferry dock to see if any larger carriages were available but the driver and his cart were still outside the restaurat when I went back outside and hired them for the day.
I've always been a terrible judge of age but I think Michael, my driver, was perhaps in his late 60s or early 70s. Hiring a personal cart and driver for the day wasn't cheap80 Euros for 4 hoursbut I was his only passenger for the entire afternoon. We went over the map and plotted out where I wanted to go, and after we had made the trek to Dun Aengus at the far end of the island from the ferry dock and I had made the somewhat treacherous (for me, at least) climb to the top and back with a stop at the fudge shop for some fudge for later and an iced coffee, Michael and I talked about what other sites we could see from the road or that wouldn't require such a steep, strenuous walk to get to. From Dun Aengus we made our way over to the Seven Churches and then back along the coastal road into town.
Throughout the afternoon I had a chance to talk with Michael, who was a very nice man, about the history of Inishmore and the Aran Islands and what it was and had been like to live there.
I had asked Michael if he could at least get me close to my hotel and he took a short cut past a place I had been interested in visiting, Joe Watty's bar & restaurant where we stopped long enough for me to use the restroom and have a diet Coke. This route bypassed going back along by the ferry terminal and through downtown.
It was about 5:00 PM when I got to the hotel. I checked in, went up to my room, and unpacked my pack for the night. I made a cup of decaf coffee, and after I made sure that my brother Michael was at home and not busy I gave him a call for a bit of a chat.
I had liked the Bayview restaurant when I had lunch there, but had noticed that Joe Watty's would be having live music that evening. I had liked it when I was there for my brief bathroom break so I went back there for dinner. I took the long way around along the water, because it had turned out to be a very lovely evening.
Dinner at Joe Watty's was very good if busy so service was occasionally slow. The musician started about 8:00 PM so I had a chance to hear him from my table until I finished dinner and dessert about 9:00. He was pretty good, and did some Irish tunes and some rock covers as well.
Along the 15 minute walk from Joe Watty's back to my hotel I started having some stomach problems and hoped it was mostly indigestion and that I'd be able to make it to the bathroom downstairs in my hotel if not up to my own room which I actually did. After I used my bathroom I went down to the hotel's bar/restaurant where I was one of the very few patrons at that time. This is a great bar, beautifully and comfortably decorated. I had a pint of hard cider and went back up to my room.
I had a very pleasant night and slept reasonably well but for nowhere near long enough, waking up after only about 4 hours sleep. My plan was to walk into town about 10:00 or 10:30 to have time to visit the Aran Sweater outlet and the other shop before having to board the ferry around 11:45. However, after I had some very good porridge and fried eggs for breakfast in the lovely restaurant I was still having some stomach problems and decided to stay closer to a bathroom for the time being. There was a shuttle leaving the hotel for the ferry dock about 11:30 so I stayed for that and was still having some stomach problems around 10:45.
The noon ferry wasn't as crowded as the one going out yesterday morning had been, since most people prefer to catch the 5:00 PM boat back. I stayed in one of the seats on the rear top deck.
The weather had been OK all morning, but shortly after we got back and I had paid for my parking it began drizzling which it continued to do all day and into the evening.
I had planned on stopping at the Craft Village in Spiddal and probably having lunch in the café there but it was drizzly and I wasn't feeling very well still so I decided to just press on back to the hotel. When I got to the small church in Spiddal something was finishing and for some reason there was a traffic jam from there on for quite a while, with the lead vehicle traveling at less than 20 kph which was well under the speed limit.
Instead of going out along the water through Salthill, this time Google Maps bypassed most of downtown and I wasn't sure where I was most of the time until I arrived onto the street the convenience store across the street from the hotel is on.
I really didn't feel well enough for much of a lunch so I had one of my Slimfasts, one of my yogurts, and a couple of small pieces of cheese.
I then took the rest of the day off, trying to rest and make up for not having had enough sleep last night. I unpacked my pack and wandered through the hotel to get to the bar/restaurant to have dinner, which was pretty good although service was slower than usual probably due to the large number of people in the bar watching a soccer game on TV.
And that's it for the last two days.
I have to be at the Galway bus station by 9:45 AM tomorrow to check in for my day tour to Connemara, Cong, and Kylemore. It's about a half an hour walk from here to there, so if the weather is good I'll walk in leaving here before 9:00. I think I'll have dinner downtown before catching a cab back here.
Friday is my walking tour of Galway at 11:00 AM. I'll also probably go to the Cathedral, St Nicholas's church, and the Claddagh church in the afternoon if not during the tour.
And on Saturday I want to go out to Salthill and the Prom there and stop by the Long Walk downtown and whatever churches I don't get to tomorrow.
Sunday I drive from here to Dublin and return the car at the airport before taking a cab back to my hotel with all my stuff. I know from experience it's easier being dropped off by cab at the hotel instead of driving to the hotel, unloading everything, and trying to leave again.
It's a bit past 11:15 PM, and although I've been home for a few hours I'm just getting around to typing up my notes for today.
I changed my plans for today and still had a very nice and pleasant time.
When I woke up this morning, with plenty of time to walk down to the bus station for the all day tour I had already booked, I was still having some mild stomach problems and decided I really didn't want to be on a bus all day and should probably stay near a bathroom for a bit at least. Breakfast here in the hotel is until 11:00 AM, so I hung out here until around 10:00 AM before making my way through the hotel to the very nice bar/restaurant. I had tea, juice, porridge, and a couple of fried eggs.
When I got back to my room I saw that someone from housekeeping was working in it, which was fine with me since they had skipped it both days on Tuesday and Wednesdaypretty much I just wanted the trash taken out and the bath mat/rug changed since the last time I took a shower I hadn't noticed it had actually slid into the tub from the side and got soaked. I went down to the end of the hall on the side towards the athletic field adjacent to the property and leaned against the window sill and read on my iPhone until I could see her finish with my room.
My plans for today, which I pretty much kept to, were to go to, in the following order: the lovely New Cemetery on Bohermore Road, which I regularly go past on my to and from downtown; the small but very pretty church for the Franciscan Abbey; then on to the wonderful Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven & St Nicholas whose name makes me laugh because it should really be punctuated Cathedral of Our Lady (Assumed into Heaven) & St Nicholas instead of Cathedral of Our Lady (Assumed into Heaven & St Nicholas); from there I walked on to the very small but very lovely Dominican Claddagh church, St Mary's; and then across the narrow Corrib River and around to the also small but very pretty Augustinian church before making my way to the wonderful and charming church of St Nicholas. I planned on stopping for lunch somewhere along the way but I had breakfast about 10:30 AM after all. All in all the two longest stretches were from here to the cemetery and from there to the Franciscan friary, each of close to 20 minutes.
From the cemetery to downtown is rather boring but there are some interesting buildings along the way and the scenery and buildings improve in attractiveness from the bus station on. I kept going a little past the Franciscan friary first before going in because I recognized the neighborhood and knew the lovely and very pleasing Town Hall Theatre and the Courthouse right across the street from the theatre were just up the street.
The short walk from the Friary over to the Cathedral goes down to and across the River Corrib and is especially pretty down by the river which runs along one side of the cathedral property. When I got to the cathedral a whole bunch of people who were obviously on one of the tour busses in the parking lot were on their way out, and as I was leaving a whole different bunch were on their way in, but I still managed to get lots of pictures of the beautiful interior.
The route from the cathedral over to the Claddagh church also goes alongside the river. On the way is Nun's Island. I can't find any info about the island but it is the home to the very small Nun's Island Theatre . Also on the way to the church is Monroe's, which also has the small theatre/event venue Monroe's Live where I went to hear a band I was interested in on one of my earlier trips here to Galway.
Not only is the Claddagh church very pretty in itself, it is located right adjacent to where the River Corrib flows into Galway Bay with the Long Walk right across the river.
By now it was close to 3:00 PM and I hadn't passed anywhere I really had wanted to have lunch so I stopped in at Cupan Tae for a snack and some tea. I didn't want to eat too much because I planned on having dinner earlier than usual before I took a cab back here to the hotel.
From Cupan Tae I wanted to go to the church at the Augustinian abbey before St Nicholas's church because it was closer and I did. When I got to St Nicholas's a small tour group was there already so I listened to the tour guide a bit before they left.
When I left St Nicholas's it was still before 5:00 PM. I had three optionscatch a cab back here to the hotel and have dinner here again; catch a cab back here for an hour or two, call another cab to take me back to Eyre Square to have dinner somewhere downtown and then take another cab back up here; or kill some time before having dinner downtown sometime after 6:00. I decided to do the latter.
While I am downtown sometime in the next few days before I leave for Dublin on Sunday I wanted to find three things: some more Slimfast at a Boots; the music store somewhere between Eyre Square and the Spanish Arch where I had seen the Irish song book for ukulele and buy a copy for my NY/Tuxedo Park and Carolina faires friend Cat/Lady Prudence, and I didit's Opus II ; and find some more styluses for my iPhones and tablets. The only thing I could not do is find any styluses I likeno mobile phone outlet or repair place carries any in Killarney or Dingle and only one booth/kiosk in the Eyre Square Centre carries any at all and those have little cords on one end to attach to specific mobile phones or cases.
As I came into the Eyre Square Centre and went up to the first floor I saw my first Starbucks here in Ireland, so I had an iced coffee and read for a bit before heading out to find somewhere for dinner. One of my favorite restaurants for dinner in downtown Galway is the lovely Venice which I like because not only is it a very pleasant place with nice, helpful, friendly staff but they have two kinds of risotto regularly on their menu so that's where I went tonight and had a wonderful mushroom risotto, a pint of Peroni, and panna cotta for dessert.
I then walked back up to Eyre Square to catch a cab back here to my hotel.
I take most of my pictures on my Nikon because I take a lot of them but throughout the day I also take a few on my iPhone specifically for posting to Facebook once I get back to my hotel or wherever I'm staying that has wifi, and I posted these right after I got back to my room. I usually don't look at Facebook until later that evening, as I did tonight, and saw that not only had some of my friends liked some of my pictures but someone at the restaurant had shared my Facebook post which I enjoyed.
Today for the first time this trip I saw the amusing and fun Galway tourist train which hasn't updated the info on their web page for a couple of years, but I might ride around on it just for fun.
So what am I going to do my last two days here in Galway, tomorrow and Saturday?
Tomorrow I plan on going on an hour and a half walking tour of Galway, meeting downtown at 11:00 AM. Normally if the weather is nice I'd walk downtown but since I'll be going on an hour and a half tour once I get there I think I'll take a cab instead.
After the tour I'll have lunch somewhere and probably ride the circuit on the Galway tourist train and then go to the Galway City museum, which is one of my favorite museums and one of my most favorite municipal, city owned museums anywhere. I'll probably have ice cream at Murphy's and tea back at Cupan Tae or iced coffee somewhere else. There is supposed to be music in the bar here on Friday and Saturday evenings so I think I'll come back up here for dinner and either hang around until the music starts or go back down then.
One of my favorite songs, and that of several of my Ren Faire friends as well, is Steve Earle's "Galway girl". Here's a video of the man himself performing it with Sharon Shannon.
In the song he talks about a "fine soft day" which I always thought was a nice, pleasant sunny day but I was wrong.
He also talks about two of my favorite places here in Galway, the Long Walk down by the Spanish Arch, and the Promenade or Prom out in Salthill. I think I'll go take pictures of both on Saturday. Usually I've driven out to Salthill but since that would mean I'd have to find somewhere to park down near the Spanish Arch I think I'll walk downtown after breakfast, take pictures of the Arch and the Long Walk, then take one of the hop on, hop off tour buses out to Salthill for lunch somewhere and then take pictures along the Prom. For some reason I've never been to the National Aquarium out in Salthill on any of my trips here and so I'll probably do that when I go out to the Prom.
Also on Saturday I should either do a load of laundry myself in the laundry room at the far end of the hall upstairs on the third floor, which is free but for which I'd need to buy detergent and I'm not sure how small a bottle I can get at the Spar across the street (maybe I'll check tomorrow) or drop it off at reception in the moring and pay to have it done. There is nowhere to sit or anything to do upstairs in the laundry room so doing it myself would require taking it up to put in the washing machine, coming back down here, going back upstairs later to put it in the dryer, coming back down here again, going back upstairs again to get it out of the dryer, and coming back down here with it. I admit it, that doesn't sound like a fun way to spend a couple of hours so I think I'll just pay to have it done for me.
On Sunday I drive from here to the Enterprise car return at the Dublin airport before taking a cab with all my stuff back downtown to the Jury's Inn on Parnell Street. Earlier this evening I took a look at my Irish road atlas to check and see if there's anywhere interesting between here and there worth stopping to take a look at or visit. About the only place during the two hour trip possibly worth visiting is the small town of Athenrye which for some reason I have no interest in doing so once again I'll probably get to my hotel in Dublin too early to check in but I can leave my stuff and go have something for lunch and maybe wander around for a bit before moving into my room.
It's now past 1:00 AM. I'm actually feeling a bit of low blood sugar because I had dinner quite some time ago. Earlier I was going to have a slice of coffee cake I bought at the Starbucks with an iced coffee I made and left back on the counter in the kitchen area when I had to move my laptop from the table there back here to the desk to plug it in after the battery died. Maybe I'll just have one of my Slimfasts and go to bed instead.
As usual it's a bit past 11:30 PM and I'm just getting around to typing up today's notes even though I've been back here in my room since about 10:00. It's not going to take me too long to write everything up, because I didn't do all that much and there's not much to describe about what I did.
I sometimesa lot more frequently than I would likedon't sleep long enough, and that includes at home, in the hotel where I lived for almost two years while waiting for my homeowner's mold & water damage claim to be settled, when I travel domestically, or when I travel internationally, it doesn't seem to matter where, sometimes I will sleep pretty well but wake up after only a couple of hours and not be able to get back to sleep.
That was the case last night. I woke up this morning after less than five hours of sleep and felt quite mediocre and a good bit more dizzy than normal. I thought and hoped that breakfast might help me feel better but it didn't as much as I hoped, so I hung out here in my room afterwards and instead of walking into town for lunch I took a cab from here down to Eyre Square.
A couple of years ago I read an interview with one of the kids of the founders of McCambridge's, downtown Galway's best food shop, who is now running the place with a couple of her siblings. The interview also mentioned that there is a small restaurant upstairs, and when I was last here in Galway I ate there and liked it very much so that's where I had lunch today.
There were lots of buskers out and about between Eyre Square and down by the river and I stopped to listen to several of them.
After lunch I rode a circuit around on the small Galway Tourist Train which does go some places downtown other tours do not. I even learned a couple of things about Galway I didn't know before but of course don't remember what they were. It was a lovely day today, almost warm when I was in the sun and out of the light wind.
After the tourist train I went to my favorite place, Cupan Tae, just for a pot of tea this time, and then called for a cab to bring me back up the hill to the hotel. I had the driver let me off in the far front corner right by the crosswalk across the street to the small but very nice Spar convenience store so I could pick up a couple more juices and some other snacks.
About 7:30 PM I went over for another nice dinner in the hotel's bar, where I hung out until past 9:00 when some musicians were going to play. I didn't stay very long, and not because they weren't any goodthey were all excellent musicians and vocalists but they were doing old rock covers including Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Elvis, none of which I dislike but not really what I want to hear while here in Ireland.
After I came back up to my room I sorted out my dirty laundry in preparation for filling two or three bags to drop off at the reception desk before 8:00 AM tomorrow for pickup tomorrow evening. I'll then pack most of what I won't need Sunday morning before I leave here for Dublin and take a load or two down to my car.
So what am I going to do between breakfast and dropping off my dirty laundry and doing some packing tomorrow night? I might come back up and try and take a nap for an hour or two.
I didn't make it to the Galway City Museum or the Long Walk today, so that will be my first stop tomorrow. According to Google Maps, they're a 40 minute walk from here. I also want to continue out to Salthill, the Prom and the National Aquarium there and probably have lunch somewhere nearby. I could either take the Tourist Train from right by the Spanish Arch and the City Museum, go back up to Eyre Square and take either of the other two hop on, hop off bus tours, or according to Google Maps it's only another 30 minute walk on flat terrain from the Museum out to the Aquarium.
I'll then probably take one of the tour buses back downtown. I'm probably not going to hang around downtown late enough to have dinner somewhere there, or stay and listen to music either since that doesn't even start until after 9:00 PM most places and I want to do some packing before I go to bed.
11:30 PM on my last day here in Galway.
I had another very nice day, with very lovely and almost warm weatherI did see lots of people not wearing jackets or sweaters but I was very glad I was wearing one every time I went in the shade.
I had a change of plans this morning, as usual because of how I felt after I got up. I had wondered if there was too much ambient light coming in my windows, even if my room doesn't face East, and if that was what was keeping me from getting back to sleep when I've been waking up far too early, so last night I pulled the curtains in the bedroom shut. It might have worked. I think I did fall asleep again after I woke up around 5:00 AM and woke up when my alarm clock went off at 7:00 AM.
When I went to breakfast about 7:30 I took 3 bags of laundry over to reception for pickup and cleaning today. This time instead of porridge I had a bowl of a mix of three of the cold cereals they had out (I'm going back to porridge tomorrow for my last breakfast here),
When I woke up this morning I was feeling quite a bit more stuffy headed than I have been, and also a bit but noticeably dizzy. I decided I didn't feel like walking into town, then walking on over to Salthill, and I didn't want to get to Salthill too much before lunch time anyway, so I took a cab from here to the beautiful if little Circle of Life commemorative garden which I have loved since I first discovered it 13 years ago when my CIE tour stayed in the Salthill hotel which is right next to it.
After having a very pleasant wander around the garden I walked a bit further up the road to the famous diving tower before turning around and heading back towards town. The last time I was out at Salthill, either this time of year in 2017 or Christmas 2017/New Year's 2018 I had an excellent lunch in the Galleon which is out there, and I went there again today. I had some excellent creamy vegetable soup, crab cakes and sweet potato fries.
The other reason I wanted to go out to Salthill, in addition to taking pictures of the Prom to post on Facebook later, was to finally visit the Atlantaquaria, Ireland's national aquarium. It's rather small but very well done and more than worth the small admission price.
I had thought of walking the flat terrain back to town but was still feeling a bit dizzy and wanted to get to the Galway City Museum in time for a visit before they closed for the day at 5:00 PM, and when I left the aquarium it was about 3:45 so I called a cab to come get me.
When I got there, I saw they had taken down the construction fencing around the Christopher Columbus memorial which was there yesterday.
I love the GCM; it's one of my favorite small museums and municipal museums as well. I always enjoy it, even if as usual I don't take the time to read all the very well done, informative signs. On a lovely day like today the views of Galway Bay and across the Corrib River from the second/first floor are wonderful.
When I left the museum I heard my first busker for today, a guy playing button accordion right under the Spanish Arch.
It was now shortly before 4:30. I was able to get a small table at my favorite place, Cupan Tae, where I had a pot of another of their delightful specialty teas.
I decided I wouldn't call a cab to take me back up to have dinner here the hotel but would kill time until sometime after 6:00 PM and find somewhere to eat down in the Latin Quarter. I stopped at the Costa Coffee right around the corner from Cupan Tae for an iced coffee.
As I was wandering back up towards Eyre Square, I kept hearing excellent buskers every half a block or so and stopped to listen to several of them until the pot of tea and the iced coffee I had just had made it a very good idea to go find one of the public toilets up around Eyre Squareand unlike ones I've used in London or Paris, I only use the ones at Eyre Square in cases of emergency, which this was becoming.
On a previous trip here to Galway I had an excellent dinner at Finnegan's, which is in one of the oldest surviving buildings in Galway, largely as a result of having seen someone with a large placard for the restaurant along the pedestrianized area between Eyre Square and Jury's Inn down by the river. Oddly enough I couldn't find it on Google Maps or even in Google at the time, although I just did, and hoped I'd see someone with the same placard once again, and did.
I had creamy vegetable soup, a ham and cheese wrap, and ice cream for dessert.
I then called a cab to bring me back up here to the hotel.
This time I got out at the entrance to the lobby by the reception desk. The laundry had come back. At first the woman at the desk could only find two bags, but when I mentioned I had dropped off three she looked again and found all my shirts on hangers. You go down several hallways and take an elevator and go down some more hallways to get from reception to my room here in the D wing. I asked the woman who was helping me if someone could give me a hand getting my laundry from there back here to my room. I told her it might be amusing for me to take one of the luggage carts with my laundry but someone would then have to come get the cart and bring it back.
That's basically what happened, except the guy who helped me had to find a cart with a place to hang my shirts before wheeling it through the building to get here. I, on the other hand, took the shorter route of going outside from reception, around the corner, and back in through the entrance by the athletic club, up one floor in the elevator, and down past a few rooms to my own.
I copied this week's photos from my camera's memory card over to the laptop while I was watching something streaming. When I was done watching my program, I sorted out the laundry and packed everything except my electronics, toiletries, the clothes and cap I'm going to wear tomorrow, and any groceries that don't require refrigeration. I took one of my suitcases, my camera, a bag with the rest of my caps, and my hat box downstairs to put in the car so I'll have less to carry down in the morning.
I'd never gone out of or tried to come in that entrance late at night before. There's a button you push to unlock the door from the inside so you can leave but I didn't hear it and waited until someone wanted to come in and use the gym and buzzed the attendant to get let in, which is what I did after dropping the stuff off in my car.
I have really liked staying here this time and each of the other two I've been here but there are some very minor things I don't like. I already mentioned that the chair here at the desk where I have my laptop is just a bit too low, but that's mostly OK. As with bathrooms in many other hotels I've stayed in, some of them very nice, there isn't even a hook on the back of the bathroom door to hang a towel from. Here you have to leave the towel on the nice shelf behind the toilet and tub. And the tub in my bathroom is another high soaker tub I've had a bit of trouble getting and out of each day.
The last problem has fortunately been more of a technical nuisance than anything else. When I got here last Sunday, April 28th, login to the various wifi for the different parts of the hotel was open. This was changed on May 1st, 5 days ago, and now requires going through a login screen that asks for your name and email or Facebook. The problem with this is that both of my Kindles think they get logged in to the wifi but never bring up the new login screen. Both of my iPhones and the laptop have no problem with the new interface and always bring up the new login screen.
It's now 12:15 AM and I'm almost done for today. I want to back up my files and this week's new pictures to my three USB external hard drives. I'll then have a late night snack I probably should have had before I started on these notes and watch another streaming program on one of my iPhones during which I might fall asleep.
It takes just over two hours to get from here to the Enterprise car return at the Dublin airport. I'll take a cab from there back to my hotel, and will probably be too early to check in but I can at least leave all my bags with reception while I either have lunch there in the hotel or find somewhere else nearby in the area.
Monday I have the first of my trips/excursions/shows while in Dublin, an all day bus trip to the Hill of Tara and the megalithic site at Newgrange.
I skipped having breakfast downstairs in the hotel but had one of my Slimfasts instead. I took two trips to take the rest of my stuff downstairs to pack in the car, drove around to the entrance near reception on the way out to check out, and was on the road to Dublin by 10:30 this morning.
The weather this morning was perfect for driving, partly cloudy if rather chilly for me (around 50 F).
The route from Galway to Dublin is mostly along two honest to goodness, real highways, even with the occasional service center, the N/M 6 out of Galway connecting with the M4 into town. Traffic was quite light this morning, perhaps because today is the middle of the May three day bank holiday.
I got to the Dublin airport and to the Enterprise car rental, which is the last of them, about 1:00 PM, two and a half hours from leaving my hotel in Galway. The guy who was helping me very kindly drove the car around to right by the main office there so we could just pile my stuff up in a handy location while I waited for a cab.
It only took about half an hour to get from the car rental out at the airport to my hotel downtown. The driver was a really nice guy, and we had a very pleasant visit and he helped me bring all my stuff into the hotel.
Not only was I too early to check in, the hotel was having major computer problems with their reservation network. I was able to leave all my bags back in a secured area behind the reception desk, though, and they hoped that the computers would be working again before check in at 3:30.
For some reason I really felt like having some Japanese food for lunch, so I went down to and around the corner and walked down O'Connell Street to have lunch at Fujyama, a small sushi & Japanese restaurant I've been to before.
Here in Dublin they have three hop on, hop off bus tours including one from Big Bus Tours and City Sightseeing Tours who both also run tours in many other places I've been. I chose to ride with Dublin Bus's green DoDublin tours because they're independent and local. Of course the tours go to pretty much all the same places and in much the same order anyway.
By the time I got back to the hotel it was about 5:00 PM. I was able to check in and get a room, although they were doing all that manually since the computer hadn't come back up yet. I'll have to stop off by the reception desk in the morning to sign the forms and give them my credit card #.
The guy from reception who was helping me very kindly grabbed a luggage cart, loaded all my stuff on it, and brought it all up here to my room. When I got here, I noticed that apparently the room had been booked for someone celebrating their birthday here because there were balloons on the bed, and some chocolates and a birthday card on the desk.
I unpacked and put away stuff, then sat in the very comfortable armchair and read until about 7:30 PM. I forget where I went for dinner.
This hotel is in a very good area, which is why I've been here twice before. It's within a few blocks of the Liffey down O'Connell Street, with all restaurants, stores, and pubs along the way. Just up on the corner with O'Connell Street is the Parnell heritage pub & grill, a very nice older establishment. And along Parnell Street are at least two shopping centers, one with a multi-screen movie and IMAX theatre, several restaurants and pubs, a very good Aldi and a LIDL as well as a good Tesco and a Centra. I stopped in at the Aldi just before they closed to pick up some cookies and juice and some milk to have with some decaf coffee.
I then watched something streaming via the hotel's wifi. All five of my devicesare had no problems logging in to the hotel's wifi so they're all back in business.
Three of my Ren Faire performer friendsVince, hammer dulcimer, New York Ren Faire; Victoria/Lady Victoria, hammer dulcimer; Cat/Lady Prudence, vocals, ukulele, a type of harpare touring in Europe separately right now. Vince and Victoria are in Italy. Cat was in Inverness and Glasgow in Scotland, and when I looked her up on Facebook tonight I saw she may be in Dublin for a day or two before I move on to London a week from tomorrow. I've been rather in love with Cat since the first time I heard her sing, and would love to spend any time with her while we're both here in Dublin.
It is now slightly past midnight. I need to be up about 7:00 AM to make sure I'm at the departure point which is 10 minutes walk from here by 8:45 for my day trip to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange. I'm rather tired at the moment but not quite sleepy, so I think I'll spend a few minutes going over my lists of what's here in Dublin to determine what I really want to see before going to bed.
I had a rather unexpected change of plans this morning which led to a very nice, very low key kind of a day, much like my favorite kind of day when I'm up in St Augustine.
When I finally went to bed and fell asleep late last night, I fully intended to wake up early enough this morning to put all my medicine syringes back into the Frio diabetes syringe cooling travel cases which were drying out in the tub after having been soaked last night, shower, get dressed, have breakfast downstairs, and then walk the 15 minutes to the pickup point for the 10:00 AM tour to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange. My body, however, apparently decided it wasn't satisfied with the less than five hours of sleep nightly I'd been getting for a while. Although I did wake up before my alarm clock went off about 7:00 AM, I turned it off, went back to bed and pretty much slept until shortly after 10:00 AM.
I lazed around for about half an hour before putting all my diabetes syringes back in their cases. I am not at all pleased with this current batch of the cases, which are leaking out droplets of the gel that absorbs water and somehow keeps the contents cool. I am definitely going to toss them all when I get back home. Although I will be traveling to different Ren Faires after I get back and will be gone for over three weeks on one occasion, the main difference between this trip and those is that I will be staying in places that have at least a mini-size refrigerator. This trip it won't be until I get to my Airbnb rental in Paris that I'll have a refrigerator.
When I was getting ready to take a shower, I noticed that reception had slipped a note under my door requesting me to stop by and give them my credit card when I had a chance, so I did when I left for lunch about 1:00 PM.
The weather today was pretty nice, if mostly to partly cloudy and chilly to me.
I knew from looking online that the Ilac shopping center right down the street supposedly has several mobile phone or repair shops so I thought I'd see if I could find any styluses there. The other parts of the center may be nicer but the area closest to the entrance nearest my hotel is pretty run down.
For some reason I felt like having an American-style hamburger for lunch today, so I went down the street to the local Eddie Rocket's, one of Ireland's American-diner themed chains and had a good burger and some decent tater tots. I then worked my way back down the street here to my hotel, stopping in at a couple of mobile phone/repair places along the way and not finding styluses anywhere.
When I arrived here yesterday I noticed that there is a donut shop next door that wasn't here the last time I was, so I stopped in for a couple which I'm going to have when I'm done with these notes.
Housekeeping still hadn't done my room when I got back, so I dropped off my camera, hat, and coat and went back downstairs to the bar on the 2nd floor where I had a bottle of Schwepps tonic water with elderflower and a pot of tea. When I came back the second time, housekeeping still hadn't been so I settled in at my laptop to do some research and sorting about what days and evenings I already have commitments (dinner & evening of music, folklore and storytelling at the Brazen Head Wednesday; Paddywagon tour to Blarney & Castle all day Thursday; dinner and the show at the Abbey Tavern in Howth Friday; dinner & the show at the Merry Ploughboy Saturday night; and one I had forgotten about but was able to get a ticket to for Sunday, the day before I fly on to London, the dinner & Irish house party at the Lansdowne Hotel). The only one I can't walk to and will need to arrange transportation to and from is the one out in Howth. There are a few places I wouldn't mind seeing in Howth so I think I'll take the DART or Luas train out there, which takes about an hour, and call a cab to bring me all the way back here to my hotel.
This time I didn't get a lot done because that's when housekeeping came, so I went downstairs to the lobby to read on one of my iPhones to give her time to finish.
After I came back up and before going out to dinner, I spent a good bit of time figuring out what places which I want to see are near or on the way to places where I'm going to dinner & shows.
My Ren Faire friend, Cat/Lady Prudence may actually be in Dublin this coming Saturday after taking the bus here. Via Facebook I told her I'd need to be back in this area around 6:00 PM to catch the shuttle for dinner and a show, but I'd love to see her anytime she's free. I also offered to meet her over at the bus station, which is a 15 minute walk away, and we could come back here so she can leave her stuff while we wander around. I'm not sure if she's going to try and do any busking while here in town.
About 7:30 I went out to dinner, just two doors down the street from here to the Parnell Heritage bar & grill which is one of the city's oldest pubs downstairs but also has a newer bar/nightclub upstairs.
And that's it for today. It's now 12:30 AM and I'm going to have those donuts and milk I had planned on having earlier and get to bed.
I didn't go to quite as many places or walk as much as I thought I might but that was because I had to take care of some other business by computer and over the phone as well.
I have two credit cards and a debit card from Bank of America, and travel notification went through for one credit card and the debit card but apparently not the other. These things are taken care of by a computer and not a human being. When I tried to add the travel notification to the missing card, the computer kept telling me that the security code I was typing in did not match the security code printed on the back of the card when it obviously did I gave up. At least one credit card and my ATM card are working fine, although I'll still need to go into my bank when I get home.
At the end of the first week I was gone, my neighbors told me that the Water Dept had left a note on my door, and one of my neighbors turned the water off for me. When I called the utility I was told they think I might have had a leak, so I wanted to make a reservation for at least a couple of days when I get back at the same La Quinta where I stayed for almost two years while getting my mold and water damage claim taken care of so I can have someone come and take a look at the problem. I did that today.
I also need to send a note to my insurance recovery specialist, informing them of the situation and that if the leak originated anywhere they were working on my claim I will expect the insurance company to cover this problem as well.
And the last problem and bit of business I had to deal with was I received a note via Airbnb that the reservation I had made for Paris had to be cancelled; the message from the host/renter said something like she was no longer able to rent the property out for short periods of time. It took me an hour or so looking online at hotel sites like Priceline and at Airbnb again to find a similar Airbnb not far away from where I was originally looking. After the Airbnb host accepted my reservation request and provided the address, he also sent me a link to My Daily Driver, a private shuttle service in Paris, along with a discount code, so I booked transit from the Gare du Nord which is where the Eurostar arrives and again from the rental unit out to Orly airport when I leave for home.
Before all that I had a nice breakfast in the very pleasant restaurant downstairs.
I set out about noon, anticipating I would see somewhere along the way to have some lunch. When you take one of the tour buses, you think the National Museum of Ireland (henceforth referred to as NMI) Decorative Arts is a long way away from here at my hotel, but in fact it's only about a half an hour's walk from here.
When I left it was in the low 50s with a chance of rain or drizzle or showers this afternoon so I wore one of my wider brimmed hats and a sweatshirt under my rain jacket. Along the walk from here to the museum, the sun was occasionally out and I kept having to adjust the zippers on my sweatshirt and rain jacket. The walk from here to there went through some nice areas of Dublin and some OK areas.
This is the second time I've been to the NMI Decorative Arts and really enjoy it, and am again looking forward to the Victoria and Albert Museum when I get to London next week and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which is part of the Louvre, when I get to Paris after that. It's very well done, with lots of excellent informative signs most of which I didn't read as usual. The museum is also similar to the Louvre physically, since this one was a former army barracks and like the Louvre is built along the sides of a courtyard.
It was drizzling when I left the museum so I decided to summon a cab using the app on my iPhone (it's actually the same app as I use at home, but GPS knows which system to route it through) instead of walking on over the wonderful Chester Beatty Library over by Dublin Castle. The CBL started out as the private collection of an American millionaire who was very interested in religious texts and sculptures and graphic arts from around the world, and now has some of the rarest examples of those types anywhere.
While I was there I told the lovely young woman working the reception desk that I also am very fond of the St Mungo museum of religious life and art in Glasgow, which she had never heard of before. Before I left, I brought it up in Google on my iPhone and showed it to her.
Unfortunately while I was at the museum there were no small tables available for me to use to have a bit of lunch. The place is included on several tour bus tours of Dublin, such as the CIE tour Mom sent me on 13 years ago, and they often get there sometime around lunch.
It was still grey and seemed even colder than it had been when I got to the museum when I left. I decided to skip the two cathedrals until later this week and just walk on over to Adamson Luggage to see if I could find a carry on bag with wheels that wasn't too horribly expensive. I found a nice, decently priced one with pockets on the outside. I still think I'll go to the nearby Mail Boxes Etc in the next couple of daysthey open at 9:00 AM--and send some stuff (an extra jacket I don't wear much, the CDs I've bought so far, and some OTC medications I somehow have duplicates of) to lighten the load in my larger suitcases even further.
On the way over to Adamson I went past a branch of my favorite Irish ice cream, Murphy's, and of course stopped in for a couple of scoops, and that was all I had to eat between breakfast and dinner.
After Adamson I then summoned a cab and was back here about 5:00 PM.
I didn't go very far for dinner tonight, just across the street to the Kingfisher, which has a restaurant and holiday rental apartments as well. I had a very good potato and leek soup and a decent chicken and mushroom pie although the crust was hard to cut or break up.
It's now just after midnight, and I'm going to wrap this up for tonight.
I still haven't heard back from my Ren Faire friend Cat/Lady Prudence about if and when and where and at what time she's coming here to Dublin this Saturday. If she is, I'll plan my afternoon around seeing her and being back here by 6 PM to be picked up for the dinner and show at the Merry Ploughboy.
Tomorrow evening I have to be at the Brazen Head by 6:30 PM for the "Evening of food, folklore and fairy tales" which was delightful when I went before on an earlier trip. It's only a 20 minute walk between there, along the Liffey for part.
I don't think I'll go to MBE tomorrow, mainly because I feel a bit too tired right now to pull together all the stuff I want to send back home.
I think this is where I'll go tomorrow, roughly in this order: down to and across the Ha'Penny Bridge; down Temple Bar and over to the statue of Molly Malone on the way over to Trinity College where I hope to get there early enough to take a tour of the campus and see the Book of Kells; from TCD I plan on walking on over to Christ Church Cathedral, passing past St Audoen's church and the nearby remnant of Dublin's old city walls, before finishing up at St Patrick's cathedral,which is then about a 15 minute walk back to the Brazen Head, so maybe I can find somewhere for tea or an iced coffee on the way to kill some time.
Today was the second anniversary of when I had to move out of my home when I filed my home insurance claim for mold and water damage which turned out to be caused by a leak from the town home behind mine. And when I get home I have to face another possible plumbing leak.
I did very little today. I was up early enough to have breakfast downstairs and when I came back up housekeeping had already done my room.
I was feeling kind of mediocre all day, not really unwell but not particularly well or rested either. I decided I'm probably not going to go on the day long bus tour to Blarney Castle tomorrow, especially if the weather is going to be like it was today which was chilly and rainy or drizzly most of the day. That will give me all day to go places I had planned on going today.
Instead I just hung out here in my room. I even forgot to have lunch because I didn't feel hungry until this evening when I left for the dinner and entertainment at the Brazen Head. I just worked on updating my Renaissance Festival, World Beat Canada, and Irish & Celtic music podcasts playlists, watched some things streaming on my Kindle, and I think I even fell asleep for a bit this afternoon.
I was going to walk on over to the Brazen Head but when I got outside it was too chilly, and it was rainy so I wouldn't be taking any pictures on the way over so I used the app on my iPhone to call a cab. It took a little longer to get here than I had hoped due to Dublin traffic but I still got there before 6:30 PM.
The Brazen Head is rather amazing. They claim to be the oldest pub in all of Ireland. Each floor is divided into several smaller bars with rooms for special events/private parties on the second/1st and third/2nd floors. Our event was in a room up on the third/second floor, which held 55 people, two at one small table and the other 53 of us at five other tables. The one I was at seated 12.
There were apparently a couple of groups, either small organized groups or just groups of friends or family traveling together. I got the feeling I was one of the very few people there on their own, and I think I was seated between two others. I'm not very good at small talk with people I don't know, especially when I'm in a room where the acoustics do nothing to dampen the noise of over 50 people talking to each other. I have extremely good hearing and could barely understand the server who wanted to know what I wanted to drink and eat. In a way that was too bad because the young French woman seated next to me was rather attractive.
Once again I was very impressed with the skill and coordination of the wait staff at the BH. When we were standing around downstairs waiting to go up for our event I kept seeing staff coming downstairs with plates of food and going back upstairs with the dirty dishes. And I was especially impressed watching the half dozen or so young women who took care of us, navigating between the tables and seated people with bowls of soup and plates of food and drinks.
I'm pretty sure tonight's host was the same as when I last went, Michael, a very congenial and interesting speaker and storyteller. I'm always crappy at guessing ages but I'd say he was in his 60s somewhere, and healthy with it.
The evening is divided into several sections. First Michael introduces himself and the program for the evening; he'll talk about the food of the working, farming and laboring classes; we'll have our appetizers (mine was an excellent fish cake); he'll talk some more about history and oral culture; we then had our main course (a pretty good beef & Guinness stew) while two musicians entertained ustwo guys, one on guitar and vocals and one on fiddle, both also in their 60s I think; Michael then talked and told stories a bit about fairy lore and folk lore; we then had dessert (mine was a very nice apple pie but the chocolate cake looked amazing); and then Michael told a couple of final stories.
I used the app to summon a cab but things were rather confused outside the pub with other cabs dropping people off and sometimes picking other people up and I just got in one whose driver was free and would take me back here to the hotel.
That was about 10:30 or so. I then watched something streaming and typed up my notes for today.
I still haven't directly heard from my Ren Faire performer friend Cat/Lady Prudence but from what she posted on Facebook I know she took the ferry from Scotland to Belfast. I'm not sure if this is the one she took but it looks pretty impressive. This evening I sent Cat a message on FB letting her know that if she does come to Dublin this weekend and has time, I'd love to see her but if not I still look forward to seeing her and maybe buying her lunch at the Tuxedo Park/NY Renaissance Festival or later on at Carolina.
And that's it for tonight. A few minutes ago I logged in to YouTube to create a special playlist which includes most of the episodes of my favorite archaeology show, Time Team, which covered places and history in London. I'm going to watch one of those episodes, hope I get some sleep, and hope I feel more like playing tourist tomorrow. Who knows? If I wake up early enough and feel extremely well and the weather is sunny at least (it's forecast to be like today) I might take the bus tour to Blarney Castle after all, although I'm sure it hasn't changed much since I was there on my only visit 13 years ago.
I didn't wake up early enough to take the day tour out to Blarney and Blarney Castle. I guess I needed to sleep a bit longer. I even just spent the morning hanging out here in my room, and had one of my last two remaining Slim Fasts for breakfast instead of going downstairs.
It turned out to not be a very good day for a long bus trip anyway, drizzly or rainy and with a high around 50 F which is damn chilly for me.
Sometime this morning I received a message on Facebook from my Ren Faire performer friend Cat/Lady Prudence that she is indeed planning on stopping here in Dublin but could we meet tomorrow around lunch time instead? I told her that I am all hers until about 5:30 when I need to catch a cab out to another dinner and show at the Abbey Tavern out in Howth way out in the suburbs. We continued to communicate and make plans throughout the rest of the day, sometimes returning messages right away. More on our plans later.
Several times this trip when I've been near or down at the corner where O'Connell Street crosses the River Liffey I've seen the ticket booth and dock for the Dublin Discovered tours on the River Liffey and thought I might do that today if either it was sunny and not rainy or if the boat had an enclosed cabin. It was raining when I got there about noon, but the boat does indeed have a very nice, comfortable and warm enclosed cabin so I took the cruise. It was rather amusing in that there were three crew membersthe skipper and two tour guides, but only myself and another passenger. What was also rather amusing was that the skipper and one of the guides were two of the shortest men I have ever met, not much more than 5 feet tall.
And basically all short river tours are amusingleave the dock, go one direction, turn around and come back past the dock, go the same direction for a while, turn around and come back to the dock. This didn't matter too much because not only did each guide provide some information new to me, but when we passed the dock and headed on down towards the outlet to the sea I saw parts of Dublin I'd not seen before.
It was still raining after the cruise so I decided to skip going to Trinity College to take the tour and see the Book of Kells. I might still do that Saturday or Sunday if the weather improves.
From the boat dock I continued down to and across the lovely Ha'Penny Bridge, through the Merchant's Arch into Temple Bar, located the famous statue of Molly Malone, sometimes called "The tart with the cart" but that seems to be unfair to the real, historical woman, and found my way back to one of my favorite restaurants here in Dublin, the Mongolian BBQ, which I like for the same reasons I like them elsewherea very decent price, very good and fresh food cooked in front of your eyes, and in a comfortable and pleasant place.
Sometimes I get so organized I can't find things. I always try to have three camera batteriesone in the camera, one in the charger, and one I just took out of the charger. Yesterday for some reason I could not find the third battery anywhere in my room, so while I was in Temple Bar I looked for a camera store and bought a new replacement camera battery. Of course this evening I found the missing third batteryI had accidentally hidden it behind my glasses cleaning cloth.
The only other two places I wanted to go before heading back here were the wonderful St Patrick's Cathedral and the equally wonderful Christ Church Cathedral, which are two of my favorite churches anywhere. I wanted to go to St Patrick's Cathedral first because it is the furthest away of the two.
By now it was raining lightly but consistently and persistently. I was wearing three layers, my fleece vest, a sweatshirt, and my rain jacket which is large and loose enough that I can actually comfortably stuff my camera inside it. Because I planned on going into both cathedrals, I wore one of my caps instead of my hats because my fleece vest has interior pockets large enough to fit a folded cap into. I wound up wearing the hood of my rain jacket up most of the time.
Somewhere on my way to St Patrick's Cathedral I met a foreign tour group going the other way. I know this because the woman in front, probably their tour guide, asked me if I knew how to get to Grafton Street from where we were. I should have got out my iPhone, done the search for Grafton Street on Google Maps, gave them the directions, and then redid my own search for St Patrick's Cathedral, but I really didn't want to have my iPhone exposed to the rain for that long.
As with almost all the other museums, churches, and cultural institutions I visit I know I didn't see everything in either St Patrick's or Christ Church but as usual that's okay with me. I love just wandering around and getting a good, overall view of the places.
It was still raining on the way from St Patrick's to Christ Church, maybe a little harder so I decided to not take any exterior pictures when I got there. When I left, however, the rain had started to slacken off and the sun was occasionally breaking through the clouds so I took pictures then.
Catching a cab back here then was almost as frustrating as trying to use the app last night. I went to a corner I thought would be safest to have a cab pick me up, and used the app. The first driver who supposedly was coming cancelled, and so I tried again. It was very frustrating because as I was watching the app to see when someone was dispatched I could see empty cabs often passing me by on both sides of the street. When the driversupposedly coming was still almost ten minutes away I cancelled the request and went to the Jury's Inn across the street from Christ Church and had no trouble catching a cab from there.
I started laughing as we were pulling out because the sun really was breaking through the clouds and everything the sun was catching was looking very lovely. On the way back here we'd go around a corner and see other buildings catching the early evening sun.
It was about 5:00 PM when I got back, too early for dinner for me, so I stopped off in the very nice bar downstairs on the 2nd floor, and had another of the Schwepps with elderflower and a pot of tea before coming up here to my room.
I hung around here until about 7:30 PM before wandering down to and around the corner towards a decent Asian buffet restaurant where I knew I could get a pretty good meal at a very good price. As I rounded the corner and was heading down O'Connell Street I could hear bagpipes, so I followed my ears and found the piper.
This guy was very good, and I stayed and listened to him for quite a bit. He played the Asturian bagpipes, known for having a single drone which I think makes it a bit more mellow than the usual Highland sets. We also chatted for a bit about the different kinds of bagpipes and where they're played.
I then went across the street to the buffet and had a pretty good dinner. I don't think I'll be back there, not even for lunch. Part of the reason, of course, is that I'm going to dinner and a show each of my last three nights here in Dublin. If I'm around this area during lunch, there's another buffet down closer to the Liffey I think I'll try instead.
Earlier today I mentioned that my Ren Faire performer friend Cat/Lady Prudence is planning on being here in Dublin tomorrow and maybe Saturday, and wants to get together with me while she's here. That makes me feel very honored and flattered since basically we only know each other from the two or three weekends I've been at the Ren Faires where she worksNY/Tuxedo Park and Carolinawhere we did go out to lunch or dinner with a bunch of her friends each time. I think Cat's a lovely woman, and an excellent performer, musician, and singer with a very engaging personality, and if she was working my two home Ren Faires she'd be invited over to dinner frequently.
The year before last, I somehow missed hearing Cat the two weekends I was at Carolina RF until pub sing, the final event of the day, on my last day there. In the intervening year, I sort of accidentally learned that two of my very favorite women performers who were regulars at my home FLARF and whom I love and am rather in love with, love Cat as a dear friend. Susan Csikos, from the Rambling Sailors, once posted on FaceBook that Cat teased her one faire morning when Susan called her by her real name instead of her work name, Lady Prudence; Susan said it was kind of hard to remember when Cat had been to dinner with them as herself the evening before. And when I was trying to plan to get together with my dear Irish harper friend, Kathleen Finnegan Blackshear, who in previous years has been to dinner at my house, and with Cat and another friend I met at NY/Tuxedo Park, the hammer dulcimer genius and artist Vince Conaway, it somehow was quite clear how fond of Cat Kathleen is.
At Tuxedo Park/NY RF last year, I went out to an early dinner with Kathleen, her husband Bret, and their young daughter Naomi, Cat, and Vince. Naomi was between Cat and Vince, and it was very clear how much Naomi loves her aunt Cat. I like Naomi; I'm not great with kids, especially that young, but I trust Naomi's judgement as to her Ren Faire aunts. And then at Carolina RF, I went out to another late lunch with Cat, her show partner, my friends Susan and her husband Greg, and two of my younger RF performer friends Zac and Giuli, the Reelin' Rogues, and that was also a lot of fun.
The last I heard from Cat this evening is that she's planning on catching the morning bus from Belfast which is where she is now and has been for a day or so (I knew but forgot that Belfast is only two hours from here) and will be arriving at the central bus terminal here about noon.
I've sorted out all the stuff I could send back home before I leave for London on Monday and am going to go on over to the Mail Boxes Etc, which is about a 15 minute walk from here, on the way to meeting Cat at the bus station. From MBE to the depot is only about a 5 minute walk so I should leave here about 11 to make sure I have plenty of time to be waiting when Cat is supposed to arriveshe'll let me know earlier if she makes the bus or not.
Cat wants to stop off at a foreign currency exchange to convert her GB Pounds to Euros, and there's one a 10 minute walk from the bus depot, and it's down near the Liffey on O'Connell Street about 10 minutes away from here.
I've suggested that instead of dragging all Cat's stuff around with us, we make the trek up the street here to my hotel where she can leave it in my room until I need to catch a cab to get out to my dinner and show out in the suburbs and she herself needs to move along to her destination for the night.
If the weather is nice, I think I'll take Cat on either the Dublin Discovered tour I went on today or treating her would be an excuse to do something I wouldn't normally do because it always looks sort of silly and hoky if fun, the Dublin Viking splash cruise. That's about half an hour's walk from here, with plenty of places to have lunch along the way, and the delightful Little Museum of Dublin is right across the street from where the Splash tours leave.
To save time I might summon a taxi to get us both back here.
If the weather is drizzly or rainy and cold again, there are several places to go right here in the area and to have lunch. Not far the other direction up O'Connell Street is the beautiful, evocative and atmospheric Garden of Remembrance which is on the same corner with the Dublin Writers Museum and the small but very well done Dublin City Hugh Lane Gallery. Those three places and stopping somewhere for a coffee or a pintI'd love to treat Cat to a pint at the Parnell heritage bar & grill where I had dinner a couple of nights agowould more than fill the time before Cat needs to collect her stuff and move on to her next destination or wherever she's staying here in town (her next city is Trim, where I spent two or three nights at the wonderful Boyne View B&B during my grand 60th birthday tour, but I don't know if she's moving on there from here tomorrow evening or later this weekend) and I need to head on over to my evening's event. All in all, I'm very looking forward to spending the day with a lovely, delightful young woman.
It's 11:45 PM, and I only got in about 45 minutes ago.
I had a wonderful, very pleasant and delightful day and really didn't do much of anything until this evening.
My Ren Faire performer friend Cat/Lady Prudence was indeed coming to town today. Basically she took a two hour bus ride from Belfast to here in Dublin, spent the afternoon hanging out and wandering around the neighborhood with me, only to take another hour and a half bus ride back North to Trim where she was going to spend the night on someone's couch after sitting in on an Irish traditional music session in town. Cat is then coming back down here to Dublin sometime tomorrow, and will be spending the night in a hostel near here. If I don't see her before I have to head off to my evening's event tomorrow, I certainly will on Sunday because she left her larger suitcase here in my hotel room.
I got a message on FB this morning that Cat had missed the earlier bus she had planned on taking, but would be here 45 minutes later at 12:45 PM. I had breakfast downstairs, had a leisurely morning here in my room, then about 11:00 AM I took a cab on over to the Mail Boxes Etc to send a medium sized box home to get rid of some of the weight in my suitcases before I fly on to London on Monday. It actually took longer to get to the MBE by cab than it would by walking but at least I didn't have to carry the bag of stuff I was having sent.
The MBE is only a few minutes away from the central bus terminal here in Dublin, where not only do the Bus Eireann buses and those to and from the airport and the service between Galway and Dublin and the one Cat took from Belfast to here use. Since it had taken a little longer to get to the MBE than I had allowed, and I wasn't sure I'd be there before Cat got there I sent her a message on FB letting her know I was on the way, hoping she'd see it as soon as she connected to wifi which I thought might be available in the station.
After I got there, before her bus arrived, I wasn't sure at first I was in the right place until I saw a sign for the Dublin-Belfast express service.
It's actually a modern, and rather pretty and attractive bus terminal.
Since Cat's bus didn't get in until a bit after 1:00 PM and we both had commitments this evening, Cat and I really didn't have time to go further afield to St Stephen's Green or to any of the churches and museums, but just stuck to the local area.
There were three or four things Cat needed to do while she was herefind a foreign currency exchange place to convert her GB Pounds to Euros; find somewhere in town to stay that night and when she came back; and have lunch. Instead of lugging her stuff around with us, Cat asked if we could come by here first to leave her things in my room while we went wandering around. I offered to carry her musical instrument for her, but she has now had quite a bit of practice getting the balance right and frequently walked ahead of me through the crowds on the sidewalk.
On the way over from the bus terminal, we passed a couple of hostels. Cat asked in one, but thought she might be able to find a better rate online on Airbnb which she could do once she could use the wifi here in my hotel.
After we dropped her things off, we went back out. The currency exchange place is down O'Connell Street by the Lliffey, so we walked down O'Connell and then walked down to Ha'Penny Bridge, crossed it, and then back down to O'Connell Street on the other side so Cat could at least see some of the river and of Dublin.
After Cat converted some funds including lots of coins from Pounds to Euros we continued up O'Connell Street and didn't find any place that looked really appealing for lunch, although there are plenty. I suggested to Cat we just continue back on up to the Parnell Heritage bar & grill right down the street from the hotel, where I treated Cat to a very good and satisfying lunch.
To combat the slight sleepiness Cat felt after lunch, we went around the corner and up the street to the Garden of Remembrance up on the corner with the lovely Abbey Presbyterian Church, the Irish Writers Centre and the Hugh Lane Dublin City gallery. We didn't have the time to go into any of them, just continued around the block and back here to the hotel. We briefly stopped off in my room for a bathroom break, and so Cat could take what she needed for tonight and probably tomorrow night. It was only about 4:00 PM so we went down to the bar where I treated Cat to a double espresso because she hoped the caffeine would help wake her up a bit.
While we were relaxing in the bar Cat checked the bus schedule out to Trim, and wanted to be there not much after 5:00 PM to catch a bus a bit earliers. Due to the traffic we encountered and the one way street system here, it would probably have been quicker for Cat to have walked back to the bus terminal even with the bag and instrument she was taking with her, but it had started to rain again so I asked the cabby who was taking me out to my evening in Howth to drop her off on the way. Unfortunately we got there too late for her to catch the bus she wanted; fortunately there was apparently another one not too long after that one. When we dropped Cat off, I asked her to please let me know when she got to her evening's destination safely as soon as she had wifi again.
The traditional Irish show and dinner out at the Abbey Tavern has been wonderful, very well done, and very entertaining every time I've been there. As usual I was perhaps the only one there all by myself, and this time that meant I had a small table all to myself and probably the only chair actually facing the stageall the rest of the tables are perpendicular to it so everyone else had to turn in their chairs.
There were three guys, all probably somewhere in late 50s to 60s, one on guitar, one on electric bass guitar, and one on fiddle, and they all introduced songs as well and sang. There was a female vocalist, probably in her late 30s to 40s. They were all excellent, as were the two younger male and two female dancers. The musicians and singer basically did nothing I didn't know, and heard often at my home Ren Fair, but did them all well. The dancers did a variety of different styles of Irish dance.
The whole evening, including getting out there and back, and the dinner and show, are not cheap especially if you're not getting there as part of one of the tour groups who make up a large part of their business, but let me address the costs separately. The dinner and show are definitely worth their cost for the packagegood food, a great place, and great music and dancing. I could have reduced my travel costsif I had more time to get there I could have taken Luas or the bus out to Howth, but since I wanted to maximize the time I got to spend with Cat it was much faster to take the more expensive cab rides out there and back. So from a time saving perspective, the extra cost for the cab trips was well worth it and the trip out and back goes through and past some lovely seaside scenery.
Once I got back here to my hotel and room I wanted to take the time to upload the pictures and videos I took at tonight's event to Facebook. I just realized that I forgot to email them to myself from my iPhone with the Irish SIM which I used to take them instead of my larger camera, so I just did.
It's now about 1:00 AM, and I'm ready for bed even though I as usual might not fall asleep for a while. I need to wake up about 7:00 AM to sort out my dirty laundry, put it in the hotel's laundry bags and get it down to the reception desk before 8:00 AM. After that I'll have breakfast in the restaurant and maybe take a nap when I get back to my room.
I haven't heard from Cat since she sent me a FB message a few hours ago to let me know she had indeed made it safely to Trim and to where she's spending the night. I'll check tomorrow morning and see if I hear from her. I know that I'll at least get to spend a little time with her tomorrow or Sunday when she collects her larger suitcase. I told her that if she's around on Sunday and wants to get together early in the afternoon, since I have another dinner & show that evening, I'll treat her to the Little Museum of Dublin and on the Viking Splash tour and will even wear the stupid horned Viking helmet if she does.
If I don't see Cat tomorrow I plan on heading in about 11:00 to walk on over to the National Gallery, half an hour from here, and then on to the NMI Archaeology and Natural History. To save time, I might take a cab back here or directly to the Writers Museum which is where the shuttle to tomorrow evening's event is picking me up and bring me back to.
As of earlier today, and still right now, the forecast for here in Dublin and I am glad to say for London as well for about the next week is no rain at all, partly sunny and in the mid 50s, still kind of chilly for me, but at least it won't be raining.
And now to bed.....
It's 11:30 PM, and I got back here to my room between half an hour and 45 minutes ago.
I woke up this morning before my alarm went off and had plenty of time to take a shower and sort my dirty laundry and get it down to the reception desk before 8:00 AM. I then had breakfast on the 2nd floor before coming up here to spend a couple of hours this morning just hanging out in my room.
It was a lovely day all day, mostly sunny and almost warm in the sun. I was wearing two layers, a sweatshirt under my fleece vest, and although I occasionally felt like I had on too many layers and had to keep adjusting the zippers, most of the rest of the time I was glad I had them both on.
My plan for the afternoon was to walk across the Liffey and down to and through Grafton Street on the way to the Natural History Museum and the NMI Archaeology. I unfortunately didn't allow myself time to visit the National Gallery on this trip unless Cat and I have time to do so tomorrow and she would like to.
Grafton Street is known for two reasons primarilyit's one of Dublin's two main shopping areas, but since it is pedestrianized for most of its length it's popular ground for many buskers. Oddly enough I didn't see many who were actually playing when I was there, but I did see several who seemed to be either setting up or putting things away when they were done.
I did see a group that was trying to raise funds for husky rescue who brought along several dogs and a couple of puppies.
Along the way I passed a sign for St Teresa Carmelite church, which I had never been to before and which is another very lovely, very pleasant and charming churchas well as apparently quite busy with people popping in for a bit of quiet or silent prayer. I felt a bit conspicuous going around taking pictures of such a lovely place, but did so anyway.
I didn't remember that Grafton Street comes out alongside St Stephen's Green park, just up the street from the Little Museum of Dublin and where the Viking Splash tours leave from. Since I'm going to treat my Ren Faire performer friend Cat/Lady Prudence to these tomorrow, I also took pictures of them to post to Facebook and tag her.
For some reason none of the places I saw between Grafton Street and the Natural History Museum appealed to me for luncheither they were too fancy or another pub, however nice looking.
I am very fond of the NMH and many other similar museums, but it doesn't take me a long time to get through it. Part of the reason is that the one here in Dublin isn't really that large, and as usual I don't spend time standing around staring at the exhibits or exhaustively reading the informative signs.
I didn't see anywhere I wanted to eat on the way to the NMI Archaeology, which isn't surprising because I was basically just retracing my steps. I knew from past experience, though, that the museum has a small but very nice café with good food and reasonable prices. I had a slice of ham & cheese quiche, and some surprisingly good cole slaw for lunch there.
The NMI Archaeology is a beautiful, beautifully done and well laid out museum and I always enjoy visiting there.
It was only about 4:00 PM when I left the museum. My knees were bothering me a bit so I summoned a taxi to bring me back here, where I stopped off in the bar on the 2nd floor once again for a pot of tea and another Schweppes tonic water with elderflower. I then came back up to my room for a bit until I needed to leave about 5:45 PM to walk up the street to the pickup at the Irish Writers Centre just up the street.
While I was waiting for pickup I saw a group of about a dozen guys who seemed to be waiting for something or someone a little bit down the street. I called the Merry Ploughboy, where I was going to the dinner and show, to make sure I'd know what kind of vehicle to look for when it got there. It turned out to be a van capable of carrying me and the group of guys who also were going to the same place. I'm not sure what language they all spoke. I'm pretty sure it wasn't German, and didn't sound Slavic so it might have been some Scandinavian language.
The Merry Ploughboy is a great old pub, although I've never seen the downstairs except for passing through on the way to the event upstairs. Like the Abbey Tavern out in Howth, I'd be a regular there if I lived in the area.
The band, the Merry Ploughboys, has been performing for almost 30 years although only two of them are original members. One of their claims to fame is a fondness for and specialization in traditional ballads, and they sang several songs I wasn't familiar with which was a nice treat. Their other main claim to fame is that they've owned the pub which they named after the band for about 25 years.
I know many of my performer friends would be jealousthe band owns their own pub, which is also a performance venue, which is sold out several evenings every week throughout the year, so they only have to go out on tour when they really want to or get a really good offer somewhere.
The event venue is a large, sort of barn like but in a good way hall upstairs. As usual, most of the tables are perpendicular to the stage. This time my table was not as nice as it was last night; I was at a table in the corner to stage right, facing the corner. I had to pull my chair back away from the table and behind the person sitting next to me and turn it 90 degrees to face the stage to see it at all.
The food was very good and the music was excellent. Midway through the evening the band takes a break and five Irish dancers came out, three lovely young women and two guys, all of whom were excellent and did the usual mix of dance styles and types.
When we left in the shuttle on our return trip back here, it wasn't quite dark yet and there was still some light in the sky, so it was another very pleasant trip. I sat up front next to the driver, and he was a very pleasant and interesting guy and we had a very good chat both directions when the guys in the back weren't making too much noise for us to hear each other,
It was about 10:45 when I got back to the hotel, after the driver dropped me off across the street instead of letting me off up the street and around the corner at the Writers Centre where he had picked me up. I picked up my clean laundry and dropped it off on my bed when I got back into my room. I already posted my photos and any video I took this afternoon to Facebook before I left for this evening's dinner and show but took the time to post what I took this evening before starting on today's notes.
It's now about 12:30 AM. It's a good thing I still feel rather awake because there are a couple of things I want to do before going to bed because I'm probably not going to have time in the morning. I heard from my friend Cat twice today, when she had access to wifi somewhere. As plans are right now, I'm going to meet her over by the GPO about 10:00 AM on her way over from the hostel where she is staying tonight (and I have no idea where she'll be tomorrow night, but I move on to London myself Monday morning) to my hotel where she's going to leave what she took up to Trim yesterday while we head on into town.
My plan is that we'll we do pretty much a combination of what I've done before, go through the Ha'Penny Bridge to Temple Bar and on to the statue of Molly Malone, to and through and down Grafton Street, and over to the Little Museum and the Viking Splash tour, depending on which we can do first. After that we'll probably be ready for lunch somewhere. The rather amazing Stephen's Green shopping centre, which I want to at least show Cat, is right up the street and there are a wide variety of cafes, pubs, and restaurants in the centre. If we have time we might walk on over to the National Gallery.
I need to be back here not too much later than 5:30 PM to give Cat the rest of her stuff and send her on her way before I call a cab to take me over to the Lansdowne Hotel for the Irish House Party dinner & show ,so we'll probably just take a cab back here from the shopping centre and I'll buy Cat one last pint either in the Parnell Heritage bar & grill next door or in the bar on the second floor here in the hotel.
Monday morning I want to be at the airport, checked in, and through security not much later than 10:30 AM for my 12:55 PM flight to London, which means I need to be downstairs and checked out and calling a cab around 9:30 so tonight I want to pack away my newly cleaned clothes. That means that tomorrow night or early Monday morning at the latest I'll only have to pack my electronics, any toiletries I use Monday morning, and my dirty clothes from today and tomorrow.
I also haven't sorted out my pictures from last week by date yet, so I want to do that before I pack my clean clothes, and then to bed. I should still get a decent sleep before I have to wake up around 8:00 AM to have breakfast myself before meeting Cat over by the GPO at 10:00 AM.
Once again it's now about 11:30 PM and I didn't get home until not that long ago. Once I got back I wanted to do my usual evening & Sunday night chores, such as uploading new videos and pictures from today to Facebook and copying all the pictures from the past week from my camera's memory card to this laptop's hard drive and my three USB external backup hard drives.
Today was quite wonderful although I didn't have as much time with my friend Cat as I would have liked.
I skipped going downstairs to breakfast and had my last Slimfast instead. I checked Facebook when I got back here last night, and didn't see anything from Cat then but I knew from the last message she had sent me that the wifi was out at the hostel where she was staying. When I checked Facebook again this morning before I went to meet her I saw that she had posted that last night she had been feeling what seemed to be a combination of being tired, on her own and a long way from home.
We dropped the things Cat had with her which she had taken up to Trim with her on Friday and had with her in her hostel here in Dublin last night. Before we headed out I asked Cat what her plans today were and she needed to be where the bus she wanted to take to Ennis was leaving before 3:00 PM.
We walked from here down to the Liffey and across the Ha'Penny Bridge and through the Merchant's Arch into Temple Bar, then over to the statue of Molly Malone and over to Grafton Street. Although it was another lovely, almost warm day today it was still before noon when we got to Grafton Street and it wasn't busy at all. We did meet two buskers, both guitar players, one of whom was the guy I met yesterday, and we stopped to listen to both of them and Cat got a chance to talk with each of them for a bit.
From Grafton Street we crossed over to St Stephen's Green and walked through it down to the far corner and turned back up the street. Cat was very impressed with and enjoyed a lot of the art work which the artists had hung up for sale along the fences lining the park.
As we were walking back up the street we passed one of the Viking Splash Tour which we found out would be leaving soon so I treated Cat and off we went. I even wore the cheap stupid horned pseudo-Viking helmet because she did. Our driver was rather amusing as well as very informative and Cat enjoyed him a great deal. I rather liked the tour, since it goes places and down streets none of the larger tour buses do. The segment on the water is actually rather short, especially since they make every one put on life vests, but it's onto a section of one of Dublin's canals where it is gorgeous with some interesting and striking buildings.
Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit the Little Museum of Dublin after the tour. I decided it would be better to take a little longer for lunch and then get a taxi back here so Cat could get her things and make it over to catch her bus a bit early. I thought Cat would enjoy seeing the rather amazing Stephen's Green shopping centre which from the outside doesn't quite reveal what a wonderful job was done on the inside, creating a pseudo-Victorian shopping arcade.
We took the escalators upstairs, walked down one side and back down the other, went down to the middle level, did the same, and then went down to the ground floor level. We stopped for lunch at a little cafe/patisserie, and when Cat was looking at the menu she saw an employee making some kind of an amazing wrap and Cat said "I'd like what she's making". It turned out that employee was making her own lunch but Cat created a wrap of her own and I had a ham & cheese toastie.
After a very pleasant and leisurely lunch it was time to get back here. We walked back up the street to the cab rank at one of the luxury hotels across from St Stephen's Green and I arranged with the driver for him to bring us back here, wait while Cat got her things, and then take her over to catch her bus.
Cat later sent me a message on Facebook to let me know she was able to catch the 2:45 bus to Ennis, a four hour ride from Dublin, and let me know when she got there safely.
I'm not sure I can adequately explain how special getting to spend time with Cat here in Dublin was. She barely knows me, basically from my hanging out at her performances two or three weekends at the New York/Tuxedo Park Renaissance Faire and the Carolina Renaissance Festival and going out to eat with several other people once at each fair. From the start, I've thought Cat's an excellent performer, musician and singer, quite beautiful and attractive in a way all her own, and have known how much other people whom I'm very fond of and trust their judgment love Cat, so in the short times I got to spend with her at the two Ren Fairs I became rather fond of her and knew that I was more than a bit in love with her.
So this rather wonderful young woman took a two hour bus ride down from Belfast on Friday to spend a few hours here in Dublin with me that afternoon, took a two hour bus ride up to Trim to spend Friday night there, leaving some of her belongings here with me, took a two hour bus ride back here to Dublin sometime yesterday, spent four hours more with me today, and then left on a four hour bus ride over to Ennis where she will stay for a couple of days before moving on to Galway. And since Cat's still making up her travel plans as she goes along, she might even come to Paris for a couple of days while I'm there. While we were having lunch she was using the mall's excellent wifi to check ferry connections from Ireland to England and Europeit's a 17 hour crossing from Ireland to Cherbourg, and then 3.5 hours by train from Cherbourg to Paris.
I'd love to see Cat in Paris, and told her I'd treat her to at least one bus tour and Seine cruise if she came, one by day and one by night. If I don't see her in Paris, I know I'll see her at the two Ren Fairs and will hopefully get together with her during the intervening weeks, with other people or on her own.
For the last two days I've been grateful and honored and flattered that this lovely, charming young woman would take the time out of her own travels to come all this way to hang out with me. That's not far from the way I feel when I invite any of my other Ren Faire performer friends over for dinner, and they come.
After the cabby took Cat off to her rendezvous with the bus, I went next door to the Parnell Heritage bar & grill for a last pint of their house beer and another Schweppes tonic water with elderflower, then came back here and crashed until 5:00 PM when I went downstairs to catch a cab out to the Lansdowne Hotel for the dinner and the Irish House Party show. I got there about 45 minutes early, so I sat at a table outside and read on my iPhone. It was kind of fun waiting because several families with kids seemed to be leaving from a private event inside.
This evening had a feature different from the other similar events I've been todinner itself is in a separate, wonderful dining area that looks like a library in a country home, then afterwards we go into the larger room where the entertainment takes place and all the chairs are set up as in a theater in rows all facing the stage.
Dinner was quite good, and mine included leeks and brie baked in a pastry crust.
This show is more intimate; the only three entertainers were all probably in their 20s to mid 30s, and included a guy who sang and played guitar, a lovely young woman who sang, played the fiddle, and did some solo Irish dancing, and another guy on flute, keyboards, vocals, and bodhran. They were all excellent and although I already knew most of the songs they were all done quite well. The dancer even got about a dozen guests to join her and learn a fairly easy ceilidh dance.
All rightit's now 12:30 AM. Time to backup my files from the laptop to my three external USB hard drives and get to bed.
My flight leaves for London at 12:55 PMlet's call it 1:00 PM. I want to be at the airport not much later than 11:00 AM, which means I need to catch a cab at least 45 minutes earlier than that, say 10:15 AM. I still need to do my packing in the morning, after I take a shower, so that means I need to get up and moving not much after 9:00 AM, earlier if I want to have one last breakfast downstairs. I've set my alarm clock for earlier just in case.
I don't plan on doing much tomorrow after I get to London and checked in at my hotel. I want to go to the corner tourist store and get a UK SIM card and data package for the two and a half weeks I'm there, and either walk down the street to the larger Sainsbury's or the smaller Waitrose in the shopping arcade next to the Gloucester Road Tube station for some small bottles of brandy, rum, and whiskey and to pick up some Slimfasts at the Boots there as well.
I think tomorrow evening I'll update and post my podcasts playlists.
Tuesday I want to head in to town early and catch the free noon concert at St Martin in the Fields and pick up the tickets I already ordered and bought. I accidentally bought one for a concert the same night I'm going to be in Bath and need to see if I can exchange it, perhaps for the one Tuesday night which sounds quite good as well.
Backups, then bed.
1:00 AM, Tuesday 5/14
This was an odd day, with several things not working out as I had expected and sort of a disappointments.
I was awake by about 7:00 AM this morning, despite having fallen asleep between 1:00 and 2:00 PM. I was going to have breakfast in the restaurant downstairs after I finished packing but forgot since I'd have had to come back up to my room afterwards and move everything downstairs. I just took everything downstairs about 8:30, checked out, and flagged down a cab.
When I got to the airport I learned that everything, check in, baggage, is basically self serve using terminals. I also learned that one of my bags was way too heavy and I had to pay extra for it. And when I got to security I learned that I had to take off the belt I was wearing, which is only plastic and leather and which I don't have to take off when flying in the US and didn't have to take off when I flew to Shannon Airport four weeks ago. So I had to go through the scanner holding my pants up with one hand.
Reader display boards showing the gates for departing flights are harder to find and rarer at the Dublin airport than I am used to. The only number on my boarding pass which the check in kiosk had printed was 107, so I headed on over to that gate and felt like I was walking through almost all of the airport to get there from where I had come through security. On my way, I tried to double check the departure gate number online via wifi on my iPhone but the sites I could find said the flight would be on time not where it was leaving from. When I finally got to 107, the two nice women working there were able to look up the correct departure gate, 304. Walking from 107 to 304 felt like walking through almost all the ground I had covered earlier again.
By the time I found the gate, I didn't feel like I had time to find the Aer Lingus lounge and hang out there, so I had a bowl of porridge and a pastry from one of the cafes down near the gate. I still had about an hour and a half to wait so I settled in at 304 and read. The display reader board kept saying the next flight from that gate would be the one I was on to London, but about 20 minutes before we were supposed to board the gate was changed to 307A, and when we were supposed to start boarding from there we were told it would be delayed about 20 minutes.
The flight took about 2 hours, and service was minimal. The only snacks and drinks on offer were all only for sale.
Gatwick is a hell of a long way away from London city center, an hour by car. Cab fare was almost 100 GBP. The only other real option would have been to take the train from there into Victoria Station, then take the Tube or cab from Victoria here to the hotel.
This hotel is kind of a disappointment. As I was waiting to check in, a woman was complaining about the small size of the room she and her son who are here in London for treatment of his health problems were assigned. She was rather upset that the actual room they were given did not seem to match any of the pictures shown on the hotel's web site, and I know what she meant. I will never stay here again and might not leave a good review on Trip Advisor. The lobby is nice enough, but the first room I was assigned was so small the only place to put my luggage was along the narrow hallway past the small bathroom. The room I am in now is about the same size but there is enough room between the bed and the exterior wall to line my bags up there. There are also no bedside tables, the room is so small, and although the desk is adequate I'm sitting on some sort of stool thing instead of on a chair with a back. The room is not very soundproof, I can faintly hear the TV from a room near me. There is also very little space in the bathroom to put anything, except for a small shelf by the toilet and a small soap holder sort of thing in the phone booth size shower.
This room is about the same size as the one in the last hotel I stayed in Edinburgh three years ago. It's too small and a bit of a dump after my hotels in Killarney, Galway and Dublin but since it's only me using it, it will be OK.
Another major disappointment is that somewhere along the line I seem to have misplaced my home iPhone. I need to double check with the manager tomorrow to see if I left it in the first room I was assigned.
After I finished unpacking, about 7:00 PM, I headed out to run errands and find somewhere to eat. My first errand was to stop into the corner store and buy a SIM card and put some money on it which the guy at the store supposedly did. I'm having trouble creating an account on the carrier's web site, and they only seem to accept credit cards with a UK address online, so I'm going to have to stop by the nearest store tomorrow morning to add some money if necessary.
While I was out and about I wanted to see why I couldn't find the hotel I've stayed in before, and wanted to stay there again, which the last time I was here was part of the Best Western chain. The hotel now is owned by a completely different company, the Hotel Indigo chain.
I also wanted to stop in at the Boots to pick up some Slim Fasts for if I don't want to pay for the continental breakfast here in the hotel, and to stop in at the Waitrose to get some small bottles of rum, brandy and whiskey of some kind. I did both, although the only available size of the rum was full size bottles.
Both the Boots and the Waitrose are in the Gloucester Road shopping arcade, adjacent to if not actually part of the same building where the Gloucester Road Tube station is located. Two of my favorite restaurants in the area are in that building, Garfunkel's and Ask Italian. A third favorite restaurant was part of the Richoux chain when I was here last but now serves Emirtati cuisine instead . This is not surprising because quite a while ago on an earlier visit I noticed that the Emirati airlines at least has an office upstairs if they don't own the building outright.
I went to Ask Italian instead and had an excellent risotto with peas and crunchy prosciutto along with bread made with salt and rosemary. On the way back I stopped at the corner store next door to the Tube station for a diet coke and some juice to have with the rum.
After I got back here to my room I looked for the iPhone again, and still can't find it. I was watching something streaming on my older iPhone when I realized that I hadn't actually unpacked any of my toiletries, so I did.
Next I checked my email and then Facebook, primarily to see if my friend Cat who I had just spent two afternoons with back in Dublin, had posted anything new from EnnisI didn't see anything earlier but did just now.
After that I went through and made a list for each day I'll be here in London and noted what commitments I already have, and then went through my long list of attractions/historical sites in each area I made for my first trip here and update regularly to see what in each area I really want to see on this trip.
Tomorrow I want to head on over to the nearest Three store (that's the carrier for the SIM plan I bought earlier today) first, and then head on into town for a free concert at St Martin in the Fields and pick up the concert tickets I already bought. I accidentally ordered one for the concert the same evening I'm going to be in Bath. I know from previous experience that the staff at St M in the F's ticket office are very helpful and I should be able to exchange that ticket for another concert while I'll be here, maybe even tomorrow night.
I think I'll even stop by my favorite cane/walking stick store anywhere, James Smith & Sons. They might have a cool cane I haven't seen before, but I really think I'll get one of their folding travel canes which look a lot more like a real walking stick than the more medical looking one I inherited from Mom. If I do go to J S & Sons after the afternoon concert at St M in the F, a 20 minute walk away, I'll probably take a cab back here to the hotel and then take the Tube back into Trafalgar Square for dinner and tomorrow night's concert.
It's now past 2:00 AM, and I think I should get to bed and try and get some sleep.
All in all, it wasn't too terrible or disappointing of a day, although I am upset about not being able to find my home iPhone. I did feel a bit of a loss about leaving Dublin and Ireland, and not having my friend Cat around, and was at first not at all thrilled with the size of this hotel room but it will do. I'm here in London after all.
It's 11:00 PM, and I just got home less than an hour ago and had a bit of a late dinner because I had dinner much earlier than usual.
I still can't find my home iPhone. I've asked downstairs at the reception desk a couple of times, and no one turned it in. This morning I also called Airport Cars Gatwick to see if my driver from yesterday had found it in his car and the dispatcher there said he hadn't. There's not a lot I can do about it and will just have to get a new one when I get home, even though I'll probably wind up with a new number.
As I was waking up this morning, I decided I really didn't need to head on over to the Three store on Kensington High Street but would just go back to the store down the street across from the Gloucester Road Tube station where I bought the SIM card instead. I also thought I might stop in at the Garfunkel's at the Tube station for breakfast as well. And then I sort of dozed off again and decided I really wasn't in a hurry to get started.
I basically just took the morning off, and left here about 11:00 AM to stop at the ATM at the Barclay's Bank on the same corner, and then went back to the shop on the corner where I had bought the SIM card and credits yesterday afternoon. The same kid who helped me yesterday was working again today. When I told him I was confused because whenever I punched in the code for topping up my credit, the computer said I had a credit of 0 GBP and 0 cents, and I thought he had put in 35 Euros on the account yesterday. He showed me it's a bad design on their customer interfaceyou have to listen further into the menu and hit something like option 4 and the computer will tell you what kind of coverage you have and for how long. In my case I have unlimited calling, messaging and data until sometime late in June.
By now it was almost noon, and I wanted to get downtown to the box office at St Martin in the Fields to pick up my tickets before the harp concert at 1:00 PM, and maybe exchange my ticket for the concert on Thursday when I'm going to be in Bath for the one tonight instead, which I could. I caught the Tube from Gloucester Road about noon and was at the box office before 12:30. When I got on the train, I made the mistake of getting on in the middle instead of at either end and there were no available seats but a nice woman saw me with my cane and let me sit where she had been.
This afternoon's free lunchtime concert was delightful, featuring two harpists from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance here in London, which I had never heard of before. Both young women were charming and lovely which isn't as important as that they were both excellent and talented musicians. They played the opening piece togetheran excerpt from "Waltzes and promenades for two harps" by John Marson , a composer I had never heard of beforethen each harpist played two solo pieces. The first harpist played "Fantasy for harp in C minor" by Ludvig Spohr whom I had also never heard of before, followed by an arrangement for harp of Bedrich Smetana's "Moldau" which I am familiar with and rather like. The other harpist then played Hindemith's "Sonata for harp" and concluded with Gabriel Faure's "Impromptu".
My only other plans for today were to walk from St M in the F over to James Smith & Sons to take a look at the two folding, travel canes they stock and probably buy one if not both of them. I know they're probably made by the same company that produced the one Mom had, which I got after she died, but that one has a plain black handle and aluminum tubes, while these have shiny black tubes and one has a variegated darker brown handle and the other has a variegated lighter brown handle. The nice guy who helped me also dug out a couple of wrist straps for me.
Along the way from St M in the F to J S & Sons I wanted to find somewhere to eat. I stopped in at a Pret a Manger but there were no small tables available so I kept going and a couple of doors down I found a chain I had never seen before, Pod, where I had some pretty good duck gyozas and a chicken & chorizo wrap.
I also passed through the West End which is still heavily the center of London's theatrical district and where the memorial to Agatha Christie is located.
I wanted to get back here as soon as possible to have some time off before I had to head on back downtown for tonight's concert and dinner somewhere, so I caught a cab back from J S & Sons. Once I got back here, I took tonight's concert ticket out of the envelope with the rest of the tickets, and my new folding walking canes out of their packaging to make them the same size as Mom'sand somehow managed to lose tonight's ticket.
I left here about 4:00 PM to walk back to Gloucester Road Tube station to take the Tube back downtown. This time the train was much less crowded and I had no problem getting a place to sit.
The same guy who had helped me earlier was still working the ticket booth at St M in the F, and he printed out a copy of my ticket for tonight's concert for me. It was still way too early to have dinner and I thought I'd try and find a place to have an iced coffee to kill some time. There were no small tables at the first Starbucks I came to, and when I got to the Costa Coffee listed nearby in Google Maps it turned out to be an express shop in a larger convenience store, so I just kept going around the corner back to St M in the F.
I've had mixed results eating at the Café in the Crypt at St M in the F but thought I'd give it a try before tonight's concert, so I found an empty table and bought a very nice soft drink and settled down to read until 6:00 PM when I'd go through the line again and get something for dinner. Tonight's meal in the Café wasn't one of the best, although the mushy peas and carrots were quite good the pork wasn't from the most tender cut and was a bit thick and perhaps overdone. I think for my other concerts I'll either eat somewhere else before heading on in or at one of the other places near St M in the F.
Tonight's concert was excellent as well, and featured the Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra which I had never heard of before. The opening piece was Edward Elgar's "Serenade for strings" which I have heard before and like, followed by Ralph Vaughan Williams "The lark ascending" with solo violinist Jack Liebeck, which was excellent and concluded the first half.
Before the concert started I had sort of been listening to the people behind me who also sounded like Americans. During the intermission I stood up to stretch my legs and saw they were an older couple with a charming, lovely red haired young woman in between them. The guy asked me if I came to concerts at St M in the F before and we started chatting. The older couple were actually younger grandparents who were taking their music major freshman in college granddaughter on a grand tour of Europe as a slightly delayed high school graduation present, and had been in Vienna among other places before finishing up in London before flying back home this Thursdayand home happened to be Davie, and Fort Lauderdalein other words, very near where I live.
On the way back up to the Leicester Square Tube station I stopped into a pub along the way for the second most obvious reasonthe toilets at St M in the F are down near the Café, which closes after intermission during concert nights.
Because I had dinner so early, and because it wasn't that good, I stopped in at the Tesco for a pre-made prawn/shrimp and mayo sandwich and a small fruit salad, both of which were quite good.
Today I received an email message from my recovery specialist who handled my mold and water damage insurance claim. I hadn't heard of him since I left on this trip. In fact, I'm not going to reply right away since I still won't be back home for over a month. When I do send him a message, I need to tell him that the city water bureau thinks I might have another leak, and that if this new leak doesn't originate in the downstairs bathroom or the toilet and shower in the upstairs bathroomin short, the only areas where the insurance's contractor didn't work on my claimbut does originate where their guys were working I will expect them to take care of this new leak as part of my old claim before I will settle.
Also sometime this evening it occurred to me that I needed to resoak and recharge all my diabetes insulin syringe cooler things. As much as I dislike getting in and out of the higher soaking tubs like I had in my hotel rooms in Killarney, Glasgow and Dublin they do make soaking all of my coolers at once much easier. The small sink in my bathroom is only large enough for three at a time, but that's okay. The last of three batches is now soaking in the sink, and I let each batch soak for an hour in the sink before I transfer them to the shower to drain & dry off as much as possible. I'll just have to make sure I get up early enough to get the holders out of the shower, put all the syringes back in them, put the holders back in their resealable zip top bags and put all those back in my suitcase before I take a shower.
I usually seem to get somewhere around 9 or 10 days of cooling from each soaking. I leave here for Paris on Wednesday 5/29, and think I'll soak them all again on the 23rd or 24th. Once I get to Paris I don't think I'll soak them again, not even when I get ready to fly home. My Airbnb rental in Paris has a refrigerator and I think all the syringes will hold up without refrigeration when I leave there until I get home, or back to my usual at home hotel again until I get this new leak taken care of.
This last batch of ones I ordered and received before I left on this trip are gross and slimy since some of the gel has seeped out of all of the new ones. Once I get home I can throw them all out because although I will be gone for three weeks at a time on my trips to various Ren Faires this summer and will be on the road for a couple of days at a time all the places I'm staying have at least mini refrigerators and I of course will not have to take so many syringes with me since I'll be gone for a shorter time.
It's now 12:30 AM. My last batch of cooling thingies has another half an hour to go soaking in the sink.
Well, actually it's now 12:45. After I had my late night snack and started the first batch of the coolers soaking I uploaded my pictures from today to Facebook, which I just checked to see if any of my friends I'd tagged because I thought they'd be interested and also to see if my friend Cat had posted anything today from Ennisshe had, and she's off to Galway tomorrow. While she was in Dublin, I suggested she skip trying to busk between Eyre Square and the Spanish Arch because that's where everyone else goes including many regulars so competition is friendly but fierce for the favorite spots and for 45 minutes or so at a time. I told Cat I had only seen one busker down at the Spanish Arch the entire week I was in Galway, none anywhere at Eyre Square, and none along the Salthill Prom either.
Before I go to bed, I want to figure out where I might go tomorrow. Part of that process is going to be checking Google Maps and the schedule for the Thames river cruise that's sort of included with the London Pass to determine travel times down to and back from Kew Gardens, Greenwich and Hampton Court Palace. The cruise included with the London Pass does go to Greenwich and back but it no longer stops near Kew Gardens. Thames River Boats does go to Kew Gardens and on to HCP, leaving at 11:00 AM and takes 1.5 hours to get to Kew and a full 3 hours to HCP, and leaves HCP at 4:00 PM to take an additional 3 hours to get back to Westminster.
It takes about an hour coming back by train from HCP, however, and it also leaves later.
The fastest way to get to Greenwich by boat are by the Thames Clippers. And that's about all I can handle right now. Time to take my shotswhich I don't do as regularly as I should while travelingput the last of the coolers in the shower to dry out and drain, and get to bed.
For some reason, the official London tourist web site Visit London has been out of action at least since a few days ago. I have not been able to connect to it since I got here on Monday.
It's only about 9:30 PM and it's going to take me more time to write about what I want to see in Bath tomorrow and early Friday than it will to write up my notes from today.
After two busy days, this morning I decided to not be in a hurry to do anything, although I did wake up about 8:00 AM and put all my syringes back in their cooling cases and stuck those back into my suitcase. I then went back to bed and watched something streaming and maybe even dozed off again for a bit.
About 10:00 AM I started moving and took a shower. I still wasn't in a hurry to do much of anything, so I thought that today I'd just stick to the immediate neighborhoodgo out to lunch, maybe have an iced coffee or a pint somewhere, perhaps go to either the Natural History Museum which is right across the street or the Victoria & Albert Museum a block or two down the street after lunch, then have dinner somewhere.
This morning I logged into Sprint, my home cell phone carrier, to report I'd lost my iPhone. Their online interface wanted to send me a code to verify that it was indeed me trying to log into my accountby text message to the phone I was trying to report as lost. I wound up calling them directly because I knew that a real live human customer service agent could bypass that and did.
One thing I really wanted to do was to go back down to the corner store across the street from the Gloucester Road Tube station where I had bought the UK SIM card and where I went back yesterday, this time to buy another external backup battery case or power source for my remaining iPhone since I'm using it all the time. When I had both, I used my home iPhone for everything I could do through wifi, such as email, reading my books on the Kindle app, and streaming TV. I wanted to make sure I'd have enough power to get me all the way through the day until I can recharge everything back in my hotel room.
About noon I did go down the street to the corner shop and did get another battery case for my older iPhone. I then went across the street to the Garfunkel's for lunch. I originally thought I might have breakfast for lunch, since theirs are usually very good, but had one of their chicken wraps instead. While there I thought I recognized one of the waitresses from when I was here last and the time or two before that, and I was right. She came up to my table to say "Hi" and that she recognized me-she even remembered which tables I usually sat at. Of course I left a nice tip.
I went to the Boots next door for a box of tissues, some cotton tip swabs (called cotton buds here), some facial wash, and something to help with a mildly infected insect bite I've had for a few days and none of the stuff I already have seemed to be doing much of anything.
I wasn't quite ready to come back to my room yet, so I went down the street some more. I checked in at the Starbucks to see if there were any free small tables, and there weren't so I kept on going down to the Caffe Nero on the next corner where I saw something on their menu I'd never seen before which turned out to be pretty good but not good enough to make me switch from my normal iced coffeesa shot of espresso mixed with iced tonic water.
Also right across the street from the Tube station is the Stanhope Arms, part of the Greene King chain of pubs where I was able to find a vacant small table and had a delicious pint of hard cider with berries and cherrya little too sweet but still very nice.
I then came back to my room and plugged my new iPhone battery case in to charge and just hung out. I headed on back out about 5:00 PM, intending to maybe ride around the circuit on one of the hop on, hop off tour buses that stop near the Tube station. I did buy a ticket, but by the time I got around the corner to the stop the last bus for the day had left, so the guy gave me a refund.
This time there was a free small table at the Starbucks so I had a large iced coffee to kill some time before dinner, which I had at the Comptoir Libonais, an excellent Lebanese restaurant that opened on that corner a couple of years ago and which I've been to a couple of times and rather like very much. I had another excellent dinner and dessert there.
On my way back to my room I stopped off at the Tesco to pick up a small thing of milk to have with some of the instant coffee provided by the hotel and a shot of something and some juice to have around. I also stopped at the Starbucks for a pastry I had seen earlier.
It's now 10:00 PM. Before I started on these notes, I sorted out all the pictures I took last week by date and backed them all up to my three external USB hard drives. As soon as I'm done with these notes I'll do the same with my word processing files as well.
I also checked Facebook to see what news there was from any of my friends, including Victoria who has arrived back home in Florida from her own trip to Italy, and my friend Cat who made it to Galway today.
I plan on going to Bath tomorrow and spending the night, and reserved a room at the Parade Park hotel (crapno elevator, but I won't have any more luggage than my book pack and maybe I can get a room lower down if I ask when I get there) quite a while ago. I want to catch the Tube from Gloucester Road at 10:00 AM to Paddington station to take the train from London to Bath, which is a 2 hour trip. Google Maps says the hotel is a 6 minute walk from the train station, but the hotel's web page says it's three minutes.
I of course will get there too early to check in, but I hope I can ask for a room on a lower floor then and leave my book pack while I go wander around town.
Bath has their own hop on, hop off bus tour company so I think I'll do that after I have lunch somewhere after dropping my book pack off at the hotel.
Some of the places I want to see while in Bath, in no particular order, are: the Georgian Queen Square; Sydney Gardens; possibly the American museum and gardens; the Prior Park landscape garden; of course the Roman baths and probably have afternoon tea at the Pump Room there; the Abbey; the Theatre Royal; Bath Street; the Museum of Bath Architecture; the Circus which is not a circus but a crescent of Georgian houses; the Royal Crescent, another group of Georgian town homes; Sally Lunn's and the kitchen museum; the Holburne museum; the Herschel museum of astronomy; Beckford's tower and museum; the Assembly Rooms; the Museum of East Asian Art; possibly the Postal Museum; the Fashion museum; and of course the Jane Austen Centre.
I plan on being back here in London to take the night bus tour I've already booked a ticket for, but since that's something I can do any other evening I don't have a concert and am still here in London, I might spend most of Friday there in Bath and take a later train here again.
It's now only not even 11:00 PM and for some reason I feel very tired and a bit sleepy. I'm going to back up my files and turn in for the night. I probably won't fall asleep quite yet but I'll try and watch something streaming first.
I might just have my Starbucks pastry with a Slimfast for breakfast before heading on over to the Tube station in the morning.
Typed 11 PM Friday, May 17th, from notes made on my iPhone last night
The weather yesterday was lovely, sunny, and almost warm.
I woke up before 8:00 AM, had one of my Slimfasts for breakfast, and had taken the Tube from Gloucester Road and was actually at Paddington Station I think before 10:00 AM. I'd never actually been in Paddington before, especially not the train part of it, and can't remember if I ever got out at the Tube station there. It's really quite lovely in a delightful Victorian way.
The train to Bath, and the one I was on coming back today, was very nice, clean, modern, and comfortable. There is occasionally staff coming through selling drinks and snacks. The trip up and back is through a few villages and larger cities such as Reading, and through countryside a lot of the time although you often can't see much of it due to hedges lining the tracks. The line is part of the Great Western Railway company.
There is a tourist information center right at the train station and I bought a hop on, hop off tour ticket even before I left to find my hotel.
The Bath Spa railway station is older but also pleasant, and was less than a 10 minute walk away from my hotel, the Parade Plaza. Although I didn't remember the hotel, it is in an area that I remember quite well from the couple of hours I spent in Bath on an all day bus trip that also went to Stonehenge and Stratford upon Avon as well. It's right across the street from the wonderful Parade Gardens, right along the River Avon and a few minutes away from the Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths and the also delightful Pump Room restaurant right next to and part of the baths.
I dropped off my book pack with what I had brought along for the night at the hotel about noon. I had originally been assigned a room on an upper floor but when I requested a lower one, I was told that they didn't have anything on the ground floor available but if I didn't mind going down two short flights of steps there was one in the basement. Without even seeing the room I said that would be fine.
On the way over to the Abbey, in the rear courtyard, I heard a busker playing classical guitar who was very good, and I would have bought a CD if I had seen one so I listened for a couple of songs.
There are quite a few cafes in the immediate area around the Abbey and Baths so I knew I would be able to find somewhere to have lunch but I was able to get a table in the Pump Room restaurant itself, and had their excellent tea service instead. I also had a glass of the famous spa water, which I have heard is terrible, and I thought it was actually not bad at all and quite palatable. I've had much stronger mineral waters before especially what I remember Lithia water in Ashland tasting like, with I think a higher sulfur content for one.
I then paid to have a quick look around and take some pictures of the Baths next door. I didn't go downstairs to take a look, just stayed on the ground floor.
The hop on, hop off tour ticket lets you ride on both the routes offered, the City highlights and the Skyline tour. The first, as might be guessed from the name, wanders around in town itself. The other route takes you up into the hills and surrounding countryside. I decided to take the City highlights tour yesterday, and thought I might do the Skyline tour today if the weather was as good as it had been.
After I had ridden around on the full circuit I went into the wonderful and delightful Bath Abbey. As with most churches and museums I visit, I didn't spend too much time looking in detail at everything or finding everything in the guide they hand out. I just wandered around taking pictures of and looking at whatever caught my eye.
I wanted to find an ATM somewhere nearby using Google Maps for directions, but as soon as I left the Abbey I heard an excellent busker playing some music on a traditional African harp type instrument. I listened to him for a couple of songs and bought his CD as well.
After I found the ATM I walked on back to my hotel to check in and actually see my room. I hadn't noticed when I was there first that there is a very nice, small bar adjacent to and actually part of the hotel. My room turned out to be two rooms, three if you count the en suite bathroom. The larger, main room had a couch, a dressing table, a double bed, and another armchair. There was also another smaller bedroom, with its own door, that had two twin bedsvery nice for families, I suppose, but the only access to the bathroom is through the main bedroom. It was excellent for me.
After I checked in and unloaded some of my stuff from my pack, I went out again to find the Herschel Museum of Astronomy which wasn't too far away although the terrain did get hilly for me in places. I liked the Herschel very much and thought it was very well done and preserves or recreates what the rooms would have looked like when the Herschels lived there while residing in Bath. I have known for a very long time that both William and his younger sister Caroline were musicians and composers as well as becoming astronomers and telescope builders but I didn't know that William was a musical instrument maker before deciding to make a telescope for himself when the one he had rented was inadequate. My favorite room was probably their music room with a couple of period musical instruments.
On the bus tour and on my walk up to the Herschel I had passed Flan O'Brien's, an older Irish pub, and stopped off for a pint of cider on my way back. It was still too early for dinner so I stopped off for an iced coffee at the Costa Coffee nearby as well and picked up a small pastry for later. When I went past a Boots I went in to get a Slimfast for breakfast the next morning,
Still on the way back to the Abbey and my hotel I passed the West Gate pub, part of the UK wide Greene King chain which usually have a good menu and food. I had a chicken and mushroom pie which was pretty good but even better were the root vegetables (small parsnips?), mashed potatoes, and gravy.
When I got back to my hotel room I finished unpacking and realized that although I had remembered to pack my USB powered fan and my USB charger for my Kindle and iPhone I had left all the cables on the desk in my hotel room back in London. Not only was my phone almost dead, so was my usual iPhone battery case, and either the spare battery case I had bought at the corner store in London a couple days ago was defective or I can't figure out how to use it because although the little lights on the back indicated it was fully charged nothing happened when I plugged my iPhone into it except for the indicator lights turning off. The guy working the reception desk then said they didn't have any but the nearest place that probably did was the larger Sainsbury's which wasn't too far away. Because it was dying I left my battery case in my room.
When I eventually found it, the Sainsbury was part of the charming Green Park former train station. They did indeed have USB charging cables. I bought one for Apple Lightning and three that I thought looked like USB to mcro-USB cables and headed on back to my hotel. On the way I stopped for some very good gelato at a small place not far from my hotel, right across the street from the Sleight magic bar (their URL doesn't seem to be working).
When I got back to my hotel I borrowed a pair of scissors from the reception desk to open my packages of cables and went downstairs to my room. It turned out that the three cables I thought were USB to micro weren't so I wouldn't be able to use my USB powered fan for background noise or recharge my iPhone battery case, but I did now have a Apple Lightning cable I could use to power and recharge my iPhone.
The wifi was not working in my room, but I was able to watch a couple of things streaming on my older iPhone with the UK SIM card instead. The very nice bar upstairs closes at 11:00 PM, so I went up for a pint of cider about 10:30.
That night my plans for the next day were to walk on up to the Fashion Museum, the furthest away, then back to the Jane Austen Centre, and if the weather was good to take either the Skyline hop on, hop off tour bus route, walk the little way to where the cruises on the River Avon start, and have lunch somewhere before catching the train back here to London in plenty of time for my 8:00 PM night bus tour.
I slept quite well last night, and woke up about 8:30. I wasn't in too much of a hurry to get started, since neither of the museums I wanted to go to opened until 10:00 or 10:30. I took a shower with decent if barely adequate water pressure, got dressed, stuffed everything back in my pack, checked out, and left my pack with reception until I was ready to catch the train back here to London.
The weather this morning was grey, cloudy and chilly.
The walk up to the Fashion Museum was pleasant if sometimes rather steep for me. I thought the museum was very well done, and even interesting. For anyone more interested in fashion than I am, it could be very absorbing with lots of informative signs and a room with replicas of costumes visitors can try on.
The Jane Austen Centre was back towards town, downhill, from the Fashion Museum. It's not actually in a home where Jane lived but is in a building a couple of doors down from one instead. It's rather small but pleasant, very well done, and informative. A visit starts with a short film about Jane and her family, and a costumed character talks about Jane, her parents, and her siblings before we go downstairs to the portrait gallery. It turns out that only two of the pictures supposedly of Jane might really be so, and the Centre used both of then when they commissioned a life size wax figure of her.
I wanted to have lunch somewhere closer to the Abbey and my hotel, so I skipped going back upstairs to the Regency Tea room.
When I got back down to the Abbey/Baths courtyard area there was another busker, who was very good so I listened for a few songs until his time was up and I bought one of his CDs. What made this quite amusing was that I was there at the same time as a tour group of I think French school kids who really liked what he was playingat one point they all were waving their cell phones and swaying.
By now it was about noon, and looked like it might start raining or drizzling so I decided to skip both the Skyline bus tour route and the tour boat on the Avon and just have lunch before catching an earlier train back here to London. I thought I might come back here to my hotel room for a couple of hours to recharge my phone if I could or find somewhere else to buy a working USB powered battery case I could figure out how to work.
There is a Garfunkel's in Bath, across the street from the Parade Gardens in what looks like a fancy older hotel, and was right on the way back to my hotel, so that's where I stopped for lunch. It is much more fancy and opulent than the one I usually go to here, up around the corner near the Tube station. I had lunch in the very pleasant conservatory overlooking the gardens. I had the soup of the day (tomato), calamari, and their prawn cocktail which uses baby shrimp.
As I was heading back to my hotel in Bath I thought it felt cooler than it had a little while earlier and that it might start raining or drizzling soon. While I was waiting for my train on the open platform I couldn't see much of the sky and thought it might possibly be clearing up a bit, and on the train trip back to Paddington Station it didn't look like the weather was bad at all. Before I left the station I checked online on my remaining iPhone to figure out where I might be able to find another working USB powered spare battery case. It turns out there is an Argos in the Sainsbury's about a 10 minute walk up the street from here, which I haven't been to yet but have really liked when I've been there before. I was going to call a cab while I still had a little power on my phone but as I was leaving Paddintgon station I decided to take the Tube from Paddington back here instead. When I actually got outside I saw and felt that it had indeed started raining after all. Once I got inside I misread the signs for which line I needed to get back here to Gloucester Road and either got on the wrong line or on a right line going the wrong direction so I got off at the Bayswater station, wherever that is.
By this time my legs were tired and my knees hurt so I headed on up and out to street level to call a cab. Right across the street from where I exited I saw a Carphone Warehouse so I went across to see if they sold battery cases. That store didn't but they suggested I go next door to the small mobile phone repair/accessories store instead, where the guy working then sold me a very nice battery case for 30 GBP which was already charged, immediately started powering my iPhone when I inserted it, and also has an obvious button to start or stop it powering the phone, as my older battery case also does but the new one I bought earlier this week doesn't seem to.
I was still too tired to go back across the street and figure out what I needed to do to get back here by Tube so I used one of the apps on my phone to summon a cab. It didn't show up when it was supposed to so I flagged down another one as soon as I could, and remembered to use the app to cancel the cab and indicate the pickup took too long.
When I got back here to my room, I knew I probably wasn't going to head back on out for the night bus tour I had already paid for. The weather was not conducive to being on the open top deck of a tour bus, and I don't really like trying to see the sights from the enclosed lower deck. I decided to plug all my portable electronics back in to charge, and hang out here in my room until going out around 6:30 PM for dinner somewhere and probably an iced coffee before. One of the first things I wanted to do when I returned was to check and see if I needed to have my dirty laundry done tomorrow, or if I had enough clean clothes to last me until Monday instead and I have enough for Monday,
I went past the Starbucks and there were several small tables available inside so I went in and had an iced tea and bought a pastry which I'm going to have as soon as I finish these notes. From there I crossed the street into the Gloucester Arcade for dinner at the Ask Italian where I had an excellent pasta dish and pretty good if a bit overdone whitebait for an appetizer.
When I left the restaurant I went into the Waitrose in the Arcade to pick up a small bottle of sparking water and a small milk.
After I got back here I watched something streaming via wifi before posting my pictures from today to Facebook and starting on these notes from yesterday and today. It's now almost 1:00 AM.
For some reason I can't connect to my Comcast/Xfinity email today, either on my laptop or on my iPhone. Michael's off this weekend, so I needed to contact him somehow to see whether it would be better to call tomorrow or Sunday. I sent him a text message from my older iPhone with the UK SIM card, hoping he'd read it anyway which he did.
Tomorrow evening at 7:30 PM I have one of my favorite concerts at St Martin in the Fields, the Baroque Extravaganza which I've heard done by a couple of different small orchestras. I don't remember who is performing then but I am sure it will be fun.
If the weather is decent I think I'll take the Tube over to the Museum of London before lunch or maybe to find somewhere to have lunch somewhere nearby, and then walk on over to Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery before finding somewhere for an iced coffee or a pint and dinner somewhere else before the concert.
If the weather is crappy I'll just stick to the area around here and go down the street to the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum instead although I might go to the NHM first in hopes of avoiding the worst of the crowds.
And now to have my milk and pastry from Starbucks. I had the sparkling water with a shot of Scotch a while back.
I slept OK last night, but for one of the few times I could remember I could hear my next door neighbors. When that happens I usually leave my iPhone plugged into a charger and have it play one of my sleep sounds apps which I forgot to do until I woke up about 3:00 AM to hear my neighbors making loveat least, I could barely hear her responses. I turned my phone back on, linked it to my USB speaker, brought up the sleep sounds generator and went back to sleep.
I wasn't in a hurry to do much of anything today, since my concert this evening wasn't until 7:30 PM. I left here about 12:30 PM, intending to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum and maybe have lunch at one of the cafes there. I know better than to try and visit any of the popular museums after noon on a weekend but went anyway. Admission to the museum is always free but I used my London Pass to get a ticket for one of the current special exhibits, Foodbigger than the plate for free. I got my ticket for 2:30, intending to have lunch first, but saw no free seats in the café and left, hoping I could find somewhere else not too far away to eat and get back before 2:30.
I headed down towards Harrods because I thought I remembered some cafes and restaurants down that way and I was right. I came across a very lovely restaurant, Caffe Concerto which I don't remember going to before but would be slightly surprised if I haven't. As usual I checked the copy of the menu they posted outside and saw many things that looked like they would be good but somehow didn't see their full afternoon tea listed until I looked at the full menu once I was seated at my table, and that's what I had for lunch and it was excellent.
I did manage to make it back to the V&A in time for the special exhibit, and just walking through the crowds to get to where it is in the rear of the first part of the museum and how crowded it had been when I was trying to eat in the café made me decide to leave after I saw Food and come back some weekday morning, which I can do.
I thought the exhibit was very well done and quite interesting, and it uses signs and exhibits and videos. As usual, though, I didn't take the time to watch any of the videos or read many of the informative signs although since it costs to see the special exhibits it was quite a bit less crowded than the rest of the museum.
It was only about 3:00 PM when I left. The weather was quite nice then, almost warm although I was glad I was wearing my sweatshirt. I sat around on a bench outside the museum reading something via Kindle on my remaining, older iPhone to kill some time.
I thought I might just find somewhere to have a pint or an iced coffee before catching the Tube from Gloucester Road downtown to kill some more time before finding somewhere for dinner. This time I took the longer way around, going down past the South Kensington Tube station and around to Cromwell Road and up to the Gloucester Road station. I really didn't feel like having a beer yet but I did find a small table available at Starbucks where I had an iced coffee.
I was running out of the small lined note pad I had brought from home and wanted something lined that I could tear pages out of. As much as I usually dislike spiral notepads, that was all I could find so I bought a small one that actually fit into my back jeans pocket which meant I didn't have to swing back here to my hotel room to get rid of it.
Once I got to Leicester Square and was on the way out, I saw an older gentleman setting up a lovely harp and his equipment. I listened to him play a couple of tunes while he was tuning, and we chatted for a bit. I took a couple of short videos on my iPhone and told him I'd post them to Facebook if that was OK and would tag him. He told me his name was Peter Murphy, and he has a web site. Peter also told me that he first received his London buskers license 13 years ago which makes him one of the 20 people who have had one the longest. Before I left Peter wrote his name and URL in the small spiral notebook I had bought before taking the Tube and had stuck in my pocket.
On the way over to Trafalgar Square I thought I'd see if I could find a small table at the Greene King I've gone past several times, and have stopped there to use their restroom, the Garrick Arms but there were no small tables available. The same was true at the Chandos pub across the street from St M in the F, which I have never been able to find a web site for.
After my last disappointing meal there I was planning on not having dinner at the Café in the Crypt but certainly still enjoy hanging out there and having a snack or something to drink. There were plenty of empty tables so I bought a couple of bottles of soft drinks and settled down until about 5:45.
I hoped that if I got to the Prezzo also across the street from St M in the F early enough I'd have time to wait for a table, have dinner, and still make it across the street to the concert before it started at 7:30. I had to go upstairs for a free table but still had a very good dinnermushroom risotto, pana cotta and a pint of Peroniand made it across to St M in the F before the house opened at 7:00.
Although I've never been able to find a web site for tonight's ensemble, the Festive Orchestra of London, I know from personal experience and from search results listing St M in the F, that the group and tonight's program, the Baroque Extravaganza, are staples on the concert schedule there. I know that I've heard them there several times before, and have heard much the same pieces in the same concert before and it included many of my favorite pieces. I have to admit that one of the reasons I remember the ensemble is that tonight there were nine musicians, only one of whom was a male, and five out of the eight women were beautiful. I especially remember the lead violinist and conductor, a woman whose expressions and involvement with the music makes her especially lovely. I know that visual appearance really has nothing to do with musical ability but when you're watching people play music for a while I can't help noticing how they look.
The first piece on tonight's program was the "Concerto for two violins in D minor" by Bach. Next was "Spring" from Vivaldi's "Four seasons" . After that came Pachelbel's famous and well loved "Canon & gigue in D". The first part of the program was closed with Vivaldi's "Concerto for two violins in A minor".
The second half of the concert started with Bach's "Violin concerto in A minor", followed by "Summer" from Vivaldi's "Four seasons", then the "Air" from Bach's "Orchestral suite #3", best known as "Air on the G string", and finished with Vivaldi's "Concerto for four violins in B minor" where all four violins and even the two violas get some solo as well as ensemble time.
After the concert I walked back up to the Leicester Square Tube station for the ride back to Gloucester Road. On the way back here I stopped off at the Tesco express for a small fruit salad of grapes and a couple of strawberries and a small thing of yogurt which I had when I got back to my room.
As usual I posted my pictures and videos from my iPhone to Facebook before I started on my notes for today. I also updated my list of books I've read with the ones I've finished most recently.
I should probably call Comcast back home, because although I can download new incoming email here on my laptop and on my iPhone with the UK SIM card, I haven't been able to actually send outgoing email until I logged into Xfinity itself in a web browser this evening. I wanted to send an email to Peter telling him I had uploaded my short videos I'd taken of him to Facebook but hadn't found him there.
And also as usual I checked Facebook to see what my friends have posted, especially Cat who is still having a wonderful and successful time busking in Galway.
It is now 1:30 AM. I haven't heard my next door neighbors yet, but last night I didn't hear much until 3:00 AM, so after I watch something streaming on my iPhone I'll plug it in, link it to my USB powered Bluetooth speaker and turn on my sleep noises app.
Tomorrow is Sunday and I don't have anything scheduled until my planned overnight trip up to York on Tuesday. I think I'll skip going to any of the museums until Monday or Thursday after I get back from York. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be decent if mostly cloudy, so I think I'll try and catch the 10:40 City Cruises boat down to Greenwich for lunch and to spend much of the afternoon there before catching a boat back to London. A 24 hour ticket with that company is included in the London Pass.
And now I'm ready for bed. Time to take my shots and a couple of Aleves and watch something streaming and hopefully get a decent amount of sleep tonight
It's only 10:00 PM and although I was gone for most of the day, from 10:00 AM to about 45 minutes ago, it's not going to take me too long to type up my notes from today because I really didn't do much of anything.
It was a pretty nice day today, almost warm enough to not need a sweatshirt or jacket if cloudy but I was glad later I was wearing my sweatshirt, fleece vest, and rain jacket as well.
I woke up about 8:00 AM, after a pretty good night's sleep and not hearing any neighbors at all. I was going to head on over to the Garfunkel's by the Gloucester Road Tube station before catching the Tube on over to Westminster station and Westminster Pier but I remembered that I have to get up early tomorrow to drop off my dirty laundry at reception by 8:00 AM if I want it done and back tomorrow, and since I now have 1 clean shirt, 1 clean t-shirt, 1 clean pair of underwear and for some reason a couple of pairs of clean socks, and I do not want to find a laundromat and do my wash myself I'll set my alarm to have plenty of time to shower, dress, and sort out my dirty clothes.
The District line connects Gloucester Road with Westminster. When I got to the platform I saw an interesting art installation that looks rather like illustrations from a children's book.
I was at Westminster sometime around 10:20, I think. I wanted to take some pictures from that corner, including of Parliament (much of which is behind scaffolds) and the statue of Boudicca, also on that corner, before boarding the tour boat. When I got on board it was very crowded up top already but I did find a seat on the center aisle. And after we got to the first stop after Westminster, Tower Pier, at least half the passengers disembarked so I was able to move to right along the starboard side of the ship.
It was a pretty good day to be out on the Thames, but I was often very glad I was wearing my cap and three layers of jackets when we were in the middle of the river.
There were three things I wanted to do while I was in Greenwich and several other possibilities. I wanted to see the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College, which I had never been to before and have always heard is wonderful. And on a previous trip to Greenwich I saw a plaque that commemorated the meeting there of Elizabeth I and the Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley , which I wanted to take a picture of for some Ren Faire friends who sing a song in Irish about her (Oro Se do Bheatha Bhaile), and another plaque commemorating Sir John Franklin and his lost expedition to find the Northwest Passage for another Ren Faire friend who sings a song about him (Stan Rogers's "Northwest Passage"). Not only could I not find either plaque this time, but when I asked about the Grace O'Malley/Elizabeth I plaque at the information/ticket desk no one working there at the time knew what I was talking about. It occurred to me a little while ago that I should have hung around and asked one of the tour guides, since that's who showed the plaques to me when I was there last although I had actually already found them on my own.
As I was walking from the visitors center to the part of the Old Navy College where I thought the Painted Hall is located I began hearing music of different kinds sounding like it was being performed by different people separately, and that's what it indeed was. On Tuesday I had been to the lunch time concert at St Martin in the Fields which was performed by two harpists, both connected with the the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. When I had looked that up Tuesday evening I didn't notice that their campus is actually in the Old Royal Naval College.
The Painted Hall is indeed quite remarkable and has recently gone through an extensive and brilliantly done restoration of the entire group of paintings. I got there shortly before a tour began, and our guide was very intelligent and informative about the history and symbolism of the paintingsmost of which are on the ceiling. There is a mirror in one place that allows viewers to look up at the ceiling but I found that doing so made me almost as dizzy as actually leaning back to look above me. Scattered throughout the hall are lots of chairs and many pieces of furniture that look like very large footstools or couches with no arms where viewers can lie down to look overhead.
By now I was ready to find somewhere for lunch, preferably nearer rather than further away. Right at the visitors center is the Old Brewery pub & café which had some small tables available and is where I had potato & leek soup and sausages and mash, and a pint of their local beer, all of which were excellent.
Usually a single pint doesn't affect me very much but for some reason after lunch not only were my knees bothering me a bit but I had a stuffy head and was much dizzier than usual. I had already decided I certainly was not up to hiking all the way up the hill to the Royal Observatory, Planetarium and Prime Meridian line I didn't really feel like going to the Fan Museum, the National Maritime Museum or anywhere else. I decided I'd try and find somewhere to get an iced coffee before getting in line to board the next boat back to Westminster.
On weekends at Greenwich Pier there is an open air market most of which seemed to be stalls selling international foods of various kinds, which would have been very tempting and interesting if I had not just had a good lunch. Right at the end of the market nearest the Thames was a coffee stand that had iced coffees, and next to it was a booth selling strawberries and cream (whipped cream from a can, but not bad at all) among other things with fruit, and I had one of each.
Back at the Pier I was among the first dozen or so people waiting to board and so had no trouble finding a seat along the right side of the upper deck for the trip back.
For part of the trip each way, one of the crew members gave some local commentary rather than using the company's prerecorded material and they were indeed more interesting and enjoyable than the canned commentary.
When I got back to Gloucester Road it was still too early to feel like having dinner yet, and I was still just a bit dizzy so having a pint would not have been a good idea, but I was able to find a small unoccupied table at the Costa Coffee down the street although there hadn't been one available at the Starbucks.
I had Italian food last night before the concert so I didn't feel like going to Ask Italian tonight. I'm going to Garfunkel's for breakfast tomorrow so I didn't want to go there for dinner tonight either. Although I'll probably go the new Emirates place, an Indian restaurant nearby I like a lot, a pan-Asian place I like, and Scoff and Banter which is also nearby, specializes in British food, and which I also like, before I leave I felt like going back to Comptoir Libanais for some more Lebanese food, and had another excellent dinner there.
On the way back here I stopped in at the Tesco Express for a bottle of juice, one of sparkling water, a small fruit salad (kiwi, watermelon and strawberries this time) and a small thing of rice pudding, both of which I should eat fairly soon this evening. I also stopped at the reception desk downstairs on my way in for three laundry bags and forms to drop off in the morning.
Since I've been back I've checked my email, which I still need to do through Comcast/Xfinity's web page, uploaded some pictures from today I took on my iPhone to Facebook, and copied all my pictures from this week from my camera's memory card to this laptop and my three backup USB external hard drives. When I finish with these notes I'll do the same with my documents.
It's now 11:00 PM. I still want to check Facebook to see what my friends have been up to, especially Cat who I think is still in Galway. I also want to look up opening days and hours for many of the places I am still interested in going to before watching something streaming and going to bed.
I was going to try and call Michael tonight since he told me he's off but he hasn't responded to the text message I sent after I got back to my room.
This coming Tuesday I have my trip to York, which looks like it'll be very interesting and enjoyable. Yesterday I made a list of most of the historical and scenic attractions and museums in York I want to see and there are quite a few of them. If the weather is good on Wednesday I'll catch a train back to London later in the day; if it's crappy I'll go to fewer, more easily accessible places and head home earlier.
Thursday I have another concert at St M in the F, so I think I'll go to the Museum of London, probably the British Museum, and the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery before finding somewhere other than the Café in the Crypt to have dinner before the concert.
I think tomorrow I'll stick to the local area here, and do what I had sort of planned on doing yesterday. I'll try to get to the Victoria and Albert before lunchif they're not too busy maybe I'll have lunch in one of the cafes there, then the Brompton Oratory if it's open for visiting, and the Natural History Museum next. If the weather is decent I might ride around on both routes of the Original London bus tours. If not, I might walk down to the Argos down at the Sainsbury's to see if I can find a pair of totally wireless Bluetooth ear buds for when I use Google Maps on my iPhone with a local SIM card when wandering around or trying to get somewhere.
Time to check Facebook.
I woke up about 6:00 AM this morning, well before I needed to in order to sort out my dirty laundry and get it downstairs to the reception desk before 8:00 AM. When I dropped my three bags off9 days worth of dirty clothes, after allthe manager on duty told me pickup would be tomorrow. I told him that when I had asked his staff earlier I was told it was a one day service, which was why I was now wearing my last clean shirt. He said he'd ask the cleaners and make it a special request.
I then went on over to Gloucester Arcade to have breakfast at Garfunkel's before catching the next Original Tour hop on, hop off bus leaving from Gloucester Road Tube station. The route that goes by here is their Blue route, which connects at a couple of places with their Yellow Route. At first I thought I'd ride around on the Blue route, transfer to the Yellow Route, and then transfer back to the Blue route to get back home again, but as we were coming up Cromwell Road past Harrod's towards the Brompton Oratory and the Victoria & Albert Museum I decided to get off there.
I first went into the Oratory, which is a still lovely older church, with the typical side chapels dedicated to various saints or aspects of the Trinity or Mary. When I walked into the church I heard a beautiful woman's voice singing. As I came in a bit further I saw a small service or mass taking place in one of the side chapels. I knew I could wander around taking pictures without disturbing any of the worshipers or the celebrant.
I love the V & A. It's a damn big museum, arranged around a gorgeous courtyard. There was quite a bit less of a crowd today, although when I checked a couple of the cafes I didn't see any available small tables so I knew I'd probably have to have lunch somewhere outside of the museum. I followed my usual strategy of museum visiting, find the nearest elevator, head on up to the topmost floor, see as much of the floor as I can, then work my way down floor by floor.
I then decided I'd save the Natural History Museum for another day.
After the V & A, I headed on back up the road to Gloucester Road Tube station. I thought I might eat lunch at Paul's, a small French bakery, but there were no free small tables there either and the same was true at the Pret a Manger so I kept going on down the street. Several times I've walked past a small place called Zack's Bistrot (their spelling) but had never gone in and today I decided I'd give it a try. I had an excellent lunch, bruschetta covered in chopped tomatoes and then carbonara pasta.
I hadn't been to one of my favorite local pubs, the Hereford Arms, yet this trip so I kept going on down the block and had a pint at the Arms. It was still mid-afternoon and I didn't feel like coming back here to my room quite yet and there were a few empty small tables at the Starbucks so I had an iced coffee.
When I got back to the hotel, the same manager was still on duty so I asked him if there was any word on the laundry coming back. He told me he had made a special request and it should be back here this evening.
Once I was back in my room I booked a ticket on the 9:30 AM train tomorrow from London up to York with a return anytime I want on Wednesday.
Before I left for dinner, one of the guys at reception called to tell me my clean laundry had indeed come back.
Another restaurant I've been past many times before is one called Steak & Co. After I made my train reservation for tomorrow I checked out their menu online, and although they are not surprisingly primarily a steak house they also have a gnocchi dish that sounded excellent, and it was. I had also ordered garlic mushrooms as an appetizer, and although they were very good on their own the gnocchi came with a lovely sauce so I dumped about half the mushrooms in.
Before going to Steak & Co, I stopped at the Boots just up the street for a couple of snacks for tonight and a cheap toothbrush I don't mind tossing in the trash Wednesday when I pack up to leave my hotel room in York.
I picked my clean clothes up at the reception desk on the way back to my room. I actually had to take two trips, since all my shirts and single pair of jeans were all on hangers and my t-shirts, underwear and socks were in two boxes. I had to unwrap every single piece of clothing I had cleaned before I could put them all away. I then took the two boxes now stuffed with the plastic wrapping back downstairs to reception to ask if they would get rid of it for me.
I then checked my email and Facebook before starting on today's notes.
I'm looking forward to visiting York tomorrow. There are what seems to be an incredible amount of museums and historic sites in town, including the Minster which is supposed to be a lovely place.
My train leaves downtown at 9:30 AM tomorrow, and it's now almost midnight. That's all for today.
Typed Wednesday after 11 PM, from notes taken on Tuesday night
My original train from London Kings Cross on LNER (London Northeast Railway) was supposed to leave at 9:30 AM. I took a cab from here to the station and was there well before 9:00 AM. When I got there I learned that my train was cancelled due to damage to the electrical cables somewhere along the route, and the next train would be at 10:00 AM.
I have to admit I had forgotten that the departure point for the train to Hogwarts left from Kings Cross; I did remember it was Platform 9 and 3/4. While I was wandering around looking for a restroom while waiting for my train I first saw the Harry Potter store, then immediately next to it was a long line of people and then I noticed they were lining up to have their pictures taken at Platform 9 and 3/4.
When it was finally time to board the train we realized that of course everyone who had been on the cancelled 9:30 train as well as everyone who had booked the 10:00 AM train were trying to find seats on the 10:00 AM, including those of us including myself who had supposedly reserved a specific seat. I was able to find an aisle seat facing forward. As people were milling around in the aisles looking for empty seats, often together, an announcement was made over the PA system suggesting that if people could not find seats they should get off the train and get on the one on the adjacent platform, which would be leaving in another half an hour. I was going to do so myself but the people in my immediate area found places to sit somewhere.
Although I don't often initiate conversations with people I don't know, except for performers I've just been listening to or watching, I will respond when someone else starts talking to me. This was the case with the woman in the window seat next to me. She said her name was Janice, and I gathered she was an event planner with her own company which she fairly recently started. She mentioned she was on her way to Leeds, further up the line past York, to see her son who is a dancer in a show that recently won a BAFTA. I had my camera out on the tray in the back of the seat in front of me, in case I wanted to try and take pictures along the way (I didn't even try, although the scenery was often very pretty or included interesting buildings in the towns and cities we went through) and she asked me about it and cameras in general.
The trip up took about 2.25 hours, and it took me about 20 minutes or so to walk from the train station past the Minster and out the other side of the city walls to my hotel, where I was of course way too early to check in, but I could leave my pack and they would put it in my room for me when it was ready.
Once I knew where my hotel was, I used Google Maps to head on back through the city walls to find the visitors center to buy a York Pass which I knew includes a hop on, hop off bus ticket, a cruise on the river, and access to almost if not all of the historical sites and museums in York.
I had passed what looked like a very nice place, Betty's Café & Tea Room twice already so after I got my York Pass I went to Betty's for their wonderful afternoon tea & their version of a Pimm's cup for lunch. I also picked up a couple of small pastries, that actually fit into my sweatshirt pockets, for later.
I had been wondering how long around the circumference of York's city walls are and thought I might do the walk if they are about the same size as those around Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland. While I was waiting for my afternoon tea to be served I looked them up on Google on my older iPhone with the UK SIM and learned that Visit York suggests allowing two hours to do the whole circuit so I changed my mind about even trying.
The next thing I wanted to do was ride all the way around on the circuit for the hop on, hop off bus tour. When I had bought the York Pass, the woman who helped me pointed out a window from their counter and showed me where I needed to go to catch the bus but of course after I had lunch I couldn't quite remember where that was. I was waiting where I thought the bus stopped but it only went past instead. The driver, however, pointed around the corner and down the street to where the stop actually was.
I like York very much, especially almost everything I saw while wandering around on foot both yesterday and today. The hop on, hop off bus tour goes past many of the historical sites in town as well as out a bit into the surrounding suburbs and most of that was very pretty as well.
I got back off the bus right near the Minster and hoped I'd still have time to see it before it closed. When I went in, the woman who helped me at the ticket desk told me it was closing in about 40 minutes and she suggested I come back another day when I'd have more time to see it. Since I was there only until sometime Wednesday afternoon and there were other places I wanted to go while there in York, and quite frankly since I just wander around looking it really doesn't take me all that long to see a church I went in anyway.
The York Minster is indeed quite lovely, and I liked it very much. If I had wanted to look more closely and longer at the remarkable collection of stained glass windows, among all the other treasures in the buildings, they all would have repaid more time spent on them, but I very much enjoyed what I saw in the time I was there.
I had passed the boat dock for the tour closest to the Minster earlier, and headed on back down once I left the Minster. When I got there, I could see what turned out to be the last cruise of the day already leaving. There was a sign at that dock, however, advertising their evening cruise boarding at 7:00 PM for 7:30 from a different dock not far away. I figured I could kill an hour and half or so making my way over to the other dock, maybe stopping in for an iced coffee somewhere along the way, which I did.
The evening cruise leaves from the King's Staith landing which is across the river from Queen's Staith. Staith is from Old Norse meaning "landing". There are three restaurants or pubs down along the water there, all of which looked very nice.
When the boat arrived the crew announced that there was a group booked for the cruise and everyone else had to wait until they boardedthen they said that there were only 40 people in the group and the open top deck had over 100 seats by itself anyway. It was lovely still, so of course I went up top. I knew that as soon as we were out on the water and especially if we got into any shade I would be glad I had my sweatshirt and cap, and would probably wish I still had my fleece vest on as well, and I was right.
This cruise was as inherently amusing as any other river cruise I've ever been on15 minutes one way, turn around, go past the beginning and 15 minutes the other direction, and then back to the beginning again. There;s also about 10 minutes or so on either side where you can't see any of the historic buildings at all and are out in the countryside, but the captain/guide was very interesting and amusing, and the scenery and the early evening light were beautiful.
After the cruise I wanted to get back to my hotel as quickly as possible, primarily to find and check out my room and use my own bathroom, before having dinner somewhere. There is a restaurant across the street from the hotel and it has its own bar and restaurant as well, but I kept an eye out for possible places to see near the hotel on my way back there.
I really liked what I saw of my hotel, from the hotel's restaurant to the lobby and reception area up to my room. It's a very nice looking, very attractively decorated newer hotel with rooms in several different areas including what looks like small town homes across the small parking lot from the main part of the hotel. My room was up on the third floor, kind of under the eaves, and was very pleasant, pleasing, and comfortable, and much larger than my room here in London.
I had passed a Wagamama, an Asian chain I've eaten at and like a great deal here in London and in Scotland, not too far from the hotel and went back there for dinner and got there about 9:30 PM and had a very nice dinner before they closed although service could have been a bit faster.
When I got back to my room, I unpacked everythingthis time I had remembered the USB charger and all the cables I needed to recharge everything, but had left my plug in, always lit alarm clock on the desk back in my room in London. The room had one of its own which I could unplug from where it was and place it on my favored side of the bed where I could see it while lying on my side. The bedside table, however, was so low I had to take the metal kleenex box and put the alarm clock on it so I could see it at all.
I then posted any pictures and videos I had taken yesterday to Facebook, watched something streaming via the hotel's wifi, and went to bed.
12:30 AM, Thursday
Even though I had gone to sleep quite late Tuesday night, I still woke up before 7:00 AM this morning. I had purchased breakfast for today in the hotel's restaurant when I checked in yesterday but I knew that was served up until 10:30 AM so I wasn't in too much of a hurry to get moving before 9:00 AM or so.
Last night I had spent some time looking up where places I wanted to go today were and how long it took to get from one place to another was and in what order I wanted to go to them in. I figured I'd leave my pack there at the hotel instead of going all the way into the left luggage place near the station, walk on over to the place furthest from the hotel, work my way back to the hotel, pick up my pack and then either walk or take a cab over to the train station depending on how late in the afternoon I got back to the hotel.
The only thing I did not like about the hotel or my room was the shower in the bathroom. This one was an odd hand held model, which for some reason lost a great deal of pressure whenever I put the nozzle back into its holder so I had to hold it every time I wanted to rinse off.
Breakfast in the hotel's restaurant was pretty good, even if there was no porridge. I had a couple of fried eggs, a cinnamon roll, yogurt, juice and tea.
The place I wanted to go to first, the one furthest from the hotel, was the York Castle Museum right next to one of York's oldest places, Clifford's Tower. I liked the museum quite a bit and enjoyed wandering around it a great deal.
From the Castle Museum I walked back into the city walls to the Jorvik Viking Centre. When I got there, a bunch of school kids were in the group line waiting to go in, and while I was waiting in line another group showed up. I was worried I'd be caught between two groups of kids, but they actually control how many people enter at once. This is primarily because the main part of the attraction is a ride through simulation of Viking York in pods that hold only six people at a time. All these simulations are very well done, with animatronic people and sounds of the languages spoken at the time. At the end there is a small bit of a museum with some of the items excavated on the site and other places in the area.
The next place on the way back to the hotel was the incredible Merchant Adventurers Hall, an amazing surviving Medieval guild hall.
After that I stopped at the small but well done and enjoyable Roman bath museum, which is under a pub where the remains were discovered during its construction or remodeling. I was the only one there at the time, and had a nice chat with the guy working the reception desk then, mostly about mysteries set in the Roman Empire . I told him about my favorite mystery book web site on the Internet, stopyourekillingme.
The last place I wanted to go before making my way back to the hotel was the Yorkshire Museum down by the river. This is another very well done, very enjoyable small museum with lots of interesting exhibits. It's set in some very lovely gardens which also include the remains of an old abbey.
Unfortunately there is no café there in the museum, and I still hadn't had lunch and wanted to eat something before I headed on back to the train station and my return trip back here to London. Right across the street from the museum is Bailey's Vintage Tea Room which is pretty nice and where I had a pretty good slice of quiche and some soup.
By the time I got back to my hotel to pick up my pack I decided I'd ask reception to call a cab to save some time and because I didn't want to carry my pack all the way. It wasn't heavy so much as it was bulky. Traffic was kind of heavy and it would have probably taken the same amount of time if I had walked back.
I got to the station and onto the platform just as the 4:30 PM train back to London Kings Cross was boarding. Once again things on the train were a mess, with people like myself who had open return anytime tickets with no reserved seats trying to find empty seats, and reserved seats with no one in them. I found an open seat at one of the small tables, facing in the right direction, and the seat was reserved through to Doncaster which was the next station. There was no one in the seat across from me, which meant I had adequate leg room for that part of the trip, but at Doncaster someone got on and sat in that seat. She got off at the next station, so I had plenty of leg room again until the next station when a lovely young woman got on and sat in the seat across the table from me. This was at the last stop before London and very few people got on there so there were several empty seats available. I moved to a rear facing seat which had an empty seat next to it.
Once we got into Kings Cross it was about 7:00 PM. Because I didn't want to carry my pack through the Tube stations and onto the trains and to save time, I caught a cab from the station directly back here to my hotel. I wanted to drop my pack off before finding somewhere to have dinner. I thought I'd probably eat at the Ask Italian next to the Gloucester Road Tube station. I had been amused that the York Pass also includes some sort of discount at the Ask Italian there in York not far from the visitors center but decided that while I was in York I'd eat somewhere else.
I had another nice dinner at the Ask Italian, although service could have been quicker than it was. I finished early enough to make it into the Waitrose there to pick up some yogurt and chocolate milk before they closed at 10:00 PM.
Once I got back here to my room I unpacked my dirty clothes and what I had taken up to York and plugged most of my electronics in again. I then began the process of unloading and resoaking all my diabetes syringe cooling packs, which take three batches in my small sink and which are all now draining and drying off in my small shower.
While I was doing that I also posted my pictures and single short video from today to Facebook.
And because I am often cold while using the desk next to the window here in my room I turned up the heater a bit. Sometime after midnight the fire alarm went off, went silent, went off again, and went silent again. When I called reception I was told my heater had set the alarm off. I told him I don't smoke but had turned up the heater and was asked to turn it off and not turn it up that high again which I agreed to.
It's now almost 1:30 AM. I'm very tired but still rather awake. The suitcase where I've been keeping all the syringe coolers is also the one where I have all my pills, in a side pocket each for the ones I take in the morning and the ones for the evening. Once a week I sort them out into two seven day pill containers, usually on Sunday but apparently I skipped a couple more days than just last night and this morning. I left the suitcase sitting on my bed after I took the last batch of coolers out, and so I'll take the time to sort my pills out before I move the suitcase again.
I was going to check Facebook since I haven't done that since Monday night, but think I'll do that in the morning instead. The only thing I have scheduled for tomorrow is another concert at St M in the F at 7:30 PM so I probably won't head out much before noon.
Although the weather was wonderful today, the warmest it's been since I've been here in London, real shirt sleeve weather, I didn't do much of anything today to take advantage of the good weather.
When I woke up this morning I didn't feel rested but still a bit tired and slightly dizzy. After two days that were full with travel and going lots of places, this morning I just didn't feel as if I had very much energy. I wasn't hungry, not even enough to have one of my Slimfasts, but just hung out here in my room until lunch time.
Since I'm moving on to Paris next week, I thought I'd try and have lunch at the branch of Paul, a Parisian bakery & café across the street from the Gloucester Road Tube station but there were no tables available when I got there so I went across and around the corner to the Garfunkel's instead. When I went past the Starbucks on my way back here there was a small table available so I stopped and had an iced coffee.
After I got back here I stretched out for a while to watch something streaming and might even have briefly fallen asleep.
About 4:30 PM I decided it was probably time to head into town for dinner somewhere before tonight's concert at St Martin in the Fields. It was horribly busy on the Tube to Leicester Square when I got on the train but since I was standing there with my walking stick looking a bit worried someone got up off one of the seats reserved for the mobility impaired, which I certainly am on a moving Underground train due to bad knees and even worse balance. It was even more crowded from South Kensington onwards, and when we got to Leicester Square I had difficulty getting past the people standing in the aisle and in front of the door to get off the car in time.
Leicester Square station has at least two entrances/exits which are right across the street from each other. I've been there enough now to know which building & theater marquee to look for to make sure I head the right way to Trafalgar Square and St Martin in the Fields. Usually I go down the side of the street St M in the F is on but tonight I went down the side where the Portrait Gallery is instead. Somehow I may have never noticed before but right before the Gallery is a street with lots of cafes and restaurants, including what seemed to be three different Italian ones in a row. I saw that there was a branch of Wagamama which I like and where I'd eaten in York two nights ago, so I had dinner there.
Tonight's concert was delightful, as is usual with all the concerts I've been to at St M in the F. I don't think I've heard this ensemble before, the London Octave. Tonight's ensemble included seven players and an oboe soloist for two piecesdirector, first violin and occasional soloist; another first violin; second violin; viola; cello and founding member; bass; and harpsichord.
I was fairly familiar with several of the pieces on tonight's program: Handel's "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from "Solomon" ; I wasn't that familar with the second piece, Mozart's "Divertimento for strings in F" from his "Salzburg symphony #3"; I was more familiar the next piece, Handel's "Concerto for oboe & strings in G minor" ; they used a transcription for viola instead of the original contralto of Bach's "Agnus dei" from his "Mass in B minor" ; and the first half was rounded out by "Spring" from Vivaldi's "Four seasons".
The first piece in the second half was Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik", or to give it the full title "Serenade for strings in G", which I know quite well and love. The next piece in the second half was the "Air" from Handel's "Water music". The final piece of the program was the very enjoyable "Concerto in D minor for oboe, violin and strings" by Bach.
I was feeling a bit tired and slightly dizzy after the concert for some reason and really didn't want to have to do all the stairs at Leicester Square and Gloucester Road if I took the Tube back home so I caught a cab from St M in the F instead but had him drop me off at Gloucester Road so I could buy some juice, a can of beer (I don't think I brought a bottle opener so I'll look for one later), and a couple of snacks including a fruit salad.
It's now 12:30, and that's it for tonight. I went through all the email I received since Monday night, almost all of it junk. I still haven't been on Facebook since then either, but I did check Patreon to see what my traveling friend Cat has posted lately.
I've also started copying the CDs I bought in York to my laptop as well.
I don't have a concert tomorrow night so I think I'll save the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery until then, in combination with one or two other places then as well.
If the weather tomorrow is anything like it was today, I think I'll hit the Natural History Museum about 10:00 AM and try to be done before lunch time. Then I'll take the Tube downtown to the Westminster pier for the 2:00 PM sailing on the Thames River Boats service to Kew Gardens, where the last boat sailing back to Westminster leaves at 5:30 PM. I'll then either look for somewhere to eat dinner in the area or, more likely, take the Tube back here to Gloucester Road instead.
I had a slight change of plans this morning, when I finally looked again at the estimated times for the boat trip to Kew Gardens from and back to Westminster Pier, and noticed that it takes 90 minutes each way. I decided I'd save that trip for another dayif necessary I can take the Tube there or close to it much quicker. If the weather is as nice tomorrow as it was today I think I'll take the boat trip to Kew and back early enough to still make it back to have dinner somewhere before my 7:30 concert at St Martin in the Fields. I should be able to catch the boat to Kew at 10:30 AM, 11:00 or 11:30 and still have plenty of time to see Kew and catch the 3:30 or 4:30 boat back to Westminster.
Since today was only Friday and not really the weekendwhich includes Monday this time since it's a bank holidayI decided I'd try the Natural History Museum even though I took the morning off. And indeed it really wasn't all that crowded, although there were still plenty of people it was quite manageable. My first priority was to have some lunch since I skipped breakfast again. I know there are a couple of cafes of different sizes and offerings there at the museum but I went to the first one I could find and had a decent pre-made chicken caesar wrap and a pastry. As usual I know I didn't see everythingI think somehow I missed the entire mammals hall and remember seeing a couple of giraffes from up above that I didn't find once I got down to that level again. And as usual I didn't stop to read much of the informative display signs either, just wandered around having a good look.
I always enjoy the whole dinosaurs section. The new & temporary Museum of the Moon is amazing although basically all it is a large scale model of the Moon. And once again the pictures in this year's "Wildlife photographer of the year" special exhibit are amazing. Almost all of them were taken in places that I could never get to in my life, being in remote locations not easily accessible by any way I could get there due to my bad knees and bad balance or were taken using camera angles I am unlikely to duplicate for the same reasons.
From the museum I walked to the nearby South Kensington Tube station to take the District line over to Sloane Square, the closest station to the delightful Chelsea Physic Garden.
I was rather surprised to see a lot of people when I got up to street level at Sloane Square, and soon saw that it probably was because they were all walking from there over to the Chelsea Flower Show which is a huge event and which I have no desire to visit. The give away clue was a sign with directions how to get there. I'm not sure if I can explain my lack of interest in a flower show, other than although I love many gardens I'm not interested in gardening and much prefer flowers in their natural settins in a garden than in an artificial setting elsewhere.
I'm quite fond of the Physic Garden, and in the past have gone on one of their guided tours or wandered around reading more of the signs and finding the various sections of the different types of plants and their uses but today I just wandered around enjoying the layout as a whole and a couple of times stopping at a bench to read on my iPhone and enjoy the gardens and the bird sounds.
I really didn't want to walk all the way back to the Sloane Square station to take the Tube back to Gloucester Road, with having to use the stairs on either end, so I used one of the apps on my iPhone to summon a cab. Sometimes I've come back here to the hotel first to get rid of my camera and occasionally my walking stick since I don't really need it between Gloucester Road and here but not today. I was feeling just slightly but noticeably dizzy so I didn't want to have a pint before dinner and tried Starbucks to see if I could find an empty table but couldn't so I went on down the street to the Caffe Nero where as usual there were lots of free tables. I had an iced coffee first and then later one of their juice blends to kill enough time until 6:30 PM or so. I also picked up a couple of small pastries which I'll have when I finish these notes.
I first wanted to see if I could get a table at the Hereford Arms since their menu looks pretty good but I was told they were fully booked. I'll probably go back to the Comptoir Libanais before I leave, and might wind up having dinner at the Prezzo near St M in the F before one of my remaining concerts so I didn't want Italian tonight. I wasn't feeling like Indian food although the restaurant around the corner and up the street has been excellent when I've been there in the past. For some reason although the new Emirates restaurant is very visually appealing and I would probably eat much of the menu if I knew more about what I see on the menu posted outside I decided to not go there. And for some reason although I've liked the food at the Pan-Asian Umami restaurant before, tonight it really didn't appeal to me. So from the restaurants in the immediate vicinity that pretty much just left Garfunkel's which I've always liked and have been to for breakfast and lunch this trip but not dinner yet.
My timing there was actually very good. I was the last single patron seated before a total of 100 people in a couple of different groups were already booked. I had another good meal there and although service was slightly distracted and a bit slower than usual due to the large groups it wasn't too bad.
Before I came back here to my room I stopped at the Waitrose for some juice to have with a shot of rum later, a small thing of milk, and a yogurt.
As usual, once I got back to my room I uploaded my pictures on my iPhone from today to Facebook, which I checked after I watched something streaming.
I'm still sort of hoping I can convince my traveling musician friend Cat to come to Paris while I'm there so I sent her a couple of messages on FB. One was to tell her the dates I'll be thereWednesday 5/29 through Sunday 6/16, and in Chartres Friday 5/31 returning Saturday 6/1. Another was to tell her which area I'll be staying in and which districts/arrondissements are closest (Marais and Bastille) and which are the two Metro stops closest to where I'm staying (Voltaire and John Lenoir) when she looks for a hostel.
The last messages were to entice and tempt her even further. When I saw Cat in Dublin I told her that if she comes to Paris while I'm there I'll take her on at least one open top bus tour and one Seine river cruise, perhaps one during the day and again on a later evening. This time I also told her that depending on how long she's in Paris when I'm also there I'll take her to some of my favorite museums and sent her their web pages. If she's there for a day we'll go to the wonderful and delightful Musee des arts et metiers and the Musee Cognacq-Jay, both in the Marais. If she's there another day we'll add the amazing Cluny medieval museum and the astonishing Pantheon. And if she's around for a third day we'll go to the delightful Orangerie and the superb Musee d'Orsay which I love as much for the building itself as for the Impressionist art there.
I also told Cat that if she's there in Paris on an evening I already have a concert ticket we can try to get an additional one for her or she could just enjoy an evening on her own in Paris.
Part of the reason I'm not inviting Cat to sleep on the couch in my AirBnb rental in Paris is that I have some misgivings about my current rental including the size. The first place I was going to stay, where the owner had to cancel due to some new restrictions on short term rentals or something like that, listed having laundry facilities in the buiding. I don't see that for my new place and will have to ask my host or their agents about that. And the pictures posted of the rental show a tight squeeze in the bedroom between the bed and walls. Also none of the pictures show a closet or dressers or anywhere to put clothes. I know that is probably deliberate and hope such things are actually there.
The main reason of course is lack of privacy. Although I'm pretty sure I couldn't handle hosting any of my Ren Faire performer friends for a full seven weeks or even the shorter duration of Camelot Days three weeksI'm pretty sure I could handle guests for a couple of days since there is a lot more scope for privacy in my house since there is a separate guest bedroom downstairs.
It's now almost midnight. Before I go to bed I want to do a little sorting of my lists and checking opening hours to help me decide where I still want to go here in London tomorrow, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before I leave for Paris.
More tomorrow night after my concert at St M in the F.
Although it is not unusual for me to change my plans for the day, today I had to do so for an unforeseen but actually not all that rare of an occurrence. I had planned on going in to town for a late lunch and visiting the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery before finding somewhere for an iced coffee or pint and then having dinner somewhere else before tonight's concert at St Martin in the Fields.
As I was getting ready to put my jeans on, howeverthe ones I only bought while in Killarney a few weeks agoI noticed that the inseam on one of the legs had unraveled by a few inches. My only other pair of slacks is in the dirty laundry because I spilled something on them and want them cleaned before I wear them again, so I thought I might as well find the nearest department store or somewhere that sells men's clothes and get at least one or two pairs as a replacement. Since I wanted to get wherever I was going and back as quickly as possible so I could change jeans and still have lunch not too late I decided to take a cab.
At first I thought I would find a Gap store but when I asked the guy working reception downstairs where he would go he recommended Marks & Spencer but he also said he often goes to Primark instead because they're a bit less expensive.
I had the cabby drop me off at the nearest Primark, which he thought was over on Oxford Street which is the busiest shopping area in London. Things were very busy in the Primark there, as if they were having a huge sale which they might have been doing since this is a holiday weekend. I was able to get one of the employees on the floor to help me find a couple of jeans in the right size, I paid for them, left and immediately was able to flag down a cab to bring me back to the Gloucester Road Tube station to find somewhere to have lunch before too late.
It never even occurred to me to check the fly before I bought the jeans, and only learned they were button rather than zipped when I put them on when I got back to my room.
I got to the Paul bakery/café by the station about 2:30 PM and there were several small tables inside, so I had a croque monsieur (a grilled ham & cheese sandwich) and a pastry for lunch and both were very good. While I was eating I noticed the staff preparing iced coffees for someone and had an iced latte when I was done. I also bought a couple of small pastries which I'm going to have when I'm done with these notes and checking Facebook.
After lunch I hung out here in my room until about 5:00 PM when I headed into town to find somewhere for dinner. I was able to find a place to sit on the train from Gloucester Road but at South Kensington, the very next stop, it started to get very crowded on the train and got worse from there. I would have had worse trouble getting off at my stop, Leicester Square, if the people standing near the doorway were not getting off themselves.
Things were very busy around Leicester Square and everywhere I passed on my way down to St M in the Fs, especially everywhere that had tables outside. I hoped that because the Wagamama there doesn't have any outside seating and is down a level from the street they wouldn't be as busy and they weren't so I had another good meal there again this evening.
As I went around the corner and even closer to Trafalgar Square I could hear lots of people shouting and chanting, and as I was waiting for the house to open for the concert I saw lots of groups of guys shouting and chanting and drinking from open containers of beer. As they went past I noticed that lots of them seemed to be wearing team jerseys. It was not a very pleasant experience.
Fortunately tonight's concert was worth the trip and more than made up for all the ass holes in Trafalgar. Tonight's orchestra was the small Brandenburg Sinfonia, whom I have heard before in previous concerts at St M in the Fs but not so far this year. Tonight they were in two groups for the different piecesthe whole orchestra of two lower clarinets, two bassoons, small chamber organ, trumpet, trombone, three violins or two violins and a viola, a cello and a string bass, or smaller ensemble of the three violins, cello, bass, and organ. The vocal ensemble tonight was St M in the Fs home performing choir, St Martin's Voices whom I think I might have heard before. Tonight there were six women (two each sopranos, mezzo sopranos, and altos) and seven guys.
I had never heard the three pieces in the first half at all before, and had never heard or seen the only piece in the second half live before and enjoyed the whole concert a great deal.
The first piece of the evening was Haydn's "Te deum in C major" which used the full orchestra and choir.
The second piece was Mozart's short but delightful "Church sonata #15 in C" for which they used a smaller ensemble of the organ and the five stringed instruments.
The final piece in the first half was Mozart's "Missa brevis in F" which also used the smaller instrumental ensemble and the full choir with soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass soloists who were all excellent.
The only piece in the second half, which gave the concert its title, was Mozart's "Requiem" .
The program for tonight's concert was quite well written and informative as well as providing all the texts in Latin and translated into English. The writer also dealt with the myth that Antonio Salieri had commissioned the writing of the "Requiem"it was for someone else.
I have heard the "Requiem" several times before on the classical radio stations I've listened to over the years but just from hearing it I of course didn't realize that Mozart often slips from using the full chorus to four soloists, which was very smoothly done tonight. I think my favorite section might have been "Tuba mirum", "The trumpet will send its wondrous sound" and started as a trio between the trumpet, trombone and bass soloist.
After the concert I really didn't want to be stuck waiting for and on a subway train from downtown with a lot of ass holes who were drunk and had been partying. I used the app to summon a cab although when the app said the cab had arrived and I couldn't find it I flagged down the very next vacant cab I could. I did use the app to cancel the ride and indicated it was because I couldn't find the driver.
As we were leaving I asked the driver if he knew what was going on at Trafalgar Square tonight. He told me that tomorrow is a big soccer/football match at Wembley Stadium and fans of at least one of the teams had come to the Square to party.
When I came in I stopped at the reception desk to buy a couple small bottles of Orangina and Schweppes lemonade which I'm going to have with my pastries as soon as I am done with today's notes.
Before I started this evening I checked Facebook and I think I might have convinced my friend Cat to come to Paris to visit me while I'm there. When she was there in Glasgow she left some of her CDs she hopes to sell with a cousin whom she only learned about fairly recently and was debating whether she needed to go back to Glasgow from Ireland to collect them or if she could have them sent to me in Paris. I told her I would check with my airbnb host and let her know.
Cat also told me she's meeting with Vince Conaway, a good friend of hers and hammer dulcimer player whom I've met twice and gone out for a meal with a larger group last year at the Tuxedo Park/NY Renaissance Festival. Vince has been busking and touring in Italy and is heading for Ireland, and Cat and Vince will be in Cork at the same time sometime next week.
It's still not quite midnight but will be soon. Tomorrow is Sunday so I think I'll save visiting Westminster Abbey and taking a guided tour, going to St Paul's Cathedral and taking a guided tour there, just visiting the smaller but delightful Southwark Cathedral, and then taking the Tate Boat from Tate Modern down the river to Tate Britain which I love until Monday.
So tomorrow I think I'll go to, in the following order from furthest to nearest, the Museum of London, the charming Postman's Park, the gardens at the ruins of Christchurch Greyfriars Church which I've never been to before, the London Mithraeum which I've also never been to before, and then on to the British Museum.
Then if I still have time I'll go to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery or I might save them before my last concert at St M in the Fs on Tuesday.
Today I only went one of the places I thought I might go to. Last night and this morning I felt like I had twisted my back a bit which made getting up out of chairs a little difficult and painful so I cut short where I decided to go.
My first stop planned, and the only one I actually made it to, was the Museum of London. I got there by the Tube from the Gloucester Road station, and although things got a bit crowded after Victoria Station with lots of people getting on with their luggage I had a place to sit the entire time I was on the train and didn't have a lot of trouble getting off at Mansion House.
For some reason, however, I had trouble walking from the Mansion House station to the museum. What was supposed to be a 15 minute walk took over 45 minutes. For part of the time at least my iPhone kept losing the signal from Google Maps, so I seem to have gone off track or missed a turn several times and didn't know it because when I recalibrated and got directions again I was still 15 minutes away from the museum.
Most of the restaurants & cafes I passed on the way were closed today, the middle day of a three day holiday weekend. I had skipped breakfast before I left and hadn't even felt hungry enough to have one of my Slimfasts (I should probably buy another one to have Wednesday morning before I leave to catch the Eurostar), so when I got there I was glad to see that not only was the Museum of London open but at least their café on the main floor was open as well, and I later saw that so was the coffe shop downstairs. The first thing I did was have a toasted sandwich which was very good, some soup that was OK if a little too spicy for me, and a small iced coffee.
I love the M of L, and even paid the small extra fee for the "Beasts of London" special exhibit . As usual I didn't spend too much time looking at the exhibits or the informative signage or even the "Beasts" exhibit but that was because it was much more geared for families with kids who were quite excited by the whole thing and a bit too loud in all of the smaller sections there.
I was still having a bit of trouble getting up after sitting down because my back was a bit stiff and hurt mildly so I decided to skip any of the other places I had thought I might go. Before I left I went back downstairs to the smaller café and had a soft drink and some juice before going up to the exit level and then waving down the next free cab I saw once I got back to street level.
By then it was only about 4:00 PM so I decided to just come back here to my room in the hotel until about 6:00 PM when I'd head on out for some iced coffee somewhere and then find somewhere different for dinner.
This morning I had sent a note to my airbnb host in Paris asking about whether Cat could mail a package to me there, and this afternoon I had received a reply. They really don't want their guests to have anything shipped there because sometimes the packages aren't receivedI don't know if they meant they get stolen or just don't arrive while the intended recipient is still there. When I told Cat that via FB message she said she might have to go back to Glasgow for a couple of days before going on to meet me in Paris.
Nerd that I am, and often get curious when friends have logistical problems, I later checked to see if there is a quick way to get from Cork to Glasgow (Aer Lingus, apparently) and if there is train from Glasgow to Paris (seven and a half hours total, Glasgow to Edinburgh to London to Paris through the Chunnel).
I couldn't tell from the airbnb listing for where I'll be staying if there are laundry facilities on the premises, and rather thought they would be listed if there, so I also sent a message via airbnb to my host asking about that as well. There isn't one I can use in the building where I'll be staying but there is one right across the street. Later I only slightly jokingly sent Cat a FB message suggesting she should include another day in her Paris plansshe could come over, do some laundry and we'd find somewhere in the neighborhood where I could buy her lunch.
Before dinner I thought I'd see if I could find any empty small table at the Stabucks across the street from the Gloucester Road station and I did so I had an iced coffee there. I also stopped in at the Paul's to pick up a couple of small pastries at least one of which I should have before closing up for the night.
I hadn't yet been to one of my favorite local restaurants this trip, the Scoff & Banter which is in one of the fancier hotels between here and Cromwell Road and apparently is one of the best regarded chains specializing in British cuisine. I had garlic mushrooms as an appetizer and they were very good. They came on top of a piece of toast, however. Since I am not that fond of open top sandwiches I ate the mushrooms first then the garlic & mushroom juice flavored toast by itself. I had their excellent fisherman's pie with peas and some green leafy vegetable I didn't recognize and both of which were very good. I had Eton mess for dessert which is always rather fun.
On the way back I stopped at the Tesco Express to pick up a bottle of hard cider and a small milk I'm going to have with my pastry.
I have two final days here in London before moving on to Paris Wednesday. I need to pay to have one last load of laundry done here in my hotel since I don't have enough clean clothes to last until I can do them across the street from where I'll be staying after I get there, and besides I really want my only pair of non-button fly slacks washed and back to me as soon as possible. I need to get my clothes sorted and bagged and downstairs before 8:00 AM.
Nowhere I want to go tomorrow is open before 10:00 AM, so I'll probably have breakfast at Garfunkel's one last time before catching the Tube from Gloucester Road. After that the rest of my plans for tomorrow are to go to the following, mostly in order of nearest to furthest away: Westminster Abbey, probably in time to take the 90 minute verger guided tour at 10:00, 10:30, or 11:00; make my way on over to St Paul's cathedral and probably also take the 90 minute guided tour there as well, probably stopping for lunch somewhere along the way; crossing the Thames from St Paul's over the Millenium Bridge to Southwark cathedral which I love; then taking the Tate Boat from Tate Modern down to Tate Britain, which I also love; then probably taking a cab from there back here.
If my clean laundry comes back tomorrow evening I'll start packing things I won't need tomorrow night, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. If not, I'll do that Tuesday night.
Tuesday evening I have my last concert at St Martin in the Fields. I plan on being at the British Museum by lunch time, then catching the Tube back to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery before having dinner prior to the concert.
Today was another day of changed plans and cancellations.
I was up early enough to shave, shower, sort and bag my dirty laundry and get it downstairs to reception before 8:00 AM. I then came back upstairs to my room to get my sweatshirt vest, one of Dad's caps which I usually wear every Monday, camera, walking stick and glasses.
First I went to the Garfunkel's for breakfast. I may not have mentioned it yet this trip but one of the waitresses is from Eastern Europethat's not particularly noteworthy but this particular charming waitress remembered me from my last trip here two years ago and the times before that. She's the only one I saw this trip whom I remember as having been working there before.
I took the Tube from Gloucester Road over to Westminster. When I got on at Gloucester Road there were no free seats in the car I came in on but since I as usual had one of my canes with me someone got up off one of the seats designated for the mobility impaired. I've said it beforewhen it comes to standing up on a moving bus, train or subway car I am definitely impaired and should really be sitting down unless I am crammed safely into a corner and have something different for each of my hands to grab and hold on to. Otherwise I would probably wind up falling onto somebody.
There was already a line waiting to get into Westminster Abbey when I got there a bit before 10:00 AM. One of the vergers policing the entry lines saw me with my cane and waved me into the smallest line. I used my London Pass to get in and paid the small additional fee for the 90 minute verger guided tour. I thought I had arrived too late for the 10:00 AM tour so I bought the ticket for the 10:30 one but as I was sitting waiting for what I thought was the next tour, 10:30, the hourly broadcast request for silence and a prayer came on and shortly after that the verger came for the 10:00 tour.
The Abbey was quite crowded, especially for a Monday, but today was the last of a three day bank holiday. I settled for just wandering around with the tour seeing what I could see despite all the other visitors standing around in awkward places listening to their audio guides.
I also decided that I would skip St Paul's until tomorrow, my last day here in London, because it would probably be just as crowded there.
Photography is not permitted in most of the Abbey except for what they consider to be technically outside the place of worship, which is in what was used by the old abbey for business related purposes such as the cloisters and the chapter house which we can go into on our own after the tour.
I had taken out my iPhone to take some pictures in the cloisters to post on Facebook when I saw a note from my airbnb host whose rental I was planning on staying in in Paris and had already paid for. He said they needed to cancel my reservation because there had been a plumbing emergency and water from upstairs was dripping onto their electrical board. I sat down where I was and immediately brought up both Booking and Priceline on my iPhoneI was actually surprised I could get reception where I was insideto find a last minute emergency hotel reservation instead which I did. The new reservation would have been fine, in much the same area and also across the street from one of my favorite museums in Paris, the Musee des arts et metiers.
Right after that I sent a FB message to my friend Cat letting her know I wasn't going to be staying where I had thought I was going to be and that I hoped she hadn't made any hostel reservations yet. I heard back from her a few minutes latershe hasn't quite firmed up her plans but might be arriving on June 1st and leaving for Zurich on the 4th. I asked her if she could possibly stay a day longer, since if she comes in on the 1st and that's when I'll be coming back from Chartres we wouldn't have enough time to see any museums.
Instead of taking the 40 minute walk from Westminster Abbey down to and then along the Thames to the Southwark Cathedral or figuring out how to get there using the Underground I took a cab instead.
Before I went to the Cathedral I wanted to have lunch first. The Borough Market which I like and has plenty of food stalls was open but they all have none to very little seating. Many of the other cafes and pubs in the area were open. Right down the street, however, is one of my very favorite pubs in all of London, the historic George Inn. I thought the place would be too busy for me to find a place to sit and have lunch and although the outside tables/smoking area were all pretty busy there were lots of tables of various sizes free inside. I had an OK bowl of soup and a pretty good steak and ale pie with gravy & mashed potatoes and a pint of an excellent local beer.
Once again as I took my iPhone out of my pocket to take some pictures of the George for later posting to Facebook I saw another message from my supposedly former host on airbnb & a FB message from Cat (whom I haven't heard from since then). My airbnb host said the plumbing problem turned out to be minor and was well under control and I was OK to stay there if I still wanted. Although I had found another replacement place to stay on Booking I hadn't yet sent a message to airbnb reporting that the host had cancelled on me, so I went back online with Booking and was able to cancel my reservation there with only a 100 Euro penalty. I had been worried I had actually made a no cancellation reservation.
I love Southwark Cathedral. It's one of my favorite smaller churches anywhere for the lovely building itself and its history. There is a monument to William Shakespeare because it was his parish church when he lived and worked in London. I was a bit disappointed that the wonderful garden out back seemed to be closed today.
When I left the Cathedral I thought it was 4:00 PM and I still wanted to visit Tate Britain which closed at 6:00 PM so to save time I used the app to call a cab. It turned out it was then only 3:00 PM. The TB is a smaller, more intimate museum which doesn't take me all that long to go through but I enjoy doing so. There might have been even less to see today than when I've been there before, since one exhibit hall had nothing but some interesting bits of construction machinery and another hall was blocked off but you could see where they were working.
I had an iced tea in the café downstairs and then caught a cab back to Gloucester Road. For the first time this trip, or possibly that I can remember at all, I had a woman cab driver.
Starbucks wasn't too busy when I got there and I was able to find a free small table and had an iced coffee there before coming back here to my room.
When I walked into the hotel, the guy working the reception desk whom I think might be one of the managers told me that due to the bank holiday today the laundry hadn't been picked up, which the guys working this morning didn't seem to know about. I told him that it would be OK if it were definitely to be done and returned tomorrow since I am leaving Wednesday morning. He assured me it would be and left notes for tomorrow morning's staff.
After I came back up to my room I dug out the paperwork and ticket for my Eurostar train to Paris on Wednesday, mostly to confirm the time and figure out when I need to leave here to have plenty of time at the stationand of course to remind myself which station I need to go to. The train leaves from St Pancras at 10:24 AM and they suggest getting there 45 minutes to an hour early so I need to leave here about 8:30 AM. It was while looking at my ticket that I saw the luggage restrictiontwo larger bags and one carry on. I have two of each and there is no way I can get everything into just three bags.
I started panicking a bit and did a search for "eurostar excess baggage" on Google on my iPhone. Through Eurostar's own web page I eventually found a link to First Luggage Eurostar luggage delivery. I also turned on my laptop and started checking Priceline for possible flights from London to Paris on Friday to see how much that might cost instead.
I was able to book a door to door luggage delivery service for pickup of two bags from here at my hotel Wednesday morning from 6-8 AM with delivery to my airbnb address in Paris sometime that day for 158 GBP, far less than I could find for a last minute plane ticket. I then did a lot of calling the numbers listed on the company's help/contact us web page to see if I could switch to picking up my bags at Gare du Nord instead, since I have a private ride, I'm not sure when I'll actually be able to check in at my Paris address, and when my bags would be delivered. No one ever answered despite repeated attempts to call all the numbers they listed, possibly due to the bank holiday today. I'll have to try calling again first thing tomorrow morning.
After I gave up trying to contact the luggage service by phone it was about 7:00 PM so I went on over to Gloucester Road station again. I wasn't quite ready for dinner yet so I had another iced coffee at Starbucks since there were tables available. I went back to Comptoir Libanais again because I've liked the food there and also like the variety since there were still things on the menu that looked good I hadn't had yet.
It's now just past midnight.
My plan for tomorrow is to be at St Paul's Cathedral well before 10 AM for the first guided tour. That tour also lasts 90 minutes, which should get me out of St Paul's before noon.
From there I plan on heading over to the British Museum, which is only a half an hour walk away from St Paul's. I know from experience that if I don't see anywhere I like for lunch along the way there are excellent cafes and restaurants in the museum itself.
Then from the British Museum it is only less than a 20 minute walk on over to Trafalgar Square where I want to go to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in the afternoon before finding somewhere for an iced coffee or a pint and somewhere else for dinner before my last concert at 7:30 with the house opening at 7:00 PM.
I am not going to get a lot of sleep tomorrow night, and will probably want to take a nap once I'm in my Paris airbnb and have all my luggage, including the two pieces I'm having delivered door to door. Once I get back here after the concert I need to pick up my laundry, and start packing what I won't need Wednesday morning into my two larger suitcases. Shipping my two larger suitcases will actually give me more flexibility since the luggage allowance on the Eurostar is "two bags plus one item of hand luggage", so what I'll pack to take with me on the train are my smaller suitcase, my book pack, and my hat boxquite a manageable load.
Wednesday morning I should be up, showered, and dressed and have my two bags to be picked up downstairs before 6:00 AM. I might wait to pack my book bag and smaller suitcase until after I've dropped off my two larger bags but I still need to be downstairs and waiting for a cab with my three smaller bags by 8:30 AM.
More probably tomorrow after my last concert at St M in the Fs.
11:30 PM, in my small, basic but workable for one person mini-apartment in Paris, not far from where I've stayed before and wanted to stay again but couldn't because the Grand Hotel Malher was booked for when I planned on being here in Paris.
Although there were several instances over the last two days where I was rather anxious, stressed, and worried due to logistical and communications problems thing eventually worked out nicely.
I really didn't do much of anything at all on Tuesday. I had to spend most of the morning trying to get the First Luggage Eurostar luggage delivery office to contact me about arranging specific time for delivery here at my airbnb rental in Paris and to have them send the required luggage tags for me to print. This finally happened after 1:30 PM, pretty much ruining my chances of doing anything else yesterday afternoon.
I went to have lunch at the Garfunkel's at Gloucester Road, and had my hair cut at the Supercuts there as well. I think I've basically noticed that the Supercuts was there all the times I've been to Gloucester Road, but I do remember that one time when I needed a hair cut I walked all the way over to a barber shop somewhere in Kensington.
I also stopped off at the corner store/post office to buy a roll of packing tape to seal the Eurostar extra luggage tags to the two bags I wanted to ship.
About 5:00 PM I took a taxi downtown to have dinner before what was supposed to be my last concert at St Martin in the Fields. I had a very nice dinner and dessert at the Prezzo across the street first. When I went back to St M in the Fs, I finally looked at the ticket for the concert and saw that it had actually been Monday night instead. I took another cab back to Gloucester Road, had an iced tea at Starbucks, stopped at the Tesco for some snacks and went back to my hotel room.
After I picked up my clean laundry from reception Tuesday night I packed almost everything I wasn't going to need Wednesday morning but didn't try and tape the luggage labels to the larger suitcases in case I needed to put anything else in them. I probably should have, though.
Before I closed up last night, I copied all my pictures from last week from my camera's memory card to my laptop, sorted them all out, and then copied those folders to my three backup USB external hard drives.
I slept very poorly last night, partly due to anxiety, stress, having to get up at 5:00 AM to shower & pack everything, tape the labels on the suitcases, and get them downstairs before 6:00 AM for the Eurostar Extra Luggage pickup. This was the first bit of bad luck & logistics of the day. I could not get the damn roll of packing tape started, reception had no tape they could let me have, and I had no time to go up the street to the Tesco to try and buy another roll of tape that would work better.
Instead I had about half an hour to find a last minute flight from London to Paris, with as few stops as possible. For quite a bit of money, I was able to find a direct flight on British Airways leaving about 9:00 AM and getting into Paris 11:30 local time/10:30 London time. I then had to send messages to My Daily Driver to try and arrange pickup at Charles de Gaulle instead of Gare du Nord and much earlier, and to my airbnb host to see when someone could meet me here, show me around, and give me the keys.
I was in a cab to Heathrow by 6:00 AM this morning. The driver was a very nice guy, and we had a good chat on the way out there. I thought he knew where he was going when I told him I was flying out on British Airways to Paris. When we got there he even got a luggage trolley and loaded my stuff on it. When I actually went into the terminal where he had let me off, Terminal 5, I immediately noticed that British Airways does not fly out of that terminal. The original message from Priceline confirming my flight didn't have a terminal or gate listed, but the two nice airport information ladies I met right inside were able to tell me to what terminal I needed to go to, Terminal 2, although the gate hadn't been assigned. I then had to take another taxi around to the right terminal, and when this driver heard another driver had dropped me off at the wrong one he only charged me 10 GBP instead of what the meter actually said.
I was able to check all three of my larger bags and paid only about 100 GBP to include my hat box as well, and only had to carry my book bag and cane. I was wearing my black slacks which are a bit looser than some of my other ones, and had to hold my pants up with one hand when going through security. For some reason Heathrow or British Airways doesn't announce the actual gate number until about 45 minutes before the flight, but the nice people at the information desk near baggage check in had told me to head for the A gates.
While waiting for my departure gate to be announced, I had an iced coffee at the Starbucks and was able to call My Daily Driver to confirm my pickup at Charles de Gaulle in time to get me here at the airbnb rental about 2:00 PM, which was when someone could meet me to let me in and give me a brief run down on the place.
Before I had left the hotel, I had asked the asshole on duty at the reception desk to tell the Eurostar Extra Luggage pickup person I had to change my plans but about 8:15 AM while I was waiting to board my older iPhone with the UK SIM card rang and I answered it. It was someone from Eurostar Extra Luggage dispatch because their driver was at my former hotel and the person on the reception desk didn't know anything about it.
The flight was short but pleasant. I had wound up booking first class because I had thought I would be able to check in more and heavier bags and maybe I was correct although as I said I had to pay an additional fee. The plane was a slightly older one, and the conversion to first class from the rest of the cabin was basically to put a tray over the middle seat so no one was between the aisle and window seats. They even fed us. I had scrambled eggs, Irish or English style bacon, and a sausage that didn't bother my stomach later.
Because technically the UK is still part of the EU, there was no customs here in Paris but we did have to go through a passport check.
For some reason my last bag was one of the last onto the carousel. I had been able to snag one of the free luggage carts while we were waiting.
Once I had passed out onto the area near the exits I still hadn't heard from My Daily Driver or my driver since before I left Heathrow. I was getting concerned that I wouldn't be here before 2:00 PM to meet the person letting me in, and was going to catch a cab on the way in if I had to. I called M D D and told the person I spoke with exactly where I was, near the Starbucks right by the Arrivals Terminal 2A sign. Shortly before 1:00 PM, which would give me barely an hour to get here, I got a text message from the driver who seemed to be on the level below where I was. I told him exactly where I was, and about 5 minutes later he showed up with a sign with my name on it.
The drive in from C de G was pretty pleasant, although we went through several areas where there were lots of homeless people camped there. My driver was Arabic and had been on the phone having a conversation in Arabic for part of the trip. There was one short stretch of road where there were several women in slightly conservative Muslim dressno veiltrying to talk with drivers stuck there in traffic.
When we got here my driver pulled up and started taking my luggage over to a very nondescript and almost industrial looking doorway in the side of the building. I had to call my contact, who turned out to be a young woman who really didn't seem to speak much English, to tell her I had arrived and a few minutes later when she hadn't come out I had to call her again before she met me outside with the keys.
This isn't a terrible place in a terrible or dangerous area. There are some OK shops and cafes and entrances to residential building along the street in the immediate area. The outer street door opens onto a decent sized paved courtyard which has not much to recommend it other than being where the trash and recycling receptacles are located.
The unit itself doesn't have too much in the way of visual appeal and has no art work anywhere. It's small, rather plain and basic but will be perfectly workable for just mealthough I am so glad I didn't invite my friend Cat to couch surf here. Although there is an OK couch, it would be a bit short and I don't think it's a sofa bed, and I'd have to pass through the living area every time I needed to use the bathroom which I usually have to do a couple of times every night.
The bathroom looks like the newest room in the unit, and is pleasant with a towel warmer and a decent sized phone booth shower with both an over head and hand held units. The main room, which is right off the entry, combines the living, dining and kitchen areas. There is a small clothes washing machine which I'm still not quite sure how to use despite messages to and from my airbnb hosts, and I was told it doesn't dry at all so I'd have to use the drying rack and let my clothes air dry, so I think I'll be using the laundromat across the street or look for a drop off and pick up laundry service instead. There's also a small cook top, and a microwave, and most importantly for me a small but decently sized refrigerator.
The first thing I did was to unpack a lot of my stuff but not put most of it away, although I did hang up my shirts and put my t-shirts, underwear and socks in the odd cubby hole thing that's here instead of a closet. What I really wanted to do was to take all my remaining diabetes syringes out of the coolant packs with the get leaking out, put them into some of the zip lock bags I brought with me and stick them all into the refrigerator.
Two and a half weeks ago, when I flew from Dublin to London, I lost my home iPhone. I thought it had possibly fallen out of my sweatshirt pocket on the plane, in the car I rode to the hotel from the airport in, in the first room I had looked at, or in the room I actually stayed in. Today, while unpacking my hat box, which I had fully unpacked in London and repacked last night, I found my missing phone.
This isn't a terrible neighborhood. In fact, there is a decent sized and well stocked small grocery store a couple of blocks down the street. I stocked up on some yogurts, juice, milk, and even some small bottles of rum, cognac, and whiskey.
For dinner tonight I decided I'd go back to the Cidrerie du Marais, one of the first restaurants I'd ever been to here in Paris, and had known about from when I began making plans to join Michael & Tim here that December to distribute Mom's ashes. I have no idea how I learned about the restaurant, especially since I have never been able to find a web page for them. I think I must have found them while looking at Google Maps for the area around the Grand Hotel Malher. I have to admit that the first time I ate there I had an omelette because I didn't at the time know what a galette is, but have had both entree and dessert galettes and cider there every time I've been back.
The Cidrerie is only about a 15 minute walk from here, and it was still shirt sleeve weather when I left. It's quite a pleasant walk, and I went past a place in the immediate neighborhood I will probably be back to several timesthe Café des Chats.
Because the weather was still nice I took the longer way back here, going down towards the Eglise St Paul-St Louis down in my old area, where I have a ticket for a concert on 6/1 after I get back from Chartres I hope to take Cat to. I then went down the street to the Place de la Bastille before turning on Google Maps to get back here.
I then finished unpacking and sorting everything, including sorting all my pills for the next week from their larger original bottles to my seven day dispensers instead.
I also watched something streaming on the decent wifi here in my mini-apartment.
It's now about 12:45 AM. I'm not planning on doing much tomorrow, giving myself a day to recover from travel today, all the stress, and not a hell of a lot of sleep last night before heading to Chartres on Friday. I don't really have anything planned except for walking on over to an Orange boutique to pick up a French SIM card and unlimited package.
I was going to check Facebook, mostly for news of or messages from my friend, Cat, whom I hope to spend a couple of afternoons sharing Paris and Montmartre with, but my energy level is so low I'm going to do that first thing in the morning instead.
It's 11:30 PM, and I'm just starting my notes but not because I just got home or was busy, although I didn't get back here until about an hour ago.
I didn't do a whole lot today, and it was as if my body decided I needed a rest between the stress and problems getting here yesterday and going to Chartres tomorrow and coming back on Saturday. I slept pretty well, and finally figured out how to switch the shower from the hand held unit to the over head one. As usual I try and figure that out before I'm actually standing under the shower heads and this time I couldn't quite see the little pictograms on the knobs but I did eventually twist one of them the right way to divert the water from one to the other. And it may be small but it's usable and has good water pressure from both nozzles.
That was about it for the morning, although I did check Facebook to see what my friends, especially Cat whom I hope to see here in Paris this weekend, were up to and if there were any messages. I'll check again before I go to bed.
I also checked the train times from here to Chartres tomorrow morning, and from Chartres back to here Saturday morning in time hopefully to meet up with Cat in the afternoon before taking her to the concert at St Paul-St Louis that evening.
I also looked up mobile phone places where I could get a SIM card and unlimited data, and also how to say what I needed using Google Translate. The Orange over by the Bastille was closed today according to Google Maps so I decided I'd try Bouygues which was the carrier my UK SIM card kept hooking up with the most. There's a store of theirs not far from here, about a 15 minute walk away.
I rested, watched something streaming, may have even fallen asleep again for a while here and there, and pretty much skipped both breakfast and lunch. I took a shower about 2:30 PM and set out for the rest of the afternoon.
The weather today was lovely again, partly cloudy but shirt sleeve weather.
I wanted to try and have lunch at the Café des Chats but there were too many people waiting to get in so I kept going.
Yesterday when I was wandering around I went past a small hot dog place, Tonton Billy (which doesn't seem to have a web page). Although I went past many larger and fancier places, I didn't want to have too large a meal then so I'd still feel like having dinner fairly early, so I checked the menu at T B's and rather liked what I saw. I had their hot dog with poutinefrench fries layered on top of the hot dog with melted cheese on top, and it was quite good.
I found the Bouygues place without too much trouble and saw they had a placard advertising their 40 Euro one month travel package with unlimited calls, messages, and data so that's what I bought.
I next wanted to find an ATM to get some more cash, and there was one a few blocks down the street.
I had decided I'd walk back to my old neighborhood near St Paul-St Louis and the Grand Hotel Malher to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the area, Au Bourgignon du Marais. Not only is it a very good and pretty reasonably priced restaurant, but when my brothers Michael & Tim, Tim's wife Jill, and their kids Nicholas & Chelsea and I all met here in Paris to disperse some of Mom's ashes in the Seine near Notre Dame the Christmas time the year after she died, I bought everyone dinner there as a Christmas/New Year's present.
Because it was still a bit early, I thought I'd stop in at the Starbucks around the corner from the Grand Hotel Malher for an iced coffee but none of the small amount of tables inside were available. I hoped I'd be able to find a table inside at my favorite Scottish pub here in Paris (OK, I only know of two and never made it to the second one which now seems to be permanently closed), the Auld Alliance which is a bit further towards Eglise St Gervais-St Protais and only a few minutes from the Au Bourgignon. There were indeed quite a few empty tables inside, with several people playing pool in the semi-crypt and darts. I had a diet Coke and a pint of their own IPA and managed to make them last until a bit after 7:00 PM.
I had a very nice dinner at Au Bourgignon, with snails for an appetizer, their boeuf bourgignon, and creme brulee for dessert.
When I left I wanted to go down a bit further to St Gervais-St Protais itself before punching in directions back here on Google Maps. Not only have I been to St G-St P several times and would have done so because I usually check out churches in the cities and neighborhoods where I'm staying when I travel but my siblings and I have a personal connection with the church as wellmany years ago, when both my parents were reasonably healthy and they were on their last trip together to Paris they renewed their wedding vows in that church. All my siblings and I received a picture they had taken of themselves standing in front of its red doors. I still have mine prominently displayed at home.
The walk home was quite pleasant, and through territory that I now recognize, both from my previous trips to Paris and from wandering around yesterday.
And when I went past the Café des Chats I was delighted to see that they were still open, so I went in for a cup of tea and a chocolate mousse. I definitely will be back, and not so much because the cats came to see me. It was much more like the first day or so when I visit Michael & Renee's house where sometimes the cats will let me pet them when I go by and I'll see them wandering around the house. Just being somewhere there's cats was enough for today.
I had thought I might try and do a load of clothes this evening when I got back, so I stopped in at the laundromat across the street to check times and prices and take pictures of the signs to translate them later (I'm still not quite sure about when and how to add laundry detergent but that's OKI can always do a load of wash here, stick everything into the plastic shopping bags I brought with me and take them across the street to run through the dryer). By the time I gave up on that, and tried to figure out what part of my new French phone number I needed to enter into the registration page for two Paris taxi apps (I never figured that out so I'll just call either of the two companies I have numbers for) which included calling my home iPhone and learning I had to call Sprint back home to have it reactivated because I had reported it lost and found it again yesterday, and checked the hours for the laundromat on Google Maps again, it had closed.
And that's it for today. I still want to check Facebook again before I go to bed, mostly because I'm still hoping I'll be able to get together with Cat here in town on Saturday afternoon and take her to the concert at St Paul-St Louis that evening after I get back from Chartres and she arrives here in Paris. I need to be at the Eiffel Tower about 6:00 PM on Saturday for a semi-expensive concert with champagne but could join her out in Montmartre for the afternoon.
It's only 5:30 PM on Saturday.
I only have a little time to start on these notes before I need to leave to have time to have dinner before the first of my classical concerts here in Paris, back in my old neighborhood of St Paul-St Louis .
First an interesting notefor some odd reason, during the entire two and a half weeks I was actually in London I was unable to connect to the Visit London web page at all but can now.
Friday morning even though I theoretically had configured the Paris taxi app on my iPhone with my local mobile phone #, when I tried to use it the app said there were no drivers in the area. And when I tried calling either of the two #s I have for taxis here in Paris I was disconnected before actually speaking to a human being. I knew that if I made the 10 minute walk from here to nearer the Place de la Bastille or the Opera Bastille I would be on much more major roads and should have no trouble flagging a cab down so that's what I did.
Friday morning I was at the Montparnasse train station before 9:00 AM, I think. At first I wasn't sure the taxi driver had let me off in the right station since you can't see much at all from where the taxis have to unload and take on their passengers. It's a very large station with many shops and small cafes and lots of self-service ticket kiosks and reader display boards indicating departures and platforms. I decided I'd rather go to the ticket office itself and be helped by an actual human and they were very helpful.
I bought a ticket on the 10:30 AM train and a return on the 10:50 train this morning from Chartres.
I do not like places like Heathrow and the Montparnasse train station where they do not display the departure gates or platforms until shortly before the actual departure time. It's less of a nuisance at Montparnasse simply because it's smaller and there are only so many tracks. Usually the departure track is posted 20 minutes before departure; we waited and right before the scheduled departure time they posted the train was delayed 10 minutes and then it was delayed 5 minutes more and a few minutes later the track was finally posted and the rush to get on the train began.
Apparently there are a couple of different styles of cars. The one I rode on yesterday had three seats along one side and only two on the other, with some seats facing one way and others the other. I grabbed a window seat on the side that had three and the train never got busy enough for anyone to need to sit in the middle seat. I was also able to face in the direction of travel.
At no time on either trip did anyone come through to check tickets. When I took trains from two different stations in London, not only did you need your ticket to even access the platform personnel came through after each stop to check tickets. So theoretically you can travel by train into or out of Paris without a ticket and probably get away with it.
That's it for nowmore after the concert.
It's almost midnight Saturday night. I've been home for about an hour but decided to take a break and watch one of my streaming programs before continuing with typing my notes from the last two days.
The train station at Chartres is a rather pleasant if industrial looking building. When I was in Chartres last I must have taken a different route from the station because I remember at one point being on the street a level or so below the Cathedral while looking for and walking past the visitors center. It is a short walk from the train station up to my hotel but it does go uphill for a couple of blocks and gets a bit steep for me.
I could see the tops of the Cathedral's towers on the walk to the hotel which is right across the street from Chartres's very 21st Century new Mediatheque which I unfortunately didn't take the time to go into. I was busy most of the day yesterday and although it might have been open when I left my hotel this morning I only left early enough to make it to the train station on time.
Also on the way to the hotel I could see clusters of small white tents and what looked like bits of medieval equipment, paraphenalia, and machinery.
I got to my hotel just about noon which was of course way too early to check in, which is normally at 3:00 PM, but I was able to leave my book pack and head on out to enjoy the town.
As usual I know I probably didn't see everything there is to see in Chartres and there were many little side streets I didn't go down but I did see most of the major sites this time.
The first thing I did was make my way to the Cathedral, walking all the way around it and taking pictures. As I was doing so I kept seeing people wandering around in many different types of medieval costume, from peasanty outfits to more upper class costumes and lots of lovely women in beautiful medieval clothes. It seems I accidentally picked a good weekend to be in Chartreswhen I returned to my hotel about 4:30 PM to actually check in I saw a small flyer taped next to the elevator which I took a picture of, and it was an advertisement for Chartres 1254 which is indeed a medieval festival.
Before I went into the Cathedral I wanted to have lunch first, so while I was getting to and walking around it I looked at all the various cafes and restaurants in the area. The weather was so excellent and warm yesterday I didn't even look inside to see what any of the places looked like or if there were seats available there but just tried to find an attractive looking place with available outside seating. I found a very nice looking place facing the main public entrance to the Cathedral, Le Café Serpent where I had an excellent lunch and dessert.
Chartres Cathedral is smaller and much more manageable than Westminster Abbey or St Paul's in London especially for someone like me who really doesn't care that much about the religious symbolism, and is much more on the scale of St Patrick's and Christchurch cathedrals back in Dublin. For those who care, possibly thousands of books have been written about all the stone carvings and stained glass windows and their symbolism. Me, I just like to wander around looking at them as pictures in a whole.
I was interested to see that quite a few people were walking the labyrinth while I was thereby coincidence I was in the Cathedral on a Friday between Easter and All Saints Day, which is the only times there are no chairs on it. Several people were being fairly pilgrim like and doing it bare foot which would be no hardship on the lovely stone floor.
Along one side of the Cathedral is the lovely and quite well done Musee des Beaux Arts which is a former bishop's palace. It's not a large collection but is well worth visiting even if it weren't free and charged admission.
Not far away down a side street is the wonderful Centre International du Vitrail which also houses a small stained glass museum in an incredible surviving medieval building. It's well worth visiting with a small admission charge, both for the exhibits and for the building itself. They also offer workshops and exhibits of medieval, renaissance and contemporary stained glass.
While I was having my lunch at the Café Serpente I saw this little tourist train go by and thought it might be fun. When I went to look at the schedule I saw there was a night train to see the lights at about 10:15 and decided to come back for that.
I wandered around for a bit, checking out the medieval festival and especially all the women wandering around wearing medieval costumes.
During the day I also exchanged a couple of messages on Facebook with my friend Cat who was planning on leaving by ferry on the 1stI think she was still in Ireland yesterdayfor Cherbourg, a night trip, and then taking the train from Cherbourg to Paris and over to where she's staying in Montmartre, and then spending the day Monday with me here in Paris. I need to check Facebook before I go to bed.
By this time it was about 4:30 PM, and I had seen most of what I wanted to in town, so I went back over to the hotel which is only a few minutes away from the Cathedral to check in. I really like the Mercure Chartres Cathedral and my room a lot. They are both lovely, beautifully decorated and very comfortable.
On my way over to the hotel I had stopped at one of the small faux medieval food booths and purchased a couple of eclairs and a bottle of iced tea to have when I came back that night.
I was up on the second/third floor, looking across the street at the beautifully done building of the Mediatheque. I unpacked my stuff and stretched out to watch something streaming before heading out for dinner in time to catch the night tour on the little tourist train.
I headed out again about 7:30 PM, which was still a little early for dinner so I wandered around again looking for somewhere interesting to eat. I almost went back to Le Serpent Café but settled on a place almost next door called Le Brochet du Sud which I cannot find a web page for. Service was so slow, I almost left and went over to the Serpente a couple of times because at first it took so long to even get a menu and then for someone to take my order. When I saw someone bringing out the main courses for other diners I almost started laughing from surprise and amazementperhaps not too surprisingly their specialties come on huge iron skewers. I chose the one with fish and seafood and it and the rice were excellent.
By the time I had finished with dinner and dessert it was about 10:00 PM, so I headed on over to the little tourist train only to discover that half the cars had been reserved and the rest were already full so I said "The hell with this" and went back to my hotel. When I had taken my bag up to my room, and when I had come down again to go out for dinner, I had noticed that there is a free beer tap and keg right there in the lobby near the registration desk so after I dropped off my camera and cane up in my room I went back down for a beer. The beer was very good but to tell the truth I don't know how to pull a good pint from a keg and tap.
I slept quite well last night, in my lovely room with a lovely larger bed. I woke up earlier than I needed to, about 7:30 AM, which turned out to be even earlier than I had needed because when I looked at the ticket for the train back to Paris it was for 10:50 and not 10:00 AM as I had thought so I took my time and went downstairs to check out and walk the 10 minutes to the train station about 9:30 or so.
Although the train yesterday morning from Paris to Chartres was busy it originated in Paris and terminated in Chartres and more people got off at the intermediate stations than got on so it never got too crowded. That was not the case with the train from Chartres to Paris this morning since it originated elsewhere before Chartres and more people got on at the intermediate stations than got off. When I got on it was already so crowded I had to take a seat facing backwards which didn't make me too dizzy although I did have to occasionally just look directly in front of me instead of to the side out the window. And I eventually had someone in the seat next to me for much of the trip.
Because I had my pack with me I really didn't want to take the Metro and walk back here so I took a cab from the station directly. It was about noon when I got here so I dropped my cane and book pack off, took one of my reusable shopping bags and set off to have lunch and stop off at Carrefour, my neighborhood grocery store down the street where I had been on Wednesday but wanted to buy some more juices today.
When I had been to the hot dog place, Tonton Billy, a couple days ago I had enjoyed it and since it's not far past the Carrefour I went back there for lunch today and had a different hotdog which was also pretty good.
I then came back here and just hung out and relaxed before starting these notes a little before I needed to leave for dinner and the concert.
One of the first things I noticed about the area around St Paul-St Louis when I first came here to Paris and stayed in the Grand Hotel Malher when my siblings and I met to disperse some of Mom's ashes was what was to me a surprising number of Asian food restaurants of varying levels of fanciness ranging from very nicely priced buffets on up. One of my favorite places is the medium fancy Shinjuku Sushi which is around the corner and down the street a bit from St Paul-St Louis so that's where I decided to go tonight. It was still very warm when I left and I rather enjoyed the short walk from here to there. I also wanted to stop at one of the ATMs I know are in that area and maybe have an iced coffee at Starbucks if any of the very few shorter chairs were free.
Once I got to the main street not far from the Cathedral and before the Starbucks I saw some firemen apparently selling some raffle tickets for a charity so I bought 10 Euros worth. Surprisingly there was a chair available at the Starbucks so I snagged it and had my iced coffee. Afterwards when I crossed the street and was heading up to go past St P-St L and on to Shinjuku Sushi I saw some more of the firemen and bought another 10 Eurors worth of raffle tickets.
I had a pretty good meal at the S S, and the only reason it could have been better was my fault. I should have had the combo with the California rolls, which I know and like. I'm not sure exactly what one of the items was on the combo I had instead.
I was waiting in what was the short line at St P-St L by about 8:00 PM. It was fun seeing some of the musicians arriving while we were waiting.
The concert at St P-St L was excellent and was very well attended although for some reason I wasn't feeling very well and had to leave after the first of the "Ave Marias" and "Airs sacres" although the vocalist had a lovely voice. Tonight's ensemble was the Alegria Orchestra, seven of them at the most. The first piece was Pachelbel's "Canon", followed by Vivaldi's "Four seasons".
There was no intermission so the next part of the program came right after. It was listed as "Ave Marias and airs sacres" by Mozart/Bach/Caccini/Schubert/Bizet/Gounod. I did leave after the first vocal piece but did notice the soloist had a lovely voice and if I had felt better I would have stayed and enjoyed hearing the rest.
Once I got home about 10:00 PM I had a bit of a break and watched something streaming and then tried to decide what I might do tomorrow between doing some much needed laundry across the street in the morning and being at the Eifel Tower by 6:00 PM for my concert in the evening. Two of my favorite museums are actually in that area, the lovely and wonderful Musee d'Orsay and the amazing anthropology museum the Musee Quai Branly so I'll try and go to at least one of them after I do laundry.
2:00 AM. I just finished checking Facebook. I am amazed, flattered and honored that my roving Ren Faire performer friend is in the middle of a 17 hour ferry trip from Ireland to Cherbourg without having paid for a cabin or even a deck chair to save money, and then will take a five hour train trip from Cherbourg to Paris today (Sunday) pretty much just to spend the day Monday letting me take her around to Paris. The last time I heard from Cat she was still planning on heading out of Paris on Tuesday. I'll see when I hear more from her, hopefully later today (Sunday).
And now to bed.
My default mode for dealing with emergencies is flight, panic and not feeling well all of a sudden but I soon calm down enough to start trying to do something about it even though I may still not feel well for a couple of hours after I've made some start at taking care of things.
The morning started off pleasantly, rapidly morphed into a potential emergency around noon, which I tried to take care of for the next couple of hours, turned pleasant, boring and domestic for the rest of the afternoon and then became a very pleasant evening.
I wasn't in a hurry to get started this morning. I had two main options for how to spend the time until I needed to be at the Eiffel Tower for the concert tonight. One would have been to head on over to the lovely and wonderful Musee d'Orsay and the amazing anthropology museum the Musee Quai Branly on the way to the concert; the other would be to do laundry and then go to the Musee des arts et metiers and then on to the concert. I checked and I actually had enough clean clothes to last me until Wednesday if necessary, after my Ren Fair performer friend Cat and I spend the day together here in Paris tomorrow.
The emergency began when I took my shower and for the first time noticed that the joint in the drywall above the overhead rain fall shower head is actually coming apart. I immediately began trying to find somewhere else to move to on Tuesday if necessary which resulted at first in even worse panic because I was having a hard time finding anything available on Priceline, Booking, and Trivago. I also tried to get hold of someone at the property management office for my airbnb host. I left a message on airbnb for the host and an email for the property managers, and eventually was able to talk to someone at the managers when I called the number that is in an earlier email.
I described the situation and informed the person that unless the problem can be taken care of tomorrow I will be moving out on Tuesday and will expect a full refund of my remaining airbnb payment.
I was able to make a reservation at a not too terribly expensive hotel, Austin's St Lazare which isn't too far away from where I am now. If the problem here is fixed tomorrow and I do decide to stay I can cancel the hotel reservation and only lose the first night's costs.
So because I now might be having to pack up and move elsewhere on Tuesday that also meant I wanted to pack as few dirty clothes as possible and had better do laundry today. I could have done a load here and taken the wet clothes across the street just to use the dryers but decided to just use the washers and dryers there as well. The machines, especially the dryers, were actually quite easy to use and aren't that expensive although I did have to run the dryers through four cycles at 1 Euro apiece per cycle per dryer. That took most of the afternoon.
The emailed instructions with the ticket for tonight's concert were rather confusing, and made it sound like the concert was to begin at 7:15 PM and we should be there an hour early to get through security, collect our ticket for the elevator to the first floor, and head upstairs to the Gustave Eiffel Salon. I wanted to be there well before 6:00 PM, and left here shortly after 5:00 PM to walk out towards the Place de la Bastille where I could catch a taxi to the Eiffel Tower.
Earlier today I had been trying to get in touch with my friend Cat, who arrived in Cherbourg by ferry earlier today and was taking the five hour train trip to Paris and then going out to Montmartre where she is spending a couple of nights at a friend's place. As I was in the taxi a message came in from Cat on Facebook saying she was here and would I like to meet somewhere near the Eiffel Tower this evening? I reminded her that I was on my way to a concert there but would be delighted to meet her somewhere near afterwards. When the concert still hadn't started by 8:00 PM I sent another message to Cat and said I'd try and contact her again later. I was pretty sure, however, that my friend would not really be feeling like staying up that late tonight after having spent last night and 17 hours on a ferry and 5 hours on a train today. When I got hold of Cat after the concert and suggested we just meet as planned tomorrow morning she was quick to agree. She did, however, send me a message right back asking if maybe we could meet somewhere for breakfast before the cruise, so we're going to meet at the statue at the entrance to the Square du vert galant which is where the Vedettes du Pont Neuf are located before going downstairs to the ferry dock and ticket office.
Now back to the Eiffel Tower and tonight's concert. Security has been tightened up at the Tower since I was last there. When I was there last, entrance to the entire complex was open. Since then the entire campus is surrounded by a wall and entrance is now in a controlled location and the exit is at a different point. After I got there I had enough time to walk around the perimeter taking some pictures before going through the security checkpoint to even enter the grounds.
Once in I then had to wait at a specific kiosk to collect my ticket for the concert which would also allow access to the elevator, the first floor itself and the venue for the concert. As I said before the emailed info for the concert implied it started at 7:15 PM but no one arrived to open the window at the kiosk until just before 7:00 itself. I was the first person in line, got my ticket, and then had to go through security again to take the elevator upstairs. When I got up there I found the room but it wasn't open yet so I wandered around the periphery of the floor taking pictures and was the first person in line when the house finally opened.
The ensemble for tonight was the small Orchestre Paris Classik, who don't seem to have their own web page but lots of their performance listings come up. I'm not entirely sure what was played tonight, since there was no program given before the concert, and the violin soloist/director announced everything in French. I did recognize Vivaldi's "Four seasons", of course, and I'm pretty sure I would have recognized Mozart's "Ein kleine nachtmusik" if they had played it. The program in the concert's email message was as follows: Vivaldi: "Four seasons"; Vivaldi: "Chaconne for violin"; Albinoni: "Adagio"; and Mozart: "A little night music".
It was a very nice concert, very well done by excellent musicians.
When the concert was over I checked FB messenger and contacted Cat. That's when I suggested we just meet tomorrow morning as planned and shortly after that she asked if we could meet for breakfast.
I caught a cab and had him let me off at Place de la Bastille since there are lots of restaurants in the area many of which would still be open that late even on a Sunday. In the past I've eaten at the Hippotamus and enjoyed it. For some reason I didn't quite remember it being primarily a steak house, but I did have some very good fish and chips with an excellent tartar sauce and a great glass of sangria. I then walked the rest of the way back here.
I had left sorting out and putting away my clean clothes until after I got back. I didn't want to bother rehanging all my clean shirts in case I need to pack everything up again on Tuesday morning if I move out, so right now they're sitting across the arm of the small sofa in the living area.
And that's it for tonight. I'm not even going to check Facebook, since I forgot to post the pictures from tonight earlier and have already heard from the one person I most wanted to hear from and will be meeting her for breakfast in the morning. It's about a 45 minute walk from here to the Square du vert galant so I want to leave not much later than 7:30 to be there in plenty of time to meet Cat.
And sometime later in the day I hope to hear from my airbnb host or the property manager. If they can get the problem fixed tomorrow I'll continue to stay here; if not I'll be moving out to my other reservation and will expect a full refund of the rest of my airbnb prepayment.
It's 11:30 PM, and I've actually been home for at least a couple of hours.
My possible plumbing emergency from yesterday has sort of been resolved, in a way that while not completely satisfying me I feel is good enough for me to continue staying here. More on that later.
Today was a wonderful day spent sharing Paris with Cat, a younger woman musician and performer I'm very fond of and fall rather in love with every time I hear her sing and perform. I'm especially flattered and honored that she traveled for a full day from Ireland to meet me here in Paris for originally a single day, but this morning she decided to delay her departure another day so I get to share more of Paris with her tomorrow as well.
Because I was still a bit worried about the problem I perceived in the shower I didn't take one yesterday and left here about 7:30 AM for the walk over to the statue at the Square du Vert Galant above the stairs down to the Seine and the ticket office and dock for the Vedettes du Pont Neuf.
Cat came in from Montmartre via the train and then the Metro to the station right near the park. We then went further into the Left Bank looking for an open café that looked like a nice place to have breakfast, found one, and both had an omelette with a salad. Cat ate all of hers, but I left most of the lettuce on my plate.
We walked back up the street and then downstairs to the ticket office. We got there about 10:00, I bought our tickets, and we waited until we could board the boat for the 10:30 cruise. It wasn't very warm this morning and was cloudy and grey with occasionally a fine drizzle but Cat and I sat on the open upper top deck for the entire cruise.
There's not a lot to say about the cruise other than as always I loved being out on the water despite the weather. We got to see a lot of Paris from the river level, and our female guide was entertaining, delightful and did a good job with the commentary both in French and English.
After the cruise we walked around the little park and out to the edge of the island before going back upstairs.
We were a bit uncertain about the weather today and thought it might be worse later in the day and since it was OK then we decided to take the bus tour first before going on to do anything else. As I said yesterday I chose to go with the Big Bus Tours because I know one of their routes goes from downtown out to Montmartre and either I would ride all the way around on that route with Cat or that could be one of her options to get back home. I'm sure that at least one other bus tour company has a route out to Montmartre as well but I didn't want to take the time to research it any further.
I will admit to a bit of confusion finding where the bus actually stopped. I saw from their online route map that one stop near the Louvre is listed as "Louvre Pyramides" which I thought meant near the pyramid at the Louvre but actually referred to the Pyramides bus and Metro stop not far from the Louvre. That wasn't actually a problem since the weather was OK and we got a chance to walk up through the middle of the Louvre campus and past the pyramids and saw a busker playing cello in a covered spot with great acoustics. When we saw the bus didn't stop we simply continued walking along the Seine side of the Louvre until we found a big sign indicating the tour bus stop.
We were quite lucky when we boarded the bus. We wanted to sit up top on the open top deck but when we got there the last two seats in the last two rows under the small canopy were open and Cat headed straight for them. I was glad she did as it began to sprinkle finely again somewhere during the route. Our guide providing the live English language commentary over the audio from almost directly behind us was once again a charming young woman with a delightful sense of humor, and Cat and I both enjoyed her commentary quite a bit.
Somewhere along the way I asked Cat what she wanted to do next and we decided to stick to the area and not hike all the way over to the Pantheon, Cluny and St Chapelle. I thought the Museum of Decorative Arts was open today so we decided to find somewhere near the Louvre for lunch and go to that museum afterwards.
It was still a bit drizzly when we got back almost to the end. We decided to get off a stop early, at the connection point for the route out to Montmartre. We walked back to the Louvre and found Framboise, a creperie across the street I had been to several times on my previous visits here, and Cat loved it and we both had excellent lunches.
I was feeling pretty tired from not getting a whole lot of sleep last night after the stresses of yesterday so I told Cat I might not be up to taking the tour bus all the way out to Montmartre with her. While we were waiting to order and then for our food I called the property manager for the airbnb owner who told me the owner and a a plumber had been here and either didn't see the problem with the drywall above the shower I had reported or had seen it and didn't think it was that much of a problem. I decided that since a) the owner and a plumber had checked it out and weren't worried and b) I can always use the hand held nozzle which I can leave at almost the same height and which I know doesn't spray water up to the low ceiling I would continue to stay there. Later this evening I remembered to cancel my booking.com reservation although I lost the first night's costs since it wasn't fully refundable.
Also while we were at lunch waiting Cat used the free wifi to post some of her pictures from the day to Facebook and to check with the person whose flat in Montmartre she's staying in and the people she's probably going to be staying with on her next stop and decided to give herself another day seeing Paris with me. Part of the reason was because she really wants to see the Impressionist collection at the Muse d'Orsay. We're meeting there tomorrow at 10:00 AM and will have lunch there before heading on over to this part of town, probably to the Musee des arts et metiers and somehow ending up at the Café des chats.
While Cat was upstairs using the small restroom I checked the hours for the Museum of Decorative Arts, which I thought I had done yesterday, and saw they were closed today. I apologized to Cat when she came back down, and asked her that since we're meeting tomorrow morning for more sightseeing would she prefer to just take the rest of the day off and head back to Montmartre for a quiet evening? Cat decided that's what she'd do and might also try to do some busking as well, which she later sent me a message telling me she had done. On the way back to the Pyramides Big Bus blue route stop Cat decided to go back to a souvenir shop we had passed and bought a beret and several scarves on sale.
Once I had seen Cat safely onto the bus to Montmartre, and had asked her to send me a message when she got home (which she did) I flagged down a cab for the ride back here as I sometimes do when my knees are bothering me enough to not want to have to take the stairs at any Metro stations. The ride took a lot longer than it should have because it turned out there was a police car and ambulance blocking the road at an intersection about a kilometer before the last turn onto Rue Sedaine. Once we got to the blockage I paid the driver and had him let me off. While I was then standing there checking Google Maps for directions on the last stretch back here the police car and ambulance left and the blockage cleared, and to my surprise and pleasure I found that the cab driver had immediately pulled over to come back and get me and drive me the rest of the way back here.
Once I got back here I stretched out to rest for a bit before dinner and then hung up my clean shirts from the wash I did yesterday but left unhung in case I would be packing tonight before moving elsewhere tomorrow.
On the way to and back from town I have often passed what looks like a very nice place, the two locations of the Café de l'Industrie at their two locations across the street from each other a couple of blocks from here. I checked their menu on line, and many things on it looked like they'd be good so that's where I went for dinner tonight and all of it was indeed quite good. I'll probably be back.
That's about it for tonight. I want to check the directions how to get to the Musee d'Orsay tomorrow morning although I might walk to the Place de la Bastille and catch a cab to save some time and then how to get from there back near the Musee des arts et metiers. From there it's an easy walk to the Cat Café and there are several Metro stations not far from there and each other for Cat to get back to Montmartre. Of course before she does that we might just have to find another café for a final glass of wine or beer or cider.
It's 12:20 AM Wednesday morning. I've actually been home for several hours but didn't feel like typing up my notes from today earlier. After I got back from dinner I watched one of my streaming shows I'd tried to watch a couple of times earlier and dozed off for a bit each time. I also logged into Facebook to see what everyone else has been up to, and to read Cat's posts and see her pictures from today and her reactions to my own pictures. And I copied my pictures from my camera's memory card over to my laptop, sorted them, and am now backing them up to my three external USB hard drives.
I slept pretty well last night and had a good shower this morning using the hand held unit which is almost as high as the over head showerhead, projects out instead of coming straight down, and has water pressure that's probably a bit stronger than the overhead unit.
I was going to take a taxi over to meet Cat at the Musee d'Orsay at 10:00 AM this morning, but when I got to Place de la Bastille I couldn't see any unoccupied cabs for several minutes so I had to take the Metro instead, which meant one transfer. For some reason neither of the prepaid Paris Visite Metro passes which came with the Paris Pass and are supposed to be open ended worked and I had to buy a 5 day, 5 zone pass myself. I think Cat beat me there by 15 or 20 minutes which actually turned out to be a good thing because by the time I found her in line she was actually quite close to the entrance.
The Musee d'Orsay is one of the few museums on the Paris Museum Pass that's not on the Paris Pass so I had to buy one ticket. The first thing we did was to stop at the cloakroom and get rid of our coats.
We had originally planned to go on to the Orangerie from d'Orsay, and I thought I had checked their open days and hours and that they were closed on Monday not Tuesday but when we were buying our tickets I learned I was wrong and they were closed today. I've been to the Musee Grevin wax museum before, and it's very well worth visiting not only for how well the collection is done but for the building, architecture and decorations themselves, so I asked Cat how she felt about going to a wax museum instead and she said she'd be interested in going to one, and I think she might have said it would be her first.
Cat very kindly agreed to start on the top floor with me. I have to say that even with my more brief and observational style of visiting museums, I'm not a bad person to go through one with. It might take me less time to be satisfied seeing the exhibits or paintings in a certain area but I will wait for someone I'm with to take their own time. And I think Cat had a very good and involving time at the museum. She had told me earlier she's a big fan of Impressionism herself.
By the time we finished with the fifth floor, which is also where one of the two cafe/restaurants are located, it was about noon. I had skipped breakfast, largely because I have no Slimfast equivalent here, and suggested we go ahead and have lunch while we were already up on that floor and Cat agreed. I paid for the lunch, and we both had a slice of an excellent quiche lorraine with a very good salad and good desserts as well. While we were waiting or just hanging out for a bit afterwards Cat booked her ticket for the train tomorrow from Paris to her next stop, Zurich. Apparently there had been tickets available for earlier departures earlier, but when Cat looked all she found was the one leaving Paris at 5:20 PM tomorrow. She also got in contact via email with her host in Zurich to arrange meeting her and picking up the keys.
We made our way down to the ground level floor by floor, both of taking our own pictures, and Cat taking occasional selfies for posting to Facebook. I took a couple of pictures of her on her phone, and several on my own for Facebook as well.
I think my friend really enjoyed our visit to such a wonderful collection in such an incredible building.
I really didn't feel like climbing many more stairs so when we left d'Orsay we went down the street to the nearest major corner and flagged down a cab. The ride over was amusing because the one way streets, the river, and the bridges meant the driver had to go the other way first to get on streets going the right way.
I'm pretty sure Cat enjoyed visiting the Grevin wax museum almost as much as the d'Orsay even if the d'Orsay was more personally meaningful to her since she loves the Impressionist movement. Once again she took several selfies with some of the figures, and I took some of her on her phone and on mine. We were amused at how often neither of us recognized some of the figures, especially the French models and all of the sports figures.
Cat had done so well busking at Montmartre yesterday it restored a lot of her confidence and enthusiasm she lost when someone in Cork took her tip money while someone else was distracting her. I wasn't going out to Montmartre with her but wanted her to be able to get back early enough to get some busking time in before dinner if she wanted.
Cat also really wanted to spend a fair amount of time hanging out at the Café des Chats which was fine with me. I thought she'd probably like the Musee des arts et metiers which is another of my favorite museums and is in another incredible building but I can go to it any time on my own, so I suggested we skip Arts et metiers and take a cab directly on over to the Café des Chats which we did.
When we got to the Café, Cat grabbed an older couch next to a chair with a very pretty mostly black cat sleeping in it and we settled in for what turned out to be well over an hour. I pretty much stayed where I was and watched what cats I could see wandering around, and Cat occasionally wandered around looking for them. I was amused and surprised that after a good lunch not long before, Cat was ready for another meal while I just had some very good guacamole and tortilla chips. Cat had a pot of tea and I had some iced tea and bottled lemonade.
The couch we were sitting on looked towards the street. The forecast had been for rain and a possible thunderstorm this afternoon and as we're sitting there and Cat is quietly visiting the sleeping cat next to her the view out the window kept getting darker and we could see the effects of the wind increasing and eventually saw people with umbrellas and the rain, and then saw the rain stopping and the scene lightening up and the sun coming back out.
After the sun came back out, and Cat had seen almost all of the cats there and said hello to most of them, she wasn't quite ready to leave and head back to Montmartre but decided to drag herself away because she might want to try busking some more this evening if the now good weather held. We walked down to the Bastille Metro stop where I knew Cat could catch frequent trains out to Montmartre, said goodbye, and I watched her walk down the stairs into the station.
It was now about 7:00 PM and I wasn't quite ready for dinner yet and the weather was still very good so I sat on a very low bench in a park near the Metro station and read on my iPhone until about 7:30. If I didn't see any place more tempting, I would go back to the Café l'Industrie where I had dinner last night but this time I'd eat in the one across the street. I'm very glad I did. Not only did I have another excellent dinner there, my waitress was quite attractive and cute, and all the other waitresses I saw were all very attractive as well.
It's now 1:15 AM, and I'm still feeling very awake if tired. I think I'll have a glass of milk and a couple of cookies I bought at the grocery store down the road a couple of days ago and then get to bed.
So what am I going to do tomorrow? Earlier today I received a text message in French from the provider for my European SIM saying something like I need to call a certain number to continue using the SIM, so I called and got another message in French I didn't understand, so I think the first thing I'm going to do tomorrow is to go back to their office where I bought the SIM and find out what's going on.
After that I think I'll go to two or three of the museums here near the Marais area two of which I've been to before and one I haven't. Starting with the furthest from both here and the cellphone store, a 40 minute walk, is the wonderful Musee des arts & metiers. Calling it the Arts & Crafts museum doesn't quite do it justice. From there the next nearest museum is the Musee de la Chasse et la Nature, which I've never been to, a 15 minute walk from A & M. And the closest is the Musee Cognacq-Jay, a 10 minute walk from de la Chasse. And from M C-J is a final 20 minute walk back here.
And that's it for tonight. Time for some milk and cookies.
I don't have a lot to report from today. My plans were changed unexpectedly but probably beneficiallyafter two days of waking up early with not much sleep to meet my friend Cat, this morning my body apparently decided I needed more sleep. I actually slept in until about 10:30 AM which is rather unusual for me. Even after that I wasn't in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere. It was grey and cooler and drizzly today.
I decided I'd wait and go to museums tomorrow. There were only two things I wanted to do today, go to the cell phone store to find out about that odd text message in French I received from the carrier yesterday, and to do a small load of laundry. I had done two largish loads on Sunday, when I thought I might be having to repack to move somewhere else on Tuesday if what I saw as a plumbing problem wasn't resolved to my satisfaction, but I chose to do laundry today as well primarily because I could also toss in my used towels instead of just using brand new ones and figuring out where to stash the dirty ones until I leave.
For some reason I wasn't hungry this morning, and skipped both breakfast and lunch. When I finally left about 3:30 PM I still wasn't hungry and oddly enough didn't feel light headed from low blood sugar either.
There might be a couple of stores for Bouygues, the cell phone carrier I was looking for, along the same street because when I accidentally found the one I was looking for, apparently the closer one, Google Maps told me I still had over 15 minutes to go before I got there, and when I left it told me the walk home would take less than 15 minutes.
The place was very busy when I got there, and I had to wait at least half an hour. By the time it was my turn, seven more people were waiting their turns to be seen. The guy who helped me didn't speak much English but between the two of us he told me the message and the phone call I was supposed to make were to tell me that if I planned on using the SIM card after the initial month I already paid for was over I'd need to register online with the carrier and set up a credit card. Since I'll be leaving before the month would expire I don't need to worry about it.
It was still rainy when I left to walk back here. This time I selected a slightly different route which took me through a couple of neighborhoods I don't think I've been through before.
I had asked my friend Cat to let me know when she was safely on her bus about 5:00 PM for her 15 hours or so trip to Zurich, where she'll be for the next week or so, and she did so.
I got her FB message when I was on my way over to the Café des Chats for a light late afternoon snack. I had their gourmet hot chocolate with three small desserts and hung out for a while. The place was quite busy, and part of my enjoyment was a result of several younger and very charming French women there.
I might have got back here after 6:00 PM. I grabbed my laundry bag, a laundry detergent pod, and my dirty towels and went across the street to do my laundry. I had planned on walking down to the far corner taking some pictures during the half hour or so the washer takes but it had started raining again, so I just hung out there reading on my older iPhone with the French SIM. I didn't even come across the street to drop my camera back off.
After I had run everything through enough cycles of the dryer so that it all was finally dry, I came back across the street to drop off the laundry bag with my clean laundry and my camera because it was still drizzling. I thought I might have time to stop by the small grocery store between here and the Café de l'Industrie before they closed so I stuck my two more collapsible shopping bags in my rain jacket pocket and left. I walked down to the far corner the other direction from where I usually go to see what's down that way and if there was anywhere down that way I might want to eat. I took some pictures of cafes and shops I hadn't seen before and there are some nice looking cafes and restaurants down that way but I decided to go back to the Café de l'Industrie because I like it and their menu and wanted to stop by the Carrefour on the way back.
I had another very good meal, including their own pate and their take on the French version of sausage & mashed potatoes. Unfortunately they were just busy enough and service was just a bit too slow for me to make it to the store before they closed at 10:00 PM.
Tomorrow I plan on going to the museums I thought I'd go to today. Starting from the furthest away through to the closest to here, they are the Musee des arts et metiers; then is the house of alchemist Nicolas Flamel which is also the oldest surviving stone house in Paris; not far from that is the small community garden commemorating Anne Frank; then I plan on visiting the Musee de la chasse et la nature, which I've never been to before; and finishing up at the Musee Cognacq-Jay which is in turn about a 20 minute walk away to get back here.
I had a very good and enjoyable day, although at one point something rather disconcerting happened very briefly.
I sort of took the morning off, not feeling very much in a hurry to get moving before noon. I decided I'd save the two nearest museums I'd planned on visiting, the Musee de la chasse et la nature and the Musee Cognacq-Jay for another daymaybe tomorrow?and just go to the Musee des arts et metiers, the house of alchemist Nicolas Flamel which is also the oldest surviving stone house in Paris and the small community garden commemorating Anne Frank today, with a stop for lunch on the way to A et M and maybe somewhere afterwards and dinner somewhere on the way home, with a stop at my local grocery store for some more bottles of iced tea and juice, and that's pretty much how it went.
I usually like to find where I'm going first, and then look for somewhere to eat nearby. Not far down the street from A et M is Mabrouk, a very nice Tunisian restaurant I'd never even seen before. They don't seem to have their own web page. Neither did they have a menu with English but the lovely & charming woman who helped me translated it. I had an excellent bowl of cousous with fish and something for dessert that was rather like a Tunisian version of zabaglione.
I love A et M, not only for its incredible and amazing collection but for the venue itself, which incorporates at least a couple of historic buildings on the site. I may have never noticed this before, especially if I came to the museum from a slightly different route than I did today, but it shares space on campus with the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers which only offers doctorate level education.
Quite nearby on the way to the Flamel house is the wonderful church of St Nicholas in the Fields, Eglise Nicolas des champs, which was open when I went by so I went in and tried to not be too much of a nuisance when I was wandering around taking pictures of such a lovely church.
It was shortly afterwards that the very brief but rather disconcerting incident happened. I stepped off a curb to cross the street and I think it might have been a combination of very slight but still noticeable dizziness and my knees being very tired but my knees kept bending and I wound up kneeling in the street. Two very nice young ladies stopped to help me up, I sort of shook my knees out, and continued walking.
I easily found the Jardin Anne-Frank using Google Maps but I'm pretty sure that when I was last there (3 years ago? Or when we came to disburse Mom's ashes before that) there was more than one entrance and exit to the place. I like the small park very much, and sat on a bench in the shade and read for a while. One thing that was rather amusing and delightful was watching kids who were coming in make a rapid beeline straight for the play area with the slide.
Since I had decided to save Chasse et nature and Cognacq-Jay until later, and it was still too early for dinner, I thought I could probably find a small table inside at the Auld Alliance especially since the weather was nice enough today that more people would be using the outside tables.
On the way over, I went past another place I had heard of and wanted to visit, the Eglise Notre Dame des Blancs Manteaux. "Blancs manteuax" means white coats, and doesn't actually refer to the Virgin Mary at all but does refer to the order of monks who wore white cloaks and originally founded the church. This lovely place was one of the most busy churches I've ever visited anywhere, especially for the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday with no services. Once again I tried to make as little of a nuisance as I could, wandering around taking pictures of such a lovely place.
Although there were a few people outside when I got to the Auld Alliance, I seemed to be the only person inside. That allowed me to have a brief, pleasant chat with the bartender whom I thought I remembered from my earlier trips to Paris but he says he's only worked there for a year. I couldn't quite place his accent but he told me he's actually from Dublin. That came about when we started talking about Strongbow, the cider named after him, and that I'd been to his grave and that of his wife in Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin a few weeks ago.
From looking at the menu at the Café des Chats when I've been there I knew they also serve main courses for lunch & dinner, and I jokingly can put the blame for my going back there on my brother, Michael, whom I talked with late last night. I mentioned the Cat Café, and he asked me if I would email the pictures I took there for posting to Facebook to him so he could show them to Renee, my sister in law. Unfortunately I delete all the pictures I post on Facebook from my iPhone once I've posted them because I also take more on my real digital camera, so one of the reasons I went back to the Café des Chats tonight was so I could take some more pictures for Michael & Renee and email them to Michael. Tonight I had their excellent guacamole and chips, a very good and very large croque monsieur, and their delicious chocolate mousse.
I then walked back here to drop off my camera and cane and pick up one of my shopping bags before going back down the street to the Carrefour to pick up some more bottles of iced tea and juice.
It's now about 11:00 PM. I still need to finish posting my pictures from today to Facebook, then I'm going to watch something streaming and log in to Facebook to see what my friends, especially Cat who is now in Zurich and Vince who is still in Ireland, have been up to.
Tomorrow I think I'll go to the following, in order of furthest from my home to nearest to a bit further the other sidethe Museum de la chasse et de la nature; the Musee Cognacq-Jay; and finally the Maison Europeene de la photographie which I've never been to.
And that's it for today.
I had another very pleasant day today despite the variable weather and not feeling like doing much of anything until the mid-afternoon, including having lunch. I didn't leave here until after 2:00 PM.
Because I got off to such a late start I decided to only go to one of the museums here in the area. The furthest away of the museums I'm most interesed in is one I've never been to before, the Musee de la chasse et de la nature, or the Museum of the hunt and nature, supposedly only a 25 minute walk from here although on the whole as usual I think it took me longer to get there than that.
As usual I wanted to have lunch somewhere along the way. I wanted to go to Tonton Billy for another hot dog, but when I got there the place looked like it was closed although I was pretty sure I could see some people in the restaurant in the back. Right in the area is another place I've passed a couple of times and wanted to go to sometime, the café Aux deux anges (something like "Of the two angels"there is a small street nearby with a similar name. The place doesn't seem to have their own web site.). I had a very good slice of quiche lorraine with a small tart with strawberries.
The weather today was really quite variable. At its best it was sunny enough to not need a jacket, rain coat or umbrella but it could change very quickly, within minutes. If the sun went behind the clouds or the breeze picked up the temperature could drop what felt like at least 10 degrees. And it occasionally was drizzly or rainy in combination with being breezy. I spent quite a bit of time with my camera tucked up under my rain jacket and wishing I had another layer under the rain coat.
The Musee de la chasse is rather an odd but very well done small museum, sort of a combination of a natural history museum with collections of paintings about hunting and an impressive collection of various hunting guns many of which are elaborately decorated. The two special exhibits, Every stone should cry and ApokatastasisIndoor Garden were both rather odd but well done.
It was only about 5:00 PM when I left the museum, too early to find anywhere for dinner. I checked Google Maps and it was closer to walk to my favorite Scottish pub here in Paris (OK, I don't know of any others that are open), the Auld Alliance, than it was to walk back here so that's where I went. It was a pleasure to be somewhere warm and dry while having a pint of cider.
The other reason I decided to go back to the Auld Alliance is that I wanted to give Shinjuku Sushi another try and this time order a combination that I knew more about, such as the one with dim sum and california rolls I had tonight, and they were all very good.
I had toyed with the idea of taking the Metro from St Paul to get back home but it would only have got me back as far as the Bastille Metro station so I zipped my rain jacket up all the way and set off. The way back here is now pretty familiar, along the Rue de Rivoli/Rue St Antoine (the names of streets in Paris often change at intersections after not very long) to the Bastille, then along another major street to where the street I'm staying on, Rue Sedaine, intersects with that. I have to remind myself, or let Google Maps remind me, however, to not turn off the main street until I get to Rue Sedaine.
That intersection is only a block or so from the Café des Chats. Just like the Auld Alliance, I like it there. If I go past it on the walk home, I'll probably stop in. It's not that I have much to do when I get back here, except for typing up my notes from the day, checking Facebook and watching something streaming. I had a small pot of tea and something listed on the menu as "fondant aux chocolate" which really is like a moist, slightly dense chocolate cake with gooey chocolate in the middle. As usual none of the cats came quite close enough to let me pet them but they did often wander by on their way elsewhere. It's also fun watching the other patrons reacting to the cats such as the one who actually came up onto their table to say hello.
I got to the Café des chats shortly before 8:30 PM, which was good timing. When I went to my local grocery store yesterday afternoon I picked up some very good crackers which I thought might be good with some kind of spreadable cheese so I wanted to try a couple of different ones. I also wanted to get some cookies of some kind and a brush to hand wash dishes. Although there was already dish soap here, I haven't seen anything to scrub them with. I'm probably not going to actually try and cook anything on the two burner range but I might heat something up on it or in the microwave, and now I can do so and clean the dishes afterwards.
It's now about 12:30 AM. I'm still pretty awake and want to check Facebook before I go to bed. I checked Patreon earlier today and found my friend Cat's latest post which included a video of a song she sang in one of the gardens at Blarney Castle before she left Ireland to come visit me here in Paris earlier this week.
I hope to get an earlier start tomorrow, maybe before lunch. I plan on sticking to the area again, but going to a museum I've still never been to before although I walked past it several times on my earlier trips here to Paris. It's a photography museum, the Maison Europeennne de la photographie. a 20 minute walk from here (supposedly).
From there I want to go back to one of my favorite small museums anywhere, the combined Musee de la magie/Musee des automates (the first part is easy enough, the other is a small museum of mechanical toys) which is down the street from St Paul-St Louis and near where I had dinner tonight, and 5 minutes from the photography museum.
After that on the way back here is the wonderful Cognacq-Jay museum, one of the jewels of the Marais district. It's another of those lovely museums both here in Paris and in London that started out as private collections but were later donated to the city or a trust to be run as museums. That's supposedly a 15-20 minute walk from the Musee de la magie.
And the last place I want to go on my way back home is a place I found accidentally when on my way over to the cell phone company where I bought my French SIM card and package, called the Mermaids & Divers. It looks like an interesting, nice place but another reason I want to go by is sort of an in joke. Two of my favorite belly dancers are the leaders of the Masala troupe back home who also sometimes are mermaids at a place called the Wreck Bar which doesn't seem to have its own website although there are many links about the mermaid show. The last time I went past I took pictures on my iPhone which I sent to my two dancer friends asking if the place looked too nice to be a dive bar, and said I'd have to really go there sometime and report back to them. And then from Mermaids & Divers it's a 10 minute walk back here.
Depending on when I finish at Mermaids & Divers, I might have dinner on the way back here or stop by here to pick up one of my reusable grocery bags and go down the street to buy something to warm up for dinner back here.
I took a break in the middle of that last paragraph to check Facebook, and it's now almost 1:15 AM. I still want to try some of the crackers I bought last night with the spreadable cheeses I bought this evening and then get to bed.
Both the spreadable cheeses are indeed very good with the crackers. I had some as a late night snack last night and some this afternoon.
It's not going to take me long to type up my notes for today because I took the day off. When I woke up this morning I was once again not in a hurry to get moving and up and out, so I took the morning off and watched something streaming.
I finally took a shower and got dressed about 12:30 PM, and went out to find somewhere to eat about 2:30 PM. I wanted to try Monsieur Poirot, another of the very attractive looking cafes in the immediate neighborhood but when I got there they were closed. A lot of places close between their lunch and dinner servings. The guy who told me they were closed pointed up the street to a different restaurant that was still open; at the moment I can't even remember what that one was called. Instead I went back across the street to another café I'd walked past several times, Pur Etc which apparently is well known for their freshly squeezed juices and had a very good quiche and a cheese scone.
Coming back up the street I stopped at the little bakery nearby to pick up some pastries for this evening.
After I got home I watched something else streaming, and then spent most of the time until I went out for dinner about 7:30 PM going through my list of places I want to go to during my last week here in Paris and writing down the days and times they are open. I have a ticket already for only one more concert the evening of next Tuesday, June 11th, and there is another concert the afternoon of the following day I'd also like to go to and can probably get a ticket there. When my Ren Fair performer friend Cat was in Galway she met some members of the Glee Club from Notre Dame University and went to their concert there. Cat later told me that the GC will be giving a concert here on June 12th.
What makes scheduling what place to visit when is that some places are closed Monday, others are closed Tuesday, and some are open all seven days during the week. I have my lists of open days and hours, and tomorrow night I'll go through and make lists of what to go to by area and on what day.
After I got back I checked Monsieur Poirot again on Google Maps to see what their opening hours are, and they reopened for dinner at 7:00 PM so I got there between 7:30 PM and 8:00. Besides liking what I saw of their menu online, I have to admit that another reason I wanted to go there is that a couple of days ago I saw a trim, very lovely young blonde woman who was wearing a black top with no back and I thought an apron pop in and I wondered if she was on the staff there. She was, and was charming, delightful, very attractive, and rather sexy. I should have asked more about my menu choices, though, because although they were very good the main course was not very fillingI had to stop at the small grocery store on the same corner for some pate and some sausages for a snack. I had their very good creamed vegetable soup, what turned out to be sauteed mushrooms of various sizes for the entree, and then their excellent rice pudding for dessert.
I did manage to figure out how to use the small, two burner cook top and boiled the sausages for a few minutes to finish cooking them. I thought I had seen some mustard in one of the cupboards and I did so I'll have the sausages with mustard as soon as I'm done with these notes.
My plans for tomorrow are basically what I had planned on doing today, and I hope I get started earliernot too early because the second place I want to go to doesn't open until 2:00 PM on Sunday. I want to start with the Musee Cognacq-Jay which originally was the private collection of the founder of La Samaitaine, a formerly very popular and large department store here in Paris.
The next stop will be the small but very well done and amusing Musee de la magie/Automate not far from the church of St Paul-St Louis and where I've stayed in Paris before. Not far from there is the Rue de Rosiers which runs through the center of what used to be the old Jewish Quarter in the Marais. And then Mermaids & Divers is about a 15-20 minute walk from Rue de Rosiers, and M & D is about a 10 minute walk back to here.
Depending on the time I finish at M & D, I'll keep an eye out for somewhere to possibly have dinner.
That's it for todaytime for my sausages and pastries.
It's now 12:15 AM Monday morning and even though I've been home for the last couple of hours I'm only now getting around to typing up my notes from today. Since I've been home I've uploaded all my pictures today from my iPhone to Facebook, and all the ones I took this week from my camera's memory card to this laptop, then backed them all up to my three external USB hard drives. I've also added the books I've read most recently to my book lists, and figured out what the next books are by the authors I'm currently most interested in reading more of. And I went through my lists of what I'm interested in seeing to sort out what's closed tomorrow and what's closed on Tuesday and figured out where I want to go tomorrow.
I pretty much did everything I thought I'd do last nght today, even if I took the morning off again. The only two places I wanted to go that had time constraints were the Musee Cognacq-Jay, which opened at 10:00 this morning, and the Musee de la magie/Automates which was open from 2:00 PM to 7:00 today.
Before I talk about where I went today, for the last couple of days I've been trying to figure out why I seem to have very little interest in going to the Maison Europeene de la photographie, the photography museum. I guess I'm just not that interested in photography as an art form. I love taking my own pictures, which are of people I love or like or even just find visually interesting, scenery, buildings, art work, interesting animals, etc, but I am strictly an amateur, casual photographer. Most of the time I am not interested in having people pose for the pictures I take, and most of the time I don't bother with post-production unless I'm trying to fix the exposure or cropping something egregious in my original picture. I enjoy seeing pictures people I know post on Facebook, especially of places they've been. I even don't mind the occasional display or exhibit of photography, such as the "Wildlife photographer of the year" special exhibit I saw at the Victoria & Albert museum back in London before I came here to Paris, but I don't really want to go to a whole museum of and about photography.
I skipped breakfast once again, and hoped I'd find somewhere to have lunch on the way to the Cognacq-Jay or between there and the Musee de la magie. Many restaurants & cafes I passed between here and the C-J were closed today, Sunday.
I very much like the M C-J even though there are no elevators and I had to walk up all the stairs to see all the exhibits. I just took my time on them and went carefully. The M C-J is another example of those wonderful museums that started out as someone's personal collections of art or whatever and were donated to their city or state or country or university or some other charitable body either by the original owners during their lifetime or by their heirs.
I just found out from Wikipedia that although the original founders donated the collection and the original building they had designed to house it to the city of Paris, it was moved after their deaths to its current building. There are many marvelous pieces of painting, sculpture, porcelain and other decorative arts throughout the collection, and in one room up on the very top floor you can still see the original ceiling.
A short walk from the C-J is the Rue de Rosiers, the center of the old Jewish shtetl. I thought I might find somewhere to eat in the area, but I had forgotten that almost all of the places along the couple of blocks stretch are take away only with no indoor seating and hadn't realized that on a day like today, which had pretty good weather most of the time, there would be long lines waiting to be served at most of the places there. I didn't seem to see very many Jewish people in the short time it took to walk the couple of blocks.
Those blocks were so busy that when Google Maps told me I needed to walk back through them the other way to get to the Musee de la magie, I just kept going to the next major street, which is the one that goes past Eglise St Paul-St Louis anyway, which is around the corner from the museum. Google Maps took me on a slightly different route to the museum, through and along a few blocks I don't think I've been on before.
By now I was getting pretty hungry and hoped that when I got to the museum I'd be able to find somwhere to have lunch. Several places in the area were open, but almost right next to it I saw a sign for "La petite maison dans la cour" (the little house on the court, or courtyard) which was quite charming, small, very busy and doesn't seem to have any indoor seating. I had a slice of a quiche of some kind along with a salad with a great dressing, their iced tea and a cup of hot chocolate, and their dessert selection with small servings of four different choices. The food was all excellent, the waitress was tall, slender, lovely, and charming, and service was no slower than seems to be usual here in Paris.
It does not take long for me to go through the Musee de la magie, and most of the time I was there included the free magic show that starts off each admission. The guy was excellent and apparently very funny, because the friends and family of the people in the audience he had help him with the different tricks kept cracking up. I might have taken more time wandering around the small museum but right in the main lobby a fat man was apparently giving a short talk about French magic and magicians and objected when I was taking pictures of the exhibits there. The automata in the collection are not as interesting as any I saw over at the Musee des arts et metiers earlier this week.
My last stop before heading back in this direction, and which is actually sort of in the neighborhood being only 10 minutes walk from here, was Mermaids & Divers which I'd been past a couple of times before and wanted to actually go there for a beer, and to take some pictures of the interior to post on Facebook. I rather liked it quite a bit. It's nothing fancy, and is modeled on a beach bar somewhere but is very pleasant and comfortable. I had a good pint of beer and their excellent iced tea.
(It's 1:00 AM I just opened the smallish bottle of scotch I bought at the small grocery store down the street the day I arrived here. I haven't been drinking a lot of alcohol once I get home, which is basically what I do at home anyway where I only occasionally have anything alcoholic in the evenings..)
I didn't pass anywhere between Mermaids & Divers that made me think I'd enjoy having dinner there more than I do at the Café de l'Industrie down the street, where I've had very good dinners a couple of times already this trip, so I went to one of them tonight. I sat at a small table near the bar instead of in the dining area and had another excellent meal and dessert and their great iced tea.
The Café des Chats didn't look too busy when I went past and they were still open so I stopped by for a pot of tea. I didn't see that many cats tonight, though, mostly because I was at a comfortable table in a corner, but I did see several of them. On the way in, there was one sleeping on the counter by the cash register, the same cat was snoozing on the piano, and on the way out I saw one sleeping in a basket in the window by the cash register and three cats were looking like they wanted to see what the humans had placed on the lower coffee table almost within their reach especially if they got up on the nearby footstool.
The places I want to go to tomorrow are all basically within walking distance from here. What's kind of amusing is that for the two furthest it would take 35 minutes walking from here to there, or from there back to here, and only less than five minutes less if I take the Metro.
In order of furthest from here to closest, which is the order in which I plan to see them, here's where I plan on going tomorrow: 1) the Arenes de Lutece the remains of the ancient amphitheater, is among the very few Roman remains still surviving in the entire city of Paris; 2) the incredible Pantheon with the crypt; 3) one of my very favorite museums anywhere, the Cluny or to give the full name, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, also has some of the remaining Roman ruins as well as the famous Unicorn Tapestries; and finally the stunningly beautiful Sainte-Chapelle with its amazing stained glass. I might go into the Conciergerie with its display of Marie Antoinette's last prison cell before her execution, but although I really like the building itself the contents are only OK.
It's about 1:30 AM now. I still want to check Facebook and then get to bed, and hope to be up and moving and on the way out by around 10:00 AM. First I want to back up my documents from this laptop to my three external backup USB hard drives as well.
I took today off. I actually woke up early enough to go to the places I wanted to but then it seems that once again my body decided I needed more sleep than I had planned for. I woke up before my alarm went off, turned it off before it sounded, stretched out again until I actually wanted to get up, and fell asleep again.
A lot of places including many small cafes/restaurants here in this area apparently were actually closed today as well as yesterday. I sort of knew that Pentecost was yesterday, but hadn't realized that many places in France and Paris of course take the Monday after Pentecost as a holiday.
So, once I woke up after falling asleep again it was around noon. I decided I'd just find somewhere to have lunch, do another load of laundry, and then either buy stuff to heat up for dinner at the grocery store down the street or just go out somewhere if I really just wanted to get out of the house again.
There were two reasons I wanted to do some wash today. I'm leaving the morning of next Monday, 6/17, and will do a last load of my dirty clothes the evening before so I pack mostly clean clothes. I didn't want to wait because my only pair of non-button front fly jeans was starting to smell, probably from being in close contact for hours every day with my knee braces which also smell like dirty neoprene, and I'm not going to wash those until I get back home and can use the small lingerie bags I stick them in so the velcro on them doesn't get stuck to everything else. I do have clean towels here, but if I did laundry today I could also throw in my towels and have clean ones to use until I leave without having to figure out where to put the dirty ones.
I went out to wander around and find somewhere for lunch a bit after 2:00 PM. I'm not sure how many places I passed were closed because it was between their lunch and dinner servings or because today was the Monday after Pentecost. I sort of accidentally wandered past Tonton Billy and they were open so I stopped there for a different hotdog this time.
There were two things I wanted to do after I got back and before I did laundry across the street. One was to take a picture of the water damage above the overhead showerhead in the bathroom to send to the property management firm and to airbnb and the other was to call my plumbers back home and arrange for someone to come and check for leaks the day I get back.
I sort of succeeded with the first task. I did manage to send a picture attached to the email to the property managers but cannot figure out how to send it to airbnb and can't find a contact email for them. I did also arrange for a plumber to come between 1:00 and 3:00 PM the day I get back.
I took my laundry across the street about 4:00 PM and ran two loads, a larger one with my towels and jeans and a smaller one with the five days worth of dirty clothes since the last time I did laundry. For some reason I had a bit of trouble getting the smaller washing machine to start, although apparently I finally managed to push the buttons in the right order to get it to run. I came back here for the half an hour the wash cycle takes, and when I went back across the street I confirmed that you can actually just put more than one coin at a time into the controller to increase the time on your dryer so I came back here for that half an hour as well instead of having to put additional coins in every 8 minutes. Doing laundry and drying it across the street is not cheap, but it is much better than the alternativesdo wash here and transport wet clothes across the street to run them through the dryer; wash them here and put them on the drying rack which would take up most of the living room; or find a full service laundry somewhere in the area where I could drop off dirty clothes and pick up clean laundry a day or two later, as I've done before when I stayed at the Grand Hotel Malher. It's still much, much cheaper than I had to pay all the weeks I was staying in hotels in Killarney, Galway, Dublin, and London.
I wanted to get out of the house for dinner and since most of the places in the immediate area between here and the far corner were closed but the Café de l'Industrie, which I really like and is just a block past the grocery store where I wanted to go on the way back was open, so I went there tonight as well. Once again I had a small table near the bar instead of in the dining area but that's also rather fun. The place was rather busy tonight but I had an excellent dinner with their wonderful pate, a very good bunless hamburger with some amazing fried potatoes, and a piece of cheesecake for dessert.
I left there a bit before 9:00 PM, which I thought would be plenty of time to stop by the grocery store to pick up some more juices and see whether they have any cider, but for some reason shortly after I got there at 9:00 they were asking people to leave because they were closing then instead of their usual closing time of 10:00 PM. I think that might have been due to the holiday today. Since there was nothing I really needed to get today, I just came on home.
After I got back I put my laundry away, hung up my clean shirts, and watched something streaming. I also tried to figure out where I want to go tomorrow, since many places I'm interested in are closed Tuesday while others are usually closed on Monday.
Working backwards in time, I have my last prepaid concert tomorrow night at the Eglise St Eustache at 8:30 PM. That's either a 35 minute walk or 30 minutes by Metro including a 10 minute walk to the Metro station nearest to the church.
My first stop tomorrow will be the excellent anthropology museum at Quai Branly which would take over an hour to walk to from here so I think I'll take the Metro, which involves no transfers if I walk from here to the Voltaire Metro station, a 5 minute walk away.
From QB I plan on going somewhere I've only ever been to when tour buses have driven past, Napoleon's Tomb at the Musee de l'armee. That's only a 25 minute walk from QB.
That's it for the far side of the Seine. My third and last stop before finding the church for my evening concert and somewhere to have dinner nearby is the Musee des arts decoratifs which is at the far end of the Louvre, and only half an hour's walk from the Musee de l'armee and 15 minutes walk from St Eustache.
That's it for tonight and today. It's just past midnight. I want to check Facebook and then get to bed. I hope I can manage to stay awake and not fall asleep again when I get up tomorrow morning.
It's 12:20 AM Wednesday morning
I've actually been home since about 10:00 PM. I uploaded the pictures I took today on my iPhone to Facebook first, then took a break and watched something streaming. And because I had to have dinner earlier than usual I had a can of sardines for a snack before I checked Facebook to see what any of my friends have been up to.
I did go to two of the places I thought I might, and left two for later but I did get out on the Seine again twice today. This morning I realized that since my concert this evening was at 8:30 PM, even allowing time to find somewhere to have dinner after I found the church, I didn't want to be in the area much before 6:00 or 6:30 so I decided that the only museum I'd go to today would be the Musee du Quai Branly.
Since I plan on making three separate visits to the Louvre for each of the three main wings, and want to get there before 10:00 AM each day to avoid some of the crowds, I decided to wait and visit the Musee des arts decoratifs for a Louvre day since it's part of the campus. The collection of 3D model cities and buildings at the Musee des plans-reliefs is half an hour's walk from the Louvre and it's very near the tomb of Napoleon at the Musee de l'Armee so I'll add those to a Louvre day. And since the Orangerie is only 20 minutes away from the Louvre pyramids I'll go there on my third Louvre day.
Once I decided to only go to the Musee du Quai Branly, and to have lunch at the fine café there, the question was how to get there? It's about an hour and a half's walk from here, which I wasn't interested in doing. It's a fairly straight shot by Metro with no transfers from Voltaire. What about by river? I was pretty sure there is a hop on, hop off water taxi on the Seine here in Paris and I was right and had seen them several times before but somehow never took them on any of my other trips here. The Batobus covers from the Eiffel Tower down to the Jardin des plantes and makes four stops each along both sides of the river. These boats are all mostly enclosed with a very small open area at the stern. They all use a rather interesting designeach side has three panels, and the middle ones can all be raised or lowered in response to the weather but apparently that can only be done manually using a long pole from the middle of the roof. It took several minutes at one stop for a woman in the crew to get out the ladder, climb on top, and close several sections after it had started raining.
The stop closest to here is the one below the Hotel de Ville and is only half an hour's walk away. I had a delightful walk over to the Seine and then along it until I got to the small dock. This morning the weather was very pleasant and it was very nice being out on the Seine again, even if it was only from Hotel de Ville to the Eiffel Tower dock and the Musee du Q B is less than ten minutes' walk away.
I had skipped breakfast again so when I got to Q B I was ready for lunch, and had a very nice one at the lovely café there.
I think the museum is excellent and usually very much enjoy wandering around it even if as usual I don't take the time to read the informative signs or study the items on display. I gave it even less time than usual today because there were several large tour groups of students occasionally blocking exhibits or even the narrow walkways between sections.
The Batobus was very busy leaving the Eiffel Tower. Every time I headed over to a vacant seat facing forward along the side it was nabbed by someone in a group before I could get there. At first I had to sit in a seat facing into the middle of the boat, perpendicular to the direction of travel, but I was towards the end of a row of folding seats so I could twist to at least be facing the way were going. After a stop or so, I was able to move to a seat along the side.
From the Eiffel Tower the boat goes down that side of the river all the way down to the Jardin des Plantes before turning around. The stop at the Hotel de Ville is the first on that side of the river, and the Louvre is the second. Since that was closer to the Eglise Saint-Eustache that's where I got off. By then it had started raining fairly heavily but with little wind and the 20 minute walk walk over to the church was fairly wet.
There are several places to eat immediately around St-E, and many of them looked quite nice, but my choice was easy when I saw that the Italian restaurant there, La Perla, listed not one but three different types of risotto on their menu. I started off with an appetizer of calamari, which turned out to be a huge plate of it with more than enough for two. In fact, my waiter and I think the chef or the manager were concerned I didn't like it when I didn't eat all of it. I was able to tell them I had liked it very much but there was too much of it for just me. The place was quite busy and service was a bit slow. I had wanted to have dessert as well but needed to get back to the church to get in line for the concert instead.
I don't remember if I've been to Saint-Eustache before. It's one of the oldest, largest, and most ornate churches in Paris but also looks a bit grimy and dingy although that might have been due to the lighting for the concert.
I enjoyed the concert very much although it was a bit short, just over an hour, the program of course is in French, and oddly enough no one clapped after any of the pieces until the very end. The ensemble was the combined younger and older kids choirs from Notre Dame. The music was all sacred with a combination of some Gregorian chants and some more contemporary pieces. I recognized none of the music and only one of the names of the composers, Zoltan Kodaly. The main reason I had chosen this concert is that back when I was planning this trip it was one of only two taking place at Notre Dame while I was here. The first concert was cancelled after the fire, but for this one they were able to find another location.
The setting for each piece took advantage of the acoustics of the space. For the first piece the choir was behind us in the back; for another one the choir was split up into at least three sections, two to the sides in front and one behind; for the only instrumental piece the musician who played a medieval violin started out in the back and walked up the center aisle; another time the choir started out in back, processed up the middle and all the way around the back of the altar, and stayed there for the next piece, and for the final piece they came out in front of the altar.
It was about 9:45 PM when we got out of the church. I think it had stopped raining by then. I didn't feel like walking back here or taking the Metro, so I walked on over to the next major intersection I could see and flagged down a cab.
It's now 1:30 AM and that's it for tonight. I want to leave early enough tomorrow to go to the places I wanted to yesterday before being over at the concert by 3:45 PM.
Since the list is the same as it was when I typed it Sunday night, with an addition, I'll just copy and paste it here. In order of furthest from here to closest, which is the order in which I plan to see them, here's where I plan on going tomorrow: 1) the Arenes de Lutece, the remains of the ancient amphitheater, is among the very few Roman remains still surviving in the entire city of Paris; 2) the incredible Pantheon with the crypt; 3) one of my very favorite museums anywhere, the Cluny or to give the full name, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, also has some of the remaining Roman ruins as well as the famous Lady & the Unicorn Tapestries; and finally the stunningly beautiful Sainte-Chapelle with its amazing stained glass. I might go into the Conciergerie with its display of Marie Antoinette's last prison cell before her execution, but although I really like the building itself the contents are only OK.
The addition is one of my favorite accidental discoveries I made while in that area on a previous visit, one of Paris's finest English pubs, the Bombardier. Maybe I'll have lunch there. As I was checking their menu online just now, I noticed that the Bombardier is actually part of a chain including a dozen other English pubs throughout France.
And now it really is time for bed.
12:10 AM Thursday morning
I did very little at all today. I woke up this morning after not sleeping very well last night and just couldn't get motivated to do anything at all. I even skipped going out for lunch and had the last of my pate and spreadable cheese with some crackers, my last yogurt, and a beer. And a bit later I just didn't feel like adventuring forth to go all the way over to the Notre Dame University Glee Club's concert at Eglise la Madeleine.
I'm not sure why I sometimes just don't feel like doing much of anything at all. I suspect part of the reason is that I have now been away from home for eight weeks. I know that's not long, especially compared with how long I was on my big 60th birthday trip three years ago, or with how long my Renaissance Faire friends are on the road during the year, or even how long my friend Cat is away on her own grand European adventure (side note hereI had been wondering what Cat was up to since she hadn't posted much the last couple of days. When she was here in Paris with me she told me one of her main goals was to visit two castles she had been to on a school trip and later visit with her Mom several years ago, and today she posted that she's going to see one of them tomorrow).
It's not that I don't like it here in my plain but serviceable mini-apartment here in Paris, or am in a hurry to get back home. I haven't forgotten that I have to deal with a potential water leak and any potential damage when I get back, and either have it taken care of or arranged for that to happen before I leave for Bristol in two weeks after that. It's not that I don't like it here in my plain but serviceable mini-apartment here in Paris, or am in a hurry to get back home.
I guess that subconsciously I decided that since I actually have four more days here in Paris, I didn't need to do much of anything at all today either. I did, however, call My Daily Driver to confirm my pickup for the airport at 7:00 AM this coming Monday and to give them my local mobile phone number so the driver can contact me when he's outside.
I had thought about walking on over to the Cidrerie du Marais for dinner but decided to stick to my immediate neighborhood. I walked from here down to the next major intersection a couple of long blocks away but once again didn't see anywhere that was quite as appealing as the Café de l'Industrie so that's where I went for dinner tonight, this time going to the one closest to my place.
I'm starting to think that both places are staffed only with youngish, lovely, charming, beautiful, and frequently sexy women. I recognized a couple from earlier visits and saw some waitresses I don't remember from before, and my server tonight was as charming as the ones before.
My meal tonight wasn't as good as the ones I've had in either place before, but that was my own fault. For an appetizer I had a plate of asparagus with an excellent dressing, but for my main course I chose a fish I had never had before, skate, which turned out to be a mistake because the damn thing was full of bones of various sizes and the skin was inedible. It was prepared very nicely, though, and was tasty except for all the bones. The boiled potatoes and carrots were quite good, too, as was the apple tart with creme fraise I had for dessert. I had my usual smaller glass of Pelican beer and their excellent iced tea, and for the first time I noticed on the drinks part of the menu they list vin chaud so I had a cup with dessert and it was wonderful.
I needed to go down the street to my local grocery store to pick up some more juices, milk, crackers, pate, and yogurt and I wanted to see if I could find any hard cider while I was there. I got back here from dinner about 9:00 PM, dropped off my cane and grabbed my reusable cloth shopping bags and went down to the store.
I did ask about the cider and was told it was in the large beer section. Although someone showed me where the beer was, which I already knew, they didn't show me that the only four types of cider they carry are in larger bottles up on the top shelf but I did find it.
So I have now been home for a couple of hours. After putting my groceries away I watched something streaming and then sorted out my pills for the next week.
I also checked Facebook to see what my friends have been doing, and then because the Bristol Renaissance Festival is only a few weeks away I hoped they would have their 2019 entertainers list up by now and they do. I am delighted that not only are some of the people I only know from Bristol itself performing again this year but so are a whole lot of my friends who have performed at my home Renaissance fair several times before or at least just this past season.
And that's it for tonight and today. My plan for tomorrow is exactly the same as my plan for todayArenes du Lutece; the Pantheon; the Cluny medieval museum; and lunch at the Bombardier, probably before going to the Cluny.
12:15 AM Friday morning
Although I got moving a little later than I wanted to this morning, I was still out of here and walking over to my first target for today by a little after 11:00 AM.
I had never been to the Arenes de Lutece, the ancient Roman ampitheater before and will probably never go back there if ever I return to Paris. Not because it's a terrible place or not worth visiting but there's really not a lot to see there and nothing would change on subsequent visits but the people using the park.
Wikipedia's article on the site mentions that it was lost from about 1210 AD until it was rediscovered sometime in the 1860s. Apparently it was opened to the public sometime after the first World War. It is heavily used today. There were at least five or six different school groups there when I was and lots of other people came and went.
I have to say that from here to the Seine and across the bridges and onto the other side of the river it was quite flat and enjoyable. However, from there up to the arena and from there to the Pantheon was a pretty steep hill for me. Coming back down from the Pantheon was delightful.
Last night I had not checked to see if there were any changes to the Pantheon's opening hours, which are usually from 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM and was surprised when I got there to see a notice that instead it was opening at 2:30 PM today for what seemed to be technical reasons from what I could make of the sign. If I had looked at the Web page last night or this morning I would have seen the notice. I take some comfort that I certainly was not the only person who didn't check the hours either because lots of people were waiting around when I got there.
I had planned on having lunch at the Bombardier, my favorite English pub in Paris which is across the street from the Pantheon, after visiting the Pantheon and going on to the Cluny medieval museum after the Pantheon but switched the order around. I had very good fish and chips with excellent tartare sauce with their iced tea for lunch at the Bombardier then went on over to the Cluny, 10 minutes walk away.
I still enjoyed the visit to the Cluny very much but felt like I was missing quite a bit of what I had seen before. They had renovated the main entrance since I was there last three years ago and I thought the size of the collection currently accessible on a visit was quite a bit smaller. I of course might just have missed entrances to parts of the collection. I did spend a little bit of time wandering around the only other substantial Roman remains in Paris, the baths within the Cluny museum itself. And I of course visited the famous "Lady & the unicorn" tapestries.
The walk from the Pantheon and the Bombardier over to the Cluny museum, and back of course, took me through parts of the Sorbonne campus.
As always I am sure I didn't see everything there is to see in the Pantheon and didn't spend any time studying it. I have to say that the Pantheon seems to have less informational signage scattered about than most other museums and historical sites I've visited but they do have apparently excellent printed guides and audio tours and when you're down in each individual crypt there are interactive video displays where you can look up who's where. Still, I did manage to find several well known and important French writers and scientists like Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas pere, and the Curies.
I was thirsty again when I left the Pantheon so I stopped by the Bombardier for another glass of iced tea before heading back down the hill to the Seine and across to the Auld Alliance where I wanted to stop for a beer and kill some time until around 7:00 PM when most places that had closed after lunch open again for dinner.
Google Maps sent me on a slightly different route from the Bombardier to the Auld Alliance and I actually went past the corner I needed to turn onto before I saw the carousel next to the Saint Paul metro station . When I got to the Auld Alliance the bartender whom I've most frequently seen there was working again today and made a point of saying "Hi" when I came in. There were plenty of small tables still available but there were also a large group playing a card game of some sort and people in the back playing pool as well.
I had thought of a couple of places in the St Paul-St Louis neighborhood where I've been to dinner there before but decided to wait until tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday at the end of a day that will start with a trip to the Louvre . When we were here to disperse some of Mom's ashes in the Seine several years ago, I was here for a week before my brother Michael came a day or so before Tim, Jill and their kids came. Michael and I had dinner at a place recommended by the staff at the Grand Hotel Malher where we were staying, the excellent Italian restaurant Le Caruso a couple of blocks away. I also considered the local brewpub Frog Revolution but although they have an excellent menu of their own beers I don't think their food menu is as good. I have liked the food and the staff and the place itself every time I've been to the Cidrerie du Marais and did when I was there last week, so I went back again tonight.
The weather today was quite pleasant most of the time but I was glad I was wearing one of my hats and a sweatshirt. A couple of times when I was walking from place to place it had obviously been at least slightly raining while I was inside but not when I was outside. The walk from the Cidrerie back here was pleasant because it was still sort of warm and hadn't rained for a while.
Of course I stopped by the Café des Chats once again. I was walking past it to get home, and they were open. I like it there, the staff and patrons are my kind of people who even if some of them are also dog lovers love cats as well. And even if the cats never really come to say "Hi" to me or have me pet them, I love just being there with them and feel more relaxed. It's also fun to see which cats are where and are wandering around. For instance, one cat has been dozing on the piano most of the times I've been there. One was sleeping on the single shelf in a small cupboard. And when I was leaving one of the small kittens had managed to make it out into the double door entry/exit. I managed to get outside and kept the kitten in.
It's now 1:00 AM on Friday. Earlier I did finally send an email to my Heritage insurance contact and a copy of the only email his predecessor and I had discussing any sort of a cost of living differential because I was not living at home and had to eat every lunch and dinner out for almost 22 months. I also informed him about the possible water leak and damage back home and that if it originated anywhere Heritage's crews worked on my claim I expect them to take care of it as part of that original claim.
I was also toying with finding flights home from Paris with fewer stops or shorter layovers than my current itinerary home. I have no idea why I didn't see anything from Air France when I originally checked and booked my flights home with Priceline, but I could get home with only one short layover instead of my two long ones if I wanted. That however would entail paying as much again as I have originally and already done with no possibility of getting my money back by cancelling my current flights.
I tried looking at Facebook earlier but there seemed to have been some connection problem and I could only go back a certain time and not all the way back to when I checked it last night. By checking for updates from my friend Cat, I was able to see that she did indeed make it to one of her favorite castles. I might briefly try again before I go to bed.
Tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, my final three days here in Paris, will all be Louvre days. I'll start my day out there and do a different wing each day, and combine those visits with some elsewhere. The combinations currently look like this: Louvre and the Musee des arts decoratifs which is part of the Louvre campus; the Louvre and Napoleon's tomb at the Musee de l'Armee; and the Louvre, the Orangerie, the Jardins de Tuileries right next door, and across the Seine to Saint Chapelle and possibly the Conciergerie right next to that.
I'm not entirely sure where I'll go to tomorrow. I've booked a ticket to the evening magic show at the Double Fond and need to check exactly what time the show is and when I have to be there before I leave tomorrow morning. I'll probably need to go back to the Auld Alliance or the nearby Starbucks to kill some time before dinner before the show.
11:30 PM and this time I'm just getting around to starting my notes for today because I only got home about half an hour ago, and just finished posting the picture I took today on my iPhone to Facebook.
I had an excellent day capped with a wonderful magic show and a pleasant walk home, with good weather all day.
After I went to bed last night and not too long before I fell asleep the wifi router here in my mini-apartment crashed. I of course have no idea which piece of equipment it is, where it is located, or how to reset it. I was worried that I'd have to wait and send a message to the owner on airbnb or an email to the property managers asking how to turn wifi back on but it was working again when I woke up.
I didn't quite wake up as early as I wanted to but I was still shaved, showered, dressed, and on my way to the Louvre by about 10:30 AM. Although it was a nice day and supposedly only takes 40 minutes to walk from here to the Louvre along flat terrain I decided to take the Metro there to save some time and it didonly a 10 minute walk from here to the Bastille Metro station, and a 12 minute ride from there to the Louvre station. That line is one of the most frequent of all the Metro lines, and although the first train was too crowded for me to even hope of finding a place to sit the second train two minutes later wasn't quite as bad.
Sometime since the last time I was here in Paris three years ago they've changed the entries to the museum and how you can buy tickets. When I was here last you could buy tickets after you entered the complex and came to the ticket booth downstairs under the pyramids but now you need to already have a ticket to get inside.
I was a bit upset at first. I came in a different entrance and didn't see any signs where Paris Museum Pass holders were supposed to go to get in. I waited in line for about 15 minutes and when I got to that entry the security guard told me I had to leave that line, go back outside and around to the Pyramid and enter that way. It turns out that there is indeed a dedicated line for Museum Pass holders and it took only a couple of minutes to actually get inside and downstairs to the huge lobby under the pyramids.
There are three wings to the Louvre. The one I went to today, the Sully is the oldest part of the museum. I kind of like it the most because only one of the most famous pieces in the collection, the Venus de Milo which I somehow missed seeing even though I did see a sign for it, is in that wing. Much of the collection of works by French painters on display are in the Sully, as well as many Near Eastern and Greek and Roman works and much of the decorative arts collection is there as well. I'm also very fond of the remains of the original medieval fortress walls down in the lowest level.
Almost all of the elevators I came across didn't seem to be working when I found them. Because my knees were rather bothering me when I left, and because I had already seen several rooms of decorative arts, I decided not to go to the Musee des arts decoratifs after lunch. I really like the creperie, Framboise, where I took my friend Cat for lunch the day she was here and we took a Seine cruise and rode around on the tour bus, and it's right near the Louvre (although I did get confused and headed the wrong direction on the main street at first) so I went there for lunch today. And to kill some time after lunch, since I thought my magic show didn't start until 8:00 PM (I was wrongI know 21:00 is 9:00 PM, and that's what the ticket said) I went to the Starbucks next door to the creperie afterwards.
I then took the Metro from the Louvre back to the Saint-Paul Metro station. It's not the closest to where I was going for the magic show tonightthat's the Bastille stationbut I wanted to kill some time at the Auld Alliance before dinner and maybe at the Starbucks around the corner and down the street from the Metro station if I could find a free seat inside when I got there. I went to the Starbucks first, and was indeed able to find a place to sit and had a large iced tea. I had been feeling slightly dizzy so when I got to the Auld Alliance I just had a large diet Pepsi.
I thought my magic show was at 8:00 PM, and since Le Caruso restaurant doesn't open until 7:00 PM I thought that wouldn't be enough time to have dinner there before the show. I decided to just find the Double Fond, which bills itself as a "cafe-theater of magic" first and see what places in the immediate area were open for dinner. When I got there at least four right on that small plaza were open, and they all looked very good so I wandered around from one to the other checking out their menus. I chose the café Chez Josephine because not only did it look nice, it was busy, and I saw they had a risotto on their menu which was very good and so was the whipped passion fruit puree I had for dessert.
When I finished dinner it was about 7:30 PM so I went back to the Double Fond which is when I learned that I had made a mistake on the time and had about another hour to wait instead. At first I sat on a park bench facing the place but eventually a small table in the very corner of the outdoor seating area opened up and I managed to get back there, having to move at least one folding chair.
I thought the outside service at Double Fond wasn't very good. There are several magicians wandering around doing close up magic at the tables, and although I saw a couple of them none came down to my table. I had been there for almost half an hour before a server came to see what I wanted to order. I had a cup of their very good and reasonably priced vin chaud before I went inside to wait for the show. That's when one of the magicians did some magic for myself and the couple at the small table next to me.
Double Fond is celebrating their 30th anniversary of being in business, and I think all of it has been in the same location.
The shows are in a small space downstairs, seating maybe three dozen people. That's not too bad when you realize I paid 30 Euros for my ticket. Tonight's show was performed by one of the place's regulars, a father-daughter team. I think she was somewhere in her 30s, and was very attractive, and her dad could be anywhere from the 50s into the 60s. Even though all the banter between the two of them and with the audience was in French, so I couldn't understand the set up for most of the tricks, it was still very entertaining and a lot of fun. In fact when I came outside to walk home after using the restroom, they both were still out front and the daughter apologized in English that they had only spoken in French the entire time. I told her that it hadn't mattered, and that I still had really enjoyed the show and they were both excellent.
Later that evening a magician friend of mine whom I had tagged in my pictures from the Double Fond I posted on Facebook commented he knew both of the magicians and had met them several years ago when the father was doing a seminar in the US and his daughter translated for him.
After that it was a short walk back here.
My plans for tomorrow and Sunday are to go back to the Louvre as early in the morning as I can to do the other two wings. One day I'll go on to Napoleon's tomb at the Musee de l'Armee and then come back here. The other day I'll go from the Louvre to the Orangerie and then over to the incredible Sainte Chapelle and maybe the Conciergerie right next to it before coming back here. I just spent about the last half an hour or so working out on Google Maps the best ways to get from one place to the other and back home again.
I need to do one last load of laundry across the street Sunday night and pack almost everything that night so that when I get up at 5:00 AM on Monday to leave for my trip back home, I'll have time to shave, shower, dress, and finish packing everything else and be by the outside door waiting for my driver at 7:00 AM.
And of course I'll probably go to the Café des Chats at least one more evening.
There are two more things I need to do in the next two days, both involving phone calls. I need to call My Daily Driver again to make sure they give the driver my local French phone #. And I need to call the La Quinta back home to confirm my reservation for next Tuesday & Wednesday so I can meet the plumber and check out the possible leak and water damage and at least start arranging to take care of any repairs.
9:30 PM on my second to last day here in Paris.
I had a change of plans today because I changed my travel plans for going home and decided there were some arrangements I had to make that were more important than going anywhere.
I had made all my travel arrangements for this trip well before I left home back in April, including my flights home from Paris. For the last nine weeks I've been kind of dreading that very long trip back, which would take over 24 hours with two layovers, one of over five hours and one of more than 8 hours. Earlier I had decided that since I cannot get back the money I already paid for the flight home it wouldn't be worth it to pay for another flight.
Last night I decided I'd take another look on Priceline and see if there were any flights from Paris to Fort Lauderdale leaving Monday morning and getting there the same day, with only one transfer and as short of a layover as possible. There wasa United flight leaving Charles de Gaulle at 9:45 AM Paris time/4:45 AM New York/Florida time and arriving at JFK at 11:50 AM EDT/4:50 PM Paris time. Then I have only a 3 hour layover at JFK before leaving there at 2:30 PM and arriving in Ft Lauderdale at 5:40 PM. This is so much better than my original flights I think it will be well worth the extra money because of the shorter transit time overall, a single, much shorter layover and transfer, and actually getting home Monday evening EDT.
Because I had now changed my departure time and airport, I needed to make changes for my pickup here from my mini-apartment. This was far more important than going to any tourist or cultural attractions today.
One of the benefits of using Go airport shuttle both to and from the Fort Lauderdale airport and prepaying for it is that all I have to do to get home is go to the dispatch counter at the airport with a copy of my receipt whenever I get there, even a day early, and off I go.
It was much harder arranging a different pickup for Monday morning, and making sure they had my current local French phone number for the driver, when I tried to contact My Daily Driver. Most of the time when I've called I've had the feeling that I wasn't actually talking to someone in an office, and the same was true today. I called this morning and spoke to someone who said he was not yet in the office but would I please send an email with my name, booking ID number, current local phone number, and new flight details? I did.
Several hours later, after noon, I still had not heard from anyone in the office so I called again. Once again I got someone I'm pretty sure wasn't in the office either. I could barely hear him over the background noise, and he said he was outside. I told him I had earlier sent an email with my local phone number for the driver, and with details of my new flight arrangements and wanted to know if I needed an earlier pickup to go to Charles de Gaulle, and if there would be an additional charge for the different airport. This time I was asked to send a text message to him, at the number he gave me while we were on the phone, with all the same information I had already sent them in the email, which I did and this time I received a confirmation by return text message. Because apparently traffic can make the trip to C de G take a lot longer, my new pickup time Monday morning will be at 6:00 AM instead of 7:00 which means I'll need to get up at about 4:30 AM to shave, shower, dress, finish packing, take out the trash, and be waiting by the door from the courtyard to the street before the driver gets here at 6:00.
It is vitally important that I had arranged pickup for the trip to the airport because I have very rarely seen a cab along this street, and most of the time it's because they're already in transit with passengers. The nearest place I can usually guarantee I can find a cab is a lot closer to the Place de la Bastille, an almost 15 minute walk away, and Monday morning I'd have luggage with metwo larger suitcases, a carry on, and my hat box.
I really didn't feel like going too far afield for lunch and so I went back down the street to my very favorite place in all Paris this trip, the Café des Chats. They were reasonably busy today and as usual many of the cats wandered past from time to time even if none of them actually came to visit me specifically. I had some chips with their very good guacamole and their large croque monsieur, their iced tea, and a chocolate mousse for dessert, and just hung out there for a while enjoying the cats wandering around and the patrons. As usual there were a couple of families with kids. The small table next to me had two women sitting at it, one of whom was wearing a long dress that reached the floor when she was sitting down, and one of the cats realized it could hide under her dress and did so for quite a while. While I was there a group of women wearing the same colored sashes and one of them had a tiara came in.
I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out here. One last thing I needed to do, either today or tomorrow, was to call the La Quinta back home where I'll be staying while I get the possible water leak and any damage taken care of and modify my reservation with my arriving on Monday evening instead of Tuesday afternoon. I called about 6:30 PM local time here and about 1:30 PM Florida time, and I'm glad I did. I spoke with one of my friends from reception who worked there all during my stay when I was waiting for the work to be done for my earlier mold and water damage insurance claim, and Trudee told me she didn't see a reservation for me so she made one.
This really isn't a bad neighborhood at all. Even if there are a few shuttered shop fronts I've seen work being done in several preparing for new openings. Many of the places, however, seem to have somewhat odd opening hours. For instance, I've rarely seen anyone going in or leaving the Kairos escape place a couple of doors down the street. Rude Manners, which bills itself as a "concept coffeehouse" also seems to have odd hours. The comedy club down the street is of course only open some evenings and weekends. And the small Asian place across the street has often been closed when I've gone past but they were open this evening.
First I went down the street to the local patisserie and picked up two pastries I'm going to have shortly. I had left my iPhone here on the table, and since I like to read when I eat by myself, I dropped the pastries off, picked up my phone, and went back across the street. I had a very large bowl of noodles with five large shrimp, which was quite good, and what the menu said was a Grand Marnier souffle but was much more like a scoop of very good ice cream for dessert.
And that's it for today. It's now only shortly past 10:00 PM. I've already checked Facebook. I'm going to download some more things to read onto my Kindles and then have my pastries.
Tomorrow is my last day here in Paris. My plans for the evening are to do one last load of laundry across the street so I can pack mostly clean clothes, pack almost everything except for what I'll really need Monday morning so I have less to pack before my 6:00 AM pickup, and have dinner probably down the street at the Café de l'Industrie one last time.
My plan for the day tomorrow is to spend enough time at the Louvre to see the other two wings I haven't been to yet. I hope to be there between 10:00 and 11:00 AM. I'll probably not feel like doing much else after that but the Orangerie and the Jardin des Tuilleries are only a short walk away and are on the same Metro line as the Louvre, Saint Paul, and the Bastille. I would love to make one last stop at the Café des Chats and depending on when I finish at the museums and the garden, I might stop by one last time at the Auld Alliance.
10:45 PM on my last day here in Paris.
I really didn't do a whole lot today. When I woke up this morning, I knew that I really didn't want to do anything that involved wandering around large museums or cemeteries or going up and down stairs in museums or Metro stations. It was kind of a combination of being tired of traveling, knees bothering me, and slight but noticeable dizziness. So I didn't go back to the Louvre to see the other two wings I haven't been to on this trip, or to the Orangerie or Pere Lachaise cemetery which I haven't been to at all this trip, or to Napoleon's Tomb or the Musee de l'Armee which I've never been to before.
And so I took the morning off. I wanted to go to the small grocery store down the street to pick up some more pate and spreadable cheese in case I wanted one last snack tonight. I was pretty sure that Google Maps listed their opening hours as from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sunday, so I made sure I had enough time to shower and get dressed and still make it down there by 12:30 PM. I dropped off my two small purchases and headed out once more.
I was running low on cash and wanted to make sure I have more than enough Euros for lunch and dinner today and in case I want to buy a meal at the airport in the morning, so I needed to find an ATM. Not surprisingly the nearest place to find those is the same as the nearest place to reliably find cabs, down towards the Place de la Bastille. That meant wandering past or through the street market which is always fun even if I don't stop to look at the offerings for sale at any of the booths. If I lived here in Paris, I can see why people would routinely do at least part of their usual shopping at these markets.
I wanted to have lunch somewhere I've never been to before but stay in the same general neighborhood since I really didn't feel like wandering around for very long but going from place to place was okay. One place I've been past a couple of times, which seemed interesting online even if their web site is only in French, is called O'Tacos so I thought I'd try and find it. It's a small place but was clean and comfortable and the young woman at the cash register spoke enough English that I could place my order. I had the one with grilled chicken, marinated and grilled chicken, cheddar, and barbecue sauce. They serve what is basically a burrito or a wrap rather than the tacos I'm familiar with and they come with some french fries inside. It was quite good.
Google Maps was a little odd today. The directions I kept getting for O'Tacos didn't seem to take me to the right area. I eventually gave up and stopped for some incredibly good ice cream at an Italian gelato place, and when I went a little further up the street I saw the O'Tacos at the next corner.
I think it was after lunch that I came across four guys playing music alongside the street. There were two guitars, a bass, and a violin and they were playing jazz. They were very good and I stopped to listen for a couple of songs and bought their CD. I'm pretty sure that their gig was sponsored by the Century 21 real estate office right across the streetthere were a couple of Century 21 banners behind them, and they were playing on a wide green carpet that ran from the Century 21 office across the street and under an arch of balloons where the banners were.
I wasn't far from the Mermaids and Divers which is rather a pleasant place and I made my way over there for a glass of their very good iced tea and a pint of 1664.
After I made the short walk back here I stretched out to watch something streaming on my iPhone, and then copied all the pictures I took this past week from my camera's memory card to this laptop and then to my three external USB backup hard drives. After I'm done with these notes, I'll do the same with my document files.
I then did my last load of laundry across the street and brought the dried clothes back over here about 7:00 PM. I wanted to go to my two favorite places here in the neighborhood one last time and went down the street to the further location (further as in across the street) of the Café de l'Industrie and had another excellent dinner (their pate, linguine bolognese, their excellent iced tea and a small glass of Pelican beer). I skipped dessert there, though, because I wanted to spend some time at the Café des Chats one last time.
I'm very glad I went this evening. I got there after 9:00 PM, and although they're open until 10:30 there were less people then than I've seen before. Almost all of the cats were up and wandering around most of the time I was there, many of them came by where I was sitting to investigate me, several of them allowed me to pet them, one fell asleep on the chair next to me, and one kitten even came up onto my table to check out my hat. I was very happy.
As usual I of course didn't get to everywhere in Paris I was interested in. A couple of the days I've been here I wasn't feeling very wellnot ill so much as just lacking in energy or even slightly but noticeably dizzy. Another couple of days I wanted to take care of some domestic things like laundry. Or after dealing with the crowds at one museum I didn't feel like going on to another one that day. I could be here for another month and still not see everywhere I wanted to.
I did, however, enjoy everywhere I did manage to make it to. I also had two wonderful and delightful days sharing Paris with my Ren Fair performer friend, Cat, who came a long way to spend what was originally going to be a single day here with me but she was able to stay the next day as well.
It's now 11:30 PM. I have to get up at 4:30 AM tomorrow to make sure I have plenty of time to shave, shower, dress, finish packing, and be right inside the courtyard door before my ride to the airport gets here at 6:00 AM, so any sleep I get tonight will be much more like a nap. I'm going to skip checking FacebookI posted my last pictures from Paris, including the Café des Chats, before I started on today's notes.
I'm going to backup my document files from the laptop to my three external USB hard drives, shut the laptop down, and pack all my clothes and shoes and the folding travel canes and the laptop and get to bed and try and get some sleep. That way all I have to pack in the morning is the rest of my electronics and dirty clothes, and take out the trash.
Written Tuesday evening, June 18th, 2019
I was feeling too sleep deprived last night to feel like finishing my notes from this trip.
As usual I had trouble sleeping Sunday night, the night before I left Paris. For some reason, I often have problems sleeping the night before I travel anywhere, even if it's only driving from here up to St Augustine. I went to bed a bit before midnight Sunday night, and was not able to fall asleep at all. I wound up settling for just getting some rest before I finally gave up and got up before 4:30 AM Paris time yesterday.
I shaved and showered and dressed and finished packing well before 5:30. I tried sending a text message to my driver from My Daily Driver to let him know I'd be ready for him to pick me up early if he wanted but he texted me back he'd be there about 6:00 as planned.
Even that early on Sunday morning the weather in Paris was lovely and promising to be a beautiful day.
I was waiting with all my bags out by the exit from the courtyard to the street by about 5:45 anyway. For some reason, possibly in case I wanted to be able to run back inside to use the bathroom before we left, I put the keys to the mini-apartment in my sweatshirt vest's pocket instead of in the unit's mailbox for later pickup by the owner or property manager.
Right after we left I stuck my hand in that pocket and discovered I still had the keys. I immediately asked the driver to swing back by the property so I could put the keys in the mailbox. At first he didn't understand me, and I had to ask him again about a block or so later when I had the feeling we weren't heading back the right wayit can be confusing in areas in Paris that have one way streets but I was correct. I told him again I needed to go back to where he picked me up right now, before we got any further from it, and this time he took me back there.
Charles de Gaulle is a large and somewhat confusing airport. At first I had a little bit of trouble finding the United check in desk but was able to get my boarding pass and even though I had to pay extra for checking a third bag it was well worth it because I didn't have to carry it all the way through the airport to the departure gate.
My outgoing flight was delayed a bit. It was a very comfortable flight. I had an aisle seat in Premium economy. They fed us twice during the trip. I read for a bit but also watched two movies on the in flight entertainment system"The house with a clock in the walls" was one of them.
Because we were delayed leaving Paris, things were a bit tight getting through Newark airport to my connecting flight back here. I had to go through US passport control, collect my three bags from the incoming flight and drop them off at the nearby baggage check for connecting flights, then go through security screening as well. Because the pants I was wearing would fall all the way down without my belt I told the TSA screener I would not be able to hold both my hands over my head in the metal detector/x-ray thing. They told me I'd need to wait for a full body pat down instead but they gave me my belt back. I was getting a bit worried because all my stuff including my iPhones, my wallet, and my passport had already gone through the x-ray machines and were now on the other side of the machines.
Once through I recovered all my belongings and put my shoes back on. At the time I wondered why one of them felt just a bit uncomfortable.
By the time I got through security and was heading all the way over to where I learned my departure gate would be I would have already missed my connecting flight but that departure had actually been delayed by over an hour and was still being delayed when I got there. I had used the restroom on the way but always like to use it again before boarding when possible but didn't have the chance. I knew I'd need to on the two and a half hour flight from Newark back here.
It turned out that the flight from Newark to here had been delayed because of bad weathernot there in Newark but actually down here. There had been some severe thunderstorms here off and on all day yesterday so flights occasionally weren't being permitted to land or were even being diverted to Miami.
This time I was in the middle of the row back in regular economy. For some reason I was in the last of the boarding groups, and when I found my seat there was no room in any of the overhead luggage bins for my hatbox, my only piece of carry on bags. I made my way back to the entrance to the plane and told the flight attendant there I needed to check my hat box because I couldn't put it under my seat because I needed the leg room to stretch my legs out fully due to bad knees, and she very kindly said she'd put it and my cane in their own closet up front.
It was an OK flight. I didn't have any headphones with me and couldn't figure out how to even turn off the screen in the back of the seat in front of me anyway. I read most of the time instead.
I was slightly worried on the flight down because I couldn't find my house keys in any of my pockets. I hoped that maybe I had left them in the small bag with USB charging cables I had put in my hatbox which was then in the flight attendants' closet up front. I also knew that I had left a set of keys and an alarm remote with two of my sort of next door neighbors and was pretty sure I could get hold of at least one of them from the airport.
We were probably within 45 minutes of landing here in Fort Lauderdale when the pilot announced that there had been more problems with thunderstorms here and we had been in a holding pattern until the airport gave clearance for landings to resume or diverted us to Miami but not long after that he announced we had received the go ahead to land here. It was indeed raining when we landed.
After I got off the plane into the terminal I checked my hat box and didn't see the keys in the small bag where I hoped I had put them. Since I was now back home I could use my home iPhone to see if I could get hold of one of my neighbors and did. He wasn't at home then but said he could be back there in about five minutes after I called him when I got there myself, and he did.
Once I was able to get into my house I took a brief look around to see if I could see any water damage from the probable leak I had learned about the very first week I was gone and saw no evidence of a leak anywhere. I wasn't going to turn the water on myself until the plumber was able to come today, Tuesday, so I picked up a pair of shorts, an electric power strip, and the keys to my Dodge Grand Caravan and since it was now past 7:00 PM I came back over here to check in. I didn't unpack my bags from the car just then, but waited until I went to the liquor store up the street for a small bottles of rum and brandy, had dinner at the Italian restaurant next door to it, and then stopped at the CVS Pharmacy next door to the hotel to pick up some sparkling water, juices and Ensures for breakfasts before coming back and unloading the car and bringing everything up to my room.
I had to sort things out from my suitcases. I took all my diabetes medicine syringes and stuck them all in the small refrigerator here in my roomI had thrown the syringe coolant packs away as soon as I got to my mini-apartment in Paris because it had a small refrigerator as well so I didn't need them anymore and they had been leaking the coolant gel from the beginning anyway. I also sorted out all my foreign electronic stuff and put all that in one of my reusable shopping bags for later storage back home, and a couple of days of clean clothes.
It was now about 9:00 PM and I was feeling pretty tired. I had been up for longer than 36 hours with no sleep since Sunday morning Paris time but knew that if I went to bed then I'd wake up about 4:00 AM here and not be able to get back to sleep. I was not alert enough to check email or Facebook so I just watched some stuff streaming until about midnight before I went to sleep.
The plumber was coming sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 PM. Last night when I had picked up the car the low tire pressure indicator light came on so I wanted to go by Pep Boys and have them checked even if I didn't see any flat tires myself so I left here about 10:30 AM to do so and have lunch somewhere before meeting the plumber back at my house.
It turned out to be very mixed newsnot serious but it's going to cost several hundred dollars to get it fixed and prevent the problem from becoming worse. The good news is that the leak was not inside at all and certainly didn't originate from anywhere work had been done during the 22 months it took to take care of my earlier mold and water damage claimwhich unfortunately meant paying to get it fixed is my responsibility. As soon as the plumber turned the water back on it became obvious where the leak wasthe pipe leading up to the outside faucet/hose spigot. Because it's outside that means they'll need to dig up the old pipes and replace them, which also means that they'll need to get a permit from the City. Because it's an active leak my plumber and his office think they'll still be able to get the permit and the repair work done this week.
So far any damage has been minor but if left running it could affect the foundations to the house or at least to the front porch.
One of the first places the plumber checked was the hot water heater, which did have a very small leak from a valve but wasn't enough to cause the water usage the City had noticed originally. He did tell me that apparently the existing water heater was over 10 years old. In the past I had already thought about getting it replaced eventually and we talked about doing so and what the options were. I decided I might as well get that taken care of now, and am going to replace the current heater with a tankless, on demand unit instead. My plumber thinks they can get that taken care of sometime next week since I'm leaving for Bristol at the end of that week but I told him we can always schedule the replacement for after I get back if necessary.
While I had been waiting for the plumber to come back from the City hall with the necessary permit forms for me to sign we had a thunderstorm with heavy rain. I hung around inside my house after he left again until it stopped raining. Before I left I picked up the box I had sent back from Ireland to one of my neighbors and then later got all the mail my other neighbor had collected for me while I was gone. I then ran some errands and stopped at Starbucks before going to dinner.
And that's it for this trip. Between now and when I leave for Bristol at the end of next week I want to go through these notes and correct any grammar mistakes, add a summary to the start of each day's notes, convert them all to html and upload them to my website. I also want to at least make a start of going through all the pictures I took during the trip and delete any that didn't turn out. During this trip I noticed that when I had the camera set to use the back display it would sometimes automatically take pictures without my depressing the shutter button.