The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Dublin, Ireland
August 2007
"Little Ducks All In A Row"

Our friend Sue was having a "significant" birthday - she was about to reach an age that ends in zero! She wanted to celebrate on a trip with friends. Her main criteria was that it be a destination near water. Her birthday was to fall on Labor Day which would make stand-by travel a challenge. To make things even more difficult, the group of nine would be traveling on several different standby priorities. There were five active employees, two retirees and two buddy passers.

The group of friends was easier to identify than the destination. At first, it looked like Germany, with Frankfurt and Munich flights looking favorable. Maybe we could visit our friend Thomas in Tegernsee. Later, it started looking like Italy would be the destination. We would fly to Milan and take a train to Lake Como. The day before we were to leave, everything fell apart except Dublin, which was far from a sure thing. Stand-by travel on a holiday weekend is even more of an adventure than normal stand-by travel! Some of our travel companions decided they weren't up for the adventure, so the group dropped to just six, four active employees and two retirees. On the standby list, we were all together, "little ducks all in a row".

We headed for the airport early so we could take advantage of our newly acquired Crown Room membership! What a lovely place to wait for a flight. It takes some of the stress out of standing by, especially with a computer and wireless internet access. The free beverages don't hurt either. We made friends with some other stand-by travelers for our flight and were able to share information.

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One of the crown room agents admired my travel shirt and wanted a picture to show her friends, so here it is.

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The flight was looking pretty tight until a thunderstorm came up and delayed some inbound connections. Even our new friends who were at the bottom of the stand-by list got "good" seats on the flight.

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I was thrilled to see that the flight attendants were my two golfing buddies, Sally and Nancy.

In Dublin, we were the first ones in line at Passport Control, "little ducks all in a row". It was Karla's first time to set foot on Irish soil, after many, many foiled stand-by attempts.

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After obtaining some Euros at the currently less than favorable exchange rate, we purchased bus tickets to Malahide (1.80 each) and went out to the bus stop to wait for the 10:30AM bus. At ten minutes until eleven, a uniformed bus service employee came to the bus stop to tell us that the bus had been delayed by construction in Swords. He said it would be at least 40 minutes before the bus came, if it got there at all. We went back to the counter and were told that the bus would definitely be arriving because they had received a cell phone call from one of the passengers. Of couse, we took this opportunity to "duck" into the airport pub for a pint while we waited. We had no sooner received our libations than the bus pulled up outside, so one hasty swallow was all we enjoyed before boarding the bus.

We went upstairs to the top of the bus so we would have a good view on the ride. It is a much rougher ride up top and some of our car-sick-prone friends started feeling a little queasy. We also hit a few low hanging tree limbs that were rather startling.

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Malahide was in bloom! It did not seem like Ireland to see the sun shining and flowers everywhere. We are accustomed to traveling to Ireland in the winter when it is dark and gloomy and wet.

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We struck out in search of accomodations for the night. The B&B where Tony and I had stayed before had become a restaurant. We stopped into the fancy schmancy hotel, knowing that it would be out of our price range, but figuring it was worth a shot. As suspected, we were out of our league, but they were very nice and provided us with a list of B&B's in the area.

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We had Jill, our trusty GPS with us, so we let her lead us to the first two B&B's. Both were displaying "No Vacancy" signs. On our way to the third B&B, we came upon the Island View Hotel which also housed Oscar Taylor's Restaurant and Pete's Bar.

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We settled into Pete's Bar for a pint and sent some of our party over to the Reception desk to check on rooms.

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Bingo! They had three rooms for 100 each. A bit more than we had hoped to pay, but six weary travelers were happy to have a place to stow our bags. The three rooms were fairly comparable, except Tony and I had got a special surprise. Our room smelled of curry. At first, we thought it was the Air Freshener that was plugged into the electrical outlet, so we unplugged it and opened the windows. We later decided that the previous guest must have spilled their Indian take-out.

We dropped our bags and took the short stroll along the waterfront back to town for lunch.

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James Gibney's had a nice outdoor area where we could enjoy the weather while we lunched on burgers and fish and chips.

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After lunch, we went to the train station to check on the schedule for the DART train. We had decided to buy a 3 day pass on the train so we could explore some of the small towns around Dublin. From the train station, it was advertised to be a 15 minute walk to Malahide Castle. Either we took the wrong route or they used speed walkers to calculate the time.

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The walk was worth the effort though. The castle and grounds were lovely.

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The walk back didn't take nearly as long, but we were ready for a break when we got back to town. We stopped for a glass of wine at Botticelli. Karla, our resident Miss Fixit, showed us how to fix a misbehaving camera by dropping it from a height of precisely 4 inches. It was amazing. Before the "repair", the pictures from the camera were sort of bleeding. After the drop, the pictures were perfect! Karla claims an errant DVD player can be fixed using the same method.

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We strolled around down a bit and almost stopped at the Hush Brasserie, but decided that we might not be welcome at a place named "Hush".

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We wandered on down the block to the Coastal Cafe and Wine Bar. On the way we passed a Rental Car agency with this interesting sign in the window. We never smelled anything around the agency. I wonder if they were referring to the Curry smell in our hotel room.

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We picked out a nice Italian Restaurant overlooking the harbour for dinner, but couldn't get a table, so we settled for Siam Thai. It was a bit pricey and loud, but the food was delicious.

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We headed back to our hotel for a night cap, stopping off at the Spar to get some Diet Cokes for our addicts to have the next morning.   We slept well and woke up strangely hungry for Indian food.

The full Irish Breakfast at the Island View was quite elaborate, including; in addition to the traditional bacon, sausage and eggs; mushrooms, tomatoes and potatoes.

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We bought 3 day rail passes (€15.30 each) on the DART train and boarded the train for Greystones. Our B&B guide showed a place close by, so our "little ducks all in a row" struck out in search of it.

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We found the house, but there was no sign. We knocked anyway and the new homeowner was quite surprised to see us. She had just bought the property 3 weeks prior and did not seem to be aware that it was listed in the 2007 Bord Failte B&B Guide.

We made our way back into town and stopped at Bochelli's to regroup. Jill (the GPS) showed two hotels in Greystones, so we sent scouts out to look for them. Neither of the locations were still in business as a hotel. Jill's database is a bit out of date.

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We decided to get back on the train and head for Bray. It proved to be a lovely little seacoast town. The first hotel that looked promising had converted to an office building. They sent us down the coast road where there were several other defunct B&Bs and small hotels. We finally found a rooms at the Heather House Hotel.

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Their regular rooms were all taken, but they had some apartments available. The cost (€50 each) was the same as the night before. Our apartments had a kitchen/den combination and a separate bedroom. There was even a washing machine where we did a load of laundry!

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We had lunch at the hotel's restaurnt, The Martello, and then walked out to the rocky beach.  Not somewhere you would want to walk barefoot!

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We walked into town to see the river.

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We stopped into a couple of traditional pubs with red velvet seats.

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We saw the fanciest McDonald's building we'd ever seen.

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Since we were having so much trouble finding accomodations, Tony and I decided to stop into an Internet Cafe and make some reservations for our last night in Dublin. We were able to reserve 3 rooms at the Temple Bar Hotel for €90 per room.  We met the others back at our hotel for dinner at the upstairs restaurant overlooking the beach.

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Back in our room, we watched a movie and enjoyed a night cap. A fellow who had partied too much couldn't find his room, so he made his bed on the floor in front of the girls' apartment. Tony called the front desk and they collected him and deposited him in his room which was one floor down.

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We were surprised to see him at breakfast the next morning, looking a little sheepish.

After a beverage in the train station, we took the train to Killiney, following the signs from the train station to the village.

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It was a steep uphill walk to the tiny village which consisted of a small store and one pub which was not open yet.

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We trudged on toward Dalkey, stopping for a break at the fancy Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.

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It was just starting to sprinkle as we left the hotel and walked toward Dalkey. By the time we reached town, it started to rain in earnest. We ducked into Ivory for a pint and some french fries while we watched a soccer hurling* match on the biggest TV screen any of us had ever seen.

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*Our new friend Stephen from Ireland came across this picture on the web and advised that this is hurling, not soccer. 
He recommends a visit to Croke Park in the summer to see a live match.  Sounds like a reason for a trip!  Thanks Stephen!

Dalkey was a cute little town, but there were no hotels or B&B's so we hopped back on the train and went to the larger port town of Dun Laoghaire. We hiked up to the top of town to a B&B where there was only one room available. We were directed to larger B&B that had 15 rooms available. The directions were sketchy and we were about to give up when we happened upon McCormacks pub. It was way past lunch time and we were hungry, tired and starting to get grouchy. This was just the break we needed.

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After lunch, we sent Tony to look for the B&B which was closed and had a "For Sale" sign in the yard. It had started to rain, so the rest of us huddled under the awning of McCormacks while we waited. Thinking that our train pass was also valid on the bus, Tony flagged down a bus for a ride back to town. Our passes were not good for the bus, but the driver graciously said, "Get on, I'm not going to let you walk in the rain." I'm not sure he understood that we were all with Tony, but the "little ducks all in a row" boarded the bus and he just smiled. We offered to pay him for the ride, but he refused.

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Sue and I dumped the bags and our friends at a pub, took a walkie-talkie and went out again in search of a place to stay. The first hotel we tried, the Royal Marine Hotel, was obviously out of our price range, but we thought we would ask anyway. We never got as far as finding out how much the rooms were though, because the lady in front of us had gotten the last room. We were pretty sure the next hotel we saw, The Kingston Hotel would be in our price range when we noticed the the "o" in "Hotel" was missing. Double rooms were €120, a little more than we wanted to spend, so we went with two triples at €140 each and got the price down to something acceptable.

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The hotel was nice enough, with a garden out front and a pub downstairs. It was late by the time we decided to walk into town for dinner. We stopped at a Tapas restaurant and were told that they had stopped serving food at 9:00PM. The server said most restaurants close early on Sunday, so we hurried back to the hotel because we knew they didn't stop serving until 9:30PM. We got there just in time to order some soup. We augmented the soup with some left over pizza from the night before.

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Tony and I went for a walk on the pier and then joined the others in the garden for a bottle of wine. We stayed up until after midnight so we could toast Sue's birthday.

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We had breakfast at the hotel & then boarded the train for Dublin.

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We got off at Tara Street and took the short walk to the Temple Bar Hotel. There was a bit of confusion over our reservation. The hotel had held 3 single rooms for us, but were able to switch us to 3 double rooms without a problem. Our rooms weren't ready yet so we checked our bags and set out to explore Dublin.

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We walked through the Temple Bar district, which, as it turns out, refers to the Temple Sand Bar. The plot of land along the Liffey River that was owned by Sir William Temple and his family. Who knew?

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We stopped in front of Oliver St. John Gogarty's pub and Tony was accosted by a woman wanting a swig of his Diet Coke. He gave her the entire bottle, but that didn't make her happy. She said, "I'm a vampire. I thought this was blood."  Gogarty's was a traditional Irish pub. We hoisted a pint in honor of Sue's birthday.

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After a pint, we wandered further down Temple street to Farrington's for lunch. We changed tables 3 times before we found one we were happy with. We toasted our good fortune and Sue's birthday.

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After lunch, Tony headed back to the hotel for some "alone time" as he often does when he travels with his gaggle of women. The rest of us went for a walk. We walked along the Liffey River for a bit and then wound our way back down into the main part of town.

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The Dublin castle was very impressive.

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From there, we found our way to St. Patrick's Cathedral.

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We came back by the Christ Church Cathedral which was no less impressive except that it was squeezed into a city block near a major thoroughfare with lots of traffic.

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We found a sunny spot for a beverage at the Bull & Castle. We enjoyed the fabulous weather and clinked our glasses to cheer Sue on her birthday.

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From the Bull & Castle, we radioed Tony to let him know we were headed for the Temple Bar. He agreed to meet us there. The weather was so nice, we wanted to sit in their Beer Garden, but it was over-crowded with smokers so we settled for a table in the back bar. It was dark and woody and full of people who seemed to be very happy on Sue's birthday. Karla tried her first Guinness in Ireland.

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We spoted an advertisement for the Coole Swan and decided to come back later and have it as a special Sue's Birthday after dinner drink.

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We made a brief stop at the hotel to collect our bags and freshen up before heading out for dinner. There were hawkers in front of every restaurant handing out menus. We selected Quay's Irish Restaurant because it had a varied menu and a nice wine list.

We raised a glass to Sue's birthday over dinner.

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After dinner, the Coole Swan beckoned so our little ducks all in a row waddled back down to the Temple Bar.

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Since it was our last night, we had to finish any liquids that we wouldn't be able to carry back in our luggage. We met in our room and toasted our last glasses of wine to Sue's birthday while she opened her birthday cards.

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We met for breakfast the next morning at 7:00AM, thinking that would give us plenty of time. Breakfast was a bit disorganized and took longer than we expected, since a tour group of 46 people had also decided to eat at 7:00AM. We finally got away from the hotel around 8:30AM. We elected to take a cab instead of the public bus. The cab was €7 per person and the bus would have been €6.

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We were all boarded in Business Class on the way home! We could have sworn that one of our flight attendants was Yanic Truesdale who played Lorelai's flamboyant French assistant, Michel, on the Gilmore Girls.  Michel handed out our menus so we could make our choices for lunch.  Anyone for the duck?

One more champagne toast to the birthday girl and we were headed home.

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