Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everybody a great Thanksgiving weekend. May it bring rain to paddle on or snow to kite on. Oh yeah, and happiness and all that stuff too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Well, Kim and I made it home last night. The trip was exhausting, but filled with cool stuff. We had a great time in Ireland, seeing Dublin, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, the last port of the Titanic and the Lusitania (a beautiful city called Cobh), Blarney and Blarney castle, Waterford (where Waterford Crystal comes from), and the area around Audrey's house South of Dublin. It was great seeing Audrey, Liam, and the Curry family again. But, not all went perfectly smooth on the Emerald Isle. Here's a few of the more humorous moments from the trip:

1: Finding our Hotel in Dublin. It was in the heart of Temple Bar, which is the nightlife district of Dublin. There's lots of small cobblestone streets, many of which aren't on our map and some of which are only for pedestrians. By some stroke of luck, we stumbled upon our hotel's street right away, found the hotel, but then tried to find parking. That was the last time we had the car near the hotel. For some reason, we drove around for about 45 minutes down every street in temple bar but were never able to find out how to get back on that street. After driving in circles forever, we found a parking ramp, dropped the car, and just walked about 6 blocks to the hotel. Never did figure out how to get back to it by car...

2: Guinness Tour. Kim and I wanted to tour the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. We were working off the map in my Let's Go book and knew we were in the right area because every building in sight was owned by Guinness. The only problem was that we couldn't find the right one for the tour. After walking around in frustration, I asked a gate guard at the brewery where the tour is. He looked at me, pointed down the street we'd been walking on and proceeded to (in very drawn out fashion) point to a gigantic sign with an arrow on it that very clearly told us where to go. It was about 1 block away and we had already passed beneath it more than once. Go us.

3: Locked In A Parking Ramp. Kim and I stayed in a hostel in Galway that claimed it had parking for cars. After finally finding the hostel amongst the nameless streets, we saw that right next to the hostel was a parking ramp with an iron gate. Not knowing how to get in, I stopped the car in front of the gate while Kim ran in to ask. About 10 seconds after she went in, the gate opened. Naturally, I proceeded inside and down the ramp. That was when I noticed that the ramp was virtually empty and the only exits I could see could not have led to the hostel. Nervously, I walked back to the gate (which was again sealed) only to find Kim peering through from the outside with a confused look on her face. She had come out to inform me that the Hostel didn't have parking and that we'd have to use a lot 2 blocks away. So, neither of us new how the gate had opened, but I was now trapped inside with our car and all of our luggage. With only about three other cars in the ramp, I was getting a bit nervous that I'd be spending the night in the car. As luck would have it, however, I heard a car door shut down in the ramp. I ran down, got in our car, and managed to get the car that was leaving to open the gate for me so I could get out. It was a bit tricky explaining how I had come to be in the ramp without a gate opener, but they were kind enough to just think me crazy and let me out.

There were many more funny things on the trip, but those were a few. I'll try to get some pictures posted with the trip blogs but it will probably take a few days.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Well, the trip has been a whirlwind so far. Bergen was amazing - big enough to have plenty to do, but still has a very small town, laid-back feel. Plus, it's absolutely beautiful with a harbor on the fjord and mountains that run right into the city. The weird part is that before 11am on a Sunday the place is a total ghost town. There's not a light on, not a door open, and not a person on the street. Very strange, but gave us a peaceful time to walk around. We toured around, took a bunch of pictures, and rode the funicular up the mountain. From the top we had a spectacular view of everything, followed by a hike down through the forest. It was beautiful and Bergen is becoming one of my favorite cities yet.

From there, we took the train back to Oslo and spent the night, then did the Vikingship museum and the Folk museum in Oslo before catching our flight to Ireland.

Last night we arrived in Dublin and headed to Temple Bar so Kim could have her first real Guinness. it was a Monday, so the pubs were pretty quiet, but it was still nice to be down there. Today we toured the Guiness Storehouse and then headed out of town. We drove all the way across the Island (4.5 hours) to Galway on the West Coast. We're staying here tonight, then heading to the Cliffs of Mohr tomorrow before driving to Blarney (i.e. blarney stone) and then spending tomorrow night in Cork.

The only hitch so far has been navigating the car around in the cities. I had forgotten how stressful it is. It took an hour or to before I got used to driving on the Left side again, but that was nothing compared to trying to Navigate in Galway where there are no street signs. No kidding. We drove around for almost 45 minutes and only saw 3 the entire time. In the end, we found ourselves on a map by landmarks and made our way to our hostel. Sure do miss the awesome public transport system in Norway.

Till next time....

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Well, Kim and I are here in Norway! The trip's been fun so far, even if we're still a bit sleep deprived. Oslo was cool, with a city center that's full of things to do and cool little sidewalk cafes. There's also great transportation with a bus, tram, and subway system. The only catch is that it's pretty cold, with highs just above freezing. That, and the fact that prices are a bit higher here. A medium pizza is almost $30 and a beer is over $10. The food is good, but at an average of over $20 per person per meal it's definitely got us taking the thrifty route whenever possible.

People have been really friendly, always willing to explain stuff or give directions. Thankfully everybody speaks English, so that makes just about everything easy. We've had more daylight than I was expecting, with daylight breaking around 8am and lasting until after 4pm. What's different about it is the angle of the sun. We're far enough North that the sun never gets very high in the sky, which makes for hour long sunsets and sunrises. Twilight lasts forever. It's pretty cool. I wish that we had some time outside of the city because I hear that the Northern Lights are a fairly commmon sight here...

Yesterday we caught the train across Norway to Bergen, passing by some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever come across. Dozens of waterfalls, including a big-volume, multi-stage one that was over 300 feet and several smaller flow falls between 100 and 400 feet. The Fjords were beautiful, with walls reaching nearly a mile abover the water and picturesque little towns perched on the shores. There were also tons of riverbeds that looked like they'd be great in the spring! Speaking of seasons, I think we went through about 3 of them on the train. When we left Oslo it felt like late fall, then at high altitude in the mountains we had snow, cold, and lots of wind. On our way back down everything melted and we were down to spring. Pretty cool.

Now we're here in Bergen and getting ready to explore. It seems like a beautiful town and we're really looking forward to it. I'll try to post again soon!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

We're Off!

Kim and I are off for a Mini-Vacation to Norway and Ireland for a few days. I'll try to update the blog from over there, so stay tuned!