Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chelsea in Dublin (Shopping Edition)

Our last day in Ireland. I can't believe it is coming to an end! We have been here long enough that our circadian rhythm has adjusted and driving on the left wasn't too much of an issue, but not long enough to feel like we've seen everything or gotten sick of all the green. 

On our last day, the main thing we needed to do was finish shopping. We both had a few gifts to get for friends. I personally don't much care for traditional souvenirs such as keychains and beer glasses. I like things that you couldn't get in America, things that the Irish use regularly that are unique to the Irish culture. I am not going to post this blog until I've given out the gifts, because I want to detail what I got people!

Before we headed out on our shopping mission, we decided to get a few nearby geocaches. Are you surprised? There was a huge string of them along the coast where we were staying, and we looked for five. One was a nontraditional cache and it was a bit too confusing for us so we skipped it. But, not before we had walked down the side of a cliff to the beach and subsequently back up a near vertical climb. We got back to the top exhausted but having been rewarded with some great views along the way.

We found two of the next four we looked for along the beach-side road. In the process, I met a Hungarian woman walking her dog. She was super friendly and we chatted a bit. When she heard that I was interested in living abroad, and had enjoyed Budapest a lot while I was there, she suggested a Hungarian company that hires Americans reguarly. I won't go into too much detail but the company was called Prezi and I do think I'll look into it when I get back, even if just to check it out. But, for now, back to geocaching! There were some really awesome views from the area we were driving along and I took a bunch of photos. After those five caches, we were tired and ready to get to shopping! So, off we went.

We decided to go to some stores that would be frequented by Irish people. We made for Marks and Spencer's in Dublin. We got lunch at the cafe in the MS, then poked around the home section. I bought myself some CUTE measuring cups (why am I so domestic?!) as well as some cute Mother's Day cards. I guess Mother's Day in the UK and Ireland is a lot sooner than ours, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared! I didn't find anything by way of souvenirs there, so we headed to another staple store: Tesco. 

Tesco has been one of my favorite stores in the UK since I went there with my host-family in Gloucestershire, England, back in 2007. It's not really anything special; just a grocery store. I guess its more of the unique English and Irish products you can buy there that I love so much! Anyway, there I found the bulk of my gifts. I got bags of just-add-water Irish Brown Bread for a few of my coworkers, Irish chocolate made with actual liquid milk (most chocolates are made with milk solids, whatever that is!), and a few jars of whiskey marmalade. These are things that are totally Irish yet affordable! 

We left Tesco loaded down, but I insisted on stopping at Penney's (aka Primark) as it is the UK/Ireland's answer to Forever 21, but better. I got quite a lot of loot there! I got some PJ bottoms, a canvas print for the apartment, a throw pillow that is beyond adorable, some hair accessories, a makeup bag, and two water bottles made to be gripped in your hand as you run (one for me, one for Romeo). I feel like there may have been a few other small things in there, but basically I got a bunch of stuff for like 30 Euros. Total score! Now... to fit it all in our suitcases!

We finally headed back to the hotel with a bunch of shopping bags and a big task ahead of us trying to get our suitcases to close AND be less than 50lbs. Back in our room, we set about doing this, but soon realized we needed sustenance. So far, we had avoided eating at the generally-overpriced hotel restaurants, but we were just too tired to try to find somewhere in the town to eat, go there, order, wait, eat, then come back again. So, we headed down to the bar and ordered some food as well as the cocktail on special. I finally got one of the food items I'd wanted to have on the trip: Atlantic salmon! It was incredibly delicious, and as a kids portion, not terribly priced. The size was decent, just perfect for me actually.

Full and a bit tipsy, we headed back upstairs and completed our packing while sipping some whiskey we had bought. It was a really good finish to the trip, and I felt very successful in all my purchases, both gifts and things for myself. We needed to get up fairly early the next morning, so we made it an early night. By now, I'm quite ready to get home and start planning my next adventure, wherever that may be!

Until then... cheers!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chelsea in Waterford

Again, I am running behind on blog posts. Hopefully I can still remember details from two days ago! We woke up at Dromoland Castle Hotel near Ennis. We were due to check into our next hotel that night outside of Dublin, but there was much to do between the two places!

Since there was no breakfast included at the hotel, we packed up and headed out early. We were heading southeast to Limerick. We stopped for a couple of geocaches along the way out, but decided to limit ourselves to only looking for one every thirty minutes. Geocaching, I've found, can take a lot of time! We didn't want to spend all day caching.

Outside Limerick we found our first cache in a very old cemetery. It was insane to see all the old dates. The oldest year we could actually make out was 1811. Absolutely insane that it was over 200 years old. There were some that may have been older, but weather had rubbed the stone flat again.

We continued onwards from Limerick down towards Waterford. Along the way we needed to find lunch so I consulted Yelp and TripAdvisor; Yelp yielded nothing but TripAdvisor found a highly rated cafe in a small city called Tipperary. When we plugged in the coordinates listed on TripAdvisor, the GPS took us about 10 minutes off the main road to the middle of no where. We suspected that it was the wrong direction, but we didn't know for sure so we followed. Of course, the destination was a sheep field. -__-

We made our way back to the main road and I Googled the correct address. We made our way into Tipperary and found the cafe. Although we had to pay to park, the cafe was delicious. I had a bowl of vegetable soup and homemade brown bread. The bread was amazing; thick and hearty! I also got a smoothie for take away (to go). We took off for Waterford in hopes of arriving in time to make it on a tour of the House of Waterford Crystal before they closed.

Luckily, we got into Waterford at 3:30 and made it on a tour. I didn't have much previous knowledge of the crystal-making process, so I wasn't sure how interesting I would find the tour. We started the tour with our guide, Sean, and about half a dozen other tourists. Sean was informative but spoke incredibly slowly. It was painful to stand there and listen to without wanting to fall asleep. After we had the introduction and AV presentation, we went into the factory. Unlike the Jameson tour when we first arrived to Ireland, this tour went through a working factory. 

I certainly have much better appreciation of the craftsmanship that goes into crystal-making now. We got to see and learn about the entire process. Each piece of Waterford Crystal is handmade, with exquisite attention to detail. We got to see the workers blowing and shaping glass, as well as doing the intricate designs in painstaking detail. I took a million photos and videos! As we learned about quality control, we were able to actually smash "bad" crystal that wasn't up to Waterford's standards. It was a weird thrill to throw a wine glass into a huge bin that held shards of glass. One neat thing I learned is that they use the old glass, melted down and reblown, in the new pieces created. Good on ya, Waterford, for recycling! ;)

After the tour, which lasted about an hour, we were able to take photos with replicas of some incredible pieces that Waterford has created such as the People's Choice Award, the TCU Football Championship trophy, and other pieces. Then came the ubiquitous gift shop. While I was lusting over some gorgeous champagne flutes, there was no way I could have afforded them. I did, however, buy myself a reasonably priced ring stand. I have wanted one for a little while, and the price was right so I treated myself.

We left there and found a nearby geocache. While walking back to the car, we stopped in a gift shop on a small side street. They had the obvious souvenir-y type stuff, but they also had adorable housewares and even clothes and scarves. Now, you will probably think I'm insane, but I got myself two things: a pair of crystal earrings and a butter dish. Yes, a butter dish. Before you judge me, you should take into consideration that I have actually been wanting one ever since I moved out of my parents' house. Butter is way better room temperature when its actually spreadable, and butter dishes are a perfect solution. Couple this long-standing desire with the fact that it had mismatched BUTTONS on it (painted, not real), I really couldn't resist. The price was right, too, at 13 Euros. (I later found a plain white one at Marks and Spencer for 25 Euros!)

We left the shop and dropped our bags at the car, then indulged in a bit more geocaching at the park we were next to. We found 2 more caches then decided it was time to drive to our final hotel near Dublin, a good 2 hour drive away. We got back in the car and headed there.

Throughout the trip, I had been having a feeling that I was missing out on something in Ireland. I couldn't put my finger on it, as I was enjoying quality time with my mom, staying at very nice hotels, and relaxing a lot. On the drive to Dublin, I realized what it was. We had been staying in wonderful hotels... that were located outside of cities, and even outside of towns for the most part. We had a car, but it was still a process to get into the cities and towns and thus, I think we missed out on that authentic-Ireland feel. We didn't get to meet many locals, and only ate at places that we could find on Yelp. I think we would have had a bit different experience had we stayed in locations where we could have walked around villages or taken public transportation easily, meeting more locals and finding those hole in the wall gems that feel like your own little secret place. However, despite this, I had had a wonderful time with my mom. Most of my trips have been either solo or with a friend, so spending time with her was just a different kind of trip that I wasn't exactly used to, but was enjoying very much.

Finally we arrived at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel south of Dublin. It was in a town, but not really near much of anything. Out of all the hotels we'd stayed at, it was probably my least favorite. Parking was a mess and the entrance wasn't clearly marked so we weren't sure where to go for a while. After we finally got checked in, no one helped us with our bags and it appeared that the only way to get to the elevators was to walk our bags through the sitting room and bar, which would have been very awkward. Additionally, there was a small set of stairs to go down before you could even access the "lifts." It was definitely not wheelchair accessible. Anyway, before bringing up our bags, we went to the room and had a rest as well as planned where to get dinner. We were tired from the long day of driving but also starving. I found a highly rated Thai restaurant on Yelp that had a deal, so we planned to go there.

We headed back down to the car and made our way there. The roads were extremely narrow and windy, and my mom missed the turn so we had to make a loop around. By the time we got there, I was ravenous. I got a yellow curry for take away and we went back to the room. We were lucky and found a parking spot near the handicapped accessible door (which was like sequestered off to the side of the building, but thankfully nearer to the elevators. We used that door to take our bags up and thereby avoided making a scene through the lobby and sitting room, etc. 

Finally in for the night, we relaxed watching the Oscars, the only thing on TV. We tried to get to bed at a decent time so we could enjoy our last real day in Ireland the next day. However, of course, I wanted to check out my new earrings I bought from the gift shop in Waterford! I got the bag from the other shop but the earrings weren’t there. I checked all the bags I brought in, then went down to the car to check to see if they had fallen out in the trunk. Nothing was there. I started to freak out, but I honestly couldn’t think of anywhere they could be. I hadn’t moved the bags much, and I didn’t have any distinct memory of taking the earrings from the store clerk. I told myself I must have forgotten them in the store. I dried up the oncoming tears, telling myself that I would call the store in the morning and figure things out. For now, I needed some sleep…


Monday, March 3, 2014

Chelsea in Co Clare

Who wants to work out on vacation? Maybe some of those weird people that I constantly see on Facebook and Insta who are at the gym 23 hours of the day, but I am definitely not one of those people. Therefore, I don't really want to work out when on vacation. However, I am really trying to stick to my running program as much as possible, and today was a scheduled 8-mile run. I skipped one of my short runs earlier this week due to rain and the lack of running paths, but the hotel we are at now has a "leisure center" and the treadmills taunted me as we drove past the windows on our way into the hotel. So, this morning, I dutifully woke up to my 7:30am alarm and got a ride from the staff over to the club house/gym nearby.

This is a side note, but I don't understand how people can enjoy running on a treadmill. Yes, it was nice to be out of the constant Ireland rain, and have a nice fan blowing directly on me, but it was utterly boring. To pass the nearly two hours I spent running on it, I counted by multiples to 100 by 2,3,4,... all the way up to 9... That passed all of 3 minutes. I need to have my music playing in order to keep my pace up, so watching a show or movie is out of the question. I bounce too much to read a book. Basically, I was bored to tears for the entire 12.87km. But, when I was done, I was so proud! The stupid treadmill turned off 2 times so I had to mentally add my distances together, but I am sure I did at least 8 miles, if not a bit more.

After getting a ride from my new friend Aiden (the porter who valeted our car, drove me to the gym and back, and has done various other errands for us) back to the main hotel so I didn't have to walk in the rain, I got ready and we headed out to explore County Clare.

First of all, we needed food. This hotel, while impressively nice as well as featuring a lot of amenities, did not include breakfast in the fees, so we went into town to get a baguette or something instead. We found a Tesco and got a few small baguettes. We limited ourselves to sharing just one because only 30 minutes away was a cafe I had found on Yelp called Joe's Cafe. Only 15 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher, it was beach-side and highly rated. We saved our appetites for a real meal there.

We found the cafe without difficulty and both ordered a pie. I got the Shamrock: beef steak with Irish Stout, and my mom ordered the Heidi: goat's cheese, sweet potatoes, spinach and red onions. When they came, they were so cute! Each had some mashed potatoes and gravy. My pie was very savory, but it had onions in it. If you know me well, you know I do NOT like onions. But, I did what needed to be done; I ate the onions. (Romeo, don't get too excited. I do not consent to more onions in the future!) My mom's pie was delicious as well and we were both very satisfied. However, I didn't run 8 miles this morning for nothing! We ordered the brownie and ice cream for dessert, which the menu claimed to be "the most amazing brownie in the world!" For once, I actually agreed with such a grand claim! It was divine!!!! Definitely worth 2 hours on the treadmill.

After polishing off all our food, we headed north to the famous Cliffs. Rain had been off and on regularly, but a storm looked to be coming in as we parked the car. We headed up to the visitor's center and out to the viewing area quick as we could. The Cliffs of Moher are a very popular tourist attraction, and while the weather was absolute crap while we were there - very high winds and constant light rain - we probably came at the right time of year. During high season, when all the tourist pour into Ireland, I doubt I could have gotten a clear photo of the cliffs, let alone one with me in it! As it was, we got some amazing views and hopefully a few good photos. A Chinese man, who was taking a billion photos anyway, kindly agreed to take a photo of my mom and I together, and while it showed the cliffs well enough, my hair was absolutely wild. But, that was the reality of the experience,I suppose!

We decided not to walk along the cliffs opposite us due to impending rain (we could literally see it pouring out over the ocean not far away) as well as due to some foot pain I was experiencing. I think wearing boots that lacked arch support for two days, then running 8 miles the following day, probably caused the pain in my right arch and ankle. I hobbled back to the car and we headed back in the direction of our hotel.

Just wanted to mention in here, while we were wary of the rain, frustrated over crazy hair, and frozen half to death, the Cliffs were absolutely stunning. Pictures can't do it justice. The water was insane below us, and the view was astounding. I only wish the weather had cooperated a bit more so I could have enjoyed it more peacefully (rather than with wind and causing a huge racket on my hood!)

Of course, we wanted to geocache in such a cool area. However, either the impending storm or our proximity to the coast caused my cell phone service to fail entirely. Despite showing at least partial bars most of the time, I couldn't get anything to connect. It was frustrating because I could neither locate any geocaches nor could I pull up directions back to the hotel. I was glad that I remembered our path to follow in reverse heading back so we weren't entirely lost without the phone!

Along the way back, the sun started to peak back out and we saw a rainbow. I could see both ends, and at one point, it seemed so close that I felt that I could just drive over to the end and find a pot of gold awaiting me! I tried to snap a photo, but the roads were insanely narrow with few places to pull over, and even fewer of those having a good view of the rainbow. Alas...

We headed back to the hotel directly at that point, having no geocaches to entertain us. I needed a break from walking anyway, and we had a nice rest before venturing out to find dinner. When we did leave again, we headed into Ennis, the nearest city, in search of food. Almost everything was closed, though, and we settled on pizza, which was a good price but definitely lackluster in quality. Since my phone was finally working again, we were able to stop for a geocache on the way back to the hotel for the night. We searched for one near a park in the middle of town, but we think that it was displaced by recent storms that knocked down hundreds (or thousands) of trees in the area, as well as flooded most of the rivers and lakes. We gave up on that one shortly, but were able to find another near some old military barracks on the way out of town.

Now, I am icing my foot and blogging before heading back to the room so mom and I can plan our day tomorrow. Our trip is wrapping up and while I am sad to leave, I must admit I am looking forward to being back home again. Cheers for now!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chelsea in Sligo

Today was a really fun day consisting of a LOT of driving! Thankfully, my mom is pretty much a pro by now with the whole driving on the left and roundabouts thing. We woke up to an alarm (finally; first time since the first day we arrived!) and got ready before breakfast. Delicious food is much more enjoyable when you look good! We were checked out and on the road by 10am, the earliest yet! Our GPS said it would be about 3hr 45min to get from our hotel at Lough Eske to our next one at Dromoland near Ennis. Just wait til you hear how long it actually takes us...

Well, first we had to get another geocache nearby. In our defense, it was literally right off the road at a rest stop. Unfortunately for us, though, it was a waste of time as we couldn't find it. :( Bummer! We continued onwards, but detoured in an attempt to get a series of five caches in an area along the Atlantic coast. We had hoped that they would be beach-y, as the map showed the ocean very nearby; boy, were we wrong!

We turned off the main road, drove along farm roads for a couple of kilometers, then pulled off near a heavily wooded area. Thinking it would be a quick grab, at only 500ft away, I stayed in the car and let mom go for it. She headed off straight in the direction of the cache. However, as Game of Thrones can teach us (if we have read the most recent book), sometimes you must go back in order to move forward (anyone, anyone?!?). Point being: I got out of the car and helped her out of the brambles and onto a beaten path, which initially took us in the wrong direction, but eventually put us on the right path.We ventured together through the forest, still and quiet and soggy wet. When we came to a small lake (okay, a large puddle), I went around it since I was not wearing my waterproof boots. I still got the soles of the boots soaked -__-

We didn't have to hunt too long to find the cache, but I was distractedly taking a million photos: of us, of the forest, of our travel bug "Duck of Doom"...

When we found the cache, mom suggested that we continue venturing on to find the next cache in the series, as it was only 0.3 miles away. Back we went, through the sodden woods and past the car into even thicker forest. There didn't seem to be too much wildlife, and the path was well beaten, so I wasn't too nervous, but I kept an eye on mom, just in case. We found the location of the next cache, but after 15-20 minutes of searching everywhere possible, we gave up. The third of the series was even further from the car, so when we saw the road up ahead, I volunteered to go get the car while mom waited nearby. It was about half a mile walk back to the car, but with much better scenery. I veered off the path and after walking over a ridge was rewarded by a view of the Atlantic ocean! ...It looked absolutely freezing.

I got to the car, went to pick up mom, then agreed to wait as she went on for another cache further down the beach. When she returned, we agreed to take a break from caching for a few hours, as it was already after 12 noon, and we had gone the distance of only a 30 minute drive. Cripes, this would be a long day!

We drove further until we came to the town of Sligo, and decided to get lunch and another geocache. We fought for parking in the lot outside of Tesco, and walked around the pedestrian mall for a little bit, heading in the direction of the cache. We found the area where it was supposed to be, but were confused as the GPS had us slightly off. Finally, I found it on the footbridge that went over the river nearby. After this successful find, we decided to try a nearby pub/restaurant for lunch. I ordered the chicken, pesto, and goat cheese wrap with a bowl of vegetable soup, and my mom got seafood chowder. I didn't have too high of hopes, but when it arrived and I tasted the soup, I was so pleased! It was a creamy soup, like a puree of vegetables, but it tasted so amazing! I am seriously going to search for the recipe when I get home and attempt to recreate this in my magic bullet! The wrap was cheesy and rich. My mom's chowder had almost every kind of seafood in it, barring shark or whale (thankfully). I had a few bites and it was very hearty and creamy! I was fat and happy when we left the restaurant. I determined that Sligo might be my favorite of the towns we have visited in Ireland so far, thanks to the charming shops and quaint pedestrian areas to walk about (not to mention the awesome food!)

It was now 3:30pm, well past the time we should have arrived at our destination. However, we still had 2hr 30min to go. Are you serious!? We decided to skip the side trip into Galway and head straight for our hotel. But, the question remained, could we resist the lure of more geocaches...?

Answer: no. We did another detour for a cache that was nestled up near a big mountain (which looked more like a mesa to me, but it's name claimed a mountain, so who am I to argue with the Irish?). It was the start of a series that were located along a 4km walking path that leads up to the mountain through a beautiful looking forest/park. Mom had almost given up on finding the cache when I located it. The log was too wet to sign, so I got some photographic evidence instead. We agreed that the path looked tempting, but with the daylight hours ticking away, we really needed to keep going. Once again we headed back to on the road towards our final destination.

After one more attempt for a find (unsuccessful), we made it to our hotel at around 7pm. That's right, from 10am-7pm, we drove what should have taken only 3.5hrs, had we been direct. But, as they say, it's all about the journey, not the destination! Today, that was proven true... until we drove onto the grounds of our next hotel. The sight before us was enough to make my jaw drop. This is not my photo, but I had to find one and include it so you could witness the grandeur of where we are staying currently. Each place we stay keeps getting better and better, and Dromoland Castle Hotel has topped all its predecessors. We got complementary valet service, luggage transportation, and they even upgraded us to a deluxe room! Wow! The only downside so far: no breakfast included. But, they gave us a voucher for a discount at breakfast. We'll see if we bite... this place is expensive (and rightly so, I think!) Tomorrow I am going to make use of the leisure center and get some miles logged for my half-marathon training so I don't fall too far behind! Then, more exploring in this part of the country (which, of course, will include geocaches!) :D


Chelsea in Donegal

This blog is a day late because last night I was feeling like "rubbish". Not sure what was causing it, but I was in bed from 6:30pm and barely got up the entire evening. However, before my bout of illness came over me, the day was really fun!

Once again, we woke up later than we intended. Thankfully it wasn't too late to make it to breakfast. We came down at around 10:30am, and breakfast ended at 11:00 so we decided to get ready afterwards. The dining room was very crowded so they had to seat us in the alternate room, which was smaller and much quieter. However, I kind of liked the peace. We ate a delicious breakfast then headed back to our room to get ready for the day.

Our main mission for the day was to geocache. If you've ever read my blogs before you'll know what this is more or less, and if you don't yet, Google it because you should! Anyway, there was a cache near where we were staying on the edge of the lake. We drove around the narrow roads until we found a place near the cache to park. The cache ended up being a bit difficult to find, and required us to nearly climb down a shallow embankment to search under the roots of a tree. Mom, with her wellies, graciously volunteered for this (aka: I wasn't climbing down there in my Toms so she was our only hope!)

After we found that cache, we soaked in a bit of the surreal scenery surrounding us. The lake was gorgeous and lots of hills, and even mountains in the distance, entrenched it from all sides. Absolutely stunning. What I think I liked the most was the sound. It really sounded like nature. Just the soft sound of waves lapping at the shore, a few birds chirping, and that was IT! No cars, no voices yelling, no interference. Just nature.

When we had had enough of nature (a hard call to make), we hopped back in the car and ventured into the nearby town of Donegal. The town was quite small but boasted a castle and a city center. While my mom's driving on the left has improved a lot (as has her confidence), we still managed to get "stuck" in a roundabout, but as she will insist that I include, only ONCE! When we managed to find the correct exit the second time around, we hunted for some parking. The "pay and display" spaces were all full, so mom parked behind another car along the side of one of the back roads. There weren't any signs that it was illegal, but I had a bad feeling, so when I spied a primo space near the front on our walk to the shops, I went and moved the car. Yes, that's right, I actually drove on a real road, on the left, in a manual transmission car, in Ireland! It was all of 200ft, but who's counting!?

We walked about the shops for a bit, but found nothing of much interest. So, out came the geocaching app! I found a cache a half mile away, so we headed back to the car and drove along the main road. And, to add to my accumulated distance driving, mom let me drive there! However, since she was quite unused to being a passenger on the left, she had a few mishaps. First of all, navigator she is not. She had me pull right into a driveway of a dental surgeon, then as I was turning around in the back parking lot, a man who I assume was the surgeon, was staring at me out of the window, thoroughly bewildered. Then I had to turn right again (right being the more difficult direction) onto the road behind a blind curve. I was so freaked out that I couldn't see and she had to help me. I screeched us out of the parking lot as best I could when the coast looked relatively clear. A few hundred feet later she had me pull into the proper driveway, but pointed to a spot to park in too late. As I was backing up, on a hill, in a manual, she literally screams "CAR!" I slam on the breaks, heart beating wildly, check my mirrors (again) and see... No car. Being on the left had put the mirrors in a position she wasn't used to and they played a trick on her eyes. No one was behind me, but she had thought there was because of the angle of the mirrors. I managed to pull into the spot, finally, and gave over the keys immediately. My left foot was cramped from riding the clutch most of the drive, due to slow traffic, hills, and screaming mothers. I think I'm done driving in this country, thank you very much!

After that incident, we found the geocache that was hidden in a pauper's graveyard. It was sad and a bit creepy. The stone talked about how many Irish died in the potato famine, as well as thanked the Choctaw Nation for their support. Thoroughly confused, I asked my mom if it meant the Choctaw, as in, the Native American tribe. Neither of us had heard of this, so I did a little research. It is really an amazing story and it's a shame that it's not so well known. If you're interested, here is a link published by Irish Central in December of 2013. The Choctaw gave $170, the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars, to the Irish Famine Relief fund, only a few years after the Trail of Tears, in 1847. An amazing story...

So, we found that cache, then decided to hit up the other caches in town. In total we found 6 in Donegal, plus the one by the lake. They were located in/near sites such as: a former workhouse turned modern town hospital, a textile mill (my favorite - a sneaky cache!), outside a rail-road museum, on a bridge near the Donegal Castle overlooking the river running through the town, and outside beautiful St. Patrick's church. While looking for the one outside the church, a genial old Irishman spotted us searching and asked if we were taking some photos (I had my camera around my neck). We said "Yes, of course!" and began snapping away. He chuckled and went on. :) Near the end of our hunting, the rain began again (it had been off-and-on all day), and this time it was accompanied by HAIL! Again! What the hail, Ireland!?

Cold and a bit wet, we decided to take our picnic we had packed back to our cozy room in the hotel and eat there. So, we headed back and ate our salads, bread, cheese, chocolates, and wine on the bed in the hotel while watching British game shows, which were actually pretty darn interesting. One was called the Tipping Point, and the other was the Chaser. Both involved trivia and it was fun to watch and guess the answers as well as see some awesome players, as well as some pretty crappy ones.

I was tired after eating so I had a nap, but when I woke up, I felt absolutely awful. My stomach was churning and I didn't want to move from the bed. I stayed in bed the rest of the evening, nursing a big glass of water. After Skyping with Romeo I was able to eat a few dry crackers, but I needed to sleep it off, so we tried to make an early night of it. (I won't leave you with a cliff-hanger; I was well again in the morning!)

We're half-way through our amazing Irish journey, now! Cheers!

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