Dublin and Ireland for 8 days...

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, June 19, 2011

06/06/11 MONDAY

It's late Tuesday night and I’m sitting writing the blog
…Mary has just done the sensible thing and hopped off to bed.

We had the day planned to go off and buy some things for
Mary’s relatives straight after breakfast. Firstly Mary went for her
morning walk on the wall ….I’m still a bit tender with my hip and would rather
wait until the end of the week…I do miss it though. Anyway we made our way to
some of the more 'touristy’ shops to pick up a few pressies for the week in Dublin
that won’t weigh too much  From there we took off to one of the larger book
stores that has an ‘English’ section.
Among other things we picked up a book on the history of Lucca from the first
time that someone settled here and decided to make a town here…which was some
300 years BC… it is a fairly short book of about 250 pages so a condensed
history but appears to be well written and not too over the top.

After reading the book I have so much of a better
understanding of this place and it only makes me love it even more…It was
definitely a place that has had a very checkered history with some great tales.

One, of which, is the ‘amphitheatre’. It was
actually a colosseum used for special events and gladiator battles (the same as
Rome) … this of course was all happening during the height of the Roman Empire
and when the amphitheatre was situated outside the actual walls of the time. After the Roman Empire started
dying off and the big spectacles and gladiator battles were not the done thing -
the amphitheatre became redundant and was being left in disrepair. So the
‘Elder’ at the time decided to use all the rocks and marble from the seating
and the main arena to build the church 50 metres down the road…’San Frediano’. He made sure the actual shape wasn’t messed with and built stores and
houses (much like it looks now) using the existing arches and walls as part of
the structure. That’s why the walls of the existing amphitheatre look as if they have been built using
101 different materials and methods…because it actually was!!! And all this happened a
couple of hundred years after Christ… Many more where that came from…

We continued our shopping through to Via Fillungo and the
main clothes shops to see if we could get something for Mary…which we did…a
nice pair of jeans… then stopped off at a café for a couple of drinks before
going home for a late lunch/dinner.

In the afternoon after lunch I took off to buy some things
at ‘Carrefour’ including ink for the printer and…more alcohol… before settling
down for the night.

Oh …Mairead has been emailing from Paris and they both seem
to have settled in to their holiday there…it’s nice and warm in Paris at the
moment . Can’t wait to catch up with the two of them…we should have a hoot in
Paris together and off course I will be there for my 50th
birthday…(did I say 50th).

08/06/11 WEDNESDAY

We woke up today in a very excited mood as we were getting organised for our week in Dublin. Mary was right onto the internet after breakfast
checking on all the train timetables to get us to Bologna on time. I was pretty
calm as I knew that the timetable we had printed showed us leaving from Lucca
and arriving at Bologna with plenty of time to spare.

Thankfully Mary, by checking everything thoroughly, realized that we
were actually going to be dropped off some 30 kms away from Bologna airport….
We had to retrace our steps and make sure that we arrived at ‘Bologna Centrale’ then caught a shuttle to the airport. Luckily Mary realized!!!! (you have no idea, how lucky!!!)

By the time Mary checked all this out it was getting very
late and the train ticket office was probably closed. I went for a walk down
there to hopefully purchase the tickets so we didn’t have to worry the next day. (as we also realized that they needed to be prebooked)
Unfortunately, as i suspected, the train station was closed!

Made my way back to Brunella and I told Mary I would go down
early tomorrow to buy the tickets.

Throughout the day we had also started packing and putting
clothes aside for the trip … we knew we had to be careful as we didn’t have
many kilos to play around with as we are flying Ryanair and they are very strict. We had a fun time getting all that organised.

Got to bed fairly early for the day ahead was always going
to be full on.

09/06/11 THURSDAY

We got up nice and early again…I took off for the train
station to buy those tickets and Mary started getting ready. The train wasn’t
leaving until 10.30 but we wanted to be well ready and organised. The walk at
7.00am through Lucca was beautiful. The slight chill in the air and
that early morning smell of a new day is always special no matter where you are
in the world.

When I returned Mary was organised. I quickly got my things in order and packed what I
wanted to bring. We made sure we placed jumpers and jackets on the top so that
if the luggage was over then we could quickly open the bag and put more clothes
on. We only had 20 kilos between the two of us …plus the overnight (cabin) bag
and the laptop … all done and ready to go.

Trip through to ‘Prato’ was picturesque if uneventful and
took just under an hour …we disembarked and waited about 30min for the fast
train to Bologna.

On arriving to Bologna we quickly found our way to the
entrance and the ‘Pullman’ (bus) that was a direct ride to the airport.
Bologna…the little we saw on the bus trip…seemed a little dirty and too busy as
compared to Lucca…(i think we are a little biased)

Once at the airport all was again very smooth and …since we
had already checked in online …we went through the processes very
quickly and found ourselves in the departure line a good 90 minutes before
boarding. Plenty of time for lunch and a couple of drinks.

The trip to Dublin was smooth and uneventful… we had a
fairly empty plane which meant no one sat next to us making it possible for us
to pretend that we were in ‘Business’ and have all that space between us.
(Little things amuse ‘cattle class’ ticket holders). The flight took about 2 ˝
hours and as we were getting closer to Ireland (and Dublin) the clouds began to
get thicker…and darker…and colder…we landed into Dublin Airport at 6.00pm.

Walking through the airport to Passport checks…Mary flipped
out her Euro Passport triumphantly thinking she was going to walk right through (…as
she had when we landed into Italy) but, of course, all the passengers were queueing in the ‘Euro Passport Line’ and, strangely enough, i was the ONLY non euro passenger therefore
I just casually walked through the ‘Non Euro Passport Line’ all by myself…very
funny…  Mary thought it was funny too but she is soon realizing that, by travelling on her Irish passport she isnt getting it stamped as she travels whereas I am getting a different stamp everywhere i travel!!! (yes, this is a bit of a shame, i hadnt thought about that)

"We then quickly picked up our solitary bag and walked
through the exit into terminal 2 to see my wonderful rellies waiting for
Uncle Jim, Dorothy, Ryan, Ciaran and Orla, Maura, Pat, Aunty Olive
and Uncle Freddie, Sorcha and little Zach … it was great to see everyone.

we chatted for awhile…then we made a few arrangements to catch up and off we took with Uncle Jim, Dorothy, Ryan, Ciaran and Orla.

We arrived to see my beautiful Aunty Doris, ate a yummy meal, chatted and laughed, had some drinks then wandered around to check into the hotel and had another 'couple' of drinks and chatted and laughed some more...fun evening.

10/06/11 FRIDAY

Got up late– we quickly ate a nice continental breakfast, then checked out, leaving our luggage there at the hotel as we were going to be back there the following night.

We walked around to Unlce Jim and Aunty Doris and had cuppa before Uncle Jim
walked us down to ‘Busaras’ to catch our double decker bus to Trim...Uncle Jim showed us a few places of interest on the way, where he went to school, a couple of places where Mum & Dad used to go etc...he
left us at the station and we waited a little while for the bus… there were not
too many on the bus and we got the chance to sit at the front on the top…first
time for us and it’s a great way to see the country as you are higher than all
the hedges and can therefore see all the beautiful homes, barns and countryside.

The bus took about 1 hr to get to Trim and dropped us off
at a little bridge at the entrance …just a short walk to the hotel which was
directly opposite the famous ‘Trim Castle’. The walk up the road was so
picturesque with the castle, fields, churches and even donkeys… there are
potted flowers all over the streets, bridges and lamp poles and the streets are
all very clean and tidy.

Our hotel room was on the top floor (3rd) and was
clean, modern and very nice…

We quickly unpacked and freshened up and made our way to the
foyer …ordered a couple of drinks and waited for my beautiful cousins, Miriam and Louise, who arrived soon after that so we then sat for a while chatting.

We then hopped into Louise’s car and drove back to Miriam’s
but not before having a few laughs trying to order take away chinese for 9!!! Us suggesting our Aussie 'favourites' which, of course are unheard of in Ireland and they suggesting their Irish 'favourites' which we had not heard of...such as - 'spicy chilli chips' , yummy!

On the way to Miriams, we also stopped at a very special place to visit with my late dearest Uncle Tony & Aunty Rita, together, at rest.

 When we arrived at
Miriam’s everyone began organising for the arrival of the chinese. Michael Minogue arrived home from work, Aoife was busy organising the table, Niall & Andrew arrived with the chinese, Killian was running late and didnt have time to eat as he was playing a game soon, so we felt just at home, everything happening, lots of laughs and stirring going on, great fun.

After dinner we organised ourselves to go to watch Killian playing Gaelic football. The 2 Michael's and Aoife were in one car and Miriam, Louise and I in another. Now i wont pretend that i have watched heaps of Gaelic football games but i dont think, if i ever have the chance to watch one again, i will have as much fun as this one. As the weather was so horrible we stayed in the car and my two dear cousins were extremely vocal throughout the entire game, so i spent the whole game laughing, it was hilarious! Killian played so well, he was right there the whole time.

We made our way back to Miriam & Michaels and then settled down
to watch a movie (Leap Year) which was filmed in Dingle,  and showed
how beautiful Ireland is…the boys were stirring about the fact that it was a chick flick but we girls enjoyed it (and i think the boys did too!) During the movie Ellen arrrived, she had been at work and had decided to pop in on the way home, it was lovely to see her too.

Louise drove us back to the hotel, where Mikes and I dropped
everything in our room and went back downstairs for a drink at the bar. There
was a guy singing with his guitar and the place was buzzing but peaceful. We
had time for one drink and he sang a few songs but at the end of the night he started playing the  ‘National Anthem’ and everyone immediately stood up …. This is usually how a night will finish in Ireland but i am always amazed at this as we dont do it in Australia and even if the Anthem is played, its not very often that we stand. We even noticed in Italy they dont stand for their Anthem. I am very very moved each time i hear it played or sung in Ireland.

11/06/11 SATURDAY

We were up and about and packed by 9am and downstairs for a
full hot Irish breakfast, now i havent had that for awhile!!!

Miriam and Louise, Killian and Aoife met us for
a cuppa. We chatted until it was time to catch the bus. Thankyou dear cousins, we had a wonderful time.

Arrived back in Dublin and the bus driver stopped
specially for us near the hospital not far from Croke Park. We checked in again, freshened up and made our way to the foyer where we met Sorcha & Zach who had come to collect us.

Dearest Sorcha drove us (directly…using the quickest route - hee hee) to Maura’s home. Sorcha did ask Mikes if he wanted to drive but before he could answer, i answered a big ‘NO!!’ from the back seat. We all had a bit of a giggle as i had said it so definitely!

Dinner and the night at Maura’s was very special… Triona & Aine outdid themselves yet again...the food was great with a variety of tastes to choose from and the company
was brilliant. Hisham joined us a bit later as he had been to work rather
late on his film project and we were joined by Mary and Ciaran, friends of Mauras that we had met in from Lucca. Mikes sang a couple of songs and we had a great night. Dearest Pat leaving us back to the hotel at the end of the night.

12/06/11 SUNDAY

Uncle Tony, Maria and Mark came to see us at
the hotel. Seeing Maria & Mark was one of the 'bonuses' of this trip as we hadnt realized they would be in Dublin. We have not seen Maria since 1989 but i would have known her anywhere, she hadnt changed at all and it was lovely to meet Mark at last. It is always great to see my Uncle Tony.

We made our way to the lounge bar and ordered some coffees and teas (Uncle Jim popping in briefly, which was nice as it gave Uncle Tony & him a chance to catch up) and had a lovely chat before Maria & Mark had to head off to the airport. As they were about to leave Sorcha & little Zach showed up so it gave Maria & Sorcha a chance to see each other too...lovely start to our day.

We were then surprised by Uncle Christie picking us up instead of Uncle Freddie. Uncle Christy collected us in his 30yr old gold Mercedes…he loves his older cars, just like Mikes loves Sophia (his fiat).

As the weather was so horrible Uncle Christie suggested he take us to see Aunty Carmel at her nursing home. I have not seen her since '83 and was excited and a little anxious to see her now, but also felt very honoured that Uncle Christie wanted to bring both Mikes & I to see her.
Aunty Carmel looked great and it was wonderful to have had that opportunity to see her. Aunty Carmel & I had shared a special time back in 1983, we had gone to Mass together and we had spent some time on our own. I think, at the time, ('83) she had enjoyed having a girl around, even for the short time i was there, as she was usually surrounded by men...her beautiful sons and husband. Thanks so much Uncle Christy, for taking us to see Aunty Carmel. Whilst we were there I had another bonus, Pat, my cousin, who i also hadnt seen since '83, popped in to see his Mum. So i felt very blessed to have seen them both.…

After leaving Aunty Carmel & Pat we headed off for dinner to my dearest Uncle Freddies and Aunty Olives.

We had a great afternoon once again at their home…all were there…
Garry and his two little starlets who were absolutely brilliant last time we saw them but were even better this time round, gorgeous girls, Noreen was a little late as she had to work & Mark
We had a beautiful meal with some
beautiful ‘Ozzie’ wine and great conversations and laughs…it always nice to
hear stories of Dad and his brothers and how they all grew up.

Ailbhe & Aine gave us all concerts
throughout the night and Mikes sang a few songs as well… it was a lovely night…

After dinner we relaxed and talked some more. Thanks once again Aunty Olive & Uncle Freddie, another special night, it’s always so bittersweet when you
see people you love and know that it is only for a week… oh well!! There will
always be others times in the future…please God....& Uncle Christy...well what can i say, thanks once again for the afternoon, there are no words,,,,,please keep taking care of yourselves!

Uncle Christy then took us back to the hotel for us to freshen up before we met Uncle Jim & Aunty Doris at their local.

As usual we had a brilliant night. Another bonus tonight...we met my cousin Kevin Mullen and his beautiful wife, Monica (& at the end of the night another cousin, their daughter, Joyce, so 3 new cousins in the one night!!   YAY!) We drank far too
much…sang & laughed...Poor Aunty Doris had had a slight mishap the day before (no harm done to herself) but gave us all a huge laugh which provided different jokes and ways of singing throughout the evening!!!!

We had a fantastic time and for all our friends in Perth who know us so well would know this is not unusual for us, but we were kicked out at the end of the night as the poor guy behind the bar wanted to go home!!!

The four of us walked back towards the hotel dropping Uncle Jim and Aunty Doris at their street
before getting back.

It has been a very long day but i wouldnt have changed it for anything...

13/06/11 MONDAY

up late today and very carefully!!!

Walked down to ‘The Loft’, where Maryce used to work when she
was here in Dublin, and bought a few little bits & pieces..

Very gingerly we walked to Uncle Jim and Aunty Doris’s to then walk to 'Dorset Street' to catch the bus to Bettystown and through to
Mornington, Droheda,where Dorothy & Kevin live. The trip down was very pleasant on a very comfortable coach.

Bettystown is a truly beautiful and quaint little Irish
seaside town with a scenic coast and cute shops, restaurants and homes all up
and down the main strip. You also have a magnificent view of the mountains
further up the north coast… very nice! Where Dorothy lives is on a very nice estate about 10mins away.

We had a lovely afternoon sitting around chattting and then it was time to collect Ryan, Ciaran & Orla... this was a huge week for Ryan (and for Dorothy & Kevin) as he only had 3 more days left of primary school!!!!! Ciaran had won a singing competition so he sang for us and Orla has started knitting. It was wonderful to see them, they are lovely kids. Kevin surprised everyone and arrived home early...

We then all got ourselves together and walked down to their local which was in the middle of renovations. It was originally
just a house with one room converted to become the local bar but has since been
taken over by someone with much bigger plans…and by the looks of things so
far…it will be very nice when its finished. We stayed for a few drinks and Kevin showed Mikes around
the old church and the estuary …all very beautiful. D & K had made a very
smart decision to move up there.

Dorothy, who had left earlier to get the children organised, came back to give us a lift back to their place, where we sat for a scumptious dinner. They even surprised Mikes with a birthday cake and pressies...

We eventually called it a night and once again had to say goodbye...(hopefully we will see D & K in Lucca!!) and caught the bus back to Dublin.

We left Aunty Doris and Uncle Jim at their home as we were all very tired
and made our way to the hotel where Mikes & I did have one last drink in the lounge before making
our way up to bed.

14/06/11 TUESDAY

This morning we woke up at a more reasonable time… my dear cousin in law, Hisham was coming at to pick us up, as Sorcha & I had hair appointments this morning.

Hisham (and Zach) arrived to pick us up and we took off to their place. We
arrived at their home in time for Sorcha to grab me and we took off quickly for the hairdressers (within walking distance of their place) and left Mikes and Hisham & Zach to do 'boy' things!!!… Hisham, Zach and Mikes apparently went
for a drive around the neighbourhood doing lots of chores that needed to be
done and Mikes had a chance to get to know Hisham a little bit better…Mikes really enjoyed it  and they eventually made their way back to the same
shopping centre and waited for us girls to finish. Sorcha & I had a lovely time, sitting next to each other, chatting about a heap of things...and just enjoying being together. (and we looked gorgeous when we had finished :):):)) We eventually met up with the boys and then went to freshen up at their home, which is lovely. We then hopped into the car to meet Maura in the city for the 'Vikings tour'.

We left Hisham, Sorcha and Zach and boarded the 'boat' …put on our Viking’s hats…and made our way through Dublin City streets. It was really
very good and the driver/Tour guide was excellent with his knowledge as
well as his manner. Very funny. I was sitting next to Maura who, off course, is
a fountain of information and I found myself hearing any useful information
from her first and then the tour guide seconds later. She is quite amazing! The hilight of the tour, of course, is the 'boat' leaves the streets and we 'dive' into the Liffy for a bit of a 'drive' on the water..very amusing and heaps of fun.

The tour lasted about 1 ˝ hours and we then met up with
Uncle Tony, Trevor, Pat, Ronan, Sorcha and Hisham at the restaurant (Salmananca) where
Hisham works. We left all the ordering up to Hisham and he gave us a
feast of dozens of Spanish tapas that hit the spot in any direction. As usual
the conversation was top notch and we really didn’t want to leave when it was time
to go, so, we all headed  back to Sorcha & Hishams to continue
the drinks, conversation and good times. We partied til late then our lovely Pat & Trevor dropped us back at the hotel.

This time we went straight to bed…

15/06/11 WEDNESDAY

Woke up late but in time for a full breakfast … we sat
ourselves down and planned what we would today.

We finished up and picked up a good map from the reception
and made our way to the main city centre and wandered around the shops.

Walking right down the main street (O’Connell St) we passed
by some very historical sights that are still very fresh in everyones minds…to
see the bullets holes still in the columns of the post office and on the statues
on the streets really brings it home. All the statues and monuments are well
situated and have well written signs explaining their significance… We saw all
this last time but it still has the same effect.

We made our way back to Croke Park and as we passed it we noticed that they were busy erecting the
stage for the ‘Take That’ concert which was being held on Saturday and Sunday nights…(Dorothy was going to see them). We then  packed as we were leaving early the next morning then we went to have dinner with Uncle Jim & Aunty Doris. As the afternoon was beautiful we sat out the
back in the glorious sunshine, threw on the sunnies and had a few drinks
before dinner, which was scrumptious once again. After dinner we eventually made our way back to the hotel and had another couple of drinks (which we probably didnt need) but we were all having a great time and didnt want it to end.

But, once again, end it must, for now!!

Thankyou everyone for making our holiday such great fun...You always make me feel so special and have welcomed Mikes into the fold so warmly...please look after yourselves and remember, Lucca is not that far away :)

16/06/11 THURSDAY

We had to wake up fairly early to get to the airport…this morning was a morning that i needed to tread very very carefully...and where you make those statements, i will never drink again!!

We picked at our continental breakfast with the black coffee
being my favourite item for the morning. Uncle Jim joined us for a cuppa. We talked a while
then checked out…Uncle Jim walking us to the
bus stop for the airport.(which was right in front of Maryce’s old shop ‘The

Flight to Bologna great – I’m pretty sure we both slept for
most of the 2 ˝ hours (no, only mikes did) – we disembarked fairly quickly at Bologna and found
ourselves on the bus to the train station just about immediately upon leaving
the departure lounge

The train to Prato and then to Lucca was a different
matter…we arrived in Prato on time after about 65 minutes just in time to see
the train to Lucca pulling out of Prato… we weren’t too upset as we knew there
was another one in about half an hour…as it turned out something had gone very
wrong…1st the train to Riareggio (which was 10 min before us) came
up as being 70 min late…then our train to Lucca was 20 minutes late. No worries
(we said) we can live with that …and we waited. As the minutes ticked on and
there was only a few minutes before the train was due …the screen all of a
sudden stated that the train was now not arriving at all…who knows what happen
to it??? Ghost train maybe!!!

Anyway …we didn’t end up catching the train to Lucca until
very much later and rolled into Lucca at about 9.00pm. We walked into
‘Brunella’ 12 ˝ hours after leaving the Croke Park Hotel…that was fun!!! (not!!)

We unpacked quickly and I walked to Piazza San Francesco at
Meo Mare for a tasty pizza. Mary was feeling a bit emotional, (yeh, kinda mixed emotions,  leaving Dublin but also not going straight back to Perth to see Mum & Dad and chatting about everything in Dublin...but not staying in Dublin either,,,just me, weird!!)

We ate the pizza listening to an outside bingo game which was being held in the piazza near the wall...very amusing...

17/06/11 FRIDAY to
19/06/11 SUNDAY

These three days are a bit of a blur…we were both very tired
and didnt do too much and were mainly just relaxing before our week in Paris.

We basically did nothing all day but relax and read and
flitter on the computer. I had to go to ‘TIM’ on via Filungo to fix the
broadband as it had stopped working in Ireland. I subsequently was told that
the internet package was only for Italy…if I wanted to use outside I would have
to pay more…It didn’t matter how many times I told her that her counterpart in
Rome told us we could use anywhere in Europe…that was that…Luckily though, it
didn’t end up costing us any more they just called somewhere??? And the
internet was back on. Good.

On the Friday I bought some premade Baccala with potatoes
and veges – on Saturday we cooked some magnificent steaks that were begging to
be bought from our local butcher and Sunday night we had drinks and a meal out
in Lucca at Osteria Miranda. (Not too excited about this ristorante…the food
was not too bad but the service was pretty ordinary).

Friday night someone, somewhere was having a big party…heard
music, plates and laughter so being the inquisitive man that I am – I took off
to find the party. Do you know that I walked everywhere looking for that
party…up and down every street around the noise but just couldn’t find it…when I came back and told Mary she was amazed as it sounded like it was literally down the road. We
still heard this big party right through until mid night.  ("the ghost party?!')

We both finished reading our books.

Met an American couple at the supermarket and talked for a
while…they were here for 2 weeks…his Grandfather was from Lucca and they were
meeting up with never before met relatives…how exciting! And his son had
proposed to his girlfriend the night before – Cool!

On Saturday I walked the markets , looking for a particular type of hat – no luck but I
did buy enough ‘gelato’ to keep me going – and walked to get water for Mary.

We washed clothes and repacked for our next venture in Paris...we are so excited to be seeing Mairead & Glenn and also touring Paris and seeing it through Glennies eyes.

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thefarabegolis on

Hi Guys! Wow, you seem to be having a fabulous time. Blog is way longer than mine, maybe I need to step it up a bit! Hope to Skype soon. Can't wait to see your 50th celebrations. XXXX

andie69 on

Hmmm i really must go there one day???!!!!

Looks like ya had a great time. great pics too...bought tears to my eyes!!!! keep sendng me notifications when u post blogs on here coz im loving looking thru them.
love you both xxxx

M.R. Stringer on

Michele, you look JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER! Is that an infuriating thing to say?
Non mi conosci; sono un'amica di tua sorella chi mi ha detto del tuo sito perché adoro l'Italia anche gli Italiani (cioè, la gran parte...).
You and your wife are obviously having exactly the kind of time that everyone who goes to Italy should have.
Che bravi!

ali & Michael on

I love the "doors" and I didn't know Vikings wore life jackets
I know your having the most amazing time. i am living the dream with you
Can't wait for the next installment and pic's of the girls
Love you all

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