castle

Day 15 – Nice

Posted on July 11, 2017

Very Nice.

The first half of our day was fairly uninteresting, involving us packing and travelling from Cannes to Nice via train, then checking into the hotel etc.

We did however walk around the local area to get a sense of the location and city, as well as stopped for lunch at a café. The main street in Nice leading to the city centre reminded me a lot of the main street in Dublin – a very wide road, with trams running down the middle, shops and restaurants either side, people everywhere. Nice definitely feels larger and more spacious than Cannes, which had tighter streets, and felt a bit more residential.

After our little local venture, our rooms were ready and we were able to check in and have a bit of a rest. Mid-afternoon we headed back out (Cherri wasn’t feeling well so stayed behind) and went to a park in the city. It was nice to walk through and was a refreshing change from the surrounding city.

From there we continued on towards Castle Hill, which is a larger park, situated on a hill overlooking Nice, with panoramic views of the city and coastline. It took some time to find the right way and then climb all the stairs up, but we were treated to some pretty awesome views.

We spent a bit of time up there, before heading back down to find somewhere to get dinner. There is apparently a lift which you can use to avoid all the stairs, but it was closed.

No matter – back down we went and found a nice looking restaurant which was incredibly busy, which is always a good sign, so we sat down and ate there. I didn’t see the name of the place, but it was tucked away a bit in a small street, so didn’t seem like an obvious touristy place.

We enjoyed our meal as the sun began to set, and had a pleasant conversation with a young couple sitting next to us who were travelling from London.

We had a chat ‘n’ a laugh.

Day 7 – Bordeaux

Posted on July 3, 2017

Let the wine of friendship never run dry.

We spent today being showed around the local area, driving down the winding roads, through the beautiful country landscape. We were mostly surrounded by huge vineyards, which stretched into the distance.

We also drove through a few small villages, and stopped at various churches and other old buildings to look around.

There was a large, old mansion we stopped into as well, which was actually Marie Christine’s old childhood summer house. The current owner was a sweet old lady who invited us in to look around and have a drink outside.

After spending the afternoon driving around, we headed back home to relax and rest a bit, before having dinner.

Everything is a lot slower paced here. You have more time to relax, space to breathe and it doesn’t feel chaotic. It’s quiet and peaceful, with that classic European lifestyle. It’s a nice change from the jam-packed adventures in Ireland, which were great, but hard to sustain for extended periods of time.

Tomorrow I believe we have a tour of a nearby winery.

Day 3 – GoT Tour (Northern Ireland)

Posted on June 29, 2017

Winter is coming.

Today was our Game of Thrones tour to various locations in Northern Ireland. It started with a hot chocolate before joining the rest of the group at the meeting point.  We had a small group which was nice – under twenty people.

We all got on the bus and were introduced to our tour guide for the day, Eric Nolan, who works as an extra for GoT (and Vikings). He was super nice, fun to be around, and full of great stories and information about the show and his time on set. He was also involved in the Battle of the Bastards (Season 6 Episode 9) and told us about the super long days of grueling fighting which lasted a month. He said there were about 150 extras, shot and enhanced to look like thousands, and that Season 8 was going to have a scene with 1000 extras… so… that’ll be huge.

There wasn’t much info he could give about seasons 7 and 8, but he did say Miguel Sapochnik would return to direct some episodes for Season 8, which would premiere in 2019. And once GoT ended, the spin-off show/s would start airing very soon after (apparently there could be five spin-offs?!).

Anyway, our tour began by leaving Dublin, headed for the first location, Tollymore Forest. This was the forest where the opening scene of Season 1, Episode 1 was shot, as well as the scenes where the Starks find the direwolf pups. It was a typical Ireland day, wet and cold, but it was a pleasant trek nonetheless. The weather only made the experience more immersive and realistic.

It was cool to see the locations used in the show, but everywhere else was equally scenic, if not more interesting to see.

After the forest, we headed to a small town for lunch and a bit of a break. After our lunch, we got a nice surprise and were able to meet Summer and Grey Wind, the dogs used as direwolves in the series. The family who owns the dogs were also there and told us the story of how their dogs were chosen and some of the extra work they’ve all done. Fun fact: each dog is insured for one million pounds.

Next we headed on to Old Castle Ward, which was used as Winterfell in the first episode, when Robert and the Lannisters visit Winterfell.

There was also a tower which was used for The Twins. There were a few other locations along the way as we trekked up the coast. It was even colder, wetter and windier here, but still an enjoyable hike.

Our final location on the tour, was Inch Abbey, where Robb Stark is crowned King in the North. It was here we were given cloaks and replica steel swords to use and take photos with. They had Needle, Longclaw and a couple others, including Ice.

After photos were done, we headed back to the bus and began the trip back to Dublin. It was a two hour drive, so they played the two best episodes of GoT for us. Oh and as we drove to each location they also played some behind-the-scenes videos and other GoT-related stuff.

Once back in Dublin, we said goodbye and began the walk back to our hotel, eager to warm ourselves and dry off. I did remember there was a highly recommended Vietnamese restaurant close to our hotel (Pho Viet), and suggested we eat there first, as it’d help us warm up.

We each ordered Pho, and it was the perfect meal to fight off the cold. So tasty, and such a huge portion. None of us could finish it, which is rare for me.

And that was it! Overall, a wonderful experience, with some really cool locations. Special thanks to Eric for making the tour memorable and engaging. Next time, you’re singing a song though.

Trinity College installation.

Day 1 – Dublin

Posted on June 27, 2017

And that auld triangle, went jingle-jangle, all along the banks of the Royal Canal.

I was going to do a short Prologue post last night, but had too long of a travel day and couldn’t be bothered. After our 24 hours of travel, we finally got to our hotel in the afternoon and everyone crashed immediately. I was however too hungry for such nonsense, so opted to go pick up some pizza from Il Capo, a great little Italian place in the city. We ate that in the hotel room, and then we all went to sleep (I stayed up a bit longer, as it was only about 6pm).

After we all caught up on sleep and awoke, it was around 6:30am. We had plenty of time to wake up, get ready and head out in our own pace. I did some research on things nearby to see in the city and found a few restaurants and some interesting places which came highly recommended.

So at around 9am, we headed out to find the Kilkenny Cafe (actually a cafe within a retail shop) to get some breakfast. A short walk later, and we’re standing before a large buffet of pastries, cakes, sweets on one side, and eggs, sausages, bread, juices on the other.

We loaded up our trays, paid for our (very reasonably priced) selections and ate vigorously. After consumption had concluded, we paid a visit to Trinity College which was right across from the cafe. The campus is nice to walk around and had some interesting installations.

The main tourist attraction for the college however is the Book of Kells exhibition and Old Library. No photography was allowed in the exhibition, but there were various super old books (including the Book of Kells of course), with information about the history of them etc. Amazing how well preserved they are, and the detail which went into them.

After seeing those books, we went through to the library. It was huge.

So many old books everywhere, as well as busts of some old geezers.

After that, we had a quick trip around Merrion Square Park. There was an Oscar Wilde monument which was cool.

It was at this point that the day took a turn for the worse… The family wanted to go shopping… Wasn’t too bad actually as I just wandered around the busy streets, took some photos/video and listened to the buskers.

Oh and we did have a short detour to stop into the National Gallery of Ireland. There was a Vermeer exhibition I wanted to see, but the next session wasn’t for a little while, so we just looked around for a bit before moving on.

When the shopping was done, we started walking over to Dublin Castle, but stopped to get some lunch at another highly recommended place, Umi Falafel.

A delicious meal later, and we stopped into the Olympia Theatre to book tickets for the musical Once, for Friday night. Will be great to see it in Dublin for that authentic experience. But that’ll come later on. For now, we were heading to Dublin Castle.

There were some interesting things to see inside, with some quite ornate furniture and room displays.

By the end of all that, everyone was tired and sore, so we limped back to the hotel. Upon return, everyone else basically fell asleep, although it was only about 5pm (sunset is 10pm). We might head out later for dinner if they wake up, but it seems unlikely at this point.

Tomorrow we might take the car and drive out somewhere out of the city. Not sure where exactly yet, time will tell. Find out next time, on Dragon Ball Z!

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