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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Road Trip from Dublin to Glendalough: It Begins on the Wrong Side of the Road (God Help Us)

For our Honeymoon to Ireland we decided to bravely rent a car vs. taking the train. Even though this was our first experience as a couple driving on the "wrong" (left) side of the road, this was the best decision we made and we had so much flexibility.

Below is a run down of the first leg of our Ireland road trip from Dublin to Glendalough, about 70 km south or a little over an hour drive, and some things we learned along the way:  
  • After a porridge breakfast (I decided to switch it up and have a non-meat based start to my day), we got on the road and headed south from Dublin toward our first “planned” destination - Glendalough (pronounced glen-da-lock). To give you an idea of our thought process, we basically Googled out a general route for our trip and for the first few days went ahead and got hotels until we were a bit more comfortable. (Scott: This seems pretty simple, but it was anything but and actually gives an interesting insight into marriage. My inclination was to plan nothing and hers to plan everything. After some “discussion” we figured out that she was not as comfortable given this was her first trip to Europe. Thus, we developed a compromise where we planned out the beginning “until we were comfortable” and then had some “wing it” worked into the end. I strongly suggest this process for others with similar dynamics.) 
  • The drive to Glendalough was only an hour, but we took our time. (Scott: And by this she means drove VERY slowly through Dublin and freaked out with our first highway/120km/h experience!) We drove through the village of Roundwood and learned that the Monday after St. Patty’s Day is a holiday, so almost everything was closed. We were able, though, to discover the “highest pub in Ireland;” The Vartry House’s pub, Kavanaghs, at a staggering (sic) 800 ft. above sea level!  This is also where I discovered liquid crack and my drink of the trip - a Smithwick’s Shandy (or a “Smiddick’s” Shandy). This ambrosia consists of Smithwick’s beer and red lemonade - which is some red carbonated yummy-goodness - wow!  (Scott: She downplays the awesomeness that was this pub. Ok, maybe not awesome, but the bartender was tons of fun to talk to and they had a fire. That qualifies it for awesome right? She does not, however, downplay how much she enjoyed this new drink.) 
  • The drive into Glendalough (County Wicklow) (Scott: Irish Counties = American States) was absolutely beautiful and I became quite obsessed with the number of sheep that are in Ireland. Glendalough is a glacial valley and right in the heart of the Wicklow “mountains” (Scott does not think anything smaller than the Rockies should be considered mountains). (Scott: Amen.) In addition to being an area of hiking trails and scenic routes, Glendalough is home to a 6th century monastic site founded by Saint Kevin. The hotel we stayed at, appropriately named the Glendalough Hotel, was right at the edge of the site. Side note on the hotel; it was a little expensive for the off-season (over 120 Euros a night), but the rooms were clean, breakfast was included, and it was within walking distance of the monastic site and hiking trails.
  • The site itself was impressive, and no matter how many castles or ruins we visited, I continued to be amazed the whole trip at the history. I do not think Americans truly appreciate how much older the rest of the world is and how we have NOTHING like this. Being a bit of an art history nerd, I was in awe the whole trip. (Scott: She has gazillions of pictures to prove it.) Right off the hotel’s deck was the original arch and wall into the “monastic city,” which consisted of a completed and roofed stone cathedral, 30m (90ft) tall round tower, numerous other building ruins, and an extensive graveyard which is still in use by the local community. The ruins are right in the middle of the valley and you can see the lower and upper lake from the hotel. There was an easy trail from the site around both lakes which allowed you to just take in the solitude and beauty of the valley. The one thing we enjoyed the most was seeing all the different stone walls throughout the valley - they were everywhere! (Scott: and by “everywhere” she means that the Irish are basically obsessed with stacking rocks on top of each other, everywhere, through everything... seriously, we will cover this later but there were rock walls on barren rock hills... I guess to keep the rock from running away.) 
  • After our hike, we went into the town of Laragh (la-rock) for dinner (about a 10 minute walk down the road from the hotel). We were not in town during the “busy season,” so the shops and Bed and Breakfasts were not open, but we really did not mind (Scott: Seriously, of all the places we went this ranks in the top two, especially if you like outdoorsy stuff.)
If Glendalough is in your plans please let us know if you need any help planning your trip or if you have any other suggestions for readers please comment below!


 The “highest pub in Ireland” where I was introduced to red lemonade, so good!
 The beautiful Glendalough Hotel situated right in the valley next to the monastic site. It was the perfect location for hiking as well.

The most well known landmark of the Glendalough Monastic City is the 33 meter tall Round Tower.
Me and my hubby taking one of many hikes around the site and through the valley.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day #2: St. Paddy's Day in Dublin - to do or not to do?

When we found ourselves in Dublin during St. Patrick's Day there was no way we were leaving the city center, but after dealing with the tourists and crowds we think we'd prefer something a little more low-key next time. What's your opinion? 

Here are some of the main points (and lessons learned) from our experience:
  • Book your hotel early! We had to stay about 20 minutes outside of Dublin at the Marine Hotel in Sutton. It was a great hotel though and was right across the road from the train station, so we did not mind. 
  • Due to the crowds, the main station, Tara Station, was closed, and we had to get off at Pierce (and we did not figure this out until we were already on the train - oops). So, naturally, this meant we were turned around a little when we got off the train, but all we had to do was follow the crowd (Scott: like good little Irish sheep - we will cover that later) and we found ourselves right on the parade route south east of Temple Bar. 
  • I think there were more tourists/foreigners in the city than locals, and the people-watching was FANTASTIC! (Scott: and by "FANTASTIC" we mean ABSOLUTELY AMAZING AND HILARIOUS!)
  • Scott and I definitely felt a little "under-dressed" in just our green hat and scarf, but we were at least warm. The costumes were impressive, so if you're the type of person who likes to dress up like a green leprechaun - have at it! 
  • We set up on the parade route around 10am and the parade started around noon. The festivities started with just a lot of different groups walking past, then a few bands, and then finally some floats. Honestly, we were more entertained by the crowd than by the parade and at about 1:30pm we decided to make our way to Temple Bar for food and drinks. Did you note that we stood around waiting for the parade for more time than we actually watched the parade?
  • Sooooo, getting off the parade route was easier said than done, and we got really close (Scott: think WABAM, mi-bubble-es-su-bubble close) to a lot of people pushing and prodding our way through the masses. It took us a good hour to go about 1/4 mile (Scott: and 15 minutes of which was about 20 ft, thank you stupid/majestic City Hall) and when we got to Temple Bar the lines were out the doors just to get into places. 
  • We were surprised that there was not more to do out on the street. I guess part of me was expecting something like Mardi Gras in New Orleans where there are vendors everywhere and food/drink stations/trucks, so Scott and I just decided to go to the first restaurant or pub we found without a line - which happened to be the Hard Rock Cafe. There ended up being a 2+ hour wait for food, but we were able to get drinks at the bar, so it was not a complete waste! After drinks, we thought going off the main street would give us a better chance of finding food and not such a long wait and we ended up walking almost to the train station before we found something. For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the pub, but we found two openings at the bar and had our second bowl of Irish Stew - yummy!
  • By this time, we needed to get away from the crowd and caught the 4:30pm train back to Sutton and the hotel. That night we went into the town of Howth (right down the road from the hotel) (Scott: pronounced like hoe-t, don't ask me where the w or h went) to enjoy a smaller, quieter atmosphere. 
    • Howth was the perfect contrast to the morning/afternoon we had downtown and it was exactly what we were in the mood for. We went to The House for dinner and highly recommend it to anyone in that part of town. Howth is a fishing village, so we had to try their local fish, hake. Our dish was over fettuccine and water cress with a light, cream sauce, and it was delicious. The restaurant had maybe 15 tables with 3 staff members and 2 cooks total, so we stayed there for hours just talking and relaxing. (Scott: It took us a bit to realize but we definitely were used to American in-and-out style eating. I strongly suggest soaking in a bit of the European "chill" mentality. It takes a bit to get used to but it is really good for the marriage (assuming you like your significant other!).)

So, all in all, while the experience of St. Paddy's Day downtown in Dublin was fun, Scott and I decided that if we were to do it again, we would like to go to one of the parades in the smaller towns. I think it depends on what kind of atmosphere you enjoy, and we definitely prefer the smaller village feel.

Have you visited Dublin during St. Paddy's Day? What did you think?

Bravin' the St. Paddy's Day crowds on the parade route.
 
A parade is not complete without bagpipes!
 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Looking for a Simple Hike Near Charlottesville, VA? Check out Preddy Creek!

Do you live in the Charlottesville, Virginia area and want to enjoy a hike but just can't make it to the AT? Preddy Creek Trail Park is only a short drive from Charlottesville up HWY 29 and is a great way to escape into the hills for a few hours. 

Note: This description is for hikers or trail runners, but there are also mountain biking and horse trails here.

My husband is a runner and I am not. I hate to run and the entire time I am running I am exhausting myself thinking how much I hate running. However, I love hiking. I can hike all day and I can kick my runner husband's butt with a pack on going up a mountain trail. The problem with this though is that I need to exercise, often, and I live in Gordonsville, about 20-minutes outside Charlottesville, Virginia. If you know the area, there are beautiful hills and forested areas, but you have to drive to get to the good mountain hiking, so my daily workout routines needed to involve something a little closer to home. This dilemma, ladies and gentlemen, is how my über-supportive hubby got me into trail running. He helped get me out of a gym and off the hard asphalt and into the woods and this is how we found Preddy Creek Trail Park.

Preddy Creek Trail Park is an area of over 570 acres and has 10 miles of loop trails. The park is well maintained with plenty of parking and there is even a bathroom (bonus!). The trails themselves are well marked and in my opinion are perfect for trail running because you can go the full 10 miles or just complete short loops. There are many loop options so you can switch up your route if your workout is getting too repetitive. The elevation gain is not significant, but you are in the hills, so your lungs and legs still get something out of the run. My husband and I like the Preddy Creek Loop which connects to the Creekside Trail (this is where you actually get to see Preddy Creek and yes, it has water). This loop is 4.4 miles with a nice flat section next to the creek part way through for a little breather.

Many people enjoy Preddy Creek Trail Park for easy to moderate hiking and there are also trails for mountain biking and horseback riding if that interests you. Because the park is used by hikers, runners, bikers, and horses you have to be a little more aware of who is on the trail with you (or behind you), but we have never had any issues. There are some trails that are specifically for mountain biking and they are well marked. The park opens at 7am and closes at dusk, so you have a lot of flexibility.

Enjoy this local spot and you can even find a place for a picnic! Another bonus is that is right down the road from some great wineries. I'm always up for a wine tasting after a work out - gotta reward yourself!

Click here for a complete trail map.

 

Pack List

  • Trail Running
    • trail running shoes (there is the potential for mud, so I have trail running shoes and gym shoes)
    • running clothes (dress for the weather)
    • CamelBak or hydration belt 
  • Hiking
    • hiking shoes or boots (personally, I do not think boots are necessary unless there is snow on the ground as the trails are marked easy - moderate)
    • hiking poles if you like/need them
    • hiking clothes
    • CamelBak or water bottle
    • picnic! 

    Options:
    Hiking, Mountain Biking, Running, Horseback Riding

    Skill Level:
    Beginner (for hiking)

    Season:
    Year Round

    Trail Type:
    Loop

    Distance:
    10 Miles (full loop)

    Elev. Gain:
    550 Feet
You have a lot of route options!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Jambalaya Recipe to Help Celebrate Mardi Gras!

In celebration of Mardi Gras, I thought I would share one of my favorite dishes - Jambalaya! And because my husband's from New Mexico and we like a little more heat, this recipe includes a Hatch green chile twist.

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" means "let the good times roll" and is a popular French saying during Mardi Gras (and we will add to make sure to eat a lot of good food)! We hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Sam's Spicy Jambalaya (with a New Mexican twist)

Ingredients:
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 pound chicken breasts (boneless/skinless); cut into bite size chunks
1 package andouille sausage (the spicier the better in our opinion); cut into bite size chunks
1 onion; diced
1 green bell pepper; diced
1 rib of celery; diced
1 1/2 tsps of your favorite Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere's is a good option)
1 can diced tomatoes; drained
1 cup long-gram white rice
1 can (15.5 oz) of low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (4.5 oz) of chopped green chiles ** If you can get fresh New Mexican Hatch Green Chiles, use these! 4.5 oz is a little more than 1/2 cup. If not, a can is a substitute. **

Let's get cookin':
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the chicken and sausage and saute until the chicken is no longer pink.
  3. With a slotted spoon remove the chicken and sausage and place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add the onion, green pepper, and celery to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Then stir in the Cajun seasoning, diced tomatoes, and rice.
  6. Then add the chicken broth and stir.
  7. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover the pan, and reduce heat to low. 
  8. Continue letting it simmer for 20 minutes (most of the liquid should be absorbed).
  9. Stir the chicken and sausage back into the mixture and include all the wonderful juices from the bowl. 
  10. Stir in the green chiles.
  11. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 more minutes until the rice is tender.
  12. ENJOY!
If you have a favorite Mardi Gras recipe for us to try and feature, please comment or shoot us an email. We love to eat!


 The finished product - so good! 
Note: our recipe is for chicken and andouille sausage, but you can also add shrimp if you can get good seafood.


This is what you are looking for if you cannot get your hands on fresh, New Mexican Hatch green chile. They have mild, medium, and hot so you can choose your heat. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Beauty of a Road Trip (and Some Couple Travel Tips)

Scott and I have always loved road trips and we have always enjoyed road trips as a couple. I do not know if it is because both of our parents vacationed with their families via road trip so we just grew up with them or because it allows us the flexibility we both enjoy when traveling. Ever since we started dating though multiple-state road trips have been a yearly opportunity for us. For the first few years of dating road trips were a cheaper way for us to visit family (Scott’s in New Mexico and mine in Georgia) and now they have turned into some of our longer planned, non-family vacations.
 
We also enjoy hiking and camping and one of our first large purchases as a couple was a fantastic, retro, 1984 10-foot Coleman pop-up camper. Let me tell you, that thing has been well used over the years and despite the horrible brown 1980s interior it has been a wonderful addition to our road trip options (we have a 2007 Nissan Xterra with a hitch that tows it with no effort).

While I will be keeping you posted on road trips coming up, some we are looking forward to highlighting are (1) our Virginia to Maine trip in 2014, (2) Virginia to Amelia Island, Florida in 2015, and (3) Virginia to Yellowstone trip in 2016. So stay tuned...

Note: I should probably warn you that our road trips double as craft brewery trips, so a lot of our recommendations and opportunities to “go down this random road” are based on where local breweries are and how we can visit as many as we can. 

In general here are some of our low stress road trip tips before we get into trip details:
  1. Stay awake and talk to each other, sing with each other, read to each other – interact! Half of the fun of taking a road trip is spending time with my husband and being goofy by singing songs super loud or getting into a four hour long debate just because we can.   
  2. Whoever is in the navigator seat needs to actually help navigate. This is not just navigation help when the GPS is being funky, but this includes searching for places via YELP! and making decisions for lunch stops.
  3. If the driver is tired, switch drivers and give each other a break. If the navigator is tired, make sure the driver is okay with the navigator napping. And if the driver starts falling asleep when the navigator is napping, the driver should not get bitched at when he/she wakes up the navigator. Can you tell we are still working on #3? I think the moral of the story here is to remember that people get irritated when they get sleepy and driving sometimes makes you sleepy, so be nice or maybe find a rest stop so both driver and navigator can get some Zzzzz.
  4. If you decide to eat in the car, the navigator helps make sure the driver gets fed and makes sure the food does not end up all over the interior of the vehicle. This might mean putting extra ketchup on a burger, holding a sandwich when traffic gets a little crazy, or digging into a cooler in the back seat when a snack craving hits. We’ve learned that having an extra stash of napkins in the glove compartment is a pretty good idea too (and wet-ones and travel hand sanitizer).
  5. Decide as a team how much flexibility to have with time. For example, does anyone care if a 60 mile stretch might take 3 hours because the other person really wants to check out a brewery that is 20-miles off the route? Or is the objective for the day to get from point A to point B because point B and stopping somewhere random would cause you to check into your night’s lodging after midnight?
  6. If someone REALLY wants to go somewhere, talk about it and make a decision together on how to add it into the trip. I cannot think of a single road trip where I felt like I missed out on something because Scott argued and did not want to go (or vice versa). Be a supportive travel buddy and don’t roll your eyes when your wife wants to check out the statue outside a random gas station because it’s a T-Rex and the town is named Dinosaur. Figure out how it fits into the plans together and enjoy the statue because it’s awesome!

 Our 1984 10-foot Coleman pop-up camper lovingly named "Roadrunner" because of the awesome, retro roadrunner rug that was left inside when we bought it. 

 Our typical road trip set-up with our 2007 Nissan Xterra. It pulls that pop-up with no effort.

 My amazing hubby has gotten pretty good at squeezing into tight parking spaces...the man has skills when it comes to backing up something pulled on a hitch. Me? I tend to back into things...

 Over the years we've decked out the pop-up with stickers, stickers, and more stickers. Our favorite is probably the one we picked up in TX on our way to Balmorhea State Park that says, "Conserve water...shower with a friend." 

If you have an amazing sticker that you think we'd enjoy let us know and we will gladly add it to our camper collection. Just message us!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Irish Honeymoon: Sláinte or "Cheers" to a Fabulous Day 1 in Dublin

By the time we got off the train it was about 8am and we headed to The Temple Bar section of town. (Scott: If you like the art scene, drinking scene, or the Ireland-is-awesome-simply-because-it-is-Ireland scene you will LOVE Temple Bar! Think Bourbon Street/Beale Street/Pier 39/6th Street/River Walk/etc.) What we realized as we were walking was that we were some of the only people out and about. (Scott: A note to any morning people: this is a theme in Ireland... a recurring theme...) Couple Travel Tip #1: When you arrive at 8am NONE of the shops are open, none of the restaurants seemed to be open, so we had some time to just mellowly enjoy what is known as one of the busiest areas in Dublin. Although we were enjoying the solitude, food was still our main focus and out of all the wonderful options that we would have had if we would have started our day a little later, our first Irish restaurant was... an Italian place. It was not a complete disappointment though, because they definitely served a "Traditional Irish Breakfast" and we both ordered a full plate (Scott: vs. a "half plate" which is a good option for most Americans and anyone else who tends to eat light in the morning). Irish Breakfast consists of:
  • 1 egg (cooked to your liking), 
  • a stewed tomato (Scott: ick)
  • 1 piece of white pudding, 
  • 1 piece of black pudding (think blood sausage), 
  • 2 pieces of bacon (which was more like ham) (Scott: and ABSOLUTELY delicious! American restaurants please take note.)
  •  and more toast than you can eat. 
Scott loved it! It was a little too much protein for me, but at the moment it was delicious and a great start to our morning... (Scott: We will talk more about the Irish definition of "pudding" at a later date. Basically, somebody is very confused on the definition.)

After a very fulfilling breakfast, it was, naturally, time for a beer (Scott: this is why I married my wife), so our next stop was the Guinness Brewery and Storehouse. We made a good move and got a map of the city from the car rental place, and found it was pretty easy to get around downtown. (Scott: and by this she means "Scott navigated as always and Sam got a bit pissy whenever we got lost." She denies this but such is love...or marriage as the case may be.) Couple Travel Tip #2: By 10am the crowd was also starting to appear, so it was extremely easy to find the brewery (signs + lots of tour buses). This was one of the more "touristy" experiences in which we were willing to put up with a mob and fork out 17 Euros apiece. You can also get tickets on-line, but even on a busy weekend like St. Patty's, the ticket counters moved quickly.

Being beer nerds and history nerds, we enjoyed the tour - complete with the pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar! Side note for those interested in both beer and history, Scott found a really interesting book on the Guinness family; The Guinnesses by Joe Joyce and would recommend reading it before the tour so you can fully appreciate the legacy that is Guinness.

After the Guinness experience, it was Scott's mission to hit an Irish micro-brewery (which is an exciting search because Ireland's micro-brewery scene is really just starting to appear). (Scott: Note to any history people - and yes, Irish micro-brewery history is a very important part of Irish history writ large - the Irish are in their second contemporary wave of microbreweries.) So, we headed back to Temple Bar via a new route and got a chance to see the original Dublin City Wall and gates from circa 1240 AD. Couple Travel Tip #3: The best thing we did was not really have a plan for the rest of the day and we enjoyed just walking around. Anyway, for those of you who support American micro-breweries, we encourage you all to do the same overseas. Our first stop of the trip was The Porterhouse Brewing Co. and their Oyster Stout is highly recommended (gasp, I know, a stout that's NOT Guinness is a sin). (Scott: Also, even though I am pretty adventurous when it comes to beers an "oyster" anything seemed a bit outlandish. That said, it was very good. Basically a smoky, full flavored stout that paired well with seafood. Definitely worth giving it a try.)

At this point we were also starving (if you can tell our bodies were going through some jet lag/lack of sleep (Scott: lack of beer) adjustments) and, Couple Travel Tip #4, we learned a lesson about Irish pubs with food - you kind of just find a seat and then you kind of try to catch a waiter. (Scott: or don't... depends on how hungry/aggressive you are, which we found out the hard way.) Then you order, and your food comes, but if you want anything you have to hunt down the waiter again, they do not check in on you. (Scott: Ever!) Personally, I loved this set-up, and it really helped us slow down and we did not feel rushed at all. We had our second authentic Irish meal for the day - Irish Stew with lamb - yummy! I love a pub that also has decent food. Another side note that we did not know about until AFTER we got back to the states and Couple Travel Tip #5 - apparently you do NOT need to tip in Ireland because of their minimum wage. So, we made quite a few Irish waiters/waitresses quite happy, but it would have been nice spending that chunk of change on something else. (Scott: Let us know if anyone else has heard differently but that is at least what we were told.)

By now it was about 3pm and beer + warm food = crash time for Sam, so we made our way back to the train station and headed back to the hotel. Minor issue was that the train wait/ride was about an hour and we were definitely doing the head bob, sleep thing on the train which must have been really awesome to witness. With the hotel came a warm bath and soft bed - perfect end to our first day!

 Sláinte! We enjoyed a pint of Guinness at 10am and it was awesome.

 Walking around the city centre all by ourselves in the morning...

 The original Dublin City Wall and gates from circa 1240 AD.

 Beer this way...the signs for the Guinness Storehouse and tours were pretty obvious.

 Beautiful view of the River Liffey (Irish for "a life").

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ireland Honeymoon: A Very Long Day 1 Continues

Because we took the red eye to Dublin, the first day of our Honeymoon was actually over 24 hours long. Couple Travel Tip: When the plane landed, the best thing we did was just reset our clocks to Ireland time and not even think about what time it was at home. That meant it was 6 am and we had the whole day to play in Dublin...but first, we had to get our rental car...

Let me preface this next part with how excited we were about the rental car situation when we were originally planning. As soon as we booked the airplane tickets, it took us right to a rental car site and would only cost us 35 Euros a day, so we booked it right away [Scott: Let's start by saying that what looks too good to be true, is just that. I was worried about the company's legitimacy, but we did research and it definitely checked-out, or so we thought...] . From previous family experience, [Scott: My dad, in short, took on a Swiss street train with a rental mini-van and he is proud to say that "at least we broke the train as well." No one was hurt, but the van looked like an opened sardine can. So, the lesson was ALWAYS get insurance in a foreign country.] we knew we needed to purchase insurance and assumed it would be equivalent to US car insurance on a rental (this is where we FAILED). When we finished all the paperwork with the rental car place it ended up costing us 2x what we were anticipating, so Couple Travel Tip #2: if you are planning on renting a car in Ireland...our advice is to call the rental car place and get the quotes directly from them; NOT from the online booking [Scott: If we had not over budgeted in general for this trip, this unforeseen cost would have brought on a very stressful start and probably would have come up again throughout the trip in the form of those fun little fights that ruin a day quickly.]

We took a shuttle to the car pick-up and, thanks to my wonderful husband (who knows how to drive a manual), I got to enjoy the navigator's seat the entire trip! [Scott: "Knows how to not kill himself in a manual" is not the same as "knows how to drive a manual."] The first experience, however, from the navigator's seat was not that fun though. I have never ridden in a car on the left side as a passenger; nor have I ever ridden in a car driving on the left hand side...on tiny roads. Even though the drive from the rental car company to our hotel was only about 15 minutes, Scott and I learned a lot about husband/wife tone; driving tone, navigating tone, "shit, you're on the wrong side on the road" tone, and "I think we're in the right place, but the hotel did not really have an address" tone. [Scott: She forgot my favorite - "You're stressing me out more than a stick shift, on the left hand side of the road, in a foreign country, with no meaningful lines on the road" tone.] Side note on Irish addresses and Couple Travel Tip #3 of this post: it does not seem to be required to assign street numbers, which makes plugging something into a GPS kind of hit or miss so be nice to your navigator.

Since we came into Dublin on St. Patty's Day weekend, we could not find a hotel anywhere near the city center for less than an arm and a leg, so we had to find something close to a train station (thanks again to Scott's experience living in Germany). We found good reviews for and ended up staying at the Marine Hotel at Sutton Cross. If you want some place nice and relaxing, right on the harbor, with simple and clean rooms, and an easy train ride into town, this was a great option! Our priorities at this point were to get to the train station to get downtown and find breakfast. Though it was too early to check-in at the hotel, we were able to leave our car in the parking lot. From the hotel it was an easy walk to the Sutton Station (once we walked the correct way), and even though it cost 10 Euros for a round-trip pass, there was no way we were driving into Dublin that first day. [Scott: I had already lost enough years of my life just getting to the hotel.]

Now comes the FUN PART...Temple Bar!

 Sutton Station was an easy walk from where we staying at the Marine Hotel in Sutton Cross. We were some of the only people on the train heading into Dublin that morning.

Practicing our Gaelic on day 1. It was a good thing that everything else was in English.