It’s Been Awhile…

…As the title says, it’s been awhile, both for me writing a post and for me returning to an old(new?) career!

First, let’s do a quick recap of what’s been going on. In 2020, we and the little missus did nothing because, well, Covid happened. In the middle of doing all this nothing, I made the decision to retire from ATB, which is exactly what I did on March 31, 2021. My banking career lasted almost 23 years and gave me so much but nothing more than the love of my life, Michele. We met going on 16 years ago when we both worked for FCC and are still going strong!

So after retirement day, I loaded up the trailer and headed out to Creston to decompress and start some of the spring work out there. We did a couple of major landscaping projects that turned out great! Now this is where I have to apologize to my almost double digit followers. I took lots of pictures and videos but didn’t blog about the projects like I intended as I was very busy enjoying retirement!! I will put together a series of posts one day to capture everything that we did out there this year. It looks awesome!

So that brings us to present days. In September, I decided that I wanted to keep busier than I was, so I made the decision to return to what has always been a passion of mine and something I did for a couple of years when Michele and I first got married – truck driving. I applied to a few companies and was hired on with Boots Transport Ltd based out of Calgary but they also have a yard in Nisku where I am based out of. They are a strictly flatbed company and we haul everything – pipe, steel, lumber, etc. If it can fit on a flatbed, we will haul it (I’m sure at very reasonable rates too)

One of the criteria I had for returning to trucking was that I didn’t want to be gone for more than a week at a time. Even a week is long enough as I can’t live without my beautiful missus and awesome dog for that long. With Boots, I am home every weekend and gone from Monday to Friday which is just perfect, especially for Michele, because as many of you that know me, I am great to be around in small doses but too long, and I’m just annoying! So this gives her a break and then she’s happy to see me come Friday night! The other nice thing about driving for Boots is that we run just in Western Canada (Manitoba to BC) so there is no border to deal with and for the most part, good highways.

Now, doing flatbed work has another perk to it – you stay active. We are usually at least loading or unloading every day which requires throwing straps or chains and lots of physical work. This is great now that I’m 5 weeks into it as my body has adjusted but the first week or so, even my hair hurt. Advice for those thinking about getting into flatbed work – don’t sit behind a desk for 10+ years to prepare!! It was a tough transition but I can say now that I am used to the pain! Another key piece of advice – a 57 year old body never quits hurting. It’s always something!

As I said, I have been back driving for about 5 weeks and have been all over Alberta, Saskatchewan, and even went to Winnipeg. I always thought that you couldn’t pay me enough to go to Winnipeg but apparently they can! I am having a lot of fun being behind the wheel of a big rig and am learning so much and there is still so much to learn. I look forward to finding out each day what I’m hauling and where I’m going but there is definitely one thing I am not looking forward to with this job and that is when the temperatures drop to really frickin’ cold. But, hopefully that will be short lived (lol) and I’ll get through it.

As always, I am going to try and do some more posts about my adventures but don’t put off doing other things waiting, because, well, it’s been awhile!


Goodbye to…

…Friday was our travel day from Belfast back to London to then travel home to Camrose, via Edmonton, on Saturday. Our flight was at 1 pm, so we had breakfast at the hotel, packed up, and called an Uber around 10:30 for the half hour trip to the airport. Surprisingly, Belfast Airport isn’t super big and we got there early enough that we flew through check-in and security. Then we sat and waited for our EasyJet flight to London, which was uneventful. We boarded the plane and were in the very last row (26) and they were just about to close the doors when an incident happened. I have been told that I am not allowed to write about it in my blog but for a G&T, I’ll tell the story to anyone!!!!

Once we got under way, it was a quick 1 hour flight and, as we were staying right at the airport on Friday night, we were in our room an hour after landing. It was late afternoon, so we went for an early dinner and then scoped out where we needed to go on Saturday for our flight home. After resting for a bit of the evening, we went down to the lounge for our last night cap and dessert. I discovered a new gin that is rhubarb and ginger flavored which is very smooth. I put it on my list to look for at duty free.

Saturday morning, we again had breakfast at the hotel as our flight was a little after 1 pm. As we were already at the airport, we went back to the room and relaxed for a couple of hours before making our way to the terminal. There were no incidents not to talk about and right now we are half way home.

My thoughts on this trip – once again my wife put together the perfect trip. We had one bad hotel, but it was only for one night, but the rest were excellent. What was my favorite place – Killarney without a doubt. My favorite activity – it’s a tie between the Changing of the Guards and the Falconry tour. The hike at the Giants Causeway was a close third but don’t tell Michele or she’ll make me do more!!!

A Giant Day…

…We got up Thursday morning and went through the exact same routine as Wednesday morning, the only difference being that we knew we were going on a tour today. We were directed to our bus where we met Sean, our tour guide for the day. He confirmed with us that we were doing the hike and then told us that they were expecting Hurricane Lorenzo ( now downgraded to a storm, or something less than a hurricane) to partially hit the area we were walking. This great idea of mine to do this hike was looking better and better! We got onto the bus and after about an hour, we arrived at the Giants Causeway where they dropped off the rest of our non-hiking group. Out of 40 some passengers, only 5 were doing the hike, which again tells me I may have made a bad decision. The bus drove us a couple of miles down the road where we met our hiking guide, Ewen. He again told us about the impending storm and that we may have to shorten things if it gets too bad. So off we went to start our hike!!

Me, in the yellow sleeves, and our guide Ewen

As it turned out, the bad weather stayed away and we were still able to do the full 8 or so kilometers of the hike and it was so worth it. The hike basically took us along the cliffs edge towards the Giants Causeway, which provided views that wouldn’t have been possible if we had just gotten off the bus with the rest of them. There were times when the wind was blowing hard enough to stagger me (remembering we were on the edge of cliffs on the Atlantic Ocean) but the majority of the time it was very tolerable. It’s hard to explain in words some of the views so I’ll just leave a series of pictures.

The hike ended at the Giants Causeway which is a cool formation of rock that was formed by either volcanic lava or a giant. It’s a very interesting mythology and worth googling, but the formation is perfectly formed cylinder-like rocks.

After exploring the hike, which took about 3 1/2 hours, we met up with our bus mates and continued along the bus part of the tour. One of the stops was at a rope bridge, that was closed due to the high winds and rainy weather (yes the storm was catching up to us). We were still able to walk down to it which gave some great views.

The one other interesting part of this area of northern Ireland, is that a lot of Game of Thrones was filmed in the area. There is actually a specific tour that just takes you to Game of Thrones spots. But our tour passed some of the spots which our guide pointed out. The coolest one in my opinion was where Castle Black and the ice wall was. The rest of the tour was along the coast line that wound it’s way back to Belfast, which once again was loaded with scenery.

Once back in Belfast, we were starving as it was a 9 hour tour and we only had a quick stop for a sandwich for lunch. Not only were we starving, we were also beat as we were up until 10:30 the night before!! Our plan was to go to the Meat Locker for supper, a drink, and dessert, which we pulled off magnificently!

Obviously today we had a lot of steps. A grand total of 17,300 for about 12.5 km. Friday we start our journey home by flying back to London and then Saturday to home.

All Dressed Up…

…We left the hotel early Tuesday morning to make our way to the train station for today’s journey to Belfast. I was excited to have my first train experience and also relieved that I didn’t have to drive backwards anymore. Not that I didn’t enjoy driving to some of the spots we stayed at, but trading the suv for a train sounded like a good idea!

The entire trip to Belfast took 6 hours which included a 1 hour layover in Dublin to switch trains. Once in Belfast, we grabbed a taxi for the short ride to our hotel – The Fitzwilliam Hotel. This is a very modern hotel with beautiful rooms with all of the amenities! Perfect for our last 3 nights in Ireland. As it was late afternoon when we arrived and we were tired, we just went to the hotel bar to grab dinner and have a drink, which was a Guinness! After dinner we just went to our room as we had one of our biggest days on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning we got up early and had breakfast and then returned to our room to get dressed up in warm hiking clothes as today we had a day long bus tour to the Giants Causeway that includes a 3-4 hour hike in the middle. Even though I’m not a hiker (my wife would call me an anti-hiker), I was looking forward to this activity. We got to the tour center 15 minutes early, as instructed, and found out we are booked to go Thursday, instead of Wednesday, as the hikes don’t go on Wednesdays. What we had forgot was that we changed from the regular tour to the one with the hike just a couple of weeks before, and didn’t update our paperwork. So, there we were – all dressed up, nowhere to go!

Luckily for us, the hotel was right across the street so we ventured back and peeled off the layering of clothes that went on only 30 minutes ago. We had planned that Thursday would be our “nothing planned” day which now would be today so we figured out where we wanted to go a walk and The Big Fish (Salmon of knowledge)

was the target. After the fish, we stopped at Belfast City Hall

for a tour. The building is beautiful and I loved seeing the inner workings of their system, and I even got to sit in the Lord Mayors chair.

After City Hall, we stopped for a drink at The Crown Whiskey Saloon,

then went back to the hotel for a bit of a rest. We had dinner reservations at Mourne Seafood Bar at 5 o’clock so around 3, we left the hotel to go see some sights in the area of our restaurant. One place we stopped at was St Anne’s Cathedral

and then went back out to the pier, where The Big Fish is, to hang out there for a bit until our dinner reservation.

After dinner, we were walking back to the hotel, which is right beside the Belfast Grand Opera House.

The had a huge poster for the play Saturday Night Fever, the John Travolta movie from the seventies. It was playing tonight at 7:30, so we decided to have a date night! It was one of the best decisions we have made on this trip as we spent the next 3 hours grooving with the actors and Bee Gees!

The first 2 days in Belfast were fun and exciting even though we messed up in our tour days. Wednesday we still managed 13,000 steps which was almost 10 km.

Rain Brings Shopping…

…We arrived in Galway Sunday afternoon and checked into the Forster Court hotel. This was a much better pick than the one we had a day ago, being both modern and right downtown. The main drag was a cute little street that had a number of shops and a group of restaurants at one end.

After we checked in, we went to look for the train station so we knew where we were going come Tuesday morning, when we would be traveling to Belfast. As it turned out, it was one block from the hotel which will make it very convenient! Next we went for a stroll up the street with all of the shops, stopping in the Skechers store to try and feed my other addiction – shoes! (I already bought one pair of Skechers on this trip). Without buying a pair of shoes, we next went down to the end of the street to find a place to eat. We settled on a small little restaurant – Quay Street Kitchen that had very good food. After dinner we sauntered back to our hotel pub for my other addiction – a G&T – but I added an ice cream sundae to hide the booze!

Monday morning we ate breakfast and then took the rental car back to the drop off, as we didn’t need it anymore. The walk back to the hotel was a cool 20 minutes but was no problem now that I’m a regular stepper! Once back at the hotel, it started to rain (and the forecast said it would be an all day rain) so instead of eexploring we decided to go shopping. Just off the main drag there was a mall that had a department store called Dunnes. I would consider them the JC Penny of Galway. They had so many nice clothes for so cheap that we knew we would be there awhile. This summer I redid my wardrobe of t-shirts and shorts at JC Penny without paying more than $9 for a shirt and $14 for a pair of shorts. At Dunnes, I updated my fall/spring outerwear (2 hoodies, vest, jacket) for less than $100 CAD. Michele did very well also and we ended up with 2 large paper bags of clothes. Now remember, paper bags and it’s raining, pretty steady now. By the time we got back to the hotel (5 minute walk) we had 2 armfuls of clothes and no bags!!

We (me) decided to go to the hotel bar for a drink to wait out the rain. Because my wife was concerned about my gin intake, I switched it up with a Guinness,

which ended up tasting like another, so we also ordered fries to make it look better. After the beer and a short nap, the rain had lightened enough for us to go shoe shopping. We both made a gallant effort at trying to find shoes, Michele was the only one to buy a pair. Once we were done shopping, we headed to a restaurant recommended to us for their seafood – The Seafood Bar on Kirwin – and it turned out to be a great recommendation! Michele had salmon and even I had fish, black sole on bone. Excellent!!

After dinner, we had dessert and a nightcap at the bar and packed up for our trip to Belfast, by train, in the morning. Saturday and Sunday were low days for steps, 7300 & 8100 respectively, but. The shopping day brought almost 15,000 steps so it ended up being a nice average. For the 10 days so far, we have walked almost 90 km.

Fire Alarms, Mad Michele, and Galway…

…What has happened since our last day in Killarney. Not a whole lot but as the title states, something happened.

We left Killarney on Saturday morning after spending 3 great days there and headed to Kilkee, which is along the scenic route to Galway. We didn’t know much about Kilkee other than people telking us the area was beautiful and it was close to the Cliffs of Moher. We booked a room at the Kilkee Bay Hotel and arrived just after noon. It had rained all the way there, and I mean it rained 20 out of every 20 minutes, and it didn’t look like it was going to let up so we weren’t going to do any exploring. From the outside, the hotel looked modern but once you got into the room, the worn stained carpet and old spring beds told another story, and not one of those happy ones! We told ourselves, it was only for one night! After we checked in, we walked down the main drag and stopped in at a spa to book a massage for me and a seaweed bath for Michele. As we had a couple of hours, we went for lunch (which was good) and returned to our spa date. My massage was good but the amount of oil she left on my body could have created a small climate emergency in itself! Michele’s seaweed bath felt just like you would imagine floating in a tub of seaweed would feel! We thought, oh well, it’s only one night!

Then we went back to the hotel, rested for a bit and went to the hotel bar for supper. After sitting there watching the wait staff (about 4 of them) avoid eye contact for 10 minutes, I got up and got my own menu. The a waitress appeared 2 seconds later to ask if we were ready to order!! I wanted to be an authentic Irishman and tell her to Feck Off, but I just let it go and ordered. The roast beef dinner was tougher than Chuck Norris but we thought, it was only one night!

We went to bed with the thought that we’ll wake up and do a beautiful drive on the Loop Head trail, head to the Cliffs of Moher, the be in Galway for dinner. Simple thinking as it was only one night. The first fire alarm went off around 2 am. When I say the first one, well there was no less than 5 feking alarms between 2 and 4:30 am, each of them ringing out just as one fell asleep from the previous one. The one thing I have learned in 13 years with Michele is, you don’t disturb her sleep. Not even once let alone 5 times. After the second alarm, I just pretended I was asleep because to acknowledge her would have been like poking a wounded bear. You just don’t!!!

Around 8 am, we awoke and similar to the wait staff the night before, I didnt make eye contact. I supported my wife in every rant she had because, well, I’m not a feking ijiot!! We took our bags to the car and then returned to the front desk. My wife explained our unhappiness at the events of the previous night and she was told “yeah sorry, someone was smoking in their room and kept setting the alarm off”. My wife explained how she didnt think we shouold have to pay the full nights rate ( I pretended I was reading the paper) and got back the reply that the manager would contact us regarding any refund for the night. Mad Michele is not rude, but she illustrates her point beautifully! I just do as I’m told!!! (As a side note – 2 days later we have not heard from the manager. That is Kilkee Bay Hotel!!)

We left Kilkee and travelled along the Loop Head Trail that takes you out to the a lighthouse on the edge of a peninsula and back. The views of the cliffs and the fresh morning wind were both breathtaking!

After the trail, we headed for the Cliffs of Moher, which everyone told us was a must see. We bought tickets on a ferry that took you out to see the cliffs from the water. It was very windy and the water was rough, so I don’t know if that played a part, but it wasn’t as spectacular as we had hoped!

Maybe we were just tired, but we continued on the scenic route to Galay and arrived at around 3 pm. Tomorrow will hopefully be a better day as its only 2 nights!!

Dangling at Dingle…

…Friday morning started with a half steady rain in Killarney. The thing we’ve found out about the weather here is that it can rain 15 out of 20 minutes but seldom is it more than 2 minutes at a time and seldom very hard. Which means you need to wear your rain jacket all the time but only actually need it part of the time. Our mission for Friday was to drive to the Dingle Peninsula which coincidentally is right near the town of Dingle. A lot of Star Wars fans will know the area cause something was filmed there, I just recently heard of it due to my, seemingly Gin addiction. The Dingle Gin and Whiskey distillery is located, yes, in Dingle. The drive to the peninsula was a little over an hour and our favorite hotel girl, Kelly, suggested a route that would take us over one of the scenic passes – Connors Pass, which is the highest pass in Ireland. The pass, compared to BC passes at home wasn’t too tricky but the views were amazing!

Once we got on the Slea Head Drive (this is the clockwise route around the peninsula), there were numerous pull outs to stop and take in the views, all of them absolutely stunning.

At the southern most tip of the peninsula, there was a stopping point for the Star Wars location and a beach. Lots of people were going to the Star Wars thing but seeing as I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, we went down to the beach – Coumeenole Beach to be exact!

The rest of the drive was just looping back to Dingle, where we had lunch at The Boatyard, that included a Dingle G&T, and then went and bought 2 bottles of Gin to bring back home.

The drive back to Killarney was uneventful and once back at the hotel, we had a quick nap and then headed back onto the main drag to finish some shopping, have a drink, and grab some dinner. For the drink, we stopped at another small traditional Irish pub – Courteney’s – that was recommended to us and sat up at the bar, which I have been waiting to do. Usually the regulars have all of the seats at the bar occupied but not this time. For dinner, we went to The Flesk, where I had an incredible chicken cordon blue and Michele finally had an excellent seafood chowder. After a sticky toffee pudding for dessert, we headded back to the hotel to pack up as Saturday we were moving onto Kilkee to see the Cliffs of Moher on Sunday!

I ended the day with 9,947 steps so I pranced around the hotel room for 53 steps to hit 10,000, which equated to 7.25 km. At this rate, it is possible that we will hit 100 km walking over our 2 weeks.

Kissing Stones and Owls…

…I didnt finish a blog for yesterday, so this will encompass 2 days activities and excitement. Yesterday was all about the Blarney Castle and kissing the world famous Blarney Stone. We left Cork early so we could arrive at Blarney Castle before all of the tourist buses got there. And as it turned out, we made the right decision as by the time we were done (approx 2 hours total) there was an hour and a half wait to get up to the stone.

For those that don’t know how it works, the Blarney Stone is at the very top of Blarney Castle. You make your way to the top of the castle by way of a narrow winding stone staircase of about 120 steps. Once on top and at the stone, you lay down on your back, lean your head way back and slide out and kiss the famous stone. Of course, there are bars to hang onto and a gentleman making sure you don’t fall out of the hole!!

Then, you wind your way down the staircase and back at the bottom are many paths to walk and enjoy the beautiful grounds. For those that told us that Ireland was lush and green and gorgeous, they nailed it!!

After we were done at Blarney Castle, we hoped into our backwards car and traveled an hour and a half to the town of Killarney. It is a small town that is the center to a lot of activities – the Ring of Kerry, Ross Castle, Torc Falls, and the whole of the Killarney National Park. We are staying at the McSweeney Arms Hotel for tree nights on the tird floor. (I have fallen in love with the Irish accent!!).

McSweeney Arms Hotel in blue and red

The first thing that we did was find a place to eat, which ended up being Quinlans Seafood Bar, which had pretty good fish and chips. We had quizzed Kelly, our front desk girl, about restaurants and pubs, so we walked down the one main drag in town that everything is on to find our next place to eat and/or drink. Along the way we found an Arans Sweater Market, which is famous for wool sweaters, scarves, etc. (The only reason I know it’s famous is because Marilyn Dennis said so, or someone did. I don’t know the first thing about famous wool!). We stopped in a couple more shops along the way and then went back to our hotel for a little nap. As we had ate lunch so late, after our nap, we decided to check out Teddy O’Connors pub

on the recommendation of Kelly. It was another traditional Irish pub, just like Sin E in Cork, with a bartender named John. (Every guy here is either John or Michael). He made Michele an Irish Coffee and introduced me to Dingle Gin in my G&T.

Dingle is a place we are going to visit on Thursday and is known for its gin. After we had our drinks we stopped at another shop and then one more pub to have a bite to eat and a nightcap.

The night doesn’t end as a happy story though. It was at the last pub that Michele realized her credit card was missing. So instead of another G&T, we retraced our steps of the evening with no luck so we headed back up to our room to phone Mastercard. Once that was done we hit the pub in our hotel for some food and a drink and called it a night.

Wednesday we had a couple of excursions planned so we slept well, or at least I did. Our room is right on the corner of the hotel overlooking the main drag.

We had left the windows open all night and apparently the bar noise and traffic was loud and kept Michele up. Not good for her but I didn’t hear anything. Our first excursion wasn’t untill 11 am so we had breakfast at our hotel and then walked the block over to our meeting spot for our horse carriage jaunt to Ross Castle.

Our driver – Michael – was a very good host and took us on a trip through Killarney National Park to the Castle. He had a great banter and included a lot of interesting history along the way. We stopped for about 15 minutes at the castle

and then Judy, our horse, meandered us back to our hotel.

After a short rest at our hotel, we hopped in our still backward car and made our way to the event I was most looking forward to in Ireland – the Falconry Walk. We met John (see what I mean), he gave each of us what looked like a welding glove and he pulled Charlie, a Harris Hawk, out of his cage.

Right away he sent the hawk soaring and he told Michele to hold up her hand. She did and he put something on her thumb and there was Charlie, landing right on her hand and eating the treat John left for him. We walked for about half an hour through the woods with John alternating putting food on our hands and Charlie being right on the spot landing and eating. Throughout the walk, John gave us a great history and education on Falconry. At one point, Charlie took off after something, which ended up being a squirrel that he did not catch but it was neat to see him hunting anyway. We stopped at one spot and John got us to put our camera on slow-mo and then got Charlie to fly right at us. It is an awesome video!

When we got back to the van, Charlie was put away and Ryley and Ziggy came out, two different breed of owls. Michele had Ryley who was very affectionate and John captured the best moment of our trip!!

This is by far the coolest thing I have done and is a close second to the Changing of the Guards as best event on our trip so far.

Once we got back from spending time with John and friends, we headed to another pub for a drink (Ireland has made Michele a lush) and some food then went for a walk down the main drag again. This is where the sad end of our good day yesterday gets better. A guy comes running across the street aand says “you were at the International last night” which kind of freaked me out at first, then He continued “I was the bartender and you had told me you just lost your credit card. We found it! It’s at reception” We thanked him and went and picked up Michele’s card and were amazed that the bartender remembered us as we were walking down the street!

After a short nap, we headed back down to my favorite pub, O’Connors, and had a drink.

We got back to our room about 8 pm, nothing lost, nobody drunk, so the day was a success. As the last 2 days were more driving and riding than walking, the total number of steps for the 2 days was 24,000 or 17 km. Still not bad. Total km walked in 6 days is 60. Tomorrow we are going to the Dingle Peninsula.

Irish Whiskey, Stew, and Music…

…Our last day in London/first day in Ireland started early with a nice walk in the rain to a restaurant for breakfast. Now the one thing I have learned being in cheery old England, is everyone uses an umbrella and me being taller, my eyes line up perfectly with the sharp parts of said umbrellas, so I learned to do a lot of neck gymnastics!! After breakfast we caught an Uber to take us to the airport which was an hour and a half away. We had used Uber for the first time the other night and it was great. This ride not so great! The driver was very good, car nice, drive pleasant, but the bill at the end was about 60 pounds higher than the estimate, even after the surge pricing. Uber London and I will have a discussion when I get home. Maybe it’s just that I don’t understand how Uber works but I could have had a private chauffeur service in a Mercedes S class for 40 pounds less than this Uber VW Passat. Jeffy’s upset!!!

The flight over to Cork, Ireland was uneventful as well as the picking up of our rental car, a nice Mitsubishi SUV. Driving for the first time backwards is definitely a challenge. On top of it, we have a standard, which I wanted, and the shifting H pattern is backwards in my eyes. I did however get us to the hotel with only one wrong turn and I stayed on the right (wrong??) side of the road.

For dinner we asked John, our doorman (yes, that is how we travel now – doormen!) for a recommendation for a good Irish Pub. He told us about The Old Town Whiskey Bar, which he said had the best Irish Stew anywhere. It was also the largest Whiskey bar in Ireland with about 8 pages of whiskeys, Irish and other, listed on their menu. John was spot on with his take on the Irish Stew and I had one of the bartenders help me pick out a whiskey from their list.

I don’t like whiskey but when in the largest whiskey bar in Ireland, well… I will have to defer to the bartender that it was a good whiskey. I will have to update John though and have him add Best Sticky Pudding to his recommendation!!

We were stuffed when we left the pub but realized that one of Trip Advisors best traditional pubs was on the walk back to our hotel, so we are only in Cork one night we had to go. It is called Sin e (pronounced shinay) and it is a very small pub that is authentic Ireland. I ordered my very first pint of Guiness ever,

and shortly after we sat down, the live traditional or trad music started.

It was a great authentic Irish pub that we are so glad we stopped at, but adding a Guiness onto the stew, pudding, and whiskey doesn’t help me fit into my jeans, even the new stretchy ones!!!

As today was a travel day, I only got about 10,000 steps in. Michele got 15,000 because she went shopping at the airport for awhile. Tomorrow we go kiss the Blarney Stone and then head to Killarney for 3 nights!

Hoppin’ and Boppin’…

…Today was our day take the Hop On Hop Off bus to see a bit more of London than we could walking. The best place to sit is in the open air top of the double decker bus, but the weather needs to cooperate, which it thankfully did. The last time we tried one of these buses was New York and Michele and I, along with my brother and sister-in-law were the only ones on it because it was so cold and raining, so today was much better.

We hopped on the bus around 10 o’clock and had a good commentator who gave us some great history on many of the buildings we passed. It’s amazing the work and size they put into buildings so many hundreds of years ago. And statues of everyone and their horse, literally! One of the highlights was seeing St Paul’s Cathedral, which has one of the largest and highest domes, which is accessible by climbing around 600 stairs. I’m sure the views are outstanding but it was just a little outside my stair limit! Further along the route we crossed the iconic Tower Bridge, which is just as cool in real life as it is in pictures.

Beside the bridge was the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept. It is a magnificent fort looking property, where the Beefeaters offer tours, which we did not do but will if we ever come back. Halfway through the tour we hopped off (see how that works) the bus and went on a river cruise on the Thames River, where luckily enough a large sailboat was on and we got to see the Tower Bridge being raised.

After that we hopped back on the bus and travelled the rest of the route to Kensington Gardens where we ended our bus tour.

Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are a combined very large park that is beautiful and has a small lake in it and the one main thing we wanted to see – the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. I have to say it was very underwhelming. I’m not sure if its the time of year or what, but it didnt even look like it was operating properly which was disappointing. But the walk through the park was beautiful nonetheless.

Now for my cliffhanger about Picadilly Circus. What we didnt realize the first time we went there was that it was only the beginning and if we would have went a couple mor blocks we would have seen Leicester Square and all of the theatres and shops. We discovered this walking back from supper last night and went there tonight just to see it again. Now, I didn’t get the same vibe and energy that I got from Times Square but I’m glad that we did get to see the whole thing and visit the M&M store.

Today we only accomplished a little over 16,000 steps and have walked a total of approximately 35 km in the 2 1/2 days we were here. Tomorrow we fly to Cork, Ireland to start that part of our journey. There may not be as many steps but it will be my first experience driving on the wrong side of the road!