Ireland/Britain 1998 day 21: Stirling/Inverness


I left Glasgow on the Great Northen Railways “In the Path of the Flying Scotsman” on 10 February 1998. The plan was to travel to Inverness stopping at Stirling en route. I’d seen Braveheart and read about William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling so I figured it was worth a day trip. From the…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 20: Glasgow


In the morning, I stumbled down for breakfast in SYHA hostel. It was a crummy breakfast, but included in the price, and I was getting my money’s worth on 9 February 1998. In the breakfast room, the big, hairy Hells Angels type of guy who did most of the smoking and shouting the previous night…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 18: Derry/Belfast


I made my tearful farewell to Derry and Steve’s Backpackers Hostel on the morning of 7 February 1998. Steve and Brett walked me to the door, posed for pictures, and very warmly bid me goodbye. This is definitely not your typical hostel. I took a long bus ride to Belfast. It was sunny in the…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 17: Derry/Ulster American Folk Park


I took a day trip from Derry on 6 February 1998 to the Ulster American Folk Park.  This is an open-air living history museum that depicts the lives of people in Northern Ireland and how they brought their culture and tradition to the United States when they emigrated.  I’d actually visited and enjoyed a similar…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 16: Derry


On 5 February 1998, I fell in love with the city so nice they named it twice Derry / Londonderry. I visited the old walled city starting at the excellent Tower Museum, which summed up the city’s history and does not flinch at intelligently interpreting the sectarian divide. Then I walked along the walls of…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 16: Antrim Coast & Derry


As grateful as I was to John and Joanna for inviting me to join them on their tour, the events of 4 February 1998 confirmed the benefits of car-free, independent travel. For one thing, they got very annoying. For another, they kept getting lost and wouldn’t listen to my suggestions for navigating. Other than that…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 15: Dublin & heading to The North


Tuesday morning, 3 February 1998, I wandered around Dublin visiting the famous landmarks of the city.  Statues of heroes Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stuart Parnell, the Garden of Remembrance, and the tribute to the working gal Molly Malone, among others.  I’d purchased a roll of black & white film in Galway and used half of…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 14: Return to Dublin


At this point in my travels I succumbed to the tyranny of my itinerary. In planning this trip I determined that I’d need five days in Dublin (including side trips out of the city), but split it up so that Dublin would be at the beginning and end of a loop around the southern portion…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 12: Galway


I slept in really late this morning, no big surprise due to all the door-slamming and copulating going on around me throughout the night (if only the Quay Street Hostel made their guests read this article). As a result I missed the morning ferry to the Aran Islands and was pretty much stuck in Galway…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 11: Galway


30 January 1998 involved another set of long bus trips from Dingle to Tralee to Limerick and finally to Galway. This was better than the alternative as I was actually due in Williamsburg City General Traffic Court to face a charge of Failure to Yield Right of Way – Accident (to date my only auto…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 10: Dingle Peninsula


I’m much more active the next day – 29 January 1998 – beginning with a visit to Foxy John’s, a hardware store/bike shop/pub where I hire a bike for the day. Following a loop route in my Rick Steve’s guidebook, I head out to Slea Head, the westernmost point in Europe. Along the route there’s…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 9: Dingle


Early in the morning of 28 January 1998, I board a bus in Killarney to Tralee and from there another bus to Dingle the main town on the Dingle Peninsula. The entire journey takes about 6 hours since Dingle is a bit off the tourist path, especially compared to Killarney. This is one of the…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 8: Killarney


I almost didn’t visit Killarney at all. Suffice to say, Killarney is a notorious tourist trap, the base camp for the Ring of Kerry, a loop road traversed by coach buses and rental cars full of foreigners. Experiencing the hospitality of Pa an his family at the Súgán I didn’t regret making a short stop…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 7: Cork/Killarney


I awake the next morning 26 January 1998 at 10 am, feeling rested and perfectly fine. I don’t question why, I just accept it. On a brighter and warmer day than the one proceeding, I walk to western Cork City to visit Cork City Gaol. Like Kilmainham, this jail museum purports to be a part…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 6: Cork/Cobh


I reverted to form on 25 January 1998 and slept in until about 10 am. From hostel high on a hill I spotted the famous Shandon Church Tower. The pink tower stood out well against the battleship gray sky so I used it to navigate my way through the winding streets and alleys on a…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 5: Cashel


I traveled from Kilkenny to Clonmel to Cahir to Cahel on 24 January 1998. The highlight of the 2.5-hour bus ride was listening to Irish radio which began with cheesy Irish country songs about leprechauns invading from space. Thankfully, news reports frequently interrupted the music and I got to catch up the news from home…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 4: Kilkenny


Whether I travel east or west, the effect of jet lag on me is to wake up early rested and refreshed (quite contrary to my day to day behavior). This was true on the morning of 23 January 1998 when I arose ridiculously early to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on a walk around…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 3: Dublin/Kilkenny


22 January 1998, three days into my vacation I was still feeling inexplicably blue and somewhat guilty over the extravagance. According to by journal, “to cheer myself up today I: 1. visited a jail, 2. imbibed a pint of a known depressant, and 3. saw art works on subjects such as violence against woman &…

Ireland/Britain 1998 day 2: Dublin/Glendalough


On 21 January 1998, I took St. Kevin’s Bus on a round trip to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. For a nervous traveler out on his own the day proved inspirational, both in the beauty of the monastic ruins and their natural setting, but also because I successfully managed to get myself…