Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ireland - Ring of Kerry (June 2007)

Our final portion of our vacation was to drive around the Ring of Kerry. We got up early and headed out. Our first stop was the 6km sandy beach at Rossbeigh. No sand as the tied was out and no view as the fog was in. We continued onto Cahersiveen but still not the best views because of the fog. Finally after we reached Portmagee Harbour the fog lifted and views were fantastic.

Reek (1041m highest in Ireland). We stopped by the lake and relaxed and drove back into We drove to a spot to take a short hike up to a great view point only to find out that you had to pay to be able walk across a private property. We elected to not pay and drove about 2km more and found a view point at which time we hiked up the ridge. The photo to the left is from that view. As we continued around the 135 mile loop, we continued to have jaw-dropping views. We finished up our drive coming over Moll's Gap where the views opened up to Macgillycuddy Reek and Killarney.

While we were relaxing, Kelly informed us that Mark had proposed to her two nights early. They are planning to get married in Denver in February. Kelly met Mark in Breckenridge 4 years ago and last fall Kelly move to the UK to due her graduate degree in London and live with Mark. Great News....

Helen and I decided to end our vacation with a drive up to the view point over Killarney and watch the sunset. As we were walking to sit down, we watched a helicopter land nearby. We spoke with a local person who said that the helicopter flies the house owner back and forth to his business. He live on the ridge overlooking Killarney. We drank a little wine, watched the horses, enjoyed the clouds and views, the sunsets and reflected on our Ireland vacation.

To view more photos taken on the Ring of Kerry, click here.

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Ireland - 5 Jun 2007 - Dingle Loop

On June 5th, was our longest travel day during the trip. We drove from Galway to Killarney. There were two options to get there. One was to drive through Limerick and around the Shannon River or the other options was to drive to Killmer and take the car ferry across the ShannonRiver inlet to Tarbert. They advertise that taking the car ferry saves you 183KM of driving but actually that would be if you were driving between Killmer and Talbert by going around the river. Any way we decided to take the ferry route. After the short crossing, we drove to Tralee to start our sight seeing on the Dingle Peninsula. Again there were two options and we elected to cross the peninsula through Conor Pass. We stopped at the summit (464m) to enjoy the fabulous view and eat lunch. He decided to walk up to the top of the ridge above the car park. From here we could view both sides of the peninsula. After lunch we drove down to Dingle and then headed west along the coast line towards the western point of Dingle Loop. Views were spectacular and the road hugged the coast line. Helen had read where rock wall were used during the iron age to divide land up for the landowners sons for inheritance. This area was lined with rock walls dividing the land into parcels. When you read about southwestern Ireland, they always mention the "Ring of Kerry" loop but not as much information or hype about the Dingle Loop. The Dingle Loop was wonderful. We had left Galway at 8AM and finally arrived in Killarney at 6PM. Just before arriving in Killarney we stopped a view point above the town that had great views of the lakes and Magillicuddy Reeks around Killarney. Gary, Mel, Mark, and Kelly also took the same loop but did not arrive until 8PM. We then all went into Killarney and had great meal.

To view additional photos of this portion of our Ireland vacation, click here.
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Breaking News

London police defuse bomb in the heart of Central London Westend. This is the breaking news this morning and much too close to us. Around 2AM, witness said the large silver saloon car was being driven "erratically" before the minor crash. Then the driver ran off. It appears that the car was going to be parked and detonated later.

I walked right through this area often and in fact I walked by there on Wednesday afternoon.

On July 7, 2005, a bomb went off in the underground and on a bus and killed 52 people. I am glad we will be in Norway this 7th of July.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wimbledon - Henman out....

Tim Henman, Britain's final hope for Wimbledon, lost a tough fought 5 set match today with Feliciano Lopez from Spain (7/6,7/6,3/6,2/6,6/1). With Andy Murry, Britain's no. 1 player out with a wrist injury, Tim Henman was attempting a come back. He has played ever day this week. He won his first round match against another Spaniard, Carlos Moya. This was an epic match that went 5 sets and over two days.

Yesterday, Tim started his 2ND round match but it was called due to rain and was resumed today.

This could be the last time to see Tim Henman at Wimbledon. I had an opportunity to see him play two weeks ago at the pre-Wimbledon match when he played doubles.


Breaking News today. The Spice Girls are back. They announced today that they will get back together for another tour ( and make mega-£'s) this year.

This is bigger news her that even Paris Hilton, although she still gets a lot of UK press. Th
is news even ranks high against Brown's Prime Minister appointment in some papers.

Victoria Beckham (Posh) is the most famous since she married David Beckham of UK Football fame. Not sure why she needs to make more money since her and her husband have moved to the USA where he sign a 5 year deal to play Soccer in LA with the LA Galaxy team for $10Millon/year but with endorsements they figure he will make over $250M. The rich get richer......

Blair Stands Down

After 10 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair stands down (resigns). Yesterday, I watched the his final (319th) question session with the MPs in the House of Commons. It was interesting because it was mixed with cheers, boos, congratulations, and serious questions by the MPs (Members of Parliament). As soon as his session was over at 12:30PM, he headed to 10 Downing Street where a moving van was parked and then was escorted over to Buckingham Palace, in the armoured Jaguar, for a private meeting with the Queen where he resigned and told the Queen that he would like Gordon Brown (Chancellor of Exchequer, aka Head of Treasury) to be the next Prime Minister. When he left he referred to as Mr. Blair and left in a private car. By 1:45PM, he was private citizen and will be a Mideast peace envoy.

At 2:00PM, the Queen calls Gordon Brown and invites him to Buckingham Palace for a private meeting. He is escorted by the police in private car to the palace. He is greeted as Mr. Brown and enters the palace. He meets with the Queen where she asks him to form a government for her. He accepts, is referred to as Prime Minister, and is escorted back to 10 Downing St. in the amoured Jaguar.

He wakes this morning as Prime Minister and the news that 3 British soldiers had been killed by a road side bomb in Basara Iraq.

Although, Brown had been Chancellor of Exchequer under Blair and lived in 11 Downing street, their relationship was strained at times. As Blair, he is a member of the Labour party but he will probably try to distanced himself from Bush and Iraq.

Very interesting this process unfold over the past 3-4 months and watch it on TV yesterday. Brown will continue as Prime Minister for the remainder 3 years of Blair's term and then will have to run for his next 5 year term. PM's can call for an election at any point during their term (when they know they can win). Stories are floating that he may do this in 2008.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer has arrived.... It's Raining

Our weather has actually been really good since we have been in London. We had an exceptional warm spring with little rain. Now that summer has arrived (21 June)and Wimbledon Tennis has started, it has rained almost everyday. This time of the year is called the Monsoon Season and it has been that. The area in Yorkshire has had the most rain and rivers and dams are spilling over and flooding villages.

I watched Wimbledon yesterday on the Telly and they had two rain delays. Although, i did get to watch Federer, Rodrick, and Tim Henman play. Since Andy Murry (UK's current top player) had to withdraw at the last moment because of an injury to his wrist 6 weeks ago, Henman is the new UK favorite.

He played an exciting 5 set match yesterday that was called because of light around 9:30PM with the score even at 2 sets and 5 games each in the 5th set. Play resumes today if it does not rain.

West End Live

Last Sunday, we walked over to Leicester Square where they were having a two day festival of "West End Live". Leicester Square is the heart of London's Theatre District. During the two days, many of the current production companies had their cast members perform on the outdoor stage in Leicester Square.

We watched Stomp, Menopause the musical, Mamma Mia!, Lord of the Rings, Chicago, and the Sound of Music.

Although it was spitting rain most of the time, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cricket (aka boring)

Yesterday, I decided to go to watch a local cricket match in Chelsea. The write up said it was free to the public and would be played between 11:30AM - 6PM. I arrived at 1:30PM and could not find anyone at the pitch. They had all left to go to the pub for lunch. I walked around Chelsea until about 2:30PM and then returned. There were a few people waiting for the players to return from the pub. They started showing up around 3PM. I watched for about .5 hour but could not find it enough to keep me there much longer. I did learn a few things about cricket though. The umpires were old and one carried a fold up seat with him. When a batter hits the ball and runs to the other wicket (base) and not able to get back to the starting position, another batter gets to bat but the entire team must re-arrange their players from one side of the pitch to the other. In addition, the older umpair would pick up his chair and move to the other side. One time a ball was hit in my direction and the fielder ran to get it but was unable to pick it up before it crossed the outer line. This is called a "over". The pitch is really large and it does not appear that the fielders can defend the area very well.

I would have left a little sooner but I fell asleep. Don't think cricket is my sport to watch but it may be fun to play.

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Ireland Vacation Connemara Loop

From Galway we headed north west on the Connemara Loop which took us through some beautiful country lined with rhododendron bushes. At Maam Cross we drove around the lake and continue up the coast to Westport. One one stop, we spotted some wild donkeys and Mel got out and walked across the rocks until she was within a couple feet of a small one. We then continued onto Kylemore Abbey which was built as a residents by Mitchell Henry in 1862 and since 1920 is occupied by the Irish Benedictine Nuns. After visiting both the Abbey and the Garden, we drove to a little village called Letterfrack. Helen had read that they were having local music starting at 5:30PM. Unfortunately, the entire weekend was filled with local music as part of a large music festival but today there was none. We decided to have a beer and some chips from the "Chipper" across the street and then drove to Clefden for dinner. We sat outside and had some great pizza. We then drove back to Galway for the night. It was still light out around 10:30PM.

Click on Photo to seem more of the Connemara Loop photos.
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