Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Irish Coast, and Leadville, Colorado

We took the train to Bray, just a few dozen miles south of Dublin, and spent a bit of time on the Irish Sea. Picturesque, and definitely off season. There were a few cafes open, but not much else to see. Still, it was pleasant.

Later, we did the literary pub crawl, and traipsed through the Duke, the O'Neil, The Stand, and Davy Byrnes', all the while being regaled with tales of the great Irish Writers- Joyce, Wilde, Behan, etc. Very fun, and definitely worth it. Drank a lot of pints as well. Highlights include the story of Oscar Wilde lecturing to Silver Miners in Leadville Colorado, who was so well received by the miners they conspired to get him drunk and leave him at the bottom of the mine. After they had finished three bottles of whiskey, Wilde proclaimed that if you really wanted to get an Irishman drunk, you needed to bring 5 courses, not just three. The narrator was completely thrown by the fact that Judge Cambell, one of our traveling companions, was from Leadville.

Anyone here from Leadville, Colorado?


Oh. Really?


I see....

We get the sense he was just a bit more polite describing the miners than normal. Wilde's description of the miners was actually very complimentary.

A last bit of wisdom: How do you cross Dublin and not pass a single pub? Go into every one you encounter.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Long View on the Irish Question

Monday was all about politics, history, and the Irish legal System. We began the day with a walking tour of the sites associated with the 1916 Easter Rising. For those of you who have seen the movie about Michael Collins' life, this is the rebellion that begins the movie. Shane, our guide, was a Phd in Irish History, and gave us a great overview of the history and politics that led to the rising. We then walked through the several days of the rising, across the urban battlegrounds of Dublin's streets. Bullet holes and all.

What was most interesting to me is the Rising failed, and it was generally unpopular at the time. Until the ringleaders were executed. Then the Irish got motivated to start pushing harder for the independence that the UK had voted on, granted, but then denies due to WWI. Americans are separated from our own revolution by more than 200 years. Seeing 97 year old bullet holes in statues that people sit at the base of and eat their lunch seems a bit more in your face. It makes me want to return to Morristown, and visit Concorde and Lexington and Valley Forge.

We spent the evening touring the Kings Inn in Dublin, learning about 400+ years of educating Irish lawyers, and then having dinner with the students and the "Benchers" or senior judges and attorneys. This is a tradition fraught exercise in which the students learn the law at the elbows of their betters. At least it used to be. Now it seems more a formality because the Benchers don't actually interact with the students at dinner. Apparently most of the apprenticeship activity takes place at the courts, where any Bencher is supposed to be able to help any student whenever a need arises. Very different from the classroom oriented education of lawyers in the US.

On the way home in the cab, the cabbie asked us what we had done and seen, and we mentioned the walking tour. He informed us that he was at heart an Irish Republican, and wanted to see re-unification, but he was grateful that the killing had stopped. He then gave us a bit of wisdom on the Irish question:

"We are all good Catholics in the south. And being the good Catholics we are, we'll out breed the loyalists." It sounds like the south takes the long view.

Went to the Auld Dubliner pub last night, and heard a fun mix of traditional and modern Irish music, and quite a few American and Canadian Artists also.

Even Jene thinks the Guinness tastes better.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Even I will admit that it's probably the accent, but one thing I noticed immediately is that an Irishman can swear with an elegance that is rarely achieved by an American. There is something viscerally genteel about a quiet "Jayzez Christ Ahhlmightee" uttered by a cab driver who has very quickly become exasperated with his American charges.

It began innocently enough, simply an attempt to make it easier for our traveling companions to get into the back of the van, but apparently folding down the middle seat was not the thing to do. What folds down in Dublin, stays down in Dublin. Never mind that the seat was obviously meant to fold down. Apparently being meant to return to its upright and locked position was not a slam dunk.

When it was clear that no handle, strap, button or random bit of metal would be pushed, pulled, prodded or turned to return this seat to its proper position, despite 10 minutes of trying to get it to cooperate accompanied by additional JCA's at a rate of about one every 30 seconds, we were told simply "Well, pop in then. I'll have to run home and get it fixed after. Where are ye going?" We climbed on top of the folded down seat and set off for our hotel. Commence uncomfortable silence.

We all finally got over this, and started chatting about the weather and what we should see on our trip. This conversation focused heavily on Guinness' and Jameson's, and for some reason, tombs at St. Michah's. Apparently you can touch dead vikings. JCA.

Spent the rest of the day getting oriented, taking a brief nap, and had a very fun dinner with our traveling companions from the Colorado Inns of Court. There will be law and history on tap for today, with dinner tonight at the King's Inn in Dublin.

The Whiskey for the day was Middleton's very rare. It had a green apple nose and a definite apple taste, with caramel back notes. You could taste the rare.

And yes Kevin, the Guinness does taste better here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

its been a long time coming...and going

Its been a long time since our last post. Still in love. Still yuppie scum. In fact, probably more so given that Scott is a lawyer now. Which leads us to the latest wander. Ireland, to visit the King's Inn in Dublin.

You see, in England and Ireland they train their lawyers in institutions called Inns of Court. The US also has Inns of Court, but they are more mentorship and social organizations. Scott is a member of the Minoru Yasui Inn of Court, and he helped to organize a trip to visit the Inn in Dublin. All very proper and social, and a fabulous excuse to visit IRELAND!

I can't tell you how long we both have been looking forward to this. Originally it was supposed to be the passing the bar trip, but life got in the way. Thus it has been a long time coming that we are finally going.

Learn some Irish history.
Learn about the Irish legal system.
Make a new friend or two.
Challenge the conventional wisdom that food in Ireland sucks.
See some very ancient sites.
Try a new Irish whiskey at every pub.
Guinness x 2
Have a great time together, of course.
Try to sleep on the plane (its always good to set an unattainable goal or two...)

Oh, and Dulles is not Dallas.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fort Lauderdale

We are back in the states, and there is an interesting little bit of karma to relate. Beause I had reported my passport stolen, Princess received an immigration alert on me, and we had to be escorted off the boat by a Princess rep and be personally handed over to an immigration officer. This was no big deal, as they just wanted to verify what had happened and be sure that it was me bearing the replacement passport, but it meant we got to go to the head of an hour long customs line. The old folks were foaming at the mouth as we sailed past them. Jene heard several cries of "Why are they special?" and "They aren't using a wheelchair!" Don't mess with retirees in a line. There was a near riot getting back on the tenders in Cannes when a port officer tried to speed things up by creating a second line. Anyway, we had armed escort at this point, and were able to sail through without the character building benefits of the line. C'est la Vie!

It was a wonderful trip, we had a great time, and while we won't do it again soon, we will do it again.

Catchup post: The Bermuda Triangle

As we sail through the Bermuda Triangle, I can take the opportunity to reflect on some of the stranger things we have seen on board, in addition to the stripper cowboys. Plastic surgery is rather common among the women on board, and some of them have had one or two too many. I am sure we have all seen chocolate fountains, and probably even a champagne fountain. Princess has perfected the ham fountain. This alone is reason to mourn the loss of the camera in Lisbon, as a picture is worth a thousand words, but I can try. Imagine a silver tea service tray of the type you use to serve cakes. These typically have several tiers to them, in order to serve multiple types of cakes. In this case however, glistening slices of prociutto line the trays, and quite deliberately hang over the sides. Ham fountain. Indeed.

Not all that is strange need be avoided however. Every night there were movies under the stars, some good, some not so good, but all were attended by the cooking guy. His job was to pass a basket of chocoloate chip cookies around, and then offer you milk to accompany them from a presurized backpack like some sort of dairy Gunga Din. The backpack even had a cup dispenser.

We also took the time to get up on the bow of the ship (we did not do the king of the world thing) and stare ahead into the thunder storms that we would be sailing into. It was quite a view, quite a light show, and a nice way to cap off the experience, with the wind in our hair, the sea in our nostrils and the flash of lighting fading from our eyes.

Catchup post: 5 Days at Sea

The days are running together a bit. I really have no idea what day it is, only that our trip is drawing to a close as we make our way across the Atlantic. The air is getting warmer and the seas are getting calmer, thus the sleeping is better. The side to side roll is more lulling us to sleep now than keeping me up. It was also great during a hot stone massage, where I am quite sure I fell asleep at least once, until the masseuse got to my lower back and the pain brought me out of it. That was short lived, as she worked out the kinks and I once again relaxed. Rough life, huh?

We have availed ourselves of the time to utterly relax, read, play scrabble, and try not to eat too many cookies (Vitamin C- its good for you) or any other of the vast amounts of truly awful for you food on this ship. We are having varying degrees of success. The fries we have mostly resisted, but the deserts are just too good. Whoever is baking on this ship knows their stuff. Rough life, huh?

We have also availed ourselves of the Casino, actually recovered the cash that was stolen in Lisbon at the Three Card Poker table, lost it the next day at the Let It Ride table and are looking to bring it back up again tonight. The Casino is pretty relaxed, and we have managed to learn a few new games. I did play Craps the first few nights (up, down, up, half down) but for the most part the craps table has seemed to be very low energy, and we have been having more fun with cards. Rough life, huh?

Word that we were pick pocketed has gotten around the ship. We did tell the story that first night at dinner, but apparently some of those folks met up with some other folks who has met us, and they were talking about those honeymooners from Denver, and did you hear they were robbed in Lisbon? People we have barely met have asked if we are those honeymooners from Denver who were robbed, and isn’t it awful and they are so sorry that we had that happen. It is kind of funny and really rather sweet that we are being gossiped about, in addition to being sympathized with. It is like having a ship full of grandmothers clucking their tongues in sympathy, and grandfathers telling us next time to leave the passports on the ship, and to be careful in the metro. Yes Pop…

The scenery has been fairly repetitive, but the sea has offered some things worth seeing. The first full day, when the wind was high and seas was rough, you could see at least four distinct textures or scales of waves, from tiny ripples across the surface which made the whole thing seem pixilated, to large wave forms that were 100 feet across. In effect you had a dimple 100 feet across and 5 feet deep, with 2 foot high waves running through it, that were in turn dimpled with 6 inch deep pockets and tiny ripples running over that. I suppose that makes me a geek, but it was pretty cool. Also, I woke up early this morning, and saw that the sun was just starting to think about lighting up the sky to the east. I went outside on the deck (with robe, you never know who will be up) and found that I could still see a whole bunch of stars, Jupiter brighter than I have ever seen, as well as two meteors and a satellite, in polar orbit no less. Needless to say it was quite clear and very spectacular. There were clouds on the horizon, and they looked great as the sky continued to light up. At this point, I really wish that I had a camera.

About the only thing that hasn’t been particularly stellar has been the entertainment. Yesterday we tried going to the matinee of the previous night’s production show “Boogie Shoes,” a “contemporary” rock show about shoes. OK…but we will give it a shot. It was horrible, and this was the show they were touting as the big one. We left after the 5th number, because I didn’t think that they could possibly do any better than the gay cowboys on stripper poles. I think they were trying to be provocative, but it was really just silly. So we will stick to the movies under the stars, the casino, and the various comic acts that make their way in an out. Rough life, huh.