Friday, September 26, 2008

The Ireland Collection

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guess Where?

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Like it's hard to guess where I would go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Basic Lesson Learned Again

For those how don't think that this journey is not a learning experience is missing out on real life. I have just been taught a lesson I have been taught many times before but sometimes seem to forget because it is right in front of my face.

So what is the lesson?
"What you may think is bad now may in fact be a very good thing. You just have to look for the good in any situation."

How did I learn this again?
Easy, the Ryanair snafu. I was so mad and angry because of what happened last week. And so for the last week I have been thinking about it and all it does is get me angry when I do. What good is that doing me? I can't change it so why do I let it get to me. Because I am stupid sometimes and forget what I have learned. But I should know to look for the positive in any negative; there are always two sides to any situation. Even if the situation looks completely black you will find a small area of brightness that if you can focus on that it will soon become the only thing you see. The blackness fades away.

When I was sitting in the Shannon Airport getting mad at Ryanair and trying to change my tickets and everything a guy walks up to me and asks me if my laptop is connecting to the internet because his was having problems. Me being the geek that I am had to help him. I loaned him a network cable so he could connect and check his email. His name is Andrew, he is Irish but is married to a French woman and lives in France. If I remember correctly he owns a language translation service company in addition to a few things he has his hands in, a few other small businesses. We then spent the next few hours talking about life, travels, family and random stuff. He was also great in helping me relax about the complete hosing I was taking from Ryanair. Well it turns out that he contacted me and has invited me to visit him when I visit France. Now if I did not have a problem with the flight, then I don't get to meet him and don't have someone to show me parts of France. Having a local who can show you there hometown and surrounding areas is the only way to travel. Case in point, my trip to Istanbul, without Irem to show me around I would have never seen 95% of what I got to see in that city and because of this I will return to Istanbul because there is so much more to see. It also had a side benefit for her, she is again proud of her city because of how much I enjoyed seeing it. So I will visit Andrew sometime in the next few months and see what lessons I might learn from him and hopefully I can teach him something.

I just need to remember, even when things look bad the Universe puts me where I need to be, when I need to be there.

It all works out in the end, it always does.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Istanbul Collection

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This is a collection of my favorite shots of Istanbul.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Istanbul Day 2 Photos

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Istanbul Day 2

WOW, all I can say is WOW.
Irem took me to a tower, who's name escapes me now but it was a vantage point I had dreamed about for taking pictures. When you see the panoramas I will put together you will understand what I am talking about. When we got to the top I spent the first 5 minutes just looking around and saying WOW. I was so blown away by the views of the city. It really made me understand how huge this city is. I am sure I will return to Istanbul in the future. The place is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures. I them spent the evening with Irem and a few of her friends for drinks and good conversation. I really enjoyed visiting her University campus, it has amazing views of the asian part of the city and a beautiful bridge. I was I had better hotos but because of the time of night it was very hard to get a few good shots. Photos to follow soon.

An email from a friend

The following is an email I received from my friend Jake, I asked his permission to re post it here for others to read as I feel it is important to share.

Subject:"Tomorrow is an illusion"

Often times I have heard Sean speak those words and I try to keep them in the back of my head during the day to separate the bullshit (work and schedules) from the meaningful (family, friends and good times) moments in the day. Sunday, those words resurfaced.

Char and I have made a great new set of friends who a month ago moved to Savannah from Alabama. Kim and Nathan are 33 years old and have 3 beautiful children (2 girls ages 8 and 5 and a son age 3). Nathan is an anesthesiologist in town and Kim cares for the family. Nathan, a huge Bama fan, flew to Alabama for the football game Saturday and went out with 2 friends after the game. When no one heard from him Sunday morning, his friends said to try the bar where they had left him the night before. The police found him dead in the backseat of his car (sleeping one off we think). The police are still investigating. He leaves behind his wife and 3 kids.

Sunday, Char drove Kim and her kids to Atlanta and I followed in my car to bring Char home. We met their friends in Atlanta who drove from Birmingham to take Kim and the family the rest of the way and Char and I returned Sunday night.

Just a few comments of many that day to put things into perspective. As we were loading the car Sunday, Allison (age 5) asked me not to forget Daddy's shoes. I guess she has heard her dad say that to her over and over in the past. As I was loading clothes into the car, a pair of dress pants fell off the hanger. I didn't think too much of it, but as I was putting the pants back on the hanger, I realized these were not just a pair of slacks, but the pants Nathan would be wearing in the casket. To make matters worse, Kim was insistent we brought Nathan's Jeep keys so he could drive the Jeep back home after the funeral. She wasn't connecting that his car was at the Jacksonville airport and that Nathan was dead. Absolutely pitifully to see anyone go through this.

Sorry if I got you down or if I am rambling but I just needed to get a few things off my chest. Times like these really reaffirm whats important in your life. You guys make me and my life better. Tomorrow IS an illusion. How true!

Enjoy your life today and be thankful for all the good things we have.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Istanbul Day 1

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What a city, this place is huge and filled with people, I really can't get over how many people are in this city. I am so glad I have my friend Irem to show me her city like i was able to show her New York City. I was able to see more things yesterday than I would have seen in three days if I was by myself. We went to the "Basilica Cistern" (Photo Above) It was built around 565 by the Byzantine Empire and was the water source of the entire city at the time, with a capacity of 100,000 tons of water (about 25 million gallons, if my math is correct).

We also went to a huge mosque and it was amazing inside. It was my first visit to a mosque and it was a great experience. We were there during afternoon prayers and this too was a great experience to see. I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in faith, no matter what your faith.

We then went to the "Grand Bazaar", which is a huge indoor shopping area that has been there for centuries. The place is huge and very easy to get yourself lost in. If you don't pay attention, you will exit in a place you did not expect to end up. We had been walking most of the afternoon and we headed to an outdoor restaurant to have some dinner and Turkish coffee, (it makes espresso look like weak cup of coffee) and to watch "Whirling Dervishes" - it is one of the physical methods used to try to reach religious ecstasy by the dancer. We had a great time, our waiter "Antonio" was very funny and should be a comedian but he is "scared of the microphone" (as he put it) so he says he will stick to being a waiter. I had a chicken kabob that was great. We then sat back and started to smoke some strawberry flavored tobacco from a big water pipe (hookah). It tasted great, I now understand why you see people just hanging out in a cafe having some coffee and smoking. It was a great way to relax and chill out. We stayed for about 4 hours just eating, drinking tea, talking and hanging out. I would have never found out about this place without Irem. It helps so much to have a local guide for a city like this.

OK time for me to get going.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lunch in Istanbul

So I have stopped by a cafe off the main shopping street I was at last night. This really is a cool city, the mixture of European, Middle Eastern and Asian culture is very cool. My friend Ali told me that there are something like 12 million people in the city. I am using my iPod for this post and it is not the easiest thing to type long posts. So I will leave it at that for now.

I Am the Road Warrior

In 24 hours I will have spent time in 5 different countries, Ireland, Great Britain, Slovakia, Austria and Turkey. Well it is really 25.5 hours for me to get 5 but it is close enough. I am looking forward to visiting Istanbul. I really can't wait.

I am tired, today started for me at 4:30, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to make my 6:30 flight to Bratislava. Let me tell you, Stansted Airport at 5:30 is a mad house, the place was packed. In typical Ryanair fashion the have one checking desk for each flight, so that was 30 minutes of waiting then security was faster this time than last it only to me about 12 minutes opposed to the 25 it took when I flew to Ireland. It was then a mad dash to the gate so I could try and get a good place in line for boarding, none of this sitting and relaxing waiting for them to call your flight, nope everyone starts to line up as soon s they get there. I was lucky and got to the gate with only about 100 people ahead of me, on the 737-800 as long as you're not 120th in line you shouldn't get stuck in a middle seat. The flight was uneventful and I was able to sleep for most of it, although when I woke up because of the way I had my head on the middle seat tray table, (the seats on Ryanair do not recline) my left leg had lost all circulation and it was 5 minutes of pins and needles.

When I landed in BA (Bratislava) the passport control officer keep looking at my photo then looking at me, I had forgotten that it is seven years old and I had hair back then, and I sometimes forget I'm bald. (So I am not ready to accept it, we all have our issues.) I grabbed a cab home and was excited to gt back to my flat even if only for 5 hours. I was a little shocked, my new flatmate's are not as into cleaning the flat as the last ones I had. But that will change, I will make sure of it. I swapped out luggage and went with a smaller bag, I still find I travel with too much stuff. I was able to transfer my photos over to the mac and I stitched together a few panoramas and was very happy with the two I did. I did no editing to the pictures yet but it gave me a good idea how things are going to look. I hope to have them finished in a week or so. It takes time to make sure they look as good as they can plus I am traveling without the mac so it is only when I am in BA that I will work on them, This Friday will be the first chance I get some free time but of course I will have photos from Istanbul to worry about. I really can't wait, but of course by the time I post this I will be there. (I am in the Vienna airport right now, my flight leaves in 20 minutes.)

So I had a new car service take me this time and the driver was great, he is a pissed off about the direction Slovakia Government is heading as I am about what has happened in the United States over the last seven years. Yes that is the main reason I am living over here, I don't like what has become of my once great nation, now just a democratically elected police state. Oh Sean, you are being overly dramatic, you may think but I don't thinks so. The man who gives up freedom for the sake of security deserves neither. (plane is boarding) OK now on board and Turkish Airlines has nice planes with very comfortable seats. This is the same type of plane Ryanair flies but on this pane 29 rows of seats, Ryanair has 33, so the legroom on this plane is much better, also the seats recline. It occurred to me I have been on the move for over a month now, it some how seems like months ago when camp ended but it was only 30 days, it's hard to believe. I am currently climbing to our cruising altitude of 38000ft somewhere over the southern part of Slovakia for the two hour flight, So far I am impressed with the airline, I will see how the food is to give you total coverage. They show a moving map of our flight and it is much better than any others I have seen on other airlines, it is done in 3D animation and my words don't do it justice. I am a geek when it comes to things like this, I enjoy seeing the speed and distance display and to know what city I am flying over. The food smells great and the flight attendants are easy on the eyes. (15 hours have passed) the food was very good.

So I landed and took a taxi to the hotel where I was meet by my friend Irem and two of her friends. I got to the hotel around 11:15 and I dropped my bags in the room and we went out for some drinks. We had a great time, we went walking down a main pedestrian street that even on a Monday night was packed with people, Irem said on the weekends it is hard to walk in this area because there are so many people going out. She said this was a small amount of people, i didn't look that way to me. I got back to the room round 2:30 and woke up this morning at 10:00am. I will wait for Irem to come to the hotel and take me around the city. This place is huge, there are something like 6 million people living in this city, that is more than all of Slovakia. I will try and post some photo tonight but don't hold me to it, Since I have limited time here I want to spend as much of it taking pictures as I can.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 8 Photos

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Ireland Day 8

I am currently sitting in my rental car at the tip of Slea Head, visibility is down to about 100 meters, (and I have decided to do everything metric in my posts as long as I am in Europe, I will leave conversions up to you.) it is windy and the rain is a fine mist, basically I am in a cloud. But I have nothing but time to sit and wait and hope that the weather clears. I have no other place I would rather be so if I have to wait to see what I came here to see, I will wait. Yes, Slea Head is the reason I returned to Ireland. Back in September 2001 when I was here with my family It was perfect for photos. I came back in December of that year and it was not as good, now I have seen the worst it can be. I am not worried, I plan on taking a nap in the car and see what happens. I may sit here for hours and not see anything more than what I am seeing now, but how often do you get to visit your favorite place on the planet?

So I will wait and believe that the Universe will show me what it wants and it will be enough. Even with the bad weather, this place feeds me somehow, much like my cabin at camp.So after the first hour of waiting in some ways it is worse, the rain is not as hard but the visibility is down to 35 meters. I took a short nap in hopes of waking to sunshine, no such luck. Most people would call me crazy for just sitting here waiting but I don't know if there is sun in other parts of the Island, and I am missing some good pictures.? Who knows but I know this I will miss pictures here if I leave. It is hard to explain but I really don't mind waiting up to six hours for the weather to clear. If it doesn't, such is life but if it does... Karma is Karma

So while I wait I sit and listen to music from and about Ireland, I watch the seagull who has been my companion since I have arrived. He looks like he is waiting for tourist to drop some food and figures this is as good a place as any to wait out the storm.

The trip was fun, the weather did not turn out as I had hoped but I feel I was able to get some shots I was happy with. The thing I was retaught was this, when you don't have great sunlight but overcast skies, black and white becomes your best friend. I stopped looking for colors and started looking for different shades and tones, that in color may not look great but when converted to black and white look amazing. The shots of the run down castle are some on my favorites so far. I am looking forward to getting back on the Mac to stitch all my panoramas together. I am very hopeful I will end up with pictures that capture the beauty of the country, even without the best light. I really enjoyed being able to hangout with the golf tour folks in the evenings and then being able to do my own thing without having to worry about the riding on the coach and only stopping when it stopped. It is also nice because I am not flying out until early tomorrow and have time today to wait for my pictures at Slea Head. Yes I know the weather has not gotten any better but I have faith that I can change that, I just need to work at it a little harder. “And while the tempest loudly roars, I hear the truth and live it. And thou the darkness around me closes, songs in the night it giveth. No storm can shake my inner most calm, while to that rock I'm clinging.” - Enya (Playing as I am writing)

I am about to start hour three of my vigil and it is the same as when I got here. Seeing people on bikes ride up to this spot and give me hope, if they are willing to brave the elements to see what is out here, me sitting in a warm dry car it really not all that bad. What I wouldn't give for an updated satellite image right now. This morning when I checked I knew I had little chance to get good weather but I am always hopeful. Good things happen to me because I want good things to happen to me, bad things do not happen to me because I don't want bad things to happen to me. Learn it, love it, live it.

OK, so I made it two and a half hours before the Universe told me it was time to go. As usual, it was right. I headed back to Dingle and was amazed at how much the town has grown in seven years, it is sad really. There are nothing but row after row of two story, cookie cutter, vacation town homes outside of town. It spoils the view of the bay now. I was sad to see it like this. The good thing was I was more focused on trying to find breaks in the cloud cover. I didn't look at the town much as I was driving in. I then headed over the Conner Pass. Visibility was down to about 10 meters - (Sidebar ahead)

Other than not being able to stitch my panoramas together, I love my little laptop. For those who are on the road and hate lugging around 7 pounds of laptop, let me tell you this, spend the $450.00 and get the Asus EeePc 901. I have the 900 and will get a 901 in November when I return to the states for a visit. (it has a faster processor, better wireless and an over 6 hour battery life, over the 900) This thing has been great, I am really having a great time with it and it allows me to write when I feel like it and just want it want, I can then come back to it when I feel like it and write some more. OK back to Conner Pass and limited visibility.

On the way up the drop offs to your right will make the weak almost wet there pants. I was so bummed that the fog/cloud was so thick because, I couldn't get any pictures and since I could not see how far down it was, it wasn't scary at all. What's the fun in that. It's OK it gives me one more reason to return to Ireland soon. (Beware tangent ahead) The other one is I am so sorry I was in a rush to get to Slea Head because of the “Shepard” I saw on the ride up a random mountain road I had randomly decided to drive up because it looked narrow and steep, two things I love when driving. When you see the picture you will understand why I should have talked with him. I didn't want to bother him and make him stop, because as soon as you stopped moving the midges started to attack, so I just said Hi, and let him keep walking. The reason I think I need to go back and talk with him is this, he passed me three times on the road as he would catch up to me when I would stop every 200 meters to take a different angle on the same basic picture. Three times and each time I thought, talk with him a second find out what his story is, he is too unique a person not to talk with. His photos will help you understand. And I want to bring my mom over here to see Galway and points north. Who knows? (tangent over)

So on the way down the pass I understood when I had felt it was time to leave Slea Head, the rainbow I got to see. One minute nothing, the next, the sun pops out just for a few minutes behind me and in front of me is the coolest rainbow i had ever seen. I was so close and both ends were clearly visible to me. I don't think the photos will do it justice. So a parked my car and watched for about five minutes before the clouds covered the sun and it faded into memories. About five minutes later the sun popped out again but this time it lit up a hill and gave me the best shots of my trip. I haven't even looked at any of the photos from today yet and I know I have my winner in there. I knew it before I stopped the car, this was my one chance, the best light I had the entire trip and I was in a great position. I feel like that 30 minutes of time I had driving down the back side of the pass, seeing the rainbow and then the best light and colors I had seen in the last 8 days made every cloudy day I had before disappear, it saved my trip. Honestly without that 30 minutes I would be leaving tomorrow with no strong desire to return, now I know I will return soon.

I also want to say that the hotel was maybe not as bad as I wrote earlier, the U.M.S. played a major part in it. But it was cathartic to rant like that once again. It had been so long since I had done it I forgot how fun it was to write them, I just hate what it takes to get that muse going. I stick with this muse for a while, it may not be as fun to read but I try and keep it interesting. It was only the kitchen staff that first night that gave me a false impression of the staff. In fact other than that one dick head, let's be honest, he was, it was 9:50 not 10pm everyone else was great. The girl who cleaned the room was from Lithuania and was very nice as were the few other staff I got a chance to interact with where wonderful. Also the prices are not as high as I thought, I was reading from the back of the door which shows the maximum you can be charged, so my numbers are a little off. The place is still a maze though.

I will catch a flight out of Shannon at 6:40am on Ryanair, I then have 1 hour and 40 minutes to get off the plane in Stanstead, clear passport control, collect my baggage, clear customs, go upstairs and check in, go through security and run like OJ would for my next Ryanair flight to Bratislava. Yes that is how Ryanair does it, one place at a time, no connecting flights. That way they can whack you more times for more fees but is was still a cheap way to get to visit the UK and Ireland in one trip. I should be back at the flat in Bratislava by noon on Sunday. I then get up at 7am to catch the bus to Vienna for a 10am flight to Istanbul, Turkey for a three day visit with Irem and Ali, who I meet at camp this summer. I then fly back late Thursday night into Vienna. And I was jut thinking it would be cheaper for me to get a room in Vienna for two nights because Sunday I fly out for a 'mystery city” (Details to follow, Clem, no spilling the beans.) and the cost of a car service out and back is almost the same as a hotel for two nights. Plus I have the added bonus of being able to explore and shot Vienna. I will see... (crap now I have more work to do)

I did shot almost 200 pictures today, even with the crappy weather so I am going to get working on them and try and get them posted tonight, if I am not too tired. Plus Internet is 5 Euro per hour in this hotel so maybe not. Stay tuned.

My Last Day In Ireland

I was hoping for better weather today but it is still completely cloudy again. I hope as I drive to the coast it will clear up. I am heading to my favorite place on the planet today, Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula.

I just said goodbye to the tour group Jason brought over. They were all very nice people, a good mix of ages as well. I had dinner with everyone last night and got to speak with two couple, John and Joan, and Jim and Linda, both couples were great to talk with. I will miss Tim the coach driver, he was a great help to Jason and a wonderful tour guide.

I hope I will have some good photos to upload tonight but I can't promise much.

Thanks again to my loyal followers, I do keep on eye on who visits and it is nice to see so many people returning to catch up with me.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Sept. 12th 1977

Watch "Cry Freedom"

Ireland Day 7

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We had about an hour of sun today. Not a great day for pictures but I tried. Tomorrow is my last day so I am really hoping for nice weather.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ireland Day 6

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I only got 2 hours of sun today from 5pm to 7pm but I made the most of it. Tomorrow should be nice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A 4 Star Rant

So, maybe it's the weather or maybe just my U.M.S. (Ugly Mood Swings aka male P.M.S.) kicking in but I am fired up. But Sean you are on a permanent vacation how could you have anything to rant about? Well I will rant about deception, the 4 star kind.

I am staying in the Killarney Plaza Hotel, rated 4 stars. They have them right next to the name outside the place. They are very proud of that and make sure it is known how swanky and upscale the place is. Everyone is wowed by the lobby and the fresh flowers and for most they never look any deeper than that. But take a closer look and I think you begin to see the real place. Let me first tell you what I think 4 star means to me. I have had the privilege to stay in some very nice hotels before so I feel I have a good idea what 4 star service should be. I have also stayed in at least 2 places I consider 5 star so I feel I have a good base for comparison. I stayed in Singapore at the Intercontinental for $98.00 per night and it makes this place look like a Days Inn.

Let me start by telling you that a standard room goes for 350.00 euros ($495.00) per night. (Keep in mind, in Slovakia my rent, food, bus fare, cable, internet and smokes only cost me about 350 euros per month. It is one of the reasons I love it so. The fact that the best looking women in the world live there also helps. Don't believe me, come visit and see, its like a supermodel factory.) And no I am not paying the full rate, Jason worked out a deal for me. If I was I would have checked out and gone across the street to the Killarney Park Hotel. (That's 4 stars for sure)

I will tell you all the things I like about this place, my view. And it is only because I got lucky and got the top floor (4th) and I have a great view of the main shopping street and a nice church. That's it, that is the only thing I like. What I don't like will take some time but I will try and keep this somewhat coherent.

Parking at reception, there is no parking for reception, you have to hope that there is not a bus blocking the entrance like I had and just drive up onto the sidewalk to unload your luggage. Really if you don't want to block traffic, you have to park on the sidewalk. No one to come out and help you unload, no valet service to take your car. Instead I had to park illegally down the street run in and get a room key so I could then drive my car around the back and park underground. Why didn't I just park underground first and then check in? Simple, you can't get into the garage without a room key. Again just keep reminding yourself, 350.00 euros per night.

I then park the car and try and make my way to the lobby to get to my room, not an easy task. This place was designed by a crack smoking fool. I would only confuse you if I explained the layout of the first two floors of this place. I have yet to walk around and not find someone confused by the layout of the place. Instead of having a ground floor and then a mezzanine level they refer to them as LG and UG for lower ground and upper ground, this is not some hilly battlefield you are trying to gain position on your enemy, it's a hotel.

I walked into my room and was extremely happy with the view, it helped me not notice the fact that this hotel is now 7 years old and in need of some updating. Some of the carpets are in need of repair in the common areas, they looked tattered and the seams are starting to separate and fray. The furniture in the room is nothing special, the same stuff you would find at any decent hotel. It's not cheap but it is mass produced crap really, just not what I would expect at these prices. The room size is fine and it does have a nice flat screen TV but with only a few channels. No movie channels or Pay per View, which on a crappy day like today, it would be nice to watch a new movie on TV. The bathroom is fine and the towels are soft, which even I admit is a rare thing these days in any hotel. The bed linens are nice but the bed, well if you like marshmallow soft then you are in luck, because it is one giant marshmallow. I am sure 7 years ago it was wonderful, soft, supportive yet just firm enough, now it's all soft, Viagra couldn't help it.

The next thing I expect is a staff that will go out of there way to make sure that you have everything you could want. When we were in Lahinch the staff there was great, even if the bar was closed you could go to the desk and the night porter would get you what ever you wanted, even just a glass of ice water. It was not a problem. This is what I expect but am not getting here, not even close to what I expect at 350.00 euros per night. I will give you an example of what I am talking about . Last night I went out and had a nice Chinese dinner but as usual I was hungry a few hours later. (why is that?) So it was 9:50 pm and room service is finished at 10 pm. So I called down to find out what desserts they had available. I am not stupid enough to order real food 10 minutes before the kitchen is closed, have you not seen the movie "Waiting". So I figured a dessert is quick and easy for them to do and I had a good shot no one would mess with it. (watch the movie) The guy who answered the phone seemed somewhat confused by the idea that I just wanted a dessert, I was confused by his lack of English language skills. He said he would check what was available. He came back to the phone to tell me the kitchen was closed. Now I could understand if someone ordered up a full dinner, drinks and dessert but I was looking for a bowl of ice cream, a simple order. The kitchen didn't feel like working, this I can understand, if I was paying 75.00 - 100.00 euros per night for a room but not 350.00. At those rates I expect service above and beyond. The other thing is because the only Irish people working here are at the front counter the rest of the staff does not have the internal hospitality, that is part of the Irish genetic code. Most of them are from Poland, India or Paskistan and while they are nice, this is just a job to them, nothing more nothing less, it just pays better than at home. Maybe I was spoiled in Lahinch because it is such a small little village almost everyone was Irish. Now I don't want you to think I am disparaging the non Irish, I am not, I am just pointing out they don't have the same mindset as the Irish when it comes to taking care of guests.

But the kicker and the one thing that has pissed me off to no end is Internet access. They have it in the hotel, wireless in every room, and the speed is OK and it is free. (free Internet is not a big thing in Ireland, most cheaper places charge for it or don't have it.) The thing that kills me is I have to call down to the front desk every 2 hours to get a new code to login into the wireless system. Because each code works only for two hours. You could be in the middle of a download or on a skype call or video conference, whatever, after 2 hours the connection drops. You have to call downstairs and get a new code. Again it is frustrating that you to have to do anything when you are paying 350.00 per night.

So I would not recommend anyone stay here, if you are visiting Killarney, stay at the Killarney Park or for a wonderful experience, stay at the Adair Manor, they are both true 4 star places. I even felt the hotel in Lahinch was better than this even thought it is not a 4 star resort. Also Killarney has lost some of it charm it had when I was here 7 years ago. While it is a great jumping off point for may sights in the area, it has grown past a small little quite town into a tourist only kind of place. I don't see or hear the locals like I did in 2001, just loud, fat Americans. (some say there is nothing worse than a reformed smoker, but a reformed American is worse. Yes I once was a loud, fat American but not anymore) It is life and things change, it just sucks when they change for the worse. I am sure this will be my last visit to this part of Ireland. In the future I will stay in the small towns that make up most of this country and avoid the more populated areas. You can still find the Irish charm and hospitality out there but is it slowly fading away. Skoda (it's a pity)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ireland Day 4

The view from my room.
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Monday, September 08, 2008

Ireland Day 3

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I had about 3 hours today when the sun was out some so I was able to get some good shots today. The panoramas should come out nicely but I need my Mac for doing those so you will have to wait until Sunday for me to get them online.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Words I Promised

So, Ireland for the third time is just as good as the first two. For those who don't know, my friend Jason is a travel agent who specializes in European Golf Tours asked me if wanted to to join the trip with about 30 other people. I jumped at the chance to return to one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If you have never been here I highly recommend an 8 day trip. For my US readers, If you have never left the country, this should be the firs place you get a passport for. Trust me the, the food is great, the locals are very friendly, but sometimes hard to understand, and the landscape is second only to New Zealand (which should be your next trip) in my opinion. (For my Slovak friends, your lack of a coast line puts you in third, it's not your fault I need an ocean close by.)

The weather yesterday was better than today, with more sun and scattered clouds then the mainly overcast weather I had today. I was able to get some OK shots today but I wished I had better light. I also has a few tiny bits of dust on my cameras CCD (the image chip) which I can edit out but it is a pain so I will head up to Galway to a photo shop and get a brush to really clean it. The weather forecast for the next 2 days is poor as what is left of Tropical Storm Hannah are due here Monday afternoon. So I hope the drive north will be dry in the morning, I will continue west from Galway along a coastal road, if the weather holds. I have never been to Galway so I will enjoy seeing new places as long as it is not raining. As soon as the rain starts I will then head back to Lahince.

I am so glad I got up this morning at 5:15 to go with Jason on the hired bus (coach) to the airport to pickup the main group of golfers who flew in at 6:00. (About 10 of them came in yesterday with Jason and his father to get a jump start on the jet lag for better golfing.) I had decided that instead of taking the coach with ll the golfers and being locked into where they are going, I would rent a car for the week. It is so nice to be able to set my own agenda to go find some good shots. I will sometimes follow the bus or ride on for some of the trips just because they are places I want to see. The other advantage is on Tuesday the whole group has to be on the bus at 5:45 am so they can make the ferry so the don't miss there tee times at a very popular golf course. (If I cared about golf I would be able to tell you the name) I will get to wake up when I like and drive to Killarney to meet them later in the day. The weather forecast right now for Tuesday is heavy rain but should be clearing out that night, I hope. Thursday is my best chance for sun. And if that happens I will drive all day taking photos. The plan is to be able to send all the clients on the trip a nice slide show DVD showing them places they saw but also places they didn't have time to see because they are playing golf most days. There are a few wifes who aren't playing golf so Jason's dad will stay with them and Tim the coach driver will take them on day trips. One of th places I would like to visit is Waterford, I really want to see the Waterford Crystal factory, I have always been a huge fan of hand blown glass. Watching them you understand the true artistry involved with working with really, really, really hot sand. (2000 Deg. Celsius (FUNFACT: Glass is not solid, it is in fact a super cooled liquid. Over many years (100+), glass window panes will become thicker at the bottom as the top thins.) ) But I digress. I have not planned past Tuesday because there are way too many factors out of my control which makes planning futile. As I have said before , “I know what I am doing today, I have a good idea about tomorrow but after that who knows.” The people on the trip are all nice and there s a core group who I will most likely hangout with at night. That's about all I have left in me for the night. I will hope to be able to give you some nice shoots tomorrow but I can't promise much. Some people tell me I set the bar too low sometimes but what they don't understand is I am not doing a high jump, I'm doing the limbo, so the higher I set the bar the easier it is or me so I keep the bar low to keep it challenging. If you can really understand that last statement, then you really understand me. Enjoy.

Ireland Day 2

Click Pic for more.

It was cloudy all day so I'm not real happy with most of my shots. I did decide to rent a car for the week to make it easier for me to travel so I am not tied to the golfers schdule and riding the bus with them. I am tired and will try and write some later. Enjoy the pics.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ireland Day 1

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Words to follow.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Greetings from The UK

(Click Photo for More Pic's)
Bexhill on Sea

This was the most blue sky I saw in the two days I have been here. But it is typical UK weather so what can I do. I am hoping that the weather will clear and I get a few nice days in Ireland.

It has been fun to visit with Milos and Zuzka. They have a tiny flat but yet made room for me to stay so I didn't have to get a hotel. It is about 250 to 300 sq. feet (9-10 sq. meters) and it is enough for the two of them. I love it because I love small spaces and how much space do you really need? We went to the local Pub the first night and I had some of the best Guinness I have had since I was in Ireland 7 years ago. Clean taps make the difference. Yesterday Zuzka and I drove the tank out to Brighton Beach to check the place out. To me it was exactly what I was expecting, it reminds me of Coney Island with better architecture. As you can see in the photos the weather was crappy and not worth taking many photos. We headed back to the flat for awhile then we went to pick up Milos at work before going to dinner. We went to a small hotel right on the beach and had dinner overlooking the English Channel. The food was fine but typical English fare, it's hard to cook a steak rare when the steak is only 1 cm thick. I guess no one has told them steaks need to be thick not thin like a veal cutlet.

I leave today for Ireland and will spend the next 8 night there, before returning to Bratislava for 1 night to get ready for my trip to Istanbul for 3 days. I am looking forward to getting some great photos in Ireland. I can't believe it has been 7 years since I was last there. In some ways it feels like yesterday. For those who have never traveled outside the US, I would put Ireland as your top choice to visit first. The people are great, the landscape is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen and the food is good as is the Guinness.

So more updates to follow. Thanks again to my loyal readers, I am getting my grove back and hope to be able to top some of my New Zealand posts, we will see. Raul Duke, patron saint of writers, protect me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm in the UK

So Ryanair, what can I say about a bus that flies. Really this just like a bus. They have ads on the overhead bins, really like the kind you would see above your head on a bus or subway. It was interesting how they load these planes, no one has an assigned seat. If you pay an extra 10 Euro you can board the plane first and get one of the choice seats, if not it's cattle car time. So I skipped the extra fee and just got near the departure door at the gate. The fun thing about the airport in Bratislava is it's old school, you have to walk outside get to the plane. So they open the door and it becomes a bit of a mad scramble as a few people start to run to the plane. I just stepped up my pace and was on the plane before most of the people and was able to snag an exit row seat, which on the 737-800, has a ton of legroom. The next thing about discount airlines is they charge you for everything. I got a tiny can (.25L) of 7-up for 1.50 Euro and a ham and cheese on Sub roll for 5 Euro. It is a nice racket they have going with this airline. The sandwich was good but not 5 Euro good. I am waiting to see if there is a charge to exit the aircraft when we land. They allow you only 33lbs per checked piece of luggage, which of course they charge you for. My bag is about 50lbs. You can bring on one item for free as long as it is under 22lbs. They also charge you 10 Euro if you want to check in at the airport instead of doing it online. They charge you 10 Euro if you want to pay for your flight with any credit card other than the Ryanair Visa.When I was booking the ticket it said it was going to be about $100 round trip but after taxes and and a new fee every time I clicked next. The total came to $250 only about $60 cheaper than flying a moor carrier. The guy at check in let me slide on my bag being overweight, which was nice because I am sure it would have cost me 25 Euro extra. They also sell scratch off lotto tickets to try and win free flights and other stuff. Plus duty free that most airlines sell. I will give them this, they are efficient and seem to be one of the only discount airline that makes money. Oh yeah none of the seats recline, so I am really glad I got an exit row. Plus they have the best on time arrival average of 90%.

So I got into Stanstead and it took about 30 minutes to clear passport control. I had a rental car waiting for me but upgraded because they were out of Portable Sat Navs (gps for my American friends.) so I upgraded to a car with it built in. It is a Nissan Extera or something like that. It is diesel and has tons of torque, it is also a 6 speed. I'm not sure if it is a turbo or not but it feels like it. I will find out more about the “tank” as I am calling it and let you know. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the ride. It is huge compared to most European cars and on the narrow back roads it is a bit wide and I would rather brush up against the hedges on the left then the big truck on the right. As for driving on the other side of the road, as I have said to people before, as soon as I get to my first circle, my brain goes, OK now I got this. Right turns are a bit tricky sometimes as you are crossing over traffic to do so, the trick is to remember that cars will not be where you normally look for them, just look to the other lane. Plus it is always better to wait until it is all clear then to risk jumping out in front. A little bit or patience goes a long way. Traffic around London was what I expected, with a few slow downs and a five minute stop for a broken down car. The cool thing about the Sat Nav is it gets traffic updates and told me the M25 was packed because of an accident so it asked me if I wanted to reroute. I have to say, it is a cool feature and I want to know when it is going to be in the US, maybe it is now but not in my Honda. It was about 2:45 minutes of driving to get to Bexhill on Sea to visit with Kate's sister Zuzka and her boyfriend Milos. I was on the motorway about half the time and then on back roads for the rest. I could have stayed on the highway, if not for the traffic, and gotten here maybe 30 minutes sooner I think. I really enjoyed driving on the back roads, sure it is slower but you get to drive through some nice little towns along the way.

I will stay here for just two night and I leave for Ireland on Friday. I will spend tomorrow walking around the area and taking photos. And since I am in the UK, there is a really good possibility I will be able to rant about how bad the food is here. I understand now why the French hate the English so much, it' because they don't understand what good food really is.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kremnicke Gagy

Photos from Kremnicke Gagy
Kremnica Comedy Festival.

Thanks to Joey and Martina and all there friends for a great weekend.