Ireland

IRELAND the world of bars

Ours was a whirlwind trip to Ireland. We could not make it to the North of Ireland, but the South as far as I see it, was well covered indeed.

The North Ireland is under the United Kingdom. And the South is Republic of Ireland. There was some major confusion about visas. One web site said those having British Visa, would have no trouble getting in. One said it’s at the discretion of the Immigration officer.

VISA

Anyway not to confuse you – Those having British Visa’s made or renewed post 2015 would mostly have a BIVS visa. They will have no problem entering Ireland, as long as they have an immigration stamp in UK – meaning they have to come via the United Kingdom.

Those who have older visas – well October 2016 the end of the agreement between UK and Ireland, so you had better get an Irish Visa for entry.

ARRIVAL

We reached Knock airport. Two airports are close to Galway (from where we started the journey). Shannon and Knock. Dublin would be a few hours away.

DRIVING

We wanted to be free to stop for drinks or take a nap in the car. So we did not choose to drive around. Instead we hired a chauffeur driven taxi. It turned our pockets into dust, but was well worth it.

Also we had heard / read that the roads in some places can become so narrow that it could cause a traffic jam, if a car came in from the other side. So yes!! A traffic jam with only two cars is apparently an Irish thing. And it did happen, but far and large we found that Ireland very easy to drive in. The roads were very good.

http://citytaxisgalway.com

We used them throughout the trip.

At one point we had to take an internal taxi in Galway. The driver gave us a good rate – still a shock to our pockets – but you can also try to talk to the local taxi guys. They are willing to help.

THE IRISHAre very very very and I cannot add really add the number of “verys” I really want to – FRIENDLY. Helpful. Happy. Amazing Singers. Inborn Musicians. And some of them as naughty as their famous Leprechauns. Asking an Irish for help, could often lead to a story waiting to be told. Within an hour of us visiting pubs, we had heard the life story of many a local.

the friendly irish folk
the friendly irish folk

THE WEATHER. Now that’s the most controversial word in Ireland. This country is known for it’s untimely rain and bleak weather. The Irish, have got so used to it, that even their sheep look up in disdain and disinterest when the weather goes foul. Carry a warm water proof jacket. Ours stood us in good stead. If you don’t have a head covering, carry an umbrella. Scarves and mufflers are a good idea. We went in late September, which according to me is the best time to be in Ireland.

 

OUR ITINERARY

 We started in GALWAY

We stayed in The Twelve Hotel. This was a little away (appx 15 minutes by cab) from the main Galway city(Barna). We did this on purpose as the other hotel we were looking up, was bang in the middle of town and at the start of a noisy street.

I would recommend The Twelve in a heartbeat. They had a fantastic gastropub, an amazing concierge and fabulous rooms.

The breakfast was outstanding. The recommendations for restaurants, bars and pubs outside the hotel were bang on.

Our room was HUGE. And rates were fantastic.

The Quay Street.

The Spanish Arch is just outside Quay Street. Hmmm! It’s noting to shout back home for. Just an arch. But – once you go through, the sea catches up with you, and the view is spectacular.

the spanish arch - galway
the spanish arch – galway

The Latin Quarter, is a huge network of streets with all the shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. Since Galway is a student town, the place rocks on weekends. The streets are buzzing with the most amazing street performers, and the pubs and restaurants, put out seating outside (when the weather is good) and it’s a full bonhomie scene out there.

Here are some recommendations for bars and pubs.

For good wines – go to Bunch Of grapes, Quay Street bar, Freeny’s, Neactin.

Deli La Tosca served fantastic Spanish Wines.

Other bars and pubs.

The Crane bar was highly recommended, but we were not too impressed.

The Quay Street bar was super.

Restaurants.

Milano Pizzza (it’s a huge and popular chain), Kia (food was fantastic), Adbria, Twelve Hotel Gusto Bar, Lighthouse – at Abbey Gate Street, Quay Street Kitchen.

CONNEMARA

We went to Connemara for a day trip. We stopped at the Clifden Castle, for some champagne. (Um! It was our 12 noon break folks. You drink the coffee we will stick to our champagne- Thank you!) This was a really quaint stop, over looking the mountains. A perfect serene get away.

clifden
clifden

After that we stopped at the Kylemore Abbey.

kylemore abbey
kylemore abbey

http://www.kylemoreabbey.com

This was bought by Mitchell Henry for his wife. After she passed away, he sold it to the Benedictine Nuns. It still belongs to them. I do believe they could be the holiest of the lot, so peaceful is this place. It’s a museum of sorts, and we could hear plaintive piano music as we roamed around. They also have a walled garden, which was very non impressive. But do walk around. And take in the essence of old world charm.

 

DOOLIN. We stopped at Doolin on the way back, for a meal. Stone Cutter’s Café. A small quaint yellow house, in the middle of fields, occupied by sheep and cows. As whimsical as it can get. But the astounding part was the food. It was unexpectedly amazing, both in taste and variety. We were vegetarians and the mélange of dishes had us very impressed.

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Doolin stone cutters cafe
Doolin – stone cutters cafe in the middle of fields

CLIFFS OF MOHER AND ARAAN ISLANDS: When in Ireland, you cannot miss The Cliffs of Moher. The Araan Islands, were nothing great according to me.But the Cliffs – now they took our breath away. The entire cliff is cordoned off with a wall, so you cannot really stand at the edge. But – a little way towards the left (while facing the sea) start walking towards the cliffs and there is a little walk way, where you can jump the walls and you can walk along the edge. the height is imposing, and my toes curl inwards when I am very close to the edge of any height, but I got some awesome pics. The walk involved wall jumping and getting down from heights, but we had a great view. Since it was raining we got our shoes all nice and gooey, its best to wear sturdy shoes. Take your time and go to the Cliffs. The walk is a must. Try and see if you have the option/ luxury of choosing a bright sunny day. But Ireland being what it is – it could rain the exact minute you step out of your car.

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Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

KILLARNEY. This was the best part of our trip. The coolest, hippest!! The people in Killarney are mad, half drunk and uninhibitedly friendly. Within an hour into the city we knew who are the locals, who lived where, did what?O’connors pub: do go there. You must go there. For all the locals go there. And that is where the fun is. And if a band called The Small Hours is playing anywhere in Killarney, DO NOT MISS IT. Go to the ends of Killarney for it. It’s a husband, wife band, and they are fab.

O connor's pub and the locals singing
O’ Connor’s pub and the locals singing

The grand. Another rocking party place. Bouncers and all. The front, they play Irish bands, (the New Foundland was amazing) and in the back of the club, they have a discotheque. It’s a bit risque. So please go with company.

Food. We ate at the Khao (Vietnamese) and the Stone Chat Café. Fantastic food, authentic and fresh. There were many other restaurtants, but we had only two days, and both the days the lunch was out of Killarney.

Must Visit.: The National park.Take the Jaunty ride. Its fun. Alternately its an amazing place for a long walk.

Jaunty ride
Jaunty ride

The Cathedral: was very pretty. We did not go in, but the sites from outside were also majestic.

Ring Of Kerry.This takes a full day. So you can do what we did. We went half way then turned around and took a short cut back.

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Skelligs Chocolate Factory: is a must do. We stopped off the coast for a quick lunch. It was basic pizza fare therefore I did not write down the name.

We stayed at The Ross.: it was round the corner from all our sinful debacles. Completely walkable and very safe. Heart of town, but not in the noisy streets.

 

DUBLIN: We stayed at The Mespil. I don’t recommend it at all. Coming to Dublin after friendly Killarney was like getting lost amongst wolves. The city seemed too big, the people too busy and nothing suited us for a few hours. Once we got the hang of it we were good, but we would have liked to do Dublin first, so as to savor the flavours of small towns towards the end.

We were there only for a day, so have not done much sight seeing or food eating.

Temple Bar: The district and the bar. Every local will turn up their face at it, but I am telling you – YOU HAVE TO GO. Its jostle jostle, bump bump, no place to get drinks, too many people, loud music, but Oh Lord! Its amazing.

A tasting bar of the original Temple Whisky is attached to the main temple bar. Do visit if you are a Whisky lover.

At the end of the Temple Bar district, stands a small take away selling the most amazing French fries. PLEASE HAVE SOME!! 😛

The Quay Street bar was also nice.

Grafton Street: also has a lot of clubs and pubs.

Guinness: Now whether you like Guinness or not, you cannot come to Dublin and not visit the Store House. Book in advance and pick up souvenirs for your friends.

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Trinity College Library: is one of oldest and most well kept libraries in the world. Must visit.

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Trinity college Library
Trinity college Library

Food: We ate at the Bull and Castle. Fantastic service and great food. Hugo, was a champagne bar. We were caught in rain, and decided to stop walking and work up our appetite with cheese and champagne. They have a very cute window seat, so if you are just two on a romantic evening out, book it in advance.

Rasam: we had a private invite, but invite or not, distance or not –(its in the burbs) if you feel like eating Indian, go no where else. The food was authentic, fresh and the restaurant was one of the most classy ones I have ever see. Since it was a personal invite by the owner, I can vouch for the fact that the owner stands at the helm himself and manages the show.

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Rasam

 

 

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Beautiful Ireland
Beautiful Ireland

 

This husband wife team, have an Air B and B and the husband also has his own car which he uses to drive people around Ireland as a tour guide. Very sweet people if you want someone to drive you around.

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Mr. Jaysinh Mariwala – my mentor, my guide.

I have had a very rough year! (There I admit it!)

The elder kid left in 2012. I felt like my arm had been wrenched out of my body, and my skin was peeled from my face. At some point the husband and me settled down. Every night when she was safely in bed, I could function without hyperventilating. In 2014 the younger one left. I thought I had my emotions down pat, and knew how to deal with the hollowness!! Not true!

The twilight hours would find me moping around. I have lots to do, a busy household, work and great hobbies. But nothing seemed to light up and shine! I needed a dose. A shot of effervescence and bonhomie.

I had forgotten about Jaysinh Mariwala.

Mr. Jaysing Mariwala
Mr. Jaysinh Mariwala

I met him 3 years ago, in Mahabaleshwar. He helped shape our house, and helped shape me.

When I entered uncle’s home for the first time, I heard loud ear blasting Indian Classical music. He and me clicked instantly. How could we not .. love of whisky, cooking, books, and indian classical vocal music – in that order. (He has a humongous and stunning collection of music.)

He cooks – and so well. I must have eaten quite a number of meals at his place, and not once have I ever eaten the same dish. One evening he made fondue, and when I put a piece of the cheese covered bread in my mouth, the taste left me so surprised I almost choked. He had cheekily used blue cheese and made his own version, and man was it good! It just illuminates the point of how creative he can be!

He cooks, he paints, (they are all over his house and range from abstract to realism) he reads, he conducts music concerts, he gives talks, he treks (Yes – still! Twice a year – Himalayas and other obscure places!) and he runs his own Hospital, which has taken off and is now extremely successful. By now, I mean – it’s only 4 years old. He did something as amazing before that – I am sure.

A few months ago, I was sipping whisky and chatting with him. He said, a week before that, he felt a tightness, in his chest, while playing golf (Hmm! that too.) and again the next day when he went for a walk (Yes! that also – he is amazing I am telling you!). So he took himself off to the hospital, and by the time his daughter in law came running in, (he lost his wife some, many years ago) he had already signed himself in for an angio and further action if required. And a week after that he was in Mahabaleshwar, porting around a sorted heart, after undergoing a stent placement! And (Yup! that’s not the end!) he went for a trek to Nagaland one month after that.

And (there are many ands to this man!) a few months before that when I met him, he was sporting heavy bruises on his face. Seems he had gone for a trek and a small stampede happened and he rolled 40 feet towards the crevice of the mountain and stopped rolling at the nick of time. Undaunted that man, still got up, put an end to the trek, saying he knew when to retreat, and planned another one a few months later!

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uncle and the husband.

When my husband meets him, I see adoration and extreme happiness in his eyes. We always go home smiling and grinning. The past seems more happy and the future is welcome with all its angst. He is my injection and my guide.

I keep his picture handy. I keep him in my mind. When small problems of life attack me and threaten to spill my confidence I think of him. He says he never feels lonely, living alone in the woods, as he does. He has so much to do, where is the time to feel lonely and unhappy.

The man has had 2 by pass surgeries, and a few stents. He still lives, still drinks, still walks every morning, still laughs and God! Tells bawdy jokes after a couple of drinks!

He does not apologise to life and does not let life apologise to him. There lies the secret of his success, because he knows that there is nothing he cannot do.

I stopped feeling bad for myself. I stopped the self pity. For I have uncle as an example to guide me. I meet him and my life shines. I talk to him and I hear the voice of a mentor. I drink with him and enjoy the whisky even more.

I love that man. And he is all I ever want to be.

 

MY UNIQUE MARIWALA UNCLE

PS: HE KEEPS SNAKE ANTI VENOM IN HIS HOUSE – KNOWS HOW TO AND, HAS ADMINISTERED IT TO MANY PEOPLE!

Limburg – Whisky Fest

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Limburg is a small village in Germany. Picturesque as villages go.

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The Mad Drinking Fest
The Mad Drinking Fest

The two-day whisky fair, takes place every year.

We headed there at 11 am. And I was drunk by 11.30 am.

It’s complete and utter madness.

so much daaru
so much daaru

One is handed a glass, which you have to hold on to. Then you make your way to the various stalls. Some of them have the normal 18 year olds, but some stalls have fantastic older bottles, (and at a good wholesome, pocket breaking cost, I might add!) and every sip penetrates your skin and blood.

One day is enough. Actually for me one hour was enough!!

Daru!!??
Daru!!??

Cons

It’s very, very crowded as it’s held in a building. Though the weather was nippy, it quickly got very claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Proper food and water was not available. Well it was – but no one knew where!

So go with a huge bottle of water and after a even huger breakfast! Ummm! Taking a party smart is also a good idea!

Places to stay are not great. Very average!

Food for a vegetarians = bull shit!

One day is enough!

But definitely an experience. Must do it once. Whats not to like about one day of extreme drinking!