European Vacation - Part I - Ireland
I'm going to do three posts. Each post will cover a seperate country, this one for example will be about Ireland. The next two will cover Scotland and Germany. The first part of each post will be a synopsis of our travels, but for the full story, you'll have to click the "More" link to see the rest of the post. As I get the photos processed and uploaded, I'll add links to them here as well. The extended post will likely contain a few photos, but the full album will be uploaded to Smugmug
. I hope you enjoy reading!
Part I of John & Teri's European adventure: Ireland
November 2nd - November 6th
England and Ireland
Major Cities Visited:
Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Blarney, Galway
Kissing the Blarney Stone, Irish Pubs, Traditional Irish Songs in Irish Pubs, FOOD, Blarney Castle, Bunratty Castle, The Guinness Factory, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, St. Stephens on the Green, Driving on the LEFT. (more)
Insomnia . . .About three times a year, I go through a horrible bout of insomnia. This last week has been one of those times. I do everything I can to relax. I try to limit my caffeine, I try to take long soothing baths, but nothing seems to help. For example, last night I was taking a bath and could hardly keep my eyes open. So at 10:40, I got out of the bathtub and tried to sleep. When sleep eluded me, at 11:30, I pulled out the iPod and played solitaire trying to get drowsy. The battery of the iPod died at 2:30AM. I think I finally nodded off sometime after 3AM. I was up at 7. And no, I wasn't going shopping. I'm hopeful for sleep tonight. It's been a good 7 days since I've gotten more than 3 - 4 hours of sleep at a stretch.
ThanksgivingIf you're reading this, then odds are you have a roof over your head and hopefully someone to spend the day with. I think too often we forget what Thanksgiving is and merely use it as an excuse to "Go Gastric" for a day. But lets break it down shall we:
1) Thanks - Lets give thanks for what we have. I'm not trying to kid myself in saying that 2008 hasn't been a rough year for a lot of people, yours truly included. But I'm sitting here at the breakfast bar in my home. The home is warm, the turkey is in the oven and the prime rib is soon to follow. I'm thankful for a loving wife, a caring family, a beautiful home, and some pretty terrific friends. If you're in that group, and you know who you are, thank you for you and thank you for me. Without you, there is no me. I love you all and am truly thankful for the support you've given me this year and every year. I only hope I can repay you someday. While the stock market continues to languish and the housing market isn't far behind, we can all count our blessings and know that today, all is forgotten. Today is the day to relish in the warmth of friends and family, eat good food, tell funny stories, undo the belt buckle and give thanks.
2) Giving - For whatever reason, on major holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Teri and are are orphaned. So we try to plan a gathering with friends. Today two of Teri's co-workers, also orphaned, will be joining us for dinner. We love to give during this time of year and what better way to give than to throw a dinner party. So that's what we're doing. I'll admit, that I've always wanted to go serve dinner in a soup kitchen, but my own insecurities have thus far prevented me from doing it. It's always maybe next year. So, maybe next year? For now giving to friends is good enough. Maybe next year, giving to strangers will be.
Happy thanksgiving everyone. I love you. I hope you're home and warm and enjoying the day.
$1.459 for PREMIUM gas this morning!While we were in Europe, there was a time when I filled up and the price was $.99 pounds per Liter. Granted that's still nearly 4 pounds per gallon or about $5.60 a gallon. BUT while I was filling up, it was REALLY cool to watch the quantity go faster than the price. So filling up at Safeway when I got back, they had a thing on the pump that said double rewards for every $100.00 in gift cards you purchase between now and 12/31/08. Just so happens this morning I had to buy $425.00 of gift cards. So normally you'd get $0.10 off per gallon for every $100.00 you spend, or in this case $0.40/gallon. BUT with double rewards, that equalled $0.80/gallon! So Premium was $2.25/gallon . . . with my discount it was $1.45!!! It cost all of $20.00 to fill my car. AWESOME! I know it was a one time thing . . . but still . . .
How Much Storage Do You Need?
Seriously . . . when I was leaving Adobe 6 years ago, we were just looking at implementing our first Terabyte SAN array. Now Iím sure Jerry can give us the actual numbers as to what theyíre using now . . . but that was for a multi-national corporation employing thousands of people. Fast forward to today.
At home I have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device which is a 500 Gb RAID5 (Mike and Brandon, you donít need to know what that means) array. On my laptop I have a 150 Gb hard drive and my home PC I think has a 250 Gb hard drive. So I myself, have nearly 1 Terabyte in storage. And thatís a mere 6 years later.
Today I was looking at upgrading the hard drive on my laptop because I only have 20 Gb (ONLY!) of storage left. If I were to put my music collection on my laptop, that would be gone. So Iím looking at getting a 320 Gb 7200 RPM SATA drive for my laptop. OR a 500 Gb 5400 RPM SATA drive . . . dunno if I really need the extra couple of milliseconds of access time or not . . .
Now I know that my storage doesnít even come close to what some of you have (Steve, Scott?). But Iíd like to insulate myself for the immediate future (3 Ė 5 years) and potentially upgrade the drives in my home NAS. Maybe I should just buy four 500 Gb Drives for 1.5 Terabytes of storage and call it good? (Yes, I know that 4 X 500 = 2,000 but a RAID5 Array uses one of the disks for parity information so should one drive go down, the array can re-build the data when a new drive is inserted . . . OK, Brandon and Mike, now you know what RAID5 is)
Hereís what Iíd like to do (time and money allowing):
- Upgrade drive in laptop to 320 Ė 500 Gb (Cost: Approx. $100.00)
- Upgrade drives in NAS to 500 Gb Each (Cost: $75.00 X 4 = $300.00)
- Build a Windows Home Server and configure auto backups of the laptop(s) and home machines (Cost????)
Itís amazing to me how many technologies have now come to the consumer mass-market that were just being implemented in corporations a few years ago. I have a VoIP phone at home (Comcast). I have a NAS. I have a wireless network with multiple access points (only because I had an extra AP and wanted to be cheeky). What is next? Any pointers on any of the above would be greatly appreciated. Steve? Comments on WHS would be really helpful.
Das Autobahn!Just a quick post today . . . after being up for about 24 hours yesterday flying home from Frankfurt, I've got too much to do today to even really think about blogging. BUT I do intend to do a brain dump complete with pictures of Teri and I's European vacation. There is just one thing I wanted to blog about today. Das Autobahn!
So any red blooded Ameican male (and a few females) that has any sort of love for cars and going fast has dreamed of going full out on the Autobahn in Germany without fear of police (polizei) persecution. When Teri and I were in Frankfurt, we rented a Mini Cooper Clubman (it's the extended version of the Mini Cooper). I wish it were the S model, but it WAS a manual 6 speed, which was nearly good enough. Teri drove down to Heidelberg and I got to drive from Heidelbeg to Wiesbaden the following day. Getting on the A5, the posted speed limit is 100 - 130 KPH depending on where you are, but NO ONE and I mean NO ONE does the posted limit. From Frankfurt to Heidelberg, Teri drove about 140 KPH (About 89 MPH). From Heidelberg to Wiesbaden, I drove on average 160 KPH (100 MPH) with burst to 170 or so. (I'll post the pic Teri took of the speedo later) You know what? Even at those speeds, in the fast lane, I was the slow guy. I kept having to move right to let DELIVERY VANS pass! It was AWESOME! Had I been alone, I would have probably tried to top out the Mini at it's manufacturer's listed top end of 125 MPH . . . but I think Teri would have been a bit peeved at me. It was a BLAST! And I realized that I really do miss having a manual transmission car . . .
More to come . . . we're home safe and sound . . .
We're in Germany!So after we left the pub in St. Andrews, we went out to the old course just to say we'd been there. What a cool place! Just amazing to see places you'd only seen on TV! I've now walked where Tiger walked!
We left the old course and headed towards Stirling. We were going to visit the William Wallace monument, but it was getting late and the weather was nasty so we just drove by and snapped a pic. We ended up at Stirling Castle. I won't say much about it because Teri and I were pretty disappointed.
We headed back to Edinburgh for dinner. Yesterday we spent a couple hours in the city and visited a museum before heading back to the airport for our flight to London and on to Frankfurt. BTW Terminal 5 at Heathrow is amazing!
Now we're at some friends home in Heidelberg getting ready to go to a parade. Tomorrow I guess we'll be in Wiesbaden.
Free Wireless!Sitting in a pub here in St. Andrews and they have free wi-fi! We just were part of the Remberance day parade. That must be like our memorial day. Pretty cool to witness. We took a quick trip through the ruins of St. Andrews cathedral, but to be quite honest, it's bloody cold today! Next we'll head to the old course for some quick pics and a tour through the pro shop if possible then off to Stirling for another castle and the William Wallace monument. I swear, if I see another picture of Mel Gibson in Braveheart, I'll scream!
Tonight will be our last in edinburgh, and tomorrow we'll be off to Germany! Tschuss!
The whirlwind continues!So after Teri and I left Blarney, we made our way to Galway via Shannon and Bunratty castle. The drive was long, but the trip to Bunratty was well worth it! Bunratty, unlike Blarney is an intact castle and it was really cool to see a good idea of how people lived in midevil times.
Arriving in Galway, we checked in to our bed and breakfast and walked down to the water and hit yet another Irish pub. All the pubs in Ireland are now non smoking which is REALLY nice! We walked back to the B&B and checked movie times. We headed out to the theater and watched Quantum of Solace. Good flick, but it was bloody hot in the theater! I can't believe the destroyed a perfectly good Aston Martin in the first 5 minutes!
In the morning after breakfast we drove back to Dublin. Don't let the map fool you, driving across Ireland takes longer than you'd think. In the US we've built bypasses around small towns, but not in Europe! It's kind of nice because you get to see a lot of small towns, but it takes forever to get anywhere!
Once we got back to Dublin, we headed to the Guinness brewery. Now I'm not much of a beer drinker and I've never cared for Guinness only having sips here and there. It was neat to see how it was brewed. Acted the tour you get a complimentary pint and I'm happy to say I finished the whole thing! I'm still not a Guinness drinker, but I made it through.
Next up was a trip to Trinity College to see the book of Kells. Very cool to see and the Long room in the library is amazing! We spent the next couple of hours wandering around Dublin around St. Stephens On The Green and their big shopping district. Then it was back in the car for a trip through hell! The drive from downtown to the airport is maybe 5 miles. It took over an hour!
After finding a room for the night we dropped of the car and instead of taking the shuttle back to the hotel, Teri suggested we walk. I think the walk to the hotel must have been close to two miles and oddly enough we could see it from the car drop off. We must have walked around the largest block in Ireland!
At 3:30 Friday morning, we got up packed and headed to the airport. A quick flight to Scotland and we were in Edinburgh! We checked in to the airport Hilton and hopped a bus into town. We wandered around Princess Street for a bit and looked at a bunch of Monuments. It still amazes me go old these places are! We headed across the North bridge and up The Royal Mile. We took a tour through St. Giles cathedral and a tour through The Scotch Whiskey Experience. That was really neat to see how whiskey is distilled and aged. Continuing up The Royal Mile, we ended up at The Edinburgh Castle. WOW! Amazing! This is by far the coolest castle I've ever seen. And the view of Edinburgh is awesome! Wd got to see the crown jewels of Scotland too! After the castle we wandered around for a bit more and finally hopped the bus back to the hotel. (After chasing it around Edinburgh for about an hour!)
Today we hopped a tour bus and saw a lot more of the city. We saw where they executed people and ended up near Hollyrood park. From there, we took a walk up to Arthur's Seat, again what a view! We walked by The Palace of Hollyrood and saw the ruins of an Abbey. We made our way back around Princess Street for some dinner. I was bound and determined to try Haggis before we left Scotland, so tonight was the night! And you know what? I LOVED it! Now we're sitting back in the lobby of the hotel enjoying some dessert. Tomorrow we're off to St. Andrews and the birthplace of Golf. I can't wait! The tour also takes us through the villages of Fife. Until I find wireless again, take care!
Kissed the stone!Teri and I were up early this morning to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney stone. So beware, We've now been blessed (Cursed?) with the gift of gab! We woke up at 2:30 this morning (6:30PM PST) and switched on the television to watch election results. Looks like we won't be living in Ireland! President Obama has such a nice ring to it doesn't it?
Today we're off to Bunratty castle and Galway. We're hoping to find a theater playing Quantum of Solace. We watched a Bond movie in London when we were there 9 years ago, so it's kind of our European tradition now! Till the next internet hotspot!
J & T
Posting from an Irish Pub!
Teri and I are here in Blarney Ireland in a nice Irish Pub, the Muskerry Arms
! No free wi-fi yet, so using a little internet box on the wall. Pretty cool! LOTS of travelling so far! We had a great lunch in an Irish pub today in Waterford and met some really cool people. They even sang to us and told us some dirty Irish jokes! Driving on the left side of the road took some getting used to, but the mirrors on the car are still intact! Tomorrow we'll head to Blarney castle and the Wollen Mills. If time permits, we'll go to the Jameson factory in Cork. Then it's off to Galway! Ireland is really beautiful. If the right guy doesn't win today, we may end up staying! We're off to listen to some Irish music in . . . guess what? Another pub! Until the next internet box . . . we'll talk to you later!