These Boots Were Made for Walking ...

July 30, 2005
We lived in the lower floor of this Georgian home"Walk" is the word of the day, and now that we're back in Dublin, it is likely the theme of the week. We started out by walking to our prior dwelling - that is, our apartment on Sussex Terrace. It looks just exactly the same as when we lived there, except that the Hertz hire car that was just down the street is now history. We continued up Leeson Street, and booked our next accommodation at the Stephen's Hall Hotel, then walked along St. Stephen's Green to a pizzeria that we always enjoy. From there, we walked down Grafton Street and started our very long (about 2-3 miles) journey back to our hotel, stopping off at one of our favorite pubs along the way. We also had to stop and pick up our laundry - luckily, it wasn't raining, for once!

All in all, we estimated that we walked about 6 miles today, and needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we arrived at Bewley's Hotel (yes, Grandma, in addition to the "little" tea room on Grafton Street and a near monopoly on the coffee/tea market in Ireland, Bewley's has five hotels around the city ( - I'm sure your friend, Ruth would enjoy knowing that!). Except for the fact that it is in Ballsbridge, which is just a little out of the way, the hotel was fantastic! There was broadband internet access (free!!) and we had a small fridge and microwave in our room. We really didn't need much more, other than a foot massage at the end of the day.

July 31, 2005
We checked out of the Bewley's Hotel today, as they are full for the rest of the week, due to the annual Horse Show at the Royal Dublin Society, just adjacent to the hotel. Our new hotel is in an old schoolhouse, just down the canal from where we used to live. The Schoolhouse was one of our favorite bars/restaurants when we lived here, particularly for Sunday brunch, which we normally spent reading the Sunday Times (London newspaper). Our room wasn't quite ready when we arrived, so in keeping with tradition, we went to the bar for brunch, which consisted of a full Irish breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, black and white pudding (reminds me of scrapple), toast, coffee and juice - basically more meat than you can ever imagine eating!). After gorging ourselves with that feast, we went to our room briefly, and then set off to the museums.

Marion SqureAlong the way, we strolled through Merrion Square and enjoyed the typical Sunday display of art. What a variety of paintings and styles - everything from watercolor and pencil to oil and everything from traditional landscapes to abstract portraits. We followed this with a couple of hours in the Archaeology and History Museum - several new exhibits have been added in the last two years, and we really enjoyed the museum, as always. After the visit to the museum, we walked along a few of the smaller streets, up to Dawson Street, and the Sam Sara bar, where we stopped for a refreshment. From there, we walked along St. Stephens Green to Baggot Street and the Grand Canal back to our hotel. We spent about an hour reading the newspaper, and then made our way down to the hotel restaurant for a light dinner, after which, we "retired to our room for the night."

August 1, 2005
Today is the August bank holiday here in Ireland, and in keeping with holiday tradition, we got a bit of a late start this morning. It was nearly 10:30 when we made our way downstairs to breakfast. It was really yummy - we both had French toast. After breakfast, we walked through Merrion Square, once again, and stopped in for a quick tour of the National Museum of Art. I just finished a book that had a reference to Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid", and I read that it was in the National Museum of Ireland, and wanted to see it. The museum actually has quite an impressive collection.

A look down the stret in Temple BarWe left the museum and walked up to Temple Bar, where we stopped in at the Porterhouse, a microbrewery, which also features about 200 bottled beers from all around the globe. We spent the rest of the afternoon just meandering around - the sun was shining for once, and we just enjoyed our day.

August 2, 2005
John, we are wishing you a very Happy Birthday and are fondly remembering your birthday celebration here in Dublin (and Scotland) just a few years ago!! Hope you have a wonderful day.

Today we took the first step towards getting our visas for Russia. I went into LRG's office, so that I could fax the necessary documentation to the Marriott Hotel in Moscow, which will allow them to issue the required voucher/invitation for our visa application. It all seems a little ridiculously complicated, but hopefully, we will be able to go to the Embassy either tomorrow or Thursday, and be done with the process! It also gave me a chance to visit with my former co-workers, which was really nice.

I left the office and walked back to the Schoolhouse to meet Mark. We changed hotels once again today - we just can't bring ourselves to pay $300-$400 a night in Dublin!! Everything really does seem quite a bit more expensive than it was two years ago when we left. This evening, we went for an early dinner at around 6:00 to our favorite Thai restaurant here in Dublin. Even it seemed pricey - dinner for two with drinks, but no dessert or coffee was Euro 85- (about $105). The food was just as lovely as we remembered, so it was a really nice treat.

Bonnie finally broke down and picked up the new Harry Potter book tonight - I haven't been able to talk to her since she sat down on the couch 3 hours ago. Well, actually, I can talk to her, but I might as well be talking to the wall!

August 3, 2005
St. Stephens GreenToday, we received our return fax from the Moscow Marriott, well sort of ....We only got one set of documents, which was for Bonnie but alas, even it had a wrong passport number and incorrect dates for travel. Since they already had our signatures, we were able to use e-mail to contact them with the corrections. Bonnie's came back almost immediately to the Hotel fax, but again nothing for poor Markus.

We dropped off more laundry today (seems to be a way of life when living out of a suitcase), and got a few other errands out of the way. We also stopped into my favorite wine store in the IFSC, and I bought a bottle of Rioja Reserva, which is absolutely gorgeous. This evening, we walked up Grafton Street to Marks and Spencer's Food Hall and picked up a few items for dinner. Our room at the Stephen's Hall Hotel is actually a 1-bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen, so we are able to "self-cater" occasionally.

We walked back to our hotel through St. Stephen's Green, which looked really beautiful in the evening sunshine.

August 4, 2005
I guess the third time really is a charm, after one more e-mail yesterday, Mark's visa paper work arrived via fax this morning. We think that we now have all the necessary documentation for our Russian Visas under control, so we are off to the Embassy tomorrow to give it a try.

It was mostly cloudy today, so we didn't really venture out too much (we only walked about 3 miles today, as opposed to the usual 5-6 miles that we have been doing since we have been in Dublin). We walked over to a favorite pub for a light lunch, and then went in search of a packaging store (Mail Boxes Etc.) to get a box. As predicted, we (mostly Bonnie) over packed, and we want to ship some clothes home. We also think that we can eliminate a backpack carry-on in the process! It will be interesting to see what is left in our luggage at the end of this adventure.

Tonight, we had dinner with a friend of mine from the office, Christine Flynn, and her boyfriend, David (Mom, do you remember Christine from when we toured the Guinness mansion?). David is from Australia, and he was an absolute wealth of information on things to see and do, not just in Australia, but also New Zealand! We had a really nice meal at an Italian restaurant in Temple Bar, and London Life picked up the tab!! It was a really enjoyable way to end a not-so-enjoyable day.

August 5, 2005
Well, our first foray to the Russian Embassy was in vain. All of our paper work was in order, and there is no personal interview required for Mark, as he is over the age of 45. They also, very graciously, will waive the interview for me, even though I don't meet the age qualification. However, we were led to believe that as long as we had the tourist voucher for the first part of our journey, we could submit the application. This is not the case - at least not with the Consulate in Ireland - tourist vouchers for your entire journey are required, so it was back to square one.

We left the Embassy, and went out to the airport to pick up a rental car for the weekend. We drove along the coast through Malahide and Howth on our way back to the city center. It was a gorgeous day, and the sea views were simply stunning.

The rest of the day was pretty low key. I was so frustrated with the Russian visa process, and this put me in such a mood, that I really wasn't interested in anything. So, we chose the self-catering option once again and after dinner, I finished reading Harry Potter. Although I have really enjoyed the entire Harry series, and highly recommend them, I have to admit to being disappointed in this book. To me, it just wasn't as well written as the others, particularly the first three. The story line is becoming increasingly complicated (and harder to follow when two years elapse between books), and to me, the dialogue was trite. That said, I still couldn't wait to finish it!