Saturday, May 23, 2015

Our final days in Ireland, Belfast and Cabra

Later on  day 10    the bottom was  dropping out on me....   I was feeling  a bit travel weary..  living oout of  a suitcase and  so much   packing and repacking  trying to  get my   loaded  suticase shut and out the door on time  evenry day  was  wearing thin on me...   I was  getting  rather anxious to get to our   destination....  the  capital city of NI, Belfast....

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  Belfast has  a different   tone  from other   cities in Ireland,  I believe it is  because  it  has   seen so much strife in its history...  IN WWII  it was   bombed heavily because of its shipbuilding yards,
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 home of the ill-fated, Titanic!
 but also  because so much of the  "troubles'  during the    Irish rebellion  took  place here...   As soon as our  bus   came  to  stop at our hotel  our guide hopped on and took us on a couple hour bus ride  tour around town, and to tell the truth I   was  almost too tired  to really enjoy it.  But Belfast is  a beautiful  thriving  city!
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One of the most popular sites is the Titanic Museum..
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We  travelled past   the state house... a  beautiful building  that  took up a whole block of the city. 

We  travelled through some parts of town that  are  set apart and  probably not safe to  drive through  at night, 
 because  there are still hard feelings 
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 and the  people who live there  make a very  hard living. There you will see   many more   political murals  painted on   row after row of    buildings...  It wasnt that I was  feeling bad or fearful  in Belfast  but   being a very  sensitive  person, I  could  feel  the   anguish of    a  ravaged  past  in the air  here.

 We stayed in a beautiful  modern hotel, called the Europa...  
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 this hotel is distinguished as being the most bombed hotel in Europe...   during the   heyday of the  Rebellious years...

A lovely place to kick back and put our feet up!


Across the street from our hotel  is the crown bar      a  gorgeous Victorian     establishment   which I visited the next day!

 This gorgeous cathedral was   down the street
 The opera house was  right next to our hotel
 Oh, how I wish we could have been  here long enough to see  this playing there  that week!

 it was  an early night for  me  and a late morning.. our trip was  coming to a close   and  I wanted to  feel up to the last day... We  checked out of   the hotel    and    I was  sure to   visit the Crown bar  just to see the famous  inside....
 One thing  special about it it has  "snugs"     private     booths  for private parties....  actually  behind closed doors...
 Loved the  stained glass

 Here  some of our friends from the trip were  enjoying lunch in their snug!   I knocked and     announced myself... looked like  fun...
 before you knew it we were on our   bus  heading south
 through  an area  where a good friend lives,   through  Newry!

 We were traveling    what I  would consider an interstate  highway     and   speeding along through  beautiful farmland
   We also passed through Dundalk  another  area  from which  a friend I know who lives in England  hailed.

 The  we  turned  off   through some perfectly  lovely  areas  of   quaint   dwellings..
 Loved this   precious  gate house

 to our final destination
 Cabra Castle.....   now here  we  could   take a bit of respite   from our weary, rushed travels!
 The castle was  decked out for a  grand wedding
 We  actually didnt have   accommodations in the castle but in the  converted  stables called the courtyard....
 This was our room.

 the window behind the bed looked out into the courtyard
 a  very nice   modern En suite
 fresh bottled water with the castle's own label.

 Another  suite of rooms    right outside our door  and up the stairs

 right outside our   room   and    between  rows of other 'Stables'

 to the back door of the castle.. then began  the labyrinth!

This fellow stood sentinel by the  back entrance

 down a hall and  up some stairs
 turn  down  another     lengthy hall

 and up more stairs  turn left
    then  turn and  down   a  long flight of stairs
   to a set of  parlors  our group met here   for     instructions  most generally
 right outside this     set of rooms  was  the grand staircase  by the   main entrance.

the    portraits and    collections  of  artifacts    made for  fascinating   study!

 Theses  folks were   doing a bit of rehearsal for the  gala reception!

 A  leisurely stroll around  the castle back to the    stables...   I had heard the castle was haunted and I didnt wish to     get lost...
 This   dining room  would be  our   room for  our lovely  final  dinner in Ireland
 we would  be seated   very near the    chandelier.  I w as on  just a   tiny personal  tour of the  rooms

 I   loved this   salon  with the   mounted   trophies of the hunt

 This     seating area  was    so lovely   but   believe it or not...    it was  quite  warm that afternoon

 This gorgeous cubby  space  was  right across from check in.. I suppose you could call it the lobby!

 This  lovely   dining room was   where we  would   enjoy our last breakfast in Ireland

   yet another more private dining room.

 When I  came back out into this  landing  above the     grand staircase I met  a  sweet  lady   who  was lighting this candle....  I  politely   asked her  if  she could direct me  to     which  dining  room  was   such and  such   so I would know  where to   go for  breakfast the next morning. what  a  delicate  little thing she was    When I asked her  if  she  worked her at the castle since she was lighting the candle...  she said you might say that....  and  she  very kindly  responded  yes she knew all about our group and asked  me questions about  where we had   come from and  what all we had seen
  We had a lovely chat.. I even told  her  about spiritual  things...  she  said she was  just lighting the candles  and I said  well  it is  a great thing to light candles...   how I had lit a candle in St Patricks and why,    and    how   bringing light into the dark is  a   noble that  she  hugged me and  she  told me  " well.  I  told you  that I  guess you could  say I worked here...  My sons  now own the castle....  I live here now with them!"    OH,  I  started to feel sort of foolish,,,,,   but she  quickly out me to ease and thanked me for my  friendliness and  kind words.

 The wolf hound is the    dog of  Ireland and there were  2  here  at Cabra...   their portraits  hung stately in this hallway!

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 Dogs are  revered here  as one can see
 We took time to     show our appreciating to John,  from Cork. our driver,

 then went  in for our  lovely dinner.. Caesar salad
 butternut  squash soup
  and I forgetot o photo it  but prime  steak!   My last  shot   taken of the lovely  shield   right  across from    the door to our room...   we were out  quite early  in the morning  and off to Dublin airport...
  Customs  was quite      intimidating  since we were  packed  to the max  and  not quite  sure   how to declare... but we made it through...

We  had    to  wait for  this Aer Lingus to   land  and   settle  in   before we could take off.
 Soon we were up and     saying our last goodbyes to Ireland...  I wa s  tired   but  sad   to  bid it adieu!
 Less than 7 hours later,  we  were  coming in to land  in Philly!   Our  12  day long   dream of  a lifetime   had come to an end!

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