Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ireland and the Rideau Canal

Hard to believe that it was just one week from today that I was in Ireland. The nine days I was there added up to a very pleasant time. My travels started in Ottawa and the Air Canada flight to London/Heathrow was delayed due to bad weather in Toronto (not an unknown experience in many other places, in addition to Toronto!) Consequently, I missed my connection from Heathrow to Shannon, but other than having several hours to wait for the next flight, it was not an unpleasant experience. At the Aer Lingus centre, there is a comfortable area with couches and cafe, where I waited.

The Aer Lingus flight to Shannon didn't take long--I think I slept most of the time. Once I'd collected my suitcase, I went looking for a taxi to take me to my first hotel, the Bunratty Castle. I didn't see a taxi rank and asked a man in the terminal where I could find a taxi. His response was that they are very relaxed in Shannon (Ireland?) and he called a man over--my taxi driver. The fare to the Bunratty Castle was a flat rate and during the trip, the driver told me about past and current economic conditions in Ireland and pointed out the number of trees which had been uprooted by a recent 'mini-hurricane').

Throughout the entire trip, I learned a lot and only have positive memories. Although I was on a fam. (travel agent jargon for familiarization), the itinerary wasn't exactly what I intend to offer for our tour, 'Irish Treasures'. However it's meant that I have a much better idea of our route and hotels where we will stay. In fact, while I was in Dublin, I visited four different hotels and decided on one which overlooks St. Stephen's Green. Also in Dublin, I also went to the yarn shop, called 'This is Knit' in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in central Dublin. The owner Jackie has an excellent selection of yarn and books--a place we'll be visiting for sure. One evening I also went on a 'Dublin Literary Pub Crawl', another event I intend to repeat.

I just have to finalize a couple of details and then will be sending the information to my talented, long-suffering website guy. I can tell you it's been confirmed that Carol Feller will be meeting us at the wonderful country hotel, Ballymaloe, for workshops. Later in the tour, we'll also be staying at the Mustard Seed and Harvey's Point hotels.

This afternoon I walked the short distance from where I live to a pedestrian bridge overlooking the Rideau Canal. I'm happy to report that many people were skating and the ice condition still looked great. Canadians have our American friends to thank for the existence of the Canal.

For anyone who doesn't know the history: it was dug out by hand in the 1800's and extends from Ottawa (on the Ottawa River) to Kingston on the St. Lawrence River, and was built with many locks. At the time, Canada was a colony of Britain and our British masters were afraid the U.S. (relations weren't as amicable then) would take control of the St. Lawrence River from Montreal and there would be no way for shipping and communications to Toronto.

I took some photos but now can't figure out how to download them. Will get help!

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