Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Hi All,

We're in Dublin right now, relaxing before heading to the Ireland V Italy match at Landsdowne road. The game is a friendly but hopefully it should be a fairly competitive game. We are hoping to meet some friends from Boston after the game.

It's been a relative quiet few days so far in Ireland.The last few days have been spent up in Dundalk with my sister Tracy and her husband Joe and their four kids: Cian, Cliodhna,Sean and Eoin. Other than that we have spent the weekend in Kilkenny at Pat's stag party, toured Phoenix park in the heart of Dublin and generally ate and drank the time away.

This weekend we are heading home to Limerick with Tracy and the kids. Next week we hope to go to some sights in Dublin and of course Pat gets married, so keep tuned for updates on that.

Hope all is well out there...

Take it easy!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Caliente! Caliente! Caliente!

Hola amigos!

How is everyone today? Well the word of the week for us has been caliente as it is quite humid and sweaty here in Barcelona...but we have been living it up regardless!

Well, when we wrote last we were on our way to see U2...well, most of you know how I feel about U2 and probably realize that I am completely biased in my opinion...but it was definitely the absolute best show I have ever seen them play!! They were supported by Keane - a band from England - who did a pretty good job getting the crowd excited. U2 were definitely in top form - when they started off the show with Vertigo (¨Hello, Hello¨- HOLA¨) I knew it would be a great show. The crowd of 80,000 people went wild everytime Bono said anything in Spanish and repeatedly broke out into the Ole Ole Ole chant that you always hear at soccer matches. The atmosphere was really amazing at the open air Camp Nou stadium. Our seats were pretty good and we were just relieved that we did not have to queue for hours to get a spot to stand...they played most of the songs from their new album and a lot of their old favorites. There was a lot of politics and ranting by Bono as usual, but one unique thing was that it was The Edge´s birthday and so we got to sing to him and Bono gave him a F.C. Barcelona jersey as a present at the end of the concert. The whole show was quite amazing and we are really looking forward to seeing them in December in Portland on the very last date of the tour...

On Monday, we actually went back to the Camp Nou stadium to take a tour of it and to take in the Museum of the F.C. Barcelona soccer team. It was interesting to see the stadium the day after the U2 concert without all of the thousands of people there...the museum was also quite good...steeped in history and really interesting displays and I know Mike enjoyed it quite a bit.

That afternoon we took the metro out to Parc Guell...a famous housing project designed by Gaudi in his modernist stype for the rich at the beginning of last century that was a commercial failure but is now a major tourist site. We walked around the park and took in some really spectacular views of the city and made our way through Gaudi´s house that was full of interesting pieces designed by him and other architects and artists.

That evening we walked around the Barri Gotic and stopped in a quiet bar called the Q bar on one of the side streets for a cocktail. There was a very laidback atmosphere here and it was a nice place to relax for awhile. Then, we walked to a tapas bar that was almost more like an Italian deli and had a delicious meal and some lovely Spanish chardonnay. Afterwards, we went down Las Rambles and stopped in an Australian bar called Hogan´s just for the laugh and then went down to an Irish bar to finish off the night. A very long day with no siesta so we were absolutely worn out by the end of it.

Today, our final full day here we spent in the Montjuic area which is quite nice and full of tons of touristy sites. We took the metro to the Funicular de Montjuic, a train that takes you partway up the mountain. We walked the rest of the way through a lovely park up to the Castell de Montjuic and took in the view from the castle walls. We have mastered the art of walking slowly on these unbearably hot days and it has helped conserve our energy considerably. After this, we walked down through another park, past the pools where the olympic diving events were held in 1992 and tried to go to the Fundacio Joan Miro art museum but it was just too packed to consider going in. It was a pity to miss it as I am sure it is quite good but the hoards of tourists were really getting to us at this point and we decided to skip it. Just another reason to come back to this beautiful city...not that we need one. Everywhere you look there is something lovely or interesting to see here...a fiest for the eyes. So, anyway, we walked to the Estadi Olimpic to see the stadium where the 1992 summer olypmics were staged and on to the Palau Sant Jordi and the fountains around it. The Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya is quite an impressive building from the outside...again, we just did not have the energy to try to tackle this bohemoth today but it made for some nice photos. Our final tourist stop was the Poble Espanyol or Spanish Village which our guide book warned is a tourist trap but we found it to be quite good. It was build for the Spanish crafts section of the 1929 exhibition and is comprised of plazas and streets lined with copies of typical buildings and architecture from all of the regions of Spain. These buildings house shops and restaurants but many of them are quite unique and you can watch them making objects out of glass, leather, or other materials in many places. We sat down at a touristy looking Tapas bar inside but it turned out to be one of the best we have visited. Sometimes you just can´t tell what is good from the outside. We spent a few hours just sitting and chatting...enjoying our last few hours in this place.

It has been a truly amazing time here in Spain and we really only had a small taste...we look forward to returning and hopefully being able to speak better Spanish next time...

Well, tomorrow we head off to Dublin to reenter the world of English speaking people...we are very excited to see our friends and family in Ireland...hope all is well with everyone.

for now....Adios.


Sunday, August 07, 2005



We made it to Barcelona safe and sound. Our 30 hour flight experience from Sydney went fairly smoothly. The flights from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur to Vienna and Vienna to Barca were a smooth enough experience. We had one blip. In Sydney, Austrian Airlines informed us that our baggage was overweight by 10Kilos and that they charged $30 per kilo for excess luggage. So we had to lose 10Kilos pretty fast. We ended up tossing some old clothes out at the airport. What a way to clean out the wardrobe!

After that the flights went pretty good. Austrian airlines turned out to be probably the best flying experiences we´ve ever had. They were very professional, the food was great and they were very polite. Also our fellow travellers seemed to be very laid back so it made for a pretty good experience overall. In Vienna we had a stopover of about 4 hours and in Kuala Lumpur it was about 1 hour, so overall we were travelling over 30 hours!

When we got to Barca we were of course quite tired. After getting a taxi, we took a long nap, woke up at 11 and headed for dinner. Barca is a great city that way. They don´t go out until at least 9 for dinner. My kind of city! We walked down La Rambla and had some Tapas and beer at a local taverna. We walked down the partying La Rambla street for an hour. What a place! The street was abuzz with street performers, parties and general mayhem. On our way home we found a nice little Inn just around the corner from our hotel. By chance it was called the Limerick bar. We stopped in and had a pint of Guinness! A nice end to our first European night.

On Friday we walked all over the city to replace a pair of shoes left behind in Sydney airport. We visited the Arc De Triomf, the shopping district around Rambla De Catalunya and the Barri Gothic. Still being jetlagged, we had a nice siesta and promptly went out that night at 11 for Tapas.

On Saturday we put our tourist shoes on again and went visiting the Barri Gothic, La Rambla, the Picasso museum, the Port of Barcelona, Els Quatre Gats (famous bar that Picasso drank in) and the Sou Cathedral. We then had a nice dinner at Flash Flash, a nice local omlette house and retired for a few pints in Limerick (haha!).

It´s Sunday today, which means that it is U2 day. We are relaxing a little before the show. We already went to visit the Nou Camp where the concert is on and there were hundreds queueing outside the stadium by lunchtime! We couldn´t get to do the Nou Camp tour, so we headed to the famous Temple De La Sagrada Familia, the ongoing Gaudi project, which was first started in 1882, and is still being built! What a site! A very interesting architectural spectacle!

That´s about it for now. We are really looking forward to U2 tonight (hope it cools down though!). Before that we are going for our daily siesta! We hope to have some updates on the concert and the rest of our Barca trip soon so stay tuned!

Adios Amigos!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Today Sydney..tomorrow Barcelona

We are currently back in Sydney. It's our last day in Aus(boo-hoo!). Tomorrow we head for Barcelona(Barca)..We've had a great time in Aus. Thanks to our hosts Mossie and Dre for putting up with us in Sydney.

We've had a fine last week in Aus. On Tuesday we went to the most Easterly point in Australia, Cape Byron. What a beautiful spot! Cape Byron is a national park that hugs the coastline. It has a famous old lighthouse and a nice path that tourists can walk to visit the Easterly point...which we did of course. The day was beautiful and both the dolphins and the lizards were on display.

On Wednesday we arrived in Cessnock, the heart of Hunter valley wine country, about 200Km from Sydney. We headed straight to the information center for some info on the wineries, and surprisingly the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted! From the info center we headed straight for a winery called McGuigan's. The wine was good but the cheese was even better next door at the Hunter Valley Cheese Company..we came away with a lot of yummy homemade cheese and crackers. For the rest of the day we toured various wineries: Tamburlaine, Lindemans, Rosemount and Ivanhoe. After checking in to our tourist park, we took a bus to a local brewery, Potters Brewery for a pint. After all this drinking, we were understandably very tired and it was time to retire for the next day.

Thursday in the Hunter valley was not as hectic. We visited a chocolate company, the Olive center, the Champagne house winery, Sobels wines where we met the star of the movie "Hook", a St. Bernard dog called Joe, another cheese company and finally the Blue tongue brewery. Blue Tongue had a very tasty Autumn beer that was a perfect finish to our Aus wine tour.

On Friday we headed back to the city. We parted with our house of 50 days, the campervan. It has been a great journey in it...we definitely recommend travelling this country in one.

Since returning we have been quiet enough. We went for some Indonesian/Thai food on Saturday night with Mossie and Dre, on Sunday we visited Fox Studios and Centennial park, a beautiful park in Sydney. We toured Stadium Australia at Sydney Olympic Park on Monday.

That's probably the final update on Aus. Tomorrow we head to Barca, a 27 hour flight with stopovers (ouch!). On Sunday we go to Barca's famous football (soccer for the heathens!) stadium called the Camp Nou to see U2 and we finally head into Ireland on the 10th. Stay posted for more updates soon.