Brigid Travels

Updates from The Road

Scarborough England [2018]

We took a day trip from York to Scarborough, which was really gorgeous and very walkable. We had breakfast (and 4-across) at Sunny's, went to Anne Bronte's grave, to Scarborough Castle (next set of pictures) and walked down to North Bay, stopping to watch some skaters at HairyBob's Skatepark and Dirtjumps, around to South Bay and took the funicular back up to town!

And the main attraction: Scarborough Castle! Spectacular!!

York England [2018]

One of the fun things to do in York is pick up a Cat Trail map and explore the city!

Harry Potter Stuff!


Where we stayed - the Beehive!

Cinnamon Club, London [2009]

Last night we had an absolutely amazing meal, at the Cinnamon Club in the old Westminster Library ( and they don't even have a sign outside, that's how good they are - great recommendation by our fabulous hotel, the City Inn. Best hotel of the trip - they even have a computer in the room! Today, our last honeymoon day not in a plane/airport, our expected highlight will be Churchill's cabinet war rooms!

Disaster averted [2009]

So what would be the worst thing to lose on a trip like this? Right, the camera. Guess who did that? Well, ok I didn't exactly lose it - I knew I had left it on the bus soon after we were in the taxi to the airport and it went off wherever. Augh!! And since it was Saturday, the bus station office was closed, and the information line was only in Swedish, so I didn't even know what options to push to try to get to speak to someone!!! We were frantic!! Luckily we had met a couple who took the bus with us from Åre and they were held up at the bus station for a bit. It was a guy who had, oddly enough, played for Fresno State (Go Bulldogs! says Larry P), his Swedish wife and their adorable 4 month old. She was so sweet, she got on the phone, stayed on hold while we took 2 different cars to the airport, and by the time we met back up she had the good news that the camera had been found! She talked to the off duty driver and arranged to have our taxi run back and get it, and about 10 minutes before boarding I had the camera back in my hands! phew. I asked if it was a good passenger and the driver said he was happy to have a good story to tell the family at dinner that night! Thank you thank you thank you!

rafting [2009]

We picked a good rainy day for rafting, the rain was much warmer than the mountain water!! We were wearinmg wetsuits and helmets, and were fully immersed a number of times, some on purpose, some not. We had a blast riding the rapids, doing a cannonball off a cliff into the water, and at one point just floating on our backs. Whee!! Tomorrow we take a bus to a taxi to a plane to another plane to a train to a subway ending up in our hotel in London. Phew. Sweden is amazing, we had just an incredible time!

Moosen! [2009]

We took a nice bike ride (about 6 mi) out to the moose farm, on the other side of Duved. We learned a bunch about moose in Sweden (they are like deer on the east coast, with a hunting season, sometimes regarded as pests, dangerous on roads) before heading down to the enclosure. It was a warm day so they were cooling off in the shade, and we were able to go in with them since they needed some coaxing and were very docile, instead of us being behind a fence :) Arthur was the most friendly and we were able to feed him small potatoes, which apparently are like candy for them! Very cool! Oh, and they make a great veggie pie!

Right next to the farm was a monument to the Karoliners, a group of Swedish soldiers that mostly died in the mountains when their attempt to take over Norway went bust and they got lost on the way home in the winter, in summer clothes. Unfortunately bugs that looked like lovebugs infested the area so I had a little screaming-like-a-girl fit running away from it, after admiring the beautiful view of meandering river and lazy farms.

Another very good day :)

Hiking to the top of Mt Årestkutan [2009]

This was a difficult hike, but along the way we got to pick wild blueberries so it's all good :) The trail started out through the woods, by babbling brooks and small cascading waterfalls, then proceeded through the fields where we picked said blueberries. But then the hard part started, with rocky outcroppings that we had to scramble over, and the trail marked by poles painted red - pick your own way to get from one to the next. It reminded me of the middle part of hiking Mt St Helen's in that way, but steeper.


There were some pockets of snow as we got closer to the top, so Steve made a snowman, Gunnar, while he waited for me to huff and puff to him. It really is spectacular, though, and worth it. From the top you can see all the lakes and surrounding hills. It now seems obvious that folks from Scandinavia would settle in Wisconsin and the 'land of a thousand lakes' :) There was a cafe at the top which is the only place you can get a pin proving that you made it to the top... but it closes at 4:00 and we got there at 4:30 :( (post script: we talked to the very helpful tourist office about it and they arranged to have 2 brought down for us - so sweet!).

We had debated taking the gondola down (we had hiked up the back way) but the decision was made for us as the last car had already left. So we scrambled down, checking out the downhill bike trails (crazy!) and some parasailers that were floating in the breeze on the way. The knees definitely ached, though!! It was nice to get toward the bottom where there was a bit of mud to cushion the steps! Tough, but definitely worth it :)

on the Railway to Hell (and Trondheim) [2009]

It was a cold rainy day in Hell... really!

We took the train from Åre to Trondheim, stopping in Hell, Norway on the way.

It's just a little place, but good for some pictures!

Trondheim was pretty amazing. First we stopped at a book store since there weren't any English-Swedish translation books in our little hamlet of Åre, but discovered the Scandinavian rivalry extends to book stores. They only had Norwegian, no Swedish or Danish or Finnish, except one little Lonely Planet book in the corner with all of them! So we picked that up.

Next stop was the Archbishop's Palace Museum, Crown Jewels and Nidaros Cathedral. Stunning cathedral - best I've seen, including Italy. We even got there just in time to hop on the last tower climb of the day, up lots of very skinny stone steps, to the top where there were gorgeous views of Norway's 3rd largest city, and we could look down at very cool gargoyles :) Fabulous. The one wall has 3 rows of statues plus a handful more on the towers, including St Gertrude and even a St Bridget (the Swedish one, not the Irish one). Stunning.

We got lost on the way back to the train station, which was a bit stressful, but it all worked out. Great day!

Ziplining!!! [2009]

We had a fabulous time on the 'extreme' zipline course -- even went upside down for 2 of the runs!!

It was a beautiful course over wooded ravines and streams :) Lots of screaming by me, in a good way! Definitely the best course (of the 3 I've done). Looking forward to more thrills doing whitewater rafting on Fri.

In Sweden! [2009]

No internet convenient in London, have to update later, but we made it to Åre and are booking ziplining and rafting for later this week! Highlight of London was seeing a version of the play Peter Pan in a tent in Kensington Park, absolutely fabulous!!! more later...

Denmark [2005]


We mostly stayed in Copenhagen.


We spent a long weekend only the wonderful island of Bornholm.


Ribe is one of the oldest cities in the world.

Dublin, ancient stuff, brawl [2000]


I have just a few more hours in Dublin! The last time I wrote was Monday. On Monday, I was not feeling so hot, so instead of heading out on a train, I decided to hang around Dublin. I did some souvenier shopping, had some yummy Italian food for lunch, then went on the Jameson distillery tour. It's similar to the Guiness 'tour' - they have some dioramas (spelling?) set up and don't actually make the stuff there anymore. That evening I went to what was advertised as the "home of Bailey's", which was a short movie and a drink at a bar in a shopping plaza connected to a racetrack (!). I don't recommend that one. Also Monday I took my first malaria tablet (whoohoo!!). The first of 8.

Tuesday I wasn't feeling worse, so I went on an all-day bus tour, stopping at the Hill of Tara (ancient sacred spot), saw the castle that was the centerpiece of the movie 'Braveheart' (no, Mel was nowhere to be found), stopped at Slane for lunch. There are rock concerts on the lawns around Slane Castle - Springsteen was there in the mid-80's. That night I decided it was about time for more Irish music. It is so handy to have that bar with nightly music just downstairs! I found out that about 50 Irishmen will be descending on San Diego next spring, for a wedding. Also, I heard of a good San Diego Irish bar - the Old Sod (or maybe it's Auld Sod). I'll have to check it out when I get home.

Wednedsay I was feeling much worse, so I spent most of the day in bed watching the Olympics - mostly swimming. In the afternoon, I shipped a huge box of stuff home (I didn't realize I had accumulated so much!). It'll get there in 6 weeks, when I get home. That night I went to the Olympia Theater and saw Trisha Yearwood. I was in about the 10th row, so it was a great show.

Thursday I was feeling better and took the train to Athlone, checked out the castle on the Shannon River there, and took a bus to Clonmacnoise, an ancient Christian site. It was inundated with American tour bus patrons, so I slipped out the back cemetery and checked out the Nun's Chapel which was just as dramatic as any of the other 7 church ruins in the complex. I knew about it thanks to my wonderful Lonely Planet guidebook!

My next stop was Kildare, where St Brigid started her abbey. I got there just in time to climb the tower (I hadn't realized I could climb the tower! It's the 2nd highest round tower in Ireland and the tallest that you can actually climb (of the 2). Then I wandered around the grounds, and the caretaker snuck me into the church though it was officially closed. Very beautiful church. My next destination was the Irish National Stud Farm, so I hustled the few miles out of town to try to get there before they closed at 6, arriving at 5:45 (yay!) but their last tour was at 5, so they were effectively closed at 5 (boo). Walking around, the only animals in the fields were cows. On my way back to town, I followed the signs to St Brigid's Holy Well - it took me down a serene secluded country road. Birds chirping, breeze blowing, sun waning but still shining. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, by the time I sojourned to the train station, I had missed it by 5 minutes and was starting to rain. I spent the 1-1/2 hours to the next train having dinner at a pub (Silken Thomas) and hanging out on the platform in the rain because I thought the train came 1/2 hour before it actually arrived!

On Friday, much of center city Dublin was blocked off as a pedestrian zone and the local trains were free - a few other cities in Europe did the same thing at the same time to try to encourage public transportation. I took the DART to Dalkey and walked to Killiney along the sea. Stunningly beautiful, green water, sandy/rocky beach (though much of it was covered in aromatic kelp). This is the most expensive houses in Ireland - it was a bit like wandering around Bel Air. But I didn't see Bono. I cut off the road on a path that appeared to lead down to the beach. It went over a railroad and there was a bit of graffiti on it - 'the Beatles Rule', 'clothing optional beach',... I thought it was just graffiti, but as I rounded the last turn in the path I realized the clothing optional statement was true, and it appeared to be some sort of organized thing. So I went back up, and took the next path down to the beach!

I took it to the other end of its track and had dinner in the seaside town Howth. Last night I went to the Celt Pub to get my last night of Irish music - 5 or so girls who were very good. People keep talking about the Irish group the Corrs, who is apparently enjoying some success in the States right now - everyone is very proud of them! Afterwards I went to the Zanzibar night club and walking home, the guy I was walking with had a freak (who we later learned just finished a 7 year jail term) land a flying kick on his back, for no reason, after we had watched him chase after a car and rip off the rear windshield wiper. This was quickly followed by a brawl in the fast food joint that he dove into. So I got to meet some of Dublin's finest Garda (police). Interesting last night in Ireland.

Today I'm off for Nairobi. I'm not sure when I'll be able to write again, but worst case scenario, I'll write it all up when I get home at the end of October (I'm keeping a pretty detailed journal).

Hope all is going well for you - bye from Dublin! Brigid

more Dublin and Northern Ireland [2000]


I guess the last time I wrote was a little over a week ago - when Cindy went home. Lots of stuff to report. I spent Fri and Sat mostly recovering from our whirlwind week, plus doing laundry (required quite a bit of effort), grocery shopping and I took a bus tour - one of those open top, double deck ones. It only rained a little :) I had been to most places, but I it was a good overview, and I'll make sure I get back to Kilmainham Jail to do the tour.

Sunday I went to mass in Latin and there was a boys choir - really beautiful and interesting. Then I headed to the National Library and the National Museum. The library isn't normally open on Sunday, so I didn't have my geneological stuff with me, but found a record of an ancestor, John Wilkinson, in 1861 (might have been 1833) that rented land near a lighthouse on Rathlin Island and had to pay £6 in taxes. After that, I caught some of the All-Ireland National Hurling Championship (I think it was Kilkenney-orange/black stripes- and Omagh-green/white/orange). The ones in orange/black won. The town was not nearly as wild as I expected for that. That night, I went to a sing-along screening of the Sound of Music. Very cute.

Monday I spent most of the day at the National Library looking for ancestors, with not much luck. Almost all of their records are from 1861 forward, and I already have at least that much for the 4 branches of my ancestrors I was looking for. I did find a few books on Rathlin Island, though, which I skimmed to get familiar with my next destination.

Tuesday I got on the train at 7:30am, and 3 train changes and 2 buses later I arrived in Ballycastle at about 6pm for the night. On the way, between connections, I wandered around Lisburn and then Portrush, and took a tour of the Old Bushmills distillery in, oddly enough, Bushmills. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous - rolling lush green fields separated by crumbling stone walls, with cows and sheep. It reminds me alot of where I grew up in rural PA (plus sheep, and more rain). The coast is very dramatic with lots of cliffs, similar to San Diego, but rocky instead of sandy cliffs (and less sunshine and colder). Supposedly Portrush is a surfing town, but you would have to pay me alot to get in that freezing water. Listened to some local Irish music (led by a Scotsman) and had a pint or 2 in the Angler's Arms.

Wednesday I caught the ferry to Rathlin Island at 'half 10' (10:30). Once there, I took a mini-tour over to the north end of the island, where there is a bird sanctuary. Apparently in the summer there are thousands of puffins nesting. But they left at the end of August so I only saw a few seagulls. A guy on the bus was a shipwreck diver, and he said there are hundreds of wrecks around this tiny island, because the sea can be so incredibly rough. The rest of my birthday I spent wandering around the SE section and much of the afternoon and evening with a very distant relative - Dolores Kyle. That night I caught a pint and played some pool at the pub, and stayed at the lone guest house on the island.

Thursday I rented a bike and went to the SE end - Rue Point. I interrupted the sunbathing of many seals, and again saw lots of sheep and a few cows. Then I decided to head to the lighthouse, but turned down the wrong road - seems incredible because there are only 2 roads to that side of the island! But I'm glad I did. I followed what I thought was the path after the road ended, but then that ended. So I just headed to the coast and pushed my bike along the edge. It was absolutely amazing - lots of little coves, some tumbeld-down abandoned farmhouses and again the lush green hills rolling to the sea. Tons and tons of pheasants - a sporting group sponsors a pheasant hunt a few times a year and drops a huge amount on the island. I also came upon the Bruce castle ruins, on top of a tiny piece of land jutting into the sea. I didn't see the cave where Robert the Bruce hid out for awhile, but I believe it was below the castle (sheer cliffs). Eventually I got to the lighthouse, hoisted my bike over the wall and rode back to town. That was a much less spectacular route, but still very pretty. I spent the rest of the day with Dolores, walking a bit, at the pub - met a few very colorful characters - and stayed that night at Dolores' brother Patrick's place.

Friday I caught the half 8 ferry back to Ballycastle, and had a lazy day walking around that little coast town and taking it easy.

Saturday I went driving around the whole area with someone who was working on Rathlin - Geard - a wonderful tour guide. We went to the Giant's Causeway and to the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. I'm running out of synonyms for 'beautiful', but you get the idea. Then we drove all around the coast and inland. Again, it reminded me alot of eastern rural PA. That night I stayed at a hotel in Cookstown, and went to an amazing huge club called The Opera - all the decor inspired by Phantom of the Opera.

Sunday morning I tried to catch a bus back to Dublin but much to my (temporary) extreme chagrin, very few buses run on Sunday - one to Dublin at 9:30a (which I missed) and one at 7:30p to Belfast. After calming down, I took a taxi to the closest reasonably big town, Dungannon. Amazingly, a bus was just leaving for Belfast so I got on. As I walked around, it reaffirmed that my favorite city so far is Belfast - I'm not sure exactly why.

The place I stayed Saturday night, Cookstown, is in the heart of the 'Troubles' area. In the surrounding towns as well, there were some seriously high fences and barbed wire, multiple layers of gates and lots of cameras around all the police stations and RUC headquarters. In Cookstown itself, there is an Army depot with blast walls in addition to the police station measures. I saw many British flags flying, and one Irish -which I was told should not be flying. In Belfast the courthouse was protected in this way, but otherwise everything was normal. There were 4 high schools in the Cookstown area - 1 each of 'normal' public/protestant and Catholic(St Pius X!) across and down the street from each other and then 1 each of gifted public/protestant and Catholic. There is a new very well funded integrated primary school which has some pretty ominous high fences. In one small town at a stop, Geard pointed out 4 major buildings that had been blown up by bombs a few years ago. But pretty much everything is rebuilt. There were some signs saying 'Disband the RUC' - apparently they are a pseudo-police arm and are very one-sided (I'm not sure which side). Also, I saw a bit of 'IRA' graffiti but it was all few and far between. All that said, I felt very safe and would definitely come back.

So I caught the train from Belfast to Dublin yesterday and cannot believe I only have 6 more days here! I have so much more to do!!!


pub crawl (stumble), Inishmaan, Galway, Cliffs of Moher [2000]

The musical pub crawl went really well - I highly recommend it. There were 2 musicians that played, told stories and talked about Irish instrument history, while we hit 3 pubs. The next morning we ran for an early train to Galway (3 hrs away). Some women on the train told us that we should definitely hit the Aran Islands if possible, so as soon as we got there, we were able to get directly on a boat (10:30). The boat is connected to a shipping company so it looked like a fishing vessel and there was cargo in the lower part of the deck. It was about 2-1/2 hours to get to Inishmaan - the middle-sized and least visited isle of the three. We arrived around 1 and the boat home left at 5. It is a very small island (8km long x 3km wide I think - pop about 100) but we managed to get lost abs harassed by the local village idiot. Eventually we got our bearings, and climbed on top of a few ancient fort ruins - very impressive. The while island was criss-crossed by those intricate stone walls, often penning in belligerent cows as Cindy discovered when she tried to photograph one. It was the 'typical' quaint Ireland I have heard about. That night we explored Galway a bit - a very nice city much like a ski town. It is a college town definitely geared for tourists but still retains the 'village' feel. The next morning (Thurs) we rented a car and drove down the coast to the Cliffs of Moher. I only drove on the wrong side of the street once! It was interesting not only because of driving on the other side of the road, and being in such a tiny car, but also because they have tons of traffic circles instead of stoplights. Some of the roads were insanely narrow, too, with those picturesque stone walls about 3 inches from the road's edge and the road barely wide enough for 2 cars. I did alot of trimming of overgrown foliage - and Cindy felt like she was being pelted by it. On our way down to the cliffs, we came upon a castle on a lake and climbed up to the top. It was spit-raining and blustery, much like you would imagine in the middle ages. Very cool :)

By the way, the only rain we have gotten so far was a few drops one or two mornings, full rain in Scotland, and Thurs morning and early afternoon. So it has not been the stereotypical dreariness.

The Cliffs of Moher were beautiful - sheer moss-covered dropoffs falling down into the turbulent sea. We also stopped by the holy well of St Brigid which was very close by. One things that amused us was the kegs stacked behind the fence that surrounded the area. Supposedly the well has healing powers. The kegs tie into the story told at the Guinness factory that up to a few years ago, they were recommending that pregnant women drink a Guinness a day for the vitamin and mineral benefits - their ad slogan - 'Guinness for Strength'.

So we drove back to Galway, had a pint at Fibber Magee's and got on the train back to Dublin - dinner and some more traditional music at the Celt Pub.

This morning I sent Cindy home (luckily the French transportation embargo hasn't made it to Ireland yet).

It was great to have her here so we could explore enough for me to get my bearings. I think we hit all the big ticket tourist items, so over the next few days I'm going to have to figure out what to do for the next 2 weeks!

This weekend should be wild - the All-Ireland Hurling Finals are Sunday and the airport cabbie said they will start taking over the town tomorrow. I believe it is Kildare and Offaly I think ... I don't remember but I'm sure I will know by Sunday. The thing last weekend was Kerry and Armagh in a Gaelic Football semi-final - Kerry won.

Next week - Giant's Causeway and Rathlin Island...