Pictured above: Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland
Weather - a 4700 Mile Difference
Clearing up for Balloon Fiesta:
And a bit more moist across the Pond:
The Week Ahead
Get ready for the 2019 Invasion!
"For nine days in October, the New Mexico skies are painted as hundreds of balloons lift off from Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park. Nothing rivals the power of Mass Ascension on crisp early mornings as these graceful giants leave the ground to take their place in the cerulean desert sky. For ballooning fans worldwide, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a pilgrimage. There's something for everyone to enjoy . . . whimsical special shapes filled with equal parts of hot air and wonder, and Balloon Glows that create a magical night landscape for spectators to wander. No matter who you are, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will leave you awestruck and wanting more."
For details, please CLICK HERE
Get your Ducks in a Row - that means maps and directions (CLICK HERE), save time and buy tickets online (CLICK HERE)
and leave the driving to Park & Ride (CLICK HERE)
CLICK HERE for a digital, interactive Program.
This year, the City has made a concerted effort to address the traffic issues of the past.
Let's hope that advance planning bears fruit, the weather holds up, and we have the best Balloon Fiesta ever!
Is Ireland on Your Bucket List?
Dingle, Co Kerry
If it isn't, you might want to reconsider. I consider myself fairly well-travelled, but for some undefined reason, I'd been saving Ireland to visit. Originally we were going last year, but life came up, as it often does, and the trip was delayed. Having just returned, I can tell you this: I am definitely going back!
If you have a few weeks and you're up for a fly-and-drive kind of vacation, I'd heartily recommend exploring Ireland. Car - not bus, not train.
You may want to spend a day or two in Dublin to adjust to the 7-hour time difference, but No Jet-lag works like a charm (if you commit to following the directions). Note to Diary: Don't leave home without it.
Outside the home of Yeats, Merrion Square and the Old Library at Trinity College, both Dublin
Unless you actually go to Ireland, you will never believe those shades of green actually exist. it's also a welcoming, diverse and warm country, and you'll never eat better french fries - although they call them "chips" in Ireland.
If you've had your fill of cathedrals and museums (although IE has them too) and want to see some castles and gardens for a change,
there are tons of both.
Kylemore Abbey and Walled Victorian Garden, Mucross House in the Killarney National Park, Bantry House.
There's also so much coastline to explore and it is magnificent. The west coast is known as the Wild Atlantic Way
and when you do the Ring of Kerry or the Ring of the Dingle Peninsula, it's there, when you get to the western-most parts,
that you find how wild and rugged that coast can be.
Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Portmagee (2&4), Connemara, Cliffs of Moher
It's haunting - misty, soft hues, the sound of cows mooing inside the fog, gorse, heather, peat and ruins everywhere.
The Burren, Co Clare, Nr Kylemore Abbey, Co Mayo
And it is sooooooooooooo old. At the end of the trip, we visited Knowth and Newgrange in the Boyne Valley,
megalithic passage tombs dating back to 3200 BC - older than Stonehenge, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
There are also stone circles galore.
Knowth, Co Meath, Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary, Drombeg Stone Circle, Co Cork
Food. Before we left, the advice I was given was "The Guinness is excellent." But what about the food?
"The Guinness is excellent."
Okay - the Guinness is excellent and the food is maybe a little monotonous, but that isn't to say we suffered.
Fortunately, I love Seafood Chowder and Fish and Chips. They definitely have that covered. In shamrocks.
The Irish dinners are usually three courses - YIKES! Since we'd either each have seafood chowder (considered a "starter")
or split the fish and chips, I simply cannot fathom ordering a three course meal.
The Irish Smoked Salmon is, in a word, phenomenal. I think it's why the seafood chowder is so scrumptious.
It's lightly smoked and just doesn't seem as dense. Fluffy and yummy.
This was such a regular thing, I can't remember - but the chowder was in Roundstone,Co Galway
However, I must admit the two best meals in Ireland were both Italian - Ristorante Rinuccini in Kilkenny,
and Simona in Drogheda. The first has a Michelin rating and the second doesn't -
but Simona has the absolutely best rosa sauce I have ever tasted.
Typical regional roads - e.g., country lanes
Driving. There are a couple things you should know: the cost of a second driver is almost the cost of the car, which is a consideration.
And automatic transmission pretty much doubles the vehicle's price vs manual. While a mini compact is just too small, if there are just two of you, compact (vs midsized) makes driving the non-Ms and Ns a LOT easier. We spent about 75% of our time on "regional" roads - country lanes, very narrow country lanes.
Also,I was talked into returning to the airport (we spent the first three days in Dublin and neither needed nor wanted to park a car in town) to pick up the car - this really wasn't necessary. If you're picking your car up on the weekend, when the traffic in Dublin is minimal, if definitely isn't necessary. Save yourself the trek and pick it up in town.
Left side of the road and roundabouts? Piece of cake. Irish drivers are pretty used to the enormous amounts of tourists invading their country and they drive accordingly - they are patient and remarkably polite.
The first hour can be a little hairy (or maybe the first 30 minutes) until you get the gist of it. In two weeks, I had two incidents - I brushed up against the hedgerow when I overcompensated for the width of an oncoming midsized vehicle and put a scratch (no dents) on the hubcap. And the first morning, I was in a very quiet village and when I pulled out of the parking lot, I took a tight right instead of a wide right - despite repeating "Left go tight, right go wide" for two weeks before leaving the States. (I still think that pre-trip mantra helped!)
But most of all, Ireland is the people...
Pictured above, a gatekeeper outside Dingle.
This is a very welcoming, diverse country - we met as many immigrants as we met native Irish.
Cattle and sheep greatly outnumber the human population.
Warm, kind, respectful and often very funny.
Two important ingredients in the Total Enjoyment Recipe:
A pint of Guinness
Redbreast 12 yr Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey