Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Copenhagen - Day 1 & 2

After a short hop from Ireland, we arrived in Denmark on Tuesday afternoon.  Decent weather, some cloud but decidedly cooler.

We navigated the train system from Kastrup to the Central Station where we had a 10-minute walk to our apartment. 

After unloading our stuff, we walked to a nearby store to get some supplies.  It was an interesting experience.  No English, unfamiliar packaging and pricing.  Dividing the price by 5 reassured us that food prices weren't much different from home.  Google translate helped a few times.  We had the misfortune to be shopping at 5 pm and experienced the longest checkout lines we'd ever seen.  I think we spent half an hour waiting.

Our apartment is 6 floors up, good light both morning and afternoon, small but comfortable.  After 2 weeks in a car, limited mostly to hotel sized rooms, the extra space is nice.

In the morning, it's cool.  Barely above freezing, but sunny.  Real blue sky.  Not something we've seen much of recently.

We walk for about 6 hours, visiting museums, the botanical gardens and picturesque areas of the city.  There are canals, impressive grand, old buildings and many, many bicycles.  They have special lanes to themselves.  Anyone on foot needs to watch for the bikes and the cars.  There seem to be more bikers, and they're stealthy.

By mid afternoon, we're tired and hungry.  Back at the apartment after the day's walk of perhaps 20 km, we snack, read and sleep.  Supper of baked salmon followed by some plans for tomorrow.  We're too tired to generate much enthusiasm for an evening walk so we stay in and read.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


We discovered another gem in our last 2 days in Ireland.

Catherine had read about a castle at Trim, about 45 minutes outside Dublin.  A short drive (by our standards) from Derry got is to Trim in the mid afternoon.  We found a B&B right away, with space available. In fact, it was a separate "cottage" with two beds, a sofa, a table, chairs, a fridge....  It seemed so comfortable that we decided to stay for 2 nights and head to the airport from there on our last morning.

The area around Trim was very pleasant and interesting.  There was the main Trim castle as well as other ruins from the 1200s and later.  All within easy walking distance.  So we walked.  Took in a tour of the castle, drove to some historical sites near Trim and rested.  It was nice.

Legend has it that my ancient ancestors lived in this area, a place called the Hill of Tara. 

Our BNB host was friendly and helpful.  He also made good scrambled eggs.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Few Hours in Derry

Having wandered back and forth around many of the bays, harbours, points of land and whatnot that make up Ireland's west coast, we're down to the last couple of days.  What to do.....

My ancestors apparently came from Ireland in 1769, sailing from Derry, headed for Pennsylvania.  Their ship was wrecked on Sable Island which is how they ended up in Nova Scotia.  So it seemed worth the drive north a couple of hours just to see where they left from.

I suppose the morning we visited Derry was typically Irish in character.  Cool, cloudy, occasional showers.  A breeze blowing in from the Atlantic.

We walked across the Foyle River on the Peace Bridge.  This was built in 2010.  Hopefully it symbolizes an end to "The Troubles".

We walked around the old city walls.  Basically, they've been standing, repelling attackers, since the 1600s.  No invader was ever successful, hence one of Derry's nicknames, the Maiden City.

Below the old city is Bogside.  Also the self-proclaimed "Free Derry".  The Sunday Massacre Monument.  Many murals relating to revolution, British imperialism and Irish independence.

The present-day docks are further out towards the River's mouth, but at one time, they were just below the old city.  Now there is a street and a riverside promenade.  In 1769, my ancestors left from there and sailed for a new life in North America.

We walked, took some pictures, considered some of Ireland's troubled past, and headed south.  There was nothing marking the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic other than speed limit signs were back in km/hr.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Austerity. A policy that needs to die

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Ring of Kerry

Wandering our way around the west coast of Ireland.  Narrow, winding roads, nice views of the water and even improving weather for now.

This peninsula's circuit is called the Ring of Kerry and it's basically taken us 2 days to make our way around it.

Our last night was spent in the village of Sneem and our morning hike was not far down the road, a trail that vaguely followed the coastline.

We're now in Glenbeigh, the Dingle peninsula is in view just across the water and the sun is out.

Tales from Airport Security

Honestly, if there was another way to get places easily....

More annoyances from airport security...

After getting a tube of toothpaste through security unscathed at Spokane, Newark flagged it and took it out.  Apparently 20 ml too much is a serious security problem.

Then a water bottle that we'd forgotten to empty.  Of course they won't let you drink it right there, proving that the contents are harmless, you had to get escorted back outside security to empty it.  So I drank it out there, then proceeded back through security.  Again. 

This time I had to remove the belt, get my hands swabbed, take my boots off, again...

It would be interesting to know how much of this rigamarole actually enhances security.  Or if it does at all.

Two weeks later.... 

Contrast this with our experience at Dublin airport.

Our car rental return was the most efficient I've ever seen.  Easy to access from the motorway, no waiting in long lines....  I think the drop off took all of 5 minutes with a shuttle bus to the terminal.

Security was efficient and as quick as possible under the circumstances, but the big difference was the good humour with which everything was handled.

Catherine had removed her belt and it managed to disappear.  One quite humorous fellow went in search and found​ it quickly, but used the opportunity to exchange some amusing comments.  A small thing, perhaps, but it does make a difference.

Thinking of that reminded me that most of our experience in Ireland has been that way.  People have been friendly and good humoured pretty much everywhere.

Gotta love the Irish.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Digital Desktop - Monday, March 27, 2017

A day or two late to this story, but there have been other events going on around me....

So, the Republican-controlled Senate, the Republican-controlled House and the "Republican"-controlled White House failed to pass their long talked-about healthcare bill late last week.  Dubbed "Trumpcare", it failed to even convince some Republicans.  If there was some haste apparent in getting this bill rammed through Congress, that would seem to be right.  The more people found out about the bill, the less they liked it.

Many have weighed in on this issue.  

Occasional Republican David Frum, who has been sounding like a conservative voice of reason compared to some on the right, had this to say, calling it The Republican Waterloo.

Of course, he penned a roughly similar article back in 2010, when "Obamacare" was passed into law, despite total Republican obstructionism.  His Waterloo article seems rather prescient given last week's events.

The Washington Post devoted quite a bit of column space to all of this, one article wondering (and answering) why the Republicans were in such a hurry to get this thing passed.  One revealing quote went as follows:
The surprising thing, then, isn't that as few as 17 percent of people approved of the American Health Care Act. It's that as many as 17 percent did.
 The Interweb, of course, has come out with plenty of memes playing on all of this, pointing out how this is just one brick in a promised policy wall that is crumbling.

So, there you have it.  A valiant attempt to remove access to healthcare to millions and give even more advantages to insurance companies seems to have failed.  RIP.