A lot of things about Ireland are “family friendly.” There tend to be excellent family discounts on attractions and activities. More importantly, people on the street seem to exhibit a warmth and patience towards the children that we don’t encounter often in the U.S. (Occasionally, this crosses over into creepy—like the man who kept making faces at my daughter on the train yesterday—she just ignored him—but it’s usually great.)
Restaurants are a bit trickier. They all seem to basically welcome children, even the pubs (at least in the daytime). Children’s menus are somewhat rare, though. I think the philosophy is that children should “eat regular food”, and I’m comfortable with that. But the portions can be tricky. Since we have three children, though, we usually can order a main or two with some sides and divvy things up appropriately. It works out.
But hotels in Ireland, and Europe generally, aren’t family friendly at all. Most hotel rooms in Europe are marketed as a “single” or a “double.” A single often has one twin bed. A double has either two twin beds or one double bed. Obviously, neither is viable for a family of five.
(If you aren’t familiar with American hotels, the most common room types are rooms with one king bed or two double beds. A room with two double beds is perfectly adequate for our family.)
We haven’t really sorted this, yet, either. Jury’s Inn, a chain (mostly) in Ireland and the UK, does have something called a “family room.” It consists of a double bed and a pull-out couch that can supposedly sleep two children up to 12 years. We got one of these in Belfast, though, and the pull-out couch was scarcely twin-sized. It worked for our 4 and 5 year old children, but barely.
With more travels coming up, though, I guess we’ll keep trying. What do families here do? I’m really not sure.
I was going to make an interesting post tonight. About the death of the Celtic Tiger. Or about the Tall Ships Festival, which was a real blast last weekend. Or perhaps something else. But I haven’t pulled all the needed photos onto my computer yet, and I currently can’t get my too-wide CF adapter plugged into my USB port because my backup drive is plugged in. And it will be for a while, because I’ve been trying to troubleshoot a slow-Time-Machine-backup problem all day, and I apparently still haven’t succeeded. (By the way, this site has some excellent information about Time Machine, especially the Troubleshooting page. Even if it hasn’t solved my problem. Yet.)
So. You get this instead. And maybe a couple of other musings. We’ll see.
When last we left the Smartphone saga on the blog, I was going to stick to my Smartphone-free plan for a month, until August 1, and then reconnect with my old iPhone 3GS. I did that, but within 24 hours the iPhone 3GS started rebooting itself constantly. So, I put it away.
A couple weeks later, I thought I might know what the problem was and how to solve it. So, I got it out again. Within 24 hours, same deal—although now it was rebooting at irregular intervals (though every few minutes) rather than constantly. An iPhone 3GS with a cracked back and a difficult to push home button that reboots constantly is not much use. (The battery life wasn’t that great, either, come to think of it.) I could probably have it “repaired” for the out-of-warranty service fee ($149), but that would still leave me with a need for a new Verizon phone upon return to the U.S.
Thus, I think I’m going to spring for an unlocked iPhone when the new models come out in a few weeks. Not that I’ll necessarily get the new model—we’ll see what that entails—but at minimum the price should come down on the current models.
I heard today on Twitter that the tall ships were starting to arrive for the Dublin Tall Ships Festival this weekend. So, could I resist taking a walk up there this afternoon? I could not.
We did see a couple of the tall ships. The Guayas from Ecuador is docked such that we can literally almost see it from our house. Here it is from the North side of the river.
And we watched the Kapitan Borchardt coming up river, turning, and docking beside the Samuel Beckett Bridge.
But the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity to tour the L. É. Niamh. The youngest ship in the Irish Navy is under the command of Captain Charlie, with First Mate Megan at the wheel.
The only disappointment of the afternoon was that we didn’t even see the East-Link open, much less the Samuel Beckett Bridge. (The East-Link is a lifting bridge that opens fairly regularly. Becky saw it open on Sunday, but the kids and I haven’t seen it yet. The Samuel Beckett Bridge can also be opened, by means of rotating the bridge 90 degrees, but it is not opened regularly. I have surmised that they will open it this week, as some of the tall ships are planned to be upstream of it. I would love to see it. But I don’t think my odds are very good.)
On Saturday, we took a bus trip down to Powerscourt Gardens. My wife has already given a nice narrative of the trip, so I’ll just add a few flower photos.
The boys got some nice comments on Facebook, so I thought that I ought to post them on the blog.
I also thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you about my wife’s new blog, The MacKenzie’s Go Adventuring. She writes about different stuff than me, but you might like it.
On July 28, we took our first (little) trip out of Dublin. We booked what Railtours Ireland calls a half-day tour, but it was long enough for our family with small children. The tour took a train South mostly following the coast to Arklow, with lovely views across Dublin Bay and beyond, then moved to a minibus through the Wicklow Mountains with visits in Avoca (the town featured in the BBC Series Ballykissangel) and Glendalough before returning to Bray to board a train back into central Dublin.
I especially enjoyed Glendalough, which was the site of a monastery founded in the Sixth Century by St. Kevin. The natural beauty of the two lakes in the valley was tremendous, and the ruins were quite interesting as well.
The train trip was scenic, and I enjoyed the drive through the mountains. (I got a couple of decent pictures from the train, but it’s hard to take a decent picture out of a bus window.) The guide for the day was entertaining and informative, too. I didn’t care that much about Avoca—a bit touristy for my tastes—but we had a pleasant lunch in the cafe there. (I might have liked it more if I had sufficient time to walk around the town, but with the family in tow, we only just had time to eat.) So, overall a good day, and an easy first outing from the city. Next up appears to be Belfast…
View from the train
The upper lake at Glendalough
Round tower at Glendalough
Noah at Glendalough
Megan and Noah