Dublin 2014, part IV – in where I’m feeling lazy

The last few days have been far less eventfull that my first week of travel. I haven’t done a whole lot, but slowed it down. I think that after traveling for a bit, your energy level just isn’t at the same peak anymore, and you just feel like doing less.

My main event on Tuesday was visiting Trinity College and the Books of Kells. It was amazing! But more about that in another entry.

I also went to a place called Tea Garden, where my goal was to drink tea. I had looked it up on Yelp, and it had good reviews, so I wanted to try it out.

I was first not sure if I’d gone to the right place, as I had to go down a pair of steep, winding stairs to get there. It also didn’t look like what I expected from a tea place. However, I had come to a proper tea place, and the tea was really good (but I missed having milk in my black tea, but didn’t dare ask for it).

The Tea Garden also seemed to be a very hip place. Not so much for the interiour, but because a lot of young, hip people were there. I, on the other hand, is not a hip person, but was still happy to sit by myself, drink wonderful tea and read my book.

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Drinking tea and reading at the Tea Garden
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After drinking tea, I headed to the Longstone Pub, to the monthly Dublin bookcrossing meetup. We weren’t very many, but it was a nice bunch of people, and I had a brilliant time. Before I went there, I had a plan on leaving early, but I ended up staying until the end.

Wednesday was another quiet day. I had decided to sleep in, but didn’t, as there was too much noise in the hotel. Not extraordinary noise, just the regular noise that comes from super thin walls. So, I was waken by the fact that the people in my neighbouring room were talking (normally) to eachother. However, I decided to stay in my room and relax, before I went out for breakfast. The breakfast at the hotel I was staying at wasn’t exactly the greatest, to say the least. Instead I went out for brekfast, and then did a bit of walking around Hanry’s street.

I then went to an early showing at the cinema. Off peak tickets were cheaper, only €7.50, and I landed on a film called What If, with Daniel Radcliffe. It’s not the sort of film I’d normally go to, but it wasn’t too bad. Not too crazy about the ending, but, oh well.

After the film, it was already dinner time, and I headed for a cheap, vegetarian place. The food was good, and only €3 for a plate of food. And that was pretty much what ended my day.

On Thursday, i.e. yesterday, it was time to move to another hotel. I’m staying at the convention hotel for Shamrokon (EuroCon), and was fortunate enough to have a bus going directly from right outside my former hotel to where I’m staying now. So, I went to the new hotel after breakfast, and then walked to the centre of the city. Walking through St Stephen’s Green is actually qiote nice, and I was in no hurry, so I did stop and have a look around as well.

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A memorial fountain in St Stephen’s Green
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I met up with Peadar, whom I first met at EasterCon last year, for lunch, and he then took a couple of other science fiction fans and I on a privately guided tour in Dublin Museum. Peadar was the perfect tour guide, with so much interesting knowledge! Dublin Museum has free admission, and is most definately a place I’d like to visit again at some other point.

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Floor details inside the Dublin Museum
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After the museum visit, we headed back to the hotel, and I got to check in and then head for my room. I had amazingly tasty Indian take away for dinner (in my room), and the evening was spent chatting to strangers. I was warmly welcomed to sit by the table with a group who had come over from Australia, and it was very nice.

It was then bedtime, and I headed for my room, for a cup of tea and some reading before I got a good night’s sleep.

Dublin 2014, part III – in where I’m not really in Dublin, and cross something off my bucket list

Ever since I visited Ireland for the first time over 14 years ago, there has been something I’ve wanted to do here. So, after a bit of discussing with myself, I figured that there was really no better time to do this than now. So, on Sunday I booked a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher! I was finally going to see these cliffs I’ve hard so much about. The day trip was signed up with Paddywagon, which was the cheapest I could find online, and early Monday morning I dragged myself out of bed, so that I was ready to board the bus before 8 the very same morning.

Our first stop was a small fishing village called Kinvara. What striked me with this small town, and what would strike me about other small villages and towns along the road, was how colourful they were. They shaps were all in different colours. In Kinvara it was especially a book shop that caught my eye. I badly wanted to go into this shop, it looked so nice, but it was closed while we were there. So we left without being able to browse their shelves.

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The Book Nook, Kinvara.
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Kinvara
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Our next stop along the road was Corcomroe Abbey, an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery. I have always loved abbey ruins, and this was truely beautiful. A lot smaller than some of the abbeys I’ve visited before (like Whitby Abbey), but also a lot older. We only had 15 minutes to walk around, but I tried to get a few photos taken, and look at things. I would have loved to have some more time there, though.

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Corcomroe Abbey
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From Corcomore Abbey we continued down the coast, and had a stop to take photos of what our coach driver and guide called “the baby cliffs”. They’re smaller than the Cliffs of Moher, but still quite beautiful. Besides, it was such a lovely and warm and sunny day, it was wonderful to walk around on the cliffs and just feel the breeze and smell the ocean.

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The “baby cliffs”
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15 minutes later, we all climbed back into the bus, and headed towards the Cliffs of Moher. We had only one more stop before we got there, in the town Doolin (which I think sounded like a name from Lord of the Rings), where we had lunch. But when we all were fed, the bus finally made it to our destination: The Cliffs of Moher. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

Wikipedia says about the Cliffs of Moher that “[t]hey rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometres to the north.” It was quite a magnifisent view, and we maybe 1 1/2 hours to walk around. Unfortunately not enough time to walk both up on the cliffs and to the tower, which I would have loved on this amazingly sunny day. We really had perfect weather, with the warm, sunny and clear view.

As for the visitor centre, I didn’t think it was much to look at. You can just as well read up on the Cliffs of Mohere elsewhere. Maybe it’s fun for kids, as they did have some interactive activities there, but if you’re a single grown up, it’s not much to brag about.

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The Cliffs of Moher
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O’Briens Tower
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We had only one stop on our way back to Dublin: Bunratty Castle. Yet again we were given just a short time (I think we had 20 minutes) to walk around. In my opinion, this was the bigest “fault” with this trip: Never having anough time to walk around. But, knowing the trip took over 12 hours, it’s understandable.

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Bunratty Castle
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After over 12 hours we arrived safe and sound in Dublin, and we all agreed it had been a fantastic day.

Dublin 2014, part II – what to do in Dublin on a Sunday

After having a rather busy week behind me, I found out it would be nice just to take a walk on Sunday, and maybe sit down and drink tea and read my book for a while. So, that was pretty much I used my Sunday for.

I headed over the river towards Dublin 2. It was actually quite quiet in the centre of the city at this pont, probably because it was a Sunday before noon. The weather was gray, with the occationally showers of rain, and walking around Temple Bar was quite nice. I also headed for St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which is a more quiet shopping centre, and I like the interiour.

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A pub in Temple Bar.
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South Great George’s Street
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Inside St Stephen Green Shopping Centre.
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After having walked around for a while, it was nice to sit down with a cup of tea and read my book. I found a tea room I had been recommended: Oolong Flower Power. The name might sound a bit hippie like, however, it is nothing of the sort. It had a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, and it was no doubt that these people knew their tea! In other words, it was a perfect place for a tea lover! It was wonderful to sit there, drink my pot of delicious Darjeeling first flush tea and read my book.

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At the tea room Oolong Flower Power.
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After having tea, I strolled back to the hotel. While doing so, I stopped by some familiar statues, like Molly Malone and James Joyce. I decided to stay in my room and relax until I went out for dinner (I had vegan sushi that was really good), and then went to bed early.

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Molly Malone
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In Dublin, fair city…

…where the girls are so pretty. That’s where I am right now. I flew in from London yesterday, and didn’t do a whole lot in the afternoon, other than walking around. Nothing new there, in other words. It was nice, though, just to get a grip on where my hotel is, and such.

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Hello, Ireland!
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Today has been a lovely day. I woke up at stupid o’clock, for unknown reasons, and decided to just relax and read and relax in the hotel’s lobby while waiting for fellow blogger Jennifer to arrive. I had somehow forgotten to put the right time zone in my calendar, so it said we were supposed to meet at noon, while the e-mail (when double checking) clarely said one. Oh well, I had my book, and Jennifer actually arrive a lot earlier than planned, so all was good.

Our day together included a yummy lunch, watching a guy playing music in Grafton Street (he was actually really good), taking a walk in the lovely St Sephen’s Greens, and looking around Trinity College. We pretty much gave up on trying to look at the Book of Kell’s after seeing the huge queue outside. It was still nice, though. Oh, and we managed to squeezing in a couple of bookshops and some coffee too!

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Oisin and Malachy (without Oisin) in Grafton Street.
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Trinity College, Dublin.
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Trinity College, Dublin.
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After saying goodbye to Jennifer, I walked around Tower Records and Easton (the bookshop), before heading bak to the hotel for a rest, before heading outside again, for hunting down dinner. I had pizza at a medicore Italian restaurant, and then went back to the hotel. it was vey windy outside, so it was good to just relax inside.

London, August 2014

Monday, 11 August 2014

I had decided to take an earlyish flight, so that I had some of the day free to use, and not end up just travelling. After having our plane delayed, and then having to wait for our lugage for ages, I finally got on the underground from Heathrow and headed to Paddington where my hotel is.

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Hello, London!
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I was staying at the easyHotel Paddington, which for being one of the easyHotels, isn’t too bad. OK, so I had to drag my suitcase up four floors (no lift), as I was given a room at the top floor, but at least it was nice and quiet, as the window isn’t facing a street. Except for the fact that I could hear even the tinyest whisper outside my door, which didn’t go quite the whole way down…

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View from my hotel room window in Paddington.
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I managed to get some errands done, before I found a book shop called Daunt Books. It was such a nice book shop, I think it deserve its own entry, which will come at some other point.

The day was rounded off with having dinner with lovely people at the Real Greek in Paddington street. The food was amazing, and we all shared the meze. Most of the food was actually vegetarian, and I think my favourite must have been the hummus. The falafels were great too. Yum, yum! However, it turned out the be the most expensive meal I’ve ever had in London, I think. Almost 400 NOK! And they say Norway is expensive… Fortunately, you can get cheaper meals in London, and I managed to get meals closer to my budget the other days.

After some hours spent with lovely people, I headed back to the hotel, and spent a bit of time reading, before I was so tired I fell asleep.

Tuesday, 12 August

I woke up earlier than I had planned, so I actually managed to do a bit of walking around in Paddington before I headed for my lunch “date” in Covent Garden. I had luch with a girl I met at the bookcrossing convetion in Gothenburg last year, and it was fun to see her again. After lunch we headed for Forbidden Planet, that I always have to visit when i’m in london, and also walked around Soho and down Charing Cross road with all the book shops.

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Paddington, London.
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Covent Garden, London.
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I did more walking on my own after we had said goodbye. It’s actually quite good to just walk around and look at things. I then felt tired, and went back to the Paddington are, where I visited the floating book shop Word on Water. Walking along the canal is actually something I’ve never done before, and it was really nice. Those narrow canal boats you see really are something else, and I picked up there’s a whole community around them. It was lovely.

After all the walking during the day, I felt tired, and found a pub with comfy chairs, and ordered some food and a pint of dry cider (not the sweet stuff you get in Scandinavia). It was so nice just to relax and not really do anything. So nice I decided on taking a quite night in my hotel room with sweets and reading, before I was so tired I wanted to sleep.

Wednesday. 13 August

This day turned out to be another day with a lot of walking. My first goal was the British Library, for the Comics Unmasked exhibition (which was really good, a blog post will come later). On my there I stopped to look at some Asus pads, and started talking to a guy who turned out to be Scottish (no Scottish accent to be traced…) Most definately a geek, so we didn’t talk much about the product he was showing off, but more about science fiction tv series, compter games and other geeky things. It was a nice chat.

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Original manuscript of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1816).
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After my visit to the British Library (which also included the compulsory “drool over Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë manuscripts”), I visited Skoob Books, a book shop dedicated to second hand books. That shop also deserves its own entry.

I was the ready for book bench hunting. Of course, the book bench hunt will have its own blog post as well. White I was doing that, I ran into a lady by the Pride and Prejudice bench who also did book bench hunting. I managed to have a nice chat with her too! Quite lovely.

It’s probably needless to tell you my feet hurt so much from all the walking, I decided to have dinner after that, and didn’t really do anything for the rest of the day. It was quite late anyway.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

This was my last proper day in England for this time. It was also the day where I took a day trip to Norwich to meet up with my friend P. Getting from the hotel to Liverpool Street railway station went surprisingly smoothly (no changing of trains was nice). And the train trip was good to.

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The train to Norwich.
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P. picked me up at the station in Norwich, and we headed for his place, where I got to see his cat again. It was nice and relaxing, and good to see my firend again. The hours just flew, and I then had to go back to the station and take the train back to London.

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Norwich Castle
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I stopped by a place called Le Gourmet Brasserie to have my evening meal. The place itself didn’t look like much, and I was told I couldn’t have the falafel as a meal (not sure about what the reason was), so I got to have falafel and feta cheese in a wrap instead, and to be honest with you, I’m glad I did. It was so yummy! I wouldn’t brag about the service or the place, but the food was both very tasty and very cheap, so I guess you can’t expect more?

Then it was time to head back to the hotel, pack my stuff, and get to bed…

Boycott Israel!

I think you have to be blind if you can’t see Israel’s apharteid system. There’s a lot about how they treat Palestinians in the news these days, and the pictures from Gaza are hard to watch. I’m not going to say a lot, I think this song with Immortal Technique, Don Martin, Tumi, Eltipo Este, and Tonto Noiza says a lot. The video contains the lyrics, and even though you don’t know all the language, it should be enough for most to understand the message.

My own private Paradise

For the first time in years I have a balcony garden! I started planning it last year, and with the help from nice colleagues (giving me plants), my girlfriend and my mum, I now have chairs, a table and several plants, making this place to my own private Paradise.

Days like today, which is sunny and warm, are perfect for relaxation on my balcony. Just sitting here with a cold drink and a book is heavenly. Even sitting with your eyes closed and listen to the sounds surrounding you is wonderful too.

I am filled with gratitude and love.

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Bergen, we were in you!

So, having my first week off work this summer, my girlfriend and I went to Bergen. On the morning of Tuesday 1 July we hopped on the bus, and headed north. The bus trips usually takes about 5 – 5 1/2 hours, but it isn’t so bad, as there are two ferry trips included. It breaks it up, and makes it more varied.

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My girlfriend and I on the first ferry.
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After checking into the hotel, we went to Bergen public library, where we walked around, and I borrowed a couple of Neil Gaiman books I hadn’t read. It’s a nice library, and I am planning on an entry for that all by itself.

We had dinner at Hot Wok, and the food was fresh and nice. Needless to say, going for a walk after dinner was a great plan, we even walked along the harbour, and had a nice view of Bryggen.

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Bryggen
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Saturday we had agreed to meet up with a friend of mine, so after breakfast we first walked around a bit before heading for Det lille kaffekompaniet, which in my opinion, is the best coffee place in Bergen. I must admit I was so thrilled about the good coffee there, I had three hot beverages! My friend met us there, and after he had had some coffee too, we headed for Fløyen.

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Inside Det lille kaffekompaniet.
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The hike up to Fløyen was really nice. It was nice to have a bit of a feel of the “woods”, which I don’t get very often where I live, and we had also some stops where we could enjoy the view over Bergen. At the top there’s a café/restaurant, where we just had a break eating ice creams, before walking back down to the centre of Bergen again.

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Bergen seen from Fløyen.
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After the hike, it was nice to relax with a cold beverage at a café. We found a book café called Krok og krinkel, after the recommendations from someone I know online, and had a bit of a rest there before we Went to have some pizza for dinner. After dinner, we said goodbye to my friend, and then headed back to the hotel.

Our main plan for Wednesday was to visit Bergen Aquarium. I’m a huge fan of penguins, and was very excited to see some live again.

The aquarium also had a sea lion show, that was much fun! It was so fun we decided to watch it twice! The penguin feeding was fun too. They had two chickens, the youngest beig only a couple of days old, the chicken of the same sex couple. Yes, the Bergen Aquarium has a same sex penguin couple! The seals were in mating season, so they were just occupied with eachother, than putting up a show for us. Which, of course, is totaly understandable. The aquarium has lots of other animals too, turtles, fish, reptiles of different kinds, and so on. Lots to watch!

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Lionfish
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Proud penguin parent with the oldest chicken.
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Sealion kiss.
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In the afternoon we met up with my girlfriend’s friend for dinner and later something sweet. It had been an eventfull day indeed.

Friday was our last day in Bergen, and we mostly spent time at cafés or walked around. Walking down Bryggen was interesting, with lots of tourists. We ended up having diner at Pygmalion, which serves organic food. I think we agreed we had the tastiest meal of our Bergen trip.

In the afternoon it was time to hop back on the bus, and head back home.

Book Review: The lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch

I picked this book up at a bookcrossing meet up back in 2008, but didn’t get around to read it until now. And I’m mighty glad I did, as this was a very good read! The lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is the first book in the Gentleman Bastard series, and was first released in 2006. Lynch was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, in 1978, and had since written two more books in the series: Red seas under red skies (2007) and The Republic of Thieves (2013). There are at least five other books planned to be released in the series.

Photo © 2014
Photo © 2014

The story in this book is about Locke Lamora, who at the age of six ends up being bought by Father Chains, a priest of the Crooked Warden, the god of thieves. Here he is brought up to, along with a group of other young boys, to be a master of disguise, and they become “the Gentlemen Bastards”. This is the setting for an exciting thriller of a journey for us readers…

This book was different from any other fantasy book I’ve read in many ways. Not only did it have a pretty original plot, but it had a rather colourful language as well. If you’re of the religious kind, you might find it offensive, as it does contain swearing. Personally, I think it fits with the rest of the story.

For me, this book was a real page turner. There’s so many good things about it, not only the language and the originality, but it is full of humour and is at times so exciting, I almost forgot how to breath! I also loved all the different and colourful disguises that were described, and kept wondering how Locke could fool so many.

I must say though, this is not a book for the faint-hearted. Lynch has not spared any details in the combat scenes. They are quite bloody, to say the least. But if you don’t mind such things (personally, I think it makes the book just that much more believable), you’ll probably enjoy it.

As far as I’ve understood, Warner Brothers bought the movie rights to the book shortly after it was released. However, I’m not sure if I’d like to see it at the cinema, though it were to be screened, I’d probably go. I’m worried, though, as the descriptions in the book are so lively and great food for your imagination, I have a hard time seeing the film can come anywhere near the book. But we’ll see, time will show.