Monday, October 27, 2008

Orlando, Dingle & Other Stories

It's time for a bit of blogging. There is much to tell...
I went across to Orlando at the beginning of October for the shortest ever, carbon burning, crazy miles for crazy cheap prices trip to my favourite ever Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. And if you want to ask me about the Dublin-Gatwick-Detroit-Orlando-Atlanta-Gatwick-Dublin flights, I'll tell you it was all worth it, even though the outbound journey took me almost 24 hours. From Thursday to Tuesday, not only did I fit in 2 nights at Halloween Horror Nights #18, but also a great night at "Howl-O-Scream" at Busch Gardens Tampa, an airboat trip in the Everglades, some factory outlet shoe shopping, and some lie-in time at the Doubletree Hotel Universal Studios, where they present you with a warm chocolate cookie at check-in time. My "economy" car rental was upgraded to a thumping red Ford Mustang, as per usual. That's what you get when they're asleep on the Hertz counter at 1am, on a typically steamy Orlando night (a taste of Brisbane in summer!) The scares were as good as ever, and so was Orlando, although they're hurting of course. For just 25 cents more you can supersize everything at Burger King, and for just a dollar more, they'll throw in a lakefront repo-home 5 miles from Disneyworld. There are bus tours daily - bring the cheque book (or the credit card!) I got 3 seats back on Delta from Atlanta to Gatwick, although I was sure the trolley dollies with the "Designing Women" southern drawl seemed determined to lock up the screaming kid in front of me as we crossed the coast of Canada :) Anyway, might not get back to Orlando for a few years now...
We're leaving Ireland quite soon. Nothing to do with the world financial disaster, but just an overall assessment that although there's a lot to love about Ireland, life in Australia is better. As well as the attraction of family & friends of course. We will miss Ireland, especially on those occasional horrible days when Brisbane peaks at 40c. We'll really miss the music, and our wonderful Viking Festival too. But it's time to go back now - to sort out our real estate and see if we can find ourselves a house and do some more fun things. We've both resigned, and are in our final weeks of work here.
What this also means is that by the end of this year, ohdundalk will come to an end too. I think blogging needs to have a specific purpose - and ohdundalk doesn't really work in the suburbs of Brisbane. Perhaps we'll eventually have another blog with a new purpose, but until then, this blog will end (after we tidy up all the loose ends and put up ALL the photos) - and will serve as a record of our experiences from 2006 until the end of 2008. We have loads and loads of media to sort out from this time, both word (written & yet unwritten) and photos. I have a book to finish, and I hope a couple of shots might even end up on our walls next year!
So we leave Ireland in late November - one last big bang party at The Glyde Inn (last drinks please), then over to Switzerland for 6 nights including Interlaken & Zermatt. A little nostalgia from my 1989 travel agent days! Then across to Porto and down to Steve & Meg in the hills of Portugal, then up to San Sebastian, Bilbao, Northern Spain & Galicia. Eventually back to London, then Qantas back to OZ on the pre-Christmas frequent flyer special - oxygen masks frequently dropping via Singapore & Melbourne. We have some plans - just a few, and we'll take things as they come in this mad world.
Finally, but by no means last - we just got back from a weekend in Dingle with Dave, Libby & Zach. I suppose there was a touch of melancholy as with Dingle, we felt like we'd left the best of Ireland till last. Absolutely spectacular, especially the end of the peninsula overlooking Great Blasket. Of course it rained for a whole day. Not just rain but movie special effects rain, blasting in all directions driven by the turbine of Atlantic winds. Dingle was rugged, amazing and geared up for tourism - good food, scenery, music, Guinness (in no particular order). However, we will say, directly from the mouths of our Australian visitors that prices in Ireland are now officially "horrifying" with the drop of the Aussie Dollar and the amazing strength of the Euro (what does the world see in the Euro?) This has made an average B&B room over A$120, a tank of fuel well over A$100, a simple meal over A$80. Currencies will fluctuate of course, and the Aussie will come back, but right now, all we can do is to issue a pretty big warning to all imminent & potential visitors. Get ready to open your wallet, and if you choose to convert, please don't be of a nervous disposition! Yikes...
Loads of photos will be posted soon, and we might even expand on these stories a little more.

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