The Vatican Museums are Christian art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by popes throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display, and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments. Wikipedia
We paid top dollar for the privilege of getting in to see the Sistine Chapel ceiling and doing that at 7:30am before the general public. It was worth it.
We were given instructions to meet on the stairs across the road between two places, a restaurant and a pub. We thought,”how will we find the guys in blue we are supposed to meet?” but we did, along with about 30-40 other people who had done the same thing as us. We booked on line through YourGuide.com
We were divided into groups and had chosen a one hour tour before we had free reign in the museums for the next 6 hours if we wanted it. We joined one of those groups we saw all over Florence following talking guides with poles with flags or scarves or teddybears on top.
We were given green headphones and a blue plastic receiver with a green lanyard attached which we hung around our necks. It was quite comical with the allocation of who went with which guide and then all of them trying to get going first. We were in the first group after a group of 2 people and their guide ahead of us in a private tour.
Our guide, who’s name escapes me, was thorough and knowledgeable with photos to show from a folding picture collection and an ipad. He had humour and was able to answer any question asked of him. He had a lovely sense of humour.
We went into the Museum building which was revamped and remodelled for the millennium in 2000. The stairs, that take us to the first level, were a long curving marble staircase. There are paintings and all the security you would expect. We collected our barcoded tickets and fed them into the turnstiles. Then we began the long walk to the Chapel. We passed a lot of artifacts and paintings from various centuries ago. There are no photos allowed in the chapel itself and you have to be very quiet and respectful. We arrived and they turned out the lower lights and then turned on the ones which shine towards the ceiling.
We had had a little incite into the politics of the day and how well regarded Michelangelo was at the time and how much contempt he had for the establishment at times. Very interesting and to see the ceiling was amazing and to think it has been there for 400 hundred years. It’s mind boggling that it has survived so well.
This is the amazing spiral staircase in the Vatican museum in Rome, Italy. This double helix staircase was designed by Guiseppe Momo in 1932. This looks like one big spiral staircase but, in fact, it is two spiral staircases … And magically enough, when two persons use the different sets of staircases at the same time, they can see each other going up or down, yet never meet. Google 27-10-2019
After about 9:45 we left the museums having been amazed and impressed by the huge collection, including some moon rocks given to one Pope by President Nixon. We were fed through our third gift/bookshop before we found ourselves wandering down the spiral staircase at the exit.
We spoke to a guy before we went to St Peter’s who told us where the bus stop was to catch the bus. He said it would be an hour before the bus returned so we had time to go to the St Peter’s.
Once at St Peter’s we watched the people queueing to get in and then we took a selfie – entitled, “Guess who’s in Rome”. We had a lovely time and then headed back for the Hop on Hop Off Bus. We chose the Green Line – our hotel, Hotel Rimini, said we would get a discount. Would have had the same discount wherever we went because everyone knocked €3 off the price on the brochure.
So we toddled off to the Basillica along a very well worn footpath around the outside of the vatican museums with towering walls above us to St Peter’s and then came back, and on the way back we were approached by a guy who gave us a route map of the HOHOBus and said there was an office to buy our tickets and he waved in a general direction. We thanked him and then bought a bottle of water from a food van and headed back to the first guy. As we approached the traffic lights to cross over to go to the bus stop another spruiker approached saying he was a volunteer and he would get us tickets on the HOHO Bus. I said we have an arrangement with another guy over there, pointing to the side where the bus stop was, but he kept coming and saying how much we would be paying and how he would give us a discount to €18 – which was the same price as the first guy. So once we crossed the road I said again that we had an arrangement with “him” pointing to our guy. Then they go into a battle about who was who’s client. We walked purposely to our bus stop and left them to it.
Anyway ,we got on and had a marvellous time, and took thousands of photos and I tried to get all arty, and took some in black and white.
I’m a people watcher and l love seeing people in their ‘natural habitat’ doing ‘normal’ things.
We went out to dinner at a restaurant just in the next block called Ristorante Donati
It was a lovely restaurant with good food fast and for a reasonable cost, but beware they charge for the bread sticks/basket so if you dont want it tell them. Ivana was our main contact there, she was really helpful and spoke English and we got by with some Italian.
Monday 7th October – My dad’s 90th Birthday-We are travelling to Ballybraid Co, Wicklow – 2 days in a cottage with no traffic, or cold and no wifi, – we didn’t know we had to pay until after we got there and then could not contact the owner so left it at that .
We had a great time driving from Doolin to Limerick, and Tipperary to our final stay in Ireland at Ballybraid.
The day was planned to be a 4-5 hour drive across the country from the west to the east. So goodbye to Storyteller’s Cottage.
We left the Burren , in County Clare and headed across the island to the ‘garden’ of Ireland, County Wicklow.
First we went to Limerick and then Tipperary.
So Limerick was a lovely stop on the drive, where we had morning tea and a wander.
Our journey was unhurried and full of new villages and fields and sights for me to photograph.
The lunch was terrific, vegetable soup and brown bread. The bread is heavy and wholesome and so tasty with a nuttiness I wasn’t expecting. It is the norm, with soup here, it appears.
At one stage we passed a dairy farm and the road was closed with a gate opposite us and a procession of black and white cows were meandering across the road from the milking shed to their night accommodation. It was lovely watching the young woman in charge move around her charges and a young boy employed to move cones and ropes off the road once they had passed. Just lovely to see.
We drove from Doolin to Glenmalure – to a lovely cottage called Ballybraid in the Wicklow mountains near to the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The trees and undergrowth are thick and constant in this area. We found the drive in once off the motorway to be long, winding and narrow. We stayed on the N76 as it zig-zagged across the country. The last hour was on narrow winding roads and we were very pleased to arrive at our accommodation.
We had an ‘air code’ to put into google maps to find the cottage. We arrive and started reversing out of a very narrow lane, and our hostess arrived just in the nick of time and lead the way up a very potholed steep driveway to our little cottage. It is a lovely spot on top of a hill looking down into the valley across dark glossy green fields dotted with white sheep with blue markings, who eat incessantly and move around all over the incline outside our door.
The cottage is two-story with a steep wooden staircase at the back of the house. There are three bedrooms upstairs with an en-suite in the master. It is centrally heated and it is so warm and cosy. Each of the windows has shutters inside to close over the 18 inch window sills. It’s very effective at shutting out the light, sound of the wind and cold.
The interior is clean and there is wood panelling on the ground floor ceiling, on open fire with exposed brick to the roof on the wall where where the fireplace is located.
There is a washer and drier so we caught up with our laundry. We have been self-catering for about 5 days now so have all the food we need to stay ensconced in this lovely place and get some rest.
The only flaw in this plan is that we will have to drive back along the long and windy road – maybe not as far because we are going in a different direction – towards Dublin for our 8:40 flight during the dead of night. We have found that Google’s estimates of how long routes will take to drive is not accurate and usually only half the time it will take. So, we plan to allow four hours for our journey so that we are well on time for our flight.
8th October 2019
The cottage is part of a working farm and this morning the sheep were taken to be drenched. The farmer arrived with two black and white border collies enthusiastically rounding up the flock. It took about two minutes for all the sheep to be in a group and moving forward towards the drenching area.
One of the sheep stayed sitting down in the grass and one of the dogs went back to get it. It stood and staggered forward as if its front legs were damaged. It then sat down. The farmer instructed the dog to leave the animal where it was, and he then went and looked more closely, again it struggled to its feet and then collapsed and the farmer left it there and went towards the job to be done.
Afterwards, the dogs came just inside the driveway gate with the farmer and milled while another man in a van appeared with a brown and white border collie on the edge of the driveway. The brown dog was herding his flock down the driveway with the man in the van close behind. The farmer signalled to his two, now filthy dogs, to stay with him while the sheep were processing down the race.
Soon they were gone, and the farmer’s mob were back grazing where they had been this morning.
Such a great show to observe from the kitchen window in our cosy cottage at Ballybraid, Glenmalure.
The hostess of the cottage has written a history book about the area called Glenmalure: The Wild Heart of the Mountains. A valley and its People by Carmel O’Toole, Glenmalure, County Wicklow, Ireland. It took her 5 years and it is magnificent.
It is a fascinating read and I am hoping to get a copy in due course.
Printed in Ireland by Colourworld Print Ltd, Kilkenny. Edited by Richard Beeler.
A decent drive today – 251 miles = 404kms and it took 9 hours and we only stopped for lunch and morning tea! Its not like Australia lol.
Ireland is wonderful – in spite of the weather. No-one seems to care and just gets on with their day. It’s a little uncomfortable at times, but hey, life’s like that. Everyone has a jacket or an umbrella so there is really nothing to complain about. We are very well equipped and have not suffered much so far. My high tech pants just let water sit on them until I stamp my feet for it to get off. They dry in a very short time. Very weird but clever.
We had a weather warning to consider yesterday – Hurricane Lorenzo was heading our way, at 3pm. We were heading into the storm for a while and then went south – as planned – and avoided most of it. The roads were wet and windy but we were not staying in its predicted path so it was all ok on the day.
This is the track of Hurricane Lorenzo and we drove across the top from Belfast to Sligo then south and we are staying where that black dot is, so only a little way south and the winds have been relentless.
I slept through it, I might add, but have been up since 5:30 am and they keep blowing ferociously. This house is solid and cosy so no dramas really but it certainly is windy!
Long drive – but so much to see.
We hit the road earlyish around 9am to avoid too much of the peak-hour traffic. At the beginning of the trip we were on the M1 and made good progress through lovely green fields and good quality roads.
We did see a lot of farm animals and found those roads you hear about that are narrow and tricky to pass on. Well add rain, wind, fading light, unfamiliarity and its quite a challenge. But we were up for it!!
Morning Tea in Enniskillen
There seem to be two parts to Enniskillen – one old, traditional and one more modern and commercial looking.
We found a Tesco store and fuel and bought what we needed and headed to Jenny’s Coffee House and Bakery. The best!
Onwards to Sligo and we found a lovely pub called The Harp Tavern.
Lunch in Sligo
Then we continued south,, towards County Clare, and along roads made for smaller vehicles than two of the modern sort. The roads are pretty good, albeit a few cracks, potholes and flooding. We made good time in spite of our newness to this type of driving.
Rally driving without the gravel.
The speed limit on the skinny roads was 80kms but in the rain and conditions generally neither of us got over about 60kms per hour. Safety first!!
But then you round a corner and happen upon sights that just don’t seem real.
Kilmacduagh sits at the edge of the Burren, dominating the rural landscape some 5km south-west of Gort, in Co. Galway. In the medieval period, it was the most important church of the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne, a powerful local dynasty who held lands that stretched from the Atlantic coast to the mountains of the Burren and Slieve Aughty. By the twelfth century, Kilmacduagh had an enclosed settlement with the main church at the centre, at least three subsidiary churches, a round tower, the grave of the founder, Cólmán mac Duach, and a well dedicated to him. The settlement was transformed when the main church was enlarged as a cathedral and a monastery for Augustinian canons was established in the thirteenth century. http://monastic.ie/history/kilmacduagh/
Don’t ever believe the Garmin SatNav – it lies. We ended up travelling for and hour and a half to cover 18 mins worth of distance. We knew this because we had done it correctly the day before. Later we instigated the google Maps app instead and found it to be superior. But really we didn’t care, we were looking around at the scenery anyway, and we had no time restrictions so we enjoyed the detours too.
We drove between our place and through to Ennistymon again but then went on to a different coffee place in the Main Street.
Had a great day driving around Clare County. Some of the roads are a little tricky to navigate but patience and concentration is required.
The weather was better today and we headed out towards the Cliffs of Moher and decided we had seen enough from the Doolin jetty so decided not to pay for the parking and walk in the blustering wind for half a mile to look at cliffs. So on we went, the sat nav must have taken offence at our lack of inclination to pay to see cliffs so sent us on a long and winding road to Ennistymon – where we were yesterday. But today there was no rain, so clearer pics and more fun.
After morning tea we headed north as we had planned to and arrived about 40mins later. We found Galway lovely. Lots of old traditional buildings and decorated streets. So glad we went to see it.
Some lovely buildings all over Ireland and the blue stone appears all over the place. It really looks solid and long lasting.
Weather today – foggy 15°C Drizzle – It is Ireland 🤪
We went to Doolin today which is the village 3 miles down the road. One the road through Doolin there are lovely shops and a pub called …. where there is live music every night of the week.
Further down the road is the ferry to the Aran Islands and a view from the carpark towards the cliffs at the start of the Cliffs of Moher.
After that we went into a couple of stores which sell Aran Jumpers from the Aran Islands and there were lots of choice but none for me. I would like one but haven’t found ‘the one’ yet.
Next we drove to Ennistymon (Ennistimon) – depending on the sign you are looking at. The rain was constant but my resolve is strong to get images for my blog and my memories.
During our time in Ennistymon we bought some bananas from a stall in the Main Street. It was a smallish stall but it had a large range of fruit and veggies. But the thing that intrigued me about the place was the HUGE range of countries that the food came from.
Today started slowly – we had booked a taxi tour for 11am so we took it easy, and I blogged and we took time to do quiet things.
The taxi tour is about the political history of Ireland, Belfast, Britain.
I never really understood what the conflict in Belfast was about. Finally we understand! Dermott outlined what happened and where it is today. Black Taxi Tour included Shankill Road and Falls Road to see the murals of the troubles that occurred here. We saw the infamous Peaceline, a wall built to keep Nationalists and Loyalists apart and in the process divided the communities. Also, the women who were involved in the troubles – separate from the men.
Some tension remains but most people just want to get on with their lives peacefully.
The themes of most of the murals is human rights. The catholics support the Palestinians and the Protestants support the Israelis. The women who were imprisoned during the troubles used large handkerchiefs with notes written on them like letters from their loved ones who visited them. There are numerous examples in the Women’s museum.
A very enlightening and very thought provoking tour. Glad we did it.
We grabbed our car and headed north towards Howth 12 miles away – a fishing village. They take their fishing seriously in Howth (pronouced like growth)
It’s a lovely village on a hill down to the sea with charming stores and classic churches.
On the pier where the boats were moored, restaurants were unstacking their chairs at the numerous tables outside, in a very optimistic fashion. Twenty tables at one place on a day like this during the week?? Must be a lot of fish eaters around.
Next, we headed further north along the coast and saw some really stormy seas. There was a fisherman out about 750 metres from the shore. Must be either pretty keen or some fairly fantastic seafood to catch to endure the conditions today!
We stopped for morning tea in a lovely town called Malahide – it was raining and windy and cold so it was obviously time to eat.
Once inside, a woman, about my age at the next table, commented on how horrible the weather was. I agreed and she picked up my accent and said – “Oh, you’re a visitor, I’m sorry..” meaning you don’t want to talk to me about it – it was funny, and we did continue to talk about the weather and Malahide and what a great place to live it was. She then said and its the 1st of October (the significance of the date to her didn’t mean anything to me, however I did say) – and it’s my birthday – at which point she said ohhh, smiled and put out her hand to shake mine. It was a lovely moment. People can be so nice. We continued along the coast through Malahide and found some stupid young men (my assumption) fighting to right a windsurfer. Two in the water and one coming to help. Again – if you’re strong enough I guess the conditions could be fun, maybe.
We travelled the A1 for most of the journey north until we reached Newry. The significance of this city is that its just over the border into Northern Ireland and my great-great grandmother, as a 12 year old, Anne Simpson came from here as a free settler and travelled to Sydney, Australia by ship.
Spent a little time in Newry looking around and found the town hall and a lovely bridge over the river Newry. Newry River passes through the city of Newry and empties into Carlingford Lough near Warrenpoint.
We had lunch in Newry at a fun place with a huge menu of very interesting food. The place was Art Bar Funkel run by Aiden and Sinead @ 3 Monaghan St, Newry BT35 6BB. Recommended.
Food was hot, tasty and fast and the staff lovely and friendly.
We have a White Toyota Corolla Hybrid and its great. GPS included.
We have been here for about 36 hours and we have covered a fair bit of ground. We collected our hire car at the airport from the very efficient staff at #Sixt. They have a hire car compound 2 mins from the airport so after we did our paperwork we went downstairs and turned left and found the very large shuttlebus to take us to our car.
I have found our experiences of Ireland and the people here to be all positive – even the rain doesn’t matter when you are prepared for it.
The Dublin Spire is a stainless steel monument measuring 121.2 metres in height. Designed by Ian Ritchie and completed in 2003 and is the tallest sculpture in the world. Located where Nelson’s Pillar once stood which was destroyed in an IRA bombing in 1966. Info taken from Where Cards.
We walked a total of 5.5 kms yesterday and for the second half of the walk we were rained on. The rain gear held up well, but there was a little water in a sock or two by the end of the day.
We had lunch at the Wynn Hotel in Abbey Street after we left the tram. Then looked at some shops in Abbey St and O’Connell. Lots to buy.
We wandered all over the place first towards Temple Bar and were given the heads up about a tea place in the area called Queen of Tarts. We loved it.
We walked all over the place and managed not to get lost, and just enjoyed the buildings and sculptures and happened upon Molly Malone.
I have enjoyed the cobblestones as long as its not raining – slippery and the all the pubs with their brightly coloured hanging flowers. So lovely and fresh.
Then we turned left to go over the bridge towards Grafton St. Beautiful shops – all the labels. Then we went to St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre but not for long – was just on a mission to replace my phone case which was falling apart.
Tomorrow we are off to Belfast and places on the way.