Becca Jane St Clair

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Touring Dublin by Bus

[This is a recap of a trip taken in September 2009. A post had bot been previously written on the subject]

On a recommendation from Tim’s mum, my mom and I decided to take the Dublin Bus Tour on our first full day. There is more than one bus tour company in Dublin. All stop at mostly the same places, but the tour we took was operated by the Dublin city bus company, and our driver explained to us that they rotate drivers – a driver will be a regular route driver for 2 weeks, then he’ll go and drive the tour bus for 2. Our driver explained this was mostly because they’d lose their voices if they were tour bus drivers constantly, but also told us that all the drivers absolutely LOVE being the tour bus driver.

The bus is “hop on/hop off”, which means that as long as you hang onto your ticket, you can ride the tour bus as many times as you want from 9 in the morning until around 5PM in the evening. The busses go in a continual loop, reaching stops every 10-15 minutes, so if you get off, chances are you’ll have a different bus driver on the next bus. The full length tour is about an hour and a half, not counting stops.

We boarded one of the first buses of the morning and decided to ride it the full loop before making any decisions on where to stop. We rode up on the upper deck so we could see better and it was fantastic. We saw loads of things we had passed on the airport shuttle, but hadn’t paid attention to. On our second loop around Dublin, we got off at the Guinness Storehouse. I purchased a ticket online before we left the US, but Mom wasn’t interested in seeing the brewery. She had a book tucked into her bag though, and planned on finding a bench to sit on while I did the tour. Fortunately, there was a really nice person working at the entrance, and he let Mom through so she could go up to the cafe to sit and wait for me. As it turns out, the cafe was on the third floor of the exhibit, and if we had been dishonest, Mom could have toured the facility for free!

The Guinness Storehouse was incredible and well worth the trip if you’re a fan of the beer! You even get free beer at several stops throughout the tour as you go through a tasting room (where you can have as many as you want), learn how to pull the perfect pint, and finally up at the top where you get a complimentary pint of Guinness and are treated to a 360 degree view of Dublin and the surrounding countryside.

After the Storehouse, we boarded the bus again, and decided to get off at the Writer’s Museum. Our plans didn’t quite go as we thought, however, when our bus driver received a message that there had been a major bus/train accident along the main shopping street in Dublin…which also happened to be the street many of the attractions were on, and where the bus needed to go to get to the rest of the stops! Our bus driver was incredible, and told us that we could all get off at the next stop and do whichever attraction it was and hope the mess was over by the time we were done OR we could stay on the bus and he would do his best to get us around Dublin and promised to show us “areas of Dublin not included on a typical tour”. Mom and I decided to stick it out and see where the driver would take us.

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True to his word, he took us through the more residential areas of Dublin and told us stories about the city and buildings (and about himself!) that we would not have heard otherwise. He finally reached a point where he needed to discharge us, and we were directed to find the next bus that would (hopefully) resume the route and get us back. Unfortunately, we got a little mixed up, but did finally find a tour bus stop in the end.

We never did make it to the Writer’s Museum, but I think our adventure was well worth it. We certainly got our money’s worth out of the tickets!



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A Second Step Back in Time…

[This entry refers to a day trip taken in March 2009. As requested, I will be going back and blogging the trips I only posted vlogs about January – April.]

While we were going through brochures at Little Chef on our overnight in Oxford, we snagged a brochure about the Black Country Living Museum. It looked to be similar to Beamish, and since we had such a great time at Beamish, we put the brochure into our stack of “visit later”. We decided we really needed a full day for that museum.

One of the last trips Tim and I took together before I left was the trip to the Black Country Living Museum.

Similar to our situation when we went to Beamish, only certain portions of the museum were open while we were there. Fortunately, we were still able to walk around the areas that were closed, we just were unable to go inside the buildings.

When we walk in to pay our admission to many sites within the UK, we often get asked if we’d like to gift aid our admission. Since Tim is a UK taxpayer, he can opt for this option which then allows the charity (site) to claim back the tax he pays on our admission. In order to do this, they need to know your full name and address. Imagine our surprise when as we’re looking at the displays in the main entrance, a man walks up to Tim and says “Is your last name L_____?” Turns out, the people behind us in line shared the same last name and were most likely distant cousins of Tim’s!

We were disappointing to find out the tram was not running, but we were soon on our way on foot. We checked out a “mini” coal mine/railway before heading over to the model coal mine. After being given hard hats and flash lights that only shined as bright as a candle (what the original coal miners had to use to see!), we went down into the mine with a guide. Once again, we were in a location with low ceilings and were told “you might have to duck down”….and I was able to walk the entire mine without ducking! I’m not the type of person who usually gets claustrophobic, but I really couldn’t wait to get back to the surface.

After exploring the coal mine, we went and saw a crooked house and a house entirely made from aluminium. The house (and many houses in the area) actually started to sink and become crooked based on the activity going on in the mine below! We also checked out the village school, the pub, sweet shop, garage, and the chippy.

Eventually, we wound our way down to the Dudley Canal and discovered the opportunity to travel through the Dudely Tunnel by canal boat. Fortunately, we were able to get on the next boat and headed off to explore the Tunnels and learned about the history from our guide.

Our boat only had about 7 people total on it, so when it came time to take volunteers to “walk the boat” through the tunnel, Tim volunteered along with a girl from another group. (video currently being uploaded to YouTube) Before canal boats had motors, husband and wives moving their goods through the tunnels had to “walk the boat” through each tunnel by laying down on wooden boards and placing their feet on the walls of the tunnel. Tim said it was hard work!

After the boat ride, we explored a little more, and we found the tram shed open, so we peeked inside and got invited in by the man working in there. He and Tim got to talking, and the man offered to give us a ride on the tram back up to the entrance!

We had a fantastic time, and I’d love to go back in the future when everything is open.

The rest of the pictures and video will be posted later. I need to see if Tim took any pictures, but for now, here’s a few:


Tim walking the boat

one of the closed tunnels

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Pie Jesu Domine…

[This entry refers to a day trip taken in March 2009. As requested, I will be going back and blogging the trips I only posted vlogs about January – April.]

Tim wanted to go to Narrow Gauge North, which is a show for people interested in Narrow Gauge modelling. Tim usually goes up with the Axholme and Lindsey area group of the 16mm Association. The group usually plans to attend the show in the morning, and then the afternoon at a railway site. This year, it turned out that Narrow Gauge North was the same day as the Diesel Gala at the Abbey Light Railway. The narrow gauge railway will take you from one end of the park all the way down to Kirkstall Abbey. Rides cost £1.

I was pretty excited, since we hadn’t yet gone to any abbeys, and the abbey at Kirkstall is in quite good shape.

We spent a good portion of the day down at the railway, as it was their gala we were attending. We took a round trip visit as soon as we got there, then hung around checking out the engine shed and watching as they pulled out all sorts of old diesel engines. I wasn’t super excited (since I’m only a casual fan of diesel trains), but Tim was pretty excited. We even managed to make cameo appearances on their video of the day (watch the first video. I spotted Tim at 3:13 for sure, and a few other times I saw people in the background that might have been us. Mark is in the video frequently, as well).

Later on in the afternoon, I asked Tim if we could go up and explore the ruins. Of course, we rode the train up (on a one-way). There’s a decent sized information center that also has a museum attached. We didn’t have time to go through the museum, so after a stop at the toilets (it’s really a theme with me/us), we headed outside to walk around on the grounds.

Kirkstall Abbey was built over the course of 75 years in the late twelfth century. The Abbey was surrendered to King Henry VIII in 1539, and in 1671, it was partially demolished to use the stone elsewhere, including the steps of the Leeds bridge! Tim tells me this was a pretty typical occurrence, and apparently many homes built in the late 1600s contain stone archways taken from former abbeys and churches. The Kirkstall Abbey opened to the public in 1895.

Many of the sections have boards telling you what area of the abbey you are looking at – kitchens, dormitories, etc. Some of the sections are intact with roofs and walls, while other sections are open-air. I was floored to find out I was walking on stone and touching walls from the twelfth century! There just isn’t that type of history in the United States, and perhaps is one of the reasons I love traveling in the United Kingdom more.

Tim and I took the railway back across the park just in time to watch Mark get driving lessons from one of the drivers! He had to drive it in the back and wasn’t allowed any passengers, but after the driver showed Mark how to control things, he hopped off and let Mark run it back and forth by himself!

(photo by Tim)

(photo by Tim)


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Vlog: Double Decker Trams

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