PokerGrinder
PokerGrinder
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August 6th, 2022 at 2:14:49 AM permalink
Quote: TumblingBones

Great postings! I'm looking forward to the next chapter. Several questions and/or comments...

Quote: PokerGrinder

I stopped at a pub and had fish and chips for lunch. It was weird but it felt like the bartenders were bothered when people came in, they werenít rude but they didnít seem to want to serve people. I didnít mind but found it interesting.


Several years ago a friend took a trip to Scotland and Ireland. She said that the Scots were pretty cold and didn't seem to welcome tourists while the Irish were always very warm and friendly. I'll be curious to hear if you come away with the same opinion.

Quote: PokerGrinder

I walked the 35 minutes to the distillery where the guide took us through the process of making whisky. I never knew that the process is very similar to make beer, gin, rum and vodka. After the tour of the machinery we were taken into the tasting room where we were walked through 5 whisky and chocolate pairings.
The whiskies were from different regions and were made differently which gives them their different tastes. The first 3 were more on the mild side but the last two were peat whiskies and quite harsh. The last whisky was downright nasty and burned going down.


I'm a big fan of single malt scotch. Any chance you recall the names?

Re the poker game in Glasgow..
Quote: PokerGrinder

The crowd at the table were all nice and I could understand most of what was being said.


I usually have to turn the subtitles on if I'm watching a show with Scottish characters. Could be worse tho. Years ago i was standing on a street corner in London waiting for the light to change when a guy with a strong Cockney accent started talking to me. I had no clue what he was saying so I just smiled and nodded until the light changed.

Quote: PokerGrinder

Guy next to me ordered fried haggis balls which smelled as good as they sound 💩


Given your past history of exploring the native cuisine, sometimes to your regret, I'm surprised you didn't try one.
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Well so far Iíve had an Uber driver and a tour operator in Ireland and they have both been very welcoming.

I donít remember the names of the whisky sorry.

When I donít understand an accent thatís my go to move and 99% of the time it works except one time at a poker table in Mississippi.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. ó Amarillo Slim Preston
PokerGrinder
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camaplunJonsmoothgrhJohnnyQ
August 10th, 2022 at 5:34:08 AM permalink
I decided to check out Forge Market as itís supposed to be the largest market in Scotland. I like markets, usually some good food and random artsy stuff to look at. I walked for a hour to reach the market and found nothing like I was expecting. They were selling mostly housing items, beds, kitchen upgrades etc with a few weird things like tombstones or party balloons mixed in. I didnít spend much time there as clearly I wasnít interested in buying any of that stuff. I did however find an area with probably the oldest slot machines that Iíve ever seen. I also think they might have been the worst paying machines too as all the ones I looked at listed the possible payouts as £1, £2 or £5 on a one pound bet. I didnít partake but there were a few guys donating money and not seeming to win much of anything.





When I left it was drizzling and I didnít feel like walking the hour back to the hostel so I ordered an Uber. I spent the next few hours laying in the pub that was attached to the hostel charging my phone. Shortly after I sat down in the pub a few guys dressed as Mario showed up. Then another, and another and another until there were 12 Marios standing there chatting in the pub. One of them starting handing out paper masks with someoneís face on them. It was at this point where I asked one of them what was going on to which he responded a stag. Made perfect sense and then I said so I guess heís Peach? Well in comes a very hairy legged Peach with beautiful blonde hair and very wide shoulders lol. They asked me to take a group photo which I did and then asked if I wanted to join them which I declined because getting smashed with 12 Marios and Peach a few hours before my flight to Belfast seemed like a terrible idea.



When it was time to head to the airport I grabbed the airport bus back and checked my bag. I found out that my bag only weighs 9.3 kg so I didnít need to pay for 20 kg like I had but I didnít know so I now know for future flights. My flight didnít have a gate yet so I waited until 45 minutes before the flight where it finally said to go to gate 15 where there was no plane. I thought maybe it would show up but no, instead an announcement was made that the flight would be delayed by 2 hours. More waiting ensued and another announcement came that because our flight was delayed we could come pickup a food/refreshment voucher. I walked over, they handed me the voucher and I bursted out laughing when I read £3Ö wow thanks Glasgow airport.

The flight was mostly empty for the 35 minute fright to Belfast. When it landed I grabbed my bag and was able to get a pretty quick Uber to my hostel in the city. I checked in and found a bed with the flattest pillows, seriously these hostels need to step up their pillow game. The other great surprise I got was the guy on the lower bunk moved every few minutes which would move the whole bunk bed and wake me up. I got 4-5 hours of sleep before every bird in Belfast decided it was time to have a chat. Seriously the loudest birds Iíve heard in my life and they start at 5 am.

With not enough sleep I got out of bed and got ready for my tour to the Giantís Causeway that morning. It started at 9:45 so I walked over to the meeting point but I couldnít find any signs for Paddywagon. I looked for anybody that looked like they were waiting for a tour but didnít find anyone. Eventually I decided to check the one bus on the side street and it turned out to the correct bus. They booked too many tours for the day and had to get a spare bus from another company to complete all the tours.

Our tour guide Tom was 72 from Edinburgh but had been living in Belfast most of his adult life. He was a great storyteller and had some of the best bad jokes Iíve ever heard. Iíve had some good tour guides over the years but Tom might have been the best of the lot. Our first stop was the Dark Hedges which is a grouping of trees that made a 13 second appearance on season 2 episode 1 of Game of Thrones. Iíve never watched the show so I didnít overly care but the trees were nice to look at.



We were told to be back at the bus at 11:35. Tom goes to do a headcount and is missing one person. 17 minutes goes by and this Italian 20 something that doesnít speak much English shows up. Tom confronts him pissed off and gives him a tongue lashing before we headed off. The kid walked to the back of the bus with his tail between his legs.

Our next stop was a lookout to take pictures of the Carick-a-rede rope bridge. It was a nice view but it was hard to see the bridge even if you zoomed in on the pictures. The next stop was Giantís Causeway which was the reason that everyone was on the tour. We were given 75 minutes to explore and obviously one guy (not the same kid) was 3 minutes late and got a talking to by Tom as well. As I walked downhill to the rocks I really wasnít sure what I was headed towards, I honestly thought I was looking at the rocks until I went father and then I knew I really was in the right place. The Giantís Causeway is made up of about 40,000 hexagonal rocks created by volcanos. I spent about 30 minutes climbing up and down the formations trying to not fall and hurt myself. The whole thing was amazing to see, it looks man made to be honest.







I gave myself about 30 minutes to walk back as I sure wasnít going to be late. Tom mentioned that the walk back is called cardiac hill and I understand why. It felt like the whole thing was uphill and boy were my legs burning by the end of the walk. I had enough time to go grab a water before heading back to the bus where we would be taken to Giants Cafe for lunch. Apparently all the tours go here and either they are paid to take them there or I ordered the worst thing on the menu because I had the most tasteless Irish stew. Even the meat while tender, had no taste. The bread that was served with it was good but dense and the chocolate cake also was good but was the densest cake Iíve ever had.

Our last scheduled stop was Dunluce Castle which was literally the bus illegally parking on the side of the motorway and us getting out to take pictures from far away. We then headed back to Belfast where Tom decided we should do an impromptu tour of the city. He took us around on the bus for 30+ minutes to a few different spots and told us about some of the history of the conflict. Our last stop was at peace wall which was really crazy to see as it literally is in peoples front and backyards depending on which side you live on. The gates to wall close every night at 10 pm. Tom gave us sharpies and told us we could sign the wall which I did.

The next day I had a waking tour booked about the history of the conflict. One of the most boring tours Iíve done sadly, just wasnít my thing. I enjoy tours where you walk and listen to the guide talk as you walk. Instead we covered very little ground, and stayed in one small area of the city. We would stop somewhere and listen to him talk for 15-30 minutes before moving to another location close by and repeating. The tour was almost 3 hours and we only went to about 6-8 places. The tour guide was very knowledgeable but I felt more like I was in history class than on a learning tour. Others seemed to enjoy it so Iím the asshole lol.

I took the bus to Dublin in the early afternoon, that took around 3 hours. I checked in and met Phil a 22 year old from British Columbia, we chatted for a bit then went for Pho. The Pho was solid, I had the spicy beef Hue which was just noodles, bean sprouts, raw beef that cooks in the broth and a lot of chili oil.

We walked back to the hostel where Phil checked at the front desk for the pub crawl info. I was hesitant cause honestly I rarely drink but I agreed to go. We met at the first pub and my plan was to keep to a 1 drink per bar plan so that I wasnít too drunkÖ that didnít happen. Between the included drinks and all the drinks we bought at the 5 pubs we were all drunk by the end of the night. The group was roughly 30 people including 12 very loud and very drunk Brits from Manchester and Leeds. The guide was very vocal about how he hates dealing with the British cause they canít control themselves which turned out to be true as about half them ended up puking through the night. All the pubs had live music and most of it was good but the 3rd pub had an amazing musician. I had a few Guinness through the night and I actually enjoyed them which is surprising since I hate dark beer and canned Guinness in Canada tastes horrible. I was told multiple times that it tastes different in Ireland so as they say ďwhen in RomeĒ. I use that phrase a ton when I travel. Phil and I ended up hanging out with a small group of the crawl, a guy and girl from the USA, two Germans girls and a very shy girl from Switzerland. Very fun group of all solo travellers.





I left the pub around 130 am with Phil and Jonathan (American guy) and we walked back in search of food on the way to the hostel. We foundÖ you guessed it, shawarma. This shawarma was at an Afghani spot that was about to close up. He said heíd be happy to serve us but we had to take it to go which was our plan anyways. Phil started chatting with him about Afghanistan and the conflict currently going on in Afghanistan which got us an invite to stay and eat while Phil and the owner talked for 30 minutes about Afghanistan.

After getting food I grabbed a bottle of water beside the hostel and immediately passed out in bed for 6 hours. I woke up feeling ok except for the headache but thatís nothing some Tylenol canít fix. I was very surprised and impressed that my body was able to deal with the debauchery of the night before.

Phil and I grabbed breakfast at this chain bagel place. Smoked salmon and cream cheese for the win. A few of the girls we met at the pub crawl the night before texted me and said they were going to grab lunch and asked if we wanted to meet them. Phil and I had planned on going to the Guinness factory so we joined them for lunch and then 4/5 of us (one of the German girls had already gone) went to the Guinness factory. Our tickets were for 3:15 but I asked the lady who I paid for my ticket if we could go in early since we were there and she said sure so we didnít have to wait outside for 30 minutes for our scheduled time. I was hoping the factory tour would be similar to the whisky one in Glasgow that was so enjoyable but it was self guided and basically a giant money making gimmick in my opinion. It was 6 floors of what looked like a giant advertisement. We eventually got our pint of Guinness when we got to the 7th floor of the tour in the gravity bar. I only drank half of it as I didnít overly want alcohol after the previous night.

I got back to the hostel and was exhausted from the night before and a lack of sleep. My goal was to stay up long enough that I would sleep until I had to wake up at 5:50 am the next morning for my tour to Cork and Blarney Castle. I was laying in bed on my phone when two new roommates came in, a guy and a girl from Holland. They asked me if I wanted to play some games with them in the hostel common area so I went to grab some water from the store (trying to hydrate after drinking the night before) and then I joined them in the common area. They had a Dutch game called Regenwormen. Here is a link because Iím not going to try and explain it lol. https://www.ultraboardgames.com/pickomino/game-rules.php



In the game if you land on exactly the number on someone elseís top tile you can steal it and this is the tile that kept getting stolen back and forth between us.



We played two games of it and I won both before I told them I had to call it a night and go to sleep. I laid down at 10 and immediately fell asleep only waking up once before my alarm went off at 5:50 this morning.

I walked the 8 minutes to the meeting point stopping to grab a banana and a caprese sandwich for breakfast. When I arrived at the meeting place there were about 100 people and I was worried this was one tour but luckily over the next 20 minutes guides started to show up and call out the tours they were running until it was only 18 of us left. The last guy was Barry who came to get the rest of us, he was our driver and tour guide.

Our first stop of the day (not including the coffee/food/bathroom stop a hour in) was Cashel Rock Castle. I spent about 20 minutes checking out the castle before heading back to the bus. I assume by the time I am done this trip I will have extreme castle fatigue the same way as I had extreme temple fatigue by the 3rd month backpacking around SE Asia.



The next stop was the main attraction Blarney Castle. I started off at Blarney Castle checking out (getting lost on) one of trails, the one I accidentally ended up on was the forest trail.





I spent about 20 minutes half enjoying the nature and half trying to figure out how to escape the trail. Btw I had a map but couldnít figure out the path to freedom. I found the wishing steps that eventually led to an open area and an exit to the maze that I found myself in.

From there I found my way to the Blarney Castle.



I was lucky to catch the line very short and I only had to wait about 20 minutes to kiss the Blarney Stone. I was in line ahead of an Australian couple from Perth and we chatted the whole way up. Now the line goes right through the castle and there are parts where we were stuck in a very small spiral staircase for quite a while. I am quite claustrophobic so this was challenging at times. When we were nearing the top of the staircase it got so thin that my shoulders touched the walls on both sides. I stood there standing in the stairwell unable to go up or down and felt myself start to panic a bit as I looked up. I made sure to look down towards the Australian couple where there was more open space and I made sure I was keeping a steady breathing pattern to calm myself. After a few minutes the line moved and I was able to get to the roof of the castle and into the open air. I was quite sweaty and very relieved to be out of the stairwell.

Every area of the castle was pretty tight.


From there it was about 5-10 more minutes until it was my turn to kiss the stone. They sanitize it after each person kisses it for all you people who might say ďwhat about CovidĒ. I laid down on my back, held onto the two bars and pulled myself over the gap to the wall. A man is there to make sure you donít fall. I leaned backwards and couldnít get low enough to kiss it so I took a quick look around to see exactly where it was and went back on my back and kissed it. As I kissed it I could feel my back contort awkwardly as you have to get down to the very last stone on the wall. Worth it lol.

Ignore my stomach please lol


I got a man to take a picture of me in the pillory outside the castle. I wasnít sure if my head would fit as I have a huge head but I just barely was able to fit. I wasnít however able to fully look up at the camera due to lack of room to move. I then stopped at a pub/guesthouse in town to grab lunch. I had the roasted turkey and ham with mashed and veggies. The meats were phenomenal as was the gravy.

The bus then took us to our last stop of the day at Cahir Castle (pronounced like care). We had a guide from the castle take us around and explain all the ins and outs of the castle and each layer of security. Iím not sure what I thought a castle was for other than living in but they are fascinating buildings. The special defence and offence aspects of each part of the castle are really cool to learn about from an expert.



Original Victorian (I believe it was Victorian?!?) wood ceiling.


I am currently on the bus back to Dublin. The return journey takes about 2:20 and we are about halfway there. Itís been a long day so I donít think I will stay up too late tonight. I have one more day in Dublin tomorrow and then I am taking the train to Galway.

Btw Ireland is pretty if you havenít noticed yet.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. ó Amarillo Slim Preston
SOOPOO
SOOPOO
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PokerGrinder
August 10th, 2022 at 1:46:17 PM permalink
As always you make the best posts. When I went to Blarney Castle with wifey we had a slightly different experience! You could see a dozen or so people in front of you get to kiss the stone. The old guy would say the same trope over and overÖ. ĎSit down, bend back, hold on, kiss, next!í Until my wifeís turnÖ.íAh lassie, nice to see you! Letís put your back on the ground, Iíll help you, slide back a bit, Iíll hold you to help you. Now give that stone a kiss.í

If you have the chance, donít miss Ashford Castle. They have a great boat ride in the attached lake. Wifey and I stayed overnight there. Might be 100 times as expensive as the nearby hostel!
PokerGrinder
PokerGrinder
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August 10th, 2022 at 3:50:12 PM permalink
I appreciate the compliment. I wonít be able to get there Iím only in Ireland for another 3 days and Iíve got plans for the whole time.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. ó Amarillo Slim Preston
100xOdds
100xOdds
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August 11th, 2022 at 4:18:30 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

As always you make the best posts. When I went to Blarney Castle with wifey we had a slightly different experience! You could see a dozen or so people in front of you get to kiss the stone. The old guy would say the same trope over and overÖ. ĎSit down, bend back, hold on, kiss, next!í Until my wifeís turnÖ.íAh lassie, nice to see you! Letís put your back on the ground, Iíll help you, slide back a bit, Iíll hold you to help you. Now give that stone a kiss.í

If you have the chance, donít miss Ashford Castle. They have a great boat ride in the attached lake. Wifey and I stayed overnight there. Might be 100 times as expensive as the nearby hostel!
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Giant's Causeway was underwhelming. I expected more because of the various tv shows/movies that use that location.

Guess special effects set my expectations high.

As for the Blarney stone, i thought it was a crock like some marketing guy thought:
- Pick a stone at random, give it a name and backstory, then charge dumb tourists (like me) $20 to kiss it

That stone doesnt look any different than any other stone in the castle
Craps is paradise (Pair of dice). Lets hear it for the SpeedCount Mathletes :)
PokerGrinder
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100xOdds
August 11th, 2022 at 10:12:16 AM permalink
I knew nothing about Giantís Causeway beforehand and it blew my mind. I loved my visit there.

Blarney is very gimmicky but I still enjoyed it. The nature trails are beautiful, the castle is architecturally very interesting and I had great food in the city off the beaten path so overall a very enjoyable trip for me.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. ó Amarillo Slim Preston
DRich
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camapl
August 16th, 2022 at 5:03:12 PM permalink
Come on now. Five days and no update is unacceptable. If you don't post soon I am going to cancel my subscription.
Order from chaos
Hullabaloo
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August 16th, 2022 at 8:45:31 PM permalink
I hope he didn't go to Russia while carrying hash oil.
PokerGrinder
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camapl
August 17th, 2022 at 5:11:45 AM permalink
Quote: DRich

Come on now. Five days and no update is unacceptable. If you don't post soon I am going to cancel my subscription.
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I didnít receive your subscription payment yet ⏰ tick tock tick tock.

Iím going to be sitting in the airport for a while tomorrow so I plan on updating then.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. ó Amarillo Slim Preston
Doc
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August 17th, 2022 at 8:43:05 AM permalink
Quote: PokerGrinder

Iím going to be sitting in the airport for a while tomorrow so I plan on updating then.


At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport??? That's where I reported having collected my own Holland Casino chip that I posted in this thread. Why the big worry about maybe missing out on getting your souvenir chip, if you're just going to be sitting in the airport that has the casino?

I suppose I could be out of date. I got my chip back in May 2015 and posted it just four days later. I haven't checked recently as to whether that casino instillation is still running.

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