Kind of cool Cork

When I was about five I had a great grandmother that we just called Grandma Kinney. She was my maternal grandmother’s mom and her claim to fame was being born in County Cork, Ireland. Three summers ago we visited Cork and did the usual stuff you do when you hit the port of Cobh. That would be going to Blarney Castle, the Blarney Woolen Mill, the epicurean village of Kinsale and a few minutes in downtown Cork. So this time we didn’t need to do that so we (us and our good friends Bob and Holly) wanted to head into Cork to the English Market. It’s a typical old-style English market and bills itself as the oldest English Market in the world—and it’s not even in England.

We got off the ship, got Steve, Jamie and family off on a tour van to Blarney and grabbed a cab (took a little while) and headed into Cork. Our cab driver dropped us off at the back door to the market, just down an alleyway to the market, past a really cool mural dedicated to everyone in the world…except George Bush (really—see the photos).

We wandered through the market (which was very nice and really cool) but much smaller than we expected. So when we were done we had only been in Cork for about 45 minutes (which was kind of ridiculous for a 25 euro cab ride) so we thought we should find something else to see. On the way in from Cobh (where the ship docked), our cab driver had recommended that we see Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, the biggest church in Cork. It was pretty impressive (see the photos).

After we had seen the church, we all needed to use a rest room and Kathleen mentioned that in the last block she had seen Fordes pub and thought we could kill two birds with one stone, use their restroom and get a pint. It turned out to be a GREAT idea. Not only did they have really clean restrooms, they also had a super barman who told us the history of the bar (been in the same family for generations) and offered to teach us how to pull the perfect pint of Beamish. For the uninitiated, in the north of the republic of Ireland, Guinness is king but in Southern Ireland, Beamish is king. So now Bob and I both have certificates that we are certified to pull the perfect pint of Beamish (did you know that a Beamish must sit for a 117.5 seconds after the first pull to let the nitrogen bubbles settle?. Well I do.)

After a nice break and a pint, we took a taxi back to the ship and took a break while the others toured all over southern Ireland. The whole journey comes to an end in Dublin which I will show you a little more of tomorrow.

Here, in Cork district, you have in combination all the dangers which war can inflict. ——Eamon de Valera

Planning early…really early

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A tiny bit of a European Christmas market taken by my good friend Bob. Read more about his Christmas Market River cruise a few years ago by going here: https://bob221b1.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/european-christmas-markets/

Do you plan your vacations in advance? I mean way in advance? Like two years or more? We do. And for a couple of reasons we recommend that others do too. It’s especially important when you want to go someplace that there are few openings for. Or if you cruise and you want a particular cabin. Let me give you some examples.

Over the weekend we (along with my brother and his bride) booked a Christmas Market cruise on Viking River Cruises for December of 2020. Why so early? Because we really want to do a Christmas Market cruise and we can’t go in 2019 because…Viking is pretty much sold out. That’s right. Most Christmas Market cruises in Europe are sold out for 2019 or there is very little left in the way of space. And the space that is left now, is pretty expensive. By booking for 2020, we got the stateroom we want, we got the dates and the route we want as well. Not only that but because we booked within this month (following  our Viking Cruise night at the agency last week) we were awarded additional onboard credit. It was a great deal.

Another example. Last week I had a very nice woman come into the agency to ask about booking an Alaskan cruise for this July or August. It was her, her husband and her two boys in the same stateroom. But the real problem is that there are very few staterooms that will hold four people left on any of the most kid-friendly ships. Category after category are sold out. My suggestion…let’s look at summer 2020. Great deals and the best stateroom selection. Of course there are staterooms like that left, but they aren’t a bargain at this point.

Or…Tonight we had a great friend send us a referral for her brother and sister-in-law who want to sail to the Caribbean next Christmas. This is a GREAT time to book that cruise—during WAVE season (which is going on right now) when all the cruise lines have major specials. There should still be plenty staterooms in all categories available. But if they ask me in August or September, not as many.

Lastly, we got two of our best friends the exact stateroom they wanted for a February 2020 cruise that will stop in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It was the last of this particular kind of very desirable stateroom. And the best part was that this weekend, that cruise line had a sale with a reduced deposit as well as some other great perks (because it’s WAVE season). If they waited even three more weeks, their deposit would have been 19 times higher. Seriously.

So the message here is, if you know your dates, or know that you can get certain time off, or you are retired and can go whenever you want, then book early! If the price goes down, you can always rebook for the new price. So…if you have any desire to join us on a Christmas Market cruise in December 2020, let me know and I will set it up. Or go anyplace else next year.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything. —Dwight D. Eisenhower

Grandkids!

IMG_1165Ok, so I know this is supposed to be about travel but I am still just using these posts for two reasons. The first is to continue to learn WordPress. The second is to get into the habit of writing every day which I plan to do for 2019. I promise to revert to more travel-worthy topics in the new year. Plus I promise to sneak some cruising stuff in here as well.

Yesterday our two grandchildren (and their parents) came to see us from East Wenatchee (about 120 miles away) to celebrate my birthday (a day late) and Christmas (five days early). You have to understand that these two (Mason and Maylee), are the light of our lives. Mason wasn’t feeling too well but Maylee was at her best. And as it happened, Kathleen wasn’t feeling too well either.

They usually come over sometime before Christmas so that we can do some kind of a Christmas event and then exchange Christmas and birthday gifts. Which brings me to the mention of cruising. Our birthday gift for them this year is that we are taking them on a seven day Alaska cruise this summer on Royal Caribbean’s (RCL) Ovation of the Seas. The grandkids have never been on a cruise but their parents did one on RCL for their honeymoon in 2005.

So for our Christmas event I took them (Kathleen stayed home with both a bad head and stomach ache) to Enchant at what is now T-Mobile Park (used to be Safeco Field). It was a pretty amazing light show but that was about it. We had a great time with the kids but if they do it again next year, it’s not worth going back. It’s a one-time thing.

And as I write this (about noon on Thursday) they have left to take our precious grandkids home. We miss them so much but we FaceTime with them twice a week and will see them again either in January or for Mason’s birthday in February.