Looking Back: Day 7 in Pictures: Bray

On Sunday, August 21, 2016, we packed up and left Tara Towers Hotel and headed south to Bray. Tara Towers was booked when I made the reservations, plus it was neat to venture out to a new area. Our hotel for the night was The Martello Hotel, right across from the Irish Sea. Bray was a fun and festive place. If you are familiar with the Jersey Shore, it was part Belmar, part Manasquan, and part Point Pleasant Beach. If you click on one of the pictures below, it will turn into a gallery which you might find easier to view.

Bray was the vacation from the vacation and I really enjoyed it. The only thing I would change would be to build an elevator at The Martello Hotel. We had to climb a lot of stairs to get to our room with our bags, which was a little difficult. Otherwise, everything was splendid. If you would like to learn more about any of the places from today’s post, please visit these links:

Bray, Ireland

The Martello Hotel

The Harbour Bar

Katie Taylor

Coming tomorrow: Day 8: Goodbye, Ireland!

*** All photographs that are a part of this gallery were taken by me, Jill Ocone, on August 21, 2016 and are copyrighted. It is illegal to reproduce or to take credit for my intellectual property contained on this post. Thank you for your compliance

Random Observations about Dublin

Hello my friend! While I’m still organizing my photos and notes from my mission from the universe, I thought I’d share some random observations I had while in Dublin.

Dublin is a city of activity. The hotel I stayed in for all but one night was along Merrion Road in the Booterstown section, which fronts the Dublin Bay. In the states we’d call it a beach, but in Ireland it is called a strand. Booterstown is about a 15-minute train ride away from the center of the city. Merrion Road is a main thoroughfare from the city to the suburbs along the sea, and boy, was it busy! It didn’t matter what time it was, there was constant traffic. Cars, double decker and regular busses, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians…you name it. I found it interesting that the busses (both regular and double decker) had to share the very narrow “bus” lane with people on bicycles. Bicycle after bicycle after bicycle, too! I’d guestimate that about 95% of the people on bicycles were wearing safety equipment, like helmets and brightly colored safety vests. If I had to select the best “lane maneuverers” though, it would definitely be a tie between the bus drivers and the bicycle peddlers. I was frightened just watching them from the hotel window!

I could see key locations on the James Joyce maps I plotted right from the hotel: Poolbeg Lighthouse, Sandymount Strand, and the Poolbeg Twin Stacks (power generation plant). The stacks didn’t exist during Joyce’s time or in his books, but the area did; it was one of the routes taken by his characters. The route today would lead you through this power station and dockland area, which isn’t the safest or prettiest, so I was glad I could check these off my list right from my hotel room.

Air conditioning is pretty much nonexistent in Ireland, and most homes and hotels do not have screens on the windows. Luckily, no buggies came into the room while the window was open. I got used to the sound of the traffic rather quickly, and it became a lullaby of sorts. By the end of my stay, when the noise stopped for a few minutes in the middle of the night, I would wake up.

The tide on Dublin Bay was fascinating. At low tide, I swear you could walk almost half a mile out onto the strand, then at high tide, the water would be slapping up against the sea wall. I wonder how many people have been stranded, no pun intended, due to the tide? Low tide meant a variety of sea birds would be scavenging for a quick meal, and there was a type of gull or tern there that looked just like the kind here, but it didn’t caw or cry. Rather, it screamed. And loud! The Booterstown Nature Reserve was across from the hotel about two blocks away, so there was no shortage of critters to observe. There were also very large pigeons, about twice the size of the ones who frequent my yard. Gargantuan pigeons.

I saw wild butterfly bushes, just like the one in my front yard, everywhere. Little bushes would be growing in the sidewalk cracks, in tree bark, and even in bricks and cement on buildings. My butterfly bush was an anniversary gift from my husband, and I know it was a bit pricey, yet here they are growing all over in Ireland. I believe they are even considered a nuisance species there. I didn’t see many butterflies though, only a few white ones here and there, and I did spot a red admiral in city center.

The sun rose right across the street along the bay, but I unfortunately slept through the one day that the sunrise wasn’t obscured by clouds. My friend was able to get some photos through the window, and was it beautiful.

The time change? Dublin is 5 hours ahead, and true to form, I got used to the change on the last day. I’m still adjusting to my normal after returning 5 days ago, but the good thing is that I’ve been waking up early, which is prepping my body for back to school.

One of the things that I found most striking was the overall calmness of the Dubliners. If things didn’t go their way, they went with the flow instead of getting angry or irritated. They didn’t make a scene or resort to posting their dismay immediately on social media. They just moved on.

Additionally, I noticed every day that parents were actually playing with their kids, instead of taking pictures of the kids, say, at the beach front or on the rides, and then sitting on their phones and posting those pictures to social media. Parents INTERACTED with their children, and I probably observed it so much because that’s not the norm that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing when out in public. Instead of seeing heads down in a phone, I saw smiles, laughter, joy, and memories being made versus shared. In general, PEOPLE INTERACTED WITH EACH OTHER: talking. laughing, walking, genuinely enjoying each other’s company, with no phone or technology out, for the most part. No posting of pictures, no checking for “likes,” none of that. Sure, when alone, a lot had earbuds in their ears, but when together, their company came before their devices.

I think we can learn alot from the Irish with such examples.

Some of my favorite things in Ireland?

IMG_9075Fanta. The EUROPEAN version, not the soda crap we have here in the USA thanks to the Coca-Cola company’s cheapness.  The orange Fanta in Ireland contains real orange juice and real sugar, mixed with carbonated water and NATURAL flavors. It is truly delightful, especially when cold. I have a bottle of both orange and lemon waiting for me in my refrigerator to enjoy before summer ends. Fanta was actually founded in Ireland, and I wish that their version was available in our stores.

Applegreen. Applegreen is a gas station/convenience store, and one was right next to the hotel. Pick the best parts about Wawa, Quick Chek, and a hometown little corner store, and that’s Applegreen. They had freshly made “tartlets” available every day, which was a cross between a little custard tart and pound cake and one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The lemon was my favorite, of course. So many different things, like yogurt in a glass container, all kinds of different candy, breads, and sandwiches…you get the idea.

IMG_9152Strawberry Rice. Made by Muller, Strawberry Rice was like rice pudding with the strawberry you’d find at the bottom of a yogurt. If anyone finds this around New Jersey, please let me know! It was divine!

Teddy’s Ice Cream. You can get an ice cream cone pretty much anywhere (even IMG_9246Applegreen), but the only flavor is vanilla. They keep it simple…vanilla only, instead of a thousand flavors with a thousand more toppings. Since I am a basic person, that was fine with me! The “99” version is where a piece of chocolate called a “flake” is put in the side of the cone. You can also get sprinkles, crushed oreo, or marshmallows to top your cone. My favorite brand was Teddy’s, which I enjoyed on the Dun Laoghaire pier and in Bray.

IMG_8976Irish breakfast. Specifically the mushrooms and the beans. Yes, that’s right. Beans. Batchelor beans are like baked beans but in a spaghetti-o type of tomato sauce. I could eat them as a meal. I just love them, which is strange because of my very finicky palate. I sure wish they’d grace the shelves here. I found them on Amazon, and there are 2 restaurants in the Jersey Shore area that serve them, but they are so much better in Ireland.

Let me finish with a funny misinterpretation. In Ireland, the bathrooms are simply called Toilets. When an office building is available for rent, the word that is used is “let,” not “rent.” As such, there were many signs around that read “TO LET,” and more often than not, I read “TOILET.” Some real nice buildings were toilets in my brain.

My goal is to share more from my trip with you soon, focusing on my maps/route, what I saw, and more. Have a splendid day my friend

Until next time,



The Story is Just Beginning…

“Eyes, pale as the sea the wind had freshened, paler, firm and prudent. The seas’ ruler, he gazed southward over the bay, empty save for the smokeplume of the mailboat, vague on the bright skyline, and a sail tacking by the Muglins.” – James Joyce, Ulysses (Episode 1 – Telemachus)

Wow. Just Wow.

I now understand the magnitude of the above quote from Ulysses, and so much more.

What an amazing experience I had while in Dublin!

I’m sitting here trying to absorb everything I saw, heard, felt, tasted, and learned, while contemplating what might come next along this journey.
I have so many photos and so many stories to share. However, the universe has other plans: somehow the charging port on my computer stopped working while I was away. Very weird, since I left my computer at home unplugged for the whole time I was gone, and nobody else used it. Anyway, my computer is at the local repair hospital. 

In the meantime, I am writing and posting from my phone for the time being.

One of the best parts of the week was having a poor wifi signal at the hotel. With an international phone plan that did not include data, I was forced to abandon technology. Which was GOOD. I filled my notebook with handwritten comments, thoughts, responses and more. Old school! And I think everything was more meaningful that way.

I am very grateful that my health cooperated for the most part while in Ireland.  I’m still adjusting to the time change back here at home and I’m having some issues today health wise; I’d much rather feel like this here versus while away.

So, what did I do? In a nutshell:

I lived as a Dubliner for a week. I walked in the footsteps left by James Joyce (and his characters), Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, and Seamus Heaney.

I walked up the steepest hill I ever climbed (which was a challenge) to see 5,000+ year old artwork left inside a cave. I completed a pilgrimage to the Hill of Tara and the Stone of Destiny. I saw medieval stone towers, stone Celtic crosses, and the decapitated head of Saint Oliver miraculously preserved in a bog.

I walked over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, saw the Famine Memorial, and went to a storytelling dinner at The Brazen Head Pub. 

I laughed a lot with my traveling companion as we journeyed through downtown Dublin and suburbs Sandycove, Dun Laoghaire, Howth, and Bray. 

Most of all, I abandoned my fear by fulfilling my mission from the universe while honoring the spirit of my treasured friend. I hope my eyes showed her everything she could have ever wanted to see with her own eyes.

My journey to Dublin might be over, but I think the real story is just beginning…

Here are some pictures from my phone to give you an idea of some of the things I saw and did while in Ireland. Trust me, more is definitely coming! Thank you for following! 🙂

Buying lemon soap at Sweny’s Pharmacy, just like Leopold Bloom did in Ulysses
Statue of Molly Malone
the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square Park
James Joyce statue on Talbot Street. Check out the gal on the right.
The actual door from 7 Eccles Street, Leopold Bloom’s address in Ulysses. The door is on display at the James Joyce Center.
Outside Trim Castle, with “Sir Gallahad.” Trim Castle was the castle in the Mel Gibsom movie Braveheart.
At the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove. This is where his book Ulysses begins.
Along the Irish Sea in Bray