Welcome to my blog about my trip to Ireland with the Greeley Chorale in May/June 2013.  This site will consist of blog entries for each day of the trip and contain pictures (that I took while on the trip), excerpts from the blog I kept while we were in Ireland (which will be placed in quotes and italicized), and just some various other bits of information or my thoughts/feelings about the trip now that we are back and I've had a chance to soak in and process the journey we took.

The Chorale left in two separate groups for this trip.  I was a part of the first group to leave but the second group to arrive.  The group I was in was made up of all the people who were staying an extra 4 days for the extension portion of the tour.  This group included my parents who were excited for the trip as well.  My dad is a part of the Chorale which is why we were getting to take such an amazing adventure.

Ireland is a place I have always wanted to go.  Anytime someone would ask me, if you could go anywhere in the world where would you like to visit most, I could quickly and without any hesitation say Ireland.  Usually before they even could complete the question.  :)  That made this trip a dream come true for me.  We were going to visit many of the places I wanted to go (Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle) as well as a few areas I had never had a specific desire to go (Belfast, Dublin). However, even those places I hadn't had a specific desire to go to were exciting prospects, mostly because, I was going to be in IRELAND!

I hope you can enjoy the journey with me as I walk back through my trip and share the experiences that make me still answer the question of where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world with a quick and resounding IRELAND....AGAIN!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tuesday, June 4th (Waterford)

Sara and I had decided to go take the Waterford Crystal tour first thing this morning, so even though it was a pretty late night we got up.  My mom wanted to come too, so after we were all ready we waited in the lobby for her. "Mom came down and we started towards Waterford.  Mom mentioned dad would have come, but needed to go to the bank.  I told her Sara and I were planning on doing that after.  So I ran back and got dad.  By the time we got there though we had to go on the 9:50 AM tour.  It worked out ok though and the tour was pretty cool."  Dad was actually able to make it to the bank and back before the tour around Waterford Crystal.

When you start the tour they take you to a room with some history about Waterford Crystal and show you the bowl that the workers have to master in order to get the job. I think they said they only get 3 tries, after studying and working towards it for something like 8 years.  Some of the work is very intricate, like the grandfather clock. Then you go into this dark room and they light up cases with other examples of Waterford Crystal.  Some of it was so intricate and VERY pretty when all lit up.  Then we went through the process of making the crystal, starting by looking at the molds and how those work.  Then we got to see them actually starting to form the crystal by using the molds we had just learned about.

They had examples of different pieces in different stages of completion, and we learned a bit about the cutting that gets done and how the patterns are drawn on, etc.  They had items for sport championships, the Olympics, even a 9-11 memorial piece.  They passed around one item, and I was kind of nervous to hold it.  It seemed most everyone was, trying to handle it very carefully to keep from dropping it. When we got to the area where the cutters work one of them had me come stand right next to him and watch him work.  It was pretty cool, but looking back I wish I had asked him questions and talked to him a bit more.

It was a pretty cool tour and at the end you exit out into the store.  I had wandered around it the day before and knew what I was probably going to get. There were plenty of things I would have LIKED to have gotten, but no way I was going to afford most of it.  Especially since I was saving up for a hand knit aran sweater. It was pretty interesting to see the tour, but they don't talk much about the large factory that got closed down and many of the people who had worked there, or trained there for so many years were out of jobs.  Talking to people around town you learned a bit about what happened to some of the workers. Some opened up other crystal making businesses, and while they are not officially "Waterford Crystal" brand, they are the same guys who made it before, and so still great quality and beautiful designs.  Others got out of the business all together, like the owner of Katy Berry's, and started doing other things.  Still, the work is well done, and the name still holds a lot of meaning.

After the tour I did some shopping in the area and when dad had to leave to go sing at a hospital in town mom and I decided to tour the museums that were near our hotel as well as get some lunch. "...So mom and I headed into the Bishop's Palace museum.  Once we were done there, that took about an hour, we went to the Mysteries Museum and looked at all kinds of artifacts.  Dad caught up to us there..." There is a trio of history museums in Waterford, we went to two of them, and the other, Reginald's Tower, I had already visited the day before.

"Then I got ready for the concert, packed a bit and met mom in the lobby at 7:40 PM.  We walked to the Theater Royal and at 8 PM there was a concert." This was an interesting venue, and even though they requested no pictures many people in the group were taking some, so I snuck a few myself.  It was nice that the venue was literally up the street from our hotel.

"After there was a reception with finger foods.  I came back to the hotel and changed clothes and met a group down in the lobby at 10:15 PM.  I almost stayed "home" with Sara, but decided to try it.  We went to T. & H. Doolans again and had a great time." The reception was very nice, however, but also packed with people.  It was difficult to get to the food, and once I did, I mostly found a corner and stayed out of the way until the end.

That brought our time in Waterford to a close.  The next day we would leave, and would be about 1/2 way through the main portion of the trip.  I don't think either Sara or I were very sad to leave our room in Waterford, especially after we got to our new hotel, but more on that later.  I was going to kind of miss Waterford itself though, I liked it there quite a bit.

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