Recap of My Greenville Trip

Happy Easter to everyone out there!

I made it back home on Friday from my trip to Greenville, SC.  I’ve got multiple pictures to share from my adventures.  Let me just say that the weather in South Carolina was absolutely gorgeous!  The perfect jeans and sweatshirt weather.

Day 1 – Tuesday, April 15

Tuesday started off with my early trip to the airport.  Despite the weather being wonderful the entire week before (all the windows had been open, spent my free time sitting on the front porch, etc.) it was now, of all things, snowing!  Perfect time to go to SC right?!  My flight took me into Baltimore and onto Greenville.  Both legs of the flight were extremely bumpy during the landing.  Once on the ground at GSP, it started to pour.  I took the shuttle van to the rental car office.  I love being in the South, everyone is so friendly and its such a nice change of pace.  I got my rental car and after a short talk with the rental car agents who were generous in passing on their local knowledge, was on my way.  I headed into downtown Greenville and checked into my hotel.  Luckily it stopped raining as I was getting downtown.  After unpacking my bags I decided it was time to explore, I was starving though so I had to go shopping at Publix!  I don’t know what it is but I really like to shop at Publix, we don’t have them up North.  After attaining my mixed fruit, trail mix, and enough coffee to get me through the week I headed back to the hotel for my little snack since it was too close to supper for a full meal.  I cannot sit idle for long and downtown was calling me… so out I went.

Main Street was incredible to see.  There were trees lining the road, businesses nestled together along with a good variety of restaurants.

DSC_0505

 

I hadn’t originally planned on walking all the way down to Falls Park on the Reedy River, but that’s where I ended up.  This trip proved to be the perfect practice for my camera.  Liberty Bridge is a unique pedestrian, suspension bridge crossing over the Reedy offering a bird’s eye view of the river below.

Reedy RiverDSC_0482

After I had my fill of the sights and sounds of the river I headed back up Main Street visiting the shops along the way.  I picked up some awesome jerky at one of the stores and decided it was time to swing into Dark Corner Distillery for some Moonshine tasting!  I have only had moonshine a few times so I was excited to try a different variety.  The store was going to be closing in 20 minutes so I had to make it an efficient visit.  I headed straight for the back to check out the distillery process.  It smelt so good back there.  I don’t even know how to describe it properly.  I took some pictures of the process and went over for the $4 sampling of six different varieties of the shine (straight shine, peach, their Journeyman Reserve- peppery and sweet tasting, apple-maple, one made with a flower- can’t remember but it might have been hibiscus, and butterscotch).  All of them were good, but I am already a fan of apple pie moonshine and their apple-maple is a different twist on the apple flavor with the maple undertones.  Another cool thing about the sampling, you get to keep your shot glass!  I ended up walking out of there with a bottle of the Apple-achain shine, a T-shirt, my coveted shot glass, and a slight buzz from the shine.

DSC_0517DSC_0514

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there it was time for supper.  I hadn’t had something substantial to eat since breakfast so I was as hungry as a horse.  That means it was pizza time.  I headed over to Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria for a sausage and cheese pizza.  The pizza was good it was on a sourdough crust and there were definitely left-overs for later.  By this time I was completely exhausted and made it back to the hotel to call it a night.

Day 2 – Wednesday, April 16

Wednesday started off with the free breakfast in the hotel and my customer visit.  The visit went well and was pretty quick.  Then it was the rush back to the hotel to start my next adventure.  I had decided that I wanted to head up to Poinsett’s Bridge- the oldest bridge in South Carolina (built in 1820).  This bridge used to serve as a state road between Greenville and Asheville.  My phone was set to take me to it and I grabbed a quick bite to eat at Chick-Fil-A.  The bridge was about 40 minutes away, but it was the perfect weather for a relaxing drive.  As I was getting closer my phone kept losing my cell service, my data connection, and my GPS so I was just relying on street signs.  Bad thing was, there wasn’t a sign by the bridge so I drove past it realizing it soon after and turned around.  You have to park across the street, which wasn’t a big deal there weren’t any cars out on the road.  I spent close to an hour walking around the bridge and the area nearby.  Nobody was around and it was so nice to just be in nature away from everything.  After I was done at the bridge I headed out along Scenic Highway through the Cherokee Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I made a pit stop at Aunt Sue’s Country Corner.  There wasn’t too much there, I would have been disappointed if I had specifically made a trip up there.  I drove for a while after that along the Scenic Highway and finally decided to head back towards Greenville.  I probably spent around two hours just driving through the beautiful countryside.  The only downside… it was still too early in the season to get boiled peanuts.

DSC_0620DSC_0563DSC_0557

Day 3 – Thursday, April 17

I had a training class the majority of the day on Thursday.  After the class I was able to head back to the hotel.  I relaxed in the room for an hour and then hit the town again.  I walked Main Street and decided on supper at Sticky Fingers.  It was pretty good, I personally am not a fan of the Carolina tangy BBQ sauce and I generally stick with sweet BBQ sauces.  Every Thursday night starting in spring there is a concert right downtown.  I wanted to check that out while I was down there.  The guy who was singing was alright not the best I’ve heard at a free concert.  His songs were basically all the same with the same cadence and tones so I didn’t stay for too long.

DSC_0632

I wandered up closer to my hotel and went across the street to the cemetery.  Right when you entered the cemetery there were the graves for the unknown Confederate soldiers.  Many trees and flowers were blooming and it was weird to see leaves on the majority of the trees this early.  I always find cemeteries to be interesting places.  They are so full of history and are all so peaceful.  I soon headed back to the hotel to get some rest since I had another early flight.

DSC_0647 DSC_0648DSC_0656

 

Day 4 – Friday, April 18

Friday started out at 3:30 in the morning… I know the perfect time to start your day!  This was just my day to travel home.  I got everything packed, checked out, and was on my way to the airport.  The skies were perfect for flying.  I had a short hour layover in Chicago Midway before heading back home.

All-in-all this was a really good trip.  The business side of it went really well and the adventures I had while down there were perfect.

Business Trip — Greenville, SC

Latest up and coming adventure… Greenville, South Carolina!

In my line of work, sometimes I’m required to travel.  I usually get stuck having to go to the middle of nowhere, but I got lucky this time!  The customer is located right outside of Greenville.  Everyone in the office always wonders why I am always so ecstatic when it comes to visiting the customer (this is especially true considering some of these visits are last minute and there are issues that need to be addressed).  However, this trip is for a day of training.  The truth is… I tend to treat every trip as my own personal adventure of a new location.  Work is work I’ll make the best out of where I am when I’m done at the end of the day.

I plan on hitting downtown Greenville to see what the historic town has to offer as well as venturing out to see the more scenic areas that Upcountry South Carolina has to offer.  It looks like every Thursday evening starting in Spring they hold an outdoor concert… so I planned my hotel within walking distance.  It also looks like a stop to Dark Corner Distillery is in place- they’ve got good reviews on TripAdvisor for their moonshine so I’ll probably invest in some Apple Pie.  In addition to that I’m really want to find some boiled peanuts along the roadside – hopefully it isn’t too early in the season for that!

Euros!

I don’t have many updates from this past week.

I went to the bank on Saturday to order my Euros; I like to have ample time when I order anything just in case.  They arrived at the bank yesterday so I swung by and picked them up.  It was so easy to just go through the bank – plus they didn’t charge any fees for the service.  It cost so much to have to exchange currency at the airport.  The first and last time I did that I decided it was cheaper to just blow all of the Canadian dollars I had rather than exchange it back!

I can now rest assured since I have my chump change for food and souvenirs!

2014-03-20 22.47.26

Belfast

The worst part of trip planning is trying to maximize the destinations while limiting travel time without over booking every single day of the trip.  The way I look at it, I might not ever get another chance to visit a place again so I need to cover everything.  That being said, I’ve been playing around with all of the possibilities of things to do while on this trip.  So, I’ve decided the best way to tackle my trip planning is to break it down in segments by city.  By the title you’ve probably guessed what my first segment is – Belfast.

Belfast, by far, is going to be the easiest segment to plan for this trip.  The Titanic was built here and I’ve always been obsessed with anything related to the Titanic.  So that sums up my main focus of this city.  I’m the type of person that likes to have all of my ducks in a row as soon as possible.  What that means is that my time is already booked for Titanic Belfast!  I am pretty excited for this place, check it out for yourself http://www.titanicbelfast.com/Home.aspx.  The thing that I already love about this museum are all of the minor details that were put in place to really capture all of your attention.  There are benches around the outside plaza that are spaced out to simulate Morse code for what was sent as a distress signal to other ships.  There are also lights on the plaza that outline the ships (the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic) to put their true size into perspective.  In my opinion, things like this really set museums apart from the rest.

Titanic Slipways
(Source: http://www.titanicbelfast.com/The-Experience/The-Slipways—Plaza.aspx)

I also purchased the Hop On Hop Off bus tour so I’d have transportation within the city.  This will also provide me with a tour of the murals and peace wall when I am finished absorbing all of the Titanic information as I can.  I really want to see the murals from both sides.  History is so often skewed by the victors so I really like to study both sides of an issue.  What makes these so unique is that these serve as a line of communication from those who lived it to the current and future generations.  This is that rare history that was written by those who lived it.  These may not be around forever as I would imagine the city would not want to carry a Berlin-like image with their own peace wall and whatnot despite the want to preserve their history.

https://i0.wp.com/suzyguese.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/IMG_1884.jpg
(source: http://suzyguese.com/belfast-northern-ireland-wishes-you-were-here/)

There are still a few things that I’ll have to book, but it was too early right now.  Train tickets from Dublin to Belfast and back or else I’m not going to see any of the things I’ve mentioned.  Also, I want to do the Titanic Walking Tour before the museum, http://www.titanicwalk.com/.  This will keep the engineer in me fully interested with the tour of the drawing offices, the slipway, and the dry dock and pump-room.  I’m the type with history I have to be there and experience where the events took place and take a chance to somewhat walk in their shoes.  This day will probably be pushing my limits as I am expecting to take a train from Dublin at 7:30AM and catch the last one from Belfast at 8:00PM; I guess that’s what coffee is for.  Only 70 days until I’m in Ireland!

Hotels

So, its been a while… I’ve been extremely busy with work these past couple of weeks.  Any free time I had was dedicated to hotel planning, which I can now say has been a complete success.  All reservations have been confirmed so I can relax and start planning all of the fun stuff!

Dublin- 2 nights at the O’Callaghan Stephens Green Hotel

This was the last hotel I booked and was by far the most difficult to decide upon.  Every hotel I was checking on tripadvisor had something I just didn’t like.  I found that trying to find a good location and a good price in Dublin is very difficult.  I literally just decided to do one of those secret deals on priceline for a 4-star hotel in the area around Temple Bar. If anyone truly knows me they would recognize the turmoil I felt when I entered all the credit card info and finally hit the submit button.  I was like “Oh my gosh!  What am I doing?  What if I get a horrible hotel?  No, that won’t happen its guarenteed to be a 4-star hotel I’ll be happy… but that area covers a large distance!  What if I am all the way at the bottom of the area?!  Moment of truth… oh thank goodness it is a great place!”

https://i2.wp.com/r-ec.bstatic.com/images/hotel/max300/562/5626783.jpg
(image from http://www.booking.com)

Galway- 5 nights at the Asgard Guesthouse

I am most excited to stay at this bed & breakfast.  I booked this directly through their website.  I don’t like to book bed & breakfasts on any of the discount websites just to help keep profit at the establishment.  All I had to do was fill out an inquiry form on the site and received an email from the owner within the hour. A very quick and painless process.


(image from http://www.tripadvisor.com)

Ennis- 1 night at the Old Ground Hotel

I booked this hotel back in mid-January.  Since I’ll be staying in Ennis during Fleadh Nua I figured I should be sure and book way in advance.  Ended up paying full price for this on their website since the other websites were showing no availability, but I got a room and that’s all that matters in my eyes.  Plus I really wanted to stay here the hotel itself looks amazing!


(image from http://www.hotels.com)

Shannon- 1 night at the Park Inn at the airport

This was actually the first hotel I reserved mainly since there were only two choices I was considering near the airport.  Priceline seemed to have the best deal on this place.  My flight coming home is at 11:30AM.  I don’t like to risk it with airports so I figured it would be best if I stayed at the airport for the last night.  I’ll definitely be hanging out in Ennis for a while the night before though!


(image from http://www.tripadvisor.com)

Its Official!

All hands on deck!  Official planning mode has begun!

Yesterday morning started off with me braving the sub-zero windchill, getting to work, and submitting my vacation request within an hour of me being there.  I spent the remainder of work day dreaming about this trip; in Rachel terms that would be me mentally creating a list of things I’ll need to do prior to the trip, my itinerary options (yes that’s plural I like to have multiple plans!), etc.  The day was so long and I thought it would never end!

I came home and found the flight I wanted through US Airways entered my passenger info and then it happened… I started second guessing myself!?  I knew as soon as I hit the submit button there was no turning back.  Could I really do this trip?  Should I really go by myself?  Am I crazy?!  NO, not happening!  I’m totally doing this!  So, I hit submit but I took too long to decide and my session timed out… seriously?!

So, I restarted this process (minus the second guessing this time) and I can now officially say I’m going on my grand tour of Ireland in 127 days!

Possible Itinerary

Alright, so I think I have narrowed my Ireland destinations down to a manageable handful.

Fly out of the US to Dublin.  Stay 2 days in Dublin.  Head out to Galway and stay 3 days.  Next stop will be Doolin where I’ll stay 1.5 days.  Ennis will wrap up the trip with 1.5 days.  The last day I will fly out of Shannon back to the US.

I really wanted to narrow down my locations to decide which airports to fly into and out of.  I’ll spend the next leg of research looking at things to do, where to stay, etc.  Depending on what I find, the days in each city may be adjusted.

Ireland Planning Has Begun…

After some thought, I’ve decided to make my dream of Ireland a reality.

Rough planning puts this trip in the timeframe of late May to take advantage of the Memorial Day holiday to minimize my vacation usage.  Potential sights include: Dublin, Galway (definite stop, ancestral homeland), Ennis (Fleadh Nua Music Festival!), Cliffs of Moher, etc.  More details to come as I iron out the details.

Back to my research…

2013-12-30 21.51.46

Lonely Planet Ireland

Rick Steves’ Ireland 2014