Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jf & Isabelle's visit to Dublin 16th - 18th October

JF and his new wife Isabelle came to visit us for 2 nights recently.

As we don't have any days off left, they were on their own for the whole time but we did get some good time with each other in the afternoon/evenings. They arrived here at 9:30am while we were at work, so we told them to just take it easy and see Dublin. They did and took the Dublin Bus Tour (which Jess and I haven't taken yet). They said it was really informative and fun.

At 6pm we met them near Trinity College and took them to our house. We all got changed and chatted for a bit and went to Pacino's (Italian Restaurant) off Grafton St. After dinner... of course we had to take them the Pearse Pub for a pint. They are not big beer drinkers but JF did enjoy a fine Pearse Guinness.

Next day they did some shopping and came home early as it rained and rained. That evening we got some movies and all chilled out at the apartment.

Over all it was a short stay, and they weren't able to do too much due to the weather, etc, but I think it was nice for them to not to have to do anything for couple of days and just relax.

Damien & Laura - Back again - 11th - 14th October

Back again and ready for more fun! We had another great visit with Damien and Laura as they popped back in on their way home to Canada. This time we had them for 3 nights and we were thrilled. We had given them Luke's house key while we were in Warsaw so that they could let themselves into the apartment while Luke and I were at work so we didn't have to worry about meeting them or taking the day off. They arrived in Dublin mid-afternoon and dropped their stuff off at the apartment. When I got home from work at about 5:30pm the apartment was empty but there was a note saying that they had gone to get some food to cook for dinner so we must not buy anything. I waited for Luke to arrive and he and I waited for the other two to arrive. When they did, we realized that they had gone out to Howth (alone - those brave, good-remembering people) to get fresh seafood, they had picked up some beverages and had all the makings of a fantastic dinner. It was great! Luke cooked it all up, we ate together and it was wicked.

Luke had the Thursday and Friday off so, again, he accompanied them on their sight-seeing and shopping, etc. They had a nice time together, hitting the pubs and shops in Dublin. I worked, yes, I'm a trooper. We went out and danced and partied and had a great time while they were here the second time. Friday night we (me, Sharon, Damien and Laura) went to Luke's gig (the Hard Working Class Heroes festival in Temple Bar) which was great. Laura had never seen Luke play and it had been years since Damien had seen Luke up on stage. It was a great show and a fun night which ended up with all of us at Pearse Tavern until late. Then we headed home to try to get enough sleep as Damien and Laura had to head to Belfast early in the morning to catch their flight home.

Visit to Warsaw - Oct 6th - 8th

Friday 6th October

We hopped in a cab at 5:45am and were on the plane to Warsaw at 7:30pm and in Warsaw by 11:00am! What a world it is when you can fly to another country/continent for just a weekend! This is the life!
So.... Luke and I flew to Warsaw to visit his family and to spend some time there with Damien and Laura.

We were met at the airport by Luke's dziadek (grandpa). It was great to see him as it had been since November 2005 that Luke was there, and July 2005 since I was there. Hugs all around and then Luke's dziadek whisked us onto a bus to town. The ride was insane as there were TONS of people piling onto the bus with their luggage. Probably the most obnoxious and uncomfortable bus ride I've had in my life. We had to fight to get through everyone blocking the door so we could get off. No one wanted to give us room. Arg! Anyway, we got off the bus after about a half hour ride and then got onto the tram (I love the trams! Quick, efficient, old-school). The tram ride was about another 20 minutes and then next thing we knew Luke and I were seeing familiar buildings and areas and we were finally there - his babcia and dziadek's place!

Luke and I were welcomed into the apartment by Luke's babcia (more fantastic hugs and kisses) and were promptly sat down at the table for some Galabki (cabbage rolls -my favourite Polish dish) and other assorted side dishes. It was delicious. We (well, Luke really) chatted with the two of them for a couple of hours and then Luke and I headed to the mall (Arkadia) for some shopping and a look-around. We didn't end up buying anything (which is very unusual for us) but we sat outside on a patio in the sun and enjoyed a cold beverage. After that we continued our search through the mall (we were looking for batteries, CD's and other items) and then we popped into a coffee shop for a pick-me-up and then headed back to the apartment as we were due to eat again (if you can believe it) and we were expecting a call from Luke's cousin Marcin (you remember him, don't you guys!) at 6:00pm.

After some very meaty flaczki (tripe soup)we got a call from Marcin and Luke and I headed out on the tram to his place to spend some time with him, his wife Dagmara and his parents. It was great to see them all again. From there, Marcin, Luke and I made our way to a pub where he and Luke had a Guinness (which apparently was pretty good). We had a shooter to celebrate our being together and then made our way, on foot, to the trendier, clubbier area of downtown Warsaw. We went into one club which was horrible - mainly dance music and techno (we met a few Dubliners in there though, which was funny) and then went to a hip-hop club down the street where we stayed until the wee hours. After some serious dancing we walked to a food stand where we got a snack and then we hopped into a cab and made our way back to the apartment. Long, but fun, day.

Saturday 7th October

Next morning we woke up and Luke accompanied his dziadek to the bank. While he was gone I tidied up our bedroom and got things in order, as well as ate breakfast with babcia (she made home made paczki (the Polish donut-thingys, which were to die for). When Luke came back he and I hopped on the tram out to the other side of the river to his godmother's house where we visited for a short while and then headed to the old city. We wandered around, had a zapiekanka (a Polish snack made from open faced bread with cheese and mushrooms on top, toasted with ketchup) which we had been dying for for the last year - simple but YU-MMY. After a walk around and then a cappuccino we headed back to the apartment for yet another meal before we had to head out to Luke's/Damien's grandparents for dinner and a visit. On the way we stopped at Luke's Aunt's house where we had a beer and stayed for a quick visit. We were supposed to be at dinner at around 4pm but we were pushing 7pm so we had to make it quick and rush over to dinner. When we got there we were given a couple of stern looks but they were quickly turned to smiles and hugs. We finally saw Damien and Laura and were able to hear about how things were going with them and Laura finally had someone to speak to in english. We ate, drank and chatted and had a good night. We all headed home at about 10pm as we had to fly out of Warsaw the next morning and Damien and Laura were going mushroom picking early the following morning. We said our goodbye's to everyone and we were escorted to the bus stop by a number of people.

Next day we got up, headed to the airport in a cab and then made our way back here to Dublin.

It was a great weekend (it's always great to be in Warsaw) and we're very much looking forward to heading over there for Christmas. It'll be Luke's first Christmas in Warsaw since he left there almost 18 years ago and it'll be my first Christmas there ever.

Damien & Laura's visit to Dublin - September

Damien and Laura flew into Belfast and took the train down here to Dublin. Luke and I met at the bus stop (which, conveniently, is located about a 10 minute walk from our house and is right in front of a pub!) right after work, where we sat down to wait and have a pint. Half an hour went by... no sign of Damien and Laura. Four buses went by, still nothing. Another half hour went by and then Brent walked by so we wrangled him in to join us for a pint. Another half an hour went by. Nothing. We were starting to worry that they had gotten lost or that they had missed their bus when all of a sudden the bus pulled up and Damien and Laura walked off of it! Hugs all around! They sat down and joined us for a pint, Brent left shortly after they arrived and then the four of us got everything together and walked back to our apartment.

They were only here for a couple of days but Luke took some time off to show them around - they went out to Howth to buy some fresh seafood for dinner (prawns, fish, mussels, yum!) while I was at work (which totally sucked so I rang Luke's mobile a million times so that I was kept up to speed with all the darn fun they were having). They did some sightseeing around Dublin, some major pub-seeing and basically we all hung out together and had a great time. We went out the night before they had to fly out to Poland and we stayed out later than I think any of us have stayed out in a heck of a long time. We went to bed about 2 hours before Damien and Laura had to get up to catch their early flight. It was a rough morning all around but the night sure was fun!

They were fantastic guests. They were happy to relax and didn't need to rush around all the time. They were up for anything, they were so great. We really enjoyed having them around (and are hoping they'll come back again for a longer stay).