Ireland - Thursday, June 3rd

We checked into the Grand Hotel in Wicklow and were quite pleased.  Wicklow is on the slopes of Ballyguile Hill which overlooks a wide bay.  This old town with narrow streets has been renovated beautifully keeping its old world atmosphere.  It is in this town that I found the best Chai Latte that I have ever had.

Wicklow is a seaport and market for an area of potato growing and livestock raising.  It was interesting to tour  Wicklow’s Historic Gaol , although it was a bit creepy. As you travel back in time, you are entering one of the cruellest, most historically shameful places in Ireland.  It was built around 1902 and the first recorded prisoner was Fr. Owen Mc Fee, a seventy two year old priest, who was convicted of saying Mass in the County contrary to the law.  He was sentenced to transportation to a British colony in America in 1716. The practice of transporting the dregs of society from England and Ireland “beyond the seas” was formalized in 1716 with the Banishment Act.  Those transported at this time were sent to the Americas. When this colony was lost to the British during the War of Independence in 1776 another destination was required. A number of options were listed and tried and eventually the recently discovered New South Wales was selected and colonized by convicts in 1788. The first Irish convicts were transported to this colony in 1791 and prisoners were sent there from Wicklow Gaol from 1796 until the 1850′s.  There were 105 Wicklowmen  transported during this time.  I understand once there they worked as servants for 7 years then were given 100 acres of land, never seeing their families again.

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Ireland - Wednesday, June 2nd

The Southern Coast of Ireland is everything that I would have expected and so much more. The breathtaking views, quaint villages, scenic country roads, narrow winding mountain passes with herds of sheep and goats dotting the landscape are but a few of the wonders of this magical land.

Our trip began in Dublin where we picked up our rental car, which was suppose to be included in our package at no additional charge. Upon arrival at the Dandooley Car Rental Agency at the airport we were informed that we owed an additional 300 Euros for insurance coverage for the week. They also insisted that a 1500 Euro security deposit be placed on our car immediately. While I was negotiating the contract Joe slipped next door to the Budget rental agency where cars were available. We were able to secure a Volkswagan Desiel van for about 300 Euro for the week, all inclusive. So much for a free rental car. Beware.

Our next stop was Naas where we picked up two 1200 GS BMW motorcycles from Celtic Rider. We were thrilled with the customer service and the bikes were awesome. Paul gave us lots of really great information and tips. They also have rental gear so there is no need to lug your helmets, jackets, or pants across the Atlantic as we did. Thus began our driving adventure, following Ron and Joe in our Diesel Volkswagon with right side steering, left hand manual shift, driving on the OTHER side of the road. It was quite the challenge but loads of fun. We did need to pull the mirror in few times on those narrow city roads.

After being up for 39 hours we arrived at our first bed and breakfast in Rathdrum. We checked in, turned in our B&B vouchers and left. It was filthy. For future travel we won’t make reservations in advance because B&B’s are plentiful in Ireland.

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Off to Ireland in the morning…and of course we’ll be staying in bed and breakfast’s along the way. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll fill you in on the B&B’s. Should be fun!

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Inn at 802 Bed and Breakfast

The thought of owning and running a bed and breakfast has always been an interest of mine and the Bob Newhart Show made it my dream.  Where else can you do something that you like doing, live in such a beautiful city as Williamsburg and get paid for doing it.  I didn’t just jump in and expect people to be knocking down my door, I was fortunate to be able to work for a friend, who just happened to be opening her own B&B here in Williamsburg as well.  Although it was a lot larger than mine, I knew what I was getting myself in for.  A little hands-on experience is absolutely necessary.

My husband Joe enjoys cooking as much, if not more, than I do.  We’ve always been active in various gourmet groups and the thought of cooking for people seemed like fun.  Although he does travel with his job, staying in B&B’s whenever possible, he finds time some mornings, and most weekends to help me in the kitchen.

The breakfast experience is quite elegant.  The table is set with crystal, fine china, silver, and is candlelit for your enjoyment.  You’ll awaken to fresh fruit, juice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, variable mouth-watering entrees, homemade pastries, and sizzling hickory-smoked Virginia bacon, ham, or sausage. You won’t go sightseeing around Williamsburg hungry!

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I’ve finally decided to jump on the  “blog bandwagon” and create my own.  I’ll be sharing some interesting facts about Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown,  sharing a few great recipes, taking you on a tour of our Inn and telling you about our many wonderful guests that return time and time again.  For those of you have never visited Williamsburg, or have never stayed at a bed and breakfast, this is your blog.  I also invite innkeepers to join in the conversation.  A few good tips could certainly help us all, afterall, happy guests are what makes this business so enjoyable.   
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