TGIF Travels: Discovering Ireland

Wild Atlantic Way

I visited Limerick  before exploring the Wild Atlantic Way.

 

 

Limerick, Ireland, gets a bad rap on safety from a few travel books. An Irishman at JFK Airport even told me it was a rough town! I was somewhat anxious when I arrived at Limerick but the George Limerick Hotel front desk clerk allayed my fears. I was happy I didn’t have to don a money belt and watch out for pick pockets like I did in Paris.

 

I felt pretty safe as I walked the city. True—it’s not a quaint Irish town but it still has much to offer. In 2014 it won a Culture award.

King John's Castle

King John’s Castle on the Shannon River.

Every restaurant I dined at had great food, low prices, and good service. Great customer service must be an Irish trait. I grabbed some food for my Ireland Lighthouse road trip at Dunnes and was happy the prices were reasonable there too!

Limerick was a great place to start my trip to Ireland.

I learned about the history of the Irish people at the Hunt Museum’s exhibit “A Terrible Beauty” and the invasion of the Vikings and British at King John’s Castle.

These visits help give me valuable insight into the culture and the history behind the formation of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Downtown Limerick.

Downtown Limerick.

 

Not sure I would recommend Limerick as the only destination for an international trip but it was a wonderful place to stay for two days.

The city is clean, shopping is great, restaurants plentiful and affordable, the locals are kind and there are lots of sights to see. It’s not that far from the Shannon Airport and a great place to stay during a layover or start a visit of Ireland.

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God and Gambling

Praying mannequin.

Even the mannequins were praying at the Beau Rivage.

I thought a lot about God when I visited the luxurious Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Maybe it was because I uttered a prayer each time I passed the casino on my way to a family reunion activity. I wondered why people gambled. One man said he was on a winning streak then lost it all trying to win more. I forgot where I was and said “Praise the LORD” to a man in the elevator. He looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language.

View of the pool.

Cool your heels at the pool and enjoy snacks.

I enjoyed the amenities of the four star hotel. One could shop, have ice cream and enjoy delicious food without leaving the resort. I guess that was the point. Still I sat by the pool, relaxed in the sauna, exercised at the workout room and looked at the gulf and enjoyed my stay without a slot machine. There’s plenty to explore without the gambling and a whole lot cheaper. I even got a chance to escape the resort and paint a lighthouse.

On the final day, the family worshipped at a church in Gulfport then had brunch at the Beau Rivage. The buffet food was excellent and unending. There was Cajun, seafood, Chinese, Sushi, American fare and food from all over the globe. I had breakfast, then lunch and dessert without over eating in the span of a few hours. There was an assortment of fruits, vegetables, meats and breads to suit every taste.

A view of the Beau Rivage.

A view of the Beau Rivage.

The Beau Rivage offers free parking and complimentary valet parking. It’s a great place to stay but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Check out my website, for the Biloxi Lighthouse and other lighthouses I’ve painted.

Boston on a dime

Downtown Boston near Suffolk University.

Downtown Boston near Suffolk University.

I’ve heard that Boston is one of the most expensive places to live but wise travelers can save a dime. I landed at Logan International Airport recently for the “Widening the Cycle Exhibit” and “Menstrual Health Conference” at Suffolk University in downtown Boston. Although I caught a ride with my cousin, my roommate rode on Mass Bay Transit Authority from the airport to downtown for free. It seems the Silver Line is free from Logan Airport inbound to South Station (including a free transfer to the Red Line).

The statue pays tribute to the founder of Harvard University, Rev. John Harvard.

The statue pays tribute to the founder of Harvard University, Rev. John Harvard.

After departing the airport, my cousin took me on a tour of Cambridge. We grabbed a smoothie at “Life Alive” and walked on the campus of Harvard University. Once back in downtown Boston, I settled down for the night at Suffolk University. The following day, I shopped nearby at the Downtown Crossing on Washington Street. You’ll find stores like H&M, TJ Maxx, Payless, upscale stores and restaurants.

Monument to the 54th Regiment.

Monument by Augusta Saint-Gauders of the 54th regiment at Boston Common.

I had a slice of a Mediterranean Pizza at Sal’s on Tremont for under $6. My roommate joked that the server had a crush on her because the pizza was so large. When looking at mine she laughed, ”He must have a crush on everyone!” The pizza was not your typical fare. Sal’s is known for large servings. His grandparents emigrated from Naples and began serving Neapolitan pizza. Sal continues the tradition by making pizza with the freshest ingredients. He opened his first store in 1990 in Boston’s North end. Not sure if this store was the original location. With stand up tables only at Sal’s, we headed to the Boston Common for lunch on a bench. Squirrels mimicking “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and begging for food finally chased us away.

The Thinking Cup in downtown Boston.

The Thinking Cup in downtown Boston.

Later that night I had a bad case of the munchies and purchased a Passion Fruit cheesecake and a cup of tea at the “Thinking Cup” on Tremont for under $10.

DEATH OF FERTILITY

My painting, “Death of Fertility” was in the exhibit “Widening the Cycle.”

The next day I went to the “Widening the Cycle Exhibit” opening reception and had dinner at Papagayo’s Mexican restaurant on West Street. Not much fanfare there but it was convenient to where we were staying. I had Black Bean soup for under $8 as an ethnic twist on my salute to “Beantown.”

PASCUA FLORIDA

Statue of Juan Ponce de Leon at Bayside Marketplace in Miami.

Statue of Juan Ponce de Leon at Bayside Marketplace in Miami.

I saw this statue of Juan Ponce de Leon at Bayside Marketplace in Miami on April 2. It was the day I went to the Arts and Hospitality Breakfast. I went to the breakfast seeking new opportunities to serve the community and develop new relationships. On April 2, 1513, Ponce de Leon sighted the coast of Florida looking for gold and hoping to find new territory for the Spanish crown. I guess Florida has always been a land of opportunity. I am sure the Native Americans who first came to Florida had their share of hopes and dreams, too.

Plaque at the base of the statue of Juan Ponce de Leon.

Plaque at the base of the statue of Juan Ponce de Leon.

According to Wikipedia, Ponce de Leon named the coastline he saw La FLorida or Pascua Florida (Flowery Easter) because it was Easter and the land was in bloom. Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal. A day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Jesus Christ.

Easter a time to find hope. A time to reach out to others.

WELCOME TO OUR LIBERATORS

Honfleur, France.

Honfleur, France.

 

Last summer, I visited Honfleur, France just after the 70th Anniversary of D-day. I was amazed to see signs throughout the city thanking the Allied Forces for liberating the city. “Welcome to Our Liberators” signed hailed the city. Honfleur is in the province of Normandy.

My painting of Honfleur, France.

My painting of Honfleur, France.

 

As a tribute to the city of Honfleur, I have done two paintings. One of my paintings will be on display at the “Art Reveals the Soul” exhibit at Broward College, through April 23.

THE MOST IMPORTANT RETAIL CORNER IN FLORIDA

The Art Center South Florida.

The Art Center South Florida.

First the rats, then the roaches, then the artists…

That cycle that my friend artist Gil Mayers referred to should include the money changers.

Now that Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach has been transformed into “one of the hottest retail locations in the entire country, with skyrocketing rents to match” (www.blog.miaminewstime.com) the Art Center that was the catalyst sold for a sweet $88 million.

As the buyers gloated “we believe it’s the most important retail corner in Florida.”

 

SOUTH BEACH WINE AND FOOD FEST

The Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District is the site of the South Beach Wine and Food Fest.

The Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District is the site of the South Beach Wine and Food Fest.

Robert Irvine headlines celebrity chefs at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, Feb 19-22. Epicureans delight to beachside culinary feasts from barbeque to fine dining.

Jungle Island serves up fun with Goya Kids Kitchen on Saturday and Sunday. Families can meet celebrities like Rev Run and Justine and enjoy exploring the food garden, playing sports on the beach and cooking up grub in the interactive food kitchen.

Meet and great celebrity chefs.

Meet and great celebrity chefs.