Christmas Party and More Visiting Edmontonians

This week has been insane! As I mentioned in my last post, we headed out for the company Christmas party this past weekend. The Christmas party was held at the beautiful Lyrath hotel in Kilkenny. There are so many people at the company that we couldn't all be put up in that hotel, so we were spread across four different hotels in Kilkenny for the night. Darse, Xan, Diane and I headed out on Friday afternoon to Kilkenny and stayed there on Friday night so we could see a little of the town the next day. We joined several other people for a nice dinner at the Lyrath. Post dinner, we spent a fair amount of time hanging out and socializing in a bar in the Lyrath. By the time Diane and I caught a cab back to our hotel (the NewPark Hotel), it was three in the morning!

We slept in the next morning, and finally got out to explore Kilkenny a bit. It was a crisp afternoon that felt very much like morning, even though we didn't get to Kilkenny Castle in the afternoon. There was a bit of fog in the air, and the green grass was covered in some light frost. Kilkenny Castle was a pretty formidable structure, but we didn't get a chance to explore inside since we had missed the latest tour and the next one was sold out. Since we didn't have time to wait around for the tour after that, we walked down main street in Kilkenny to see some other sights.

One of the places we ended up in was the Black Abbey, which we almost went by. We walked along and were taking a few photos of the outside the church, and were about to move on when a lady passing by stopped and told us that it was "really quite lovely inside", that it was "open anytime", and that is was her "favourite church in town". That was quite a recommendation, and we became a bit more curious about finding the entrance. It was indeed open, and it was breathtaking. The church featured several very large and very colourful stained glass windows that shone very well in the afternoon light.

The afternoon was rapidly disappearing though, so we needed to get back to our hotel to get dressed up for the black tie affair that evening!

We arrived at the Lyrath dressed up and ready to party. The hotel lobby was already filled with people chatting, helping themselves to the appetizers and wine that were being served. At roughly 6pm, the company poker tournament began -- a super speed poker tournament where 4 employees formed a team at one of 8 single table tournaments. The winning team at each table took down €1000 to split amongst themselves. Unfortunately, while my team did well, we finished in second. We bubbled, as we say in the poker world. That is to say, we finished in the place before they start paying out money!

Dinner was scheduled for 8pm (which gives you an idea how fast the poker tournament went) so we were hurried to a huge room with 55 ten person tables set up. Diane and I sat with the Biotools guys, who were flown out for the Christmas party! Nice perk huh? Dinner was a 4 course plated affair: chicken caesar salad, potato and leek soup, either a stuffed chicken breast dish or a steak dish as the main course, and a dessert. It was pretty good!

After dinner there was several attractions: they had a DJ getting the dance floor hopping, there was an open bar all night long, and they brought in some Cuban cigar rollers to demonstrate and hand out the results of their work. The party went super late, with an afterhours bar open until 4am! By the time Diane and I got back to our hotel, it was after 6am. It was an epic party!

We drove back to Dublin on Sunday afternoon and took the rest of Sunday to recover a little bit before starting back to work. But the party didn't stop there. The Biotools folks were still in town until Thursday morning so we had to make sure they enjoyed their time here. So we proceeded to go out for dinner on Monday, over to Aaron's place to hang out and play foosball and nhl '09 on Tuesday, and to the Rockfield pub for poker and trivia last night. I am some burnt out after all this hard partying, but it has been a lot of fun too.

In last night's poker tournament, I managed to catch a good run of cards and turn them into a first place prize for a tidy profit. It's not that often I win a poker tournament, so that was pretty nice. The tournament started out a bit rocky when my full house ran into a bigger one. Whoops!

So it's been a crazy busy week! I've got a bunch of photos to catch up on, so look to see those up soon. I think there's a few worth looking at.

Hope everyone's well, and looking forward to whatever Christmas plans you have. On our plate? Getting ready for our trip to Austria!