2010 In Review

 Belfast Giants

Belfast Giants

This blog hasn't been getting the love it was getting for previous trips, but we're still going to try and keep it updated every so often through the next year. I'll use our annual tradition of having a year in review post to catch you up on the rest of the happenings in the year. Previous years in review include: 2007, 2008, and 2009. Our plan in 2010 was to try and do a bunch of trips. Since we returned home twice in 2009, we decided that we'd skip doing so this year. Instead, our plan was to try and do a bunch of trips in Europe to see some of the continent we found ourselves on.

After getting back from Barcelona over Christmas though, we spent a couple weeks relaxing at home and getting to know 2010. Near the end of the month, a group of us went up to Belfast to witness the Giants ice hockey team play against the Nottingham panthers in the British Elite League. Yes, us hockey-starved Canadians had to find the nearest place where they played just to get a fix. It was a fun group - a good ten of us at least headed up for the trip.

  Skiing in Mayrhofen

Skiing in Mayrhofen

In February, we went to Austria for a full week of skiing in Mayrhofen. A large group of 8 of us enjoyed some amazing skiing, some good food and the Austrian atmosphere. The trip coincided with a good portion of the winter olympics in Vancouver, so many nights were spent out at bars watching some of the events -- and of course we needed to stay up late to watch several of the team Canada hockey games! It was an awfully fun trip.

For St Patrick's day this year, we decided to skip the parade and instead watch some Hurling and Gaelic Football. On St. Patrick's day, the all Ireland finals are played out in both sports so we decided to go and see what these sports to have to offer. Hurling is a crazy game ... and it was a pretty good spectator sport. Players run up and down the field balancing the ball on their hurling sticks before swatting the ball large portions of the field in an attempt to split the uprights at the other end. Gaelic football, on the other hand, wasn't quite as enjoyable to watch IMO. Seemed like a weird cross between football (soccer) and hurling.

 Little Skellig

Little Skellig

For the May bank holiday weekend, Diane and I hopped in the car for an Irish road trip down to the Ring of Kerry. We had some absolutely gorgeous weather, and took full advantage by not just doing the main Ring of Kerry loop, but also climbing up the Skelligs. These rocky outcroppings several miles off the coast of South-West Ireland were the home of monks centuries ago. Now, they are a tourist attraction with a fairly limited number of visitors per year. We were lucky to get a spot - the high season wasn't quite there yet where people have to book weeks or months in advance ... and we really couldn't ask for better weather than what we got!

In June, my folks returned to Europe to see us and our Austrian relatives. Since they had seen a lot of Dublin already, we decided to meet up in Prague to do some sight-seeing there. We spent almost a week in +30ºC weather walking around almost exclusively the old town. There was a lot to see just there! The food was good, cheap, and the beer was cheaper than the water! A weekend later, we headed to London with my folks to spend a weekend there before they headed back to Canada. We spent the main day out at Hampton Court: a historic palace associated with King Henry VIII. The next day we spent just walking around central London seeing some of the main landmarks before Diane and I had to head down to Gatwick to return to Dublin. We cut it a bit close: we ended up having to run for it after checking into our flight!

 Dad, in London

Dad, in London

A weekend later, a few of us returned to Bundoran for another go at surfing in the ocean. This being our 3rd and 4th days in the water, we were already beginning to notice an improvement. Our teacher even went so far as to teach us how to turn. I'm actually pretty surprised how much I enjoyed it. Our trip coincided with the Sea Sessions music festival which gave us some live music to go listen to in the evenings.

July kept us busy as well. We headed up to the "Woolshed Sports Baaa" which was throwing a Canada Day party with Canadian beer in the fridge. There was a few of us PocketKings Canadians in attendance which made it a lot more fun than it might've been on our own. A week later, the office summer party was staged to an unfortunate day of rain. Still, the day was quite fun, and despite the rain much fun was had by all. We were also visited in July by our friend Jess whom we showed some of the sights including a trip up to Howth. Our friend Bryce had a milestone birthday as well in July and we partook in a really fun photo scavenger hunt.

  Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Late in August, Diane's mom arrived for a visit that started in Dublin and continued on with her and Diane taking the car on a ferry over to England. I didn't take part of the road trip as I had to work, but that trip was bookended by a trip to Newgrange (which I hadn't done yet) and another trip to London to see her off. The highlight of this trip to London was the Natural History museum: an impressive building all on its own, with a large number of displays in its not-insignificant size.

Almost immediately after returning to Dublin we were back at the airport to fly to Geneva to visit with Diane's friend Celine. We spent a week touring the vineyards and attractions surrounding Geneva lake. This was the kind of trip I had wanted to get blog posts up for, but I kinda ran out of time so I guess this detail will have to do. We stayed with Celine in her apartment in Lausanne: a drive of an hour or so around the lake from Geneva. On a couple days where we were on our own, we took the ferry along the lake to some of the charming towns along the lake, We visited the Château de Chillon: an old castle neighbouring the Swiss alps. Our host took us to sample several of the areas wines ... the whole valley was covered in vineyards with ready-to-harvest grapes! We also enjoyed the local fondue, and went to a restaurant in the woods for some seasonal game. Delicious! To top off the trip, we went to Geneva to see CERN. The tour of this large science facility was well worth doing!

  Switzerland

Switzerland

Just a few days after returning from Switzerland, we headed back to the airport for a trip with Aaron to see his brother's band play in Scotland. We caught Brasstronaut's Glasgow show on October 15, and then took the train up to Aviemore to see them play there on the 16th. The two shows were played in very different venues -- which was pretty cool actually. The first was a club that reminded me a lot of the Starlight room back in Edmonton. A relatively small venue, but great for bands that wouldn't necessarily be able to fill a large venue ... and good atmosphere for it too. Aviemore is a small ski resort town much like Jasper. The town's main road is lined with mountain equipment stores, and the population of it can't be very high. The venue was a small pub, and was a great intimate atmosphere. Before leaving Scotland, we had a few hours to spend before flying back to Dublin so we sought out the Science museum in Glasgow which was quite good.

  Brasstronaut

Brasstronaut

Whew. That was a lot of travelling! We returned home and rested up a bit. We played host to another friend, Maria, and also met up with our friend David in early November. Later that month, we headed over to Newcastle to visit a former coworker who had moved back home. Newcastle had just got a big dump of snow - which turned out to be a lot of fun: we had a fun snowball fight the first night between the pub and the nightclub. On the Saturday we spent some time walking around the city before heading out for a lovely dinner, some more drinks, and a few of us ended up at one of the local casinos to play some poker. On that particular evening, I ran about as good as you can at a cash game and cashed out a profit of nearly 400 pounds! The next day, after sleeping in a bunch, we headed out to see the Newcastle football team play a match against Chelsea. It was my first Premier league football match -- and I'll have to admit that even though I'm not a big fan of the sport it was a pretty fun game to watch.

The big news in December was two separate dumps of snow: the first coinciding with our trip to Newcastle, and the second one leading right up to Christmas. Both times, the city ground to a halt with the lack of snow tires and proper process to clear the snow in place. The airport was backed up, and even the LUAS was closed a couple days. Luckily, we hadn't planned on going anywhere over Christmas in an attempt to save some holiday days for another ski trip. So we spent a very quiet holiday time at home. The company threw its annual Christmas party earlier on in the month. As usual, they pulled out all the stops on an evening that lasted until 7 in the morning for some of us. The food was excellent, and it was open bar all night long. Yeesh!

It has been a very good year -- lots of good things happening, and all kinds of fun trips to go on. Hopefully we can fill next year with a bunch more fun trips.

Like previous years in review, I'll leave you with some of my favourite photos from the year. Happy new year everyone!