Ireland Hotel Review – Adare Manor

Link: Adare Manor


We have stayed here both times we have visited Ireland and LOVE the condos. Self catering means you can cook what you want (if you want too). Downtown is an nice walk past thatched roof cottages, this lovely park (pictured above) and a beautiful church.

Dublin Restaurant Review – Good World Chinese

Link: Good World Chinese

They don’t seem to have a direct web site so the best I could do was put in one of the many places that mentions them. On to the point of the review…

We went to this restaurant to have dinner with a family we met in Dublin almost 2 years ago. Ironically enough, we met the family at a restaurant a bit south of Dublin. We have kept in contact with the family since meeting them and made arrangement to have dinner with them on this trip to Dublin.

We started off with some Dim Sum as starters. A note for those of you used to Dim Sum off the cart that they bring to the table, this is a Menu. The staff were very helpful in describing the dishes and helping us make selections. I think off of a menu is the way that Dim Sum was originally done too. Some enterprising came up with the idea of the cart and that helped us westerners start to try and like Dim Sum. But I digress…

Each of the six of us dinning together ordered a dish, I can tell you there was much sharing of what came to the table. I don’t remember all that we ordered but it was an array of Chinese dishes we are all familiar with. All were done excellently too I might add.

The staff was exceptionally attentive to our table. It was, like all the other places we had dinner in Dublin, a wonderful evening. We have this one, along with the other two we reviewed, on our list to visit next time we are in Dublin.

Flower Time!

Roses from Ecuador

Roses from Ecuador

Ok this is the time of year when all of us guys are ordering TONS of flowers. Well this is the first time Mac has seen and smelled fresh roses.

I hope some of you have ordered from this place. I put a link up but let me do it again, These are direct, straight to your door from Ecuador and they smell and look great. We have had much better luck with these guys than some of the usual Internet places.

If you don’t believe me, just take a close look at Mac’s face and you can see his expression. This isn’t all the flowers either 50 fresh roses came this is just one vase.

Legal Immigration – the other side of the story…

I know you are thinking an odd topic for a place about travel and food. But everyone talks about illegals and amnesty, the Arizona bill and so on. But no one talks about this side of the story…until now [insert dramatic music here]
Patrice is a Canadian, well at least until 12/16/10 when she saluted Jose. Ok the Jose reference might have been just blown past a few of you reading this so let me digress. When the national anthem starts says “Jose can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright stars, ..”, you know we are in trouble – But back to the story at hand, that being Patrice’s immigration story…

Let’s start by jumping into the “Wayback Machine” with Sherman and Mr. Peabody…and set it to 1998 when Patrice got here to the US. We spent many thousands of dollars getting her “legal” status. More than I care to even think about. Whether it was a wise investment or not is still the subject of huge debate. Especially now that I brought it up again. Now as the “Wayback Machine” quickly passes us to just a few days ago. We see Patrice sitting there huddled by her computer calculating what the costs of becoming a citizen is, of course not taking into account the previous sums that we mentioned. $700 is what it cost to APPLY!!

Now get this… You send in all the stuff and they send you a letter telling you when you come in for an appointment. It is impossible to call them and get an answer about anything, let alone deal with changing the appointment. What you have to do is send them a letter, registered of course so you have proof that you did attempt to contact them. Because if they think you didn’t respond, you go back to square one and start over and pay another $700. Now if your proactive when you send a letter you provide them with the days you are available. Little do you know that they are incapable of putting things together and saving time and effort. This is the government after all. Go through that same loop of receiving a letter and returning a letter with the dates you are available through the end of the year about 3 more times and you get your “biometrics” done. It doesn’t matter that she had them done to get her green card – gosh that was before “Homeland Security” was invented and they of course are protecting America from alien threats so they have to have their very own biometrics on her.

Finally at last something is completed!
But no, wait there is more, she receives a letter saying she needs to go in for her biometrics, (am thinking she just did that), and another letter saying she needs to come in for an interview. Huh, no sorry, in Canadian speak that would be “eh”? Just as she comes out of the fog of bewilderment, two more letters arrive. One cancels the Interview and the other gives her a new interview date. Immediate confusion sets in. Does she need to retake her biometrics or not? What day does she go for her interview…or not? Oh the suspense, frustration, what should she do. There is no time for a letter. The only thing left for our heroin to try is the phone…Can she get answers this time. Oh My God!!! What is going to happen?
Fortunately I can answer those questions  Nope, nope, and yup. I know you want more details than that. She got on the phone and wouldn’t let up until she got her answers – you know how she can be. They couldn’t explain why all the letters and wanting biometrics, but 12/16 was the date for the interview. A time of intense studying sets in. Patrice studies her Civics day and night. If there is a moment she is working on it.

12/16 finally arrives and the appointment was for 7:00am DOWNTOWN. I didn’t think the government had rolled out of bed by 7 let alone be at an office. So to be there on time it was a 4:30am alarm to do that. See it would be rush hour traffic and it is easily a 1 and a quarter hour drive to downtown. But she made it. Parking in the lot of the government building, was $7 with no ins and outs (you will see why I say that in a moment).
Patrice goes in and finally gets her interview, and passes with flying colors; even the part about speaking and reading English if you can believe that too. Now she is free to go until noon for the swearing in ceremony. So she drives back home and we get ready to drive back for the big show. We arrive and pay another $7 for parking and go through security again.

Now we take a seat and wait…

They tell all the people that are there, like me, that are not being sworn in to go downstairs and take a seat. While we all go down stairs and stand like a bunch of cows outside the barn door waiting for milking time, we get to hear what they say to the people being sworn in. They tell them to go downstairs and take a seat too. Now there is this huge crowd filling the stairs and hallway waiting. Even though people are slipping in and out of the auditorium door they aren’t opening it. Wait the door is opened now.

We go in and sit, Patrice and her gang of 71 from 32 countries files in and are seated. The ceremony begins. I should tell you about all the pomp and circumstances, but there wasn’t any, it was all pre-recorded. In fact they started the Star Spangled Banner – with no music playing, we just saw the words for it on the screen. Finally they started the music and we got through all the who ha stuff and Patrice was sworn in and became a US Citizen. But wait there is more to the story. They took her Green Card – without it she can’t get back into the US. This poses a problem, you see we are leaving the country on 12/24 and on the weekend there are activities in Canada with her family that she was thinking about doing. OH NO! If they had told her they would take her Green Card she would have put it off. Oh what can our heroin do now? Now that she is a legal US citizen will she be trapped in her new country with no way of getting out?

Alas, there still is hope. She can go and get a passport and expedite it. Of course that is an extra charge, but maybe that will work. She calls, it is an automated system. She gets a confirmation code for a 8:30am appointment in downtown SEATLLE!!! Maybe this will work; after all it is only another day blown, along with another tank of gas, doing government stuff that you get to pay for. Oh and in this case pay for a government mistake too – oh the joy that this new found freedom has given her.

We make it there on time and I drive around to find parking, we get her stuff in and it is accepted. Now we can come back at 2pm to pick it up. What it is 9:15am now. Ok back home and then do things we have needed to do for the past couple days but couldn’t have because we are doing this streamlined government stuff. We show up precisely at 2pm and I park in the street with the truck running as she goes in and goes through security yet one more time.

Upon arrival she finds out the passport isn’t done she has to wait. Now these are the same people that warn you not to come early to get your passport be on time. After a 20 minute wait she has her US Passport; now only a 1 – 2 hour drive back home through rush hour traffic to go.

In summary, this has only cost us thousands and thousands of dollars, many days of preparation and work; many days of standing in line and waiting; many times paying for mistakes the government has made. But finally she is a US citizen and has a passport too.

Now that we are sitting back trying to rest after the ordeal…Why did we do this again?

Hanoi Hotel Review – Hanoi Lake View Hotel

Link: Hanoi Lake View Hotel

The first thing that comes to mind about this place is…Five Star Service!

We stayed at this hotel for several days and then took a side trip and came back for a few more days and so enjoyed our stay there. The staff is absolutely fantastic and ready to help you with anything you need.

Rooms are clean and the food at the breakfast is good too. But the great staff, everyone of them, is what really makes this place great. We could bore you with details of what they did to help us and take care of us but why waste the space with details you can find out for yourself if you stay there. I know we will be staying there the next time we go to Hanoi.