Friday, October 9, 2015

Fabulous Friday

Had an extremely busy day today. I knew that the Eircom installer was coming today, but the window was between 8 am and 1 pm. I decided to rearrange the furniture in the living room as I didn't like there being a chair behind the door. Of course, while I was moving furniture I swept. I love it when I have a good reason to clean - it gets me moving. I played music randomly on my iPod and really got a lot done.

The installer showed up around 10:30 to find that I had a box ready to hook the modem to, but the wall it is on has no electrical outlets on it.  We tried to reach the outlet in the kitchen, but the cord was too short. He had to go to the work area to set me up, so while he was gone I walked over to the hardware around the corner and brought an extension cord (they call it an extension lead).  So I brought a small bed table out from the bedroom and put it around the corner into the kitchen where it will be very handy to store hot pads and kitchen linens.

After I played with the wifi for a bit, I took a shower and headed out for my first walk of the day. I walked down Main Street where all the shops are and when I got to the end I walked down to the quay and then decided to go home a different way. I turned away from the quay on a street down at the far end, only to find that the Tesco store was there. Many people had told me it was pretty far for a walk. Huh? Oh man, what a store. The street level was parking and you had to go up on a very interesting gizmo. It is a combination escalator and people mover so that there are no stairs and you can take shopping carts up and down. Who knew?

I did a little shopping and then decided to try to find my way home a new way. I knew I just had to find a road perpendicular to the one I was on and turn to the right. Imagine my surprise when I had to walk about a mile before I finally found one. I was really thinking that I couldn't get home from there. Once I turned right and was on a hilly section, I could see the water so I knew I was headed the right way and before long I began to see familiar landmarks. When I got home I found from my fitbit that I had walked 7,744 steps so I planned to take another walk after dinner.

I made dinner and ate and then waited for about 6:15 so it would soon be dusk. I hadn't been out at dusk or later so this was going to be another adventure. As I was putting my shoes on my fitbit vibrated to let me know that I'd fulfilled my 10,000 steps (it is amazing how many steps you walk getting dressed, sweeping the courtyard and making dinner). But I headed out anyway. Here are a few pix that I took.

This is the Spiegeltent for the festival.

Here is it again from the side.

A sailboat out in the harbor.

I think this is a fishing vessel coming into port.

Got a little bit of lights and reflections on this one.

I'm meeting Philomena and some of the other TidyTown volunteers to plant flowers in pots tomorrow at 9 am. Then I think we are going out for tea. It is really nice to get to know some of the women in the community. There are men in the group too and they go out with us, but I think it will take longer to get to know them, except maybe for Aaron, one of the women's sons. He seems a pretty friendly lad.

I also called and made a doctor appointment today so I can show him the migraine medicine I take and see if he will continue to prescribe it. If I feel comfortable in the office, I will ask Townsend to send my records to him. And last, but not least, I signed up for insurance today - another pleasant surprise. In the event of any accidents that require a visit to what we would call ER I am fully covered, and any incidents that require hospitalization, I have to pay the first €75 and they pay the rest. The cost of this insurance which will be direct debited from my bank account is a whopping €82. I was paying almost $300 a month at home for less insurance.

Now I just have to wait for the policy to arrive in the mail and I am ready to go to the Garda and get whatever is necessary to be allowed to stay here indefinitely. I must say I was concerned when the immigration officer at the airport only gave me two months to fulfill the requirements, but things have just been falling into place.

Bonus, the doctor's office is between my place and the library - literally 2 minutes away on foot.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

First Two Weeks

I flew out of Detroit 2 short weeks ago, but I have crammed lots of experiences into that time. This town is really nice, my apartment is way more than I expected to find, and the weather has been really nice. We did have a misty day on Monday this week and a rainy day yesterday (I went over to the pool on the other side of the bridge today just to check it out and found out that the walkers did in fact walk in the rain). Today was gloriously sunny and I got my 5 miles in without hardly trying.

I got a reminder call today from eircom while eating sea trout at Simon Lamberts that they will be coming to hook up my broadband on Friday morning. Yahoo! Meanwhile, right now I am using my personal hotspot provided by my iPhone (new to me).

My list of things to do assigned by immigration is almost completed. I've gotten an address, a bank account (some hang ups over the cashier check having to be sent to the US before the funds will show up in my account - and it could take 3 weeks for this to happen), insurance, which I will be getting as soon as I have some funds in my bank account, and proof of my income. Then I will check in with the Garda and hopefully I can just settle in and enjoy this new place.

Today I spent a bit of time taking photos in my neighborhood that I thought you might enjoy.

This is my library. When I first saw it, I thought it was the Opera House

This is where I live.

This is the art center. It is right across the street from the library. You can see part of the library building behind the white van.

This is the street sign just outside my apartment.

This is a very pretty building on my walk to the arts center and library.

This is my corner pharmacy (or chemist as they say here).

I am meeting again with the TidyTown group on Saturday to do some plantings in an area they call The Bullring (I'm not sure why it is called that, but I will try to find out.). And I got a text from Philomena that we have been invited to the performance of Jack L (his last name is Lukeman, but he just uses his last initial) at Spiegeltent. I found some of his recordings on YouTube. He writes his own songs and is a bit of a crooner. I think I am going to like the show. It is on the 22nd of October down on the quay.

I'm having a blast here even though just about all I do is check out the town, work on the financial hassles and walk the quay. I've been cooking lots of fresh veggies and eggy breakfasts when I'm not eating muesli. The post office is back in operation and I've sent out a few things that I needed to get to the gas company and electric company. Now I need to find some post cards to send back to Michigan.

I'll tell you more about my financial struggles after I talk to the US Embassy in Dublin tomorrow. I am also going to have to talk to my bank to see if they have an alternate 9 digit routing number so I can have my pension direct deposited here. I'm not sure why they would have such a restraint on the system, but I guess I am going to have to work with it. Or I am going to have to find a bank in the US that does overseas transfers. Neither CASECU nor CP Federal do. Scratching my head.....If you know anything, spill it.....

Expecting more nice weather for almost the next two weeks - what a pleasure!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Update Week One

So I've been here a week and am feeling right at home. I've found so many helpful people and shops here. I've already gotten my favorite pair of black yoga pants shortened and have done laundry and had my toes done.

I've contacted the electric and gas companies and am just waiting for welcoming mail so I can go to the bank and open an account. Once I have a bank account, an iPhone is the very next purchase; actually the 5s comes free with the €60 per month plan, then I need health insurance so that I can register with the Garda so I can live here permanently if I so desire.

I'm getting used to my apartment and am trying to decide (but will probably have to wait until I get a few bills) whether it is more economical to heat water with electric or gas. I have an open fire (fireplace) and I bought 3 fire logs for €3 and some matches so the first evening when I am feeling too chilly, I'll light one and see how it takes the chill off. They are supposed to burn for 90 minutes.

I've finally remembered that I have to turn on outlets before appliances will work and that my refrigerator is very small with a minuscule freezer so I must adjust my shopping habits. So far I've made chicken stir fry and beef stew with root vegetables. They were both delicious and I have leftovers for a few lunches.

I am just one block from the library, the opera house and the art center. I'm looking forward to much entertainment in the coming months. I headed to the library this morning hoping for a 9 am opening, but they don't open until 10:30, so I am having breakfast (2 eggs, mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans, toast and tea) in a small place called Joanne's where there is free wifi.

I must tell you about my landlord - originally I was to meet the husband because Eileen was going to be playing golf, but she had a sinus headache the night before and had a rough night. She is a very lovely, friendly, gregarious lady. She is about 10 years younger than I am and accepted me with open arms. She brought some bed linens from another rental she used to have before she sold it - I was expecting to have to buy my own, and I will once I figure out my budget. She also gave me some towels to use until I can do some shopping. They are mismatched, but do I care?

After we took care of the lease and exchange of euros for keys, she actually walked to Dunnes with me to help me shop and to help me carry my supplies home. What a gem? So far my days are spent walking and browsing, and my evenings are spent reading or watching the tv. I need to find a guide so I know what is on. Rather fun watching Good Morning London, but it is too much like US tv in that it is more fluff than news, for example, they are up in arms along the Thames where George Clooney is renovating an old castle. They are tired of the noise and heavy equipment. Really? Is that news?

My courtyard/patio actually would look out at this except for the lovely growth that keeps my space very private. Very little noise here.

I am planning to do a bit of shopping for household things today. They have a shop called Eurosomething that is a bit like a Dollar General where I am hoping to find bathroom cleaner and a waste basket for the recyclable things and one for the bathroom.

I will be trying to keep up the blog while I am without wifi, but it may become an every other day event rather than a daily one until then.

Feel free to leave comments with questions if I am not giving you the right stuff.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 5 - Last Night Reserved at the St. George B & B

Got up late - 8:10. Got around and went down to breakfast. I had two eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast with black currant jam and tea. Found that my fitbit battery was low so plugged in before heading out for the first walk of the day.

I went to the post office first because I was told they would give you the exchange rate, but not charge a commission. I had to wait in line for a bit, only to be told that they do not buy US, they just sell it. I had to go to a bank after all. Most of the banks open at 10 am, but the Ulster Bank opens at 9:30 (they say half nine here). I waited in a very short line for an available teller, but she couldn't get her computer to give her the latest exchange rate so I was asked to come back later. I walked around town until 10 and then went to AIB instead. I exchanged money with them at the rate of 1.1393 less a commission of 6.35. I then took some to the Ulster Bank just so I could do a comparison. They didn't give me a detailed print out, but they used the rate of 1.1504. I am guessing this reflected a commission of some type as well.

At any rate, I now had the cash to rent an apartment if the one I was being shown today was what I wanted at a rent I could afford. I walked back to the B & B and chilled for a bit. My fitbit was now fully charged so I wore it for the rest of the day.

My second walk of the day was around town and then to O'Brien's again for tea and a sweet. Today I had a rhubarb crumble. Fabulous!! Had to go for another to work that off. Browsed a bit in Dunnes and TKMaxx looking at bed linens and towels because some rentals do not include them. Then back to the b&b to await a call from Karol who was going to show me an apartment just down the road. 

She set up a meet at the apartment for 2:30 and I was blown away by it. I am going to try to do a video tour tomorrow and share it on Facebook. It rents for €650, which is just less than the $755 I was paying in Jackson.

The owner of the apartment just called to tell me that she is golfing tomorrow, but her husband can meet me at the place at 10:30. He will have keys and the lease for me to sign. I will hand over October's rent + one month's rent as security deposit. I will need to ask questions about how the gas and electric works and get info on internet access.

The first thing I will do after getting the keys is to walk down to Dunnes to buy laundry supplies and bed linens. I need to do laundry before I do anything else. I bought tea and shortbread this afternoon so I could have my first afternoon tea in my own place once I get the clothes hung out on the line. I have a very private courtyard and patio so I can even hang my unmentionables without prying eyes looking at them.

So step one will be completed tomorrow, then I just have to wait for notice from the electric, gas, or internet company addressed to me at my new place and I can open a bank account and purchase health insurance. Then to the Garda to check in with all my paperwork so that I will be given permission to stay. Yay!!!

Remember this record does not include my morning walk. I'm pretty sure I walked off that sweet that I had with my lunch at midday. I do think I am going to have to do more walking tomorrow to work off the steak and chips I had for dinner tonight though.

Hope to have pix and/or video of my new place tomorrow.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wexford Town - Day 4

Had a pretty bad night. There was a Cycling Against Suicide group here for two nights, both bicyclists and motorcyclists. They were pretty quiet the first night, but last night they were pretty loud. I turned in around midnight at which time the first group returned - loudly! Got to sleep after a bit only to find that another group returned at 1, and at 2 and at 3. Needless to say I stayed in bed until 9:50, quite late for me.

Got up and showered and took myself down to breakfast where I had 2 eggs, sausage, grilled tomatoes, hashed browns, beans and toast and jam with tea. Quite lovely. I waited until the noisy cycling group left before heading out for my first walk of the day. I walked in a different direction today and found myself looking at evidence that it is Fall Autumn.

I took more pictures as I walked around town:


Also on my walk I crossed the Wexford Bridge again where I encountered a man throwing a ball into the water for his dog. I asked him how the water temperature was and made a nice comment about his dog which got him to come up to talk. He asked how long I was in Wexford for and when he heard my answer, he inquired what brought me to this town. In answering him I mentioned that my grandfather had been born in County Carlow and mentioned that his name was Michael Fenlon. Imagine my surprise when he told me he had a son who lives in Bagenalstown and is married to a Fenlon. Such a small world.

After returning to the b&b for a rest, I again went out walking for my afternoon "meal". I've gotten in the habit of having a pot of tea and a sweet for my midday meal. Today I returned to O'Brien's and had an apple tart with my tea. The best ever! Their tarts don't have a flour crust, instead they have some kind of cake bottom and top. Don't quite know how to describe it, but I wanted to lick the plate when I was done.

I changed $200 into €169.49 at the airport when I arrived and am just about out of euros. I've been advised to try to exchange money at the post office because they don't charge a commission like banks do. I will let you know how that goes when I blog tomorrow night.

Just returned from my last walk of the day and found that I had walked a good number of steps again today.

As you can see, I took three walks today with the longest one in the middle. That seems to be my pattern so far. I was thrilled when I came back to the b&b to find the internet was working again. I toasted myself a bagel (I bought some at Dunnes a couple of days ago to keep in the fridge in the common sitting room) and had that for dinner. I am set for the day.

Tomorrow I am hoping to see the apartment just down the block and if it is like it looks online, I will agree to rent it. If I did my calculations correctly it will rent for about $650. The beauty I looked at the other day was about $800 (about $100 over the top end of my budget).

I really need to get an apartment soon so I can do laundry. I am just about out of clothes. I have plenty of clean underwear and socks, but just about out of clothing. Trousers I can wear twice, blouses not so much.

I hope to have more of interest tomorrow since banks and realtors will be open. Cross your fingers that the apartment is what I want, then I just need to open a bank account, get health insurance and then take all this information to the Garda and see where I go from there.

So excited!!