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This morning, at an ungodly hour, I am heading out to the airport to fly to Austin, Texas. I’m excited about it, despite the fact that it’s a work trip and I will be busy in meetings and other work activities for most of my time over there.

Although I have been to the US on dozens of occasions, I have never been to Texas, or anywhere near it. It’s a place that fascinates me no end. Maybe it’s the size of the state, or it’s natural beauty, or the unique personality of it’s inhabitants, I’m not sure. Austin is meant to be a particularly nice city, so I travel full of anticipation.

The journey itself is lo-ong. First of all London, then Chicago, then Austin, which means I will be spending most of the next 24 hours in planes and airports. I will be thoroughly wrecked by the time I arrive in the Lone Star state.

Following my trip to Texas, I head over to Stuttgart for a few days. I hope to visit the site of a huge ancient meteorite impact while there, as well as a small amount of skiing, perhaps. I’ve even discovered a pub there, (Biddy Early’s) that will be showing the Ireland vs France match next week.

So it’s all very busy and international and fascinating over the coming days. Hopefully I’ll have a few updates to share.

Catch y’all later.

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Here are some of my favourite pictures from 2009. Click on any of these photos to enlarge.

February 2009 – Galtee Mountains, Co. Tipperary

April 2009 – Germany (Wiesbaden and Stuttgart)

May 2009 – Glenmalure,Co. Wicklow

May 2009 – Grand Canal, Co. Kildare

May 2009 – Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

June 2009 – Skellig Islands, Co. Kerry

June 2009 – Midleton, Co. Cork

July 2009 – Old Kenmare Road, Co. Kerry

August 2009 – Sheep’s Head, Co. Cork

September 2009 – St. Davids, Wales

September 2009 – Brecon Beacons, Wales

September 2009 – Elan Valley, Wales

September 2009 – Aberystwyth, Wales

September 2009 – Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry

I’m just back from a trip to Germany. I started in Munich, proceeded to Stuttgart and ended up in Wiesbaden.

A couple of random things from my trip:

Munich Airport

In all the flights I have made – and I have flown hundreds of times – I have never seen anybody freak out when the plane is taking off and landing. This unblemished run ended last Saturday, when the woman seated in front of me had a full-blown panic attack. As the plane took off, the poor woman started to hyperventilate, emitting regular eeping noises as we hit any bumps or turbulence. She let out a full blown scream at one stage when the plane encountered an air-pocket in the cloud layer. She relaxed completely once we reached cruising height, but as the plane began it’s final approach, all around her were treated to a repeat performance. It must be terrible for her, as such an atavistic fear is not easily remedied.  

Vineyards on the Wuttemberg (Stuttgart)

The German train system is pretty unforgiving if you make the mistake of leaving a suitcase on board. I had only stepped out of the train at Munchen – Pasing, when it dawned on me that something was wrong. Too late. Doors had closed and my suitcase was happily on it’s way to the small village of Geltendorf, about 20 km away. Suffice it to say that my suitcase and I were eventually reunited and that I spent the rest of the day making up for that brief moment of forgetfulness.

Looking for fossils in Holzmaden

I can add fossil hunting to my list of achievements. One of the high-points of the weekend was a trip to Holzmaden, where some fantastic Jurassic Period fossils have been discovered over the last century. There is an open quarry there and members of the public can extract their very own fossils from the bedrock. We collected a nice set of ammonites and belemnites, although how they are going to get from Germany to Ireland is anyone’s guess. 

Fountain in Wiesbaden

Other highlights were a trip down the Rhine and a relaxing day in the beautiful city of Wiesbaden. The public park next to the casino in Wiesbaden is particularly attractive. I was also struck by the friendliness and helpfulness of all the people I encountered during my trip. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Marktkirche in Wiesbaden

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