"One of the greatest things in human life is the ability to make plans. Even if they never come true - the joy of anticipation is irrevocably yours. That way one can live many more than just one life."

Maria Trapp-The Story of the Trapp Family Singers - Ch. 12 p. 4

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

- St. Augustine

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amy's Top Ten

  1. Waterford Castle
  2. Driving tiny, winding backroads
  3. Loughcrew & Harry Hall
  4. Ubiquitous antiquity around every corner
  5. John and the Historical Walking Tour of Dublin
  6. Pony trap ride through the Gap of Dunloe
  7. Picnicking on a stone bridge hanging off the side of a mountain on the way up to The Vee
  8. Glendalough and the following drive to Kilkenny
  9. Hedgerows & sheep 
  10. Guinness in Ireland (yes, it tastes different!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Waterford Castle

Here it is....
what you've all been waiting for!
(and by 'you all' I mean maybe Kristi, Ruth & Kathy.
But blogs are for pretending the world revolves around you, right?)
Our pictures and video from our stay at 
Waterford Castle!

We both agreed afterwards that staying here was truly the most romantic and refined experience of either of our lives. Way beyond our honeymoon, 10th anniversary cruise or anything else we can think of! We both rank it pretty high on our best-life-experiences-ever list. What a blessing to have this opportunity. If we had only gone to Waterford Castle for our Ireland trip, it would've been enough. How blessed are we that this was just one facet of this incredible experience?!

Musical Encounters in Ireland

We had some pretty fun nights in several different place listening to live music in the local pubs. Most pubs advertise, "Live Traditional Music Here Tonight" because they know that's what the tourists are looking for. They all did have some kind of music, but to varying degrees of success. We had 3 different musical experiences that we really enjoyed...


Dingle Bay
Ennis on our last night - finally found something that seemed more authentic Irish Trad to us! We just stumbled upon this place down an alley as we were going for a stroll.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Looking back with the benefit of hindsight on all my trip planning for Ireland, I’ve learned a few things. I thought I should post them here so I’ll be more likely to remember for next time – and you all can feel free to get a good laugh at my expense if you like (see #6):
  1. I didn’t budget enough money! I tried to make a good budget for our trip, but I stretched us TOO thin. Then, when the exchange rate changed for the worse, it definitely put us back. Thankfully, Doug had a back up fund. It would’ve been better for us not to use it, but at least it was there to catch us!
  2. I didn’t budget for entrance fees. It costs to get into EVERYTHING in Ireland. We bought a Heritage card, which is a pass into state maintained sites, but it turned out that only covered about half the places we were going. What sounds not so bad at 6 Euros is much worse when you realize that actually means about $10 per person. It can add up quick.
  3. It’s TOO hard to try and be conservative on buying gifts for the kids! I need to plan more money and more space for bringing home gifts. I could’ve done a lot of birthday, Christmas and souvenir shopping if I had more time and money.
  4. It would be nice to research ahead of time places to eat – especially in the big cities. If you’re going to be spending all that money going out to eat every day, it would be nice to know of places to go that you are likely to enjoy the food. We landed pretty well on the whole. But it would be nice when we’re traveling to have a couple of choices in each major stop so that if we happen to be in the right spot at dinner time, we can go somewhere reputable.
  5. I didn’t want to spend money on international cell phones, but I realized after I got there that it would’ve been smart to bring our family camp walkie-talkies. Then, when we needed to split up or got separated for one reason or another at some site in Ireland, we could’ve easily kept in touch or found one another. When we were in Killarney, I had to jump out and arrange our pony-trap trip and Doug had to find parking. Well, Doug had a terrible time parking and wasn’t sure if he was supposed to park now or after I arranged the tour. It would’ve been really nice to be able to stay in touch, even from just a few blocks away, on that day!
  6. Liquor is liquid. Just thought I should remind myself of that. Let’s just say our Irish whiskey turned out to be really expensive by the time we got pulled out of security for putting it in our carry-on bags and paid to check an extra bag. :( When I decided to be dumb, I do it up big. Ugh.
  7. Don’t plan to be up and at it before 10am. If you’re going to be traveling for nearly 3 weeks, you have to rest some time. Also, because we were staying mostly at B&B’s, you have to wait to finish breakfast before you leave. We were usually on the road by 9:30am or 10:00am, so I should keep that in mind when deciding how many things to do in a day and when the first thing starts.  

Highlights from our last two days in Ireland

For our final day and night in Ireland, we did a scenic drive of the Connemara coastline, providentially finding a very old Church of Ireland parish church at just the right time for Sunday services, and then went to one final iconic Ireland sight - the Cliffs of Moher. Afterwards, we found a little hotel to stay in at a lovely little town near the airport and had one more Guinness for the road. As a final treat, the Lord gave us the opportunity to stumble upon a pub that had just the kind of traditional Irish music I was hoping to find in Ireland and hadn't yet. It was a fitting end to a providentially blessed trip from start to finish!

Note that in this tiny town the Church of Ireland and Catholic churches faced one another on opposing hilltops - a fitting image of religion in Ireland!

Ubiquitous ruins in a sheep pasture along the way - the authentic Ireland sight - ancient treasures as everyday occurrence

Such a perfect last day! The clear sky reflecting in the wasves

Doug grabs some peat from the side of the road for me to bring home - what a guy!
Quick stop at The Quite Man bridge (or what claims to be)

It's a LONG way down from here!

Our final mileage counts - converts to over a thousand miles driven in two weeks!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Welcome Home

I have the best kids, 

Look what they did for me while I was gone...

 All my flower beds are weeded, cleaned out and mulched!

Note that they said they did all this because I do stuff for them. Not, "We did all your yardwork because you decided to take vacation this year and ignore the weeds." They pretended like I had a good reason for ignoring my gardens. I really thought I was giving up a nice yard this year because I was going to Ireland during yardwork month. I'm so blessed. What a happy family to come home to!