Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

After a long day of travel, we finally arrived home at 12:30 a.m. this morning.  The Head of My Household,  middle daughter and the youngest met us at the airport...Before she saw me, I caught a glimpse of my youngest as she came through the sliding doors of the airport at the baggage pick-up.  She was scanning the crowd with wide eyes, running and stopping, looking around, trying to find me.  
I have to tell you; that was one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.  
I called her name, she spun around and lept into my arms! It was soooo good to squeeze her tightly!

More pics and narrative about our trip to come...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 1 in Ireland

Our first full day of Ireland began as soon as we stepped off our can sorta see that in my bleary eyed face in the picture below :p

Our first tour took place in the Georgian part of Dublin.  The driving laws in Ireland are very strict, insurance is very high, etc. so many people ride bicycles or depend on public transportation rather than owning their own vehicles, especially in the cities.  In this photo I'm standing next to a bike park where the city rents bikes for a very inexpensive amount for so many hours.  Pedestrians can pick up a bike, ride it to where they need to go and then return it to another bike park close to their destination.    Pretty cool huh?  "Kisses" thought so :)

Front doors in this part of the city are colorful and artistic.  Originally, homes in this area were constructed as "row houses" and were all exactly alike.  The owners used different ornaments/doorknockers, etc. to individualize their homes.  This particular door is one of the most photographed, hence recognizable door in Dublin.

We actually heard 3 different explanations as to why the doors are decorated so differently: 

1. As the city began to grow, housing had to be developed quickly...row houses were the easiest most efficient and affordable way to meet this need.  Individuals then took it upon themselves individualize their homes with the fanciest or brightest adornments available at that time.

2.  When British Queen Victoria's husband Albert died, she sent out a decree that all doors should be painted black for mourning.  Dubliners, who didn't appreciate the queen telling them what to do (a trend throughout Irish history), painted their doors in bright colors as a show of defiance.

3.  After a night of heavy drinking, a Dublin husband stumbled into the wrong house/wrong bed.  The next morning all the wives painted their doors different colors so their husbands could find their way home.

No matter the reason, the doors are still painted these beautiful vivid colors today and transform this otherwise exactly alike section of the city into an interesting and culturally dynamic section of the city.  

Our next stop was St. Patrick's we took the first group photo to send back home.  

As I type this, we are nearing the end of our trip (we actually fly home tomorrow).  As a chaperone, I never know what to expect, but this group of girls has been a lot of fun...and we've had no problems whatsoever.

"Kisses," of course, wanted in on the photo action, so my firstborn (on the left in sunglasses) held "Kisses" for a close-up :)

"Kisses" also wanted me to show everybody the immaculate flower gardens adorning St. Patrick's Cathedral...aren't these colors gorgeous??  No idea how these flowers bloom so beautifully in the cold, cold air.

My firstborn and I shared a moment at the flower gardens as well...I'm so thankful that we were able to take this trip together...and especially that she is glad for me to come.  

Our next stop for "comfort" (potty break and tea) was the Victorian Kitchen Garden.  Ireland is very conscious of self-sustainability and eco friendly practices.  Even the smallest apartments had "wee" garden areas in the front terrace area.  

There wasn't much blooming happening this time of the year, but the planning has already begun as has the building of trellises for beans and other veggies that grow well on vines.  I took pictures for ideas in my own's that time again!!

You can see in this photo below that delirium was slowly but surely setting in...we lost 6 hours on the flight over...essentially we'd been up all night long and started touring the city at 7 a.m.  We hadn't even checked into our hotel yet :(  
The girls were beginning to drag (adults too).

One of the girls got so silly that she decided "Kisses" needed to try some bread...

The friendly worker in the cafe' didn't mine our silliness at all :)

We didn't realize it at this point of the trip, but we would be eating a lot of bread.  Fresh bread is served at every meal.  And, when I say "fresh," I mean fresh.  I've never been so conscious of the amount of processed food we consume in America as I was on this trip filled with wonderfully tasty meats, produce, dairy, fruits and cheeses...all fresh.

After checking into our hotel and napping for a couple of hours, we cleaned up and ate our first fine meal of the The Brazen Head Pub, the oldest and most famous pub in Dublin.

We weary travelers were nourished well here with an incredible tomato based minestrone soup, a bacon wrapped stuffed chicken for our main course, bread pudding for dessert, and of course hot tea after our meal.  
We have been fed well this entire trip!

The girls had been without Internet all day...Facebook and email were their only links to home so pics like the one above were daily occurrences :) 

Even though the drinking age in Ireland is 18, "Kisses" is still too young for a taste of Guinness...but on our way out of the pub, she wanted to sit on the barrels resting in the courtyard area of The Brazen Head so I caved :)

Of course then these two had to jump right in as well...

Hams ;)