Friday, September 12, 2014

A Real Treat

While in Ireland, Ryan and I couldn't really communicate with our families as often as we're used to. We wanted to keep them apprised of our adventures across the pond but we didn't really have much time (or Wifi) to spend calling home. Not to mention we were five hours ahead of our normal time zone. I've always been a fan of sending letters and thought this would be the perfect way to let our families know we were thinking of them along the way. Enter Treat Greeting Cards . For those of you that haven't heard of Treat Greeting Cards, it is the newest company under the Shutterfly umbrella, specializing in affordable and customizable cards and gifts for every occasion, with tons of absolutely adorable designs. Treat makes sending "snail mail" so much more exciting- I mean who wouldn't want to receive a special card in the mail with their very own face plastered all over it?!?

Before we left for Ireland, I perused their website, picking out the card I wanted to customize and send back home since I knew we wouldn't have much time once we were over there. The entire process was incredibly easy and our card came together in minutes. On top of that, Treat offers to mail the cards directly to your recipient, meaning we wouldn't even have to wait until we got home to mail these bad boys out! Win win win!


Family, I hope you know we were thinking of ya'll, even while we were out exploring the country! I also hope you enjoyed your BEAUTIFUL cards! It was really a "treat" putting them together for ya'll!



Side Note: My 101 in 1001 list has been updated and can be viewed by clicking the "101 in 1001" tab at the top of the page! 

Happy Friday, ya'll!! Enjoy your weekend! 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our Irish Holiday: Part III

Hello and happy Sunday, ya'll! The rest of last week was jam-packed with the new job and starting up another class. This semester I am only taking one class though, so while that class is going to be difficult, it CAN'T be as bad as taking three classes in one semester... RIGHT?!?! Here's hoping, anyways! 

I think I'm going to try to jam the last three full days into this one post, so bear with me if it gets a little long... 

Day 5: On our fifth morning, we woke up at our little cottage in Glenbeigh, showered up, ate breakfast, and hit the road to head to the Dingle peninsula. Dingle was about 45 minutes from us but we had been told by our bartender in Cork to stop in a little beach town called Inch on the way to break our drive up. The morning started out kind of gloomy and overcast (as most mornings do over there) but luckily for us, the clouds parted and the sun came out for just a little bit right as we got to Inch, making for some pretty views! We spent a little bit of time hanging out on the beach (watching some CRAZY people windsurf) before walking up to the local coffee shop for some to-go coffees for the rest of our drive. 



We spent the next couple of hours driving the dingle peninsula, pulling off every five or so minutes to admire the view, taking pictures along the way. We met some pretty friendly (and hungry) birds along the way that seemed to follow us from stop to stop, which led to some good entertainment. Luckily, we didn't finish our chips from the lunch I packed so we had a little something to treat our new friends. 









Our ultimate destination for the day was at the westernmost point in Ireland, called Slea Head Drive. When we got there, we noticed people hiking up the nearby mountain and decided to follow along. We estimate that the hike was about a mile long, which wasn't too bad, except the entire trail was COVERED in sheep poop and it was extremely windy, causing me to lose my footing a couple times. I may or may not have landed on some doo-doo along the way. Once we got to the top, the wind was even stronger, but the view was amazing! 


Once we had hiked back down to the bottom, we got back in the car and headed back to Glenbeigh, stopping for dinner in a little town named Killorglin. We ate dinner at a place called Bunker Tavern, which was just okay. The highlight of the meal came well...after the meal when we decided to try our first Irish coffee's of the trip. The bartender explained how to make an Irish coffee to us, telling us that true Irish coffees will have equal parts whiskey and coffee and a homemade whipped cream on top. I've decided that this is pretty much the only way anyone can get me to drink whiskey. But honestly, you could probably put any alcohol in coffee and I'd enjoy it.


Since this was our last night in the cottage, we decided to spend the rest of the evening polishing off the rest of the Guinnesses in the fridge.

Day 6: This morning, we loaded all of our stuff in the car bright and early and left Glenbeigh for our next location, Doolin! To get to Doolin, you either have to drive around a waterway called "The Mouth of the Shannon" or take a ferry across the bay, car and all. Since it was supposed to save us time and miles, we opted to take the ferry.
On the Ferry! No, I did not style my hair that way. It was another pretty windy day! 
Once we got off the ferry, we decided to go the more direct route towards the Cilffs of Moher (pronounced "more"), which put us on some pretty TINY and windy roads. We made it to the cliffs in good time, however, the weather was so foggy that we literally could not see the end of the parking lot we were in, let alone the cliffs. We decided to stick it out for a while in the hopes that the weather would turn around so we spent a good bit of time in the visitor center, wandering around the gift shop and checking out the museum on the cliffs. We ate lunch in the cafeteria there, ordering two bowls of the seafood chowder to go alongside the sandwiches I packed. While we were eating lunch, we noticed that the clouds we clearing up a bit. About five minutes later, the sun decided to grace us with it's presence so we packed our lunches up and headed outside as fast as we could! 





The cliffs were seriously majestic and I'm so glad that we got to spend some time there while the sun was shining. Once we had walked around for a while and gotten our fill (if you ever really can get your fill of a view like that), we decided to make the drive up the road to our bed and breakfast for the night in Doolin. We stayed at the O'Conners Guesthouse, which was absolutely the most beautiful bed and breakfast of the trip! 



Once we got checked in, we walked up the road, past some very friendly cows, to the famous local Doolin Pub, O'Conners for a drink before dinner. We passed by a local fudge shop, buying some Irish cream fudge, dark chocolate fudge, and a caramel shortbread bar. At the bar, we ordered a couple of drinks and spent some time chatting with a local gentlemen who seemed to know everything about everything, which was pretty fascinating. 



We walked back towards our bed and breakfast to a different pub, Fitzpatrick's for dinner, however, they had about an hour wait which wasn't going to work for us. Fortunately, there was a little pizza shop next door with no wait. 


After dinner, we went back to Fitzpatrick's and listened to a band called "An Ril Dil" play music for the rest of the night, buying their C.D. to take home with us on the way out. 


Day 7: On our last full day in Ireland, we woke up, ate ONE more traditional Irish breakfast, and hit the road to drive back to Dublin (about a 3 hour drive.) 

Get in my belly.... 
On the way back to Dublin, we stopped in a little town called Kilbeggan to tour the local whiskey distillery.


While Ryan and I have toured the Sam Adams brewery a few times (like 6 or 7 to be more precise), we knew nothing of how whiskey is made so this tour was really interesting to both of us. This distillery was split into two different sections. Half of it was the old distillery and the other half was the working distillery where Killbeggan, John Locke, and Tyrconnel are all made and bottled today. We toured both sections (my favorite part) before going to the tasting room for a couple samples (Ryan's favorite part). 





After the tasting, we were both pretty hungry so we stopped in at the cafe onsite for some lunch before continuing on our drive to Dublin. Once we got into the city and found our hotel, we got unpacked and decided to walk over to the Temple Bar area again for dinner. On the walk, we stopped in at a liquor store known for giving out lots of free samples, where Ryan purchased his first bottle of Irish whiskey. Once we got into Temple Bar, we started hearing some live music and decided to walk towards it. Turns out, a band made up of three young Irish men had pretty much taken over an entire block, with pubs at each of the four corners. People were outside drinking, dancing, and listening to some good music so we decided to join them, grabbing some beers at the Mercantile Tavern. 


We grabbed dinner at Trinity Pub and more drinks at a different pub closer to the hotel before calling it on our last night in Ireland. The next morning we woke up pretty early, packed our stuff up, and drove to the airport to drop our rental car off and hop on a plane heading to Boston, ending our Irish holiday.

This trip was amazing and gave us memories we will cherish forever. Ireland, you always hold a special little place in my heart.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our Irish Holiday: Part II

Hello! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday! Today was my first day of work at my new job! I really think it's going to be a great school year and I can't wait to meet the students tomorrow, especially my little guy!! 

Alright, so where did we leave off? Oh, that's right... my birthday! 

Day 3: Day 3 in Ireland happened to also be my 25th birthday! And what a great way to celebrate a quarter century of life! Not only did I get to explore another beautiful part of the country with my husband, but I also got 29 hours of birthday due to the five hour time difference from Ireland to the States! Score! 

Ryan and I woke up bright and early on the 26th at our bed and breakfast in Cork. When I got out of the shower, a birthday present and card magically appeared on our bed. I opened my presents (two new yoga tops and a beautiful garnet and diamond necklace) and we headed downstairs to a home cooked breakfast, made by our hostess, Catherine. 


Shortly after, we checked out of our bed and breakfast and began our drive to Glenbeigh, where we were going to be staying at Ryan's customer's cottage for the next three nights. On the way to Glenbeigh, we stopped at the Blarney Castle and house for a little tour.

We walked around the property for a little while before beginning our climb up 120 very narrow spiral stairs to the top of the castle only to lay down, hang our bodies off the side upside down, and kiss the Blarney stone! The stone is actually further down on the side than I expected and I totally thought I was going to slide right down the side of the castle!






Do you see those people on the ground below us- I told you we could have slid right down!! 



Afterwards, we planned on touring the Blarney House that was built later on in the 1800's, but the tours were guided only and left every thirty minutes since the house was actually lived in by the man who owns the entire property (castle included- talk about deep pockets). Since we didn't feel like waiting for the next tour, we just admired the mansion from the outside before heading out to continue our journey towards Glenbeigh.




We got hungry on our way to the cottage and decided to stop in Killarney for lunch and another little break from driving on those crazy small Irish streets! The town on Killarney was absolutely adorable and definitely one of my favorite towns that we were able to visit! We decided to eat lunch at Murphy's Pub and I'm so glad we did because they had cottage pie, which I had been dying to order since our arrival! After lunch, we scoured the town for a local bakery to pick up a couple pieces of birthday cake for later! We walked into three different places before finally grabbing a slice of black forest cake and triple chocolate cake to go. With cake in hand, we set off for the final leg of our journey up to the cottage! 

We followed the directions given to us by Ryan's customer to get to the correct cottage, but struggled a little bit finding the correct house. We ended up opening up the gate to a home we thought might be ours, walking up to the front door and searching for a key under the rug, all the while praying that if this wasn't our place, the residents would at least be friendly! Fortunately, we were in the right spot! The cottage had a gorgeous view and two donkeys on the property! 
Sorry Ryan- I had to! My three favorite asses! 
The view from our back door! 
After getting unpacked, we hopped back into the car to head into Glenbeigh's city center for dinner. The city center wasn't too far away from our cottage and we weren't quite hungry yet, so we took a little detour to explore Rossbeigh Point, a nearby peninsula looking out into the Dingle Peninsula. We spent a little time driving up and down a little mountain and taking in the views on the beach, before heading back in for dinner. 



The town of Glenbeigh had roughly TWO restaurants for us to choose from, but we ultimately decided to dine at the Towers Hotel Restaurant and Bar, where we split a couple of the house specials and took advantage of the free wifi to call our family back home. 

After dinner, we went back to the cottage to avoid driving around a new town in the dark, enjoyed some birthday cake and watched O' Brother, Where Art Thou? on VHS since Ryan had never seen it before! 



What a memorable birthday!!

Day 4: We woke up the next morning ready to get on a ferry and explore the Skellig Islands. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us. Because it was so windy and rainy, the ferry cancelled it's trips to and from the islands, leaving us with nothing planned for the day. On our way out of Killarney yesterday, we passed a bunch of signs for the Gap of Dunloe, which looked beautiful and intriguing to us so we decided to head back that way for the day. On our way out, we stopped in briefly at the Kerry Bog Village and Museum, which gave us a glimpse of what life was like for villagers in Kerry in the 1700's. It was really interesting to compare this village to the Pilgrim's village at Plymouth plantation.



When we got to the Gap, we tried to drive right past the horse and trap business on the property, but were stopped and told we HAD to either take a horse and trap or walk up the gap. We parked the car and waited a little bit, trying to decide what to do. Fortunately, it began to rain and the worker that stopped us disappeared inside so we quickly snuck by him in our car and headed up the gap!

I'm really glad we were able to drive because it was pretty rainy and windy and really wouldn't have been as much fun if we were on foot! We drove all the way to the top of the gap, stopping to hang out with some local sheep, before turning around and heading back down.









Since we were already halfway there, we decided to spend the rest of the day back in Killarney. We walked around for a while, exploring the town further before stopping for dinner at the Danny Mann Pub. Ryan got the Irish Lamb Stew (so sad after hanging out with those sheep all day) and I got the Beef and Guinness Casserole. Our last stop in town for the night brought us to Charlie's Auld Candy Shop where we met and chatted with Charlie himself for a little while and purchased some delicious Irish cream chocolate truffles. We drove back to the cottage shortly after and spent the rest of the night drinking Guinnesses on the couch and playing Gin Rummy! 




I'll be back later with more of our journeys!! In the meantime, happy first day of school to all my New England teacher friends!!