Entries in Ireland (2)

Monday
Jun042012

"If you're lucky enough to be Irish..

then you're lucky enough".   
- Irish saying

Last weekend we were "lucky enough" to visit Ireland and while it was a beautiful island with warm and friendly people, we couldn't help but get the feeling that given their tumultuous history, the Irish aren't lucky at all!

We had a great time though and learned a lot in our short time there. On Saturday we did a walking tour of Dublin, getting our 4 hour fill of exercise AND history. I'm SO thankful that the kids are at the ages that they are, and that they can endure and even enjoy said 4 hour tours! ;) It was an extra treat for Danny and I, as it was our first time there as well AND the sun was abundant, so all of us were giddy.

So first up, Dublin proper:
These were taken in the Temple Bar area. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans, as there were HUNDREDS of bars (but minus the "cover-the-kids-eyes" establisments. However, during the day, it was fine with the kids and we were able to see where U2 was first discovered and the hotel that they own today.
* I must warn you.. if you do decide to go with kids, we ran into trouble finding somewhere to eat after 7pm. unlike the rest of Europe, where in some places, dinner time STARTS at 9 or 10pm!?, most people eat early here.. around 6pm and start drinking after that. So any of the cute/historical gastro pubs, will be closed to minors after 7pm. We ended up having sushi, which was fine, but I thought i'd point it out.
the Dublin castle area, which looks more like a palace..
leave it to me to squeeze in a little photoshoot ;)
Trinity College houses 2 very important things to our family.
1. the Book of Kells - an illumminated manuscript of the 4 gospels from 800AD. (yes, that one was for moi)
2. An Amazing library used in Star Wars CLone Wars (you can guess who was loving that!?)hehe..
a little street art to share as well as a few of the colorful doors that we enountered.
There are 2 stories that are pretty funny about these doors, which are EVERYWHERE.
1. After the death of Queen Victoria, all subjects were suppsed to paint their doors black in mourning. The rebellious Irish were basically giving the authorites the middle finger.
2. Legend has it that the wives were tired of their drunk husbands going to the wrong house and sleeping with the wrong women, so they painted their doors so they could remember. Not sure which is true, but they both sound so quintesentially Irish!

We ended our stay with an Irish dinner at the Brazen Head (the oldest pub in Europe.. dated 1198!?), which also included some songs and stories of Irish Folklore. It was really interesting and I'd recommend it for about ages 7 and above.

Sunday, we arranged a tour to take us outside of the city for the day to the Glendalough Valley and Wicklow Mtns area. We used Walkabout Wicklow tours and were very pleased. There were just 10 of us total, which made for a more intimate tour. We hiked for about 4 hours (again.. in the SUNSHINE) and enjoyed the fresh air.. all the while, taking in the commentary and history of the region. It's hard to believe it's almost been a year since our EPIC hike, but I think it prepared us mentally. The kids think that 4 hours is a piece of cake now!
on the way back, we saw some monastic ruins from the 7thc, the once home of St Kevin who was key in converting the pagans to Christianity. In fact, he added the circle to the cross (the Celtic Cross), as it represented their sun god, which was an attempt to bridge the gap between the 2 beliefs. I guess he was successful since 88% of Irish are Catholic today!

And so that concludes our wirhlwind tour in Ireland. Perhaps we'll have the pleasure of returning one day.. but we had a brilliant introduction and that will have to do!

So for now.. we catch our breath for a few days. Next stop: Budapest, Hungary.

bisous, Mackenzie ;)

Tuesday
May292012

puddle jumping {traveling with kids in Europe}

We've had an eventful couple of weeks. Can you guess where all we've been exploring?
Details to follow :)