Ireland was so beautiful despite the prevalence of overcast skies!
I've been in recovery mode for the last three days since returning from my 12 day trip. I spent ten days in Ireland and the other two travelling. Whew. I'll be happy to not see another airport again for awhile. Am also glad to be able to sleep in my own bed after trying rather unsuccessfully to sleep on planes and in an airport.
The trip to Ireland was fantastic. I could write a book about it and did write quite a bit in my personal, old fashioned journal that I brought along with me. I brought back a lot of small gifts and did some Christmas shopping while in Ireland. My husband and I are not looking forward to the credit card bill! However, I'm quite happy with the stuff I bought.
Shopping wise, the best site was at Connemara Marble. We toured the small workshop and heard a lecture about marble from a charming, older gentleman called Ambrose Joyce. I bought many items from the shop including Celtic crosses, necklaces with Irish symbols, small shamrocks, worry stones and a Claddagh ring (view a picture and read about its history by clicking on the link). The sales staff were polite and helpful and Mr. Joyce himself gave us a charming send off by standing in the doorway and waving.
I saw some amazing sites while there. Loved the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. Galway and the Connemara regions were pretty fantastic too. Other highlights were castles, cathedrals and monastic grounds. The cemeteries dotted with Celtic crosses were fascinating too. WE also visited the grave site of W.B. Yeats located in Sligo. There wasn't a cross at the poet's grave, but rather a statue.
It was so windy during that particular visit in Sligo that my umbrella turned inside out four times! All my photos of that site were poor and grainy, which is probably due to my habit of taking photos with disposable cameras. The weather in Ireland was rainy and windy much of the time though we had two sunny days in Dublin at the end of our trip. Thank goodness for that!!
Over the course of my trip I spotted more sheep than I could count. There are pastures with sheep all over that country. I'll always remember the sheep of Ireland!I brought a stuffed lamb with a black face back for my youngest son. I managed to find just one stuffed frog for my frog lover. Of course they received a few other things as well including an Irish whistle, a green hat with Ireland written across it, a t-shirt, and a signed book about leprechauns. I'll always remember the sheep in Ireland!
The food in Ireland was good and plentiful. There proportions almost outdid the ones we receive in the United States. I never had so many parsnips (a root vegetable) in my life. The parsnips usually were sliced up and cooked with sliced carrots. I also had plenty of potatoes, chicken and brown bread. We also had dessert every evening. A favorite of mine was cheesecake. The portions in Ireland were huge--just like here in the U.S.
I travelled on a tour with 24 other people plus a driver/tour guide. The driver was amazing--driving and talking for hours on end and making sure things ran smoothly in between driving and managing our luggage. I met many great people and two not so great ones. They insisted on sitting in the front seat every day despite an announcement at the beginning of the trip asking people to change seats every day so that everyone would have a chance to get a good view from the front. The excuse was that one of them had motion sickness, but I suspect there were others on the trip who could have obviously been more comfortable up front.
One of those two "ladies" pushed me three times trying to get ahead of me in line at a crowded restaurant. It was too crowded to make a scene, but I spoke to her on the bus afterward and let her know on uncertain terms that I did not like what she did. My anger dispersed immediately and I didn't have a problem with her after that, though I started to suspect she might have this condition. She claimed to other travellers that she didn't do anything wrong!
Fortunately, other than some rude behaviors, the twosome was mostly quiet and quite punctual. Everyone in the trip was on time every day which made for smoother touring. Everyone else was pleasant and made for excellent travel companions. At least half of my fellow travellers were from Iowa. Only six of the twenty five were men. Five of the six were married. I did make what I hope will be lasting friendships.
It was great having a vacation from cooking, cleaning and taking care of a family, but now I'm very glad to be home. We have all seemed to have made the adjustment to me being home again. My older son had a mild meltdown on the way back home from picking me up from the airport, and another meltdown the next day. Now, however, he has seemed to adjusted to my being back.
One side effect of the trip was that my son with autism developed a fixation on chandeliers. I told him during a phone call while I was still in Ireland that there were a lot of castles. Right away he asked me if I saw a chandelier in any of the castles. I said no and tried to explain about electricity and that some of the castles I saw didn't have any remaining roofs. There weren't any chandeliers in the Blarney castle, but I did see one of the old fashioned variety (designed for candles, not crystals) in the Donegal Castle. That provided an excellent opportunity to talk about modern conveniences.
In all I loved Ireland and would love to return someday. Other dream vacations include trips to England, Scotland, The United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand, Paris, France, and Costa Rica. Unfortunately, I'll probably only be able to go on a big trip every two years or so if I'm so blessed.
The question for this post is where would you go if you could? : )
P.S. Yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone.