A little peek at our adventure to Ireland from the eyes and perspectives of the travelers.
Traveler Tim (Daddy):
We are Red Sox fans. Connor’s room might as well be a mini Fenway Park. Since his birth, we have tried to plan a trip to Boston so Connor could be properly introduced to Red Sox Nation. When we set out to plan this trip, it became apparent that spending a couple of days in Boston prior to Ireland could be feasible. So that’s what we did.
Our vacation (or #luckygp13 as we social networkly referred to it as) began with a brief stopover in Beantown. The Petersen’s, Grandma Glenda and Aunt Kaitlyn flew to Boston from Ft Lauderdale on Wednesday morning while Uncle Casey flew in from Washington DC. We all arrived around the same time and all had nice flights (#TeamJetBlue).
Once in Boston, we took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Boston, which I would recommend to anyone going to Boston. It is only 2 blocks from the Boston Common and fairly centrally located. Anyway, we were able to check in and leave our bags in our rooms which was nice since it was still only about noon. We set out to explore Boston. Our plan was to grab some lunch near the Common and start off on the Freedom trail. We had to be back to the hotel by 5ish in order to get to Fenway for the game. We set out stopping by the Boston Opera House and the Brattle Book Shop (which happens to be the oldest book store in Boston).
We grabbed lunch at a local deli and set off on the Freedom Trail. Despite being extremely hot (which we expected) we took in a lot of cool historical sites including Parks Street Church, Granary Burying Ground (John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin’s parents are laid to rest), Kings Chapel eventually ending up at the Old State House where we decided to call it for the day.
We headed back to the hotel where we changed and headed back out to make our way (via public transit) to Fenway Park. Unfortunately for us, 20,000 other fans heading to the game also decided to take the same subway line we did. As soon as the doors opened it was mass chaos to cram yourselves in. We all made it…barely. As a result, we ended up being a little more intimately acquainted with our fellow riders than we intended to be. Once we finally made it to Kenmore station, we and the entire train exited the subway and walked to Fenway. We were a little early so we explored a little of what the most incredible ballpark in America has to offer. Connor got his face painted and we got our Fenway Franks. It was awesome and that was even before the game started. In terms of offensive excitement, this game ranks low. It was a fairly uneventful game that was dominated by great pitching. The Padres and the Sox went into the 9th inning tied at one. I was dug in and ready for extra inning until Jonny Gomes deposited the ball over the Green Monster in left field for a walk off Red Sox win. Would I have loved to see the Sox put up 15 runs on 20 hits? Of course, but at the same time to experience a walk off homerun at Fenway with 37,000 fans going crazy as Gomes rounds the bases while holding Connor in my arms is an experience I will never forget. After the game, maybe because we were all excited about the way the game ended, we decided to forgo the subway (and the thousands of people trying to get on) and walk the 2 miles back to our hotel. It was then right decision. It was a nice evening and we were able to see several landmarks like Copley Square (the finish line of the Marathon) and Trinity Church.
The next morning, which happened to be July 4th, we set out to pick up the Freedom trail where we left off. Our flight did not leave for Dublin until 6:15 so we had most of the day to explore. We started at the Old State House where we arrived just in time to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House where it was originally read in 1776. After the festivities died down, we set off on the trail exploring Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church eventually ending up down near the water. It was hot, and we were hungry. We had a few hours left until we had to head to the airport so we thought it would be a good idea to walk back to the Quincy Market along the water. It was far, and hot. We finally found our way back and had an amazing lunch at The Black Rose.
Tired, and hot (I did mention it was hot), we headed back to the hotel ready to begin the next leg of our adventure.
Traveler Grandma Glenda:
We tried to see as much of Ireland as we could in 11 days; everything from castle ruins to restored palaces, natural phenomenon, culture, landmarks, etc. I think we did pretty well. Taking everyone's requests and suggestions, I tried to incorporate as many of them as I could into our schedule. Exploring the ruins of Dunluce even though it was closed was so cool, especially the cave where the ocean crashed in. Kylemore Abbey was gorgeous and going to tea as Ashford Castle felt like royal treatment. My favorite old house we stayed in was the Ardtarmon House in Sligo. So beautiful and the antique furnishings were stunning. Too bad we never found the path to the ocean! I am still amazed by the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant's Causeway, the rough terrain of the Connemara, and the breathtaking coastline views on the Ring of Kerry. As I look back on our trip, the mishaps, wrong turns, late nights, and long meals, they pale in comparison to the wonderful times spent exploring the land that is Ireland with my wonderful family, sharing laughs and making memories that will last a lifetime.
Traveler Aunt Kaitlyn:
"Ireland is a beautiful place with many zealous people.My favorite place that we went sightseeing was Giant's Causeway with all the octagon rocks. My favorite places to stay we're the two farms: Dundrum House (and Spot the dog) and Muckross Farm with all the horses running loose. I loved going horseback riding; holding back and then letting the horse gallop. I really liked climbing into and exploring every little nook and cranny of the old castles... And then not being there for the pictures! Ireland was so cool...even though it was so hot!" (That's all I could get out of her....it is summer after all.)
Traveler Uncle Casey:
“But that never happens.”
After telling people about the trip, many have been trying to convince me that it’s never hot in Ireland. (The term “devil’s advocate” has never been so appropriate.) “It’s a fluke, Ireland isn’t like that.” Well, obviously, it is. It can get miserably hot. So, let’s just drop the rainy/misty/dragony Ireland myth so many people are used to hearing. The Irish are relatively nice people despite their dusty farmlands and “turbulent” history. Turbulent is a very popular word – especially for Northern Ireland. I think it’s all the booze. Anyway, Ireland from my perspective can’t differ much from the rest of the family. We went to Ireland. Some parts are pretty. I liked Ashford Castle, Kylemore Abbey, Blarney Castle, and the antique desk set I picked up in Dublin. Butlers Chocolate Café is a sign that God at least pities those he punishes. The distilleries in Dublin are neat. We went back to America. There you go. In short, if you’re debating between Ireland and anywhere else (besides perhaps North Korea and the Sudan) I’d advise against Liarland. (The more you know. Shooting star. NBC logo. Fade out.)
So what is mommy's perspective?
I think the trip was a once in a lifetime adventure. Many people do not get to experience Ireland the way we did and often don't get to enjoy the sights because of inclement weather; fog, rain, both. We never had a day of that. Ok, ok, it was hot and we weren't prepared for the heat, and our cars didn't have AC, nor did our B&Bs, or practically anywhere, but we had an unparalleled view of the Cliffs of Moher, Gap of Dunloe, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge and every single medieval castle we visited. We climbed hundreds, maybe close to 1,000 stairs, up spiral staircases to get to the tops of many castle turrets to enjoy the expansive landscape that is Ireland. Connor got to play with countless animals (he still talks about the "puppies at the hotel"; which was in reality newly hatched jack russell terrier puppies kept in the horse stables at one of our B&Bs). One of my favorite quotes I heard from a local was "Come for the castles, stay for the dogs" and he was so right. This local also introduced us to the game of Hurling so I liked him right away. Dogs were everywhere and everyone was ok with Connor loving on them! We all might have pitched in as well. Connor learned how to catch a nap when he could because there was no set aside "nap time" and he quickly learned to sleep in his own bed, completely through the night! He thought it was so special he had his very own bed in some of our rooms, and one morning we actually had to wake him up! Now that's the best gift Ireland could have given to me (no, it didn't follow us across the pond, he's back to his normal nightly parties). Ardtarmon House was by far the coolest Bed and Breakfast we stayed at. It was like an old mansion from a movie complete with fog at night. The rooms were luxurious and you felt like you walked backwards in time just by visiting. It evidently had been in the same family for hundreds of years. We even got to explore the grounds a bit on an unsuccessful trip to find the ocean. We did successfully find it the next day and Connor swam buck naked for a bit and enjoyed every moment of it!We saw some of the most beautiful 14th-17th century furniture and amazing pieces of Waterford Crystal. We fell in love with Banoffee Pie, and found it's made differently depending on the region; of course we became Banoffee Pie Connoisseurs!!! We each brought great souvenirs back with us, including, but not limited to antiques and whiskey. We rented two cars, well three, and had fun traversing down what looked like one lane PATHS-with twists and turns-blind to oncoming traffic-which were actually two lane roads, and survived to tell about it. At one point we did have to explain to Connor that the horse laying out in the field in an odd way was "just sleeping". Our little red car heard the entire reading of Bossypants by Ms. Tina Fey and she and it will forever be linked to the Emerald Isle. Did I mention Tim kissed the Blarney Stone ON his 30th birthday??!! It became a treasure hunt to find adequate amounts of Diet Coke to keep our party energized and moving and once found we would all look for the most unique names on the bottles and ask complete strangers how to say them. Read: Niamh; Casey: "Look I've got Niam." Kristin: "What if it's Nyam?" continue with debate....Kristin takes bottle to random Titanic employee "Is this Niam or Nyam?" Perplexed Employee: "Um, neither, it's Neev." Kristin walks away speechless. Our favorites now include Niamh, Caoimhe (aka Keeva, duh), and Oison (you've got me). "Do you have wi-fi" also became a common question wherever we went. Oh, and who can forget becoming touring groupies of Nathan Carter? You know, that "super famous American Country Music star". (yeah, we didn't either). Let me tell you, he's HUGE in Ireland. He shuts.towns.down. Also, Ashford Castle is everything you could hope it would be. I had initially found it and thought its website was amazing, but in real life it was even more incredible. It is not open for the public, but we got around that by making reservations for tea. Brilliant, I know! All in all, we saw a lot (16 castles/houses/estates, 6 explorers, 5 B&Bs, 2 cars, 1 Ireland!) and I took a lot of pictures (I tried my best to capture the trip. I took 1,552 pictures and only posted 367.) which of course you can find on facebook. There were definitely some National Lampoon European Vacation moments, but I came back with a tan and stories that will last a lifetime!