We had the WONDERFUL opportunity to go to Europe for the first
time for Darrin's work. Germany and Ireland were beyond words
incredible for me. We even got to go with Darrin's co-worker, Justin,
and his wife Bre and we became great friends. When people ask
me what my favorite part was I typically respond with, "Ireland!
All of Ireland! But if I had to pick and choose, the day we went to
Giant's Causeway was a HUGE highlight for me and also the day
I got to visit my Grandma Potts' neighborhood and the church
she was baptized in and my Great Grandparents were married in.
It was so special. But really I LOVED the whole trip! I feel so
blessed to have been able to go.
Wednesday 9.4-I really couldn't sleep last night. I think mostly
because of my EXCITEMENT. Didn't get to sleep until past 1am
and woke up on my own at 6am and couldn't get back to sleep.
We got a letter start than planned because Justin and Bre got
caught in some bad traffic but we had an Uber waiting when they
got to our house and we got caught in some more traffic on the
way to the airport. The security line was extra long too. But we
ended up making it in enough time to grab some breakfast even.
Our first flight was to L.A. on Alaskan airlines. Small plane. We had
a 4 hour layover in L.A. we ate, and Bre and I played yatzee and
she taught me the game of Quixx which was fun! Our next flight
was 11+ hours to Moscow, Russia. Darrin and I had a really hard
time sleeping. We probably only sort a couple hours total. We all
got to sit next to each other but they only had open seats on the
middle section so no windows. They gave us two meals and had
unlimited free edited movies which was great.
Thursday 9.5-That flight landed an hour late so we made it just in
time to our other flight that was just one 3 hours to get to Berlin.
That one were able to sleep most of the time which was nice.
They gave us a meal on that flight too. After landing we got our
rental car relatively smoothly, drove to the hotel called The Mandala
Hotel but it took us quite a while to find where we could park for the
hotel. Once we got in the hotel they informed us that our reservation
was cancelled because our credit card wasn't confirmed. They only
had two rooms left which were sweets and they were over $100
more than our already expensive room and these new expensive
rooms did not include breakfast which the others did. $470/night.
Ouch! At least we weren't paying. The room is pretty nice and big.
We freshened up at went out to find food. We ate at an Italian
restaurant and got pizza with a new line of mushroom we've
never tried and dolops of creme freshe. It was really good. And
we had noodles that were pretty good but basic. We learned that
it's not normal to ask for tap water here. If you're
going to drink water it better be sparkling or still. You have to ask for
the check. Then we came back to the hotel and crashed. At least
I did. Darrin didn't get a good night's sleep. Only slept a bit.
9.6-I got to go out with Bre after a relaxing morning. We got up to
have breakfast with the guys before work. The restaurant in the
hotel was crazy pricey so we ended up at Dunkin donuts across
the street since the guys had to get to work. After that Bre and I
decided to rest some more and take our time getting ready. First
we went to a firefighter competition close by which was fun to
watch, then sat at a grassy area with perfect weather and chatted.
We went to the mall where we walked around and grabbed some
lunch. Then we went to a section of the Berlin Wall and read
about it and followed along the path of the wall for a while. We
came back to the hotel and chilled for a bit before the guys got
home since Bre wasn't feeling too well. Once the guys got back
they decided to hang out at the hotel while Bre rested up some
more and Darrin and I decided to go out on the town. We walked
about 13 minutes to an authentic German restaurant called
Alt-Berliner Wirtshaus. It was a nice walk where we saw some of
the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust memorial on the way. The
restaurant was uniquly decorated and authentic. Darrin got the
Berlin platter which included weinershnitzel, currywurst and
meatloaf. I got pork medallions with green beans and potatoes.
It was pretty good especially the weinershnitzel! For dessert we
got apple stresel which was mind blowing good. On our walk
back we saw two giant rats and walked
through the memorial a bit. We saw the underground train station
so went down to check that out and then stopped at a cute
souvenir shop and browsed. What a great night out.
9.7-Happy Birthday to Me! We started our day off by heading to
our fat tire bike tour. By the time we got parking figured out were
only had time for breakfast at McDonald's which worked out. Our
bike tour was AWESOME! Our tour guide Sam was from England
and was fantastic! He's majoring in history at the University so he
was really knowledgeable and funny as an add on bonus! We
visited the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, a big chunk of
the Berlin Wall that sits where it sat, the Site of Hitler's bunker and
already where he and his new bride killed themselves, Reichstag
(a parliament building), Bebelplatz, Museum Island, Memorial to the
Murdered Jews of Europe, and the Berlin Cathedral. Some of the
highlights were stories of a family ziplining into West Berlin from the
government building in the East, a woman collected rain coats and
sewed them together to make a hot air balloon and hot air
ballooned out of East Germany into West, Hitler's underground
bunker was pretty crazy to be at and hear about, Brandenburg
gate was a happening place with protests going on and so cool
that no one could go through the gate for 28 years since it was in
no man's land so it's a big deal that anyone can walk through it
now, bullet holes you could see in the sides of some buildings
including the Opera House, he told us about the black statues
that were on the buildings were actually original to
the building but once the people knew war was coming they
took them down and burried them outside the city and
documented where everything was buried and where it
belongs, and the stories about the Nazis burning thousands
of books right in the platz we were at by the University. It was
known as the largest Nazi book burning. Such interesting
stories and places to be. I loved every minute of the tour. After
the bike tour we went to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant near
by which was really good. Then Darrin and I went to Charlettenburg
Palace while Bre and Justin rested since Bre has been sick.
The parking was tricky since it was hard to find any
places that would take cards but we found a free place to park that
was a 10 minute walk. It costed us 27€ for entrance, audio guides
and a pass to take pictures. It was unlike anything I've ever been to.
So elegant, royal, lavish and interesting! I loved learning about
Sophie Charolette and Friedrich the first who had it built, lived there,
and expanded the palace greatly. The gardens were also cool to
walk through. It was greatly demolished in WWII but rebuilt and
kept all that was salvageable and did their best to
recreate what was there. After three palace we relaxed at the hotel a
bit until it was time to get ready for our late dinner at 9:30 at the
Berlin TV tower. It was beautiful up there in the tallest building
in Germany! They had starry lights in the ceiling, the city
was all lit up, fireworks in the distance, and the whole restaurant
was rotating to see all sides of Berlin.
The food was pretty good! I got a beef roll with bacon and Darrin got
pork medallions. We couldn't get dessert or we'd go over budget so we
tried to make it to a gelato place after dinner but it closed so we landed
on Hagen Daz which was good. What a fantastic birthday it was!
9.8- we had breakfast at Dunkin Donuts across the street
again due to being in a hurry. We made it to 10 o clock
church 27 minutes away in the direction of Dresden which
is where we would be spending the day. It was a 2 hour
drive from the hotel to Dresden. On the way we listened
to an audiobook from deseret bookshelf. When we got
there we parked, had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant,
got some drinks to try and they were gross. One was
rubarb soda and another was grape soda but they were
not good. Dresden had SO much to offer for a day trip.
We're so glad we made the drive. President
Uchtdorf actually based a conference talk about Dresden
and we read through that which gave extra meaning to a
church we walked through that he spoke about. We
walked through the palace and grounds, be an opera
house, 2 incredible churches, a jousting area, an area
overlooking the river and bridge, and more. Everywhere
we walked we were in awe all over again and again.
The city was hit hard by destruction of WWII and they've
used all they could from the ruble and rebuilt and restored.
It was truly incredible. After walking around the city for
about 4 hours we headed back to Berlin. We ate a late
dinner at Jostys which is the same Italian restaurant we ate
at the first night here. We got pizza and apple strudel. Yum!
9.9- Darrin and Justin had to go into work early today
so Bre and I figured we'd try to sleep in. I woke
up at 11am to a cleaning lady in my room cleaning
away!! What in the world! I can't believe I slept in that
late and it's the craziest thing that the cleaning people
don't even knock. That's the second time they've
been cleaning while we're in here! Bre had gone back
to sleep in l until I called and woke her up at 11.
After we showered and got ready we went to breakfast
at Cafe e Gelato and had the most amazing
crepes with fresh fruit, whipped cream (the cream
didn't have added sugar though) and ice cream. Then
we headed to the Topography of Terror Museum.
It was completely free and had audio guides as well.
Plus they had everything in English too which was
great. We spent about 3.5 hours there going through
the audio guide and all the information inside and
outside covering Hitler's rein, the terrors that were
committed by the Nazis and SS (secret police) towards
the Jews, homosexuals, handicap people and really
anyone that didn't get their strict standards. They had
a Nazi building where they planned so the concentration
camps and interrogated people right where the
museum stood! It also covered how WWII was
started and the history of Poland and the capital of
Poland, Warsaw. After the museum we split a grilled
cheese sandwich and gelato and the same Cafe, Cafe
e Gelato and the gelato was to die for! The guys
got back pretty late just after 7 and we decided on
dinner at a place 12 minutes from the hotel called
Hackethal's. It was an authentic German restaurant. We
ordered venison and salmon. Bre got the pork which we
all agreed was the best. But it was all pretty good. We
got apple strudel here too. I think it was the best at the
German restaurant we went to on the 6th. Still really
good though. After dinner we created back at the hotel.
9.10-Bre and I got crepes again for breakfast at Cafe
e Gelato. How could we not?! They're amazing!
Then we decided to walk to the Berliner Dom which
was just over a 30 minute walk and explore along
our way. We saw a wall full of yarn which was really
cool looking, live flowers on the side of a building
which was beautiful, we visited the University/koncert
hall again where a Nazi book burning took place
on the way. The Berliner Dom was incredible and we
spent several hours here. We paid extra for the
audio guide which was completely worth it. It was
11€ for each of us and was just really cool and we
learned a lot. We learned so much about the chapel
itself and it's Protestant history, we learned about
the difference between Catholic and Protestant, about
the meaning of carvings and statues and more all
around the church, we got to walk up over 200 stairs to get
to the top of the building which had incredible views
of the whole city, and then we got to go to the kript
where there were lavish coffins of Royalty dating back
up to 500 years including Sophie Charolette, Fredrick l
from Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin and even many
baby coffins. Many of them had crowns on pillows on the top.
We grabbed a lunch at 4pm at a pizza place mostly because
we desperately needed to use to bathroom and the one at
the cathedral you had to pay coins for which we didn't have
so we had to find a restaurant that had a bathroom even
though it was so close to dinner time we had to eat to
pee. We met up with the guys soon after we walked back
to the hotel. We even made it all the way without Google
maps-we're getting familiar with this city! We first went
with the guys to Victory Column. Is a really cool statue
in the middle of an intersection on the street that you get
to by going through underground tunnels. We planned on
climbing up all the stairs and we were even there at a good
time to see the sunset but once again, they only took cash
so we couldn't climb it. I didn't realize it costed. Lame.
Cool to see from the outside though. We found dinner at a
place called Zsa Zsa Burgers. It was SO good and much more
affordable than most of the restaurants were been to. So we
all got burgers which came with fries, and we got fun
drinks. Darrin got a virgin vanilla lace drink and I got marucuja
like in Brazil! For dessert we got a brownie and cranberry
apple crumble to share. It was delicious!! We did notice that
there were A LOT more men in the restaurant than women.
By a long shot. After we left we realized that it's a gay hostel
above the restaurant. That made more sense. They were all
really nice to us though! After getting back
I was able to do a little laundry.
9.11-we started our day off going to the Reichstag Parliament
building. They do free audio guide tours of the dome but
were really booked out so we made breakfast reservations
so that we could get in since the tour is included with meals.
We got there, picked up our audio guides and went to
breakfast. It was extremely expensive with but many options.
So we got omelettes. It was probably the most bland
omelette I've ever had. Not good. But the tour was pretty neat
getting to go on the roof and up the dome learning on the audio
guide all about the surrounding buildings and the parliament
building where they decide on all the laws. Around the dome
told the history of the parlament from 1918-through the war to
present. Really interesting. After this we drove to Potsdam
city-about a 30 minute drive from Berlin. Parking was really
difficult since once again we didn't have coins to put in
the parking meters. Eventually we found underground parking.
We started at their Brandenburg gate there not to be confused
with Berlin's Brandenburg gate. Going through the gate there
was a looong alley of shopping, restaurants, people playing
live music and it all led to a church down this long street.
It was so charming. Then we explored in and around this
colorful interior of the church once we got to the end of the
street. We even saw the Christus statue outside around the
church-the same one we have at Temple square. On our way
back up there street we ate lunch ata place called Back Werk.
We got lots of pastries and sandwiches and drinks to try which
was fun. Then we went to Sanssouci Palace, Orangery Palace,
the Chinese house at Sanssouci park gardens and more. These
were Prussian royalty that had these homes and gardens built.
We got to 20,000 steps today walking around everywhere all day!
It was totally worth it though with all we did! So so cool! After
extensively exploring, we headed to the airport. We had dinner at
the airport at a place called Cindy's diner and got burgers, fries,
salad and ice cream bars which was all really good. Our flight to
Dublin, Ireland left at 9:55pm. They said it'd be smooth
sailing but it really wasn't. Pretty bumpy and sketch at times.
But we landed and I'm SO excited to be here in Ireland!! Got a
little emotional stepping on the island for the first time and
felt giddy hearing all the people in the airport talking in their
accents. Our hotel is called Crowne Plaza and so far we like
it much better than our Berlin hotel. It's much cheaper and
actually includes things like breakfast and even
complimentary water and chocolates.
9.12- The hotel breakfast was a decent. I liked the fresh
honeycomb and the porridge. Bre and I got together to
decide what to do today and decided on Powerscourt
castle and gardens. It was a 40 minute drive South and
it was Bre's first time driving on the left. She did a great
job although there were dinner really sketchy situations
with people driving so close to us. The roads are really
tight. But we made it! We got lunch at the shop there.
We got crackers, Silami and tomato and chive infused
cheddar cheese for lunch. We topped that off with a
berry scone and strawberry jam. We ate it in the
gardens on a bench which was utterly delightful. So
yummy and peaceful. The castle has so much history
it was really cool to learn about. Sir William fought in many
wars and queen Elizabeth have him a bunch of land but the
land was warring with two clans including o'tool. He ended
up fighting for the land and getting it and eventually killing
o'tool. He ended up being a land lord for a bunch of the
land which paid for him to be able to build the castle
and grounds of Powerscourt. This same land has been
handed down from generation to generation and the
relatives still maintain and own it. They needed 50
gardeners in the past and today they only have 6 full
time gardeners taking care of the manicured 47 acres.
These gardens were incredible!! Such a great way to
start setting the beauty of Ireland! When we were done
we picked up the guys from eBay and headed north
towards Belfast where we'd be staying tonight.
We drove through Carlingford on our way which
gave us some wonderful views, we saw so many homes
, rolling green hills, farms, sheep, horses, cows, wild
blackberries everywhere we'd pick and eat. We
went to the beach there too which was gorgeous. It also
had all these poop like hills all over the beach. We looked
it up and there's special worms that eat, digest and poop
the sand back out into these piles! Crazy! Continuing on our
way North to Belfast we had dinner and The Seven
Stars Restaurant. We were the only ones there the whole
time and the food was fantastic. We're staying in hotels
just down the street from each other. We're staying at
Holiday Inn Express. Not great but a place to stay for a night.
We called the kids and then crashed.
9.13-our hotel breakfast was pretty impressive. I tried "yeast extract" which I've
seen twice nowhere and looks like honey our molasses or something. It's
always by the jam and honey. I decided to try it. Big mistake. It was awful.
After breakfast we waited for a while for Bre and Justin to pick us up since
they stayed 5 minutes down the road. They got held up with their hotel
parking. Once they got here we headed straight to the Titanic museum
which was about 10 minutes away. The museum costed 19pounds per
person. It was amazing! It was so interesting to me. We learned about
how industrious Belfast was. It was a booming town with a shipyard,
linen factories, rope makers and factories and much more. We went
on a little ride that shows you what it was like to be a worker on the
Titanic and their looong hardworking hours, we learned about the Gantry
they had to make to lift and lower the heavy steel plates while they built the Titanic, it talked about launching it for the first time, getting it all decorated, the route it sailed picking people up, dropping them off and shopping goods until it got to cork IR before heading to New York with all aboard, any sleep learned about the crash and aftermath. So so interesting. We even got to tour the boat that ferried people to and from the Titanic I'm sad we had to rush a bit though in order to get to our next destination on time. Next was The Gobbins Tour Dramatic Coastal Walk which was 35 minutes north. We had to book this tour before we came to Ireland. It was £15 per person for the tour and we each needed to pay an extra £5 to rent hiking boots. It was a really pretty walk on a built walkway/Bridges/stairs over the ocean at the bottom of the cliff side. We already went through a cave. The tour guide told us about how it was an extremely popular weekend destination from Belfast for people to come take a train to The Gobbins and picnic here and they even had a full tea Cafe inside one of the caves (that cave was closed off due to being along a fault line that's had issues) that people would get their fresh hot tea to have with their picnic they brought in. It was gorgeous weather today and the ocean and cliff side views were breathtaking. We also bought honeycomb at the gift shop to try and all loved it. After this tour we stopped at the awesome Cerrickfergus Castle which was the first medieval type castle we'd seen. It was right on the beach which made it extra cool. They were soon about to close so we didn't do the tour but it was really cool to read about and see from the outside. It was built starting on stage one in 1178 and it was finished with stage three in 1242. It was used as a working
Military so tronghold for over 800 years! It still looks pretty amazing! We drove the rest of the way to BallyCastle in Northern Ireland where our Airbnb was located for the next two nights. We were so impressed with the gorgeous views and the beach cottage feel of our cute 3 bedroom 3 bathroom place we rented. It was super close to the beach and lots of cute shops like ice cream and groceries. After getting settled we got some ice cream at The Desert Bar and grabbed some groceries and treats at Spar the grocery store. We went back to the rental and watched a movie in Netflix the four of us.
Shipyard the Titanic was built in
Tender boat for the Titanic we toured
9.14-our first stop today was The Giant's Causeway. It was a 30 minute drive to get there from our rental. The walk down to the Causeway, the incredible basalt rock formations formed from lava millions of years ago, the views from at the Causeway, the walk around the area and cliff sides and the drive to and from there was INCREDIBLE. Seriously so breathtaking and such a highlight for so of us! We loved seeing all the sheep and cows in the landscaping nearby and eating loads of wild blackberries on our walks around the area. They want you to park in their parking lot and pay for parking, the visitors center and an audio guide which was £12.50 per person. We decided to park in the railway lot down the street for £8 total and walk there since that was much cheaper. Wonderful time here. From here we headed to Dunluce Castle which was another AWESOME stop and ended up being free since it was European Heritage Day. There are parts of the castle that date back to the 1200s still standing! Most of it was built in the 1500-1600 time period. The views right on the ocean cliffside were just wow! The castle is in game of thrones. The guide showed us how it was built wider at the bottom so that when they threw fire balls etc they would roll of the side of the castle and not damage the castle itself. There was still original mortar from there 1200s that they made from sand, shingles and animal blood. It was pinkish in color from the animal blood and that was used for iron to hold it together and act like the glue. They built the castle with any rocks they could find around including rocks from Giants causeway which you could see easily from their shape. The castle had lots of fireplaces which is why they didn't have woody areas around because they had to constantly use all the trees around for their fires. Where the windows were and where the wood framing for the second floor went were clearly visible. They had two whole rooms that have since fallen into the sea off the cliffside. So interesting and fun to be here and imagine what it would have been like to live here and defend the castle. Darrin said this was his favorite castle by a long shot and was a huge highlight for him. I agree. After the castle we headed to dinner at a wood fire pizza place by the Football game we'd be going to tonight. It was pretty good. We stayed parked there and walked about 15 minutes to the Londonderry Stadium to watch the match. Darrin's co-worker, Tony got us the tickets to the game. It was Dundalk FC vs. Derry. We had tickets for Dundalk who was the away team. It was first come first serve seats for your assigned section and we ended up getting second row! The game was a lot of fun with EXTREMELY spirited, passionate fans all around which amped up the fun. Pretty sure the f-bomb is not the same level of offense here as it is back home. I have never heard it said so many times as at this game and here in Ireland. Our team ended up winning after going into overtime and penalties. Pretty intense. It was raining the entire game but luckily we hardly got wet with the overhead cover. It took us about an hour and 15 minutes to drive back to our rental after the game which made for a late night.
9.15- we got packed up and Darrin and I headed to the beach across from the rental for a walk. It was a cold, cloudy day with some sprinkling rain but not too bad. What shocked us was there was about 30 people IN the ocean trying to body surf even without wet suits on! Crazies! We walked along finding neat rocks. Then we headed to Glen's of Antrum drive/A2 highway scenic highway towards church in Belfast. It was pretty but also hard to navigate and a bit confusing. We also went to Shankhill neighborhood to drive through and read about the history of it. It's a Protestant neighborhood and they had "the troubles" with Catholics and there was even a gang from the neighborhood that killed Catholics. The street itself was really nothing special but it was hard to tell what we were supposed to be looking for but people say it's full of history. Then we headed on our way to our 1:00 sacrament meeting. On our way I thought to look up where exactly my family is from and found on family search the name of the church my great grandparents were married in. I looked it up and it was right back where we were on Shankhill! I wanted to badly to go there but we were already well on our way to church there opposite direction. We got to church only to find out the schedule online was wrong and there was no more sacrament meetings for the day. But there was a man who talked to us for about 20 minutes all about our trip and his trips to the US and the journey they have to take to get to the temple the closest being in England. They always stay for a full week at the temple accomadations because the journey is so long and pricey. Their ward had about 60 members. The other ward in the building had about 120. He was very friendly. After that we decided we'd go back to Belfast near Shankhill to check out that church and the area my Grandma and Great Grandparents grew up even though the buildings aren't original since it was blown up in WWII. Seeing and getting to go into that church was really special for me. They had a man and a woman there that were SO friendly and helpful. I asked about records and told them some dates and she brought the original records of my Great Grandparents wedding and my Grandmas baptism. I couldn't help but be so full of the spirit and of their spirits. I could imagine both events in that special place. It was built in the 1862 I think he said and it's shaped on the outside like a shamrock and dedicated to St. Patrick. It's mostly all original! He told me exactly where they would have walked and knelt at the altar, where each side of the families would have sat and where they signed the records book. He told me who married them which is the same person who baptized my Grandma and he had his own memorial there at the church and a picture of him. It was beyond special to be there. Words can't express how neat it was. I'm so grateful we got to go back and everyone indulged me. We went to Belfast castle after which was kinda cool and had great views but it certainly wasn't as impressive as any of the others we've been to. We tried to go to the prison after and they closed just before we got there. We'd wished we'd done that tour! Then we headed the rest of the 2 hours back to Dublin to our hotel The Crowne Plaza. For dinner we found a place nearby called "The Great Wood" which was actually a great price and good food.
9.16-The guys dropped us off at Phoenix park before they left to work. We got a pass for a hop on hop off your with BigBusTours that costed €22/person. We had an hour and a half to kill there before our bus would could pick us up and they were late. We thought there would be more to see in the park but really all we found was a cross memorial that the pope gave mass at twice. Then we just walked around and found our bus stop. It was real cold and raining the whole day. Luckily misty rain. Our bus finally got there and we decided we'd head right to our prison tour seeing as how the buses weren't really coming on time and we didn't want to miss our time slot. The jail was called Kilmainham Gaol. It was difficult to get tickets. We checked the night before and they were all sold out but it said the day of they'll post any cancellation tickets at 9am. We had to keep refreshing the page to finally quickly purchase tickets. They were €8/ea. When we got off the stop we had over an hour before our tour so we grabbed lunch at circle k, ate it in the freezing cold, then went into the museum for a bit before our tour start time. The prison was well known for housing many political prisoners (people who wanted to be independent of the UK), public hangings just above the prison entrance, housing prisoners before they were shipped off to the island of Australia (which used to be an island to take prisoners and leave them there for punishment) and overcrowding. During the late 1840s they had a potato famine and over a million people died and others were stealing to survive and being thrown into prison. This led to huge overpopulation of the prison which meant 8-9 people per prison cell!! The center of the inside of the prison was beautiful and even had a pully system to bring food straight from the kitchens in the basement to all three levels where the cells were. So cool. After the tour we got on the bus to go to the Dublin Botanical gardens (beautiful!) And the cemetery right off of the gardens. The cemetery was so jam packed with headstones that dated way back up until recent ones. Really interesting to walk through. There were a lot of gigantic and impressive memorials/ headstones. After running to get to where the bus would pick us up (the previous driver told us what time) the app told us they were still really far away. So we walked 30 minutes to get to another stop and were told that that stop want going for now and that we'd need to walk to a different stop. That was annoying but we eventually got to where we needed to go which was Dame street for shopping. We found a store called "Carroll Irish Gifts" that was huge and had lots of great stuff. We spent our time there until the guys met us downtown and then we all headed to our scheduled dinner and show called "Celtic Night's". We were pleasantly surprised that we had front row seats! The dinner was good, the show was FANTASTIC and we sat by some great company to sit with from Canada. Seriously the show was so much fun! Lots of comedy, crazy talented musicians with unique instruments including the Irish bag pipes called ulilleann pipes, a Greece teardrop shaped guitar, a cool flute, a guitar and the tenor bango. The Celtic dancers were also incredibly talented. Blown away. Had such a great night! The tickets were €44/ea.
9.17- we got an early start today because Bre and I had a scheduled tour on "Paddywagon Tours" to go to the Wickelow mountains and Glendalough. It was €25/person. They picked us up at the Molly Malone statue (which they sang about at the show last night). First we went to the Wickelow mountains which was about 30 minutes away once you got outside the city. They were GORGEOUS! Breathtaking- up in the mountains you could see a lake, Rivers and green hilly mountains. Just what I wanted to see on our last full day here. The only thing I was sad about is that the bus didn't stop more than once to get out. After spending some time there we headed up Glendalough. There were really cool ruins there that were lived in by monks. The archways leading into the "town" dated to 500! There was a giant tower that reminded me of Repunzel that the monks lived in that has the doors to get in at the top of the tower. They would climb up ladders to get in and when the Vikings would try to attack they'd bring up the ladder so they couldn't get in. This tower was built at in about 600! They had two churches ruins too. We went on a little hike to two different lakes that were beautiful! Then we headed back on the bus and they dropped us off near Trinity college. It was €14 to get in to the library and Book of Kells OR €15 to have a student guided tour AND get into the library and Book of Kells which is what we opted for and it was great. Before the college was built there was a monestary for monks there since the 1100's. They were there for about 400 years when King Henry the 8th came along and took it from them. Years later when Queen Elizabeth, King Henry's daughter came into power we decided to build a college there in Dublin so the Protestant people could get an education and it was a symbol to the people of England's wealth. It was started in 1592 where it still stands today. Although most of the buildings were built in the 1700s. It was a really cool college campus which is still in full swing today. Up until the 1960s they still taught in the Latin language. Now they hold onto tradition by holding the entire 3 hour graduation ceremony in Latin. At the beginning of the year they hold entrance exams and those who pass them with straight A's get a lot of benefits such as free tuition, free boarding, the right to carry a sword across campus, and a free full three course dinner every single night at the cafeteria with the professors. Mr. Guinness also included in his will that they'd each get a pint of Guinness every night with dinner as long as his company stands. Everyone's tuition that lives in Ireland is covered by the European Union with the exception of paying taxes that come to about $2,500/year. The college is a saught after place to get married and only graduates are allowed but they only have 5 years from their graduation date to find a spouse. There was a teacher that kids were throwing rocks at his window one night and the started shooting at them-they shot back and he died. He's said to haunt parts of the school. The tour was very interesting and entertaining. Next we went to the library and the Book of Kells. The Library was built basically on stilts so that the books wouldn't get wet or moist. So under the library people could walk under it, ride their horses etc and the air would circulate and help the books stay dry. Because the building was built on stilts, the architect knew he had to evenly distribute the weight in the Library. This meant they don't organize the books in alphabetical order but rather by weight keeping all the heaviest books on the bottom so l shelves and the lighter ones at the top. Such a cool building to see on the inside and out. They displayed some of the over 200,000 books like medical books and more from hundreds of years ago. The Book of Kells was housed here at the Library. This book was done by 4 monks that copied the 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John by hand including incredible illustrations onto calfskin they'd had to have used 184 cows to make. It was impeccable. It used to have a beautiful gold cover with jewels but the Vikings stole it and the Monks then brought it to the college for safe keeping and it's been there ever since. When copying it if they forgot a verse and realized later they would just write the verse wherever they left off. And if a word wasn't asthetically pleasing they'd leave it out. It was written in Latin. The Library also housed the original harp that is the symbol of Ireland. It's a beautiful harp that was owned by Brian Boru in the middle ages and he'd play the harp before battles. Mr. Guinness came into possession of the harp and made it the logo for his company. Then Ireland wanted to make it the symbol for Ireland since it had much meaning. Mr. Guinness had already owned the harp and logo for 150 years but Ireland took the harp from him and flipped his logo and they used that on their money, flags and more. This is housed in the Library. After Trinity college, Bre and I walked 3 minutes to another location of Carroll's Irish Gifts that was their biggest store with 3 levels! We spent our time there until the guys picked us up. We got lots of souvenirs at this store like a 4 leaf clover necklace, Trinity earrings, a shirt for me and one for Rachel, a find the leprechaun book for the boys, a sheep card game, socks for Chrissy, a Celtic tree of Life necklace for Mom, and a leprechaun bouncy ball with gold glitter for the boys. We headed to Dublin Bay once the guys picked us up. It was low tide at the Bay which meant no water which meant it was perfect for seashell hunting. Plus it was sunset which was perfect. After finding lots of cute shells we had dinner at The Bay Restaurant. It was really good and a great view.
9.18- we slept in a bit, had breakfast, packed up, checked out and spent about an hour at the mall across the street from our hotel to kill time before our flight. We got our last gelato there too. Once at the airport we finally found honeycomb to bring some home for the kids and Mom and Dad. We've been looking ever since we bought it at The Gobbins and loved it. Our flight was late to board and then we sat in the plane for an hour before it took off because someone forgot to fuel the plane. We didn't get to sit together either. This flight was just over 2 hours. Because it was so late leaving, we should have missed our flight. We landed as it was supposed to leave but they ended up waiting over 15 minutes for us since there was probably 10 of us that would've missed it. At our next connecting flight we had to go through passport control and security which because it was a Domino effect from the first flight we missed the flight from Seattle to Salt Lake. We barely missed it. Not for lack of trying. We were running through the airport and going as fast as possible. They told us we couldn't get out to Salt Lake until 5:50am. Darrin called Iceland Air which is who's fault it was and after a looong time on the phone theyBooked us on Delta for tonight to get home at midnight. It was a miracle. Truly a miracle how everything worked out for us to get home and on top of that have a wee bit of time to grab a bite to eat. Our 8 hour flight didn't serve food so we were starving. We got our tickets to get on the Delta flight just in the nic of time. We were still on hold with Iceland Air when we were boarding the plane and the lady came back on the phone and told us we'd just have to fly out in the morning because she couldn't get it figured out. We told her we'd away gotten the tickets and were boarding and she was so confused. A miracle. So grateful! Got home at about 1am.
Different things we noticed in Germany:
-They don't serve ice with drinks
-They don't give you tap water with meals-you need to buy bottled
water even though tap water is safe.
water even though tap water is safe.
-Seems like everyone rides bikes. Don't walk in the bike lane which is
next the sidewalk because you could probably die
next the sidewalk because you could probably die
-Public restrooms typically cost money to use them like the mall or a
-When the hotel told us they'd validate the parking right next to the hotel
that's labeled the hotel name, they mean they'll charge the parking to your
that's labeled the hotel name, they mean they'll charge the parking to your
-Credit cards are not accepted at all restaurants or stores
-Nude pictures are common place for example in the hallways of our hotel,
IN our room and on advertisements.
IN our room and on advertisements.
-Waiters at restaurants do not constantly check on you-you have to
ask them for things you want like a check, drinks or dessert.
ask them for things you want like a check, drinks or dessert.
-Water fountains are non-existant
-They serve pizza unsliced-you eat it with a fork and knife.
-Note to self:next time get some cash and coins especially for parking,
RESTROOMS and public transportation. (we survived on credit card
only but it was very inconvenient)
RESTROOMS and public transportation. (we survived on credit card
only but it was very inconvenient)
-They have no idea what you're talking about when you ask for a
bathroom or restroom. You have to say toilet.
bathroom or restroom. You have to say toilet.
Different things we noticed in Ireland:
-Mind your step/mind your head=Watch your step
-"Th" is just a T=Tank You, Tis, Tat
-Rednecks and hillbillies came from Ireland
-They happily serve you free water at restaurants unlike Germany
-Most bathrooms we've seen are free with the exception of some of what we like to call toilet vending machines.
-Honeycomb is delicious, Chocolate dipped honeycomb is even better
-Yeast extract seems to be common to put on toast etc. It's horribly gross.
-Dove chocolate is branded "Galaxies" here
-Take away=take out food
-To Let= To Rent
-Two faucets per sink-one hot and one cold=You cant get warm water. Only HOT and COLD separate.