I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Ireland 2019: Irish National Stud & Dromoland Castle Hotel

It's a little sad that the tour is coming to an end, but we were super excited about spending the night in a real castle! But first we traveled by tour bus to the Irish National Stud. This is where the "equine royalty" of stud horses live as well as where young aspiring stud horses also live. We had a fascinating tour telling us about the stud program and introducing us to the horses as we walked in the farm. It is a beautiful place to tour and very informative! Another intriguing part of the farm is St. Fiachra's Garden and the miniature Japanese Garden. We spent a good amount of time here marveling at all of the little details of the Japanese Garden. We ate a quick lunch there before boarding the bus for Dromoland Castle. The present castle was completed in 1835, but it was purchased and converted into a 5 star hotel in 1962. I was stunned when we drove up. There was a storm moving in so we quickly took some pictures of the exterior and hiked on the surrounding grounds. When the rain started, I took advantage of their beautiful spa for a massage and then joined Travis and Danny for a pre-dinner glass of wine in a room equivalent to a "drawing room". Our dinner was quite a fancy event in the castle at their Michelin starred restaurant, Earl of Thomond. It was so delicious and one of our touring party, Sandy's mother, crocheted crowns for all of the ladies to wear. This was a fabulous way to end the tour and I'm not sure we would have ever done this had we not been on the tour. Tomorrow we head home and this is a trip we will always remember!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Ireland 2019: Dublin and Glasneven Cemetery

We started our day bright and early with a trip to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Glasnevin is Ireland's largest cemetery. We were given a tour highlighting some of the more interesting people buried there. We then boarded the tour bus for a ride into the heart of Dublin so that we could decide what tours we would like to take or just tour on our own. Some of the group toured the Guinness museum, some toured the heritage museum, some toured the Whiskey museum, but we just decided to tour ourselves. The last time we were in Dublin we took a Hop On Hop Off bus tour and I really wanted to see the churches we were shown. We ate lunch first at a cute little Pub named Darkey Kelly's. They had delicious fish and chips and a chocolate mousse made with Guinness that was fabulous!!!! Danny and I walked all over the center of Dublin touring the churches and seeing the Ha'Penney bridge. After touring ourselves, we took the subway train back to Dun Longhaire and caught up with Travis and Christy at McLoughlin's Bar for a drink before dinner. We met Christy's sister Tracey for dinner in Dun Longhaire at Bistro Le Monde. Our dinner was delicious!! We had a very comfortable night at the hotel.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Ireland 2019: Waterford Factory & Glendalough

After a delicious breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and joined our tour bus group for a tour of the Waterford Crystal factory. Danny and I had already seen this once, but it was still interesting to see again. After the tour, we had a few minutes to get a cup of coffee and a sweet before boarding the bus again. We drove through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough, a 6th century Monastic site founded by St. Kevin. It was raining by the time we got to Glendalough and toured throughout the monastery in the rain. The rain lifted just after we finished the tour. We had some time to take some pictures before boarding the bus again. We took another long driving tour to our next stop, Dun Laoghaire Harbour outside of Dublin. We settled into the hotel and then joined our tour group for dinner at the Merry Ploughboy Pub. This was a dinner and a show that was very entertaining. As we were approaching dessert, the show started and was a lively show of traditional Irish songs and step-dancing.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Ireland 2019: Blarney Castle and Cobh Heritage Centre

Today was a busy and fun filled day. We checked out of our hotel and boarded the bus for Blarney Castle. I have said for years that I would never kiss the Blarney Stone and even said it right up until....I kissed the darn thing. Actually I was more afraid of getting some kind of disease from all of the people that kiss it than from the act of actually doing it. So, going backwards, we arrived at Blarney castle and immediately headed toward the Blarney Stone. Our guide had told us they hoped to get us there before a cruise ship emptied out its tour buses there and we made it before them. The Blarney Stone is a piece of limestone built into the tower of Blarney castle in 1446. The legend states that the person who kisses it is forever given the gift of gab. There are a lot of guesses as to where the Blarney Stone came from and legends surrounding it, but there is no set truth to the legends. We climbed up and around a very narrow staircase in the castle to the top. Once we reached the point of kissing the stone, Danny held true to his decision not to kiss it but I followed the crowd and laid down on my back and slid downwards to the stone and planted a kiss on it. There are metal bars to hand onto and a person who holds onto you so you don't slide down to your death! After kissing the stone, we toured the Blarney Castle property, which is pretty immense. We walked over to the Blarney Woollen Mills to have lunch and do a little "wool garment" shopping. I look forward to wearing the sweater I purchased when it is no longer summer in Alabama! After lunch we boarded the bus to go to Cobh. We spent some time in the Cobh Heritage Center (which I didn't really enjoy) and Danny and I left to find the Cobh Cathedral known as St. Colman's Cathedral. It is gorgeous!!!! We took the long way I believe but arrived just in time to hear an organ recital that was just beautiful. We quickly walked through before heading back to the bus. We then took a nice long drive, and opportunity for a nap, to Waterford, home of Waterford Crystal. After checking into our hotel, we met for dinner in the hotel. I was not impressed with my dinner there but did not go away hungry. After dinner we met a guide who took us around and explained the Viking history in Waterford. It was very interesting and we enjoyed the after dinner walk.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ireland 2019: Ring of Kerry and Sheepdog Trials

We had a great night's sleep after all of our travel woes and awoke to a slightly drizzly (but normal Ireland) day. We took a ride this morning in a Jaunting Car. This is a horse and buggy that rides you into and through Killarney National Park. A highlight was a peek at Ross Castle and the Killarney estate. It was a beautiful ride and we really enjoyed it. We stopped to meet up with the tour bus but quickly ran inside St. Mary's Cathedral before we did. It was beautiful. I am a sucker for Cathedral architecture and try to stop into as many as I can! After our little peek inside, we boarded the tour bus for a ride along the Ring of Kerry. This is a scenic driving tour in Southwest Ireland that is very popular. We saw beautiful scenery along the way with several stops. We stopped for a mid morning snack at the Heather Restaurant and Cafe. We stopped at Dooley's restaurant and Public House for a wonderful lunch. One of our stops was at Commikista Pass where we had a beautiful view of the Atlantic as well as of a giant statue of the Virgin Mary.  From a distance we saw the Skellig mountains, on one of which was filmed a Star Wars episode. We passed through Waterville and the village of Sneem before stopping at Kissane Sheep Farm. We watched a demonstration of how the sheep are sheared and then watched a demonstration of a sheep dog rounding up the sheep from the hillside. We also stopped at "Ladies View", a beautiful area named from when Queen Victoria's Ladies in Waiting stopped there during the royal visit of 1861. From there we made our way back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. Our dinner was delicious and was eaten at Rozzers restaurant at the The Killeen House Hotel. The Killeen House Hotel was originally built in 1838 as a rectory for the Archdeacon Nathaniel Forester. It also served as a farmhouse, a dower house, a home for the elderly and a maternity ward before becoming a hotel. The dinner was absolutely delicious and I would love to go there again sometime! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ireland 2019: Killarney

We had such a restful sleep in Killarney last night after the adventure of trying to get to Ireland! When we arrived,  the skies were cloudy and it’s very cool,  which I understand is normal here.  We had a delicious breakfast at the buffet in our hotel, complete with a tray of honeycomb dripping with honey. The breakfast was amazing!! After breakfast we loaded into horse drawn buggies that look a lot like a surrey in New York’s Central Park. These are called Jaunting Cars here. We were taken for a ride through the beautiful Killarney National Park.  After our tour we loaded the bus to ride along the Ring of Kerry. This is a 111 mile circular tourist drive that has beautiful scenery all along the way. We also saw lots and lots of green, homes old and new and beautiful flowers. At times we dipped down toward the coastline. The bus pulled over for a snack and restroom stop and then also for lunch. We also stopped along the way to see beautiful views! I would have liked more scenery stops but this bus has amazingly large windows. Unfortunately I get carsick and needed to take some medicine for that. The medicine combined with bus motion put me to sleep shortly after the bus would start going so I missed a lot of scenery out of the windows. We also went to a working sheep farm to see a demonstration of sheep shearing and watch a sheep dog work her magic in rounding up sheep. I really enjoyed that! We were also on a time schedule as it is a tour so I had no control of anything we were doing or seeing. Sometimes that’s a good thing and other times it can be frustrating. The bus had us back to the hotel in plenty of time to rest before dinner. Dinner was at Rozzers Restaurant at The Killeen House which used to be a vicarage for an old Church of Ireland that’s across the street. The dinner was delicious!!!! After dinner the bus dropped off those who wanted a little time in town. We stopped at a pub and listened to some Irish young men sing and play some music. Travis got a Guinness beer and let Danny and me try some. Danny said it was better than what he had had before and I didn’t think it was bad at all! We walked back to the hotel after our entertainment just as the sun was setting.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ireland 2019: Travel Day

We are traveling to Ireland on American Airlines with Danny's brother Travis, his wife Christy, her sister Tracy, our friends Sandy (a travel agent who arranged the trip) and Greg, Sandy's mom, Greg's parents and more new friends.  We are connecting in Shannon, Ireland with a pre arranged tour with CIE tours. It is their Irish Heritage and Dromoland Castle tour. We flew out of Nashville and connected with everyone else in Philadelphia where we were to take our overseas flight to Shannon. We boarded our plane and flew away only to turn around after 20-30 minutes and fly back to the airport. There was an issue with something related to the plane and the pilot did not feel comfortable flying over the ocean with the problem. We were told that they would call in a mechanic and we would then be on our way. After sitting on the airplane for awhile, we were told that we could exit the plane and stay near the gate in the airport so that we would know when to reboard. After awhile, we were told to go to another gate I think because they were putting us on another plane. Then we were told that the flight crew we had were then over their allotted hours and a new flight crew would need to be called in. We were well after midnight at this point and apparently a new flight crew was either not available or just not called in because around 1:30 or 2 a.m. our flight was officially cancelled. We were told that we would be rescheduled, but after an hour on the phone and also at an agent desk all we were left with were empty plans and a hotel voucher. As we waited on the bus for the hotel, Danny managed to secure a flight sequence for the two of us that was quite involved and would mean changing airports in New York, but we would actually get to Ireland sooner than we had been told on our phone call . We slept with those plans but during breakfast the next morning, Sandy was able to organize a plan for her group and Danny managed to get us on the same plane with them so off to Ireland we went. Our flight this time was uneventful and we arrived in Shannon 1.5 days after we were originally to arrive. This was sad for all of us because we missed seeing the Cliffs of Moher! I suppose that one day we might be able to return and see it. Needless to say, American Airlines is on my bad list right now! We ate dinner tonight at our hotel and it was good. Either that or I was especially hungry!