The date is May 15, 2015, and it is a big day for 2 reasons. First and foremost, this is the day that marks one year in Paris for me! Andrew passed his one year mark back in March. This year went by so fast! The second reason is that we are receiving our first real guests – Andrew’s parents are arriving!
We had been planning for months and finally the day was here. They had a little bit of a rough start to their trip because they arrived 4 hours later than expected. But little did they know, we had a little surprise for them at the airport – Andrew came to greet them! He was originally supposed to work, but his boss told him to take the day off. Click here to view their reunion.
One of the first things we had to show them was the most famous lady in Paris. Moments after this photo I got into it with a gypsy, but there are no pictures of that thankfully.
That afternoon, we took a bus tour around Paris on Big Bus Tours.
That evening, Andrew prepared a meal for us at our apartment.
Karen and Neil were amazed at how small the hotel room and elevator was at their second hotel.
On Saturday morning, we met his parents for breakfast at Bistro Dupleix for a traditional Parisian breakfast. Karen really liked the chocolat chaud here.
After breakfast, we made our way to the Montmartre area for a walk. Riding the metro!
Our adventure through Montmartre was fun and we tried to tell them what we had learned about the area.
Karen enjoyed the music near Sacré-Cœur.
We stopped for lunch at Le Consulat. We actually managed to persuade his parents to try l’escargot.
Karen picked up a few goodies at La Cure Gourmande (a candy/cookie shop).
We took the metro over to the St. Michel area and stopped to get a crêpe.
That night we went to dinner at Café Primerose. Andrew spilled his fries all over the floor and now we can never go back 🙂
Open-air markets are big deal in Paris, occurring once or twice a week. One that we frequent is open on Sundays and Wednesdays. On Sunday morning, we took the parents to explore that market.
After the market, we headed to Rue Mouffetard for a little music and dancing! We didn’t get the parents to dance, but it was still a good time! Plus they got to meet some of the people we knew there.
That afternoon, we went to Opera, Palais Garnier for a tour. This was my second time there, but everyone else’s first. The place is still stunning! And I participated in a small demonstration with the tour guide too.
After a marvelous time at Palais Garnier, we made our way back to our apartment. But first, Karen and Neil were able to check into the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel that afternoon. They got a pretty good room!
Andrew whipped up some food with the things we bought at the market and we packed up everything for a picnic at the park near our house. Neil bought a bottle of port for us to have with the meal.
On Monday morning, we all got in line to go up in the Tour Eiffel. We had prepared for a very long wait, but it ended up not being that bad after all. I’m not sure if we just got lucky that day or what.
Karen was pretty nervous, but she was definitely a good sport and we even managed to get a family photo at the top. We had to turn her around and back her up to us, but we got it 🙂
Andrew and I decided to walk down from the top and the parents took the elevator.
After we were all back on the ground, we took a walk along the river and stopped at Mozza & Co. for a small bite to eat.
Mövenpick ice cream is the best!
There is the Louvre!
Next to the Seine.
We eventually made it all the way down to Notre Dame de Paris.
That night we had dinner at Café Constant. We didn’t really get the best pictures, but the food was really good!
On Tuesday, Andrew had to go back to work, but he showed his parents the garden at Frame that morning.
Afterwards, the three of us headed to Musée d’Orsay.
We had lunch that afternoon at La Frégate.
And afterwards, I took them to She’s Cake for a little dessert.
Neil had to use one of the public restrooms.
That night, I prepared dinner for Andrew’s parents and it turned out okay, I think. At least they told me it was good!
On their final day in Paris, I had planned for the three of us to go on a walking tour. However, by that point I had completely worn Neil out (and his shoes had proved to not be the best), so he decided to sit this one out. Our tour was in one of the lesser known areas of Paris and started near metro Danube.
We took a walk through Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Our guide wasn’t the best photographer – ha!
James, our guide, pointed out a bakery (Boulangerie Véronique Mauclerc) that I want to go back to try out. They still use a wood-fired oven!
He also showed us a church that was sort of hidden away. This is the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint-Serge de Radonège. We stepped inside for a few minutes and listed to the service. It was very interesting and unlike anything I had ever experienced (sorry no photos of the inside).
And lastly, an awesome view of Sacré-Cœur!
That evening, we had dinner at Frame. Dinner was so good! I have to admit that I’m a little biased though.
Andrew prepared a special birthday dessert tray for Karen since we were not able to see her on her 60th birthday.
On Thursday morning, the four of us packed our bags and headed to Dublin!
On our first night, we had dinner at Boxty. We ordered a few things to share, including stews (Irish lamb, Guinness beef, and Dublin coodle), dumplings, toasted Boxty loaf, Boxty pancakes, and a trio of lamb (Braised Lamb foreshank, Miniature Shepherd’s Pie, Slow-Roasted Lamb Boxty). It was all good!
A few pictures of our walk from the Temple Bar area back to the apartment.
ChristChurch Cathedral – pretty sure the Iron Throne was there…
Neil thinks he looks cool in Andrew’s hat. I think he’s right.
We had breakfast on Friday morning at Queen of Tarts. Yummy scones!
We will come back for you carrot cake…and we did the next day…it was so good!
Then we hopped on the Dublin Bus Tour. We made our first (and only) stop at the Guinness Storehouse for a self-guided tour. There’s the 9,000 year lease.
The yeast safe – their yeast is so valuable to them that some is kept in a safe, should anything ever taint their main supply!
Give me a beer…
These were cool!
You can insert your face into a few of the ads!
Want to play the harp?
I’m covered by the beer component scent machine!
We learned how to properly taste a Guinness.
Now we are ready for our pint at the top!
Afterwards, we hopped back on the tour.
A memorial dedicated to the famine.
At the end of the tour we went to Leo Burdock’s for a very late lunch/early dinner. They want to kill Justin Bieber apparently…
The fish & chips was good!
Chef’s special…a good special.
On our way back to the apartment we walked by the Dublin Castle.
And we also passed by St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
I love the signs in Ireland. Everything is “by order” 🙂
Down this one street, there was something on each building with a scene from Gulliver’s Travels.
One thing I forgot to mention at the beginning is that once we were in Ireland, we realized that an important vote was taking place on Friday to legalize gay marriage in Ireland. Take a look at the signs for and against. Fyi – the bill passed!
The next morning, we took a day trip outside of Dublin via Extreme Ireland Day Tours. Our first stop was the Hill of Tara. We’re ready to explore!
This is St. Patrick, the primary patron saint of Ireland. He is cited as using the shamrock to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity. He also supposedly banished all of the snakes from Ireland.
This is the church and cemetery next to the Hill of Tara.
This is known as the “Mound of the Hostages,” which is a small Neolithic passage tomb.
This is a standing stone, which is believed to be the Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) at which the High Kings were crowned. According to legend, the stone would scream if a series of challenges were met by the would-be king. At his touch the stone would let out a screech that could be heard all over Ireland. Again, thank you to Wikipedia! Did the stone scream for Andrew? I’ll never tell.
Ireland is so beautiful!
Our next stop on the route was Trim. A lot of the houses in Ireland are right next to each other and each home is painted a different color, sometimes down to the stone fence in front (if they have one)! I loved this, but I’m not sure why they are that way.
Trim Castle! Parts of the movie Braveheart were filmed here.
After Trim, we headed to Loughcrew. This is the site of megalithic burial grounds dating back to approximately 3500 and 3300 BC, situated near the summit of Sliabh na Caillí (meaning “mountain of the hag”) and on surrounding hills and valleys. Passage tombs on the site are aligned with the Equinox sunrise. We walked up the big hill to see the site. The walk was worth it!
Inside the tomb you can see a unique style of megalithic petroglyphs, including lozenge shapes, leaf shapes, as well as circles, some surrounded by radiating lines.
The group stopped for lunch at Scanlon’s in Kilberry.
On top of the building, there was an owl decoration that looked like it had a dead crow?!
This is a terrible photo, but the driver told us that a naturally occurring circle of trees is known as a “Fairy Ring.” I did some research online and it is actually not a naturally occurring circle of trees, but of mushrooms! That is minus one point for the driver… To his defense, there could have been a circle of mushrooms up there too, but I’m not sure. It is considered bad luck to disturb these rings and most people tend to just let them be. However, in some folklore it is considered good luck sometimes, so I guess it depends on who you ask.
These are the ruins at Monasterboice. It contains some of the 10th century high crosses.
There is also the Round Tower there which was built in reaction to the Norse raids on monasteries in the 10th/11th century. This served as a watch-tower, belfry, repository, and as a refuge for the community. The door, normally 15-20 feet above ground, was reached by a movable ladder and the interior was divided into 4 or more stories.
Our last stop was in Drogheda – birthplace of Pierce Brosnan. We took a walk through St. Peter’s Church to see the preserved severed head of Saint Oliver Plunkett, who was executed in London in 1681 (this has been on display here since 1921).
Once we were back in Dublin we took a walk around town for a bit. These signs cracked us up.
We also came across a homeless pigeon.
Then we stopped inside The Norseman for a pint and to listen to a bit of music.
Here are the guys enjoying their “night cap.” Andrew and I thought that it would be fun to have a little bit of whiskey each night while we were in Ireland. I mean, we are on vacation right?
We just picked up our rental car…look at the fear in my eyes…ha ha ha
Along the way, we stopped at a fruit stand to pick up some juice, jam, and strawberries for later.
We also made a quick pit stop in Courtown. Neil made a friend.
I wish we would have had more time in Courtown because this trail looked cool. Sadly we had to get back on the road, but ice cream first!
Look at that concentration…
We made it to the Dunbrody Country House Hotel for lunch. The guy that owns this place is Kevin Dundon – he was the guy behind the menu for Raglan Road in K.C. when it was open. Andrew met him a couple times when he worked there. The food was pretty good and the dining area was nice.
The grounds around the hotel were beautiful! And we found this awesome place to sit 🙂
We finally made it to Ballycotton! I think we ended up taking the backway because we were on some pretty narrow roads that we were never on again afterwards. But it was really fun getting there! We stopped by the pub to pick up the key from Sean. This is the view from the back of his pub.
After we unloaded the car, we decided to scope out the village of Ballycotton.
On Monday, we headed to the Blarney Castle. This place is absolutely stunning and was one of my favorite places we visited during the trip!
And of course we made our way up to kiss the Blarney stone. Karen and Neil chickened out.
The view from the top of the castle is great.
Pictures of the old fireplace and the murder hole…apparently an umbrella was all you needed for protection.
There was a little entertainment for the guests at Blarney.
One cannot complete a visit to Blarney Castle without a visit to the poison garden! This place was so interesting and I spent way too much time in there. It was funny because on my way down from the top of the castle, Andrew and I got separated and I started talking to this other group of people (I already had the gift of gab). I had told them that I was looking for my husband. Later, one of the girls from the group saw me in the poison garden and jokingly asked if I was thinking of poisoning my husband. Of course not, I replied. But it never hurts to be well versed in many things. And I’m just kidding!! That group cracked me up! The garden was very interesting and definitely reinforced my thoughts as to not touch, eat, or smell anything you are not familiar with!
They are so over the garden and ready to explore the rest of the area. Sorry that I took so long.
I could walk around this place for hours…and I did.
Neil was very excited to see this sign!
The Witches Stone – I can see it. And look at my wild hair…geez.
These are the wishing steps. Supposedly if you walk backwards up and down the steps with your eyes closed and wish for something, it may come true.
Neil: Hey, touch this tree. It is so soft.
Karen touches the tree.
Karen: Ouch, this is not soft!
I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist.
We found the playground!
And more exploring…I think the first picture was called the Druids Cave.
After I thoroughly exhausted everyone from walking around the Blarney Castle grounds, we headed out for lunch. We went to The Mill Restaurant. It was a buffet style place. I thought the food was very good and reasonably priced.
Then we did some shopping in the store next door. Neil liked this outfit, but I didn’t get either items. It was fun trying things on though.
Finally we were back in Ballycotton. Here is a picture of my friend, Annie’s place.
Andrew and I decided to take a walk. I commented to Andrew how there was no one around and then I looked up and saw this cat. We were not alone…
Ballycotton is a lovely place.
Andrew saw this cave. You can tell he wanted to try to go in, but it looked a bit difficult so we opted not to try.
Nobby’s Nuts at the pub – Karen wanted to try them. They were pretty good, but a little spicy.
Andrew and Karen prepared a little dinner back at the house. She used the strawberries we picked up the day before from the stand.
On Tuesday morning, we all piled into the car for the long drive toward Killarney. Our first stop near there was the Kissane Sheep Farm.
This cat was hilarious.
We watched the sheep dog demonstration. It was pretty neat. Click here to view the video. Note, I’m not the best videographer.
Then we were able to view the sheep shearing demonstration.
We had traveled through the Killarney National Park to get to the sheep farm, so we told ourselves that we would stop at some of the view points on our way back. The views were stunning!
Then we stopped at Ladies View Café to look in the shop. Leprechaun crossing…are we getting closer?
Neil should have bought this hat.
But he did find this little keepsake at one of the shops in Killarney. I’m sure you will be able to guess which one…
Our last stop before heading home was the Ross Castle. It was free to roam around the grounds, but we were too pooped out to wait around for the tour of the inside.
This is a cute picture of Karen of Neil.
I can’t remember which night we did this, but the four of us played pitch together for awhile even though it was really late. Neil was my partner and Karen and Andrew were partners. It was a lot of fun playing. I miss playing pitch with my family a lot. Our future kids must learn how to play. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure I mentioned that.
Wednesday was our Jameson Day. We drove to Midleton to tour the Old Jameson Distillery. They do have a new distillery next door, but Midleton is the only place they make Jameson (it is no longer actually made in Dublin).
Mind your head!
I was always trailing a bit behind everyone else.
Back to the tour photos! A quick fact – did you know that Jameson uses barrels with oak from the Ozarks in Missouri for one type of barrel? The other is made from Spanish oak.
Finally, we had a little whiskey tasting. To be fair, they had us compare the Jameson with two lesser whiskeys and of course Jameson won.
A little walk back through the grounds of the distillery.
To the tasting room of course! We had to get our bigger samples.
Then we had lunch at the Jameson restaurant.
On our way back home, we stopped at the Ballymaloe House/Shop. I had to buy a few of their desserts.
Then we popped by the Ballymaloe Farm for a tour of the grounds. The farm was amazing! Complete with animals, a vegetable garden, an herb garden, and more.
We stumbled across some geese who apparently do not like the paparazzi. Click here to watch the video with terrible, shaky quality. Sorry, I mentioned before that I am not a professional.
Once we were back in Ballycotton, we decided to drive the car down to the pier.
There is Sean’s pub!
That night we walked down to have dinner at Pier 26 inside the Inn by the Harbour.
We were taking pictures of our food and a lady at another table found it odd that we were doing that. It got me thinking as to how this has become such a normal practice for most of society. And what was the very first food picture that I took? I honestly do not remember. Perhaps this is all a little too much, but will I stop? No, probably not.
After dinner, we popped into the pub to see Sean one last time. We visited the pub every night. I really liked it because it reminded me of Jim’s Friendly Tavern in Sheridan (the small town atmosphere). And for some reason, Sean reminded me of my dad, so I really enjoyed talking with him.
And Neil loved the pub too!
On our last night, Andrew and Neil finally tried the Guinness West Indies Porter that we had picked up in Dublin.
Andrew rockin’ the Neil Wigger hairstyle 🙂
It is our last morning in Ballycotton. We must say goodbye to this wonderful place. Who knows, maybe Andrew and I will come back sometime? I loved this quote on one of Annie’s shelves.
On the way back up to Dublin, we stopped in Kilkenny to tour the castle. One of my sister’s friends had been here earlier this year and had sworn that she had a ghostly encounter. I saw and felt nothing…sometimes I think people make that stuff up. But, I’m an optimistic skeptic, so I’m still open to the idea.
There was a little street fair going on beside the castle – we decided to have lunch there.
And I picked up some truffles from the Truffle Fairy at the street fair! These were absolutely fabulous.
Once we were back in Dublin, we dropped the parents off at the hotel and then Andrew and I returned the rental car. One small note, return rental car to a location closer to the hotel next time. In any case, we made it back to the hotel with a few extra transportation changes.
We had such a great time with Andrew’s parents! It was fun showing them around Paris and exploring a new area together, but man were we exhausted when we got back home. Until next time!