Friday, July 27, 2007

Final Week in Ireland

This week Brett had a training class in Dublin every day. So I dropped Brett off at the train station and he would ride into Dublin. Then after the class he still had work to do for Intel…so it made for a very busy week.
This week we also celebrated my birthday. Brett surprised me with some flowers and a night out in Dublin. He found a babysitter ( a girl from our church) so it was a nice date night.
The kids and I hung out with our friend Joanna and her kids. One day we went to an indoor play place called the Playzone, they had slides and balls to jump in and the girls had a blast! Another day we went to a really neat playground and had lunch.
On Friday we headed out for one of our see half the country weekends. The great part is that it stays light here until after 10pm so we can see a lot. We headed out to Northern Ireland, the only way you knew you were in another country was that the signs changed from kilometers per hour to miles per hour. The currency also changed to pounds. We drove up past the Carlingford Lough “lock” it was beautiful with green mountains surrounding a lake. We stayed the night in Belfast the capital of Northern Ireland.
On Saturday we had a huge breakfast at the hotel (quite expensive but delicious) everything seems about double the price here since 1 pound equals just over $2. We saw a lot of beautiful scenery this day as we drove through N. Ireland over to Derry. We saw the Glens of Atrim and did a 2 mile waterfall hike with the girls. They did good and the scenery was amazing. Then we went further up the coast and came to a really cool rope bridge. We had to hike another mile back to this 60 ft Carrik-a-Rede rope bridge. It was hanging several hundred feet in the air and sways over a rocky outcrop over the ocean connecting the main land to the island. I was quite nervous as I walked across it holding Adalynn. Alana was really brave and walked across on her own and didn’t want any help. She gets practice crossing bridges at the playground and has no fear. That night we stayed in Derry at a little bed and breakfast called the Sunbeam House. Derry is a walled city.
Sunday we had a full Irish breakfast which consists of ham, toast, egg, tomato, and sausage. Then we went to church and I think there were just as many American visitors that day as there were Irish. Then we went on another driving adventure and headed up to Malin Head the northern most point of Ireland. We enjoyed the scenery along the coastline. We did a lot of driving this day down the western coast of Ireland all the way to Westport. We stayed at a cool B&B called Boffin Lodge. Westport was a neat little town.
Monday was Alana’s 4th Birthday she got to have a pancake breakfast. We let her pick out a toy at a toy store (she got a new game for her leapster and a Dora DVD) she also got to go to McDonald’s and get her happy meal. (Mcdonald’s prices here are very high it’s like $30 to feed our family there!) She also picked out a Barbie cake and ice cream. She got a b-day card from Grandma Hunsaker in the mail and she was very excited. We drove a lot today too. We drove out to an island which was pretty. Then we saw the Kylemore Abby which was a castle with a green mountain in the background and a lake in front. The house cost over 1.6 million pounds to build in the 1800’s! Our planned driving route for the day was foiled when the bridge went out because of all the rain so we had to go a long ways out of our way to get around it on another route. We love all the green mountains and lakes with little islands in the middle. We also love the coast line. We got back home very late Monday night.
Tuesday we had dinner with our friends Joanna and John and their 2 kids. We have enjoyed their friendship while we were here. They are good people and so selfless and caring. We are a little sad to be leaving Ireland we were just starting to become comfortable here. We love the scenery and the climate and the people. This could be a place we could consider spending more time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

2nd Week in Ireland

We’re starting to like Ireland, and we only have 10 days left here! This week I went with the kids to the Dublin Zoo. I met up with our landlord (Kate), her 3 kids and also her friend and 2 children. We had a great time. I got to socialize with other women and the kids enjoyed playing with the other kids. I’m starting to pick up on more of the Irish language like “lovely” and “grand” and “mind”(as in "mind your head", or "mind your step" etc.) I even heard Alana say “lovely” the other day (she’s learning new vocabulary too). Even though the people here speak English, some of them have a very hard accent and you have to really listen to understand.

Brett and the kids on a bridge in downtown Dublin

We went to downtown Dublin on Friday night to get a feel for the big city. I’m glad we’re not living there. The big city is fun for a little while but I don’t think I would enjoy the big city lifestyle. Everything is so close together and people are everywhere. The downtown area is built around a big river (River Liffey) the water is very dirty but it’s fun to walk across the bridges. We walked around Trinity College then down Grafton Street, it’s a big pedestrian only street with stores on both sides, then we walked around St. Stevens Green, a giant 27acre park with grass and lakes and walking paths. The girls enjoyed feeding the ducks, Allden enjoyed watching them too. Then we found a TGI Friday’s and ordered desserts in celebration of Lisa's B-Day.

On Saturday we drove south of Dublin and went to the Powerscourt waterfall, the highest waterfall in the British Isles. We had a nice picnic lunch here with the waterfall in the background. We walked around and then the girls played at the amazing playground. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Then we drove on to Glendalough and through National Forest. It is beautiful! Our pictures don’t do justice for how green and pretty it is here. There was a beautiful lake in between the mountains. (We are teaching Alana how to take pictures she took a couple of us and they turned out pretty good.) We walked around the park and then had an ice cream cone.

Sunday morning we found our church and enjoyed our meetings. The people were very friendly and welcoming. Then we drove north of Dublin to Skerry and found the Ardgillan Demesne (park and castle) We had a picnic lunch overlooking the ocean then walked back and saw the amazing castle built in 1738 it’s on 194 acres and is one of the prettiest parks I’ve ever seen. We enjoyed the scenery and the kids enjoyed the cool playground. They have way better playgrounds here than we have at home.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our First Week in Ireland

We officially arrived in Ireland on Monday afternoon 1 week ago. We flew out early Sunday morning for a flight to Charlotte where we had a layover and then our 8 hour flight into London. The girls slept the entire flight it was wonderful. I couldn’t sleep at all since we were right next to the bathroom and it was uncomfortable. Then we had a bus ride over to another airport in England for our 1 hr flight over to Dublin Ireland. When we arrived we picked up a rental car and headed out to find our home. We are renting a home in Celbridge which is about 30 min. from Dublin and only 10 minutes from Intel. The house we are living in is 100 years old! It has been refinished on the inside and is pretty nice. It has 4 bedrooms so everyone has their own room. There is a tiny backyard with a picnic table and a little swing. We are walking distance from a little park, the library and the town center with lots of little shops.
The weather this past week has been in the 60’s and raining ( I guess that’s why Ireland is so green). The Irish people are very friendly and I love the accent and we’ve already learned a few new words: Nappy-diaper Toilets-Bathrooms Coach-Bus Queing-waiting Buggy-Stroller They also drive on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car. It was very strange at first but Brett is getting quite good at driving. We traded in our Toyota rental car for a nice Volvo it has great power and leather interior and all the bells and whistles. Some of the roads here are very narrow and windy so you really have to make sure you stay in your lane. Brett has enjoyed going into Intel during the week and working with his teammates here in Ireland. We are living only 10 min. away so he can still come home for lunch. We just go on with daily life here at our home. We’ve adventured to the Mall just a couple miles away and enjoyed some Pizza Hut and bought an umbrella for these rainy days. We’re trying to get adjusted to the 8hr time difference. It stays light here until about 10pm so we’re able to sight see much longer!

Over the weekend we traveled to the West and drove through Waterford where they make Waterford crystal. We drove through Cork then stayed the night in a B&B it was right next to castle ruins in the countryside. That night we went into a bigger town called Killarney they had a little fair going on so we took a family ride on the ferris wheel, Alana had a blast, Addy was a little scared, but we had a great time.
Saturday morning we drove the beautiful Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, it is right on the coast with magnificent views of the ocean and green countryside. On the side of the road we saw a couple sheep crossing the road and we got out and the girls chased them. We stayed the night in Limerick it’s a pretty big city with a big cathedral(of course). The hotel we stayed in was really nice! We did a lot of driving but the kids were great as long as they had snacks and something to do in the backseat.

Sunday we got up and found the LDS church in Limmerick. It was a small little branch. The branch president there looked younger than Brett. The people were all very friendly and we enjoyed the meeting. Then after church we headed off for the cliffs of Moore. Wow! 700 ft. sheer cliffs into the ocean and a castle on top of one of the cliffs.