Oh hi there…I may have a dress to share…

November 22, 2013 § 3 Comments

Hi there.

So, um, this is awkward.

It’s been awhile. How ya been? Yep, yep, me to. Oh what have I been doing? A little of this, a little of that. I’ve re-blogged a bunch of stuff on my Tumblr. I’ve been using Twitter and Instagram. I’ve posted a bunch on Facebook.

I went on vacation – twice! I visited my mom and other relatives in the Colorado Rockies in August and then just 3 weeks ago my husband and I went to Washington (state) and visited his family. Speaking of which I fell in love with the coast! Seriously the most amazing smell on the planet. I was already in love with wet pine and cedar throw in salt spray from the beach and it could not have been more perfect. And Seattle was amazing. If I can figure out a way to get my husband to move there I would.

I can’t explain why I disappeared. That’s not true. I have reasons and can explain it. I’m just not sure I am comfortable sharing them yet. I was told by several people I should either start writing and posting again or post a good-bye so that you readers would have closure. Honestly I couldn’t. I didn’t want to close that door but I had an extremely difficult time opening the door and going through it one way or another. I had a lot to struggle with.

Then a couple weeks ago eShakti emailed me and I saw it as an opportunity to force myself to do something. Anything. It was a difficult step that took me a few days to decide on. But I finally decided to agree to the review of this BEAUTIFUL dress. As always I am deeply in love with this company. Deeply. That will never change. I own LOTS of eShakti clothing. Seriously. I buy something new every couple of months. It’s all very well made, a perfect fit with custom measurements and quickly made (about 2 to 3 weeks from order to receipt depending on the item). I have no complaints and will continue to order from them.

Of course now the dress is out of stock (and really its a Spring or Summer dress in weight anyhow) but everything remains the same with this company. Amazing to order from and a great selection of some serious cute items! But the best part? POCKETS! All dresses should have pockets and I think nearly every single one comes with pockets. Nearly. Genius!

Now had I to customize this dress over again I would not have gotten the neckline I did. Too easy to show a bra strap with this one and honestly I have big breasts – I have serious bra straps. It happens but I can work around them in the future. The addition of the sleeves however was a great idea. I’m glad I went for those. Again being able to customize the dress is amazing. Everything is exactly what I would like.

If anyone would like a referral code (you get a $30 gift certificate instead of the standard $25) let me know and I can email you the link. Oh and BONUS they are running a sale right this moment! Do it!
eShakti Dress Review - 11/20/13
eShakti Dress Review - 11/20/13
eShakti Dress Review - 11/20/13
eShakti Dress Review - 11/20/13
dress: c/o of eShakti – Lace Overlay (November 2013)
Nude patent pumps: Payless (December 2012)
Gray faux pearl imaginary necklace: Kohl’s (April 2013)

eShakti provided a dress at no cost to me for a review of their products & service but all opinions are all my own.

I Am Not a Beauty Blogger…

July 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

and I don’t seem to be much of a blogger in general lately either. Honestly I have been feeling uninspired. Not just on the blog (what you noticed the thin posts lately?) but summer in general. I just haven’t felt like genius has struck.

It certainly doesn’t help that my hands have been hurting off and on. I had a nerve test done, thinking my carpal tunnel came back. Everything is a-okay on that front. So a bunch of co-pays later I still don’t know why my hands hurt. I think it is stress from my job. Just a lot of typing and overworking my hands in a bad posture position. So I am trying to take it easy. Being uninspired certainly assists with this!

And outfits? Yeah, more of the same. Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t help that I have been cheap (at least where clothes are concerned, not so much a lot of other stuff) and I have bought very little lately. I only have 1 pair of shorts it’s that bad.

So in an effort to get myself out of this funk I have tried doing some seriously creative things.

I bought a new Smashbook in an effort to get some art journaling and scrapbooking out of me. That helped. Maybe I will share in the future. Either way doodling and glueing is helping.

I have also spent a nice chunk of time designing the two tattoos I would like to get. I currently have zero tattoos and these both are something I have been thinking about for a very long time. But it means that I spent a lovely chunk of time doing Google search after Google search of after care, tips, tricks, art and local artists, etc. When or if I ever actually get the balls to get one or both of these I promise to share. I will tell you that one is of a Celtic Heraldry “animal” and the other is a Latin phrase that I really love. I nearly got the phrase (I want it on my lower arm/wrist) as my “gateway”. I strongly suspect I will do it next week or the week after so don’t be suprised.

I have also been spending a lot of time painting my nails. Mostly I am a toe painter and not a finger painter. Not lately. I’m missing a few bottles (eh, I’m lazy about putting them back sometimes) but I have about 60 here. Which is less than I thought I had. I was so sure I had more.

Nail polish

Nail polish

Nail polish

Nail polish

Nail polish

Nail polish

Oh and I suck at getting it straight next to my cuticles so I do what a lot of people do – paint everything, shower, and scrub off anything that may have slopped onto my cuticle or nailbed. It works but is messy close up!!

Honestly I am trying everything I can think of to get back into a creative mood but I am all for suggestions!! Do you have any?

Reddit Arbitrary Day Gift 2013

June 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

Your staring at a couple of cruddy photos. Eh. My camera was dead. Deal.

My gifter is a 22-year-old woman who just so happens to be a ranger on a glacier in Alaska. How freaking cool is that?? Besides all that she wrote me a fabulously long letter telling me all about herself and why she picked what she did. Basically it boils down to her being one smart cookie. She got me totally.

She did muse in the letter about the Alaska shaped cookie cutter though and what kind of cookies would result. I am curious too. I intend to test it very soon. And the recipe on the postcard? Totally going to make it next week just cause I can.

Honestly this was seriously one of the best, if not the best, gifters I have ever gotten. Excellent job!

Say what you like about Reddit but really I have had nothing but a great time exchanging presents with total strangers who actually enjoy gift giving. What an amazing blessing. Now the Reddit forums themselves…well…by the time I get to something everything great or funny has been said so I mostly lurk. But it is a great community and nowhere near as bad as its reputation.

Reddit Arbitrary Day 2013 gift

That photography book is signed by the photographer!! Stunning visually.

Reddit Arbitrary Day 2013 gift

Reddit Arbitrary Day 2013 gift

And this is very cute and extremely nerdy!

Daily Outfit: Up Next!

June 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

It’s been awhile since I posted an outfit. And this was an outfit I intended to post at the end of April! Oh well. I did wear it exactly the same way (but with sandals) on Tuesday this week so does that count for anything?

Oh and remember how I said my next trip was Seattle? I totally lied. I didn’t mean to. I actually discovered that the Southwest Airfare sale which allowed us to book Seattle for cheap plus our extra frequent flyer points (not even close to enough for a real flight anywhere) were more than enough to get to Denver & back. So I booked a long weekend at the end of August to Denver to visit my mother for a few days. Too bad her drive to DIA to pick me up is almost the same length of time as my flight from Omaha! But it will be wonderful to see my family and the Colorado mountains in summer.

I thought about going a month later but like my mother said “you’ve seen it in fall and the tourists all act like they haven’t whether they have or not.” Too true and it makes driving and getting around difficult. Aspens are beautiful in the fall. But at least that means I can hit my favorite candy store and bring back some stuff.

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04.25.2013b

Dark wash skinny jeans: Torrid (February 2013)
Short-sleeved White button down tunic: Lane Bryant (January 2011)
Black & White striped cardigan: Lane Bryant (March 2013)
Black wedges: Payless (April 2013)
Bubble pearl necklace: Kohl’s (April 2013)

Ireland: My Completed Smashbook (and my next trip…)

June 11, 2013 § 4 Comments

I also finished up two photobooks (just a bit ago today actually) – one for New York City and the other for Ireland. These hold the stories, the legends, the information, etc along with all of the photos. This Smashbook was basically for the scraps of the trip.

And that’s that. No more Ireland talk. At least until I go back anyway.

But I already have my next trip in the works:

Seattle!

ALong with my in-laws we are going in late October to visit my sister-in-law, her husband and their twin boys for their first birthday. And since we are using up frequent flyer points for Southwest I also priced out the flights (I’m actually hoping over to the website to buy them after this gets posted) as well as the times for the flights. What that means is we can either have a 4 hour layover in Las Vegas or Denver or we can split up the layover (and get better times for flights as a result) and delay coming home for 27 hours. A whole 24 hours in Vegas and it saves us about $50 in airfare (I know the hotel room & cab fares will eat up the extra and then some but that is so not the point). And all I have to do is get groped in security an extra time? Yes please!

Ireland: Recommendations & Advice

June 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

The good, the bad and the ugly all in one place. If you are ever planning on a trip to Ireland start here. If you are just curious to see what I thought start here as well. If you don’t care, well then come back another day!

Tour Company: Sceptre Tours via Groupon

I made none of the arrangements with the company. I gave my Groupon number to my mother and she did everything from there. But I do know they were easy to work with and sent frequent emails/phone calls when something changed in our itinerary (like our flight leaving early, etc). I did not like their documents website though. It would crash frequently and took me many hours to download all the documents and vouchers we would need on the trip. Although I think that was the only drawback to the company.

Hotel: Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Enniskerry

This hotel is what came with the vacation package we had purchased. We would never have stayed in a place like this on our own. Nor would we have stayed in the same hotel all week. I don’t recommend that at all. It made for a difficult time driving as we always had to be back to sleep in our beds there (no point wasting money on another room across the country when a 2 hour drive would get us back to the hotel). That being said I did love the stay. If I had to do it over again I would stay in Dublin first, no car, then get a car and drive to wherever I was going. And finally end up here the last day or two of the trip, driving straight to the airport to leave afterwards. It would be very relaxing & elegant after a whirlwind vacation.

Pro:

  • The distance to Powerscourt, Glendalough, the Wicklow Mountains could not be beat. All of it was right there so none of it took up a full day. Loved that part of it. Made for amazing views as well. Never got sick of seeing it.
  • All of the food severed in all of the restaurants was amazingly good, especially the breakfast buffet. I may have thought the fish and chips takeaway in Belfast was better than that at the hotel but the hotel’s version was still wonderful compared to most fish and chips in the States.
  • The entire facility was very posh with luxurious accommodations. The beds were lovely European feather tops with a feather duvet. Everything was thought out in advance including the minibar (which held the only Pepsi I saw in the entire freaking country!) as well the complimentary items.
  • Beautiful grounds and rooms. I have never seen a more stunning hotel. And every night I went to the spa – with kid free swim times I might add – I was reminded of how fantastic the place was. Even if you don’t stay here use the spa if you’re in the neighborhood as they allow walk-ins. You will not regret it.
  • Free wi-fi throughout the property. Can’t say that about most hotels anywhere, especially in Europe so I hear. And it was a strong signal too. I never had any issues with Facetime for example.
  • The marble bathroom. Enough said.

Con:

  • It was far from everything. An hour to the airport and an hour by DART into Dublin (well 40 minutes from Bray once you get on the train – a 15 minute drive from the hotel). Which means at the end of a long day of sight seeing you can’t just get back to the hotel easily.
  • There is transportation available but really you will need to have a rental car. It’s honestly the only way to get around easily.
  • Expensive. And everything on site was expensive. Much more than I would ever pay to stay somewhere. I am cheap.
  • Food was limited menu-wise unless you eat at Gordon Ramsey. I had tried everything I wanted to try after 3 meals. And the menu in the Pub and Sugar Loaf Lounge is exactly the same.
  • The hotel and their people were way too eager and way too happy to help you. We came back one afternoon and were greeted by no less than 5 – FIVE – people at the front asking how our day was. I had no choice but to roll my eyes.
  • Very very international and not at all “Irish”. I don’t think I spoke to one person with an Irish accent in the entire joint. Maybe in the pub. I think. I’m not sure. Everyone else was from South Africa or France or Italy.
  • They are not “Green” at all. Every day there were new towels and new sheets and duvet cover on the bed. I wasn’t impressed. And if you try to get them to service only part of the room it confused them. On 2 occasions we tried to get only the tea and coffee refilled as we had used it all up. That took like 20 minutes and we had to repeat our request for nothing else 3 times.

Car: Dan Dooley Rentals – Nissan Micra

  • Not a bad rental company or vehicle. They had a van that picked us up at the airport terminal and dropped us off at our car. We did pay for the extra insurance charge though. And thank god we did! We lost a hubcap somewhere on the way to the Giant’s Causeway. We also scratched the paint with all the brush and narrow roads. If you go to Ireland just get it. Worth the expense I assure you. And I am not one to get it here in the US.
  • We took the car into Northern Ireland with no issue. And we did inquire about taking it to England and/or Wales or Scotland via the ferry but nixed that idea early. We were going to Ireland we were going to see Ireland. I’ll have to figure out a way to talk my husband into visiting England. Especially Leeds…I have a childhood friend who lives there now and I definitely should go see her… Anyway they were cool with us going to England if we had wanted to.
  • If you return the car empty they charge you €100. We paid anywhere between €1.30 and €1.60 in Ireland and about £1.30 in Northern Ireland. Basically the €100 was a ripoff. Especially when we tried to find a gas station on the way to the airport. Nothing. Nada. So even though it was basically full at the hotel we were just a bit short on gas by the time we got to the airport. No partial refunds which means we paid the €100. For about 1/4 of a tank. Whatever you can do to get gas before turning the car in do so.

Driving Tips & Routes

Since we stayed in one place for the entire week some of this is skewed. Again I don’t recommend doing that especially if you aren’t used to driving an hour or two to get where you need to be in your everyday life. Since both my mother and I live in places that call for a long bit of driving before getting anywhere we were used to it. But it might drive someone else mad.

  • STAY ON THE LEFT!! Our rental car had stickers all over the place, which helped, but just remember this. It was disorienting at first but after 10/15 minutes in the car each day it seemed normal. Honestly. Not hard or difficult nor scary for anyone used to the right side of the road. My mother did say her natural instinct was to pull to the right to get out-of-the-way and she had to remind herself to go left.
  • Even if you are scared to drive there just rent a car and do it. We saw so very much that public transportation won’t touch. It wasn’t much different from driving here (the mechanics I mean besides staying on the left) but be careful of Irish drivers! They are AWFUL drivers – never use turning signals, park where they feel like it, go the speed the sign says even if conditions don’t call for it, etc.
  • Do not drive in Dublin. I repeat DO NOT DRIVE IN DUBLIN. Don’t even bother with a car and just pick one up when you are leaving Dublin for other areas. Remember the Irish are terrible drivers. Now let’s magnify that with busy crowded city traffic. Just don’t. You will get frustrated and/or hit someone. Besides Dublin is completely walkable. I found it more walkable than even New York. It’s easy and the city center is small.
  • I used AA Ireland’s route planner for figuring out times, distances, directions, etc. I won’t go so far as to say it was 100% accurate (nothing ever is) but it worked exactly as well as Google Directions or even AAA here in the States (important because Google Directions did not work well in Ireland). It gave me nearly exact times & directions for getting everywhere except the Cliffs of Moher. It was right until Galway but by the time you get on the narrow, rock & hedge walled road and drive less than a lot of others you lose time. It is definitely time sensitive for locals. I would add at least 15 to 30 minutes to that section from Kinvara to Doolin.
  • Yes you can drive to Northern Ireland, hit the Giant’s Causeway by lunch, Belfast by dinner and get back to Dublin in plenty of time. It wasn’t even a long awful day (that would be the Cliffs of Moher). You can bother with the train and/or a guided tour from Dublin if you feel like it but really just rent a car and drive it. We did it in less time than with a guided tour I might add and got to see exactly what we wanted to (if we hadn’t given up in Belfast). Though staying a night in Belfast would be icing on the cake.
  • Driving everywhere wasn’t awful. We are used to it and got to see parts of Ireland that we would not have if we stuck to just one part of the country (like seeing bogs for example). But then again I love driving to visit somewhere new. You get to stop at local places, you see the countryside change before your eyes. It is an adventure for me. Don’t be afraid of it.
  • You have to pay for parking everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even the grocery store. Nothing has a dedicated free lot as far as I could tell. Maybe gas stations. And some hotels, but most certainly not all hotels. And the parking machines only take coins so make sure you have enough €1 & €2 coins on you before you park.

Getting Around Dublin

I strongly recommend mTrip not just for Dublin but any city you visit on any trip anywhere.

This is an offline (no wifi, no cell data!) GPS tourist app. The brilliance lies in the fact that it tells you which direction you are pointed in, where to go and gives you directions. Further it gives overviews of places and popular tourist spots along with their hours and any other information you need to visit. This thing saved my butt in Dublin. Best $5 I spent! I fully intend to use it in other cities I visit in the future.

Food & Restaurants

  • Gordon Ramsey Powerscourt – only ever had breakfast there but the food was divine! Expensive but divine. I definitely recommend it.
  • Avoca Cafe at Powerscourt Estate – awesome food and the best scone I had all week. Expensive though.
  • Any place a local is eating at – I grew up in a tourist location (mountains outside Denver) so I know this well. If locals eat there it is because it is good, cheap and worth the effort. No different anywhere else. That is how we found the amazing fish & chips takeaway place in Belfast. The place got super super busy while we were there. Best I have ever had.
  • If you want coffee, plain, hot & black, outside the USA you have to order it Americano. Just do it, they will ask you all confused if you don’t. So save yourself some time & effort. And they will ask if you want coffee or tea with everything you order. EVERYTHING. Either get used to it or order it when you are buying.
  • Everything is expensive because VAT tax (23%) has been already been added in. So unlike in the USA with taxes on top of everything else the tax is included in the price. That €4 Americano coffee is only €4. And yes that was the going rate for both coffee and tea there with tea being a tad cheaper (around €3 most of the time).
  • Tip 10%. I know I know but that is standard. No need to go overboard since wait staff get a living wage unlike in the USA.
  • You will have to ask for the check. Just remember that.
  • Buy cheap chocolate bars while there to bring back for people! The deserts and candy aren’t as sweet as here so most people in the States just love trying them. And I loved having access to the good chocolate!

Sites Visited & Seen

These are only my opinions and hence the classification for me. That’s also why I didn’t list anyplace I didn’t go. Take it all with a heaping handful of salt water.

Worth It:

  • Giant’s Causeway – I have been in love with this place since I was a kid. I am still in love with it. Stunning and amazing. And despite some of the BS reviews on the web it was a shorter drive time than getting to the Cliffs of Moher and it was on major roadways. Totally totally worth it.
  • Kilomainham Gaol – what a great way to really get familiar with a very sad part of Irish history. Especially since a lot of it directly related to my very existence and why my family came to the USA.
  • The Hop-on Hop-off Red buses – made sight seeing a breeze and the guides were mostly funny!
  • The Burren – nothing but a Martian landscape as far as the eye could see. Never seen anything like it anywhere.
  • Glendalough – go when the crowds have disappeared at the end of the day. Being there pretty much by yourself made the place come alive magically. So very cool to see.

Sorta Worth It:

  • The National Museum of Ireland Archaeology – great artifacts, amazing mummies, etc. Loved seeing the Tara Brooch for example. But quite a lot of it was repetitious. Lots of very simple gold jewelry for example so you don’t need long to see this place.
  • Book of Kells & Old Library – not worth it for the Book of Kells but definitely for the library itself. Amazing manuscripts all around. Very long wait though so get there when they first open for the day or don’t bother!
  • Guinness Storehouse – basically an astronomically expensive pint of Guinness that tasted the same as everywhere else in Ireland. A brewery tour is a brewery tour. But the view of Dublin can not be beat. Only go when it is not busy though or you wasted your time.
  • Dunluce Castle – if you’re in the neighborhood. Wish we could have toured but it was freezing and there is no roof!
  • Belfast – totally different from Dublin. Too bad we didn’t spend much time here.
  • Powerscourt Gardens & the Wicklow Moutains – beautiful! But not really worth it if you have to go out of your way to get here.

Not Really Worth It:

  • Cliffs of Moher – I’m glad I saw them (just like I am glad I went to the Grand Canyon) but I wasn’t blown away by them.
  • Dunguaire Castle Bangquet in Kinvara – I did this because my mother wanted to but honestly the food was mediocre. The entertainment was great but the rest of it didn’t make the experience.
  • Galway – to be fair I probably didn’t give it a chance but we drove for about 30 minutes and never found the docks. Mostly we nearly got lost. Could have been us I guess but we were following the signs.
  • Temple Bar – lots of drinking, lots of drunks, lots of loud people, lots of people. I was over it very quickly.
  • Grafton Street – see Temple Bar above. All of that applies here too except with shopping bags.

And as for photos of everything make sure to check out my iPhone photostream, my camera photostream, my YouTube channel and my mother’s photostream. As well as my posts:
Part 1 – Arrival & Glendalough
Part 2 – Northern Ireland & Giant’s Causeway
Part 3 – Dublin Day 1
Part 4 – Dublin Day 2
Part 5 – Powerscourt Estate
Part 6 – Cliffs of Moher & Dunguaire Castle

Ireland: Part 6 – Cliffs of Moher & Dunguaire Castle

May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

This is really long as it is our longest day in Ireland combined with coming home.

Got up very early, long drive ahead of us. Ate a breakfast of grocery pastries and tea (our room came with a tea and coffee drawer complete with several types of instant coffee and tea, cups and saucers and an electric tea kettle). We were in the car before 8 am.

Now I am going to say something controversial. I wasn’t impressed with Ireland. At least the interior of the island and the thousands of shades of green.

I know, I know. But see here is the thing – it looks like Iowa. Those of you who consider the center part of the USA “flyover” country have no idea what it looks like on the ground. And Nebraska looks nothing like Iowa. But with family and friends all throughout Iowa as well many many visits throughout time I am very familiar with this gorgeous state. It is identical to Ireland. I see now why so very many Irish settled in this part of the country. Including my family lines.

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See? Any Iowans out there care to back me up? Beautiful regardless. Just extremely familiar to me and my mother.

Some other photos I took during the day of the countryside (not on the way there):

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Again all pretty similar.

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Hard to see but this is a bog.

I am also sharing something I didn’t think I ever would. I am sharing my last name. Ok not my current, married, last name but my pre-marriage (I vomit a little whenever someone says “maiden” name). My last name isn’t Irish (in this line I actually descend from Germans over 250 years ago through Maryland and Pennsylvania). But there is a town in Ireland with the last name – Enfield. It was on the way to the Cliffs from Dublin so of course we got off the roadway to take photos.

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Just a little town in Ireland. But I am happy I stopped.

Originally we were going to hit Galway first then do the Cliffs. Instead we decided to do the Cliffs first. It was a much longer drive than we anticipated.

This is just as you get to the outskirts of the Burren. It is called Gragan.

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But to get to the Cliffs of Moher you have have to drive on the scariest road I have ever encountered in my life!!! And I am from Colorado where they have roads with only one side and a cliff on the other! No these were narrow with no shoulder and thick brush and rock walls on either side.

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The speed limit was 100KPH (about 60 MPH)! And we encountered a number of people who thought that was a MINIMUM along with buses going about that fast. *Runs away in fear* This was frightening!

Granted finally getting the Cliffs of Moher was worth it.

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Once we arrived at the Visitor’s Center we explored the center a bit then headed out to the Cliffs. Did not hike much but it reminded me of the Grand Canyon. Something you have seen so many photos of, are so familiar with, that the whole thing just seems…fake. I dunno, it’s hard to describe. But I felt the same there as I did at the Grand Canyon last year. Beautiful but eh I am over it.

After we got our fill and took as many photos as possible (way more than I posted here) we walked back to the Visitor’s Center and got something to eat in the cafe. It was probably the worst food we had the entire time. Prepackaged.

Then went shopping in the most complete gift shop I had seen so far. Bought a small bodhrain (traditional drum) with decorations among many other touristy things. I have since discovered it drives my husband nuts. So win-win!

Once we decided we had enough we headed out to the car and drove a different route through the center part of the Burren back to Kinvara and Galway.

Of course we drove the long way through (plenty of time). And drove past Leamaneh Castle on the way to the Poulnabrone Dolmen.

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The dolmen is a portal tomb dating from approximately 4200 BCE to 2900 BCE.

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And it is in the middle of, well not nothing, but it is very barren. Beautiful, but barren. Never seen anything like it. Is it any wonder that the Hunger hit this area hardest? I can directly trace one of my family lines to this area of Ireland as result of the Hunger. That held powerful sway while I was standing there. I will freely admit it.

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Anyway from there we drove up to Galway and basically discovered that this city is extremely confusing! Once upon a time there were several villages around Galway but it is now all Galway. Just made for confusing driving. Ultimately we never found the docks, were afraid we would get too lost and decided to just drive back to Kinvara and wait for the start of dinner.

We took a round about way back into Kinvara and waited outside Dunguaire Castle until it was time to head in for our castle banquet dinner.

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I walked all around the outside of the castle (TINY!) while waiting. Only a 5 minute walk. My mother had no idea I had even done it until I mentioned it to her the next day. Small castle. Spent a chunk of time waiting in the yard. Beautiful evening.

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Then once the doors opened we were given a glass of mead while we waited in the main area (was cellar once upon a time according to the signs) for everyone to arrive and for the show to get started.

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This is a painting near the entrance that shows the castle as it was in 1568.

They did a little rhyming welcome speech (in polyester Renessaince garb of course) and then headed up 2 flights of stairs to a hall lined with tables setup with our first course and pitchers of alcohol (best thing ever!). From there it was a bit of showmanship, in rhyme, alternating with courses.

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Salad with smoked salmon and soda bread; leek and potato soup; chicken with mushroom sauce, carrots, green beans, and potatoes; and apple pie with whipped cream for dessert

Once we got to dessert the main show began with lots of poetry and song focused on Galway and County Clare and Ireland. It was beautiful and informative. Too bad I was surrounded by Americans and Canadians! Oh and no video allowed just photos.

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After that was complete they opened the gift shop up for a bit. I bought yet another necklace (I had 5 now). A few more photos and then back to the car just as the sun was setting.

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Seriously some of my favorite photos of my entire trip.

We drove back to Enniskerry in the dark and got back to the hotel about 10:45 pm (a 2 3/4 hr drive). So there was bit of Facetime with my husband and then updating of Facebook and onto bed.

The next morning (Tuesday May 7) was our day going home. Or at least back to the States. I took a shower, got dressed, packed up. Then went and had one last Irish breakfast at Gordon Ramsey.

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I look at this picture and sigh now. So good. My mom then made a quick run over to Avoca/Powerscourt Gardens to pick up a few things she had decided she wanted after all (like Bewley’s coffee which she now has used all up and will be finding a source Stateside). In the mean time I went through everything to make sure nothing was forgotten.

We drove to the airport (about an hour away), dropped off the car, checked into our flight and went through Irish security. Much like ours honestly. Though anyone with trainers could go through without taking off their shoes. We waited on the other side where the main shopping area is. Last few bits of souvenirs so I spent nearly every Euro dime I had left (except for a few I had set aside previously for my scrapbook). This was all that was left after I plugged the remainder into a vending machine.

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Not too shabby! I gave them to my mom to pass out to nephews, little cousins, etc.

From there we went through Customs. Dublin is very unique as far as European airports are concerned as they have a US Customs office on site and you go through Customs before going to your gate. Thus when you arrive it is just like a domestic flight. If you fly from Europe to the USA at all this is supposed to save you oodles of time. Never having it done it any other way I have no idea. I do know I had ZERO people in front of me the entire time, from filling out my form to sitting down at my gate. It takes me longer to go through security at the Omaha airport (and that is 10 minutes, max).

So we head down 1 escalator to another floor, complete our Customs forms and head on through. I was concerned about this as well but even as a newbie it was easy. A rather bored woman asked me what food I was bringing back (since I had that checked on the form), just tea and commercially packaged candy. She asked me if I was traveling with anyone, where I was headed and then asked me to confirm that the suitcase on the screen (my checked piece) was mine. Once I did that I was free to go.

I then waited in a hall beyond for a minute, decided it wasn’t worth it standing in the middle of an empty hall so I proceeded to head to our gate. That involved going through security again, this time it was counted as US security. Basically they x-ray everything including your shoes but there is no metal detectors. Down another hall and there was the gate. I settled in, finished off my Euros in the vending machine and waited.

I waited a really long time for my mother! Turns out she told them she had seeds and Customs went through everything and took them. She had no idea they were banned and I had no idea either since I have 2 black thumbs and would never, didn’t actually, buy things I would have to plant. I must have ignored that part on the website. But I knew how much alcohol I could bring back without paying a duty!

Speaking of alcohol since I was waiting for our fight I wandered over to the one place I could buy anything anywhere near these gates. All the gates in this area go to the USA since it is past US Customs and as a result there is nothing here, just a tiny cafe with a crappy limited pre-packaged selection and a kiosk to buy last minute souvenirs like keychains. But the kiosk also has an entire wall of liquor. On that wall I found a couple of different things I could buy and bring home and settled on a bottle of mead, the same mead we had had the night before in Kinvara. I love mead but it is hard to get in the US. I had no idea how I was going to get it home from NYC (my clothes were in compression cubes and that bag was PACKED tight) but I ultimately decided to just wing it and figure it out in NYC.

Eventually my mother showed up. We waited. The flight got delayed 45 minutes due to a mechanical issue with our plane and we were moved to another gate & plane. Got loaded up and took off about 4 pm. Honestly the flight back sucked worst than the flight there. I was literally trapped by the guy in front of me. I could not get out. The flight attendant had to tell him to put his seat up so I could eat once they brought food around. Hated it. Still worth it but hated it completely.

Oh and the food was better going to Dublin than coming home. Sorry Ireland. Just how it is. I did get a scone and tea on the way back though. How delightful!

We arrived at JFK in NYC at exactly 6 pm. Stopped at an ATM to get cash and then picked up our bags. Took a cab to the hotel, which was right next to LaGuardia. Ordered pizza to be delivered for dinner. It was just ok. I didn’t expect much honestly. Watched some TV, called my husband and went to bed about 9 pm Eastern time (our bodies thinking it is 2 am).

Woke up at 3 am naturally. Sigh. And repacked everything. We took the hotel shuttle (aka a guy with a minivan) to the airport at 4 am. Checked into our flights, checked our suitcases. But nothing was open in the airport yet except for one place. So bought a crappy bagel and some coffee, which I spilled everywhere. It was then time to say goodbye to my mother. My flight left at 6 am and my mother’s was an hour after that. I flew on 2 mostly empty flights (the middle seat was empty both legs), first to St. Louis where I got in an hour early. That means I had tons of time to get Dunkin Donuts. I love Dunkin and Omaha just acquired their first Dunkin after 19 years of being absent here. Opened 2 weeks ago.

Anyhow then flew from St. Louis to home. One great thing I love about Omaha is that picking up your checked suitcase is easy peasy – I was off my flight, with my bag, waiting for my husband within 15 minutes of landing.

And that’s that. The jetlag coming home was way way worse than going. I have no idea why. It took me about a week to be normal again. Argh.

Only 1 part left – I am going to review every service used, every place gone (in short form) and basically sum up the trip for anyone else thinking of going to Ireland. Oh I guess 2 parts. I’ll share my scrapbook with you as well since it is complete except for a few food photos. My next project is to create a proper photobook. And that means going through about 3,000 photos. Argh.

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