It's been a while since I've done a blog update from my Ireland trip... 'tis the season to be caught up in the Christmas spirit! I've started a drawing challenge for the month of December called 'Drawcember' and I completely forgot about completing my blog - Time to finish! Read on to find out more about my Ireland trip, we've made it up to Friday, after this only blog post only 3 more until this website changes into something else... Thanks for reading!
Friday, October 26 - We got to sleep in! Yay! After two early mornings to go on our day bus tours, it was nice to have a slower morning. I had a wonderful rest in a soft warm comfortable bed. We took it easy, again bypassing the breakfast in the hotel. Instead opting to look for a café, and we stumbled across a really cute place called "Hansel & Gretel". The sweet scent of this bakery and cafe was just incredible. I opted to try a matcha latte and got the yummiest croissant ever.
At the hotel front desk, we purchased a day pass each for the 'Hop on, Hop off". This was a fun green double decker bus with entertaining, witty drivers which does a huge loop around the city with pick-up times every 10 to 15 minutes. One of the stops was the Kilmainham Jail. This was something Sarah really wanted to see, and the only way to go through it was by guided tour. Once we hopped off the 'hop on hop off' at the Kilmainham Jail, we got to skip the ticket line (as we had already purchased ours online) and had to wait in the courtroom for the tour to start.
The group size was about 25 people and it seemed to go by really fast. It was interesting to hear all the stories, political and personal of the prisoners who stayed here. It was an eye opener to the history of Ireland and a lot of the stories of family and lovers torn apart from being imprisoned here were very sad. The architecture was really interesting though, but I couldn't imagine being here when it was populated with prisoners. Many were imprisoned at a time for no real crime as per today's standards. Civilians were sent to jail for begging or asking for money. Some even purposely decided to get thrown into jail as here you were at least guaranteed meals and shelter during the days and night.
Walking through the hallways was quick & we more often than not were the last ones to get into the next room. I think we were starting to annoy our tour guide at times, but we couldn't help it. We wanted to explore the decrepit hallways and look into the cells, but this tour didn't really cater to that.
The saddest part of the tour was the walled outdoor courtyard where the only sentenced deaths were carried out. Here is where, if memory serves me correct, around 15 men were shot to death for their crimes. These were men fighting for Ireland's freedom to be their own country. One of the men had to be brought in by an ambulance as he had already suffered a wound in his legs which got infected and had spread. He was the only one shot at a different area in the court yard - right next to the door leaving the jail. Did I mention it was sad? The museum at the end of the tour housed the final letters from these men. Most of these letters where notes of apologies or love for friends and family. Heart breaking.
We got outside after the tour on this bright chilly day, and got to the bus stop... only to realize that Sarah had lost her day pass. Hoping the next bus guide would understand or be able to sell her a new pass we waited patiently and not 5 minutes later the green bus pulled up. We waited to be the last two to board....
We were greeted by the driver, who was as Irish as Irish could be, and he instantly became infatuated with my friend. She told him that she had lost her pass and he took her hand and told her not to worry. He professed that he would do anything for her, marry her even, and come back to Canada with her. It was cold out so when he took her hand she had said "You are warming my hands." to which he replied "... and you are warming my heart." I laughed. Needless to say, he let her on the bus without any issue, and also offered to drop us off at a spot that would be the shortest walking distance to the Guinness Storehouse.
He dropped us off here next to the river running through the city, and pointed us in the direction of which way to go. It was quite the walk, so we made sure to stop and do some sight seeing along the way. The architecture in Dublin is amazing. Stone everywhere! I was starting to get hungry and was starting to feel shaky. I was looking forward to getting a bite to eat at the Guinness storehouse and check my blood sugar levels after the long walk.
We got back to our hotel with lots of time to spare. I was excited and anxious. I was meeting people who I've been talking to and fundraising with for the past year. We went down to the restaurant earlier to grab some dinner, we were hella hungry. We got an appetizer, and didn't like it at all (first thing we ordered here and didn't like) I can't even remember what it's called... but it was thinly sliced raw meat... that's it... blegh. The main course was really good though! Gnocchi!
Meeting all the hikers was great. I got to meet Jennifer and Elaine who would be hiking with me on Sunday and after we were briefed on what to pack and what to expect with the trail, we took a walk with the girls (who just had arrived that day) throughout Dublin at night. We wanted to get to Temple Bar so we headed to Grafton Street first and just explored and chatted the whole way. Randomly we saw people in costume and momentarily forgot that it was the weekend leading up to Halloween. It was also a Bram Stoker festival throughout the city and they light up the buildings red as one of the ways to celebrate. It looked pretty spooky, but cool.
Temple Bar was cool. They had it dressed up to the tens in Christmas Decorations, and it was beautiful! They had baubles hanging from the ceiling and had dressed up a statue in a Santa outfit in the bar. It was really busy and packed, but we stayed to have a beverage and cheered to us finally getting to Ireland!
After our drinks, we headed back to the streets of Dublin, eventually finding our way back to the O'Callaghan Hotel. Tomorrow would our last free day leading up to the pre-hike/race dinner and our big hike day. This evening was a lot of fun. Lots of laughs and it was great meeting these ladies. They honestly helped make my hike as epic as it was and you couldn't have asked for any better Team Diabetes Members. We walked past a Cathedral walking back, and passed the Molly Malone Statue we have been walking to each morning to meet up for the bus tours, and then our hotel.
- I've lost count of how long it's been since I've had a cigarette!
- 2 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- Dublin at night is beautiful!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 3 more blog posts.
Thursday, October 25 - Another early morning, but we got to the bus pickup point with enough time! Ah-ha! We have time for Starbucks!..... and they were closed with a huge line-up outside waiting. Damn...Foiled again! We got on the bus, and it was much busier today. We fell asleep again awaiting our first rest stop, and what a rest stop! Between Dublin and Limerick is a magical place called Barack Obama Plaza. Upon entering we passed a bronze statue of Michelle and Obama waving us in. We got our coffee after walking through the entrance and viewing all the Obama Artwork. By this time the sun had finally risen and we could see our surroundings. The middle of Ireland is gorgeous; rolling hills, all the stone fences for the pastures.
We hit a little traffic jam when we were beside the River Shannon. Apparently a truck got stuck under a too low bridge. While sitting stationary, our tour guide (who was amazing by the way, Jennifer was her name I think) told us of Irish Folklores and provided us entertainment by playing music from artists who were from the area. At this point, around the river Shannon, we listened to the Cranberries and she told us how they were from the area.
To get a sense of how high the cliffs are, you could see two villages in the distance and this was the view of one of them. The sense of space from the views here are incredible. Such a huge expanse of land and in parts of it you can see for miles and miles, until the next rolling hill/mountain.
Continuing up the path was a look out tower. We headed in that direction. Once we got there we saw that it was an additional fee of 2 Euro's to go up to the top of it. Why not? So we climbed up the shallow spiral staircase to get the view from this point. Best 2 Euros spent!
Moving on from the tower we continued north up the coast. The nice, wide level stone pathways gave way to dirt paths worn down by who knows how many hundreds of thousands of foot prints? These paths were so incredibly close to the edge. I'm not afraid of heights but this made me feel quite jelly-legged. The rope bridge yesterday was nothing in comparison to this!
Continuing up North along the coast, our next stop on the way to Galway was a place called The Burren. It looked like a Lunar landscape. It's an immensely huge landscape of limestone. Sparse with vegetation, I felt like I was on another planet. Looking down in between all the rocks was a living maze of Ivy! We stayed here only 15 minutes. The bus ride from this point to Galway was so treacherous! Tiny roads literally right on the edge of a cliff drop into the Atlantic. Sarah had the window seat so she felt extremely uncomfortable most of the way.
Once we reached Galway we only had around an hour to explore, which is not a lot of time. We walked to the museum on the water to use the facilities and then went back up one of the main streets towards Murphy's Ice Cream shop. We had fun chatting in our 'Canadian Accent' to get a few laughs from the friendly servers. I got the 'Dingle Gin Ice-cream' and Sarah got 'Sea Salt and Coffee'. It was really good. We then passed a young fellow tap dancing for change and popped into the original Claddagh Jewellers.
When we got back and freshened up in our room, it was close to 9pm. Did you know the Bars in Ireland stop serving food around 8pm? We didn't find many places close to the hotel that were serving dinner but we went into the Lincoln Inn around the corner. The server said that he could make us a pizza, so we settled down and enjoyed our Guinness. There was a group of gentlemen playing music at their table. It was great entertainment - our first live music at a bar. After enjoying our low key relaxing evening we headed back to our room, where we were looking forward to sleeping in. Our first tour tomorrow isn't until later on in the morning.
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 3 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We didn't fall off the Cliffs of Moher!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 4 more blog posts.
Wednesday, October 24 -
Welcome to our first bus tour day! We booked 2. One on today; The Giant's Causeway, and tomorrow is The Cliffs of Moher! I can't wait... but we had to wake up at 5 am. We both didn't sleep all that great. One thing I've noticed is they really like pumping up the furnace and the heat. It was very warm and I woke up a few times just drenched in sweat under the heavy feather duvet.
So anyways, we figured we could stop at the Starbuck's near the bus pick up point when we get there... but... unfortunately my sense of direction is crap. I completely navigated us in the wrong direction. But we did get there and were surprised by the amount of people waiting around the Molly Malone Statue. We figured we wouldn't have enough time to get a coffee so we hopped on the bus without caffeine... not a good idea... well kind of. We were exhausted. Once we got on the bus, the tour guide gave a short description of the day and told us the first stop would be a pit stop in about 2 hours or so. He set off onto getting us to our destination and turned off the lights and microphone to let us all rest. So we fell asleep. The chairs were actually quite comfortable.
Our first stop was the Dark Hedges (Bregagh Road). Here is the exact wording off the bus tour website for this location;
"10.00 AM: Walk the Dark hedges a beech tree lined road of 150 trees planted in the 18th century . The Dark Hedges is seen as the King’s Road in the “Game of Thrones” and is one of the most iconic destinations for GOT fans."
The Game of Thrones site location crew traveled around Ireland and found this spot and it had to be used. Now it is a huge tourist spot, much to the dismay of the local residents. We parked in the parking lot of the Hotel built for cast and crew, so it was a little fast walk through a fairy garden and past some beautiful trees. I had no idea of what bigger trees we were walking to. It was insanely beautiful, even with the light rain. The one down side for these day bus tours is that the stops are short and sweet. There really wasn't any time to stay and explore. It would of been awesome to walk the length of the road. Here are some pictures of the first stop at Bregagh Road.
Our second stop was the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge;
"11.00 AM: The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge was originally erected by salmon fishermen and has been in use for 350 years. It is now a tourist attraction operated by the National trust. Take a 20 minute scenic walk before crossing the bridge suspended 30 meters above a ravine. Enjoy spectacular views from Carrick-a-Rede island before recrossing the bridge and continuing to the Giants causeway."
The walk here to the bridge was breathtaking! It was windy, chilly and the perfect way to perk up after a long bus ride. The colours of the water were mesmerizing and the air off the Irish Sea was so fresh! It was a gorgeous walk up, down and around the edges of the cliffs towards the bridge, in anticipation. They only let a few people cross at a time and then you do the walk back almost immediately. I was fine leading up to it, but... did I mention it was a windy day? It was a steep staircase down to the crossing. The moment I stepped on the bridge it started to swing, my knees got a little weak and my heart started racing a bit. I was happy to reach the solid land again.... only to have to turn around and do it again. After the amazing walk back to the bus, we got swept away to lunch. We had built up such an appetite! We went to the Giant's Barn which was a cafeteria style restaurant and it was very yummy. The gravy and Yorkshire pudding was delicious. We shared the strawberry meringue, and sat beside the bus tour guide. We were so hungry that I inhaled my food very quickly. We were so anxious to get to the Giant's Causeway!
We followed along the coastline west to the Giant's Causeway.
"12:30 PM: GIANT’S CAUSEWAY - On the journey there are spectacular views over Whiteparks Bay and Portbradden. We will have lunch before tackling the legendary Causeway. Stroll up to the very peak of the cliffs so that you get a panoramic view of the causeway, then descend down to the point referred to as the “Organ”. Alternatively, a mobility bus operates which can take you directly to the causeway for a small fee. This extraordinary natural attraction never fails to impress. Explore this fantastic natural attraction formed 50 million years ago."
We opted to pay a little extra for a tour guide who would walk us down to the Causeway and describe not only the geology and the history of all the sites, but also touch on some of the Lore for the Giant's Causeway and the giant by the name of Finn McCool . CLICK HERE to go to a link to the Wikipedia page, and on it, it describes the formations and also the myth.
After the guided tour, we had only 30 minutes to explore, and it is a 20 minute walk back up to the visitor's center. We decided to hop onto the shuttle bus instead, so it would give us a few more minutes down on the causeway. It was so neat. It was like a huge natural staircase. It was fun to climb and make our way closer towards the water. They did have a person working to stop people from getting too close to the water, which was smart. It was windy, cold and the waves splashed up onto us. Again, it was super brisk and a great wake-me-up for the day.
Once we shuttled back up to the main tour bus, we got transported to the last stop of the day; Dunluce Castle Ruins. "3:15 PM: DUNLUCE CASTLE - Once we finish immersing ourselves in the legends of the Giant’s Causeway, we head to the impressive Dunluce Castle. This a 15th century castle which was once home to the MacDonnell clan. It has been featured in Game of Thrones and is said to be the inspiration for CS Lewis’ fictional castle, Cair Paravel in the famous “Chronicles of Narnia”. Explore this famous castle at your leisure."
The light rain could not stop us from more exploring. These ruins would of been an amazing manor in it's day before it fell in ruin. CLICK HERE to read about this cool spot in Wikipedia. It was fun to walk up the stone staircase to a ruined tower. The scenes out to the Irish Sea were intense. We stayed here and walked around for about 40 minutes.
We were done visiting all the locations on the tour for today. We got comfortable in our bus seats and slept on the way back. Once we got dropped off back in Dublin we stopped at another O'Donoghue's for fish and chips, and of course, a Guinness. We then meandered back to the hotel and went straight to bed for it would be another early morning with our second bus tour. If it was anything as great as today's tour, then we would be in for a treat. I've wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher ever since my Aunt Anne told me about visiting there when she went. It might be another tear jerker of a day.
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 4 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We got to stand on the Giant's Causeway.
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 5 more blog posts.
Tuesday, October 23rd
I tossed and turned at night in the Castle. I will admit, between the rich dinner sitting heavy on my tummy, other muscle soreness and feeling a bit spooked from... trying to get spooked, I didn't sleep well at all. We had a lazy morning in and had decided to take it even easier by ordering "Breakfast in Bed". I got the Traditional Irish Breakfast, and I must admit; I am not a fan of Black Pudding. What is black pudding, you ask? Well, the picture of the plate (seen below) with the eggs and bacon, you can see 2 round things... one very dark? That is the Black Pudding. Ok, but Colleen... what IS black pudding? Wikipedia defines it as "a type of blood sausage originating in Great Britain and Ireland. It is made from pork blood, with pork fat or beef suet, and a cereal, usually oatmeal, oat groats or barley groats."..... needless to say after sampling a tiny bite, it was not my favourite.
After breakfast, as I had already packed and did my morning routine, I opted to go out and walk around the grounds one more time before we checked out of the castle.
Our chauffeur, in a nice Mercedes, picked us up after Sarah had to pull me off of the Castle. Ha. Joke. Our driver was so friendly and helpful. He told us about the hot spots to visit in Dublin and helped us know what to expect. I had mentioned how I wanted to visit Pheonix Park and see the deer... so he took that way and stopped to let us out and get closer to the deer! This was my favourite capture (seen below). There were so many of them. We were only out of the car for about 10 minutes and eagerly jumped back in as the wind was so intense!
When we reached the O'Callaghan Davenport (first rude service from front desk) we got up to our room & started to unpack. We would be staying here for the remainder of our vacation; 7 more sleeps! I really liked the bathroom here, very bright & a great big raindrop shower head. The view from this window was a drastic change from the view from the Castle window, but it was still alright. The Pub called the Ginger Man seemed like a hop'n place later that night and we made a point to check it out before we left Ireland, as it was so conveniently close.
It was now around 2pm-ish and our big Breakfast was wearing off. We went and sat ourselves down in the Hotel Restaurant. While Sarah enjoyed a Chocolatini with sandwich and fries, I decided to try the Super Food Salad. It sounded amazing! Baby kale, charred avocado, couscous, apple baked ricotta, quinoa popcorn, lemon dressing and I added chicken! It was a HUGE salad.
During lunch, we agreed to go walk around and check out where our pick-up point in the morning would be; 6am the next morning at the Molly Malone statue. We also decided to stop by the tourism place to confirm our bus tours were still a go for Wednesday and Thursday. So with our minds at ease for the upcoming sight seeing days, we took to Grafton street to shop! To be honest, we both were fairly underwhelmed. Other than the Claddagh Jeweler's, the only other store that was entertaining was the Disney store... but once we got down to the lower level it smelled like sewer back-up. We took our pics with the Hulk and high tailed it out of there to catch our breath.
We continued down Grafton until we saw the corner entrance into a park called St. Stephens Green. I am so proud of Sarah. For someone with a huge fear of birds, she walked through that park like a boss. It was so heavily populated with pidgeons (with no respect for personal space), and seagulls (the size of turkeys). There were also swans, ducks, and magpies. We also saw a crane or 2. Honestly.... bird poop everywhere! At least 25 birds for 1 person in that park.
Once we got out of the park we wanted to wet our whistle with a Guinness. Honestly it tastes so great over here. Creamy and smooth and filling like a meal. We found a bar that was called O'Donoghue's (and found out there is more than one O'Donaghue's in Dublin). This place was pretty much a bar set up in an alleyway with heat lamps galore. The staff were up beat but they didn't serve food here. So after a nice relaxing beer in an alleyway, we crossed the street to check out a grocers. We pick up some food for the evening and got us some breakfast to eat before heading out the next morning. We headed back to the hotel, got cozy and settled down for the night. It was going to be an early morning!
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 5 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We are in Dublin Ireland!!!!!!!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 6 more blog posts.
Monday, October 22nd
I slept for 12 hours! I woke up and spent the morning out on the veranda while Sarah got ready. It was a beautiful day. Nice, sunny, bright and a little cool. Perfect for exploring the grounds! We had slept through breakfast, but didn't care. Reception called us to let us know they had a porter ready to pick us up from the lodge when we are ready to bring us to our Castle room. So after a very leisurely morning in the room we were ready to be brought to the Castle! We said goodbye to the lodge & the same guy who portered us yesterday helped us with our luggage & brought us straight to our new room. Whiling being driven through the Courtyard our driver helped explain how we would get to the forest paths of Dun A Ri (A place I was eager to visit and walk through). Afterwards we followed him up through the Castle to our new room. He exchanged keys with us and we went into Room #33 to see what it was like.
When you first entered through the door there was a small hallway with a writing desk, then your turn left into the main bedroom. Decorated with antique furnishings there was an old dresser with a TV (never watched it) a sofa and lounge table with floor lamp, a table with 4 chairs and a bottle of water. The beds were warm and soft like in the lodge room and we had a separate closet area with iron, coffee maker, dresser, shelf and clothes rack. The bathroom was HUGE! Complete with a claw foot tub and stand up shower, it was bigger than my bedroom back home! At our window there was a built in seat which was lovely to sit at and admire the country side and listen to the birds who lived on the castle turret next to our room.
After a little unpacking, we explored the castle a bit. This place is so mazing. Tons of stairs everywhere. No shortage of portraits hanging on the walls, and the statues and old furnishings where everywhere. They had Autumn inspired decorated tables scattered throughout in the main building. We went into different rooms and took a look at everything we could. After exploring, we made our way to the Derby Bar for our first meal of the day.
We settled down by a windowed table for two, & placed our order. I got a cup of tea, the soup of the day (Curried Parsnip = best soup ever), and a Caesar Salad. It was pretty yummy. Perfect food to fill up on for our nice long walk. While we were enjoying our lunch I noticed a new posting from Cabra Castle on Instagram (yes I follow them). The post was "Oscar is out in front of the Castle enjoying the sun this morning." Oscar is the resident Irish Wolfhound that I had yet to see. I dropped my fork and raced outside to see him. He is stunning & regal. On the way back into the castle, I struck up a conversation with the ladies at reception and they proceeded in telling me how to get to Dun a Ri. They were extremely helpful. I went back into the Derby Bar and finished lunch with Sarah and then we went up to our room to ready ourselves for our afternoon walk.
Monday, October 22nd - AFTERNOON WALK
Dun a Ri Forest Path
Cabra Castle has a long private drive called 'Cabra View' lined with old oak trees. Along the drive is also a cow pasture beside a creek. Once we got down to the end of Cabra View we walked down R179 a bit to get to the pathway entrance and short cut to get to the forest paths. Here is a rough map of our route this afternoon. The castle also has a 9 hole golf course which we walked through. They have a really pretty deer statue halfway down the drive. So there was a lot to see on our way to the forest which was very nice.
Here is the description of the Park from their Official Website:
" Dun a Ri Forest Park forms part of what was formerly the Cabra Estate which was owned by the Pratt family. Legend stretches back to the time of Cuchullain the Gaelic warrior who rested in these woods while fighting the armies of Queen Maeve of Connaught. The O’ Reilly family owned the lands up until the end of the 16th century when they were acquired by Thomas Fleming who built Flemings Castle . The ruins of the castle can still be seen in the park. The estate was acquired by the Pratt family and they built the town of Kingscourt in the years 1760-1770.The lands were acquired by the Irish Forest Service in 1959 and were developed into a forest park in the early 1970s.
There is a great diversity of wildlife in the park.
The flora is varied and in many areas spectacular. The tree storey is dominated by oak and ash but includes many other species often with an under storey of hazel, holly and rhododendron. The ground is, in season, carpeted with a rich layer of plants including snowdrops, bluebells, wood anemone, woodrush, foxgloves, wood sorrel and a wide range of ferns.
Walking is a great way to experience the delights of Dun a Ri while also benefiting both physical and mental health. Set your pace to suit your enjoyment and you will quickly feel fitter and better.
There are a number of beautiful sculptures within the park. "
This was when we took the same path back towards the castle. I loved this forest. I really want to go back and walk it again. Maybe I will go back to Ireland in the future. Well... when I do, I will make it a point to get here again.
Monday, October 22nd - GETTING BACK TO THE CASTLE
Looking forward to dinner and beer! This was a nice relaxing afternoon.
The best first day so far in Ireland!
Monday, October 22nd - DINNER
This restaurant is so pretty! We dressed up and got our table and started off with a bottle of Red and some hand-made bread. Yummy Buttered Rosemary Seasoned Buns to start it all off.
We got the 5 course meal; Bread, Starter, Soup, Main Course, Dessert and Coffee.
- I ordered the Deep Fried Brie with Cumberland Sauce, & Braised Red Cabbage for my Starter.
- Then we got the Hand-made Soup of the Day which was Wild Mushroom.
- My main course was the Char-Grilled Supreme of Irish Chicken, with Chorizo & Cheese Stuffing, presented on Mushroom, Garlic & Mixed Pepper Sherry Cream (I picked off the Peppers, but still yummy).
- My Dessert was the Raspberry & Pistachio Parfait.
We finished off with Freshly ground White Coffee. Sooooooooo Goooooood!!!
It was a great meal, filling! Which is needed as we had to fuel up before going Ghost Hunting!
Monday, October 22nd - GHOST HUNTING
It was nearing 11 pm and we went out exploring to see what sort of spooky things we could find in Ireland's most haunted Castle to tell Sarah's kids, and my niece about!
It was fun looking for some scary things. There were flickering lights, and a dark spooky ballroom but we didn't see much else. We finished the night off with a drink in the Derby Bar and headed up to our beds to finish off the day. Tomorrow we check out from the castle, and make our way into Dublin!
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 6 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We are in a Castle in Ireland!!!!!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 7 more blog posts.
Those who are friends with me on Facebook will probably have seen some of these photo's before,
but now I am writing in a little more detail, so hopefully these images make more sense.
Saturday, October 20th
Today is Travel Day! It's finally here! This is the first time I've ever flown over-seas!
We were so anxious to get through security and settle into our flight, so we got there way early. Our flight left at around 10:40pm.
Here's me and my Bestie. We are settling in for a 7 hour flight to Heathrow, then a 3 hour lay-over, then another 1.5 hours to Dublin, then another hour and 15 minutes to Cabra Castle.
Sunday, October 21st
I tried to sleep but it was so uncomfortable, even with a pillow and blanket. The lay-over, while only being 3 hours, felt much longer. We grabbed a breakfast/lunch (as it was 10:55 am when we landed) and napped on the benches in the terminal. When we landed in Dublin, I felt so incredibly queasy and exhausted, but we had made it to Ireland! Finally!
Ireland is a beautiful country and at this moment I still have only been seeing it through a window. We had a chauffeur service pick us up at the Dublin Airport and it was cool seeing my name on a sign in the arrivals area. Our driver John was friendly and informative. We got spooked initially when getting into the comfortable Mercedes, when our driver got into the passenger side to drive... well wait... It would take a while to get used to this driving on the other side of the street. So happy we are not driving a rental here. Everything is still so green here!
It was surreal getting driven up the long private drive to the Castle! It was a calming location in the country-side surrounded by farms and manors north of Dublin in the County of Cavan. A very peaceful spot, perfect to relax and calm down after all our traveling. We were dropped off at the main lobby and immediate was in awe. There were suits of armour, statues and antique furnishings everywhere. Off the main desk was a comforting and warm little den waiting area. Red décor, a fire burning and comfortable seating was very welcoming while they set up our stay and gave us our room key for the Lodge.
Walking from the cabin after a lovely shower, up to the castle was great. It was nice to stretch our legs. There was a small private residential road behind our lodge with a gorgeous old stone house. We went up a lit path (Narnia Lamps for the win) and it was coming onto the time when the sun was setting so all the lights were starting to flick on. We walked through the Courtyard (awesome architecture and doorways) and found a back way into the castle.
Maybe it was because we were ready to fall asleep at the table, or the fact we hadn't eaten much but our first Guinness's in Ireland went down way too easy. By the time my Beef Stew made it to me, I inhaled it and had ordered another drink.
After dinner we snooped around the castle outside in the dark. We found our way back to our room after walking through Mitzie's Garden and down the private drive to the Private Lodges. They light up the exterior of the castle and all the majestic old oaks so perfectly.
Yes, I am hugging that tree... I'm a tree hugger, I guess. The Oak trees here are stunning.
I'll be honest, I don't remember if we did much of anything when we got back to the room. I literally passed out and slept for 12 hours!
The next day will be in the next post :)
Hope you enjoyed this first one. Our first few hours in Ireland at the Castle were great!
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 7 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We are in Ireland!!!!!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 8 more blog posts (one for each Vacation day)
Welcome to my last weekly blog!
Mon, Oct 8 - 9.49 km
Tues, Oct 9 - 0.85 km
Wed, Oct 10 - 2.73 km
Thurs, Oct 11 - 1.03 km
Fri, Oct 12 - 1.75 km
Sat, Oct 13- 8.07 km
Sun, Oct 14 - 4.09 km
Well, this is it....
This is my last weekly blog.
I will of course blog about my Ireland trip when I get back, but I will take my time and enjoy sorting through images and collecting memories to share.
I'm happy, but a bit sad.
I'm happy that I don't have to blog weekly anymore, as that was starting to feel like a chore. To be honest, I'm not sure if anyone other than my best friend and family reads this blog.
I'm also happy for the future direction I will take this website. My plan is to turn this website into something more of a personal portfolio centered around my art and creative projects. I will still keep a blog, but only when something interesting happens... maybe dabble a bit in YouTube. I plan on working on my physical health in private, in hopes to feel less anxious about broadcasting how I am doing every day and feeling guilty when I do nothing.
I'm sad because this is soon to be an end of a life chapter for me. I joined Team Diabetes as a means to move more and start getting my Diabetes in check. I have learned so much! Fundraising the $7600 that I did in ten months was so incredibly stressful. I realized how much I don't enjoy asking people for money. I also witnessed a lot of good in people (you know who you are), but also had my eyes open up to some negativity too. I realized who was good on their word and truly supported me. It was an eye opener. New relationships formed, while existing relationships weakened. During this time, I've lost 2 loved ones and a dear friend. The thought of their support and encouragement at the beginning of this journey has helped spur me on to continue.
Okay - enough reflecting - onto the blog!
Monday, October 8th - Today is a holiday. Yay for Thanksgiving. When Mom, Matt and I went to the Pumpkin Farm yesterday we noticed the Algonquin trail crossed Shaw Road and continued what looked like all the way to Pakenham. We decided to tackle just from Shaw Road and come back into Arnprior. It was a nice walk. We were the only walkers though (until closer to town). I think about 8 RTV's and 9 bicycles passed us. We stopped to watch hundreds of starlings in a field and enjoyed the fall colours in the wild grasses.
Thursday, October 11th - Oh my Goodness, Oh my Goodness, Oh my Goodness!!! I got to go to the Justin Timberlake concert! It was so incredible! We had 100 level seats and with my naked eye, I could see details in his face! A little too far to throw my bra though... :P
It was unreal! What a great show! So entertaining!
The lighting and set design was phenomenal. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted 5 mini video clips that you can view. I had so much fun with the ladies I went with. Here are some of my favourite shots from my evening. The concert went by too quickly.
I can't believe how quickly I reverted into my giggly teen-age self... I swear he pointed at me :P
Saturday, October 13th - Today was a big day! I spent my day (pretty much all afternoon) at the Mill of Kintail. The photo contract I had to reschedule a couple weeks back is now for today, and I'm kind of happy we had our photo session later on. The colours are beautiful and it was a perfect backdrop for this beautiful family. I scoped out the location earlier before the family showed up. Unfortunately there was a wedding happening in the cloister so we had to avoid that area, but that was alright. This place is so photogenic - so was the family! Here are a couple of my favourites from their session. (By the way, really fun people. Very chill and easy going. I laughed a lot which was nice. I'm happy they enjoy these images.)
** Please do not use these images without the consent of both the Photographer (me) or the family. **
Sunday, October 14th - Happy 36th Birthday to me! :) Today started off with a nice lazy relaxed morning with a birthday pancake. I then took Sneakers for a walk in the Grove where we met up with mom. What a perfect day. The weather was amazing. On our walk we saw a huge red headed pileated woodpecker and 3 chickadees landed momentarily on my hand. I didn't have any seed unfortunately but I know where to go back and give them some again. I also got some more cool fungi pictures - I honestly don't know what my obsession stems from this year... oh, I wonder if I'll see any mushrooms in Ireland? Here are some pics of my morning walk through the Grove. Oh and remember those wreaths I talked about earlier? Ya! They were all gone. I hope I was able to bring a smile to a couple faces :)
The following days (October 15th to the 20th) I will be preparing for my trip, working at tying up projects at work and trying not to get sick by the time I leave the evening of the 20th.
I would like to thank you all for hanging in there and sticking with me during this journey.
Wish me luck in conquering Wicklow Mountain in Ireland! My hike is on the 28th.
(Expect something in the way of a Travel blog update in the week or two following my return.)
- 27 weeks Smoke-free. I now consider myself a non-smoker and look forward to being a non-smoker for the rest of my life.
- 13 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- 5 days until my friend and I get on a plane & we leave for Ireland !!!!!
- This is my last weekly blog!
Team Diabetes and Diabetes Canada is an organization that means a lot to me and I will again join another hike in the future but will be focusing on personal goals first before picking up fundraising again. Please still donate to Diabetes Canada through one of my fellow members.
Sandra Sofalvi / Rachel Secours / Harry Flint / Robert Muir / Erin & Warren
Just look them up on the website.
Thanks for checking in, for the last time!
I won't see you next week! :P
What heals and centers You?
Mon, Oct 1 - 8.44 km
Tues, Oct 2 - 0.74 km
Wed, Oct 3 - 4.22 km
Thurs, Oct 4 - 0.59 km
Fri, Oct 5 - 2.51 km
Sat, Oct 6- 10.08 km
Sun, Oct 7 - 1.8 km
Monday, October 1st - During lunch I accompanied a couple of co-workers for a quick 30 minute walk through the forested paths near work, but I didn't feel truly calm until I set foot into the Grove on my own in the evening.
I cannot tell you how much The Grove means to me. It's changed so much since I was a child, but it is still just as important to me. From being introduced to it as a kid, and walking through it with my family, to now walking through it with Mom, or Sneakers, or just myself.
The trees have taken a beating through the elements and a lot of the old White Pines are having a hard time. I walk through the Grove and can pin point exactly where I am as there are different scenes. There is the tightly knit Pine Grove with the reed grass that reminds me of bamboo. There is the main path where the trees tower over you as you walk under them.
There are the Trilliums that grow in spring, and the mushrooms that grow in summer and fall. There is the field filled with milkweed and young birch, where the birds love to chirp and the monarchs flew in numbers this past year that I haven't seen in a long time. There is the Sumac path which is thinning now and is vivid with red. It is by far the BEST place in Arnprior, and one of the reasons I like to call it home. My evening walk of 6 kilometers started in the Grove, as usual. and continued up through town.
Tuesday, October 2nd - I didn't walk too much today, as it was rather busy at work and in the afternoon when I picked up Matthew and Sneakers from work, I noticed Sneakers was urinating blood. I decided to stay home and keep an eye on him throughout the evening and therefor worked on a personal project. I crafted my own watercolour sketchbook from one of my Uncle's old English books from school in 1968. It will now become my Ireland travel book and I will be bringing this with me, along with a little pocket watercolour set an awesome co-worker is lending me. Here is my trial title page getting used to them.
Wednesday, October 3rd - Today Sneakers had a vets appointment in the afternoon. We made it to town early and I knew he knew something was up. I took him for a little stroll around the park to work off some nerves (mostly mine) and then took him to the vets. After his check-up, and other "maintenance" from a urine sample collected it was determined that he has a bladder infection. he is on meds leading up to my vacation and then will need another sample test done to determine if it's cleared.... oh and he is on a diet! His max calorie count a day is 165!!! And here I am complaining about 1300 calories! Ha!
Thursday, October 4th - A zero day. I took down my little fundraising thermometer page I had up in my workstation at work. I reflected on it and all the work that I did to get to this point, along with all the generosity friends, family and complete strangers have shown me. Some of these people who helped support me who I had never met before, I know consider a friend. In the evening I went to bed early after watching Netflix for a while. Oh yes, and I worked on a page in my personal sketchbook journal.
Friday, October 5th - My manager let us out of work early, and so we decided to do our weekend shopping tonight. After walking through the crowd of shoppers (it felt like the end of the world) we came home and relaxed. I started making some grapevine wreaths from the backyard - I have an idea, but that's all I am saying! (You will find out what I am doing with them next week!)
Saturday, October 6th - I've been looking forward to this day for a while. Mid-Summer I signed up for a course that would take place on this day and it was called "Discover the Fun with Fungi" guided by Richard Aaron. Located at the High Lonesome Nature Reserve, a place I had been eager to hike through again since last September. I had a great time. It was a chilly day and at times I wished I had dressed warmer, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. I learned a lot! From slime molds to hunters hearts to the excitement we witness when Richard discovered a species of Fungi he had never come across before but knew of. It was pretty cool. There was a big group too. Afterwards when we congregated at the starting point, mom and I opted to continue back out on the trail to hike up to the Old Oak Tree. Setting out on White Pine Way, we took the left trail called Wolf Trail. We stayed on this one up until North Wind Trail to see the Old Oak Tree. This is where it got interesting. A tree had fallen on the path and we lost sight of the markers and ended up getting a little lost, for only about 10 minutes. We saw a clearing in the general direction we needed to go and thankfully saw a sign showing "Bear Rump Clearing" and were able to find ourselves on the map again... unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to the plants I was walking through and got COVERED in tiny burrs! I took a lot of photo's from the day and I'm attaching a slideshow below that you can look through.
Sunday, October 7th - Today Mom, Matt and I went to the Needham Pumpkin Patch on Country Rd 29 on the way to Pakenham. It was fun. Who knew you could spend so much on Pumpkins? :)
We looked in the market building and I was so tempted to try out walking through that corn maze but we didn't have time. Matt and I wanted to decorate our front yard a bit before Mom and I headed up to my sister's for family dinner.
- 26 weeks Smoke-free. Can you believe it? A half year! Go me !!!!!!!!!!!!
- 21 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- 13 days until my friend and I get on a plane & we leave for Ireland !!!!!
- The next blog will the last weekly blog until I get back from Ireland !!!
(I will create a blog the week I return to talk about my experience, but that will be the last one !!!!!)
Feel Free to still donate to Diabetes Canada through one of my fellow members.
Sandra Sofalvi / Rachel Secours / Harry Flint / Robert Muir / Erin & Warren
Just look them up on the website.
Thanks for checking in!
See you next week!
Colleen lives in Arnprior and is working to control her Type 2 Diabetes by training and Fundraising for the 2018 SSE Airtricity Wicklow Mountain Hike in Ireland with Team Diabetes.