16 August 2010


Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm not proud of it, but sometimes like when you are spending a lot of money for a sit down dinner in Snowdonia, you would like to enjoy a few bites before taking the little darling out to the car. I ran out of Polo mints (Tick Tacks work too) - they usually buy anywhere from 3 - 5 minutes. He threw the crayons I offered - sometimes they work and you if you're really lucky you can get up to 20 minutes. He had been on a walk with Sam (5 minutes) and the ice water was empty (another 5), so I gave him the camera.
AJ's picture

AJ's photo

AJ taking pictures

Probably not the best thing, but we got another 10.

13 August 2010

Day 1 - I Lost Laney

For Mother's Day (the American one) Sam arranged for Laney and I to go to Paris.  With the boys in school, Sam and AJ dropped us off at the local train station on a Friday morning. After way too many games of I-spy we arrived at Victoria station and from there we took the tube to the station where we boarded the Eurostar to Paris.  By this point I was really wishing we had backbacks rather than the suitcase and giant handbag, but we were going to Paris and one must look presentable.  But the stairs, so many stairs, and the lugging, so heavy, and the lack of hands, oh how I needed one more hand for Laney... Anyway, we arrived at the Gare de Lyon, but we needed to be at the Gare du Nord, so after battling the gypsies we found our platform and took the RER to the other station.  We smashed into the train along with all of the other Friday commuters and before we knew it we were there.  We stepped out of the station and that is when the magic happened.

On that day, May 28, 2010, I lost Laney to the world.  She is only 4, but she will be forever changed.  Sam calls her his "little French girl" and she is - she embodies everything that is quintessiantially French.  Her little eyes opened to a bigger world and she can't wait to go back. In fact, she asks a least twice a week to go again.  

So, without anymore blabbing (oh perhaps just a bit, but let's call it a narration) - our trip in photos:

croque monsieur

First stop, a Croque Monsieur at a nearby cafe. 

Jardin des Plantes

With some food in our bellies we walked across the river to the Jardin des Plantes.

On our way to Notre Dame

We shared a laugh with some local ladies on our way to Notre Dame - Laney was being a goof ball as per usual.

Notre Dame

We made it.

Watching dancers in front of Notre Dame Street Dancers

We walked around to the front of the church and found some street dancers performing.  The minute Laney saw them we were not budging.  By the time it was over the cathedrial was closed, but she didn't care.  She was just happy to have been able to put some money in the hat.

River Seine

Getting a bit tired, we walked back along the river until we got to a bus stop to catch a ride back to our hotel.  Rather than going out for dinner, we opted to put or feet up with a bauguette and some cheese.

Faux Pas

I think it was a wise choice considering my faux pas - stylish shoes-1 feet-0. 

Day 2 - Girls On A Mission

With it clearly in our sights - it was Le Tour Eiffel or bust.

Pont Neuf

We bought ourselves a pass and took the Metro to (what I thought was) a stop near the Notre Dame where we could catch the Batobus. 


After a bit of walking we made it back to Notre Dame, but this time we actually went in.  The stained glass was just as beautiful as I remembered.

Stained glass Notre Dame 1

We got on the boat and got off at every stop.


The first stop got us nearly to the Louvre.  We walked over and popped in to see the Nike (one of my top 3 favorite sculptures) and take a peek at Mona's Smile.  Okay, so I held Laney up to see the thing and off we went.  It's a must see, b-u-u-u-t-t, not a real favorite of mine. 

Nike of Samothrace

We walked around the gardens taking photos and just minding our own business...

Louvre Gardens 2

And then out of nowhere our "little french girl" was accosted by a group of paparatzi posing as tourists.  I wasn't too worried given the extensive security (yep, those guys in the bushes with machine guns), but still the poor thing wasn't sure what to do. 

Lady at the Louvre Lady at the Louvre 2
Soldiers at Louvre

After a short while, surprise, surprise, Laney was hungry so we had lunch at an outdoor typical Parisian cafe.

At the Cafe

Then it was back to the boat - this time we got off at the Champs-Elysees stop.


As we headed down the tree lined street we came across a crepe stand.  Another must for Laney and it did not disappoint
Crepes on the Champs-Élysées

A bit of shopping and it was back on the boat if we were going to get to that tower.  Well, okay we took the Metro back to the Louvre so we wouldn't have to walk so far - it took more time, but our dogs were barking.  Finally we were back on the boat and 5 mintues away from the creshendo of the day Laney fell asleep.  If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is never wake a sleeping child.  So, we stayed on the boat for the full 1 hour and 45 minute circle and then we had arrived.  Laney's excited giggle had everyone on the boat just as excited.  We made our way over, but it was surprisingly crowded.  Not only was there a huge soccer (oh, excuse me, football) match, but some imbicile was trying to set a world record by roller blading off the Eiffel Tower.  It was a mad house.  There were so many people crowed around the base of the tower that I began to panic - those sotries of people being trampled to death in crowds kept playing through my head.  It really was scary to not be able to move so we decided to retreat from the crowd a bit and sit and have, you guessed it, another snack.  French fries this time, but somehow fries taste just a bit better when eating them under the Eiffel tower. 

La Tour Eiffel 2

Laney at the tower
(If you look carefully to the right of the photo you may see what we saw from the young and old a few times in this otherwise lovey city.  Thank goodness we already ate!)


Pomme frites under the La Tour Eiffel

Back on the boat one last time and as we headed back to our hotel.  In search of a Metro station we walked though the St. Germain district. 

St Germain district

St germain

We enjoyed a simple dinner and then we were then off to bed to rest up for our last day.

Day 3 - Backpacks and Boys

Our final day was a short one, so we stuck close to the hotel and walked over to the Bastille.


And came upon a market!  The colors and smells of the fresh produce were amazing.  There was a woman preparing the biggest batch of Paella I have ever seen.  Unfortunately we had just had breakfast and were stuffed, but sometime soon we'll be seeing her again. 

Paella at the market

Well, I was stuffed, but Laney, of course, found a bit more room to put another crepe.  Thankfully we found another stand at the small street market at the Viaduc des Arts.

Crepe near Viaduc des arts

After our walking tour it was time to pack up and make our way back to the station and, if you can imagine, Laney was hungry again.  So, it was one last jambon beurre for Laney before we got on the train.

one last bite at gare du nord

It was a quiet ride back. 


I think we were both worn out and, truth be told, we missed our boys. Given this was a reconissance of sorts we'll be back with backpacks and boys. 

12 August 2010


Adare Park

The kids were quite excited to find American style doughnuts in Adare, so we snapped them up and headed to a little park in the center of town.  As you may recall, one thing we always do while traveling is feed birds.  Unfortunately we were unable to locate pigeons in Ireland, so the children fed the crows.  As per usual, AJ took his to the extreme and chucked his whole 1.20 Euro doughnut and the crows went wild. 

Feeding birds


I guess at the end of the day 1.20 is not a bad price to pay for a bit of entertainment and a lot of laughs. 

11 August 2010


Because the ferry left early in the morning, we stayed one night in Wales.  While there, we drove through part of the gorgeous Snowdonia park and enjoyed a delicious meal at the Bryn Tyrch Inn

I wish that I could recommend our hotel on the Isle of Anglesey, however, in addition to their complimentary full breakfast they offered up a  lovely streptococcal infection.  Poor Sam and Laney managed to catch a terrible bug from the overpriced second rate dump.  I suppose that explains why they didn't care if there is a dog in the room.  

FYI you can use your NHS card in the Irish Republic.  Sam got right in to see a doctor who prescribed antibiotics even though, as of today, we are still awaiting the results from his throat culture that we had to drive to the Limerick hospital lab ourselves...long story.  We are looking forward to going back to Wales (specifically Snowdonia) again, but will definitely be picking a different place to stay.

Isle of Anglesey 3
Bridge to Angelsey

Isle of Anglesey 2
"Road" in Angelsey
Isle of Angelsey 2
Church in Angelsey


10 August 2010

A Letter to Maeve Binchy

Ireland 2010

Dear Mrs. Binchy,

Thank you for writing such lovely books, although there is quite a bit of infidelity woven throughout your books, I still love them.  Really, your novels were a big part of my desire to see Ireland and, let me tell you, the countryside did not disappoint.  The green rolling hills, stone walls and sheep were true to the imagery in your stories.  There were moments that I felt like I was in one of your books.  Like the time I was in a little craft shop just outside of the Connemara park and a man who had been teaching in the US for 20 years came in looking for a Paddy O'Conner and the shop keeper said his sister still lives up the road.  Or, like when traffic came to a complete standstill on a 100 Km road while a farmer herded his cattle across.  Or, the time we had lunch in Nenagh and the waitress looked at us with googly eyes every time we opened our mouths.  I loved those moments.

There are, however, a few things missing from your books (at least the ones I have read so far, I am going to read them all, really I am,  it's just not so easy to do with the 4, I hope you understand).  You forgot to mention how extraordinarily expensive everything is in the Republic and how so much of the countryside has been filled in with big houses that are 3/4 of the way done and will more than likely stay that way thanks to the bonk of the Celtic Tiger.  You talked of those quaint little winding lanes and they are lovely, until you actually have to drive down them. 8 days of those and I was begging for a freeway, especially driving around in a car with and an English registration plate - the Irish can really hold a grudge can't they?  Oh, and the weather was even worse than written.  My recent perspective has been formed by English weather, which is really saying something.

Back to the positives.  Our quintessential Irish cottage was just like the ones you described (save the spiders) and the abundant fuchsias were beautiful.  You said the music was wonderful and you were right.  The cheese delicious and the fish abundant.  And I really loved all of the colorful buildings with the beautiful doors - the bright blues, raincoat yellows, vibrant reds made the cloud covered skies and drizzly days a little bit brighter. 

Anyway, thanks for the lovely books and I'll keep reading - I'm in the middle of Whitethorn Woods now, but now with a new Ireland in my head.



PS Gaelic - Greek, it's all the same to me.  Oh and here are some pictures (okay, a ton of pictures) from our trip.

Our cottage:
Cottage Living

Irish Cottage Cottage Fireplace Cottage Bedroom

Warning Cottage roof The road  to the cottage

Fuchsia 1

Hiking in the Silvermine Hills near the cottage:
Silvermines view 1 Silvermines 3


Hanging Out

A few Irish Animals:
Connemara Sheep rooster
Connemara cow Why did the cow cross the road


A park in Oughterard:
Walking in Oughterard

Alice and The Cat

Spencer in Oughterard

Bunratty Castle:
castleKing Arthur
Castle ceiling thing

Adare Cottage
Cliffs at Moher


Owen in Moher

Connmeara 3

Connemara 2

Climbing in Connemara


Connemara 3