Krakow, Poland

I think I’ve recovered from my trip to Poland to tell ya about it.  I took a bus tour with a friend and our sons. Three teen boys!  It was an adventure.  We left at 10pm and arrived in Krakow at our hotel around 8am the next morning; freshened up, grabbed a map and headed to the nearest bus stop.  After learning how to navigate the bus system we took bus 173 to the city center.

This is the main square downtown.This is the Cloth Hall…said to be the world’s oldest shopping mall..in Rynek Glowny; it’s filled with vendors with everything from Polish pottery, chess sets, amber jewelry, painted keepsake boxes, to t-shirts and key chains.

It was sooooo cold…it even snowed one day we were there; pretty much rained the whole time. We enjoyed the sites nonetheless.

You gotta try the local food and desserts!

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My two sons and I…

Visiting the Wawel Castle and Cathedral.

Young boy trying to earn money; he played really well.

Wawel Castle’s Cathedral

Beautiful wall around the castle.

Well you can’t visit a castle without dressing up in some medieval outfit 😉

My boys totally got the travel bug while touring Krakow…they loved every minute of it!

We toured the Jewish district and saw many old synagoges. unfortunately I ran out of space on my camera card….:(

I’m not sure if it was because of Easter sunday being that weekend or not, but we saw nuns all over krakow.You may take a horse and carriage to tour Krakow if you wish.

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I don’t think there was one building that didn’t have graffiti all over it.

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San Francisco in Poland!

One of the amazing things I find when I travel is new friends….I love meeting new people from different cultures.  The polish people were so warm and friendly; we also got to know three friends from Manchester…who ate at our dinner table a few times; and then the jolly Irishman who told us all about his childhood in Ireland and sang to us!  I was so enjoying the company I forgot to get a photo of us.

This is me on the way home….stranded in Poland for 8 hours on the side of the road when our bus broke down.  What an adventure it was, but we again met some pretty awesome people and had a blast with it anyway.

We took a few city tours in Krakow and around the Jewish district.  We also attended an incredible Chopin concert our last night in Krakow.  It was in a beautiful palace in Rynek Glowny square. 

ImageOne of our tours was Auchswitz…stay tuned for that post!

I miss you krakow…..oh and your exchange rate is awesome; I kept some zlotys for when I return to the Market. 🙂

 

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Skerries, Ireland and other country and seaside villages of Ireland

Day 4

No agenda…we grabbed a map and headed for the countryside.  Our first stop was a cutsy little town called Skerries…little town right on the beach! A beach with sand!

 

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In Skerries, it appeared that no one had an agenda…no certain place to go…and it was an ordinary Thursday where everyone was walking a baby or a dog.  We were greeted with “top o’ the morning to ya”, and “Cheers!” Which we soon learned is a typical Irish greeting/goodbye.  And all the gentlemen wore those adorable plaid, tweed hats. In Skerries, folks like to ride bikes like these with big lovely baskets of fresh produce and fish from the markets….sometimes flowers as there was an abundance of flower shops!

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You can’t visit Skerries without going  to visit their beautiful ole’ windmills. This windmill was built in 1500. It operated until the early 1900’s.  12 Euro will fetch you a guide and a tour inside this windmill and another one built in the 1900’s.

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I know this looks just like a postcard….but I was here! Smile

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We headed for the country…stopping to snap a quick photo of this enormous field of Daffodils.

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We headed up to Drogheda.

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I felt really bad for taking their photo after having the best lamb stew ever!

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We ate said lamb stew here…

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Heading to Newgrange…

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Malahide castle…right down the road from our B&B!

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!!

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I hope you enjoyed your “tour” through Ireland Smile

Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

Day 3 we got up super early and drove to Port Marnock to park and catch the DART(Dublin Area Rapid Transit) to Dublin.  Take the DART…it’s the cheapest and easiest way to get to and from Dublin and most of the villages surrounding it. I think our tickets were 7 euro to and from Dublin.  Taxi’s in Dublin will run you 20 Euro and buses are a little more than the train.  It only cost us 3 euro to park our car all day at the Port Marnock station.  We walked to the Dublin tourism office about 5 blocks away to board the bus, Wild Wicklow Tours.  I did a lot of research to find the perfect tour to Wicklow.  This one offered the best customer reviews via Tripadvisor.  I really wanted the Irishman, Stephen, after hearing all the wonderful comments about him.  Well guess who was our tour guide, Mr. Stephen!  He was as good as they all claimed him to be, super funny, knew his history, people, and culture and shared it all with us.  It was an eight hour tour with many stops, to include a hike.  We started with a tour around Dublin. We were shown a few places where Bono and a other celebrities lived on the south side of Dublin. We then headed to Sandy Cove.

 

The old stone tower you see in the back of the photo was a watch tower. There are several along the coast of Ireland.  They thought or heard Napolean planned to attack and built these towers to watch for him.

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We headed to Wicklow National Park from here.

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On the way to Wicklow we stopped to eat at the highest village in Ireland, Roundwood.  They had beautiful Sequoia trees everywhere.

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Actually we stopped at Avoca Handweavers first…I loved that store. We bought a coffee and snack here.  Their pastries were so amazing I bought their Tea Time cookbook!

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We stopped in Roundwood for lunch and shopping! I bought some celtic music and crafts here.

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Passed these sheep with graffiti on the way to wicklow! They spray paint the sheep!  bwahahaha…one color is to identify the farmer it belongs to, and the other color to identify male or female! DSC_0392

Next stop was Guinness Lake! Because they said it’s shaped like a pint of guinness?  I think they had too many pints when they named it! Nevertheless, it is a beautiful lake.

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Many films were made in this area of the Wicklow mountains to include, Excalibur, Braveheart, PS. I love you, Saving Private Ryan.  The bridges and road in the photo below were used many times in films. Not hard to imagine considering the beauty of this land.

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Next stop was Glendalough…I was truly spellbound by it’s beauty and it was exactly what I envisioned Ireland to be.  Glendalough is pronounced Gleann Dá Loch, which means valley of two lakes. Which we actually hiked to during this stop!  It is the oldest monastary in Ireland. You can read about it here.

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Entrance into the Monastary.

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Photo of Glendalough’s round tower, a place of refuge for the monks, storage, and used as a landmark.

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The oldest headstone is said to be dated at 1500 years.

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Inside the remains of the cathedral.

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hiking up to the upper lake of Glendalough

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Dublin…

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Back to Dublin at the end of the tour…& the infamous Trinity College!

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And here is Trinity College lit up a night for St Patrick’s Day.

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I did not take photos of the place we ate at…but we had Irish burgers and Brown Sauce…that’s what they call it…I think it’s a twist between ketchup and bbq sauce…they love it in Ireland and pretty much put it on everything. I loved it!

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Howth, Ireland

Day 2

We headed to a gorgeous old fisherman village by the sea called Howth (hoe-th).  First we headed to Howth Head to hike the trail that travels all around the cliffs above the sea to the lighthouse.

 

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These patches of yellow flowers are called Gorse. Years ago these flowers were very important to the Irish. They were used to thatch roofs, fuel for cooking, and ground up for animal feed. I thought they were beautiful spread out all over fields, they have the smell of coconut.  If you go in late spring you will see them growing along side lavender…I’m sorry I missed the lavender.

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So we got a little adventurous and I REALLY was dying to get down to the water…we found a small beach where we could hear the sea lions calling pretty loud. So we did very carefully and I might add painfully (my knees were killing me) got down to the bottom of the cliffs to the beach area. The photo below is looking up the cliff we crawled down on…I was not in shape to do this…I haven’t been hiking at all lately…so needless to say I was wondering how I was going back up!

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We must have made quite a racket coming down the mountain because they were distant black bobs in the water when we got to the beach. This beach area made me think of Larabee beach in Washington State. I loved that beach!

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This photo you can see parts of the trail and a hiker at the edge 🙂

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This hike did not loop around so we hiked back the way we came and headed to the harbour for a hot lunch and some hot irish tea…it was COLD!

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Maud’s boasted they have the best homemade soup in Howth, so I tried the Spicy Lentil Soup and Irish Soda bread. It did not disappoint!!!

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Howth is especially known for their delicious Fish and Chips!!! I highly recommend it…I’m not a seafood person and I thought is was pretty incredible. After lunch we headed to the harbour to walk the piers and visit the village.

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This inscription is written on the front…this is a memorial to the fishermen who were lost at sea.

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Fresh flowers hanging at the memorial.

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stingray caught in a net on the pier.

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The houses behind these fishing vessels are all fresh fish markets and seafood resteraunts…fresh fish literally caught that morning…I was so jealous!

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Dublin, Malahide, Ireland

Here’s attempt 423847234 to post this blog to my travel blog…We drove 2 hours to Frankfurt, got our tickets printed and headed to Passport and security with two duffel bags, camera bag, and a laptop bag. I was not about to pay 30 euros for checked baggage. I actually measured our bags to make sure they would not have to check them in. It was borderline rape through security, but we survived and made our flight on time. We arrived in Dublin at noon.  A little overcast but no rain! Actually we had wonderful weather the whole week till the last day, we had a little rain and grey skies. But hey, we had to have some real Ireland weather at least once to feel Irish huh?

Next task was to find our rental car. Isn’t it cute? Only downside was that my husband drove it like a go-cart and I was a queezy passenger.

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We didn’t have to check into our Bed and Breakfast till 2pm, so we headed into Downtown Dublin.  It was like NYC!!! Never dawned on us to maybe park at the DART train and save our $$$ and marriage! We paid 4 euro an hour to park.  We parked on the Quay…this old canal that ran through the city and divided the north from the south side of Dublin. Supposedly if you live on the north side you live in the Ghetto…all the rich and famous past and present live on the south side.

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We had a list of things to see in Dublin…one of them was the Half Penny Bridge or as the Irish call it the Ha’ Penny Bridge. It is called the Halfpenny bridge because people used to pay half a penny to cross the bridge. It was originally called the Wellington Bridge named after the Duke of Wellington and then was officially named the Liffey Bridge. It was built in 1816. It is the most famous bridge in Ireland. “There was a ferry from the Bagnio Slip (at the bottom of Fownes Street) operated by one William Walsh. He owned seven leaky ferries and was under pressure from Dublin Corporation to repair them or replace them. He baulked at that idea, preferring instead to build a bridge. His proposal to Dublin Corporation was adopted and he was allowed in a hundred year lease to charge a halfpenny toll.”  Folks paid this toll fee till 1919. The bridge is also located near the Temple Bar Square.

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This is the Four Courts building built in 1786. It houses the Supreme court and the High court of Ireland. This building was severely damaged in 1922 during the Civil War and because a lot of public documents were destroyed, it is hard for the dubliners to trace their relatives before 1900.DSC_0026

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We frequently heard local Irish singers while strolling around Dublin. This Irishman was also selling art.

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Headed downtown to Temple Bar Square to eat lunch…

This is a photo of the inside…I did not take this photo.

I ordered Irish sausage on mashed potatoes and cabbage…it was really good!

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Spotted several kids walking home from different schools. All the girls where these plaid skirts and the boys were grey or blue dress pants, shirts and ties!

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We checked into our B&B at Evergreen B&B in Malahide, Ireland. Olive is a fantastic hostess. She’s been running her B&B for 15 years. We were greeted with a lovely Irish accent,scones and hot tea. She made us feel special and treated us like first rate guests. Always trying to draw us maps to get us around even though we kindly reminded her we did bring our GPS. 🙂

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We checked into our B&B at Evergreen B&B in Malahide, Ireland. Olive is a fantastic hostess. She’s been running her B&B for 15 years. We were greeted with a lovely Irish accent,scones and hot tea. She made us feel special and treated us like first rate guests. Always trying to draw us maps to get us around even though we kindly reminded her we did bring our GPS. 🙂

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This is a full Irish breakfast. 🙂

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Part of the breakfast room/sunroom.

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After dropping off our things we headed out to find a café and some sights as the afternoon was still young!

We found this church, St. Dolough…I thought it was so beautiful…and so preserved. I love the cemetary too with all the Celtic crosses, This church was dedicated to a saint, St Dolough, whose feast in Nov. 17. This church dates back centures ago depicting the roof tops of saxon churches. St. Dolough was a patron of the church Sloghran Swords.

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A bit of silliness for my friends back home 🙂

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We ended our first day at this wonderful little, Café Province, for homemade Irish cheesecake and coffee.

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Oh I forgot we also walked down to the harbour after the café.

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Tune in for Day 2~ Aubrey

Posted by Aubrey at 8:57 AM

2 comments:

Asaid…
Lucky you!!! I love Dublin so so so much.

March 21, 2012 1:42 PM
HOPEsaid…
Okay now..cemetary..
DON’T DO THAT TO YOUR MOTHER!!!!
Great photos of Ireland as if we are there too!

March 21, 2012 7:11 PM

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Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

Best time to visit the eccentric, medieval town is when they are having their christmas festival.  I’ve heard they also do Medieval re-enactments in May…I’ll let you know as I plan to go again then.

It just so happened to be snowing like crazy the day we went, which added to our Christmas spirit!

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Rothenburg is still a completely, walled city.

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Entrance to the city is here.

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We took a short tour of Kathe Wolhfahrt famous christmas store!

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Wish I could remember the name of the German place we ate at…It was unforgettable! oh..and who knew mayonnaise on fries could be so delicious! I hate mayo! Or I did…till I tasted this fabulous cream they call mayonnaise here.  No more ketchup for me!

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Aubrey

Negril, Jamaica

These are photos of our 4 day trip to Negril, Jamaica.  We were there the middle of past April.  I will definitely go back. May I recommend Sandals Resort & Spa? Phenomenal! Friendliest staff on earth and lots of great food to choose from.  Witnessed a beautiful sunset every evening!  Support the locals and buy your souveniours from them!

Went snorkeling off a reef, was mistaken for Katy Perry, got stung by a million itty, bitty jellyfish, baptized in vinegar, saw Nemo and the fam, climbed back on the boat and listened to live reggae all the way back to shore; best snorkeling trip ever!!

We loved sailing the Hobicats!! Had great wind and plenty of sea to explore.

Took the sea kayaks out a few times. The water is so crystal clear and a grogeous Turquoise, how do you NOT stay out on the water???

Support the locals…getting Jamaican style dreadlocks!

Have no fear if you do not enjoy seafood…they have Italian, Cajun, and American!

Estatic to have my soldier back from a year in Afganistan!!

Oh dear Jamaica how I miss thee…..

Aubrey