New Year's Eve 2017

Happy New Year everyone! For us over here we're just having some appetizers early in the evening with my in-laws, then we'll stop by my parents' house for a bit, and finally we'll settle in at home with a couple bottles of champagne to watch the ball drop.
I hope you have some fun plans to celebrate this New Year's Eve and that 2018 brings you health, wealth, and happiness!

Honeymoon Tour: Dublin/County Clare - Day Three

Day Three was our big adventure in Ireland. I had found the Cliffs of Moher online months before the honeymoon and we were interested in visiting them but we weren't sure if we would fit them in during our trip. Truth be told, the Cliffs of Moher are located on the western coast of Ireland and Dublin is on the east coast of Ireland so...not exactly right next to each other. In fact, according to Google, it's a quick three hour twenty minute drive across the country, lol. Don't believe me?
So we started Day Three in Dublin like this: 
Yep, we rented a car and drove the 3 hour and 20 minute trip. We could have taken a tour bus but we wanted to be able to explore at our own pace and do whatever we wanted. So my husband, who HATES to drive (I do most of our driving), did me a solid and drove the way. He was such a trooper too..driving a Nissan moodel that we didn't recognize, on the "wrong" side of the wrong, from the "wrong" side of the car! He did such a great job and we got there without issue. 

If you ask me, if you get the opportunity to drive across Ireland, do it! This is the kind of view you can expect:
Finally we started getting close to the Cliffs and I got a photo of one of the signs.  I'm laughing out loud over here seeing me with the camera in the side view mirror. Hahaha.
Finally, we arrived. Along the way to the cliffs you walk by this little road of shops.
Anyone else having serious The Shire flashbacks from the Lord of the Rings?? The stores were so cute.

And then you get this view....which was totally worth the almost 4 hour drive.
 And one of me.
You could walk anywhere you wanted really and there were cliffs and fields as far as the eye could see. We even saw this adorable field of sheep just chilling near the cliffs.
My husband makes me so angry. I swear, he looks great in EVERY picture I take of him. How is that even possible? I look like I'm making weird faces in every photo he takes of me and yet he also looks fantastic. Ugh. Frustrating.
The cliffs were so beautiful and the weather was perfect.
It was sunny and comfortable and we walked miles and miles around the cliffs. We even visited O'Brien's Tower, which was about as far away as it looks in this photo...
I was sad to leave but we knew we had a long drive ahead of us and so we settled back into the car to head back to Dublin. Along the way home was stopped at Bunratty Castle so we could have dinner at The Creamery Bar. I had the most amazing Irish stew and soda bread ever!
And that was really it. On Day Four in Dublin we woke up, made our way to the airport, dropped off our rental car, and got comfy for our return flight to the United States.

Thank you for reading my gazillion posts about my honeymoon. If you can't tell for my hundreds of photos and stories, I literally had the time of my life and enjoyed every second of making all of these memories with my husband. If you have any memories from special travels please let me know in the comments below--I would love to hear about your travels too! Or if you have somewhere to recommend for my next trip (which we're referring to as Honeymoon Part 2) please let me know!

If you missed any of the posts and would like to read more about our honeymoon, here are all the links:

On to the next adventure! I won't tell you where it is yet but we are we excited!!

Honeymoon Tour: Dublin - Day Two

On day two in Dublin we had three things on our list:
(1) sleep in. The back to back to back traveling and constant running around was starting to get to us and we just wanted a nice long rest. So we didn't set an alarm and we got up later in the day.
(2) Kilmainham Gaol.
(3) Guinness Factory Tour.

Kilmainham Gaol, or Priosun Chill Mhaighneann in Gaelic, was a former prison and current museum that was built in 1796. Many Irish revolutionaries, including leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were imprisoned and executed there by the British. Obviously this wasn't a very uplifting thing to do on a honeymoon but we both found the history fascinating. It was opened in 1796 and at the time it was one of the most modern prisons in Ireland. Prisoners included debtors and men, women, and even children who were sometimes arrested for petty theft. The jail had no windows for the first 50 years and the conditions were harsh. Back in the day of public hangings, they took place in front of the prison. But from about 1820 or so on there were few hangings that occurred at Kilmainham. The tour stopped in "the hanging cell" which was a little creepy, especially when our tour guide pointed out that a small circular hole in the wall was so the executioner could see the prisoner and size him up for the appropriate noose. Yikes!

The Irish Famine saw a massive increase in the number of prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol, with as many as five prisoners to each cell.  Many of these were woman and children charged with stealing food and as prisoners they were guaranteed a basic diet. Could you imagine? Five people inside this tiny cell. Prisoners also slept in the corridors because the jail was so crowded.
Interestingly, many of the prisoners were deported to Australia after their stay at Kilmainham Gaol.

In 1861, the East Wing was built to allow for 96 additional cells. This was a very large wing where you could see the door to every cell. Our tour guide explained that this was for security (makes sense).
One of the cells was open and I took the opportunity for a photo op. So I guess now I can say I've been in jail cell? Yikes!

 Prisoners were allowed one hour a day in the "yard"...which wasn't more than this:
Without getting into too much Irish history, suffice it to say that men were executed at this jail in May 1916 by firing squad. In fact, the cross in the photo below marks the spot where James Connolly, the last of the rebels to be executed, was killed.
Not exactly the most cheery thing to learn about but definitely worth the visit.

After the tour concluded we were off to find some Guinness as the Guinness Factory Tour.
They walk you through the steps of making Guinness. Did you know that Guinness is roasted at 232 degrees and that's what gives the beer that dark appearance. Also, the color of Guinness is not in fact black but an amber red. They then take you into a "tasting room" where they give you some more information and your free pint of Guinness!
I didn't get many photographs but we enjoyed ourselves very much. Afterwards we had dinner at this hole in the wall pub with the most amazing food ever. The table next to us were backpackers who had been on the road for about 6 months! I definitely eavesdropped on them talking all about New Zealand and all of their travel along the way to Ireland.

Merry Christmas 2017

Some very special holiday-themed nails for the blog today. I decided to do a quick red and white candy cane Christmas manicure:
And to all of my visitors who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you!
I hope everyone is enjoying this day by spending time with loved ones and/or doing something they enjoy. Happy Holidays to all!

Honeymoon Tour: Dublin - Day One

Our visit to Dublin started late in the evening so we didn't really do anything except wander around the hotel and create our plan for the remaining days in Ireland. Unlike Paris, we didn't plan exactly what we wanted to do for every single day, and unlike London, we didn't have a list of things we wanted to do, other than Guinness factory and the Cliffs of Mohrer really. Let's just say we were finishing up planning the wedding and we kept pushing our Dublin planning off. Well, now it was time to figure it out. We had a bite to eat at the hotel and then headed back to our room.We stayed at Clontarf Castle, which was a castle located about 10 minutes from Dublin.
On day two we went on a self-guided wandering medieval church/cathedral tour, which wasn't that hard since there is literally a church every ten feet. Essentially we took a cab into Dublin and then started walking around until we found something we wanted to go inside. On our walk we also saw Trinity College Dublin which was pretty neat. The first cathedral we visited was St. Patrick's Cathedral, the tallest church in Ireland. Interestingly, this is also where students of the Dublin Institute of Technology have their graduation and it was the site of the funerals for two Irish presidents. It was very impressive inside, with towering ceilings and beautifully tiled floors. It also has one of the largest organs in Ireland, with over 4,000 pipes! While walking around inside we also saw the original St. Patrick's gate and carved stones.

The carved stones (photo below) we saw were two granite stones located in the area of the church before St. Patrick's was built in 1192. One of the stones covered an ancient well, which may have been where St. Patrick baptized converts in the fifth century, and the other stone (the one in my photo) was a grave marker of an early Christian. The stones were believed to have been carved between 800 and 1100. 32 of these type of stones have been found and six were at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Where they were quarried is still a mystery. Pretty cool, right?
I wonder how heavy that stone is. Below is a photo of the beautiful interior. Look at those ceiling heights and the stained glass windows! While we were in the church we lit a candle for my husband's Irish grandmother who passed away a few years ago.
We then visited Christ Church Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The is the second of the medieval cathedrals in Dublin and is older than St. Patrick's. Christ Church Cathedral was founded circa 1030 by Sigtrygg Silkbeard (awesome name!). It is claimed as the seat of both the Church of Irealnd and Roman Catholic archbishops of Dublin, however the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin really uses St. Mary's on Marlborough Street (also in Dublin). Look at it in all of its medieval goodness and glory:
An interesting thing about this cathedral is that it contains a crypt, which you can walk around. Notably, the crypt was used in a television show called The Tudors (which I totally watched) and it had an exhibit of the costumes:
And a less "hollywood" but no less interesting story: you can even see a mummified cat and mouse in the crypt that was pulled out of one of the organ's pipes. This oddity was used by James Joyce as a simile Finnegan's Wake when he described someone as being "...As stuck as that cat to that mouse in that tube of the Christchurch organ..." I didn't want to offend anyone's sensibilities with an actual photo of the cat/mouse but you can google it if you're into that sort of stuff.

Overall, it was a pretty interesting day and seeing all the medieval history tied to the churches was fascinating. We continued to walk around and tour the city but I didn't take very many photos so we'll stop here. Or actually, one more photo:
Since we went to the Guinness Factory Tour the next day and all....

Honeymoon Tour: Liverpool - Day Two

We really only had half a day in Liverpool for day two since our plane to Dublin was in the evening. We still made the most of it and managed to some pretty cool stuff into our half a day. First, we returned to Albert Dock for the National Trust tour of John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney's childhood homes. Unfortunately we wen're allowed to take photographs of the inside of the homes (lame!) but it was still really neat to walk where the boys did all those years ago.

We visited Paul McCartney's childhood home located at 20 Forthlin Road right in Liverpool.
This home was owned by the local authority and the McCartneys moved in in 1955. They didn't even own their own home! That's how normal the family was. Can you believe the incredible journey Paul had?? Insane. Anyway, does "she came in through the bathroom window" mean anything to you? Well, we got to see the bathroom window. Apparently, Paul would miss curfew and his dad would lock him out (what a dad thing to do) so Paul would take the alley (it looks like a black door to the left in the photo above) to the back garden of the home, climb up a red pipe, and climb into the bathroom window. Kind of neat. The National Trust wanted this home because of how many Beatles songs were written in it.
We also saw Mendips, John Lennon's childhood home located at 251 Menlove Avenue in Woolton. John lived with his Aunt Mimi because by all accounts his mother sounded like a piece of work and they decided it was best that John did not stay with his mother. John's bedroom is the room with the four windows near the center of the home. By the way, it's a semi-detached home so the gray and yellow paint mark two different homes. 
I took this photo from the wikipedia page because I couldn't find the one I took and I wanted to point out a few things. First, the blue circle under John's bedroom windows is an English Heritage blue plaque, given when the person has been dead for 20 years. For this reason, Paul's house does not have a plaque...yet.

I also wanted to point out the little overhang in front of the front door. Aunt Mimi used to rent a bedroom out to a student in the area and if Paul and John were playing music late at night they would go into the overhang room. It's supposed to have really cool acoustics but I was too shy to sing when we stood in there. We also learned that people didn't really use the front door. Apparently, everyone except for doctors, lawyers, or official visitors, would use the back door entrance because it led into the kitchen where the floor was tile and a lot easier to clean. If you entered in the front door you entered onto carpet and it was harder to clean.

Fun fact, did you know that Aunt Mimi was judgmental of Paul McCartney before she first met him? She thought he would be too gritty or something...but Paul was a charmer and she liked him instantly. Fascinating.

After the tour ended we visited the Liverpool Cathedral. This cathedral houses the United Kingdom's largest organ and is a fixture in the Liverpool skyline. It's also the largest cathedral in Britain. The inside is just as impressive:
Just look at the lectern:
The cathedral also houses the world's heaviest bells. These are in a tower that visitors can climb up and look out at Liverpool. It was a rainy day when we visited but we still climbed the tower. Can I just say...staircases in Europe are scary and tiny.
The bells rang out a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" after his death. Also, all of the bells have a name, which I think it pretty cool:
After we climbed up to the tower, this was the view of Liverpool:
And that was Liverpool! We caught our flight to Dublin and we were onto our last leg of our honeymoon. Visit again to see what we got into in Dublin. Hint: Guinness, churches, and cliffs, oh my!

Honeymoon Tour - Liverpool: Day One

If you are a fan of The Fab Four then you know that they originated in a little English town by the name of Liverpool. My husband is a HUGE fan of The Beatles (HUGE) and when we planned England as a honeymoon destination we both knew we would be adding on a quick stop in Liverpool. It was only an hour or so train ride from London and we got to do all the Beatles-mania stuff. I think the husband really enjoyed it. First up, the Magical Mystery Tour, a 2 hour bus tour that visits a variety of Beatles-famous locations, including a bunch of childhood homes (you can't go in on the tour), the church where Paul met John, restaurants, schools, and pubs they visited, Strawberry Fields, etc. By the way the bus totally looks exactly like the ticket:
The bus drove down Penny Lane and the guide told us that people kept stealing the Penny Lane sign so frequently that the town tried to paint it onto the brick wall.  However, the fans then tried to chip away at the bricks in order to get a piece for themselves so the town eventually returned back to the normal signs. I assume they still have to replace it somewhat frequently. 
You've heard of the song Strawberry Fields Forever, right? The tour stopped at the real Strawberry Field, which was not a field of strawberries. It was a Salvation Army kids home located in John Lennon's childhood town, Woolton. Also, fun fact, John and Paul used to bike to each other houses when they were younger--wish I could have grown up in a time when I could bike to a friend's house! John Lennon would often climb the fence of Strawberry Fields to play with the kids in the home, much to the owner's complaint! Our tour guide told us that John's Aunt Mimi (he was living with her) told him that if he kept up with his antics they would hang him. The lyric "Nothing to get hung about, Strawberry Fields forever" makes a lot more sense now, right? This is the gate, though the actual gate has since been replaced and we saw the real gate later on in a museum.
Along the way we saw Saint Peter's Church, where a headstone reading Eleanor Rigby is found. We also saw The Empress, which was featured on Ringo Starr's first solo album. To be honest I had no idea about that and wouldn't have remembered it if they didn't paint it above the window.
We also stopped by the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Because only people on a tour through the National Trust (who look after the residences) can go inside, we weren't able to actually go into the homes. But we could stop and take photos outside. So we visited Paul's childhood home at 4 Forthlyn Road and John Lennon's home. Naturally we also booked the Trust tour for the next morning so we could see the inside. It was really interesting to see where these mega stars started.  This is John Lennon's home.
On the way back to the hotel, which by the way was named A Hard Day's Night Hotel, (Beatles themed and actually really nice), we passed by the Liverpool Cathedral, which was incredibly impressive. We planned to visit the cathedral the next day. But seriously, look how intense the cathedral is:
We had a quick delicious meal of too much Cuban food at a place on the Albert Dock. Seriously, we bought a bunch of tapas and I'm convinced we ordered one of everything on the menu:
Everything was delicious!
After lunch we stopped at The Beatles Experience, a museum dedicated to everything The Beatles. Throughout the museum they had a mix of authentic objects and staged scenes. For examples, they staged the Cavern Club so you could take pictures. Although you could just go to the real Cavern Club too since it was only a short walk away.
We got to see Ringo's gold sparkly drumkit, which was used during The Concert for George Harrison a year after his death:
These were sold at auction for about $64,000.

They also had a replica "white room":
We also stumbled upon this super cool Beatles statue near Albert Dock:

Overall, it was a really good day. And we were looking forward to continuing our Liverpool adventure the next day. Be sure to check back again to see what we did on day two in Liverpool!
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