Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Leprechauns made me do it!

The beauty of the Irish countryside can only be surpassed by the warmth of the Irish people themselves.
I just spent sixteen days traveling with my 87 year old Godmother, Auntie Elaine, where we saw fabulous scenery, talked non-stop, and did extensive taste testing of gin and tonics, Irish Coffees, scones, and incredibly (and somewhat surprisingly) good food. And yes... the sound you hear is my arteries slamming shut from all the cream I consumed.... Oh yeah...and a few Irish beer were also enjoyed in the pubs!

Our first week was spent in Northern Ireland where I was taken with the breathtaking countryside and the wonderful Irish relatives of my Godfather, Uncle John (who passed away in 2001). The fields were every shade of green imaginable and were so lush - they resembled velvet. Each day we toured the region with different family members -- during which I often had to ask for interpretation of the many unique sayings. I loved hearing the men recite poetry, give a toast, or sing an Irish song. It was magical.
Sheep and cattle were plentiful and roamed farms partitioned off with rock fences that have stood for 200+ years and thick hedges. Villages and pubs were postcard perfect.

I also got a whole new understanding to Northern Ireland's "Troubles" with it's deep rooted conflict that touches everything from schools to sports and so much inbetween.

We then took the train to Dublin and spent a week with a diverse and interesting group of people on a Trafalgar tour of Ireland. Passengers ranged in age from 14 to 87 and we enjoyed getting to know them. Most were from the States, 5 of us were Canadians, and there was 1 Aussie. (The Canucks were surprised and delighted to see the picture I took of Tim Horton's in Dublin!)

Our tour took us to Waterford to see the world famous crystal, around the spectacular Ring of Kerry in the south and as far north as Donegal. Along the way I climbed to the top of Blarney Castle and yes - germ-o-phobia aside, I kissed the stone! Not sure if I'm more eloquent, but it was fun to do.

The best part of the trip was seeing my Auntie Elaine so happy to have the chance to visit Ireland again. We finished up the tour with 2 days in Dublin which was decorated for Christmas.

I loved the vibrancy of Grafton Street with its buskers,the colors of grafitti art and the renowned "Dublin doors", as well as the serenity of St. Stephens Park.

We had our grand finale at the Gresham Hotel where we had afternoon tea (a genteel name for pigging out on way too much food!). The last time she had been there was with Uncle John, and it felt good picturing him there with her.

Jet lag aside, this is one holiday that I think I need another holiday to get over it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like you two had a great time!
Looking forward to seeing your full set of pictures!
- Anette