Archive for October, 2015

Cork (Europe Adventure)

10.15.2015 - By
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Paris was a beautiful place to stop and rest for a couple days, but it wasn’t why we were in Europe.  It was Ireland! Ireland was the focus of our trip, the country of my forefathers, the country I had been dreaming about for years upon years!  My mom always told me on St. Patrick’s Day since the time I was a little girl that I was a “wee bit” Irish.  My great-grandmother on her side was a McLaughlin. Maybe that’s where it all started. I felt part of something ancient. I lived next to an Irish girl in student housing when I was in Germany and I loved her accent. I started listening to Irish music in college. Then I watched the movie, “Leap Year,” a few years ago and I got fixated on the idea of seeing stone walls, pastoral life, rolling hills, and untouched countryside for miles and miles.  I wanted to see green, all shades of green!  I wanted to experience driving on the other side of the road with my love sitting next to me. And let me just tell you that Ireland did not disappoint at all!  It was bigger and better than any dream I could have had about it!

Our first stop in Ireland was Cork.  We took a morning flight from Charles de Gaulle (Paris) to the seaside city of Cork. We rented a car at the Cork airport and  drove right away into the city center to eat lunch. Oh my, my heart was racing the entire time we drove in the city and my eyes were very much glued to our atlas, with me doing my best to guide Greg on every turn. I am so glad Greg did all the driving! I kept saying, “look left, stay left,” ha! He was actually a natural with the left-handed stick shift and driving on the left side of the road!  I was in very safe hands!

Cork is on the southwest side of the island and sits on the River Lee.  It is about the size of my hometown of Salem, Oregon, and has a population of about 119,000 people. St. Patrick Street is the main street of the city and very pedestrian friendly. We were there are on a sunny Saturday afternoon, so there were all types of street performers and families out enjoying the nice weather during our visit.

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Randomly, we had seen a Food Network show hosted by Andrew Zimmerman a few months before our trip, that highlighted some of the restaurants in the County Cork area. One of those places was a farm-to-table restaurant, Farmgate Cafe, that sits on top of the famous English Market and serves dishes prepared directly from these local market vendors. We decided before we left the states that this restaurant would be our first dining experience once we were in Ireland and, boy, what an experience! The food there was so healthy, delicious, and filling! We then got the added bonus of being able to walk around the market afterward and buy a few things to take home to Colorado.

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We strolled around the city center some more after lunch and stopped at St. Anne’s Church, where we rang the Shandon bells together.  I wanted to take more photos of the city, so I climbed up some very steep stone stairs and then shimmed past a very large bell to get to the top of the tower and see some larger views of the city.

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Our trip to Cork was short, but so memorable!  The next blog will feature Kinsale, a very quaint village, where a bad housing situation for us turned into a lovely one and we quite possibly ate the best meal of our entire trip!

Eiffel & Cler (Europe Adventure)

10.01.2015 - By
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The Eiffel Tower. It is truly magnificent and there is no way around it, it will always remind me of Paris. It is iconic and simply amazing in every way.  It’s hard to take your eyes off of it.  Wherever we were in the city, I always found myself searching for it, wanting to photograph it!

On our first full day in Paris, we had lunch at Tour 58 Eiffel inside the Tower.  We packed into a small lift with a bunch of other tourists, but because we had lunch reservations, we managed to skip the long longs of people that queue at the base of the tower for rides to the top. The lunch itself was very touristy venture and maybe not the best Parisian food you can find, but it ended up being a remarkably fun experience and we’re glad we did it!  Our three-course picnic style meal was lovely and we had amazing views of the gardens and fountains of Trocadéro from our table by the window. After lunch, we walked around the first floor of the Tower some and then opted to take the stairs down to avoid being crammed into the elevator like sausages again! Next stop, Rue Cler, the most famous market street in Paris.  We strolled over there from the Tower under the trees as much as possible to avoid the extreme heat.

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Rue Cler is a pedestrian street lined with shops selling all types of market goods: fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. We also found a little sweet shop, A La Mére de Famille, and bought our first souvenirs of Paris, some hard candies in decorative tins for my mother-in-law and our boys.

FR15-50 FR15-51 FR15-52 FR15-53After a nice dinner of savory soufflés and fish, we walked along the River Seine, stopping at one of the most ornate bridges I’ve ever seen, the Pont Alexandre III. The sun was just setting and the light was spectacular!

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I had always wanted to photograph the Eiffel Tower at night, so our last big experience in Paris gave me that very opportunity.  We took our small box of macarones from  Pierre Hermé and boarded the last Bateaux Mouches boat of the night with a bunch of other tourists. We found a cozy spot just for two along the side of the boat and ate our little macarones together as we waited for the boat to leave.  I know I keep mentioning these macarons, but friends, they were really amazing. So delicious! I can still remember how each one tasted. Yum! When we finally left, the sun had just set so we got to see some of the sites of Paris during the “blue hour” on the way down the river and then also in the pitch black of night on our way back. The city lights were glorious and so beautiful. It was worth staying up to see! I love these images of the Tower so much and now just need to pick which one to put on canvas in our new home!

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This was my last blog on Paris.  Next up will be our first experiences in Ireland, the main focus of our trip abroad and why we wanted to go to Europe.