A 10 Day Itinerary for Ireland with Optional Northern Ireland Extension

A 10 Day Itinerary for Ireland with Optional Northern Ireland Extension

I'm convinced Ireland is a beautiful country to visit any time of year. The wind-swept hills gently rolling through the country side, the steep cliffs plunging into the sea on the west coast, and the hundreds (literally) of castle ruins sprinkled everywhere lend the place a rugged, mystic quality. The tiny island, split between two countries, has so much to see and do, one could easily spend months, if not years or even a lifetime, exploring it. Alas, most of us do not have that luxury and must try to see what we can in the short amount of time we have available to us. Although we went to Ireland almost three and a half years ago, my sister recently visited this stunning country and asked me for some tips. Instead of keeping my advice to myself, I decided to publish it here to share with all of you. Enjoy and if you do make it to any of these places in Ireland, drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you thought!

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The Berlin Zoo

The Berlin Zoo

For two years we lived in Germany. During those two years we saw lots of the country, and Europe in general. We took weekend trips to Cologne and Munich, went Champagne tasting in France, toured a Nazi-era mine, experienced the Arctic cold while mushing our own team of sled dogs, dove in a flooded Alpine Park, and ate pasta while sipping a glass of Chianti in the Eternal City. We definitely lived it up, but, shockingly, one place we never made it to was Berlin. It was one of those trips that was too close for a long weekend (we took advantage of company holidays to travel to farther places), but too far for a spontaneous road trip. When we found ourselves back in Germany for a vacation to see a friend get married last September, we knew we wanted to visit a few places we hadn't made it to while we were expats. Berlin was one of those places.

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The Longest Surface Interval

The Longest Surface Interval

685 days. 1 year, 10 months, 16 days. That was the length of my last surface interval. It's embarrassing really, especially when Aaron and I had gone 12 for 12 (at least one dive per month, every month) for nearly three years. However, as I prepared to take my giant stride off the boat into the dark waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the closest land more than a 100 nautical miles away, wearing a wet suit (which still fit, surprisingly,  after having two babies) and the rest of the gear necessary to support human life underwater,  there was a sense of exhilaration, and also trepidation. Right hand on my mask, my left on the waist band of my harness, my stomach momentarily somersaulted as I stepped off the boat and started falling before plunging into the water in a cloud of bubbles. And with that first jump, my longest surface interval since we were certified in 2012, came to an end.

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Making My Own Chocolate Bar at the Rittersport Store in Berlin

Making My Own Chocolate Bar at the Rittersport Store in Berlin

Our trip to Germany last fall fell, conveniently (or not so conveniently, depending on how you look at it) over my birthday. However, as I was pregnant at the time, my usual indulgence of choice - a good, dry, German Riesling - was off the table (well, mostly, I will admit that I imbibed in one small glass over dinner). So what's a pregnant woman to do on the day she turns 30 when she cannot freely partake in the consumption of wine?! The next best thing of course - eat chocolate!

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Postcards from Portugal

Postcards from Portugal

I know I haven't written much about Portugal and I really should. The country was beautiful, the food is amazing, the wine is cheap AND delicious in a way only Europeans can do, and the week we spent there was perfect. But, since that trip was over a year ago, some of the details have been lost to time. That's another reason I blog about all our trips  - so that I can remember small details that may otherwise be forgotten. But alas, this one has slipped away from me. I will try to get a few posts published about the more notable parts of our trip, but Portugal is far too beautiful a country to let these pictures sit on a hard drive somewhere. So my loss is your gain. A post light on words, but full of pretty pictures. Going through these to choose the best ones has made one thing painfully clear to me - I need to go back to Portugal. 

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Pena Palace, a Colorful Day Trip From Lisbon

Pena Palace, a Colorful Day Trip From Lisbon

We maintained a break-neck speed when we were in Portugal. In retrospect, it might have been nice to slow down just a bit, but when there's so much to see in the world and so little time in which to see it, well, slowing down isn't much of an option. We spent the last few days of our trip in Lisbon. And if you google, "things to do in Lisbon," the iconic Pena Palace in the small town of Sintra is bound to pop up. Sure, it's cliched, and expected, for a travel blogger to go there, but, I'll admit that I actually enjoyed it. You don't need a full day to visit the palace, especially if you have your own vehicle and aren't relying on public transportation, which means you have the afternoon to seek out and sample the best Pastel de nata in the city.

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Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg

Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg

Finding things to do when we travel that won't completely bore a toddler, aren't super "kid-centric" and are interesting for parents can be tricky. As our daughter had gotten older, we have to find more and more things that she will enjoy when traveling. Aaron and I would love to just wander sometimes, eating at street-side cafes and stopping for a beer or glass of wine, but, a two year old finds those things boring. When we were in Hamburg, we knew we wanted to visit Miniature Wonderland - it's actually on our European Bucket List - and we were delighted when Evelyn found it just as cool as we did.

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