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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ireland Day 2

Every Aflac trip the company provides one activity. When we register for the trip we get to pick from a list of activities we want to participate in. Typically, we go for a tour. We try to get the most "bang for our buck" and do something that will give us the best experience of the place we are visiting! For this trip we decided to take the Dublin tour. If you're in Ireland you gotta visit Dublin, right? Zach took the day off from golfing (Mr. Rusty golfed solo that day! I felt guilty that he wasn't allowed to come to the Aflac functions, but if ANYONE would enjoy a trip on their own it's him. He truly didn't mind one bit!). 

This was the only FULL day we had together and I was really excited about it! It was good timing as I hadn't seen much of Zach at ALL since we arrived :) I was ready for US time for sure!!! We kicked off the morning with our free breakfast :)

This time we were smart and sat at the front of the bus! Not only did it help with my motion sickness, but it also allowed us to really pay attention to the tour guide rather than be distracted by others talking ;)

Our first stop was to visit the Book of Kells. It was about a 40 min ride so here are some things I learned about Ireland on our way:

  • The hotel we were staying at (Powerscourt) was actually built in the 18th century. An english family were the original owners but it is now owned by the same people who own Nike.
  • At one point the owners remodeled the home and had a party to celebrate. After the guests left the entire house caught on fire and they didn't have any insurance so they lost everything and had to start over!
  • Many US headquarters are moving to Ireland due to their tax breaks...Facebook is actually located there now
  • It is a predominantly Catholic country...yet St Patrick's Cathedral is actually protestant
  • One person per day dies in Ireland, and 99% of the time it's due to drug issues. 
  • People are only allowed to smoke in prison
  • Population in Ireland is 4.5 million and 1/3 of that live in Dublin
  • The famous Georgian Doors are all different colors because the owners would be too drunk to know which home was theirs. 
  • The clover symbol originates from St. Patrick preaching about the trinity. He picked up a clover and used it as a symbol for the trinity.
  • Guiness beer is actually no longer owned by the Guiness family
  • Each employee of Guiness used to be allowed to drink 1 pint a day while working!
  • Gaelic is the national language of Ireland
  • When Irish people speak they don't use the "th" sound so, for example, when they said "third" it sounds like "terd" (and, trust me, I heard Zach and Mr. Rusty say their Irish version of "third" about a million times haha). 
The Book of Kells is located at Trinity College


I will be the first to tell you...I'm not super hardcore into museums and stuff. Zach enjoys a good audio tour but I don't even like that much. I kinda do a quick glance then move on haha. We spent most of the time in the library. And it was funny because I knew I'd been there on my last visit (18 years ago!) but didn't remember anything until we actually went into the tiny room to see the Book of Kells and then I had that whole dejavu feeling come over me and totally remembered seeing it!

In case you didn't know, The Book of Kells is a lavishly decorated copy, in Latin, of the four gospels dating back to over 1000 years ago. 

You aren't allowed to take photos of the actual book but here are some from the library!


We totally found Jordan's relative! 
Of course a guy with the last name Swift was our fav ;)





After we got our peak I headed to the potty ;) I was downing water like crazy and had to go all the time! I talked to Zach about how much easier it is to be pregnant and traveling rather than pumping and traveling. It's a pain to do either, but at least with pregnancy I don't have to worry about taking time out of tours and such for a pump session. And, as I mentioned earlier, everyone was SO NICE to me about my pregnancy. With pumping...people don't really "get it" and I tend to get odd looks and people who are annoyed when they have to wait on me to get out of a bathroom, when I'm late getting back to the tour bus, etc. 

I talked to our tour guide about the whole pregnancy thing actually. Because she was above and beyond sweet to me. I asked her about if I had time to use the bathroom and she said "for you of course! we will wait if needed!" and she constantly checked on me throughout the day to make sure I was feeling okay and was comfortable. I was pretty spoiled ;) She said that everyone there is very accommodating to pregnant women because we are providing the country with a new citizen and that is something that should be held with very high respect. I wish Americans felt that way! 

After leaving the college we went to see some of the Georgian Doors. So, so pretty!
This is a rare one because it opens from the center


We live in the wrong country...we totally could rock our blue door in Ireland :)



This is their "white house" Which I find it ironic that Zach and I have visited MANY capital buildings for various countries yet neither of us have actually visited Washington DC. It's on my list of places I want to go for sure (although we are kinda waiting it out for a new president to be in office...). 
National Gallery

I love the shamrock design on the fence!
Our next stop was to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Which I also have no memory of visiting, although I'm sure I did! We saw our fair share of old churches in Italy but they are all so beautiful and unique that it never gets old :)
So funny to see a Guiness statue at a church :)





An actual skull of Jonathan Swift! 




















Again, kinda like with the museum thing, I just kinda looked around a little bit. Zach read more into stuff and watched a video. He's more the history buff I guess ;) The coolest thing to me was that we saw a PHOTO SHOOT going on INSIDE the cathedral. I mean who allowed that to happen?!?! You know if this was a Catholic church that junk would not be okay...this girl was dressed mega provocatively and I was shocked to see it taking place. But it was also a super cool thing to get to see. I've never seen a legit photo shoot and this was def a legit one. We even saw a very provocative wedding dress waiting for the model to wear...I think someone needs to visit confession haha! 




Another awesome thing about the cathedral was the gift shop. Y'all. It was so great! I was worried about being able to find an ornament for our tree as well as gifts for the kids but we found everything we wanted at the church and it was all super cheap too! We got Britt a little doll and Kye a rugby football. I felt good knowing we had that out of the way so I didn't have to keep looking for things for the kids! 

Prior to the trip SO MANY people kept telling us how much it would be raining. We know. It's Ireland. We expected rain. But really we ended up getting next to no rain the entire trip. I had brought an umbrella and even bought rain boots but didn't need them! Of course when the weather that morning said 0 % chance I left the umbrella in the room and then it ended up downpour raining as we were leaving St Patricks. My sweet husband ran out in the rain to capture a few pictures of the outside of the church for me :) 






Notice anything in this pic?
Hahahahha. My fat pregnant butt couldn't resist coming out with him :) (plus it stopped raining!)





Something that I had read about Ireland in my tour book was that women are very safe there, but to expect several men to constantly hit on you even if you are alone for only a few minutes. They are typically very friendly about it and will back off quickly when asked, but it will happen. It was SO funny because I was walking slower than Zach (shocker) back to the bus and, sure enough, I got approached! I mean ME. Obviously pregnant ME. With my 6'6" husband just a few feet ahead of me haha! The guy was very, very nice and I was friendly right back but it cracked me up just the same! I guess it is true that they will hit on every woman they see ;) 

More views of town on our way to lunch!



Lunch was located at a brewery. Which is where they make beer ;) Trust me, this was a lesson we had to have while on the trip haha! We had a beautiful view and ended up eating with an AWESOME group of Aflac people! We sat with a lovely older couple and it ended up being the Aflac doctor and his wife. Tell me this isn't the sweetest gig: he has his own regular practice but goes into Aflac headquarters once a week to do some work for them and then gets to go on ALL the Aflac trips. Um. Awesome!!! 

It's a funny thing about being a Christian...you instantly feel more comfortable among fellow believers. It was clear early on in our talk that the doctor and his wife were people who love the Lord and who live their lives striving to be like Jesus. I enjoyed talking with them more than with anyone else my entire stay. It was wonderful to get their insight as they have grown children! 

Another couple at our table also was a young family and we enjoyed talking with them as well. Jesus and Mom talk are my favorite conversation topics ;)


I loved all the quotes they had around the brewery!


As we walked back to the bus we were with a couple who had been to Ireland before and one of them pointed out that Bono's penthouse was across the street! 



I've never had Guinness but I know it's like "the thing" in Ireland b/c it was EVERYWHERE!
We got back to the room and were pretty beat. The LAST thing either one of us felt like doing was having to get dressed up and ride in the 40 min bus again for dinner. But we rested, watched some Parks and Rec, snacked on the HUGE bags of candy I put together for us for the trip, and got ready to go anyway! We headed down a little early b/c I wanted Zach to get to see some of the hotel and wanted to get a few pictures. The spa had such a beautiful view and we enjoyed the bit of downtime just exploring some :)











For dinner that night Aflac was taking us to Jameson Distillery. Zach and I literally could not figure out what a distillery was. Haha! We ended up asking someone in our group and they about died laughing at us. Turns out a winery=wine, brewery=beer, and distillery=whiskey. Who knew? I guess it's common knowledge ;) It's super mega ironic that Zach and I have now been to all three of these type places thanks to Aflac yet we don't drink! We went to a winery in Toronto, a brewery that day for lunch, and a distillery for dinner!

On the way we passed the Guinness factory (so it'd be a brewery right?)
I have never even heard of Jameson? My dad always was very loyal to Jack Daniels!

Trust me the irony of a pregnant woman at a distillery wasn't lost on me ;)

When we got there they had a bar serving free drinks and then we'd have a tour before dinner. We went straight to the tour guide people and asked them if there was any way for us to leave early. The answer was no. Dangit. We didn't end up leaving the distillery until 11 pm. We didn't get back to the hotel until after midnight!!! It was a LONG night for sure and it was hard to know we had a long night ahead at a place that didn't really make us feel all that comfortable. Again...them of the trip was to embrace it ;) So we got us some water (I did try their orange soda...YUCK) and found a place to sit and just wait until our tour started. It was a neat bar area! They had see through floors that looked down into the distillery and really cool lights made out of whiskey bottles. 

During our tour we learned about the process it takes to make the whiskey. I guess the Jameson brand is special because it sits longer and distills three times whereas other brands don't sit as long and distill less times. Everyone in our group liked having us there with them because they got to enjoy our samples ;) Once the tour was done we were seated for dinner and they did a whiskey tasting comparing Jack Daniels, Scotch and Jameson. It was all a very well done advertisement really! 


Our menu for the evening!
If I had it all to do over again, I probably would have skipped this meal. It was so long and late and the whiskey thing obviously isn't our style. However, the entertainment was fabulous!!! And the food was great too :) It was a traditional Irish performance with Irish dancing, singing, and even drum playing :) I took several short videos:



As soon as we could we raced out to be on the first bus headed back :) Our favor for the evening was a certificate saying that we are official Jameson whiskey tasters haha. 
While we were waiting on the bus the older man who had performed "Danny Boy" came out. Dude was a bit off during his performance with some of his jokes and it was awesomely awkward when he saw us and immediately rubbed my belly! I just rolled with it and figured it was another cultural thing...but it could have also been a creeper thing too with this dude! 

We both fell asleep on the bus ride back which was a nice nap BUT made it hard to fall asleep again once we were back in the room! It was the only night of the trip that we didn't talk to the kids. This was THE BEST trip EVER as far as communicating with them and we were a 6 hour time difference! FaceTime y'all is AMAZING!!! We've never used it before while traveling but were completely spoiled with it on this trip. Being able to see the kids every night before I went to bed was perfect for me. Usually by day 3 I'm DYING to get home to them but I honestly didn't miss them because I got to see their sweet faces every day and stayed completely caught up on everything they had going on! They had such a fun week with G-Mama and she was so adorable with how much she enjoyed having them which really meant a lot to me. I hate that we have to ask people to care for our children when we travel but I'm so thankful that Mrs. Charlotte totally understands (hello...they have been there done that with Aflac traveling!) and is so supportive and takes such amazing care of them!!!

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