31 October 2013

What Kind of Traveler are You?

Oh Ireland, how you have gotten in to my heart and under my skin.  Your rolling hills, cliffs, castles, cathedral ruins, soda bread, seafood chowder, Irish stew and your kind people. 
I could do without this crazy windy, rainy weather that has woken me up at odd hours, but I could adjust!  And I'd have to grow my hair out and keep it in a ponytail at all times.  My hair and Ireland's weather do not mix!  I'm one big frizz ball with a bit of curl!
We've had such a great trip and I'm trying not to burn up my Instagram feed with Ireland photos.  But,  I love Instagram and how it's connected me to friends, family and bloggers during our trip.  I've loved hearing from each and every one of you on Instagram, twitter, and facebook!
The process of traveling has me thinking how others do it.  How we travel with 3 kids will be vastly different than a single or couple, but I still wonder what your travel schedule looks like.
Do you plan from the time you wake til the time you sleep?  Do you just go with the flow of the day and see where your wandering takes you?  Do you eat out or eat in, if you have the chance?  Do you budget?
The planning of where to stay and how to get there comes naturally to me.  I love a good challenge of finding just the right place.  And the place I found in Ireland has exceeded our expectations!  It has been a dream house!  More on that later.
The actual planning of our time is typically very loose.  I know the top things to see and we might make a loose plan of knowing where we want to go and if we've heard about a place to eat we might check it out, but we really just let our wandering take us wherever.  Some trips this works very easy and naturally.  
We are currently in Ireland and traveling with our kids and Jerry's parents.  A loose schedule has worked well for us.  Some things that play in to that are the fact that we are here for a week and can do things leisurely.  Jerry and I have also been to this area of Ireland before and we knew most of the sites.  Ireland is an incredible place to wander and I'll be sure to show you some things we've seen getting off the beaten path!  We've not been disappointed!
Our days have consisted of slow mornings of drinking coffee, eating a light breakfast at the house, hitting the road anywhere between 9 and 10, seeing some sites, sometimes stopping for coffee/tea and a snack, continue seeing sites, lunch has been anywhere between 12 and 2, more site-seeing and crashing at our home away from home around 5 or 6, wrapping up the evening with a light dinner, games with the family and coffee!!  Lots and lots of coffee/tea!!
So what about you?  What kind of traveler are you?
I'm joining Leigh at Hines Sight, along with the other hosts, for Instagram Travel Thursday.
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24 October 2013

Defining the Expat

If you're an expat, maybe you can relate to a few or all of these.  If you haven't lived abroad, this list might give you insight into how mixed up expats feel sometimes.  And I mean mixed up in the most positive sense.  It's definitely a life of mixed emotions and feeling like you've got one foot in multiple places.

I came across a similar list (below), tweaked and added to it.  Hope you enjoy!

You know you're an expat when:

- You have a love-hate relationship with the question “Where are you from?”
- You go into culture shock upon returning to your “home” country.
- Your life story uses the phrase “Then we moved to…” three or four, or five.... times.
- You know how to pack.
- You have the urge to travel or possibly move on a consistent (monthly, yearly) basis.
- You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
- You don’t know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.
- When asked a question in a certain language, you’ve absentmindedly respond in a different one.
- To everyone’s confusion, your accent changes depending on who you’re talking to.
And you often slip foreign slang into your English by mistake, which makes you unintelligible to most people.
- You’re really good at calculating time differences, because you have to do it every time you call your parents.
- You know your way around jet lag recovery.
- You convert any price to two different currencies before making significant purchases.
- No matter how many you say, good-byes never get easier. But, the constant flow of new friends makes up for it.
- You know better than anyone else that “home” isn’t a place, it’s the people in it. 
- When you talk about home to your children, you have to stipulate which one.
- Everywhere and no where feels like home.

Can you relate to any or all of these??  Any others you have to add?  I'd love to hear them!

22 October 2013

Travel Tuesday: County Clare, Ireland

In 2005 we celebrated our 11th anniversary by taking a trip to Ireland.  
I chose to share Ireland today for Bonnie's Travel Tuesday since we're headed back there the end of this week. This time we're taking Jerry's parents and our kids and we couldn't be more excited!
County Clare, Ireland, Cliffs of Moher, Europe, travel
What inspired the trip in 2005 was seeing the Cliffs of Moher in a commercial I'd seen.  Funny sometimes what will inspire you and make you say "I must go there now!!!"
I did a whole lot of searching for a place to stay and found a nice little family run B&B that also runs a taxi service from their home.   It's located in the little fishing village of Liscannor in County Clare.  
Part of our package stay was an airport pick up in the town of Shannon.  He also offered to pick us up if we were out and about, to just to give him a call.  Another day he was on a work trip north of town and offered to take us to Galway and would pick us up on the way back.  I can't say enough about the Irish and their hospitality!
This may have changed in the 8 years since we've been there, but cash machines were hard to find!
The closest was in the neighboring town of Lahinch.  We fell in love with this little town on our trips to get cash and eat at the restaurants.  
Lahinch had several restaurants and shops with a lovely board walk along the sea where you can watch the local surfing schools train their students.

The Cliffs of Moher (pronounced like Mohair, accent on the Mo) are a site that cannot be missed!  We had a rare treat to walk along the cliff's edge!  Public access is just about completely cut off due to the dangers of the winds.  We were given access by another B&B owner who's farmland extended to the cliff's edge.  I'm glad that we had this rare opportunity as access has been tightened in recent years. Now you must have a ticket to even walk to the designated visitor area of the cliffs.

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A foggy morning at the cliffs.

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The bus we were on had to wait while the farmers moved the cattle to another field.


You can tell by this tree that the winds blows a lot and comes from one direction.

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The town of Doolin, referred to as the capital of Irish Traditional Music.



Ruins or what our taxi driver called famine houses, dot the countryside.

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It was such a great and memorable trip.

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I may not be around much while we're traipsing through Ireland and will be eager to share more photos with you when we return!

Have you ever been to Ireland?  If so, which part?

16 October 2013

Guest Posting Today

Hi ya friends!!

One of the things I love about blogging is the connections I've made with bloggers.  One of those very blogger friends became a true, in real life friend, when we moved to Austria.  It made my time in Vienna that much more enjoyable.  She took me around to her favorite spots and we even enjoyed a fun girl's getaway to Italy!

I was really excited when my new blogging friend, Alison, contacted me about doing an expat guest post for her.  Her and her husband, along with their 4 beautiful kiddos, have recently moved from Arkansas to Aberdeen, Scotland.

She first found my blog in a link up and ever since then I've been stalking following her blog, instagram and twitter feeds.  I've probably become a little overly obsessed, but if you spend any time on her blog you will see why.  Her photos are gorgeous!! I just love connecting with others who are doing this whole expat thing with kids in tow.  We're hoping our paths will cross, in real life, soon!  

So, I'd love it if you not only read my guest post, but give a shout out to Alison on her blog.  I don't think you'll be disappointed!

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15 October 2013

Back in Time: St. Petersburg & Suzdal


I'm back with another installment of my new series, Back in Time, featuring the places we lived and visited in our early years of moving abroad.  If you missed the first one, you can find it here.  Please remember that my photos are about 13 years old and our digital camera held about, oh, 15 pictures!  Hopefully you will still enjoy what you see.

We had a chance to visit Saint Petersburg on two short trips while living in Moscow.  I wish we could say we saw different things on each trip. However, we were traveling with different people, so we mostly saw the same things.

Saint Petersburg is a great place to visit if you are wanting to experience the touristy side of Russia with a hint of the culture.

If you ever have a chance to visit you must take a stroll around the Hermitage and don't miss the inside!  

I'm not so interested in walking through a museum full of art.  It just doesn't capture my attention for long.  If I get to view things such as ornate carriages,  

and opulent rooms of a winter palace then I enjoy taking it all in!

The photo below is to commemorate the time, 2:10 am, early in the morning on 26 October 1917 when the ministers of the Provisional Government were arrested in the Small Dining-Room of the Winter Palace (you can also see the clock in the photo above on the mantel). 

Can you imagine living here??

The rest of our time we explored by foot.

The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood.

One of the many water ways of St. Pete (as we lovingly call it).

Kazan Cathedral

To see an extensive view of Saint Petersburg, Russia check out Selena's recent visit to this beautiful city!  Her pictures are amazing!  Much better quality than our photos from 2000!

Another day trip we took outside of Moscow is to the village of Suzdal, one of the villages that makes up the Золото́е кольцо́, or Golden Ring.  The Golden Ring is a ring of towns northeast of Moscow.  These ancient towns played a role in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Suzdal is known as the Pearl of the Russian Golden Ring and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.  There is so much rich history in this area and definitely worth a look if you go to Russia.

Suzdal's Kremlin is the oldest part of the town, dating back to the 10th century.

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I wish I had more pictures of these wooden structures in Suzdal.

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I believe this is the view of the interior of the wooden church, but I'm not certain.  Sorry for the blur, but I still wanted to give you a peek inside.

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View of town.

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Homes around Suzdal.  Spot the chickens?

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Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane to St. Pete and Suzdal.

Have you even been to Russia?  Do you have any desire to visit?

I'm also linking up with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday!


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