June Daily Photos – Part One

June Photo A Day Topics have been pretty awesome……they have managed to inspire some cool photos, so far! I have put the topic under each photo! Enjoy!

This Is Good

My new raised garden bed built by a friend…..the top part has my first ever attempt at growing veggies (with some marigolds to keep the bugs away) – I started out easy – just some tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, and zucchini for my first year…..we’ll see how it goes!

I Care About This

My brother’s home, which used to be my mother’s home and our childhood home, burned a few weeks ago – a total loss! It has been a very emotional and overwhelming time for all of us – especially my brother and sister-in-law! This is the counter in the laundry room that Mom and I spent many, many hours sitting and painting ceramics and laughing and talking over the years…..very sad to see it like this!

Repeat

Herbs

Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Sage, Italian Seasoning, Rosemary

Object

A Drink

Book Credit: “Inheriting Edith” by Zoe Fishman

BTW – they ended up with Vodka and Lemonade

Perfect

Imperfect

Sock

A Room

I Like To Eat This!

Shrimp cocktail and salad bar —- the perfect lunch at the Lumberyard Restaurant in Perry, NY

Spotty

Open Up

Open Up……2

Watch for the rest of June’s topics……

2019 Transatlantic Cruise – TAC 5 – Dublin, Ireland

Sadly, my dream vacation came to an end when I arrived in Dublin, Ireland. We pulled in to port in the wee hours of the morning and were there and ready to disembark for the last time when we woke up. The cruise ended, but I didn’t want to just get on a plane and head home without seeing Dublin. So, I booked a city bus tour and a hotel for the night and flew home the next morning.

My last daily veranda selfie with the port of Dublin in the background

The port of Dublin is another industrial port – not much to see right there.

So, I got up, had some breakfast, and when my tour group was called, got off the ship and was on my way! The bus tour was very nice – 4 hours of an overview of the entire city and a few stops where we could get off. The highlight of the tour was St. Patrick’s Cathedral — we got to spend a good amount of time there touring the church and learning about its history. The rest of the city was a HUGE contrast to what we saw in the Cork / Cobh area……there, we had lots of green country side with castles and small, quaint villages. Dublin is a big city – very busy, hectic, typical large city — there were some awesome things to see and LOTS of history, but I’m not one for big cities, so I was less impressed, over all, with Dublin. But – it was still a really great day full of exciting sights and experiences!

This is a monument to the great famine

I learned quickly that it was not safe to just “wander” around the busy streets……they drive like maniacs there and don’t stop or even slow down for pedestrians!!!

Dublin used to be a walled city in medieval times – the wall was constructed in 1242 AD.

Herd of deer that live in Phoenix Park

In 1979, Pope John Paul II became the first ever Pope to visit Ireland and held a papal mass in Phoenix Park. This huge cross and alter was erected for the mass and left in place as a reminder of the event. 1.3 million people attended, making it the largest gathering of Irish people ever.

There was an ice cream truck in the park boasting “Quality Irish Ice Cream” – I got a cone (as did most of my bus mates) and it was AWESOME — thick and creamy soft serve — I think it was the best custard ice cream I’ve ever had……so good!!!!

Next stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral — it was such a big building and I couldn’t get very far back without having stuff in my way, so couldn’t get a shot of the entire building!

in 450 AD, St. Patrick baptized people into Christianity on this site before there was even a church there

890 AD was the first documented physical church on the site

1191 – 1212 AD the status of the church was elevated to a Collegiate Church and then to a Cathedral

1220 – 1260 AD began the construction of the current Cathedral building

1713 – 1745 – Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of the Cathedral until his death and is buried in the Cathedral

Just some of the impressive history…….we tend to get excited when we read about our history when we see dates in the 1700’s and 1800’s……..I was in awe when I learned of history in all the places I visited during this cruise dating back to just barely after the death of Christ and the 1000’s!!! It is really humbling to think of the age of our country in comparison!

The next several photos were taken inside this amazing Cathedral:

Our tour guide for the entire bus tour……..he was really cool and very knowledgeable!

After the city tour, I checked in at my hotel…….I stayed at the Castle Hotel – a very quaint and lovely….and old Victorian hotel! I loved it and recommend it if anyone is looking for a hotel in Dublin! Only tip I have, though, is to ask for a bell hop to help with your luggage……I dragged a big suitcase, a small suitcase, a tote, and my purse through a VERY small elevator, thick carpeting, steps and doorways separating sections of the corridors, and a step up into the room! It wasn’t easy! But — the hotel really was quite awesome!

No – these stairs were not part of my trip to my room – there was an elevator!

The OCD in me really wanted to slide this couch over to center it under the painting — it drove me NUTS!!! LOL

Bare bones room, but it was really clean and very comfortable!

After I got settled in my room, I left and grabbed a hop-on-hop off bus to see what else I could see…….

I hopped off at Trinity College because I really wanted to see the Book of Kells —- a book believed to have been created in 800 AD by monks in a Columban Monastery in either Ireland or England containing tables and and text illustrating the four Gospels of the New Testament. It is on display in the Library at Trinity College in Dublin. But……..I discovered they only allow so many people in to view it each day and they already reached their max and were no longer issuing admission tickets! 😦 So – this is me outside Trinity College, disappointed and waiting to get back on the bus! LOL

They are serious about looking before you step off a curb — cars will NOT slow down or stop for you — they’ll run you over and keep right on going!!!

The last place I stopped at was the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square across from my hotel – this is a garden dedicated to the memory of “all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”. It is a lovely, peaceful garden.

I finished off the evening in the hotel restaurant with a very interesting shrimp cocktail and traditional Irish Guinness Stew —- DELICIOUS!!!

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Their shrimp cocktail is not what I’m used to — it was tiny shrimp dressed in a mayo based sauce with some spices……not bad – I ate it all and did like it, somewhat, but I wouldn’t order it again! The bread was excellent, though!

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But…..the beef stew……OMG — the most tender, flavorful beef and the richest, deep flavored gravy I’ve ever had…..and tender vegetables that were permeated with the rich flavors of the beef and gravy…….and those strips on top are crispy parsnip chips – I LOVED THEM!!! I ate every bite of the stew and wished for more!!! So good!!!

While in Dublin, I also heard a lot about the concerns Ireland has about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union! Ireland does NOT want to leave the EU – they want to remain apart of the union……but, parts of Ireland are still under British rule, so if Britain leaves the EU, it will leave Ireland in a very bad predicament with part of their country in and part out! So, they are watching the developments closely and they are in talks with Britain to make a plan for their future.

After a very good night’s sleep, I got up and headed to the airport — my taxi driver was wonderful — he turned into a tour guide and information source all along the route to the airport! Dublin airport was unbelievable —- really LARGE, but very easy to get around and find your way and very efficiently run! I was impressed!!! They have a complete mall inside – including a full service drug store, beauty station where they did make-overs, like in a big department store, and about every restaurant and store you could imagine! I got to my gate and discovered my flight was delayed an hour — not a good start of my 18+ hours of airports and flights!!! But, once I got on the flight, all was fine — I had a long lay over in Lisbon, so it didn’t create any problems and the next two flights were on time!

Air Portugal was the airline I used and I was happy to see they had these tablet holders — nice! I’ve never seen them on any other airline, but I hear others do have them. Unfortunately, the short one hour or so flight from Dublin to Lisbon had one, but the very long flight from Lisbon to JFK in New York didn’t! But, it did have a TV with a large selection of free movies and TV shows to choose from — I watched “The Upside” and “A Star is Born”. I was also lucky enough to have all three seats in my center row to myself, so I was able to put the arms up and stretch out to read and be comfortable for the long flight – I even was able to lay down and sleep for about an hour or so! Then, my experience going through customs at JFK was smooth and quick, as well……and the layover there was comfortable, so I didn’t feel rushed! And, all three flights (Dublin to Lisbon, Lisbon to JFK, and JFK to Buffalo) were all smooth as glass — no turbulence or issues of any kind! It was a bit unbelievable, but definitely welcomed!!! 🙂

And, finally……the Captain of the Celebrity Reflection issued us all a certificate in recognition of crossing the Atlantic — I thought that was pretty cool!

So, the whole trip was just amazing…….I thought crossing the Atlantic on a cruise ship would probably be a once in a lifetime thing, but I just may do it again with different ports of call — maybe Italy or other Mediterranean countries……hhhmmm……we’ll have to see about that! I know that just about everybody I met and talked to on the cruise were seasoned ocean crossers and I only met one other person who was a first time crosser, like me!

So, what’s next for me? Well, I do have an October trip to DC with a couple friends booked! And, I do need to get to the last three states so I can say I’ve been to all 50 states – I need Kentucky, Colorado, and New Mexico to make that happen and I’d kind of like to knock those out this year……but, time will tell! I’m also toying with the idea of maybe doing a Panama Canal trip next year and at some point, I’d love to do a European River Cruise!!! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted! hehehehe

2019 Transatlantic Cruise – TAC 4 – Liverpool, England

And, then there was Liverpool…..

To say this was the highlight of the trip would be an understatement! First…..it wasn’t supposed to be part of the trip, at all! The original itinerary for this cruise was Azores and three stops in Ireland – Cork, Waterford, and Dublin…..and only one day in Cork with eight days to cross the Atlantic! I wasn’t that interested in Waterford – none of the shore excursion options caught my eye – so, I planned to just maybe go to the Waterford Crystal facility and wander around a bit. I was, however, considering extending my stay after the cruise before I flew home and maybe visit London while I was over there…..with the main reason being seeing some Beatles related stuff and maybe the castle from Downton Abbey! I was just about to go talk to Mitzy at Orleans Travel to find out how much it would cost to do that and see if it was something I could manage to add on to the vacation – I logged onto my itinerary to double check dates so I would have all the info she’d need to help me out…….it took me all of two seconds to let out a scream and get all excited……the itinerary had changed — now, instead of Waterford, Ireland, the middle stop in the UK was Liverpool, England…..the ultimate Beatles location!!! OMG!!! I thought it was a glitch…….something funky happened to the web site…..cause, there were other changes, too — like, it was now only taking seven days to get across the ocean and the extra day was added onto Cork (the reason for the docking issues I mentioned in TAC 3)! So, I called Celebrity Cruise Lines and they confirmed that the itinerary had, indeed, changed and that Waterford was definitely replaced with Liverpool!!! First, they just saved me a bunch of money cause I no longer felt the need to go to London (at least not on this trip)……second (well, actually, first and foremost), I was going to get to see where it all started for the Beatles!!! A dream come true……yes, if you’re counting, this was the THIRD dream come true in one trip!!!

You see, the Beatles hold some of the most wonderful memories of my Mom for me……of course, there are TONS of wonderful memories, but a love of the Beatles is something we shared right from the moment they stepped foot off that airplane on February 7, 1964 – I had just turned 7 years old the previous October! Mom and I sat glued to the TV watching them arrive and all the girls screaming……and we screamed, too! Then, together we sat and watched them on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later! Later that same year, Mom took me to the theater in downtown Albion to see their movie when it came out……A Hard Days Night! We sat in the front row in the balcony – the theater was PACKED with screaming young girls – we couldn’t hear any of the movie! LOL Back then, they would allow you to stay and watch the movie on the second showing without paying again — so, we did – we stayed and watched it, again! Of course, we went to see their next movie in 1965, too…….Mom took a whole car load of our friends to the drive-in (I think it was Transit Drive-In, but might have been Middleport – I know it wasn’t Orleans Drive-In in Albion) to see Help! What a great night! Mom bought all of their albums and we played them and danced to them and sang all the songs……me and Mom and The Beatles!!! Then, in June 2006, I was going to a seminar in Las Vegas, so I invited Mom to come stay with me – she’d always wanted to go to Vegas! While we were there, I got tickets for us to see the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show called Love at the Mirage – an early birthday present for her! WE LOVED IT!!! So, we had a history and a lot of shared memories with the lads! So, to say that this was going to be an emotional day would be like saying Niagara Falls is a little bit of a trickle of water! I was overwhelmed with emotion leading up to that day and throughout it……I was there……but, without Mom…..but, I also knew for sure she was right there with me!!! I was in tears a good part of the day —- happy tears!!!

Anyway —- here’s my day in Liverpool…..one of the top thrills of my life!!!

My morning veranda selfie after docking in Liverpool port!

I bought these leggings specifically to wear in Liverpool! 🙂

The port of Liverpool is an amazing port……so vibrant! It is in Liverpool Bay on the River Mersey — you know – the one mentioned in the song Ferry Cross the Mersey, by Gerry and the Pacemakers! And, the city is right there — lots of ports, you have to go a ways to get to the city, but it’s all right there!

I booked a tour called “In The Steps of the Beatles” – a four hour tour around Liverpool to see everything that had anything to do with the Beatles! Our first stop was The Beatles Story – an interactive exhibition/museum in an old warehouse on the river front not far from where we were docked.

Unfortunately, this is the only photo of Strawberry Fields I was able to get —- we did go there on the tour, but it was under construction and the bus couldn’t stop to let us out…….and the gate and beyond was obscured to the point we couldn’t even get a photo from the bus window! But, that’s OK…….we saw so much more!

There were several pairs of John’s glasses on display

At the end of the museum tour, they had a great gift shop — I got t-shirts for me and my nephew and niece and guitar picks for my nephew, who is learning to play, and some other cool little trinkets…….and THIS AWESOME HAT!!!

After we drove around the city a little bit, we got out and walked down Mathew Street where the Cavern Club was!

Liverpool isn’t only the home of the Beatles…….we were told that there are more #1 songs from groups who have ties to Liverpool than any other city in the world!!! This brick wall has all the names of the singers and groups who performed at the Cavern Club between 1957-1973 and a few in the 90’s!

50% of the original Cavern Club is still there……I believe they said a fire destroyed part of it……but, much of the original building is still there and in the same spot at 10 Mathew Street!

The tour didn’t include getting to go inside…….someday, I’ll go back and go in!!!

This is a tribute to the late singer, Cilla Black, who worked at the Cavern as a hat check girl before becoming a star in the late 60s, early 70s

This display is by local artists — all suitcases and trunks representing famous people who lived or had ties to Liverpool — the sculpture is titled “A Case History” and is located on Hope Street near the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (more on that later) and The Liverpool School of Art, where John Lennon attended.

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts – founded by Paul McCartney! Paul still personally hands out the diplomas to every graduating class each year!

If I remember correctly, this is the Liverpool School of Art that John attended…….

Penny Lane……it is actually a district, not just a street – Paul and John both lived there as young boys (Paul much longer than John). There are several of these signs designating the district – this just happens to be the one the bus stopped at so we could get off for a photo. We drove through the whole district. There is a sign we didn’t get to see that Paul signed during his Car Poll Karaoke ride with James Corden. Wish I had seen that one!

The church where Paul sang in the choir as a young lad

We drove by the childhood home of John

Not a usual physical stop, we were able to get out and see the childhood home of Paul…….this was a bonus because we weren’t able to get out at Strawberry Field!

Paul’s home – Paul and John wrote many of their early songs here and they would play them for Paul’s parents and his father would give them advice on the songs — for instance, he strongly suggested they not “American-ize their lyrics and change it to ‘she loves you, yes, yes, yes‘ “…….luckily, they didn’t take his suggestion, cause “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” really does sound so much better! LOL

When Yoko Ono heard that John and Paul’s childhood homes were going up for sale, she bought them and donated them to a non-profit who now maintains them. She also bought other sites and donated tons of money to keep their memory and certain things they loved about the city intact – Paul, has, as well……..the guide said, “people ask all the time ‘what did the Beatles ever do for Liverpool?’ – well, there is evidence to all they have done everywhere you look!” Between the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts founded by Paul and the charitable donations of both Paul and Yoko on John’s behalf………

We drove by and saw all the things mentioned in the song Penny Lane…..this is the shelter in the roundabout

Penny Lane was written by Paul about his time living in Penny Lane —- there was a trolley that he rode just about daily to get from his house to John’s house and from his house to church, school, etc……..the trolley would ring the bell as it got to the Penny Lane stop – hence the lyrics “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes….” – he remembered hearing the trolley and seeing the station…….at the stop, he saw the roundabout with the shelter – which is now a cafe of some kind, but back then was a place to sit and wait out of the rain. Across the street is the bank mentioned in the song – the banker was made up for the song, but the idea was that he was rich and had a motorcar, so didn’t need to wear his “mac in the pouring ran, very strange” – a “mac” is a waterproof coat! LOL Also on that corner is the barber shop with the photographs of customers with their hair cuts mentioned in the song, as well. The fire station with the “Clean machine” fire trucks is just down the street! We sat at that corner for a bit with the guide pointing out all the places Paul references in the song! It was sooooooo cool!!!

The bank across from the roundabout

The barbershop is down this street

The fire station

A better shot of the intersection – the roundabout, the bank on the right, the barbershop straight ahead

There is a China Town section in Liverpool with the largest Chinese Arch of its kind outside of China

Before I go on, I also wanted to tell you about what we learned about Strawberry Field (no “s” – John added the “s” to make it Strawberry Fields cause he thought it sounded better in the song). Strawberry Field actually isn’t a field and has nothing to do with strawberries – it was an orphanage near John’s home. He loved to play there as a child — he felt connected to the boys because he lost his parents and was living with his aunt Mimi at the time. I believe his father worked on shipping boats and was a very absent parent. His mother fell in love with another man and it wasn’t a very good environment for a young boy, so the aunt called child services reporting an unfit home and he ended up living with her. His mother would visit and on her way to visit one time, she was struck by a car and died. So — anyway — he felt like an orphan and enjoyed playing with the boys there. His aunt didn’t want him to go there because she thought they would be a bad influence. So, he would sneak out and climb the fence to get to the play yard. When his aunt learned of this, she scolded him — he responded with “what are they going to do about it, hang me?” – hence the lyric “nothing to get hung about”! LOL So, anyway — it is a real place – not just a field of strawberries from a psychedelic haze, as some think……a place where John had fond memories as a child!

After the ship’s final “all aboard” time, the port pier did some amazing things to send us off…….I’ve never seen anything like it — lots of times, you get people at the docks waving at the ships as they pull out, but Liverpool went above and beyond by giving us a BIG send off —– they played Beatles songs loudly as they shot confetti out of machines and all the workers were out waving and cheering and there were LOTS of people lined up above the docks waving and singing and cheering……it was awesome!!!

Then, we pulled out of Liverpool Bay out through the River Mersey and out into the ocean…….bye, bye, Liverpool……you made me a VERY happy lady!!! I hope to return someday — I’d love to dive deeper into your wonderful city!!!

This area is where The Beatles Story that I showed parts of in the beginning of this post is located! These used to be shipping warehouses that the city has refurbished and turned into useful buildings and businesses!

A little ways out into the open sea, I was surprised and amazed to see wind turbines……LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of wind turbines —- the UK is very actively working on ways to utilize sustainable energy alternatives…….and it looked awesome!!! They seemed to go on forever…..and, even when it looked like they stopped, more came into view!!! They were EVERYWHERE!!! So beautiful!!!

Well, that’s Liverpool…….and, as amazing as it was, it wasn’t the end……..next up, I’ll write about Dublin, Ireland!!!

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2019 Transatlantic Cruise – TAC 3 – Cork, Ireland

Let’s continue our journey, shall we?

After two full days at sea, we arrived in County Cork, Ireland! It has always been a dream of mine to see Ireland…..I came close to being sent to one of our sister facilities in Ireland to provide some training when I was still a member of the workforce, but it never happened! Bummer! But, now, I’ve spent real quality time there – more than I would have on a work trip! We docked in two different ports and spent two days in the Cork area of Ireland. And, it was all so very wonderful! This area of Ireland is exactly what you picture in your head when you think of Ireland……lots of lush green country side and quaint little villages and castles – lots of castles!

Due to some changes in our itinerary and other ship traffic, we had to first dock at Ringaskiddy Port in County Cork. It was a temporary stop till we could get into the port of Cobh (pronounced Cove – in the traditional Irish language, when you see a “bh” together, it sounds like a “v”, so Cobh is Cove!). So, anyway……we docked in Ringaskiddy about sunrise and buses met us to take us on our booked shore excursions and for those who wanted to spend time on their own in the city of Cork. We had to be back by 6:00 pm in time for the ship to move to Cobh or find our own transportation to the next port (which is only a mile away by water, but quite a ride by taxi).

Pulling into Ringaskiddy — this is a very industrial port

Surprise – what do I see out my veranda when we finish docking? A Pfizer plant!!! So – I got to see one of our sister plants in Ireland, after all — albeit from a distance, but I saw it!!! LOL

Some of the SEVERAL buses waiting to take us on our adventures of the day!

My daily veranda selfie in Ringaskiddy – with the Pfizer plant over my shoulder!

Exploring Tipperary Shore Excursion

This was one of the BEST shore excursions I’ve ever been on…….the sites we saw were incredible……the tour guide and driver were awesome…….together it was UNBELIEVABLE!!! There was a LOT of walking, stairs, inclines, and standing……my knee, back, legs….well, actually every bone and muscle in my body…..was screaming at me by the time we were done, but it was soooooo worth it!!! I WAS IN IRELAND!!!

This tour was a last minute change for me. I had originally booked the Best of Ireland Tour that went to several points around the Cork area. But, I found out that the tour I booked on the second day was pretty much the same thing in a shorter tour and was all the touristy stuff. The Shore Excursion Director put together 2 or 3 smaller more intimate groups and this one caught my eye — I got all excited when I saw we were going to Tipperary and seeing two castles (actually ended up being three, cause we got to see one from the outside at a rest stop we made mid morning). The other one only went to Blarney Castle and I was going to see it, again, the next day! So, I cancelled the one I had booked and got in on the other one — it had a limit of 20 people and actually ended up with only about 12……so, we got a lot of personalized attention from the tour guides and it was a lot easier to hear and see things with a smaller group! It ended up only costing me about $20 more than the original excursion and was something like 2 more hours and lots more amazing things!

Waiting in the theater for my group # to be called to head out to the buses…….so very excited!!!

I’M IN IRELAND!!!!

The Irish Country Side – County Cork and Tipperary Areas

It was very common to see sheep wandering on hillsides and even in the middle of the road. Farmers allow their sheep to run free and mingle with other farmer’s sheep — to distinguish ownership, the farmers paint their “color” on the sheep’s wool – these have the color blue painted on the,. It was so cool to see fields full of sheep with all different colors painted on their backs! 🙂

Farm property borders are generally defined by planting hawthorn, blackthorn, and these gorse bushes – a yellow bush with very strong, sharp spikes.

Also – rhododendrons grow wild on the hillsides — they weren’t in season, yet, but from the looks of the size of the bushes and the leaves, I can imagine it is STUNNING when they are all in bloom!!!

Lismore Castle – next to where we had a short rest stop break

Rock of Cashel – castle built in the early 1200’s was originally a castle of the King’s of Munster. It was later gifted to the church in an effort to protect it from being taken over during war time and became a cathedral. It is also known as St. Patrick’s Rock. Two of the most famous people of Irish legend and history are associated with the Rock of Cashel. They are St. Patrick whom according to legend, arrived in Cashel in AD 432 and baptized King Aengus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler. The second was Brian Boru, he was crowned High King here in 990. He is the only king who was able to unite all of Ireland under one ruler for any significant period of time and is known as the Lion of Ireland.

We got off the bus a ways before this photo was taken – it is a LONG, very steep incline up and around to the front of the castle — I wasn’t the only one who was out of breath and thought I was going to have a heart attack by the time I got up there! But, I was glad I pushed myself……later on, after I got back to my room – after this and another difficult castle to maneuver around, I had my doubts it was worth it, but looked over the photos and reminded myself it most definitely WAS!!!

We asked if this section was rebuilt or built much later — the guide said, no – it had recently gone through an extensive cleaning and re-pointing effort to repair decay and now is back to the original coloring. The rest of the building may go through a similar process at some point.

Whoever set this stone must have had a bit too much of the Guinness or Jameson while on the job! hehehe

They are still allowing limited burials there — but, likely not much longer.

We, then, walked back down the hill (here is the view of the castle from the bottom of the hill) where we had lunch at a wonderful little local restaurant.

I met, Lucy — she is here with her owner and she is a true lover of all people — such a sweetheart!!!

Our lunch included a 1/2 pint of Guinness or a glass of wine……of course, I had to have the Guinness! We were told that the Guinness in Ireland is so much better than what is served elsewhere in the world because it doesn’t travel well – if you don’t typically like Guinness, try it there and you likely will —– that is so true —- I usually find Guinness to be heavy and bitter and this had an amazing flavor and went down really easy! 🙂

This is a thick puree’d veggie soup —- it was soooooo good! I wish I could have had a second bowl!

Main course was Voloauvents – a puff pastry filled with chicken and mushrooms with a chicken and mushroom gravy over the top and roasted potatoes with veggies. Delicious!

And, it was topped off with a slice of apple pie!

Cahir Castle – Built in 1142, it was believed to be impenetrable until it fell under an intense attack – but it remains one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles and is located on an island of lime stone in the River Suir predominantly situated in the middle of town. The most interesting part of the tour described how the occupants (the Butler family) defended themselves from attempts to gain access to the fortress by their enemies…….first, they would first they would pour vats of boiling oil on the intruders from the roof landings above the giant doors – the boiling oil would seep into the cracks of the armor worn by the attackers and they couldn’t escape the burning of their skin……then, if they made it through that door, they were trapped in a small circular room where they were sitting ducks for guns and arrows with nowhere to take cover. There was a lot more about the castle, the inhabitants, and how they lived, but it would take way too much time to tell you……and some of it is pretty gross!!! LOL

Port of Cobh and Blarney Village – when we returned to the ship, it moved one mile to the docking spot that came available for us later that evening. Cobh was a lovely port — much nicer than the industrial port of Ringaskiddy. I wanted to get off and wander around, but I was so sore and exhausted from the day’s exploration of Tipperary that I decided to wait till the next day. We were in Cobh that night and the next day until after dinner.

Cobh is the last port of the Titanic before it began its journey across the ocean to America. There is a wonderful museum and tribute to the Titanic and its passengers at the dock – I didn’t get a chance to go through it – I hope to return someday and will be sure to do that!

My veranda selfie in Cobh

The view of the Port of Cobh was beautiful!

At the end of the pier is a memorial to Annie Moore — she was just 15 when she got on a ship in Cobh to America with her two younger brothers in 1892 and became the very first person to be processed through Ellis Island!

What a brave young lady she was……

Here she is with the Celebrity Reflection (our ship) docked where the ship she boarded all those years ago was docked…….what a different experience crossing the Atlantic she must have had and what she would have thought of today’s cruise ships!

Blarney Village was a quaint little village — very touristy!!! I found out when I got there that there wasn’t a way from where I was to view Blarney Castle without paying to get inside for the tour and I didn’t want to do that. I had no interest in climbing to the top up the extremely narrow, winding staircase to stand in line and then be held while lying backwards practically upside down to kiss the filthy stone —- the legend is that kissing the Blarney Stone will grant you the gift of eloquence —- I think I’m eloquent enough!!! LOL So, I took the tour so I could see Blarney Castle and didn’t see it……but, all was not lost — it was a beautiful day and wandering around the quaint Blarney Village was a very pleasant experience! I got a hand made wool scarf that I love, a stuff lamb for Megan, and some other trinkets. I also sat and had tea and a scone that was quite delightful!

This is a wild rhododendron arch that must be incredible when in bloom!

My scone, jam, and clotted cream

It was a BIG scone

I made friends with a curious raven and some of his friends and I shared some of my huge scone with him!

He was very appreciative!

These photos were NOT zoomed in (well, just a tiny bit, but not much at all) — he was sitting on the back of the chair across from me at a small bistro table —- he was quite bold and fearless

More of the Irish Country Side

And, scenes as we pulled away to leave Cobh…..

the pilot guiding us out of the harbor

So…..goodbye to Cobh, Tipperary, and County Cork……but, not goodbye to Ireland – I will be returning to Ireland later in the cruise……but, first, we head to Liverpool, England – the absolute highlight of the cruise! I can’t wait to share that port with you all…..perhaps tomorrow!

2019 Transatlantic Cruise – TAC 2 – Azores

Hello, again……Let’s move on to the second in the Transatlantic Cruise series and visit the Azores!

Before I booked this cruise, I had heard of the Azores, but had no idea where they were! I thought they were islands in the Caribbean!!! But, when I looked it up to get more info about the port I would be visiting, I discovered they are off the coast of Portugal! The Azores are actually an archipelago – a group of islands made up of inactive volcanoes that are part of Portugal. The island that we docked at is Sao Miguel and Sao Miguel’s capital is Ponta Delgada – the port we spent two days in. I really enjoyed exploring this island — it was beautiful and I learned a lot!

The wildest animal on the island is the rabbit — nothing poisonous and no snakes!!! Dairy is a huge industry for them – lots of cows and they told us that they adapted to be able to climb the steep hills like goats do! Since the islands consist of inactive volcanoes, there was really nothing growing on the island when it was first discovered and began to be inhabited……all the floral was brought in fro other places, there is very little, if any, native plants – mostly just mosses. Winter is the azalea season and summer is hydrangea season — we saw LOTS of azaleas in full bloom just ending their season growing wild all over! I wish we could have seen the hydrangea, too – I’ll have to go back during their season to see them!

Our tour guide said, “The Azores is a place where you remember to breathe.”  What a beautiful way to describe her island!!!

We arrived in Ponta Delgada about sunrise and spent one entire day, over night, and most of the second day – till I think about 6:00 pm – there. The following photos are my first views of Ponta Delgada.

As we were approaching……still a bit in the distance!

My daily veranda selfie…….dressed and ready to go ashore for my day one shore excursion!

The first day was foggy and rained off and on and was quite chilly. My shore excursion was a Whale Watching Tour, so I knew I’d be out on a boat. I put my hair up in a pony tail and wore my ball cap. I had a warm, water proof jacket laid out to pack, but somehow it didn’t make it into the suitcase! The day before we arrived in Ponta Delgada, the forecast looked like I was going to be really sorry I didn’t bring it, so I went to the on-board shops and found one to purchase at a very reasonable price! Score! And, boy, was I glad I did!!! It was not only about 55 degrees and rainy, it was very windy, too……I would have froze with the lighter jackets I had with me! But, the one I bought was perfect! (when I got home, there was the jacket I planned to take with me laying on the top of the “changed my mind – not taking” pile!!! UGH!!!)

I was a bit disappointed in the Whale Watching Tour…….I was so excited to get to say that I have been whale watching in Hawaii, Alaska, and now Portugal……but, it wasn’t to be! The fog was so dense that they couldn’t find whales with their instruments or the spotters on the shore……they sailed around the bay for the full 4 hours and we never saw a single one……saw LOTS of dolphins (which actually are much more fun than whales, anyway), but no whales! AND…..because of the high winds and rain, the water was VERY rough — we spent the whole time hanging on for dear life to keep from falling. So, I wasn’t even able to get any good photos of the dolphins we saw! But, it wasn’t a total loss — I did enjoy the dolphins!

Our ship from the shore……we were one of four cruise ships in port while we were there!

Later in the evening, I went ashore, again, for another group excursion — we walked across the inlet to a local restaurant for a Portuguese dinner and traditional folk song/dance show. It was amazing!!! We had such a good time and the food was delicious!

The menu……

Yam Cream Soup with Crispy Shrimp and Coriander Sauce —- YUM!!!!

Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Mousse, greens, and an amazing sauce —- sooooooo good!!!

Fresh Cream with Sweet Egg and Toasted Almonds – awesome!!!

Our very sweet and handsome waiter

We had a private room just for those from our cruise ship that chose to attend — we had a wonderful view of our ship from the dining room across the inlet

The singers and dancers were wonderful — they explained the various traditional clothing and the meaning behind the dances and songs — very nice!

This guitar contains several traditional symbols that tell the story of their ancestors

Our ship from across the inlet at night after the dinner

The restaurant was in the Grand Hotel – the windows on the second floor is the dining room we had our dinner in

  Luckily – this was our only yucky weather day for the entire trip. The next day the sun came out and it warmed up enough to just wear my jean jacket. AND…..I made the best decision on which shore excursion to do on which day!!! Maybe I missed out on seeing the whales and had a bit of a rough ride searching for them, but the people who did the country side tours on that first day didn’t get to see any of the beauty of the island because of the fog — they got up on the crater rim and couldn’t see any of the crater lakes or anything……that was sad!!! I, however, did the scenic tour on the second day when there was no fog, no rain, and LOTS of wonderful visibility!!! SCORE – AGAIN!!! LOL

Day two in Ponta Delgada – Daily Veranda Selfie…..

The shore excursion I booked for day two was a scenic country side tour. We toured the city of Ponta Delgada, stopped at a beautiful botanical garden (one of several city parks with botanical gardens on the island), visited a pineapple plantation, and stopped at the upper rim of one of the inactive volcanoes – inside are what is known as “twin lakes” – it is two small lakes separated by a narrow strait – one lake is blue one and one is green — more on that later!

The Botanical Gardens – although this was a very large and beautiful park, it is actually the SMALLEST of its kind on the island!!!

This was my best photo of the entire trip……I was attempting to take a photo of this amazing stone staircase and this young girl ran down the steps into my shot before I noticed her! I thought it ruined the shot and took another one without her…….but, this one was the keeper!!! Looks like something you’d see on a Harry Potter book cover, doesn’t it? 🙂

This is an ancient ficus tree…….when I think of ficus, I think of those trees we used to have as house plants back in the 70s and 80s – sometimes with white Christmas lights on them! LOL How’d you like one like this one in the corner of your living room???

The ficus from the other side

More of the country side from the bus window

The Pineapple Plantation – pineapples first came to the Azores as a decorative house plant – people loved the beautiful flower that blooms on the pineapple. Then, they realized they could grow them and export them. But, the climate isn’t right for growing pineapples in the ground, so they grow them in green houses! It takes 18-24 months to grow one fruit!

This is a pineapple root ready to plant in the green house

They need a lot of water, so there are large pools in the center of the green houses to use for watering the plants

The buckets are used to smoke the plants at certain stages of growth – they believe this helps them grow

A big product for them is Pineapple Liqueur — they gave out sample tastings – I tried it – it was VERY potent, but surprisingly tasty and mild going down!

One of many fields of cows we saw along the tour…….dairy is a major industry for them!

Sete Cidades – Crater Lakes – This is the second largest crater on the island and is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal! We drove to the rim of the crater to view the Sete Cidades Crater Lakes. Inside the crater are twin lakes separated by a narrow strait. When the weather conditions are right, you can see the “two” lakes take on different colors – one is blue and one is green. There is a legend explaining this phenomenon – I couldn’t remember what the legend was, so I looked it up — according to Wikipedia:

The ancient story recounts the tale of a bad-tempered widower King and his daughter in a Kingdom in the Western Sea. He was a King, Lord of Alchemy and sorcerer, who lived exclusively for his daughter, Antília, and who would not let the Princess speak to anyone. Apart from the King, the Princess was raised by an old nurse, after the Queen had died. As the years progressed, the princess grew up to be a beautiful young woman and able to attract the attentions of any boy in the kingdom. However, the King restricted her movements to the castle and garden, and few ever saw her. But, unintimidated by her father, and with the help of the nurse, she escaped to the local hills and valleys, as her father slept after his lunch. During one of her escape adventures, she heard a song: the music was beautiful and enchanted her to follow it to its origins. Hiding from view, the princess found a young shepherd playing a flute, sitting on top of a hill. For weeks she returned, listening to the young shepherd, until she was discovered behind some bushes. The shepherd boy fell in love with the princess, and they continued to meet afterwards, talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, until the boy decided to ask the princess in marriage.

Early in the morning, the couple knocked on the door of the Castle, and asked the servants to speak to the King. Very nervous but determined, the shepherd asked the King for his daughter in marriage. Reacting angrily, the King refused and expelled him from the Castle, and forbade his daughter from seeing the young boy. Not wishing more ill feelings, she followed the orders of her father, but met secretly with the shepherd that afternoon in order to tell him that she would never see him again. Antília and the shepherd boy cried all afternoon, embracing, and their tears formed two beautiful lakes, one green, for the Princess’s eyes were green, and the other blue, for the shepherd’s eyes were likewise colored.

In reality……there is an ecological reason that has more to do with how the water reflects its surroundings…..but, it is really cool to see the two different colored lakes side by side and the romantic side of me wants to believe the legend!!!!

A lake leading up to the rim of the crater

The conditions were perfect — we could see the two colors……but, unfortunately, they didn’t come out well in the photos I took!

This photo is the closest to showing what we saw…….it doesn’t do it justice at all, but it gives you an idea……it was so much more vivid and breathtaking in person!

It was an awesome day…….again, I am so very glad that I did the tours in the order I did — as much as I was disappointed I didn’t see a whale, I was so happy I got to see all the beautiful views on day two — missing THAT would have been a tragedy……the folks from the ship that did it the other way around did see several whales, but missed all this beauty!!! I was very blessed!!!

Pulling out of port……good bye, Sao Miguel…..I hope to return some day!!!

So — that’s the end of our first port of call…….after leaving the Azores, we had two full days at sea before we docked in Cork, Ireland! My next post will show you all the wonders of the amazing land of the Irish!

2019 Transatlantic Cruise – TAC 1 – Overview

I had the trip of a lifetime a few weeks ago……April 22 – May 7th, I took a Transatlantic Cruise from Fort Lauderdale, FL across the Atlantic Ocean with stops at the Azores in Portugul, Cork in Ireland, Liverpool in England, and finally Dublin in Ireland before flying back home! This knocked three major items off my big adventure bucket list — sail across the ocean, see Ireland, and see where it all started for the Beatles!!! And, it was so amazing — I’m still not fully over the thrills and emotional highs that overwhelmed me for sixteen wonderful days!!! It was a DREAM vacation – one I never thought I would ever actually get to do!

This first post will be an overview — mostly focusing on the cruise, itself, and the trip in general. I’ll write separate posts for the specific adventures at each of the stops along the way.

It took SEVEN full days to get across the ocean to our first stop at the Azores. I wasn’t worried – I love being on the water and not seeing land for multiple days doesn’t bother me, but it still gave me a bit of a queasy feeling when the Captain came on the loud speaker every day and told us how deep the water below us was in nautical miles…….unimaginable! In the days leading up to the cruise, friends kept asking me “what in the world will you do on a boat in the middle of the ocean for seven days???” — my response was “anything I want to do……or absolutely nothing at all!” LOL And, I did just that – a lot of absolutely nothing at all! Oh, I did take in most of the entertainment available every afternoon and evening, ate a lot, and did a few activities here and there……but, mostly, I just thoroughly enjoyed sitting out on the deck or on my private veranda soaking up the sun, reading, relaxing, napping, watching the water go by……you get the picture! I slept the best I’ve slept in years and was the most completely relaxed I think I’ve EVER been! I loved every single second of it!

Then……there was another TWO full days at sea between the Azores and Cork, Ireland.

The seas were so calm — I think the calmest of any cruise I’ve ever been on! For the most part, you hardly knew you were on a ship in the middle of the ocean – there was one or two nights that there was an ever so slight rocking and rolling, but I usually welcome that while I’m sleeping, anyway! And, the weather couldn’t have been better! It was in the 80’s leaving Ft. Lauderdale and for the first few days until we got further north and closer to the Azores. The rest of the trip was still very nice – a few chilly days / nights, but mostly in the mid-high 60s and low 70s – enough to need a sweater or light jacket, for the most part, and a heavier jacket on one day in particular. We had one quite chilly, rainy, foggy day, but mostly the sun was shining and Mother Nature cooperated with us! Absolutely nothing to complain about, for sure!

My Cabin and First Day At Sea:

Leaving the Port of Fort Lauderdale

On deck as we were leaving Fort Lauderdale

I had a lovely cabin with a veranda —- which I got a LOT of use out of!!!

Selfie on the couch in the cabin

Our first sunset – from my veranda

A Sampling of the Food On Board

The food was, of course, amazing……and always available somewhere on board!

For some reason, their hot dogs tasted so good, I enjoyed one with a salad 2 or 3 days in the afternoon up on deck!

Ice Cream…….whenever I wanted it!!!

The nightly chocolate on my pillow was a guilty pleasure I definitely enjoyed!

I bought the non-alcoholic drink package, so I also enjoyed specialty teas and hot chocolates, smoothies, and more!

On LOBSTER NIGHT, I made a pig out of myself with a second portion!!!

Around The Ship

I walked by this poster – an advertisement for one of the jewelry stores on board – every day and drooled!!! LOL

Yes! That’s REAL grass on a cruise ship!!! Deck 15 had LOTS of it to enjoy!

I spent a LOT of time on lounge chairs and other various seating options on deck!

I wanted to try the hammocks, but was afraid I wouldn’t get back out!!! LOL

Some people decorated their doors —- these are a few of the more interesting ones! LOL

The Sunsets

OK, this isn’t a sunset, but wanted to include it because of the story behind it……I was sitting in my cabin reading and this HUGE bird (I believe it is an albatross) caught my eye — he was flying along side of us and kept right up with the speed of the ship and stayed (even though he was constantly flying) right outside my veranda door for several minutes before he veered off and I lost sight of him! It made me laugh and smile for quite a while!

The Entertainment

The nightly shows were spectacular!!! Broadway shows, musical revues, singers, comedians, jugglers, magicians, aerial and acrobatic acts, and even a hypnotist! And, then there were the musicians, singers, dancers, and bands that played all around the ship at all hours — wherever you were, whatever time you were there, there was some form of entertainment!

The was a Q&A session with the Captain (center) and the head officers of all the departments

This was the head chef at one of the specialty restaurants demonstrating how to make the PERFECT steak!

Daily Veranda Selfies, Navigation Map, and Calm Sea Photos

Every day, I took a Daily Veranda Selfie and photo of the Navigation Map on the TV to post to Facebook…….some were taken in port, so will be on those specific posts!

So……there’s the overview……next up: Ponta Delgada, Azores – the island of Sao Miguel! See you there!

May Daily Photos – Part Two

Man, oh Man……May sure FLEW by! Yeah, I know – I still owe you posts from my Transatlantic Cruise……I’ll get them up – I promise…..I’m just not promising WHEN I’ll get them up!!! Life sure has a way of getting crazy on us! Between being away and then catching up after being away and all the usual stuff that gets in the way……and, then, my brother and sister-in-law’s home caught on fire on May 29th – they are OK and the dogs are OK, but the house is a total loss and it has been an overwhelming whirlwind ever since – especially for them, of course, but also for all of us in one way or another! So, I’m a bit behind on posts……I know I sound like a broken record when I say I’m going to try to get better about posting more regularly……I really do want to…….and I hope that some changes I’m making in my day-to-day life will help me do that! We’ll see!

But, for now……here are my Daily Photos from May that were not already posted – the theme for May was “colors” and a couple other topics in the last few days. I will put the topic under each photo:

PURPLE

AQUA

PINK

GRAY

BROWN

SILVER

GOLD

POP OF COLOR

MATCHING

PASTEL

BRIGHT

NATURAL

ONE COLOR

TWO COLORS

PATTERN

BLACK AND WHITE

RAINBOW

FAVE COLOR

CLASH

LIGHT

DARK

WHAT I WORE TODAY

(A smile……..but, also a lot of tears……this was the day of the fire)

ON MY FEET

ON MY HEAD

So that’s May…….colorful and interesting and gone in the speed of light!!!