Day 6 – Liverpool

The small village life was nice — and now is missed — but it had to come to an end as we headed north to the city the Fab Four put on the map.

Actually, I gather a map maker put Liverpool on the map, but The Beatles helped our eyes shift up the coast to find it.

We got in around 1410. After dropping our bags and doing a quick batch o laundry in the sink, we merely had to cross the street from our hotel to find the Albert Dock area.

We wandered around a bit checking out the old brick buildings and large sail boats docked in. On the south end of the dock, we booked our tickets for the Magical Mystery Tour for tomorrow at the TI.

Now it was time to poke about The Beatles Story, a walk-through audio guide lead tour through the famous band’s 10 years of being on top of the music world.

The artifacts, audio and ambiance were great. A replica alley way, Cavern Club and even a walk through a yellow submarine were nice touches.

There were several artifacts, from suits to instruments and more. Rooms filled with photos, letters or large displays replicating album covers.

We left the Beatles Story and had a bite and some cold beers. We finished up the day with some photos of old buildings and the water front as the sun started making its way down toward the horizon.
I was lead to believe that Liverpool was something different than this. In fact, it’s quite beautiful and after a couple more Beatles attractions tomorrow, we plan to stumble about the city to see a few more things that look interesting and picturesque.



Day 20 – Trip Favorites

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite things we liked about our trip.

Top 3 favorite places?
Kari: Liverpool, York, Cotswolds
Alex: Portree in Skye, Cotswolds, Liverpool

Best breakfast?
Kari: Scotland @ The Drynachan B & B Sonia’s pancakes
Alex: Tree Tops B & B in Moreton-in-Marsh, Liz’s full breakfast

Favorite lunch?
Kari: Glasgow @ Maggie Mays, chicken burger with salsa and jalapeños and hand cut french fries.
Alex: Liverpool, bangers and mash

Best Hotel?
Kari: Glasgow @ Citizen M
Alex: Glasgow @ Citizen M

Best B & B?
Kari: The Drynachan in Scotland
Alex: The Drynachan in Scotland

Most comfy bed?
Kari: The Drynachan B & B in Scotland
Alex: The Drynachan B & B in Scotland

Best Photography Locations?
Kari: Isle of Skye, the Highlands and London
Alex: Isle of Skye

Favorite touristy place visited?
Kari: The Cavern in Liverpool
Alex: Big Ben

Most memorable moment?
Kari: sing a longs at The Cavern
Alex: hiking through the Cotswolds

Day 21 – We’re coming to America!

We woke up early, 6 AM and got ready to say goodbye to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye for good. We got through our long 8 hour flight from London to Toronto just fine, minor turbulance. But now we see we are stuck here for an extra hour at the Toronto airport. It’s already 9 PM London time and this flight won’t leave for another 3 hours. We were hoping to be able to stay awake through the 5 hour flight back home to try to get our sleep schedule back to normal quickly but now I’m not sure this is going to happen. I’m already running low on energy. I just want to get home and get a good night sleep in my own bed.




Ireland itinerary

Sat, Aug 30 – fly out to Dublin

Sun, Aug 31 – drive through Glendalough, stay the night in Kilkenny

Mon, Sept 1 – Kilkenny/Cashel, stay the night Kilkenny

Tues, Sept 2 – Blarney/Kinsale, stay the night in Kinsale

Wed, Sept 3 – Cobh, Charles Fort, stay the night in Kinsale

Thurs, Sept 4 – Wild Atlantic Way, stay the night in Goleen

Fri, Sept 5 – Wild Atlantic Way, Kenmare, stay the night in Kenmare

Sat, Sept 6 – Kilarney, stay the night in Kenmare

Sun, Sept 7 – Skellig Michael, Ring of Kerry, stay the night in Dingle

Mon, Sept 8 – Slea Head Drive, stay the night in Dingle

Tues, Sept 9 – Bunratty, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, stay the night in Galway

Wed, Sept 10 – Connemara, Kylemore, stay the night in Westport

Thurs, Sept 11 – County Donegal, stay the night in Derry

Fri, Sept 12 – Derry

Sat, Sept 13 – Portrush

Sun, Sept 14 – Antrim Coast, stay the night in Portrush

Mon, Sept 15 – Stay the night in Cabra castle!!!

Tues, Sept 16 – Dublin

Wed, Sept 17 – Dublin

Thurs, Sept 18 – Dublin

Fri, Sept 19 – fly home from Dublin






Day 1 – Glendalough and Kilkenny

We began our Sunday morning landing at 8:00 AM in Dublin and hooking up with our Enterprise rental car. It was a bit chilly getting off of the plane. A refreshing change from the warm Seattle summer we had been having.



Still exhausted from the flights we trucked on and headed to Glendalough for a quick hike through the cemetery.

Alex adjusted quickly to driving on the left. He had some experience before in the UK a few years back.



This is Glendalough. It was an early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century, only to be partially destroyed by British troops some 800 years later.

What still stands are a couple churches, a tower and an old cemetery here that we walked through.

Later in the evening after we found our B&B in Kilkenny we went out to eat.



We found a couple local beers — Smithwicks and Smithwicks Pale — that we liked.


Photo above: Kari’s Cajun chicken sandwich.


Photo above: Alex’s stew



– Kari & Alex

Day 2 – Kilkenny

Our second — and really first full — day was spent entirely in Kilkenny. We started with a hearty breakfast here at the B&B. Kari had a banana, eggs and some bread while I indulged in a full Irish breakfast. Well, minus the black pudding anyhow!

We then trotted up the street to Kilkenny Castle. This place has gone from private residence, to the seat of the Irish monarchy and back again over an 800 year period. After being basically left to fall apart, the inheriting member of the family which owned it sold it to the preservation society for only €50. After undergoing major renovations that restored it nearly an identical previous state, it’s a wonderful attraction.

We visited so early in the morning, there was nary a person around for most of our visit which allowed for some wonderful photos of the exterior. However, photos inside were not allowed.



From there, we visited St. Canice’s Cathedral on the other end of town. With the combo ticket, you get entry into the 13th century cathedral and the ability to climb the 100 foot tall, 12 foot wide tower outside. The views of town from atop the tower were wonderful.






We spent a little time wandering about town, looking in shops and stopped at St. Mary’s Cathedral for a quick look.


After a lunch at The Fig Tree, we had a little siesta. We hit the town again after that to visit Black Abbey, and poked our heads into a few other small places.

We finished up the day with an appetizer and some pints at a pub, while watching a little Irish music being played. The performer had folks from the crowd come up and help by playing small hand held drums. It was pretty fun and interactive!


– Alex

Day 3 – Cashel, Blarney, Kinsale

Our most busy, and fun-packed day thus far, we got up early for our final breakfast in Kilkenny. We bid the medieval town ado, and headed to Cashel, home of the huge — both in size and history — Rock of Cashel.


The views from the yard down to the valley were splendid. One of the sights visible from this centuries old site of Kings and religion was Hore Abbey. We drove down to get a closer look.


We hit the road again after this, setting our waypoint for Blarney. We had a quick detour though as we saw a sign for Cahir Castle. This was a quaint little place that we just snapped a few photos of before getting back on our original course.

Blarney seems as though it’d be a cheesy spot. And yes, kissing the stone does seem a bit gimmicky. However, the castle itself is wonderful and climbing through the small, dank and narrow staircases to reach the top opened our imaginations to the folks who once actually called this home!


We finally reached Kinsale, our home base for the next two nights. After checking into the B&B and getting off our feet for a few minutes, we headed out to check out the harbor. We then enjoyed some traditional Irish music over dinner and a pint!


– Alex

Day 4 – Kinsale and Charles Fort

We woke up early today to catch the 9:15 Kinsale walking tour.
Our guide, Don was very knowledgeable about the city and gave us a great history lesson.

Later on we drove to Charles Fort just down the road from Kinsale.
We took lots of photos today of the Fort and the town.

( above photo Charles Fort )

( above photo Kinsale town )

In the evening we met up with a couple, George and Wendy from Canada. We had been bumping into them for days and decided to head to Kitty O Se’s for dinner and drinks. We spent a few hours chatting with them about traveling and then headed off for the 9 PM ghost walk.

Surprisingly enough our waitress was also a harpist and played a few songs for the crowd tonight. One moment she was taking our order and the next she was on stage. An unexpected treat. She was very good!



The ghost walk while a little gimmicky was entertaining and fun. I would say though, the York ghost tour in England was much more realistic and creepy than this one. Rick Steve’s did recommend it though and it was good for an hours worth of entertainment.

– Kari

Day 5 – the Wild Atlantic Way and Mizen Head

Today we left Kinsale and headed down the N71 toward Goleen.
The drive is called the Wild Atlantic Way. It sure does live up to its name.

We spent a few hours on the road today and made some stops to take pictures here and there.

We came across Drombeg stone circle. This was very cool to see up close. Much smaller than Stonehenge but neater in a way because you could walk right up to it.



We finally reached our destination for the night about 4:30 PM. We are staying in Goleen at the Herons Cove B & B. The view from our deck is gorgeous. And yes, there are Herons out in the water fishing for dinner.


The best photos though were taken at Mizen Head.
The cliffs were outstanding. The fog was thick but made for some interesting photos.




– Kari

Day 6 – the Wild Atlantic Way drive to Kenmare

Today we left our cozy Herons Cove B&B and drove the Wild Atlantic Way toward Kenmare.

We took some detours off some small roads and ended up high in the mountains. The roads are very narrow and it was tough to know if another car was going to be right around the corner.

We took our time stopping to take pictures. We ran into a lot of sheep and cows, many which were in an open range. The sheep are very skittish and don’t like people getting too close.

We finally reached Kenmare a few hours later and found our new B&B the Forgefield House. The best B&B in town according to trip advisor. This place is much more modernized than some of the others we’ve been in. There’s even a towel warmer in the bathroom.

Around 4:00 we headed into town to check it out. There are lots of pubs and the streets were swarmed with cars. We poked around a bit and bought a few souvenirs and had a bite to eat.

Alex had his first truly Irish Guinness here today, pictured below.


Then we headed back to the B&B to rest a bit before going out to Foley’s Pub to check out the local music scene. A couple guys performed on stage and sang some old Irish songs and even covered the Beatles.


After another long day it’s time to turn in and say good night.

More fun to come tomorrow!!

– Kari

Day 7 – Killarney National Park

Today was a bit of a slow paced one, not rushing off from one attraction to the next, as we stayed relatively close to our home base in Kenmare.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t see some great things, however. We sprung into the Killarney National park. This was Ireland’s first recognized park. It’s not very big, but there some neat things to see.

After winding about for a ways up the mountain, we came to a sweeping view of the valley below. This is called Lady’s View. There’s a rock perfect for sitting and staring down into this gorgeous panorama.

[Lady’s View Pic to come later]

Down the way a bit further was the Torc Waterfall. A short jaunt up the path leads to this small, yet beautiful fall.


From there, we checked out Muckross House, a Victorian era estate that shows the vast delta between wealthy and poor during Ireland’s past.

The grounds were lovely, with jaunting carts flowing by every few moments showing visitors the area. We opted not to take one of these as the drivers were aggressive in their offering, and the horses showed signs of not being taken care of as good as they deserve.


Our final stop in the park was Ross castle. We then had a little lunch in the town of Killarney — a household name in America as a launching pad into the surrounding sights, but really nothing more than shops and restaurants.

We returned to Kenmare to do some laundry and take a little snooze. Around 8pm, we went back into town for a pint and some music. This was perhaps the best “trad session” we’ve seen this far. This trio was fun and everything that makes you think Ireland.



Day 8 – Ring of Kerry and Dingle

Today we drove the Ring of Kerry.

We had been warned it was a difficult drive by many people on trip advisor and by word of mouth. There are narrow windy roads and large buses making it hard to maneuver around corners. We however found it was a piece of cake, maybe because it’s the off season now. We didn’t see what all of the fuss was about.

The sun was out and the sky was blue, not a typical sight for Ireland. We’ve had many overcast days on this trip so far.

We stopped here and there along the way to take photos.



Around 1:30 PM we made our way into the town of Portmagee and had a bite to eat.

( Kari’s first Baileys and coffee of the trip, delish! )

After lunch we drove to Dingle. Dingle is right on the water much like Kinsale. Lots of sailboats. The town is bigger than Kinsale though and just about every other door in town leads to a pub.




Tomorrow we will explore Dingle a little more and check out Slea Head drive, a loop around the Dingle peninsula.


Day 9 – Slea Head Drive and Dingle

We got up early today and headed out to the Slea Head Drive loop. The road is much more narrow than the Ring of Kerry and we thought the views were even better. The loop itself is about 30 miles as opposed to the Ring of Kerry being 110 miles round.

We stopped at many lookouts along the way and walked down to the beach. The beach sand is very fine and soft. Not at all what I would have expected here.

Further down we came to Gallarus Oratory, one of Ireland’s best preserved early Christian churches. This church was built about 1300 years ago.


Another interesting stop we made was at another old church and cemetery.
This church was called Kilmalkedar. This church went into ruin in the 19th century and was never rebuilt.


When we got back into town we walked around, had lunch and shopped for a bit. We also stopped into the Dingle Brewing Co. For a self guided walking tour and pint. The beer they make there is called Crean’s, named after the famous Antarctic explorer, Thomas Crean. It’s a fairly new beer est. in 2012. It’s pretty tasty!



There was a great sunset tonight in Dingle and a super moon.


I just love this row of houses, they are so cute!


Tomorrow we head north to Galway and check out the famous cliffs of Moher along the way.

– Kari

Day 10 – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Galway

The longest driving day thus far ahead of us, we fueled up at breakfast before hitting the road. This first chunk of the day wasn’t going to contain much in the way of scenery as we left the Dingle Peninsula and headed inland.

At about the two and a half hours mark, we hopped off the motorway for a stretch, and snapped a quick photo at Bunratty Castle.


It took about another hour after that before we finally reached what will surely be one of the highlights of the trip — The Cliffs of Moher.


As we walked the cliffs, the view became more and more breathtaking around each bend. Over 600 feet in height in some sections, and no railing to prevent a gust of wind from feeding you to the rock and water below, the experience was amazing with a touch of caution at each step.

We spent close to three hours poking about the cliffs, taking lots of pictures and video. We even got to see a harpist play a bit along the way. It was time to move along, though, and we headed out and toward the Burren.


This place seems like a wasteland of nothing but rocks and weeds, which I suppose it is, but it has quite the history. Formed by glacial movement in the last ice age, the limestone slabs are scattered all about. There are glacial, Mediterranean and alpine forms of plant life all next to each other in one of the most unique ecosystems on earth.

We visited the Poulnabrone Dolman (pictured above), a five thousand year old portal tomb.

We finished off our drive by heading into Galway, a hustle-and-bustle college town. We didn’t find much to see here, but it’s purpose was a place to sleep before continuing our journey tomorrow. Kari got duped into ordering a Budweiser when it was advertised as merely a lager. Haha!

– Alex

Day 11 – Connemara Drive and Westport

We got up early today and headed out of the busy college town of Galway.
I’m sure Galway had a lot to offer but we were mostly interested in what’s on the outskirts of these big cities. You can tell right away the difference between small town living and big city living. In small towns people actually say hello as you pass by on the side walk. In big cities, you barely get a glance from strangers.

All in all we were in Galway less than 24 hours and then we were off on a new adventure. My only photo I took in Galway was this one of some college kids playing what we think was a cross between hurling and water polo in kayaks.


Just a few blocks out of Galway we felt like we were back in the country again. We passed fields of sheep and cows time and time again.


Once we got deeper into the drive the scenery got more interesting.
The first big stop we made was Kylemore Castle.


We hopped out here to take a few photos, we decided not to pay the €12.50 to go inside. The photos were enough to satisfy us here.

After a few moments at Kylemore Castle we headed back out on the road and came to some more great photo ops. Our favorite was when we came upon a sheep hearder and his dog. They were moving the sheep out of one enclosure to another. We mostly captured video of this but here’s a still shot of what we saw.


After hours and hours of driving we finally reached Westport. A cute town with a river running through the middle of it.


Our B&B was very nice and our host was super friendly. We stayed one night in Westport and were off early in the morning again to continue our journey.

– Kari

Day 12 – Derry/Londonderry

Today, we drove to a town divided by religious and political differences. So much so, that it has two names. Ask a Catholic, or Republican, and it’s Derry. Speak to a Protestant, someone waving the Union Jack, you’ll be told it’s Londonderry.

It was a long drive from Westport, but after about three hours we crossed from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland — a nation of the United Kingdom. From Euros to Sterling, kilometers to miles, the differences are stark enough that you feel like you’ve traveled further than just a few miles.


We got into town just in time to hop into a walking tour of the town, which mostly consisted of walking the city walls — built between 1613-1619 — which are still completely intact, making it the only such city in Ireland.

Views included the above, peering over a Protestant neighborhood. Notice the Union colors are painted on the curbs, and the “No Surrender” moniker. While the tensions of The Troubles and Bloody Sunday have simmered, there is still a bit of an uncomfortable feeling seeing the fences, walls and opposing colors depending on which direction you look.


After the tour, we visited St. Columb’s Cathedral. Built in 1633, stained glass depicted scenes in great detail. The volunteer inside was an older lady, and extremely passionate about this place and some of the artifacts that they had in their small museum. Included were the original locks and keys to the town’s gates.

She even went on a little rant about Meg Ryan after we told her we were from Seattle. Apparently Meg Ryan was on some talk show here and showed disinterest in being there. One thing you learn about the Irish — speak to them, and you best be prepared to listen to them talk for a while.


We strolled around town a bit more, including crossing the Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge on the River Foyle. The weather has remained wonderful (yep, I got sunburned in Ireland, of course).

This town has so much history. It’s unfortunate much of that is recent history which contains bloodshed and tension. However, things have made a positive turn. The fact that we are even here is proof that the city is open for business and no longer dangerous.


Day 13 – Donegal Loop Drive

Today we left Derry for a few hours and drove through County Donegal.

First stop was a large ring fort called Grianan Aileach which was perched atop a high mountain. We were the only ones here at the time, pretty neat to have it all to ourselves.


Second stop was Glenveagh Castle. We went on a tour here. The castle itself is in great shape, it’s now part of a national park.


We saw more very impressive views on this drive and some things we never thought we’d come across such as a large pond of swans. There might have been 100 or so swans floating about. Some were young and their feathers hadn’t turned white yet. We got some great video of this.

We also found a couple of momma pigs and about 18 piglets in an enclosure off the road. The piglets were hungry and one momma pig wasn’t in the mood to feed so she was making a scene, snorting about. Finally the two momma pigs decided to let the kiddos eat dinner and laid down for a bit to let them do so.

On the way back to our B&B we drove by two donkeys on the side of the road. Alex wanted to pet one but one of the donkeys freaked out and started coming right at us making horrible donkey noises and we got scared and ran to the car. Pretty exciting way to end our evening.

We have one more night left in Derry and tomorrow we are off to Portrush.


Day 14 – Portrush and Dunluce Castle

We headed further north today, landing in the resort town of Portrush. Our B&B is right on the coast, with our room overlooking the water. It’s beautiful here, but then we’ve said that about ever place we’ve been to. The weather behaving has helped!

We got here a bit early, so we headed out to check out Dunluce Castle. This was the centerpiece of a small village in the 17th century, and what remains is still a decently in-tact structure. In the walls, you’ll find several hexagonal stones — cut from the nearby Giant’s Causeway.


I even got a photo with a nice gentleman dressed as a Knight. Being King Felix Day back home and all, I explained the pose to home and he was a great sport. He even wanted me to tag him on Facebook, haha.


After a little lunch at the Wee Cottage cafe (seriously amazing tuna sandwich!), we decided to seek out the Dark Hedges, a row of interesting trees in this area recently made famous by the television series Game of Thrones.


We returned to Portrush to do a little laundry and then head out for dinner. We ate at a little place that overlooked the water. While we were told there was a 45 minute wait, we actually found a cool lounge upstairs that served apps. We had a nice wood fired flatbread and nachos, washed down with Guinness and Stella.

So, so much beer on this trip!

BONUS: Here’s Ireland fitting inside Washington state.


– Alex

Day 15 – Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

We skipped out early on Portrush and headed toward the Giants Causeway today. We arrived about 9:30 AM and luckily there weren’t many people there at that time.



Here’s what the Wikepedia says about the Giants Causeway:

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.

After the Causeway we headed to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

It cost us each £5.70 to cross the bridge ( $9.27 ) kind of a lot in USD. There was a long trail to reach the bridge and once we got there, there was no turning back.

The bridge is 66 ft long and 98 ft off of the ground. There are crushing waves below, it holds 8 pedestrians at a time. Though there were more than that crossing today when we were on it.


The tiny island on the other side was where fisherman used to launch their boats from to fish salmon. Now it is merely a tourist attraction run by the trust.


Later in the day we arrived in Larne, still in Northern Ireland. There isn’t much to do in the town so we headed out to do a little geocaching. We were able to find one on a nearby trail.


After that we went out to eat dinner at Blue Chicago Grill. This place reminded us of a Red Robin or Ram back home. It was the first bar we’ve found that doesn’t serve Irish beer. We ended up with a bucket of Corona and Peroni.


Tomorrow we head to Kingscourt and get to sleep in a castle. Looking forward to that!!


Day 16 – Carrickfergus Castle and Cabra Castle

Today we left Larne and headed toward Kingscourt.

Our first stop was Carrickfergus Castle in Carrickfergus Northern Ireland.
We spent £5 each to enter the castle. We walked around a bit and took some photos. This castle was in great shape and was only missing a wall or two.

Pictured above is King William III and Carrickfergus Castle.

Next we headed down to Kingscourt and found our hotel that was actually a castle from the 1780’s. The original Cabra Castle was ruined in the 1600’s.



Meet Oscar, one of two Irish Wolfhounds roaming the castle grounds.


An interesting story about this castle is that it’s haunted by a ghost named Sarah and her unborn child.

Here’s what I’ve found online about the haunting.

In The 1780’s, the local people of Dun Na Rí witnessed the unfolding of the tragic saga which was to become the legend of the ghost which still haunts Cabra Castle to this present day – dare to walk the corridors of this haunted castle knowing that the footsteps that went before you were that of evil predecessors………The then owners of the castle had a daughter and two sons, one of whom fell in love with a servant girl called Sarah. In true Romeo & Juliet – style, it was a passionate but secret love, which for the sake of property, could only be pledged silently.
The secret was broken when Sarah became pregnant and her lovers family ordered that she was to be killed; legend has it that she was taken from the Servants Quarters of the castle and dragged deep into the forest, where her body was hung over a bridge.It is said that in the dead of the night, the haunting cries of a baby may still be heard in Cabra Castle. Local people say that the baby is pining for its mother.
There is also a testament by those who have felt ‘a presence’ in the courtyard rooms – formerly the Servant’s Quarters where it is said that Sarah’s lost soul still wanders the Castle in search of her lost love and her lost child……..

I’ve also read some things about people feeling a presence and hearing the baby crying. I know it’s a hard thing to believe in this stuff and Alex is definitely not a believer but I am going to be sleeping with the lights on tonight. Especially since our room is in the courtyard not far from where Sarah lived. My mind will certainly play tricks on me tonight. I’m already spooking myself.


Day 17 – Newgrange, Trim Castle and Temple Bar

We checked out of our castle today around 9 AM and headed south toward Newgrange.


Newgrange is 5,000 years old. It was built about 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. It is about five hundred years older than the current form of Stonehenge, and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, as well as predating the Mycenaean culture of ancient Greece.

We were allowed inside with our tour group. The entry way is small and narrow. Some areas were barely large enough to squeeze through. When we got to the center it was much smaller than what you would think by seeing the outside. There are rocks shaping the walls into almost a triangular shape. The rocks used weighed up to 50 tons each.

Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage, illuminating the inner chamber and revealing the carvings inside, notably the triple spiral on the front wall of the chamber. This illumination lasts for about 17 minutes.

They have a drawing for people to be able to be inside the chamber on the winter solstice. The chamber holds about 25-30 people.

Next we headed to Trim to visit the castle there. We took the tour which cost €4 each. The guide was very knowledgable about the castle and we were able to go right up to the top and look out over the city. There are a few reminants of the old city walls still visible, but it’s mostly in ruins.

Trim Castle was built in the 12th century by Hugh de Lancy. It took 30 years to build. It is the largest Norman castle in Ireland.


When we finally reached Dublin it was about 5PM. We were hungry and headed out to find some grub. We walked toward the action in the Temple Bar area and found an Italian/Mexican place and had dinner. After that we walked across the street to the actual Temple Bar and listened to some fantastic Irish music and had a beer.



Tomorrow is our first full day in Dublin and we’ve got quite a bit to see and do in the next two days before we fly home on Friday.

– Kari

Day 18 – Dublin Tour, Trinity College

We spent a good portion of today hoofing about town. In fact, we spent three whole hours on a “free” walking tour of the city. However, it was so r good that we tipped the guide €10.

We learned a ton. From thousands of years of Irish history, to how the county got independence, to even where U2 got their start. Our guide was wonderful. He mixed in facts, humor and group participation to really make the time fly while having fun.


After this tour, we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, a centuries old book that has actually been physically split into four pieces for rotational display purposes. The Long Hall a story up above is a working library with over 200,000 books of varying topics. The vast majority of hthe being in Latin. In fact, English is only the fifth most common language of these books.


After this, we decided to get a better feel for the town as a whole, so we jumped on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. This is about an hour tour if you were to stay on, but there are 22 stops at various popular sites. We got some great video from the roof of this double decker that will go into our little movie.

We got off at the Guinness Storehouse, but being close to closing time we opted to wait for tomorrow to tour this vast land of wonderful beer brewing.


We got back on to finish the loop and then headed into Temple Bar for a bite and a pint. We did that at Buskers, a neat place with a fun setting. A couple pints and dinner later, we were off for the mile walk back to the hotel.

One more day…


Day 19 – last day in Dublin

We got up early today and headed out to Kilmainham Gaol ( jail ) and visited the prison inside and out. It’s not an active prison any more but has a lot of Irish history.



One child was jailed here for 9 years for stealing a necklace. When the 9 years was up he was acquitted of the crime. Nice justice system huh?

Next we headed out to the Guinness Brewery. We took the tour which was self guided and did some beer sampling. Alex tried pouring his own pint and had a little trouble with overflow.


After the Guinness Brewery we headed to the cemetery and took some photos. There were massive head stones covering large grassy fields. Nothing like what I’ve seen back home.


We spent our last dinner in Dublin eating at BadBobs. A cute little pub with live music.


We will miss Dublin, it was a very unique city to visit. We’d love to go back again someday!

– Kari

Day 3 – Paris

Any imagination of taking it easy after yesterday's marathon turned out to be false as we had another long one today.

We took the train out toward the Louvre to save a few steps. For breakfast, we kept it "light" by having a pastry from Angelina's — a recommendation from our hotel. This was apparently one of Coco Chanel's favorite spots. Oh, and we couldn't help but grab some macarons, too!

We headed into the Louvre. Where do you even start? We all know about the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and some other major pieces here. And they were awesome to see up close! But there were so many other great paintings, statues and artifacts from all over the world. Be it Rome, Egypt, Greece or Asia, this place has it all.

The crowds were crazy, but especially so at the Mona Lisa. We're talking elbow-throwing, jostling-for-position crazy. But, hey! We got to see one of the most famous pieces or art on the planet.

After a couple of hours wandering about here, we made our way over to see Saint-Chapelle. This cathedral has over 1,100 individually stained glass windows, each depicting a different bible scene.

Next was Note Dame. So beautiful up close. The detail on the exterior — gargoyles and all — was stunning. Then, inside, we got to gander at one of the absolute finest Gothic cathedrals you'll want to see. Just imagine actually designing, and constructing something like this. It took nearly 200 years to complete!

We made our way up to the Pantheon next. Another beautifully constructed building. This one was intended to be a church, but revolution changed that. It's now a state mausoleum, containing the remains of important Parisians.

After a little break back at the hotel, we went and found a Geocache! Then went and ate dinner on Champs-Élysée before climbing to the top of the Arc De Triomphe for sunset and the Eiffel Tower light show!

We are absolutely bushed! But, Versailles tomorrow!

Distance Walked: 13.32 miles

Day 7 – Bruges / Brugge

We were up at 6 AM this morning, had a quick bite, packed up our things and headed to the train station, bound for Bruges. 

“Bruges has two names and two spellings. Bruges (pronounced broozh) is the English and French spelling and pronunciation. Brugge (pronounced broo-gha) is the Flemish spelling and pronunciation.” – World Wide Web 

Bruges is called the Venice of the north because of its canals and many windy streets and back alleys. Having been to the real Venice in Italy I’m going to say that’s kind of a stretch. This town is beautiful and quirky but there really is no comparison to Venice, Italy. 

We found our hotel which is more like a B&B fairly easily. Hotel Ensor is a family owned business since the 1980’s. The gentleman running this hotel has lived here his whole life, he is very friendly and nice to chat with. 

It was still very early when we arrived so we left our bags in the hotel and headed toward the town center. 

Bruges is a very old city, the houses and shops are made from brick except one or two that are still made of wood. These houses are 500-600 years old and are historic landmarks now. They can only be renovated and not rebuilt. It’s not allowed to build of wood anymore since the fire danger would be too risky. 

The town center is larger than Brussels’ town square. They have a similar feel and the buildings all face each other. 

There is a festival going on this weekend. The town is setting up a dance floor and party lights. Saturday will be an interesting day in Bruges. There are many tourists here. The shopping areas were buzzing today with people. 

We had a bite to eat at a burger joint called Ellis and also decided to have a Stella Artois in honor of its native country. 

After dinner we met up with a walking tour at 8 PM. We were lead on a 90 minute walk around the city and learned of some history and a few ghost stories. A local man was walking by listening to our guide tell his stories and gave a good chuckle. It’s hard to say if the stories are true, it sounds like the town folks have a good time drinking and making stuff up which then become tall tales and folk legends. 

One story was of a priest who fell for a nun that lived across the bridge from him. Apparently the priest confessed his love to her and she stood strong in her faith and would not give in to him. He eventually couldn’t take it anymore and one night he stabbed her to death. The old nunnery has been haunted ever since. The nuns who lived there were terrified of the strange happenings and moved out of the building. It’s been sold a few times and each family has moved because of the ghosts. 

After the tour we headed back to our room. We are a week into our two week trip and have walked about 60 miles since we arrived. We are definitely feeling the burn… 

Distance walked 12.28 miles 

Day 9 – Antwerp

Up and out the door at 9 AM today. 

I will miss Bruges dearly as I feel this is my favorite town by far from this trip. I may be speaking too soon as we have not been to Amsterdam yet. 

I think timing our trip during Benenwerk was a fantastic surprise and I wish I had more time to soak up the environment last night. 

The train to Antwerp was about 90 minutes. Antwerp is a much larger city than Bruges and it is mixed with old and new buildings. There's a shopping strip with most major stores like back home in Seattle but most were closed because it's Sunday. The train station was very impressive. It's probably the neatest train station we've been to on this trip. 

We walked the Rick Steves book walking tour and also happened among the Pride festival here. There were tons of people gathered around a big stage in the middle of town listening to a guy sing cover songs of Michael Jackson and David Bowie. 

We sat and had a beer and listened to music for a bit and then walked some more and found … more beer!! 

Belgium was exactly what we are looking for. Beer. Chocolate. Waffles. Frites. Beer. Beer and more beer. 

I could live here happily for many many years. The beer here is much stronger than the stuff I'm used to drinking. Bud light and Corona, crap like that. One good Belgium beer is like 4 Coronas back home. Drinking and pouring beer is like an art form here. You either know what you're doing or you don't. 

On the beer tour in Brussels we learned that big head on beer is actually a good thing. In the US it's frowned upon. 

This photo above is a great example of a very bad pour. My bad… I got too excited and over poured too fast.

The example below is of a good pour done by a professional bar tender. 

Today was kind of a weird travel day, there's not much to do in Antwerp when everything is closed.

We had some time today and decided to go look for a geocache nearby. It was a quick find and then we ran back to the hotel for some down time before we head out again for dinner. 

We ended up eating burgers at a place called Ellis. Same meals as we had a few nights ago in Bruges. The chocolate shake was so good!!

Distance walked 11.44 miles

Day 12 – Amsterdam

We made it to Amsterdam. This city was the main reason for coming to Europe this time. It’s been on my bucket list for years. 

I’ve never seen a place like Amsterdam before. There is so much craziness here. The bikes the motor scooters, the cars & pedestrians. Wow!!! You have to be so careful where you walk or you will get nailed. 

We went on a walking tour of the city today. Learned a few things and had some beer. The Red Light district is an interesting place. The girls stand in windows barely dressed. It’s odd because back home we have bikini barista coffee stands which the city wants to fine women $5,000 if they show too much skin and in Amsterdam prostitution is legal and regulated. 

We were told about a bar with 200 beers named Gollem so of course we went in and checked it out. 

We met a couple guys who lived in Holland but it was their first time there too. We probably spent three hours talking with them. Their names were Dennis and Kris. We were surprised that they had “normal” names. They work in real estate and we talked about house sizes and showed pictures of our homes. Most houses here are attached on both sides to the neighbors. They  were surprised at how big our house was. Not many people here have garages and most ride bikes anyways. 

Alex noticed this bar had one of his favorites from back home called Lagunitas and he bought the guys a round. They seemed to like it or else they were just being polite. Then after that beer Dennis and Kris bought us a round… 4 beeers later we were toasted. Luckily we had three days to recover and we needed it. 

After sleeping off the delicious brew we went back out to photograph the IAMSTERDAM sign. I had a feeling there would be less people there at night and was right. We saw the sign during the day with hundreds climbing all over it. 

Distance walked 9.96 miles


Favorite city for Photos 

Brugge – Kari

Delft – Alex

Favorite beer

Brugze Zot – Kari

Westmalle Trappist Tripel – Alex
Best hotel room 

Antwerp was nicest and biggest

Hotel with most character

Paris – Alex

Bruges – Kari

Most fun city

Bruges – Kari

Brussels – Alex

Best food

Cheese and bread plate at Van 9 to Seven – Delft – Kari

Ellis Burger – Bruges – Alex

Best Chocolate 


Best Bar

Gollem in Amsterdam 
Favorite cities in order – Kari






Zaanse Schans




Total Distance walked 

161.4 miles

Average of 11.13 miles a day