Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ireland: Day 5

Sorry I couldn't post yesterday. We had a very busy agenda. One of my favorite stops was the Giant's Causeway. Here are a few pics. More to come later!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Craic Will Be Mighty! Ireland, Day 4

Our tour director Elva taught us this new word today.  I decided to look it up on Urban Dictionary to make sure I was using it correctly : )

Craic:  Irish word for fun/enjoyment that has been brought into the English language, usually when mixed with alcohol and/or music.  Fun doesn't really cut it though. General banter, good times had by all. Also, a person who is good fun/great company.

Try using it in a sentence......
It was great craic. She's great craic when she gets going. He's great craic when he has a few pints on him. What's the craic? How's the craic? The craic was mighty. 
Tonight, "the craic was mighty!"  A few of us visited a local pub called O'Donnell's.  There was live music, and it was quite entertaining great craic!  Today, I decided to come up with 10 things.  I guess I'm feeling ambitious (or really, the coffee hasn't worn off yet.  I'll probably regret that in the morning when I'm falling asleep on the bus!)

1.  There was too much shopping involved on today's trip.  Expensive shopping.  And of course I had to're supposed to buy these things when you're in Ireland!

2.  I really like Australians.  We typically sit with them at dinner.  They were great craic at the pub tonight!

3.  I don't think I like whiskey.  I drank my complimentary Irish Coffee.  But honestly....after the cream was gone, I lost interest.  

4.  I definitely don't like whiskey.  I tried a local drink that Elva suggested, a Patty's & Red (I think that's right....).  It contains whiskey, of course, and a red/pink lemonade.  Not my cup of tea.

5.  I do, however, like Guinness.  I a small sample for the first time today.

6.  I need to brush up on my Irish folk songs.  I know many of the tunes but not the lyrics.  And I'm sure no one would have been impressed if I had sung them in solfege at the pub.

7.  I try to get in some exercise each day.  Today, I rock-lifted.  Adam was not impressed.....

8.  "What's the definition of a bachelor?      Someone who hasn't made the same mistake twice."
     "How can I miss you when you won't go away?"  Just 2 of the great lines we heard in the pub.

9.  Johnny Cash seems to be really popular over here.

10.  We went in search of our pot of gold......unfortunately, there was none to be found.  That's really going to put a damper on my shopping!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ireland: Day 3

My blogging time is very limited. So for now, I will leave you with 5 things. I promise to write a more detailed account later : )

1. "Keys, Teeth, Husbands," is what our tour director says each morning before we depart for our next destination. Check, check, check!
2. We found the perfect church--if we'd had our wedding in Ireland.
3. Signs are not only practical, they're entertaining.
4. It's getting increasingly hard to stay awake on the bus. We're the youngest people on this tour and the first ones to fall asleep!
5. Adam is on a geological field trip. "Man, I wish I had my rock hammer!"

Pictures are in random order (thanks Blogger app!) Can you match the correct picture to the correct number, haha? (Note: not all 5 have a corresponding picture.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Greetings from Ireland (We DID finally make it!)

We have now been up for 31 hours.

We literally hit the ground running. I wish I was exaggerating. Since our flights were delayed, we ended up starting our tour a day late. We were crossing our fingers hoping we could catch up with our tour director and group before they left for the next destination. (We don't often stay in the same town for more than one night.)

It turns out that Shannon Airport is a LOT smaller than I expected--nothing like flying into Heathrow! We were the only incoming flight that early, so we were through customs and had our baggage within 10 minutes. I also was able to call my tour director for the first time and found out we had time to meet them in Limerick before they left.

Oh, and our Irish taxi driver, Patrick, was way friendlier than any London cabi I've ever met.

We got to our Limerick hotel in time to meet Elva, our guide, put our luggage on the bus, grab a coffee, and then we were off.

I can't give a full recap right now--I just couldn't give it justice. Here are a few pictures so y'all can see what we've been up to : )

Cliffs of Mohr
Rathburn Farm
Connemara Marble

And let me just say, there has been a lot of geology mentioned on this trip. It made Adam super happy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Greetings From Chicago!

Let me just say that our honeymoon trip to Ireland.....hasn't gotten off to a good start.  Yet.  I'm hoping we can turn this around or at least make some good stories out of it.  Currently, it's too soon to say.

We arrived at the airport at 8:00am, grabbed coffee with Adam's parents, and were through security by 9:00.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:21, so I had time to buy a new book and eat my pre-flight bagel.  We had not been seated at our gate for very long when the girl at the United Airlines desk broke the bad news:  the plane we were to board for Chicago had been delayed, and there was no way of knowing for how long. Turns out, there was a mechanical problem shortly after the plane took off from the Chicago terminal, and they were forced to turn around.  Not what we wanted to hear.....

Stephanie was the United Airlines representative at our gate, and she was doing her very best to get passengers accommodated on other flights.  Those of you who have flown in and out of Little Rock know that this airport is so tiny--there's only one United Airlines gate. We stood in line at the desk for an hour and a half! The next available flight?  6:30pm.  We were supposed to make a connecting flight in Chicago before departing Newark at 7:30 for Shannon Airport.  Stephanie was able to get us on an American Airlines flight that put us in Chicago by 5:30, but we had to reschedule our other flights. We found United Airways representative when we landed, but it took us a while to get to the correct terminal. This airport is huge!
The worst part?  United only has ONE flight departing for Shannon each day, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow evening before we depart for Ireland.  

It looks like we'll be staying in Chicago tonight. United has put us up in the Hilton and gave us vouchers for dinner and breakfast. We depart Chicago at 3pm tomorrow and leave Newark at 7:30pm. This will put us in Ireland at 7:00am on Day 2 of our scheduled tour.   The problem with this is that our guided tour will be leaving Limerick (our first stop on the tour) that morning for the next city on our itinerary. And the likelihood of us making it through the airport and on the bus before they leave.....isn't looking good.  We might be renting a car to catch up with our tour group....did you know that they drive on the wrong side of the road in Ireland?!? I'm thinking Adam and I will have to flip a coin to see who has to brave the left side of the road. Say a little prayer for us please!

We are off to dinner now. I'm hoping for some Chicago-style pizza! (Trying to stay positive about all of this!)

We also have "Flat Michael" with us on this trip. I'll have to give y'all the story in that too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Afternoon of Wine-Tasting

My friend Sarah has made the decision to move to Knoxville, Tennessee to finish her master's degree.  She's not moving until August, so she has made an "Arkansas Bucket List" of things to do before she leaves the state.  Sarah and I were excited to help her check off the first item on her list:  winery tours and wine-tasting in Altus!

We began the afternoon at Post Familie Vineyards, the largest winery in Arkansas.

"Since 1880, five generations of Posts have cultivated and harvested their grapes to make Post Familie wines. The founder of our wine heritage and Altus viticulture was Jacob Post, a German who arrived in America in 1872. From his cellar, he sold the first Altus wines to passengers on the Iron Mountain Railroad, when the train stopped by his farm for fuel and water."

We began with a little wine-tasting with Barbie--she was really fantastic!  We were given a list of all their wines and were allowed 5 samples to try, but Barbie was really nice and let us try one extra : )

I ended up getting 3 bottles.  My favorites were their Moscato, Sherry, and Blue Parachute (one of their new ones).

I was sure that I would leave with a bottle of the Altus Port, but I ended up opting for the Sherry.  It had this terrific, nutty flavor.  They also have a very good strawberry wine, if that's your thing.

Our wonderful guide Sherri led us on a tour of the winery.  It was a lot to take in......

Standing in front of the "Crusher."  Step 1 of the wine-making process.  
Also on the tour, was Chew-barka.

Chew-barka was there with his vegan, wine-loving owners (a very interesting pair), and they joined us for the tour.  By the end, they had passed out their "cards" and had offered Sarah B. a "special business opportunity."  We're not exactly sure what that means--we're waiting on Sarah to report back to us.  I've got a few ideas though.....

We just so happened to show up on a lucky day--the Moscato (I believed Sherri called it "Moscat" because the carbonation hadn't been added....or something like that) was ready.  And we got to be some of the first to taste it!  From the "giant keg," no less.  People who actually know some things about how wine is made may know the official name, but I shall refer to these as "giant kegs."

I don't have to say much about the Wiederkehr Winery.  The staff members were obviously not thrilled about working that day.  They weren't friendly, and they left us waiting for the tour....and then forgot to take us.  They also charge $3 for tasting 5 wine samples.  You can taste 3 of their standard wines for free.  I already knew how their Chardonnay and Beau Noir tasted, so I opted for the Blush Niagra.  I really liked it and ended up buying a bottle of it, even if their customer service was not up to par.

We finished the afternoon with a traditional Swiss dinner at Wiederkehr's Weinkeller Restaurant.  Adam and I came here two Christmases ago and shared their Swiss fondu. Love love love it!  The subdued atmosphere of this restaurant makes it perfect for date nights.  Or an afternoon with the girls.   We each had the German Feast:  your choice of two sausages, sauerkraut, and potatoes.  Nom nom nom!

Sarah B. told us about Free the Grapes.  Arkansas is just one of many states that prohibit wineries from shipping....they can't even ship directly to customers in Arkansas.  Visit the Free the Grape website to learn more about this petition and write your local representatives.  You can also like Free the Grapes on Facebook.  Check it out!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Let's Rock-n-Stroll!

I have been so motivated after completing the Women Can Run 5K a few weeks ago.  The director of the Maumelle WCR clinic sent an email after the graduation 5K with lots of information and motivation for those who want to continue their new-found "love" of running.  I definitely took her suggestion about Hot Legs, a running club here in central Arkansas.  I've already been to my first meeting and hopefully I can meet up for a run with some of these fabulous ladies later this week.  Arkansas Runner is another great site, which is how I found out about the Rock-n-Stroll 5K at Riverfest.  Adam and I bought our tickets to Riverfest a month ago, after he heard Third Eye Blind (one of his very favorite bands) was playing.  This was my first year to take part in Riverfest, so I figured I might as well do the 5K.

If you check out the Rock-n-Stroll registration page, it is advertised like this:  
Two words – Fun and Fitness!! Where else can you dress up as your favorite rock ’n roll star, cartoon character or just anything fun and run a 5K? In addition to prizes for runners there will be prizes for the best costumes and some great rock ’n roll music at the race conclusion.
To be sure, I google-searched images for this event to make sure other people would show up in costume.  The evidence was there, so I showed up like this.....

I almost backed out.  Adam went with me, and we got there about 45 minutes prior to the race.  As we were sitting in our car, I was getting a little scared.  Everyone else that I saw was pretty serious about this race....they were dressed in their very best running gear.  Not costumes.  Yikes!  I was almost too embarrassed to leave the car, but I finally decided "what the heck?"  It's not like I would know anyone there.

I really felt like a freak when I was headed to the starting line.  Adam, being the awesome hubby that he is, had gone back to the car to get my ear buds.  I was left there standing alone in my tutu.  A teenage girl stopped and asked if she could have her picture taken with me.  It reminded me of those people who dress up in Vegas and other touristy areas for people to take pictures with for tips.

I was soooo relieved to find "Katy Perry" and "Stevie Nicks" at the starting line.  Yay other crazy people!

Turns out these ladies are also members of Hot Legs.  Hopefully I'll have the chance to run with them again : )
I finished this race in 39:30--but we're not sure how exact this time was.  This race was much smaller than the WCR 5K, and they didn't have the little tags to track your time.  But I figure this time is pretty accurate.  Considering the hot sun and humidity, a 12:37 pace is about where I expected to be.  

Adam was such a good sport about tagging along with me....even if I did look ridiculous.  Later that night, we got to cross an item off his bucket-list:  Third Eye Blind Concert!  It was such a good show. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!