Friday, July 13, 2012

One Month til Im Leaving on a Jet Plane!

A month from today I will be on a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland. I will be flying into Dublin Airport on Aer Lingus and then from there taking a bus to Belfast where I will be staying for 10 days. I cant wait to be back in Ireland and getting to enjoy it with my mom while we get to know our Irish relatives. =)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Better late than never

Some pics from my Arizona trip.....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Arizona in 51 days!

Havent updated this in forever! In 51 days I will get to make my first trip out west and go to Arizona. I will be flying out of Detroit on March 10th and then will be driving back to Michigan on March 14th with a pit stop on Kansas for a night and then 3 days in Iowa before heading home. I am really looking forward to it! I will be going to 9 new states that I have never been before. It will give me a chance to see what each state has to offer and give me ideas for future trips. =) Of course I will be taking lots and lots of photos and be able to show the beauty of this country!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Northern Ireland

Been a few days since I updated this again. James and I are currently on our way back form Northern Ireland. We were there for a night. We drove up yesterday morning. Left his house around 7 am and then arrived in Belfast around 2:30ish. On the way to Belfast we made a pit stop in Killough, but I will get to all of that later.

James had his endoscopy on Friday so we basically just took it easy by taking walks around the farm and watching movies. Saturday was basically another laid back day again. Which was nice. I love my trip here. I have experienced way more than any other tourist that comes to Ireland. I even have learned the littlest things like hitting someone when you see a yellow reg. Which is basically like what we do in America when you see a Slug bug. A Yellow Reg is a british car that has a yellow liscence plate.

Anyways....on Sunday James and I drove over to the River Shannon and Clonmacnoise. It was so neat. We saw an ancient monastry. The crosses for the graves were huge and very pretty. Then there was a tower that the monks of the monastry would all climb in and hide from the vikings. The entrance was pretty high. They would have a wooden ladder to get up into it then when they were all in there they would burn the ladder so the vikings couldnt get to them. There were also little chapels throughout and I thought that was neat. None of them have roofs now but it was neat to step inside and see a few grave markers in the ground and whatnot. For being part of a cemetary it sure was pretty.

Then bright and early Monday morning James and I were off to Northern Ireland. I was a little disappointed when we got to the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic. There are no signs whatsoever welcoming you to the North. All you get is a sign that says “Speed limits in miles per hour”. Kind of took away from the excitement. I still get excited when I see the welcome sign going into a new state. Oh well, life goes on.
After that we got out the good ol Sat Nav (GPS) and was irritated to death by it! Went in circles for about 20 minutes then we were finally set on the right path. Which would be going to Killough. Incase anyone was wondering from me mentioning it in the beginning of the post, I traced back family roots to Killough. My great great Grandad and Granny Hale were from Killough and they are the ones who came over from Ireland and set roots in the United States. Well Granny Margaret was born in Killough, Granddad Patrick was born in Belfast. That was back in the early 1900's, they moved to America in 1909. Killough is a very small town. You practically almost blink and its gone. We stopped at the sign welcoming you into Killough and I got my picture taken and then I called my papa Hale from the exact place where his grandparents lived. It was amazing.
None of this would be possible without James and his family. They have been very generous and welcoming by letting me stay with them for 3 weeks and letting me experience Ireland. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it has made all my dreams come true. I will always be forever grateful to them for this opportunity. Ireland has always been a place I wanted to visit because of my heritage. I had a laugh because on the radio on the way up to Northern Ireland they were saying that you can actually get a certificate saying your Irish. It’s not claiming citizenship but its for Americans like me and others who have ancestors from Ireland where you can claim your Irish heritage. I think it would be fun to get one.

After visiting Killough we headed for Belfast. By the time we got there it was around 3 pm and that was check in time. So we checked in at the Balmoral Hotel in Belfast. It was a very nice hotel. Cheaper than London and a lot nicer and more spacious by far.
Then we went and had dinner a China King buffet. I think I got James addicted to Chinese food. Which is ok with me! =) haha I would eat it all the time if I could. The Chinese restaraunt was in a neat place. It was on a little mall. Three stories high and it had a place where you can climb a few flights of stairs and look out this dome and see the Belfast skyline. Really neat! Then we saw a Starbucks and we of course had to stop and get a Strawberries and Cream Frappucino. I got James hooked on those too. It was nice to just see the sights and walk around. We took a drive around Belfast as well.

The next morning, after having a really nice breakfast at the hotel we set off back in Belfast city center and took a Titanic walking tour. By far the best £12 spent!! The things we got to see and the history of the Titanic was unbelievable! I was actually in the original room where the Titanic was named and the room where the drawings of the Titanic were drawn. You can definitely tell the building has been there for over one hundred years. I also got a piece of the flooring used in the Titanic. The leftovers from the ship were placed down in the building where the Titanic was thought of so I took a piece of it that was chipped away. Dont worry the tour guide said it was ok as long as it didnt end up on Ebay. =)

Right outside that we were shown where the Titanic sat before it went into the water for the first. Which was Queens Island. In the 1960’s they filled in where the original spot the Titanic sat because they were still embarassed about the sinking of the Titanic, not knowing how big the history and interest of it would be. Now there is a car park sitting there. Basically it was where the hull of the ship was built before it was moved to the Thompson dry dock which was the biggest one in the world at the time but even the Titanic couldnt fit in it. They had to move the gates so it would fit so it could be reaffirmed that it was the biggest man made ship ever made. The Thomspon Dry dock is HUGE! To walk the length of it takes a good few minutes. I ended up taking a video of walking the whole thing. Looking at it from one end to another it looks big, but walking the length of it gives you more of an idea how long it was. There was a White Star Line building and if you stacked it on top of each other 3 times that would be how high the Titanic was then if you add it a fourth time that would equal the height of the 4 big pillars on top. Which I found out something interesting about those that I never knew about. Only 3 of them worked. The fourth one was put on to make the ship look fast and big. The last one wasnt connected to any of the boiler rooms.

Right next to the Thompson Dry Dock was the Pump House. We also were able to go in there and see how that all worked. There was even orginal cots that they carried people who were injured while building the Titanic. 17 men died while building the Titanic over a two year period. The deaths were mainly caused by falls or things being dropped on someones head. Ouch!

As of now Belfast is under heavy construction. There is a Titanic museum being put in as well as a university and hotel right in the area where the Titanic was built. The museum is in the shape of a star and its white as a way to represent the White Star Line. Then there will be a memorial garden next to it in the exact spot that the Titanic and Olympic were built and it will be an outline of both ships to get the feel of how big they were. It opens in 2012 and they are expecting over 500,000 people to visit it in the first year alone. There selling tickets to see it already. I think it would be neat to go back and see that when its all finished.

After seeing all that we took a drive about an hour and a half north and arrived at the Carrick-a-rede-rope bridge. It was the most amazing and fun thing I ever did. The bridge is about 100 feet above the water between two mountains. It wasnt so bad to cross it....for the most part. I was shaking the whole time walking across it. Crossing that bridge was a definite thrill and the pictures are amazing. I even got a certificate saying I crossed it!
Haha It was by far a grand experience that I will remember forever. Climbing through the mountain side to get to the bridge was just unreal. You get a great feeling though once you cross it. It’s only 30 feet across as well. It wasnt so bad if there were one or two people on it but once there were more it was shaky. The sign said only 8 people on the bridge at one time but I’m pretty sure when I was on it there was more than 8. At one time the bridge only had one railing because the fishermen would have their nets in the other hand walking along the bridge. I am super glad that it had two now and that there was two peicces of wood to make it easier to walk across. And I know the saying of “dont look down”, but its so hard not too!

I am definitely having a good time. Thursday were going to Dingle which I am very excited about. Then on Saturday were going to the Wicklow mountains and Dun Laoghaire (Leery) as well as going around Dublin one more time. Then Sunday is my last night in Ireland before I leave back to the states. =( Not really looking forward to it. I miss everyone at home but I definitely dont want to leave here.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I dont feel like a tourist here in Ireland. I feel like someone who has lived here for a long time. Of course I’ve done a few tourist things, but actually getting to go day to day like everyone here is fun. Not many people who visit go to the movies, or go grocery shopping at the stores, or do any of the local things like walking the prom and the long walk in Galway city. I’ve enjoyed every single day here and I will truly miss it when I leave. I have 10 days left. I leave Dublin at 12:40 pm and then arriving in New York where I will catch a flight to Detroit. Not really looking forward to that. I dont like what I have to leave behind.

Went to London on Sunday (June 13th) til Tuesday. It was James, his brother Matt, sister Felicity, and myself. We woke up at 3 am on Sunday morning and left the house at around 4 am to drive to Dublin to make our plane to London Stanstead. The flight was only about 45 minutes. Then when we arrived in London Stanstead airport we took the train into London.

Train tickets are steep! I guess I’m not used to getting the train so these prices are shocking to me. I love taking the train though. Takes the pressure off driving and you can relax . The littlest things that are no big deal here amaze me though. I drive into school everyday or work. Most people catch the train and walk to their destination. I just pull into a parking lot and walk a few steps in. I much rather do it the way here.

When we arrived at Liverpool St. In London we got off the train and went for breakfast at McDonalds.
We got on the Tube after McDonalds and went on our little journey to go see the RAF Museum. Those tubes are HOT!!! They are way underground too. You do quite a bit of walking and going down steps to get to the trains. Then they are jammed packed loaded with people. Everyone is literally on top of one another. They get you around quickly though. I will give it that.
The RAF Museum was amazing. All the planes and facts was so cool. We spent at least a minimum of 2 hours in there. I guess I am a little biased but I loved the United States stuff the best. I was really proud to read all the things the US did in the wars and seeing all the old planes. My favorite spot was the memorial stone that stood right by one of the United States bomber planes from WWII. It was a memorial for all the men from the United States that went and helped Britain out in the war before we were involved. Seeing that made me feel proud of my country. I definitely recommend it to anyone who ever goes to London. A lot of history is in that place and its FREE!!

By the time we did that we got the Tube again to go find our hotel. We stayed at a a part of London that you never see on TV. When you think of London you think of Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Sguare, the red telephone booths and the big red buses. Dont get me wrong it wasnt bad, but its definitely a side of London you wouldnt know about unless you went there. We were all exhausted and tired when we checked in so we pretty much just went to Tesco to buy a few things that we needed then went to KFC and got dinner then went back to the hotel. James and I took a little walk to one of the stores so I could buy some postcards then after that we all went to bed. It was a long day for all of us since we had been up since 3 am.

The next morning we left the hotel around 9 am and stopped at a little Cafe for breakfast called the Da Vinci. I had scrambled eggs and toast. Pretty American if I do say so myself. I’m not used to the food over here yet. I was too chicken to try the English breakfast. Then once we did that we were off to the Tube which was hot and overfilled again and the first place we saw when we got off was Trafalgar Square. Soooo pretty! I loved the fountains and the big Lion Statues. Then right by the Art museum there stands a statue of non other than George Washington. The first president of the United States. I went up to it and said “By George we did it!” haha If it wasnt for him we would still be under British rule. What made me laugh was when we took the bus tour they mentioned the statue there and said that George Washington vowed to never step foot on British soil again. So what do they do? They bring in soil from the United States and then put a statue of him up on it. So where that statue is the little area of land is US territory. There was also a big statue of Abraham Lincoln but I didnt get a chance to get a picture of it because the bus was going too fast.

We got to see the changing of the guards outside Buckingham Palace. It was soo cool. The mobs of people was insane and you literally had to run to keep up with the soldiers marching up the mall to the palace. Then we saw the soldiers change outside Charles and Camillas palace. Those are the soldiers you could go up and try to get them to laugh and whatnot, but you cant go up to them anymore. There was rope blocking people off and you could only get so close. Apparently someone got a little too close to one of the guards to try and get them to do something and they ended up knocking the button off of the uniform....which didnt turn out too well. So they made it now to where you cant get that close to them.

Buckingham Palace is big, but on TV it looks a lot bigger than it is. The statue of Queen Victoria...I believe not sure if I am right on the name, but its outside Buckingham Palace and her nose got knocked off so when they redid her nose the stone wasnt the same color so when you look at it, it definitely stands out. I zoomed in on her face and...she wasnt a very nice looking lady. Kinda scary actually. The securty around the Palace wasnt as bad as I thought though. Only a few police officers outside the gates and then two guards standing right by the doors into the Palace. James’ brother Matt actually stepped inside the gates for a few seconds before a police officer noticed him and told him he needed to take a couple steps back. There was more security around the United States embassy than Buckingham palace which I found hilarious. I was taking pictures of it and was close to the gates to see all the state flags lined up and I was actually told to not stand so close and take lots of pictures. It’s in a very secluded spot. You have to walk a little bit to get to it. Then just outside the US Embassy is the Roosevelt Memorial Garden. It’s a little park and it has a statue of FDR and the Garden is named after him. There was even a statue of Eisenhower. Then on the other side of the Garden was a memorial for all the people who lost their lives on September 11th. As well as a stone memorial for all the men who died in the Eagle Squadron in WWII. It was nice to see the support of the United States Military overseas with these plaques and what not.

We got a “free” ride on the river Thames and was able to see the house of Parliament and all that from the river. It was included in the bus tour and if you showed your ticket at the Sherlock Holmes Pub, you were able to get a fish and chips meal for 3 pounds!! Tower Bridge was opened when we were on the river. It opens up 400 times a year and you never know when it will open up.

Basically the whole time we were there we just walked everywhere to see the sights. We walked down Oxford St which is supposed to be the longest shopping rd in the world I believe. Or it might be for Europe. Not really sure all the facts on that. It’s about a mile and a half long though. I was so excited when I saw a Disney store. Spent quite some time in there. Ended up buying a Mini Mouse stuffed animal thing that said London on it. I know I could easily get that at home but it wouldnt say London on it. =) It was a fun trip and now I can cross that off my lists of the places I wanted to see, but will definitely be back for more adventures!

Yesterday James and I drove to County Clare and saw the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. Words cant even describe how amazing it was. Pictures dont do any of these places justice. We spent a good 3 hours just at the Cliffs of Moher. The scenery is magnificent. I was in aww the whole time. The ocean was so blue and the sea of birds below was so cool. You cant help but to stop and stare for hours on end at it. The Burren was nice as well. It’s over 6 thousand years old. The tomb was built way before Jesus was even born. It felt so werid to be standing next to something that was there before Jesus was born. Very surreal. To get to the cliffs we had to drive up this road called corkscrew rd. I can totally see why it is named that. You literally do 90 degree angle turns and is very winding. I felt a little dizzy once we got to the top. There was a little place to stop so we got out of the truck and you could see for miles. Very cool. =) After the Cliffs of Moher James and I stopped in so I could meet a classmate of his from college. It was nice to sit on the porch while drinking tea, and basking in the nice sun. It was actually really warm. Then James and I went for some Chinese food. It was his first time trying it and I think I converted someone over to liking Chinese food. There was a beach nearby and you could see all the people swimming and surfing. You would never catch me doing any of that. The water was freezing! I thought the water on the US side of the Atlantic was cold....that was nothing compared to the water here.

When we got back into Galway I had James turn around so I could take a picture of a sign that made me laugh. It showed a picture of a bicycle and it said underneath it. “Burn Fat not oil”. You would not believe how many people ride their bikes everywhere. They even use the same roads as the cars. That would be an accident waiting to happen for me. I would get hit by a car or something. But it would be something fun to do, havent road a bike since I was in 9th grade. James and I took a walk on the promenade. Not sure how long it is but it was a nice long walk. According to James I am now a “Galwegian” since I walked it. But I think I will always be a Michigander first and foremost.
Have I mentioned that Irish strawberries are heavenly? James bought me some the other day and then yesterday I bought more for myself. They taste different than the ones I buy at home, and I much prefer these ones. I wish I could take some back with me but they would probably be rotten by the time I got them back to the states. And I am pretty sure customs would be wondering why I have strawberries in my luggage.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Times flying by

I've been in Ireland 6 days now and its been incredible. Time is flying by so fast. Today I kinda helped cover a silage pit. Helped put the tarp on kinda and then put some tires on it. James and his family did most of the work. I felt more in the way. I never seen anything like it before so it was neat to see how it was all done. It sure is a messy job though. My attempt to throw tires on the top of the pit was a fail. Then when I was moving tires for the guys to throw up on top I got muck all over James. Everyone laughed including myself, but I still feel bad about it. I even got water all over myself as well. City girl trying to do things on a farm is pretty interesting. Then after the pit was covered today they were covering hay bales. It was so funny watching it because all the horses went to the fence where it was being done and was just watching it as well. I love being around the horses. Bomber is my favorite.

The past few days have been low key. Just doing random things around the house and area, Tomorrow James, Matt, Felicity and myself are heading to Dublin to head to London for 3 days. So the next time I update will be after London with I'm sure many pics to follow.

I did some wash today. My clothes are hanging up on the line as I speak. Its different that there isnt dryers but the hanging the clothes on the line isnt as bad as I thought. Kinda neat actually. Different, and thats the whole point of experiencing other countries. I even watched the parade for the Queen today on TV. It will be so awesome to see all of it tomorrow. =)

James and I are going to be running into Galway to walk around so I better end this. Were at his school right now printing off our boarding passes for tomorrow. 4 am is going to come very quickly!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

sorry for the delay of updates!

Wow, time sure is flying by! The plan was to update this every night....but the days go by so fast that befor you know it its after midnight and its time for bed. I am having the best time of my life.I am staying on a farm in County Galway and it is great I seriously dont remember ever being this happy. It is so surreal to be in the country where my ancestors came from. At the end of my trip I will be in Killough for a day which is near Belfast and that is where the Hale side came from. I'm really looking forward to it, plus all the sites I will get to see. The Irish are the friendliest people I have ever met!

I arrived on Sunday the 6th of June....ok now I am starting to talk like I’m from Europe. Haha I was welcomed to Dublin with rain. But I didnt care! I was happy to finally be in Ireland and the feeling of one of my dreams coming true was amazing. Of course it took forever to unload the plane (I was second to last row on plane, go figure) and then get through customs. James and his sister Felicity came to pick me up. We left the airport to head to Galway and I did something I never thought I would do in my life. I rode in a Toyota. Lol Actually a Toyota with the stearing wheel on the opposite side and driving on the opposite side of the road as well. Compared to here Michigan has the straightest roads in the world! The lanes are so tiny too! I’d say one lane in the USA equals to both lanes here. Kinda scary but i’m getting used to it. I am still working on James with the Chevys though. I scared him when he took me to see Athenry castle. I screamed “Oh my Gosh theres a Chevy!!!” when I saw the first Chevy riding around. Haha The total count of Chevys I’ve seen on the road is 2. I’d say there the best cars on the road. =P

When I got to James’s house I was greeted by his mom, granny, and brother. I was showed my room and then we sat down and had an Irish breakfast. It was really good. I didnt eat one thing though because I had no idea what it was and didnt want to be rude and ask. I am sharing a room with Felcity. I got my own bed and everything. It is soooooo comfortable. If I could take it home with me I would. Haha I am having a blast sharing a room with her though. We’ve stayed up late talking and what not and its been great. I just hope I havent snored while sleeping. Haha I would feel really bad if I woke her up from that. I actually make my bed every morning too. I’m hoping my parents dont read this so they wont make me start doing the same when I get home. It’s just so much easier to make the bed at other peoples houses. =) I was given a tour of the farm and saw all the animals. I was introduced to all the horses then Feclity showed me the cows and the bull. Kinda scary to be so close to a bull. I wasnt wearing red though! haha My favorite part was the horses. I always wanted one growing up so it was really cool to see so many. Bomber, Tyson, and Sally are my favorites. Last night when I went out in the fields to see them James and I were laughing because they all came running towards us. Then Tyson and Bomber had a little spat but was very cute when they were making up. Sally looked a little left out so I was talking to her for a few minutes. I felt so small standing next to the horses though.

My second day here James took me into Galway and showed me his school. NUI Galway. Then we walked into the city to see a powerboat race festival, but we didnt see much because it was raining. I now see why the only thing James told me to bring was a raincoat. =) I WAS SOAKED! Haha I had to changed when we got back to the house. But I had so much fun walking around despite the rain. I am in Ireland! It didnt bother me at all. James and I stopped into a place called The Cellar and grabbed a coke to get out of the rain for a little bit. For a glass of coke it was €2.70 and you dont get refills. It made me appreciate the free refills at home. Which I know sounds funny. I think the highlight of the walk around Galway was what someone had spray painted on a bench. It said “Obey the rules Canada!”. No idea what it was there for but it made me laugh because someone was hating on the Canadians. Then James and I went into town and bought the movie Billy Madison. He never even seen it before. I also saw where James went to elementary school and was very disappointed. There was no playground in sight!!! He laughed at me because I was upset about it. All my good memories of school back then were on the playground.

My third day James and I took the train into Dublin. It was so fun! It is a lot nicer than having to drive. I definitely think the USA should have more transportation like that. The scenery was beautiful driving by as well. I soaked it all in on the way to Dublin but on the way back I took a few pictures. TONS of sheep everywhere as well as cows. Unfortunately I havent seen any goats so my sister will be disappointed. After we got off the train in Dublin we took the LUAS to O’Connell St....I think....I’m trying to sound smart at the moment. We walked up and down that then went on one of the Dublin Bus Tours. It showed 23 of the most visited places in Dublin and you could get off and on whenever you wanted for the whole day. We ate Lunch at McDonalds. I was amazed because it was 4 stories high and it didnt look like a McDonalds. The nuggets even tasted different. James and I both got Happy Meals. We got funny looks by the lady taking our order but I owed him a Happy Meal...which I dont remember the reason for it, but it was fun to be a kid again and eat one and get the toy. I am saving mine for Seth. James enjoyed playing with his. Haha After that we hopped back on the bus and went around Dublin some more. My favorite spot in Dublin is the St. Patrick Cathedral. It is AMAZING!! The little park next to it was amazing as well. James and I literally sat in the park for at least 2 hours just talking. I saw a little girl about 2 or 3 with her little raincoat on and boots jumping in puddles, a guy and his son chasing each other around, couples walking around holding hands. It was a magical place. The fountain in the middle was beautiful too. James threw a penny in there and made a wish. Then it looked like a lady was trying to get money out of the fountain. Haha The Cathedral and the park was my favorite part of the whole day and I will never forget it!!! I never really thought of having a big wedding someday when the time comes, but seeing that church made me dream big.

Yesterday I slepted in really late. I woke up around 11 am I think. I had been getting up around 7:30- 8 am the few mornings before so it felt nice to sleep in. James and I took another trip into Galway and went to the university to try and print off our boarding passes for our trip to London on Sunday. James, Felicty, Matt, and myself are going to be going there for 3 days starting on Sunday. London is another place I have always wanted to go and see. The only thing left of Europe I really want to see now is Poland. I am really looking forward to London though. After that James drove around and showed me more of Galway and the edge of Connemara. BEAUTIFUL! This country is amazing. I cant wait to actually spend the day there. I definitely dont want to go back home. I do miss everyone, but I love it here.

Then so far this morning I just ran into town with James to get the paper and now I am updating all this while he is moving tires for the silage that is going to be cut tomorrow. He wont let me help. I offered several times to help him move them but he said I am on holiday and need to enjoy myself. I feel so lazy with him not letting me do anything. I cant even put my dishes in the dishwasher. He does all that for me. He is such a gentlemen, but I wont break if I help with anything.

The weather has been a little chilly. It’s hard to describe it though. It’s like a different chill then home. The sun is out and shining today but the breeze makes you need a sweatshirt. My first day here I was actually hot, which surprised me since it was only in the 60’s.

My phone dont work. Ireland only has 3 cell phone networks and none of them will let me use my phone. Didnt help that I lost it my first day here either. But I found it so its all good. =) James is letting me use his phone so I am only calling my parents every few days so I dont waste all his credits.

I pumped petrol (gas) into Jame’s truck last night. It was kinda cool to do that. The gas tanks are different and everything. Of course James took a picture of it and I wasnt thrilled so I look like an idiot!

I should probably end this for now. I know this is all over the place. I will hopefully be able to start updating every night now. Doubt I will be able to while in London though. I’m gonna go check on James and make a phone call home. Going on a date with James tonight to the movies. I hope he likes chick flicks! =)