Let's start at the beginning shall we?
Once there was a little girl, who grew up very close to her Grandmother. That Grandmother taught that little girl a lot. She taught her about God, and faith. How to speak to her elders. She taught her a lot about how to be a good friend, and of course, how to throw the most fabulous parties.
Let's cut to the chase. That little girl is Me all grown up, and as you all know, that Grandmother is my beloved Gram.
Gram exposed me to a lot as a child. She would sit and read with me. She introduced me to one of my favorite series Anne of Green Gables. She taught me to bargain shop. (That woman can find some deals!) The list goes on.... But one of my favorite things she always talked about was Ireland. My whole life I heard about this wonderful country. Every St. Patrick's Day was like Christmas at Gram's house. The whole house would be covered in Shamrocks and everything green. We would feast on the most delicious corned beef and cabbage. We would have slices of irish "wish" soda bread. And when I was old enough, sip on Irish Coffee's. Late into the night there would be singing of Irish music and for dessert we would indulge in chocolate dusted Irish Potatoes from See's candy. It was the best.
Gram went to Ireland several times with my Grandfather while I was growing up. She always brought me back a treat of some sort and would give me the whole run down on her trip. When I was 11 years old I was helping her pack for her next trip to Ireland. I was expressing to her how I wished I could squeeze in her suitcase and go........ I will never forget this moment as long as I live. She leaned down and said... "Someday, I'll take you there. Me and You. I promise."
Let's fast forward shall we?
Completely off subject..Are you all familiar with Groupon? Yes..You know...the website that gives you deals upon deals of discounted prices. Well....One day....Here came a Deal from Groupon! A trip for two to Ireland. 7 days. Bed and Breakfast. A car. What a deal! I was so excited. I tried to read all the fine print. I called my Gram mid search to tell her about the deal...she didn't answer.... (p.s. I'm always doing things like this....planning trips that I'm never going to take. Dreaming of my next adventure.....Doesn't everybody??) Now... Mind you.... I had NO intention of going on a trip to Ireland. I call Gram all the time to give her my next big idea on where we should go.... So what happened next was so weird.
I wanted to see how much the trip would cost total. You know...for two people. So I hit continue. Well.... my phone... My trusty Iphone...is connected to my BANK ACCOUNT. And with one click of a button the screen said THANK YOU FOR YOUR PURCHASE.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PURCHASE???
WHAT THE ???
The panic was all over my face. I was with my Mother when it happened. She thought someone had died.
To say I freaked out would be an understatement.
But...in the end...it all worked out. Groupon credited me back our money. There was no charge. They were so nice.
I finally got a hold of Gram. I told her it was all her fault. If she had just answered her phone this never would have happened.
She laughed and I could hear her conveying the story to Pop while she was still on the phone with me.
We hung up. I told Clay the story... He .... laughed...in a... my wife is insane kind of way and that was the end of it.
Until I talked to Gram the next day. I talk to Gram every day. It's just the way it's been for years.
Gram said...you know... Heidi.... I've been thinking.... "Do you think that online deal-y thing is still there? I talked to Pop...and he thinks we should go.... What do you think"
I was floored.
What would I do? I'm a stay at home Mom. How would Clay feel if I went to Ireland with just my Grandmother? Who would help with the kids?? Is this possible??
That night I talked to Clay. He was amazing. He just looked at me and said "This is a once in a lifetime thing. You have to go."
Then my Mother in Law said "Of course we will take the kids!"
Is this happening???
And just like that....
I had my passport renewed.
And Gram and I were at SFO
She is a woman of her word, I tell ya.
The flight was direct.
There was almost no one on the flight there!
Gram was able to stretch out and get some "rest".
It's like flying in 1988 all over again!
In what felt like forever... We arrived.
Gram took a nap as soon as we arrived at our hotel.
So...I did what any good Irish girl would do...
I went to the pub in the bottom of the hotel and had a pint. Of Harps...not Guiness. No hair on the chest for this girl. :)
Gram woke up and joined me for dinner downstairs.
Fish and Chips for her.
and everyday it was very similar at every place.
Boiled ham, broiled tomatoes, scrambled eggs, sausage and sauteed mushrooms.
I stayed away from the Black and White pudding.
Of course I had my
Day one was spent in Dublin.
I only almost killed us twice.
Imagine driving in the financial district of San Francisco, with two hours of sleep and everything is on the wrong side of the car.
If you ask me...I did quite well...
If you ask Gram...She'll say she's lucky to be alive.
First stop was to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College.
Gram was very persistent in us going to see this book. I really wanted to go into all the little stores around the college and buy Irish things.
I'm glad she was adamant in going.
Because once we were inside the library....
Students of Trinity college still use all of these books. Some are hundreds and hundreds of years old!
We finally got to see the Book of Kells.
Which had a sign that said...
Absolutely no photography.
After almost dying in the streets of Dublin we decided to make our way to our next stop.
Thank god, most of the road looked like this. NO traffic.
Green and Gorgeous.
We also had record breaking temperatures while we were there. It as in the 60's all week, and no rain or clouds.
That's almost unheard of.
I only got us really lost once....
Gram forgave me.
But she will never forget.
We hit our first bed and breakfast of the trip.
This was my first B and B experience.
The property was her husbands family, and below is the original Thatch roof house that his family originally lived in.
Now it's part of the historical society of Ireland and it's Red door on the front is featured on all of the posters of Ireland that show the famous doors of Ireland.
Just beyond the house you can see the ocean.
We decided to go and see it up close.
I wanted to do something for Clay, close to the beach is the Galway Golf Club. Exclusive to members.
He got a Hat
After that we drove into the city of Claddagh
And it's adorable.
The shopping was fantastic.
After our tour of the shops we decided an Irish Coffee was in order.
With out a doubt.
The most amazing Irish Coffee I have ever had in my LIFE.
We had dinner just down the way from our B and B at a local hotel.
See! Irish food isn't always boring!
Let me tell you though....
Beer is the way to go...
This cocktail cost $11 American dollars.
Before we knew it, we were back on the road again.
This time to Blarney.
It's a toss up for me.
They get a tie for my favorite cities of Ireland.
Both for very different reasons.
The family that ran this B and B were so nice. So accommodating.
And the grounds were beautiful.
We decided to stay in, and share some Harp's with the B and B owner.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was talking to the women that ran these Bed and Breakfast's.
They were so sweet. So genuine.
I always asked for a tour of the kitchen.
I was completely obsessed with her stove.
The table was always set so nicely for us.
When I ran out to get the beer, I went to a local liquor store.
Here is the fabulous wine section.
Complete with Barefoot White Zinfandel as one of their top California wines.
For the bargain price of $22.
Grams gonna kill me....
Mid-week we stopped to have her hair done.
And we met more wonderful people.
After getting beautiful we headed to Blarney Castle.
There was so much history.
This is the caretakers house on the property.
There are 131 steps to the top of Blarney Castle.
Gram has kissed the stone, and has obviously been given the Gift of Gab, so she waited patiently at the bottom while I made my way to the top.
Once you are there, you meet this guy.
The only way to reach the stone is to lean all the way back and hold onto the bars.
Once you are hanging there, you lean alllllll the way back and kiss the stone.
I officially have been given the Gift of Gab!
Gram and I strolled all over the castle.
I was so excited to go to Blarney Woolen Mills.
We decided to have a rest before we headed out again.
Before we knew it, it was time to go and we were headed to Waterford!
On the way we stopped at a Pub for a quick bite.
Everywhere we went there was brown bread and vegetable soup. It's a staple.
It's like a cream of vegetable, and it's amazing. Everywhere. I couldn't get enough.
I also couldn't get enough of the brown bread.
Our B and B in Waterford was more like a hotel.
Breakfast was the same as always....
This was my last Irish Breakfast.....
and let's just say...
it didn't sit well with me....
The whole reason I wanted to go to Waterford was to go here:
I'm not a crystal person...But Gram is...
and once you're inside that place...you suddenly feel like you need everything to be crystal in your life.
Everything was gorgeous.
That night for dinner I opted for the vegetable soup.
Because, seriously people....
it's that good.
Next stop was Wexford.
And the sweetest woman ran it.
We were her only guests that night.
I'm not gonna lie...I did not sleep well this night.
I was totally convinced the house was haunted.
Which of course it wasn't.
But I kept waking up in a panic, because I'm crazy like that.
Gram and I went to mass for Good Friday.
The whole mass was done traditional Irish Catholic and reminded me so much of going to church as a child. Loved having that experience with Gram.
At the end of Mass everyone gets up and comes to the Altar to kiss the Cross.
It was truly special.
and because it was a new church for both Gram and I we got our three wishes.
Gram took a nap every day. While she napped I explored.
I was starving and went to a local hotel for....
you guessed it.
One of the main reasons my Grandmother went to Ireland was because of family.
Hilda and Tom.
And I LOVE them.
We had Good Friday Dinner with them and then got a tour of the town.
It was so nice to not have to drive!
I was such a nervous wreck on the wrong side of the road.
Most of the houses near the harbor where thatched roof, and SO cute.
Then he took us into town where the Kennedy's ship is located.
Like THE Kennedy's.
Then we spent the day at our families home.
They own a dairy farm.
(oh! And see that tiny little crotch rocket of a car?? THAT is the car we drove all over Ireland. Me and Gram in the front seat. Luggage in the back.)
This Guy was brand new....
The farm is gorgeous.
You know that Irish Butter you splurge on at Whole Foods.....
That's my families butter!
How cool is that!
Tea and cookies were waiting our arrival.
But in Ireland, every day I drank my weight in Hot Tea.
And it was amazing.
The spread for lunch was over the top.
I can tell Hilda is family.
She does it just as my Irish Grandmother does, Just as I do.
No one leaves hungry.
Gram was so tired.
Which was nice.
I just loved these people to pieces.
And I can keep up with them now on Facebook and Instagram.
The internet is a wonderful thing.
After our visit with family we headed toward Dublin.
And had one last amazing dinner in this country I have quickly grown to love.
(I tell you, I feel like Ireland gets a bad wrap for it's cuisine, but I have to disagree and tell you, it's fantastic!)
We had one more Bed and Breakfast
I opted for just toast.
I don't care if I ever see a boiled piece of meat again in my whole life.
Our stay was quick.
And before we knew it....
It was time to leave.
I have to say....
Gram was very smart in not taking me to Ireland in my teen years....because I for sure would have run away and relocated.
Everyone there is so nice, so fabulous, so sweet, so polite, so genuine, so FUNNY.
I can't thank my Grandmother enough for this trip. It truly was a trip of a lifetime.
I also can't thank my husband enough for being so wonderful and understanding what this trip meant to me. And to my Gram.
Thank you to everyone who made this happen.
It truly was a magical journey.
I for sure know I'm Irish.
Right to the bone.
Just like my Gram.