Monday, December 15, 2008

Ireland, England, and Rome- Oh My!

I've finally done it!  I got the trip blog finished.  If there are mistakes all over the place just ignore them- this took forever (seeing as how I got it aaaaaaall finished once then lost it) and editing wasn't on the top of my long to do list.  
On December 1st Alex got his post Iraq leave and we decided to intentionally drive ourselves to distraction by attempting what two people and a 18 month old Jensen should possibly never attempt.  We took 12 days and "did" Ireland, England, and Rome.  First stop Ireland.

Our first evening we found a little pub we ended up eating at all three nights.  Two of the nights this gentleman came up and talked at Jensen in half Gaelic half giggle inducing Irish accent.  He kept saying "God bless ya and God love ya" Jence thought he was funny.
Our first evening in Dingle.
Dingle's mascot, Fungie.
We toured this crazy mansion house- we felt like we were in Jane Eyre- okay, I felt like we were in Jane Eyre.
The grounds were almost as neat as the house...almost.
This is a ring fort who's construction we thought was really cool... until we went to Rome and saw the things the Romans were building at the same time...
Jensen and me walking around the top of the fort.
My boys
Here is a visual of how we do things around here... Jence has to do his own thing at all times.
This is a closer picture of Jensen's mud head, curtsey of his need to explore on his own.
We stumbled onto this ruin at twilight- hence our specialty of the blur picture- and spent a while getting nice and muddy and rained on as we explored it.
Jensen got really excited about the visible keystones- okay, maybe that was me, but you have to understand that my mother is obsessed with rocks, I come by it honestly... (we actually took the picture for her- I think I've had 753 lessons at church about the importance of the keystone, and 752 of them were from my mom.)
We found a staircase that lead to the middle of a wall- um no wonder no one lives in it anymore, some architects are notoriously more "artsy" than others...
Jensen slipped all over the place in the mud, this time he just went with it and sat there looking up at me through the rain.  I think it was somewhere in here that I lost my lens cap.  That was annoying for the rest of the trip...
On our way to a cliff side fort- even in winter Ireland had some amazing views.
The fort
I thought this was cool.  This river was designed to run over the road!  (Okay, the road was actually built to go under the river, but who's counting?
To get the picture he wanted of the surf Alex held my hand and lowered me back over the railing...
We have started doing the whole wiggle-our-fingers-at-Jensen-and-say "I'm gonna get you!" thing, but our contrary little friend runs toward us.
This is an ancient Gaelic agreement rock.  To bind contracts two parties would touch thumbs through the whole.  According to legend, a marriage that is bound here will last forever- thank goodness we found it!
This is the view in the early morning from our cottage.
Our last day in Ireland we went to the Cliffs of Moher- I definitely recommend it to anyone passing by.  Alex said he felt like he was in the Lord of the Rings- and it's true, there was something almost mythical about the place.  I'd love to back without a baby who didn't like that the wind seemed to make it it's personal mission to blow the kid over.  We had a rain cover on the stroller when we got there- I've never seen something go up and never come down before, until the wind got a hold of that big piece of plastic...
Jence at the Cliffs
An Irish rainbow!
There's a picture of the Cliffs-
Jence is pretty free wheeling with his kisses- I love it.
We drove through The Burren.  It's a massive area covered with limestone.
They say that it supports a huge range of plant life and is the summer...
Soo Ireland
Entertaining Jensen waiting for the flight to England.
We had a few hours in London (which anyone with half a brain knows is way not enough) but we had a nice time on the Hop on Hop off bus.   There are the Boys with Big Ben.
Yet another blurry picture- this one of the London Eye...and I think a yelling Jence.
The quintessential London telephone booth least it's quintessential if you're friends with KJ...
The next morning we drove down to Beachy Head Cliffs- not quite as impressive after Moher- but great to see.  Not that we got to see much of it with our slow going (sometime fit throwing) amateur photographer.
Beachy Head
We thought about planting him and seeing if he grew sideways like all the trees...
After Brighton (which you'll see next because I can't figure out how to change the order of the pictures on my new computer-) we went up to Stonehenge.  Aaaamazing.  I remember one day when  was little I thought out a list of all the places    I wanted to see someday (which wasn't very extensive, because I'm more of a what-I-want-to-do-someday kind of person). but one of the places was Stonehenge.  It's been incredible to be able to cross so many things off my lists!
By the way- I tried to pre-frame the picture for this guy to get all of us and see the rocks...oh well- there are all sorts of sayings about wanting something done right, gift horses, and beggars choosing things.
We stopped by Brighton and ate fish and chips on the pier. My favorite part was the sound of the waves rolling back off the beach.  I'd never heard anything like it before.  The beach was all made of little pebbles and it made this incredible sound rolling back.  I was going on and on about it talking with my mom and she teased me about my choice of topic after all the things we had seen over the last 12 days.
Jensen contemplating the probability of convincing me to let him to eat waffles on a stick every day. 
This picture of Stonehenge was supposed to be with the other one, but for all I love my new computer I can't figure out how to move these pictures around.
Jence was pretty sleepy during our whole trip.  He's a good little sleeper- at least during the night, not so much in the car...
Here I am in Bath with Jane Austin and some guy that greets people into her center.
We didn't get too much done considering that this Kit Kat bar didn't hold out too long...
The guide book said these were the first "townhouses" ever built.  They were built for the fabulously rich and famous. The guides of the museum there said a lot of slave trade money went into the construction.
Hey, Hey he's a Monkey... Though it's actually the Beatles that came from Liverpool, where we were.

This beautiful statue is a memorial to the 9 million emigrants who left for the new world from this port in Liverpool. It was donated to the city by the LDS church.
The docks at Liverpool are another thing that I've always wanted to see.  It was really special to be there in a place where so many people exercised such a huge leap of faith.

Aaand on to Rome.
This is another blurry night picture outside the Pantheon. We were blown away by it. (It's the only Roman building that was continually used since it was built.)  It is also the site of Rafael's tomb. Which I will show you after yet another out of place picture...
The monster wracked out upon arrival in Rome. Right there on the bed. A first. (And probably a last...)
Here you can also see Al's beard.
Rafael's Tomb. Crazy... It's in the Pantheon. Also crazy to see...

Gelato. He has an eagle eye, so we had to share.

The Colosseum. Did you know that they had a 100 day festival to inaugurate this place in which 2000 men and 9000 animals were killed? When did we become Aztecs? Really yucky if you think about it too long.

The gladiator monkey

This is Constantine's Arch. Before this Christians were killed for their beliefs, after this it was the national religion of the whole western world. Crazy.

"Original doors ladies and gentlemen, original doors..."

The Roman Forum

This is Laocoon, Ancient Rome's most important statue. And this is me telling Alex- "Wait! Don't use the flash!" Too late.

You're not allowed to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel- now, the normal Sara response to such rules is to quickly and completely comply with all listed regulations. But while in Florance a few years ago we met a painter named Nicola with whom we talked about all sorts of politics and art and culture. We discussed the same rule (no pictures) regarding Michelangelo's David. He pointed out that these works belong to us as humanity. No one has the right to tell you that you cannot take a picture of it (barring damaging flashes, of course). So this is me- taking a picture of the non-photographable Sistine Chapel. The world's greatest work of art (executed by one man, one of my heroes.) Stunning.

We realized on our last night that we didn't get an outside picture of the Colosseum. Blasphemy. So, this was remedied by yet another fabulous- "try it again and hold more still this time..." picture.

This was Al's favorite building in Rome- It was maaaaaaasive. It is a memorial to the unification of Italy. The horse statue (the green blob near the top left) is the largest one in the world. (The guy on it is the first king of Italy- and his mustache is over 5 feet long!)

HA! Proof positive for all you doubters out there- The three of us traveled for 12 days with only this duffel bag and the backpack on my back!

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