We’re back! And with many updates.
The past six weeks have been a whirlwind for this traveling trio. Please forgive us for our digital absence. Since we last wrote, we stepped foot in five new countries and laid our heads to rest in ten different cities. We were even lucky enough to spend time with family from the states and with our extended family from our motherlands. We have also experienced quite a few hard lessons learned, one of which is don't ever get behind on the blog!
Late August, we flew out of Bergamo, a fabulous airport and home base for Northern Italy. We landed in Copenhagen and took the train east across the bay to Sweden. We spent the next week visiting my distant relatives in a small village near Malmö in southwestern Sweden. Our little Kai bug had a blast playing with her Swedish cousins. With their help, she rediscovered her love for Pippi Longstocking and little plastic farm animals.
The week flew by. It wasn't enough time but it was an amazing time, nonetheless. Not only did I get to see the land from which my ancestors hail, but I introduced my daughter and husband to the utopia that is the Nordic way of life. I reconnected with my extended family and experienced the simple beauty of the Swedish countryside. It was beautiful, and I can't wait to go back.
After our lovely week near Malmö, we hopped on a quick flight over to Dublin, Ireland. We had planned to stay in Wicklow, about an hour south on the coast, but our AirBnB host had to cancel. We were looking forward to spending some quiet time by the sea, but alas, life had other plans. We did a little scrambling and found another place to rent last minute, only a block from the Guinness Storehouse. This made my husband very happy. It also made our first few Irish transition days much easier. A few days later we met some of Matt’s family when they came in for their own holiday on the Emerald Isle.
The following two weeks were pure insanity. Matt worked nonstop between fun, food, pints, and driving on the wrong side of the road (not in that order). We spent six nights in a 225 year old carriage house in Dublin near St. Stephen’s Green. The Dublin Mounted Police, or Garda, still use the stables downstairs to rest and feed their horses on occasion. Kailen was ecstatic to meet two very big “neigh neighs" when they showed up the day of our departure.
We then rented a car and Matt very carefully drove us north to Carrigart, in County Donegal. We spent two lovely nights in a beautiful cottage cozied up next to a big fireplace with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. We had the chance to fly our new drone, whom Kai dubbed "Bruce," a few times when the wind wasn't gusting. We even met some of Matt’s Irish relatives who have owned land in County Donegal for generations.
We then drove on the Wild Atlantic Way and spent two nights on the sea in a town called Bundoran, the southernmost town in County Donegal. Right outside our AirBnB kitchen window sat a view of an abandoned seaside castle that aligned perfectly with the setting sun. The castles in this region and the surrounding landscape are straight out of a fairy tale. You truly have to see it to believe it. No wonder National Geographic named Donegal the Top 'Cool' Spot to visit in 2017.
Afterwards we headed south to Galway for four short nights. We were exhausted. Mercifully, the weather was typical of an Irish fall and would subdue our travel FOMO. We decided to lay low and regroup.
After two weeks traveling and exploring with Matt’s family, we said our goodbyes, dropped the car off, and headed north to spend eight quiet nights on a family farm in Westport. Here, we didn’t do much but work, wash and hang many loads of laundry, and take a few strolls along the Great Western Greenway. We also had many opportunities to take Bruce out for a spin. We can’t wait to share the footage!
After our quiet week in Westport, our host family kindly drove us to the station where we caught a lovely train back to Dublin. We met up with my father and his new wife, who came to visit us and celebrate their honeymoon. We stayed in Ballsbridge, near gorgeous Georgian-style embassies, and explored more of Dublin. Since there are endless things to do there, we will never tire of the city. Honestly, we can't wait to go back -- it's an amazing place.
We took a day trip to Howth before heading north on the train and up across the border to Northern Ireland. At this point, we had now crossed into the United Kingdom, a new nation, with a new currency. And with a lot of places we visit, our stop in Belfast was too quick a trip. Such an underrated city, Belfast has much to offer (more to come on that later). The long and tumultuous history of Belfast, and all of Ireland for that matter, will astound you. But don't let it's troubled history drive you away from visiting this special corner of the world!
Of the three days we spent there, I spent an entire day "nerding out" with my pops on the Game of Thrones Tour. I'm glad I brought my camera, because most of the tour crossed the beautiful and wild Antrim Coast. The north coast of the Emerald Isle is of the most beautiful, rugged, and breathtaking places I've ever visited. Along the tour, we saw another UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Giant’s Causeway. No place I've ever been is as unique as this (pictures to come).
Back in Belfast we visited the state-of-the-art Titanic museum. We've seen a lot of museums recently, but this one stands out as one of the best. Sorry, Michelangelo, but even the toddler was sucked in for a couple hours.
We spent our morning in Belfast at St. George’s market with my dad and new stepmother, said our goodbyes, and wished them well on their honeymoon to Italy.
Where we are now
Finally, yesterday, we jumped on an flight from Belfast to Split, Croatia. Kailen didn't much enjoy her last free flight as an infant, but our bank account did.
Whew! It's been insane. After all this travel, we celebrated Kai’s 2nd birthday on a beach in Croatia. Never did I imagine that she would be swimming in the Adriatic the day she turned two. We are now, ironically, happy to settle down into into our Airbnb. We picked up a few toys at the local supermarket for Kai. She doesn't even care. All she wants to do is throw rocks into, and swim in, the Adriatic. We'll spend the next four weeks in this small village north of Split along the coast.
As you can see, we’ve been quite busy. Now it’s time to refocus our energy and get back on schedule. We have a thousand pictures, a hundred drone videos, and a million stories to share with you.
Keep an eye out for updates from Italy, Sweden, Ireland, and Croatia!
Thank you, as always, for following.