Sunday, March 20, 2011


How great is it to have all your family (except for one son-in-law) together for your eldest's 40th Birthday! There were some serious travel challenges with a 10-month-old and a 22-month-old but parents and children survived and returned home tired and jet lagged but none the worse for wear.

We  celebrated Maggie's big 4-0 with a birthday dinner in a family friendly restaurant near Maggie's place in Donnybrook then went to the Hurt's for cake.

Leo, Katie, Maggie, Lyla

Jennifer and Charlie just a few hours after the flight from Chicago.

Four decades of flames!

We had a week filled with being together and seeing all the Dublin sights. The cousins got to know each other and it was such fun to see them all playing together.

Charlie, Leo, Lyla, Kat

Jennifer and Charlie at the children's park in St. Stephen's Green.

Leo just wanted to walk!

It was a beautiful early spring day at St.Stephen's Green

Robin had a gig in Temple Bar so we took the whole family to hear him play. There was lots of dancing and good times. Here's Lyla and Leo enjoying the show.

We took a quick trip up to Howth. It's a picturesque fishing village north of Dublin. The sun was shining but it was windy and very cold!

Here we are fighting the brisk Irish wind.

After Katie and Leo left we took Lyla and Charlie to the Dublin Zoo.

Charlie and Aaron

Maggie, Lyla and Charlie looking for the wild beasts!

The rhino's proved to be everyone's favorite - the baby especially!

Lyla was a great caretaker for Charlie.

The Smith's at the zoo.

Charlie and Lyla at the window in the lounge on top of the Guiness Brewery.

They were very busy, exciting, and happy days together. We have lots of happy memories and are all looking forward to being together again soon!

Everyone had left by March 12 but I stayed on and got to see the St.  Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin.  The Parade was based on a short story, "Brilliant", by Roddy Doyle, a famous Irish writer, so the floats were all characters from the story. I thought everyone did a great job and we all really enjoyed the Parade.

Of course the Parade began with an Irish bagpipe and drum corps.

Here are some of the floats based on the story's characters.

I think the people in the crowd are just as entertaining as the Parade. Check out the mohawk on this spectator.

 And these ladies were definitely dressed for the occasion.

I caught this little boy checking out the fun from his window.

One special little Irish girl enjoyed herself thoroughly!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Istanbul: Part Two

We weren't so lucky with the weather Saturday morning. It was cold and windy with a bit of rain. We booked a boat tour of the Golden Horn for that morning so the water was quite choppy and it was so cold everyone ended up inside the boat instead of on the top viewing deck. Charlie and I braved the bad conditions on the upper deck until the bench in front of me blew over on my legs. Definitely time to move downstairs with everyone else.

Unfortunately our guide for this trip was as bad as Evril was good. So I don't have very much to say about the photos except that they are examples of architecture which we saw as we made our way up and down the coasts of the Golden Horn.

Again another mosque but interesting because of the skyscraper in the background.

I do remember that this is one of the most expensive hotels in the world.  The guide said it costs thousands of euros per night.

This is the "Fortress of Europe" built in the 15th century to protect Istanbul and, obviously, Europe.

One of the bridges spanning the Horn.

This is where the Golden Horn ends. Rather unimpressive, isn't it. But there it is.

Next stop: The Spice Market. It was so much fun to see all the beautiful colors and smell the delicious aromas of the spices.

We bought some spices from this man. I loved his"store". It had everything! We even bought some saffron from Iran.

The Spice Market also had a wide selection of dried fruits...along with Turkish Delights

There was a mosque just outside the Spice Market where we did see the men performing ablutions. This man was showing his little boy how to go about it.

Charlie was very anxious to step foot on a different continent so after the tour we took a taxi across the bridge onto the Asian side of Istanbul. We stopped for lunch at this little restaurant which we came upon. I don't think they got may Americans here. They didn't quite know what to make of us. Although they did have hamburgers on the menu. We proved to be very predictible and ordered hamburgers and fries. The fries were great but the burger... no so good. But the view was beautiful!

 We were on the bridge when this was taken. Asia and the left; Europe on the right.

The morning we left we strolled by Haghia Sophia again. The lighting was so beautiful I had to have a photo and included Charlie in it.  It was a nice ending to our trip.

We saw just the very surface of Istanbul. We plan to go back and spend an entire visit just at the museums. It truly is quite a place.