Little Citizens of the World


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Life always work out

I am a planner.  I like to have a plan everywhere we go.  I like to have all of my tickets printed out ahead of time.  I print out hotel reservations, just in case they don’t have them when we arrive.  I plan down to the smallest detail so there are no surprises.  Unfortunately, there are always surprises.  I know this.  I expect this.  But when it happens, I feel my heart start beating faster, tunnel vision sets in and I go into survival mode.

Well, that may be exaggerating a bit but not much, really.  We got our bus from Cork to Waterford where we would change buses and head to Rosslare Harbour where we would get the ferry to France.  This was the first leg of the trip.  Well, the bus was 5 minutes late getting to Waterford and the connecting bus left!!  Yes, it left!  I was floored, and slightly freaked out.  We had to be on the overnight ferry in order to make all of our connections.  We were less than 2 hours into our trip and we were completely and totally screwed!!!

Luckily we were in Ireland, and the Irish are the kindest people I’ve met so far.  The lovely man at the station radioed the bus, grabbed a free driver and loaded us onto our own private charter as we headed up the road about 3 kilometers to where the connectiong bus had pulled over to wait for us.  Yes, that really happened.  Can you imaging that happening in New York, or Chicago?  I certainly can’t.  So we got loaded up and were back on track.  Life always works out.

We made it to the ferry with time to spare, found our cabin and headed up to the cafeteria for some dinner.  Well, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t really good either.  cafeteria food is cafeteria food, no matter what country you’re in.  Our rooms were sparse but clean and we went to bed soon after dinner.

The ferry won’t arrive in Cherbourg, France until 2pm so we had time to explore a little bit.  The kids found a ‘kid zone’ and I found a duty free!   I’m a bit nervous about our arrival in France because I don’t speak a word of French.  I took French in college and go a 23.  That’s not a misprint, I got a 23.  Out of 100.  I tried so hard, I brought a tape recorder to class everyday, I stayed after for extra  help.  I just can’t do French.  Here’s hoping our cab diver didn’t get a 23 in English!

Soft play area onboard

Soft play area onboard


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Time to say goodbye

When the visa is up, you gotta get out!

We sadly said goodbye to our beautiful friends today and will take a cab tomorrow morning to the bus station. We are looking forward to being home for Christmas but we will definitely be coming back to Ireland as soon as we can.

About our return trip…  It’s going to be amazing!!!  We will take the ferry to France and then a train to Rome where we will board our favorite cruise line, Holland America, on an amazing adventure through the Mediterranean Sea, out through the Straits of Gibraltar and across the Atlantic to the Bahamahs before disembarking in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  We will then take a train from there up to Boston and a short trip from there home.

This trip will be an incredible experience for me, but I cannot wait to experience it through my children’s eyes.  World schooling is such a learning experience.  It can’t be beat.

 

River Lee, Cork Centre

River Lee, Cork Centre

 

Beautiful

Beautiful


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Trick or Treat!

Halloween was such a blast!  I just love this whole time of year, gearing up for all of the holidays.  We all met up at a friends house and went trick or treating as a group.  What a wonderful night.  When it got dark, we all headed out around the neighbourhood knocking on any door with the front lights on.  I would say about 65% of the neighbourhood had their lights on.  We were out for about a hour and a half before heading back to gather our things to walk back home.  Of course, we trick or treated all the way home, as is the rule.  When we got home, the kids emptied their goodie bags onto the bed to check their haul.  They had tons!  I have to tell you though, I did not recognize a single candy.  Not one.  Europe has it’s own deal when it comes to candy.  They don’t have Hershey’s and the like.  You want m&m’s?  You’re not getting them.  You want a snickers?  Good luck with that.  And besides the differences in candy brands, when it comes to Halloween, they don’t do chocolate.  Nope.  Everything in the girls bags was candy candy.  Gummies and sugar coated lips, gumdrops and little bags of what looked like skittles but weren’t.  There were no “fun sized” butterfingers or kit kats, no reeses cups or milk duds.  Nope.  Nary a one.

It turned out to be a good thing though, because we eat as organic and clean as we can but on Halloween, I always let them go at it.  Well, they had several treats but didn’t like most of them.  They weren’t bothered by it either which was great.  When you’re a kid, Halloween is all about the costume and getting to walk in the street at night!

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Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat!


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Halloween is just 2 weeks away!

We are looking forward to Halloween in a few weeks!  Did you know the Irish invented Halloween?  Not the commercialized American version with costumes and candy and spooky stories.  In Celtic Ireland, it was called Samhain (SAH-win) and marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark, winter months.  It was in these days, that the dead were thought to come back into the world.  Not like the zombies in Walking Dead, no.  We’re talking friendly ancestor spirits here.  They would welcome their spirits back by leaving food out for them and having feasts from the newly brought in harvest.  They also lit bonfires to keep the evil spirits away, hence the modern idea of lighting candles in jack o’ lanterns and leaving them on the front porch.

When Christianity came to Ireland, the church leaders tried to draw the people away from their traditions.  Try as they may, however, they could not do so.  As a result, they did what they always did in those situations, they created a new Christian holiday and put it on top of the pagan one.  I suppose this was a way of making themselves feel better.  So November 1st became known as All Saint’s Day or Hallow’s Day, a day to honor past saints. This made October 31st, Hallow’s eve, eventually becoming Halloween.

Now as much as I love a good history lesson, I’m all about the commercialism when it comes to holidays.  I know, it’s terrible, I should be embarrassed!  As a citizen of the world, I shouldn’t be so material, but when it comes to holidays, I’m as American as they come.  I just can’t help myself.  Any holiday.  Admittedly, the Fall and Winter holidays are my absolute favorite, and Halloween is the gateway.  ) It is the beginning of the whole crazy decoration frenzy that lasts from October to New Years.  In fact, I’ll bet Walmart already has it’s Christmas stuff out!  (I can’t confirm that, but it’s a heck of a good guess, don’t ya think?  I love everything about Halloween.  All the decorations, the dressing up and walking around the neighborhood in the dark with tons of giggling kids.  I love the candy corn and jack o’ lanterns.  I have ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween schedule printed out and ready to go.  I just love it.

Halloween in Ireland is no where near as commercialized as it is in the US but at least they have Halloween.  As much as I loved Australia (and still do) they didn’t have anything to do with Halloween so it was a bit of a let down.  So here in Ireland, there’s a chill in the air, costume shops are opening up in vacant spaces and kids are getting excited.  We are trick or treating with some friends in their lovely little neighborhood.  In the meantime, why not try out a few costumes to see which one will bring in the most sweets!

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Main street shop that recently opened up

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Practicing

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And more practicing

 

 


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“May the road rise up to meet you…”

Ahhh, Ireland.  So beautiful, so green…so cold!  Here we are, the island of our ancestors.  We are the first to return to Ireland since our family left for Canada in the early 1800’s.   It really is beautiful and I’m glad we have come.  I feel like it’s full circle for our family.  It must have been awful for them to leave home, knowing they would never return.  I feel like I have returned for them.  I am here.  I have brought my children here, to see where they came from and to breathe in the green fields and take these memories with them wherever they go in this world.  Ireland really does feel like coming home.

As for the cold….  Maybe it’s because we’ve been in Australia and haven’t had a proper winter in over a year but it’s cold here!  Back home, friends are still posting pictures at the beach and their kids are wearing t-shirts.  Here, it’s definitely long pants and ‘bring a sweatshirt everywhere’ weather.  Cloudy and overcast most days with the sun peeking out in the late afternoon.  I do love the weather.  Fall, excuse me, autumn is my favorite season.  I’ve missed this.

So, how did we get here?  Well, we spent 4 days in New York City, AMAZING!!!  We then took the Queen Mary II across to Southampton.  I wrote a post about the ship but decided not to post it because it was very negative and I don’t want to be that person or put that kind of energy out there.  Needless to say, it did not live up to it’s expectations or it’s price tag!  If I can help it, I will not use that cruise line again.

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Central Park from the Top of The Rock

We spent 4 unbelievable days in London seeing all the tourist sights we could pack in, and I must say, we did quite well!  I cannot tell you how impressed I am with my girls.  They must have walked at least 4 miles everyday.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, I know, but when your 6, that’s huge!!  We took the Underground (the Tube) everywhere and saw so much.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Parliament

Parliament

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

After London, we caught a train to Wales (gorgeous!!) and the following day, a ferry to Ireland.  The ferry had a huge play area and even a magic show!  You’d never know it was a 4 hour ride, everyone was so content.

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Welsh train sign

We arrived in Cork the following day and we are enjoying it greatly.  The city of Cork is not what I expected at all.  There are no skyscrapers or giant office buildings.  It’s more like a very, very, very large village.  It’s beautiful really, and very walkable.  That is one thing I love about Europe, people walk a lot.  In the US, people take cabs, buses, or cars.  In Europe, walking is the transportation of choice.

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Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork

We have met several other homeschoolers in and around the city and have had a great time with them.  The moms are all great, some Irish, some American, some German, it’s like a UN of homeschoolers!  I am really enjoying worldschooling with my girls.  We have had experiences I would never have dreamed of 2 or 3 years ago.  They have done things many people will never have the chance to do.  I hope I am instilling a love of travel and exploration that they will always carry with them.

We have more adventures coming soon, so stay tuned!


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Follow your bliss

Plans for the next grand adventure are already in progress!

We have crossed the United States and the Pacific Ocean and now we will be heading in the opposite direction.  We will soon be crossing the Atlantic to explore the British Isles and Ireland!  I am so excited!!  We will be crossing the ocean by ship again, but this time it will only be about 7 days as opposed to the 23 days it took to cross the Pacific.  Of course, there isn’t as much to see on this crossing.  There are no tropical, white sand beaches with swaying palms between New York and the UK.  There are more tropical routes that meander along the coasts of Spain and Portugal before stopping at the cooler ports of the UK, but they are a bit more expensive and I simply can’t do that at this time.

So the planning continues as I am still looking for rental properties that don’t require year long leases.  I’m finding this slightly more difficult than I had anticipated.  I am also not planning on buying a car, as I had in Australia.  We will be on a 3 month tourist visa while we await permission for an extension from the Immigration Department, so if we need a car, we will rent one.  Hopefully, we will find a suitable rental in one of the many incredible cities and can use public transport, as well as foot power, to get around!

For now, I am spending a few hours a day searching trains, buses, passes, hostels, hotels, attractions, rentals, etc. trying to get all of the many connections lined up.  In between, I talk with the kiddos about all of the amazing things to do and see in New York City!  We have never been there and it WILL BE incredible!  We are also reading some very cute books.

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(Some of the books we are reading)

The girls are desperate to see the crown jewels in the Tower of London!  Oh my gosh, the excitement of all of this is bubbling out of my ears!!  I’m taking my daughters to LONDON!!!!!!  I spent a month in London, back in my college days, with my best friend, Kate, we had a blast!  We were actually there doing internships during the week but I tell you what, we made the most of every spare moment we had.  I can’t wait to share that giddiness of seeing Tower Bridge or Scotland Yard with my girls.  It’s going to be amazing!

Here’s hoping the perfect apartment pops up soon.  I will continue searching, I know it’s out there just waiting for us to find it!  The universe always provides.


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“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” ― Alice in Wonderland

Wow!  It’s been a while!  Unfortunately, internet on the ship is useless and there is no internet access at all on Amtrak so I was unable to update during our travels.  We travelled almost the same route back with only one or two changes.  It was incredible fun and we’ll never forget it!  I still can’t get over the fact that we went to Australia!!  And we lived there!! Who does that?  It’s crazy!  What an amazing, life changing experience.  If you ever get the chance to travel, take it.  Make it work.  You will never regret it.

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My brother picking us up at South Station Boston at 11:15 pm

We made it home safe and sound and had a fantastic time along the way!  I would have updated sooner, but it’s taken a bit to get used to what season we are in and what flowers and trees had already passed and which haven’t yet.  I was so disappointed after waiting over 2 weeks for the lilacs to bloom only to find out we’d missed them by days!  Noooooo!!  Anyway, although I have unpacked everything and tried to jump back into normal life with our homeschool friends, I have also been trying to sort out the next exciting adventure for the Little Citizens.

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Glad to be home, relaxing with friends

It is my hope that we will be travelling to Ireland, via the UK, this summer!  The Queen Mary leaves New York July and August on it’s transatlantic voyage to Southampton.  Hopefully, we will make one of those ships.  If not, we will have to wait until September and I really don’t want to do that.  So I have been desperately searching holiday rentals (as there is only a 3 month visa – no exceptions) trying to find one that is inexpensive and doesn’t require a car.  I don’t mind renting a car but, like Australia, I’d like to be able to walk the area and get used to it before I hop into more “keep left” traffic!

So here we are, enjoying the beginnings of summer…again.  This is our 3rd summer in a row.  We’ve actually been wearing flip flops for more than 12 months straight!  I’m looking forward to Autumn though.  I really missed it last October as we headed to the zoo for Halloween in 85 degree weather!  I know, some people think I’m nuts to miss the cold but I do.  I love the change of seasons and the beginning of all the holidays.  At least they have Halloween in Ireland!  There won’t be any Thanksgiving but I’ll have that anyway.  Of course, Christmas is big there too, which it wasn’t in Australia.  I’m really looking forward to the next big adventure.  Ireland, here we come!!!    ….I hope.

 

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