Little Citizens of the World

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Cobh, Ireland

Cobh is pronounced ‘cove’.  It was once known as Queenstown, in honour of Queen Victoria.  It was the last place many Irish left from when they came to America in the 1800’s.  It was also the last stop Titanic made when it set off on it’s maiden voyage.  2,206 people were onboard Titanic when she left the docks.  1,517 would never reach New York.

I was up at 4am to see if I could get my first sight of Ireland.  We were just coming up to the mouth of the harbour and you could clearly see the light at Roches Point.


When I whispered to the kids that I could see Ireland, they actually jumped up out of bed and ran out onto the balcony with me, they were so excited!  I was so glad they were as excited as me, but also surprised as I figured I’d be trying to drag them out of bed in time to meet customs at the designated 6:40am time slot!


The village of Cobh coming into view.


By the time we were through customs, had some breakfast and got our luggage lined up in our room, it was about time that our friends were to be meeting us at the train station, literally right in front of the ship.  We went up onto the top decks and saw the 8:24 train just pulling in, and we could actually see the blue coat of the girls little friend, Sula (Soo-la), sitting in the window!

When they got to the gate, we shouted down to them, and they looked around but didn’t look up at the ship. So we counted to three and altogether yelled “SULA!!” and they saw us!  We all waved like crazy, then hurried down to get our bags and disembark.  It took 15 minutes for someone to come get our luggage, which felt like forever.  The girls were so bulked up with their fleece and down coats, etc that they waited on the balcony.  Finally, we were off the ship and it was hugs all around.  Ahhh, welcome home!



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“You can go to Heaven if you want, I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” ~Mark Twain

Our first, and only, stop on this cruise is to Bermuda.  We’ve never been there before, so we were very excited about it.  I had gone on Google Maps to find out what the terminal looked like, and it was a gorgeous spot for photos of the girls.  I had it all planned out, the walking trail around the town and then back on the ship for late lunch.  The night before we arrived, I got the program for the next day in our door slot and realised I’d been googling Grand Bahama!!

Even though I was a bit disappointed by the difference in port (the port on Grand Bahama is picture perfect), it still was very lovely.  It was a little overcast and there was a tiny breeze, but it was perfect for pants and a tshirt.  I had, however, planned on getting good Christmas pictures while there so, unfortunately, every photo I took has the girls faces front and center.  Really, there wasn’t that much to photograph unless we had taken the bus out of the port area and into the town, so you’re not missing much.

We didn’t do any shore excursions, we just spent a few hours walking around the town.  The port area is pretty small and the Clocktower Mall is really the only place to visit.  We went in there and bought a few little souvenirs, then walked back to the ship along a different path.  It was a nice day out and a cute little port town.


Map on the wharf

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Walking back to the ship past the Clocktower Mall.  You can still see the line in Sparrows hair from when I dyed it blue, when they went to see DanTDM last month!


Beautiful Pandanus Palm

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This is the only place I was able to get a photo of the whole ship!


Ready to sail away.  Goodbye Bermuda!

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March Madness

It’s been crazy around here lately!  We’re getting ready for our cruise back to Ireland, getting our house completely packed up so we can rent it, trying to get a rental in Ireland, and preparing for a feis (an Irish dance competition. pronounced – fesh).

I’m pretty OCD about everything, so I’ve been non stop for the last 3 months.  I’m exhausted!

There was a slight problem, when the cruise consultant noticed the girls passports would expire before the ship left.  I knew it was 2017, but that seemed so far away!  So I had to rush both applications because we were requesting special permission from customs to get off the ship in Ireland, rather than complete the cruise and disembark in another country.  We were approved, that was a huge relief.  The cruise terminal is directly across from the Cobh Heritage Center, and only about 20 minutes from Cork City, where we’ll be staying.  It would have been so stressful (and extremely expensive) if we had to disembark elsewhere and travel across other countries to get back to where we had been only days earlier!

As for our house, I had always planned on using it as a summer rental, fully furnished and ready to go.  After thinking about it and going over and over it, I decided it would be too much to monitor from outside the US.  Although I would have used a property manager, who’s to say things wouldn’t be missed or broken and then what do you do?  Especially when the turnover is weekly.  It was too much for me to think about.  So I’ve decided to rent out on a yearly basis, which will be less money, but a lot easier on my nerves.

Year round rentals are unfurnished, so I’ve been furiously trying to get everything packed back up.  We’ve been here less than a year, and  I can’t believe how much crap I have!  Where did it all come from?  I’ve purchased some industrial shelving for the basement, and lots of storage totes.  In fact, I placed an order for what I thought was a reasonable amount of totes back in January.  Then I placed another order for the same amount.  Then another!  Finally, I went to the store and bought 3 times what I had been ordering.  I think I’ll have enough smaller sized totes, but I’m probably going to need at least 5 or 6 more 50 gallon totes for bedding and towels.  We love pillows in our family, so yeah, we’re gonna need more totes!

We’ve just, in the last few days, not only been accepted for a rental house in Ireland, but it’s in the neighbourhood of my dreams!   I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find something in this area.  Openings are very, very rare.  When I was speaking with the letting agent, he mentioned he had spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard, and when he heard it was my home town, he said he wanted to help me out if he could.  Everyone had been so kind to him when he was there, he wanted to give back.  Serendipity.

Sky and Sparrow, who have been Irish dancing for a few years now, are dancing several times a week this month as we celebrate our Irishness with the insanity that is March Madness.  It’s like St. Patrick’s Day every weekend around here!  Lots of pubs, hotels, etc are having celebrations and what’s an Irish party without Irish dancers!

They also had their final American feis this month.  They did great, there were medals all around and I’m so proud of their hard work.  From now on, they’ll be feisin’ in Ireland!



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I had really wanted to take a picture of Sky on the Spanish Steps dressed like Audrey Hepburn in the film Roman Holiday, I had the outfit picked out and everything.  However, I wasn’t sure what time the ship left so I decided we’d better get to the cruise terminal sooner rather than later.  The terminal at Civitaveccia is about an hour away so we got a cab, set up by the hotel and were on our way.

One of the things I love about cruise ships is they take your luggage immediately, you don’t have to carry anything. After lugging all of those bags all over Europe for 3 days, I was glad to be rid of them.  So we went up to security with just our backpacks and Sky toy stroller.  As I laid everything out on the conveyor belt, one of the security guards came over and, smiling, picked up the wooden toy sword I had bought for my cousins son.  He asked another guard if it was ok and he shook his head.  The guard with my sword laughed and said, “what do you expect from Rome!”  I laughed and said, it’s ok right?  He said they’d have to hold it until the end of the trip.  So I had my wooden toy sword confiscated at the terminal.  It’s fine though, I can pick them up at the front desk before we disembark.

It turns out, the ship leaves port at 6:30pm, so there would have been time to stop at the Spanish Steps after all.  Oh well, maybe those pennies thrown into the Trevi Fountain will work and we’ll return to Rome again one day.

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Vatican City

We got up early to get the #40 bus to Vatican City.  It was very easy and we got out right outside St. Peter’s Square.  The square is enormous.  We went in to St. Peter’s Basilica and walked all through it with our heads facing the ceilings.  The walls are so tall and the paintings are amazing, you can’t take your eyes off of them.



I am not religious, but this is a place everyone should see, no matter what beliefs you have or don’t have.  The human history and awe inspiring art is something you can’t find anyplace else.  Now, I have to be honest, the only thing I really knew about was the Sistine Chapel and I wanted to see it.  I had no idea there were miles and miles of corridors lined with extravagant paintings.  I thought the Sistine Chapel was the main attraction because the ceiling is so famous.  What I didn’t know, is the Sistine Chapel is in a basement, and it’s not a huge room, it’s not small but I was expecting bigger.  It is incredible and something I’ll never forget.  Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures in there because the flash can damage the paint.  The lights are also dimmed.  So if you go, you’ll have to buy the postcard!





I would say that by the time we left the Vatican, we had walked about 4 miles.  My feet were killing me.  We went back to our hotel.  We had to move to a different hotel jst around the corner because we couldn’t get a room for 3 two nights in a row.  I actually liked the second hotel more, it was old and beautiful and had a much more historic feel.  It was also steps from the Pantheon.  We went into the Pantheon later that night after a trip to an awesome toy store in the Piazza Navona and some dinner.  It’s so amazing that these buildings were built by the Romans!  The Roman’s that I learned about in school!  These places aren’t just pictures in a text book, they’re actually here!

Fiumi Fountain, Piazza Navona

Fiumi Fountain, Piazza Navona

Street performer, Piazza Navona

Street performer, Piazza Navona



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Bella Roma!!

We got out of the train in Rome and it was wonderfully sunny and about 75 degrees.  Gorgeous.  First things first, food.  We went into a pizzeria just inside the terminal for a slice.  This was a fast food type place and let me tell you, it was the BEST pizza I have ever had!  I am not kidding you, it was amazing.  We all drooled over it, it was incredible.

We got a cab to our hotel, it cost a fortune because there was a political protest and some of the roads had been blocked off by police.  We checked into our hotel early, they gave us a map of the city and we headed out.  We have 4 days here before we get the Holland America ship.  This wasn’t originally part of the plan but the ferry to France only runs on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s and, as I’m a planner, I prefer to be there with time to spare than arriving the night before and hoping there are no glitches.  And I have been proven right, as there were more glitches in those 4 days of travel than I care to think about.

So, Roma!

We were within walking distance to everything.  We walked to the Piazza Navona which is beautiful.  We walked through the tiny little alleyways where motorbikes weave in and out at pretty high speed.  We walked a bit of a ways to the Colosseum.  The kids were amazed!  I was amazed!  It was, well, amazing!  We got tickets for the main level and it took about 1.5 hours to walk all the way around.  We shamelessly listened in on some of the guided tours that we passed.  And when we finished, the kids were too tired to walk back, so we got a bike rickshaw back to the Trevi Fountain.  The girls got chocolate gelato and we strolled around some more.

Inside the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

Looking to see where there pennies landed.  Trevi Fountain

Looking to see where there pennies landed. Trevi Fountain

Actually, when I say we ‘strolled around some more’ what I mean is, the streets are extremely narrow and the buildings are very tall, so it’s easy to lose your barrings.  So it took us an hour to find our hotel which was really only about 7 minutes away.


Narrow Road

We cleaned up, dropped of some souvenirs and headed back out to the Piazza Navona for dinner.  The Piazza Navona is packed at night.  What was an empty piazza during the day, is full of artists, tourists and musicians.  It was wonderful to sit in an outdoor restaurant, eating pizza and pasta and watching the night life.

Street artist.  Piazza Navona

Street artist. Piazza Navona

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Another tiny blessing in disguise

We missed our connection due to our train arriving late in Milan.  I was slightly relieved as I only was going to have one hour to get the subway with all of our things to the other station where our connecting train was.  (I was remembering the feeling of dread in Paris before my angels arrived)  So we got off the train, I went up to what looked like an information booth and explained in broken English where I needed to go.  I handed them my ticket, they looked it over, stamped it, pointed to track 11 and said, “that train is going to Roma at 8”  I looked at my watch, 7:55.  “Lets go girls!”  I yelled as I thanked the man and we jogged from track 6 to track 11.  I tossed the kids on, heaved up the luggage, stroller, backpacks and doll stroller and hopped aboard.  The train was immaculate, quiet, and had huge comfy seats.  The car was almost empty, so I didn’t bother with seat numbers, I found a seat and sank into it.  I had only had about 3 hours of sleep on that overnight train and I was looking forward to a nice nap.  I didn’t get the nap, but I did get to rest and I smiled the whole way thinking about how everything had come together.

So another glitch that worked out better than the plan.  I was going to have to transfer through subways to get my train and because we arrived late, I was able to simply walk 20 yards along the platform and get a wonderfully comfortable train that arrived in Rome just one hour later than my original train.  Life always works out.


Italian countryside