Several weeks ago, hubby and I were enjoying the last day of our Netherlands vacation at Keukenhof Gardens to see Holland’s famous spring tulip display.
Keukenhof is the world’s largest flower garden, and is also known as the “Garden of Europe”. Its name translates in English to “kitchen garden,” dating to the 15th century when it was an herb farm owned by one of Holland’s wealthiest women.
One of the world’s largest open-air flower expeditions, Keukenhof’s greenhouse complex and 79-acre park draws huge crowds during the eight weeks it is open. It’s hothouses and lakeside flower beds are planted with seven million flower bulbs, making for an incredible display! And, that doesn’t include the tulip fields that surround Keukenhof Gardens and the larger Lisse countryside.
For Mr. Buzz and I, it was a bucket list trip experience that exceeded our already high expectations. Come with me as we stroll the gardens along the pathways, meandering streams, pools, and pavilions. No wooden shoes required!
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sharing a summary of a decades-long journey in search of our family’s Irish ancestry. Tracing the family tree combines my interests and love of history and genealogy. The fruits of this research and effort were recently rewarded during an Ireland Vacation: 12 Day Itinerary.
Today, I’m taking you back to the Emerald Isle, where we visited this past August. First, were ten days traveling throughout Ireland, learning and experiencing it’s history, geography, and culture. It was a dream, pandemic-delayed trip that took us to the Irish emigration port of Cobh, Blarney Castle & Dingle Peninsula, and continued on to the stunning Cliffs of Moher & Arian Islands.
Utilizing my past research and DNA analysis, she opened new pathways and online resources to our family’s Irish ancestry. Most exciting was breaking through brick walls in my search, and making thrilling new discoveries! I hope my experience will inspire others to trace their Irish ancestry, and see how technological developments are opening new windows into the past.
Before driving to the stunning Cliffs of Moher, the day started with a ferry ride across the wide River Shannon. Afterward, we enjoyed tea and scones and a herding demonstration at an Irish sheep farm.
The next morning, a high speed ferry took us across Galway Bay to Inishmore, the largest of three remote Aran Islands. There, we explored Dun Aengus, a pre-historic fortress perched on sheer cliffs. Back in Galway, Mr. Buzz and I headed into the Latin Quarter for traditional Irish music and dinner.
Our final day with the group was spent at Clonmacnoise, a monastic settlement founded in 545 AD. Nearby in Athlone, we visited Europe’s oldest pub. Back in Dublin that night, was an entertaining Irish dinner show. Join me lads and lassies!
The fall is wine harvest season, so I’m returning to Paso Robles, where we spent part of a fabulous 10-day California vacation.
During two previous trips to the state, hubby and I visited Sonoma, Napa and Healdsburg wine regions. When planning and mapping out last year’s driving route, we realized Paso Robles would make an excellent two-day stop between Big Sur and Sequoia : Land of Giants.
Located in northern San Luis Obispo County along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles is an agricultural community with a rich history. Over the last few decade, it has shifted from producing almonds and alfalfa to wine.
Winemakers in the region have cultivated the soil and used the climate to their advantage. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends are a staple of the area. Along windy backroads or around a quaint downtown park, there are 200 wineries!
In addition to its wineries and vineyards, Paso Robles is also known for its olive groves, oak dotted hills, and small town charm. It’s where world-class food and wine meet cowboy chic! Lodging options abound, ranging from historic inns and luxury resort, to rustic vineyard escapes. Pour yourself a glass of wine and visit with me.
Recently, while visiting with family in Hoboken, NJ , we attended an illuminated, carved pumpkin festival. Located in the lower Hudson Valley, near Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame, The Great Jack o’ Lantern Blaze is a magical, immersive experience.
Since 2005, the walk-through experience has drawn more than 2 million visitors. Lighting up the night are thousands of ornately-carved, glowing pumpkins, in elaborate displays and massive light sculptures.
Today, the spooktacular event is held at two different location; both National Historic Landmarks. We visited the site at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, north of NYC. A second site is at Old Bethpage Restoration Village on Long Island.
Featured in the fun fall festival are larger-than-life installations, synchronized lighting, and an original soundtrack of appropriately spooky music. It’s a family-friendly experience for kids of all ages, and is both stroller and handicap accessible.
Join me on a virtual walk through. Think of it as a Halloween card from me to you — boo!
Starting outside Dublin, we visited Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, medieval Kilkenny, Viking-established Waterford and it’s crystal factory, and a recreation of the Dunbody potato famine ship.
Next, we headed west, taking a scenic route along the southern Irish coast in County Cork. Our first stop was the seaport town, Cobh, and the Irish Heritage Centre. Later, we ate a picnic lunch and spent the afternoon at Blarney Castle and it’s extensive gardens and grounds. Afterwards, we headed into County Kerry, spending the next two nights in popular Killarney.
My favorite day of the entire 12-day Ireland trip was spent exploring the spectacular Dingle Peninsula. Another reason it was so much fun? Along the way, we stopped for a misty view of the Gap of Dunloe, went shopping for quality Irish-made goods, drank a Bailey’s Coffee at the famous South Pole Inn, and dined at an authentic, family-owned pub for a traditional meal.
Although the scenery and experiences were impossible to truly capture in pictures, I hope you’ll enjoy coming along on this virtual Ireland trip.
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Hi! I'm Debbee, a maker of all manner of things, who likes to incorporate themes into craft projects, holiday and seasonal decor, table settings, and parties. My friends call me, the Queen of Theme lol!
Home is the suburbs of Pittsburgh, but I also enjoy exploring the world with my husband. We raised two wonderful sons and are now early retirees.
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