Learning How to drive in Ireland

After a great week in Iceland where Gate 1 was in charge of our vacation and we just enjoyed it, we were about to start a whole different experience in Ireland. We landed at Dublin in the morning, got our rental car and with GPS in hand we were off to go to the city. The excitement started going like three times around on our first roundabout after leaving the airport. That warm up my husband to be over conscious about driving on the right seat. Once in the city it took us a few loopy loops around the area to find a parking. Although we started to feel the pain of our adventure we were excited to walk around, eat in am Irish pub and get some traditional food.

After tummies we’re full we visited our first castle of this trip, Dublin Castle. We took a tour, I highly recommend, here I learned the difference between castle and palace. Dublin castle is two in one.

We fell in love with the city, the energy and the movement of people throughout the streets. But energy was exactly what we were lacking in the afternoon. We had a long day after traveling from Iceland early in the morning. Still we were needing to drive to Limerick that was the place we were staying, so we had 2 and half more hours to go. Around 5pm we left Dublin but leaving that area was a little bit stressful because of the traffic and our tension of not taking the wrong turn because for us was completely new driving on the right seat of the car. Once we got into the highway was a sweet drive. Beautiful mountains, tower ruins everywhere, lots of green view. We got to the hotel around eight at night, we rested well and the next day we were off to go. I will tell you what we did on the next post.

Thousand Island… I have to go back!

Before our trip to Canada, I was studying the best route to drive from Ottawa to Buffalo. I like to study my destinations before I go, and in my search, I found about this place “Thousand Island“. When I learned about it, I definitely wanted to stop on our way back. I even thought of taking a boat tour and see some of the mansions. The reality was that we didn’t have enough time on our voyage to stop and tourist the area the way I want it. But we were able to do a quick stop and fall in love with the place.
 


Lucky us, we found this observation tower on our way, that still part of Canada. We were able to have a breath-taking view with a combination of a soft wind and the sun rays reflecting on the water. I didn’t want to get down, I kept taking pictures, like that was going to bring the magic of this place with me.
 
 
There are houses in this area that cost a fortune, according to the man we talked at the top of the tower. Just look their views, only that is half of the cost and value of the house.
 
From the tower you can see the border to cross to US territory.

Plus more amazing views…

 All this beauty is just a fraction from the 50 miles stretch of islands that  covers few towns,communities and two countries. I am planing to go back! That’s for sure, don’t know when, but if you want to learn more of the things that you can do here visit their website or contact me.
Until then,
xamlinnette:)
Daily Prompt:Voyage

Road Trip Around Canada, Making The Best Of Our Limited Time

Niagara Falls First Stop.

The excitement was increasing by the hour thinking of my time off in Canada. From the classic trip to the Niagara Falls to exploring the vibrant Capital of Canada. Doing our own schedule and our own itinerary is a pleasure to me. Brings anticipated excitement, like kids when they wait for their Christmas gifts. We left after my regular work day, we flew to Buffalo and stayed the night there. 
 
Next day our road trip officially started with a quick hour and 15 minutes drive to the Niagara Falls on the Canada side. While driving through Hwy 190 getting close to Robert Moses Pkwy you could-ed see the mist of the Falls from the distance. Hotels, and towers merge from the skyline while we were getting closer and closer. After passing the border to Canada, we took a loop that lead us to Niagara River Pkwy and I barely was able to concentrate on the map to find our hotel because I just wanted to stare at the beauty of nature. But I was my husband co-pilot and we were needing to find our hotel to leave our stuff and make the best of the day because the next day we were leaving to Ottawa.
 
And there it was, our view from our hotel room. We could stayed in our room just staring at it, but instead we grab our camera, our tour tickets that we bought before our trip and left the room.
Please visit my Spanish blog Mis Historias de Viaje to read the complete story of our Niagara Falls part of the trip. The blog is written in Spanish but there is a Translate option on the right side of the blog, look for English or any other language and you will be able to read it if you don’t understand Spanish. Here I will continue with our second part of our trip to Ottawa, but first take a look at the video I put together of our Niagara Experience.
 
Video

 
Ottawa Second Stop. 
After having a complementary breakfast at the hotel we were set to go. We had plan to leave around 9am to be in Ottawa around 2pm but instead we left around 9:30am plus 5 hours of travel we should had been there around 2:30 but we stopped two times (one un-necessary) and we got a little lost when we were almost in Ottawa and we got stock in traffic in downtown Ottawa. That put us on Ottawa at 3:40 and that was inconvenient because we had a tour schedule for 3:30 😑.
We got to the hotel which it was great! But it didn’t have a view like the one we had earlier…
 
Typical city view…
 
Well there was no time to lose, we left our things in our room and went to explore the city. Again we had 24 hours to see everything we had planed, at 3:30 pm of the next day we were planning to leave and drive to Buffalo.
First we walk to the Parliament, Jorge knew that they offer free tours but we didn’t know how the system work, so we went to find out.
 
We found out that, we had to be before 8:30am in the line to get the tickets because is first come first serve, at 8:30 they open the door to the public.
After we found out this, Jorge and I sat down for a minute to plan how we were going to do everything the next day. Because we lost our tour for that day(the amphibus tour around the city and the Ottawa River with Lady Dive),we had to do both things the next day and that was not the original plan. So we decided to wake up extra (6am)early to have breakfast and then get the Parliament tickets, take the first tour and at 12 pm  take the amphibus tour. Everything sounded good, each tour length is about an hour.

At this point we were hungry and we went to a restaurant Pub(Sir John A)that Jorge wanted to take me, which was part of our plan for that day, we just did it a little earlier than planed. After eating our delicious Shepherds Pie and our tummies were extremely full we had the perfect excuse to walk the entire city up and down until our tummies went back to normal.
 
The afternoon was pleasant, sunny with a crispy look. We saw the American Embassy and went by the Major’s Hill Park where the tulips were the highlight of the afternoon.
 

We went by the Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument that commemorates Canadian soldiers. And from across the street we wave hello to the greeting spider in front of the National Gallery of Canada.

Before going to the Byward Market we had to photograph the beautiful Notre Dame Basilica. We heard that you should stop and go in the church to see the inside beauty. It is open to anybody that want to go inside. We didn’t know this until the next day, it was too late for us to go back and sneak in the church. We will do it someday when we come back.
 
We did as planned, we were on a scheduled, we left our things on our rental car and went for breakfast. Yummy coffee in Second Cup another place Jorge wanted for us to visit because of the delicious coffee. 

We continue our agenda walking to the Parliament office and stayed on the line for almost an hour, got our tickets and did the tour of 9:50am. It was a rainy morning and we knew it because we checked the forecast, but still we were a little disappointed in top that we were on a tight schedule we didn’t want to deal with the rain, but we had to. With jackets and umbrella in hand nothing stopped us. But the view was a little sad…
 
After going through security we met our tour guide. A very nice young man from Colombia that is been living in Canada for more than 12 years.
 
 
He first took us to the library, the only original part of the Parliament. The library was the only part that survived a 1916 fire, the rest of the building had to be restored.

 

Another part of the Parliament that we were able to visit was the Senate.
It’s amazing all the information and the interesting facts that you learn in this kind of tour. I wished that my history classes were like this back then when I was in school. Before leaving the Parliament we went to the Peace Tower and took a very gray picture of the Ottawa River.

As scheduled we had a little bit of time for another cup of coffee before going to our Amphibus tour.  The Amphibus took around the city, our funny tour guide was very informative, giving us great information of the most important places we encounter on our way. The most fun part of course was being in the bus while going in the water, like that is a normal thing to do. We cruise through the Ottawa River like any other boat.
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The back of the building is the library of the Parliament. ⬆️
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                                                    After we finished our tour we had plenty of time for lunch. We went by  the Byward Market and visit the Lowertown. I had the second choice of the Pub Favourites section. Thanks God we left perfectly on time for our trip to Buffalo.
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                          We took a route that took us to Thousand Island area when crossing to US.  Is amazingly beautiful there, but that will be my next story.
Until then,
xamlinnette 🙂

Jubilant

imageReady to feel the presence of the Niagara Falls!

It was a jubilant moment been able to cross that item (Niagara Falls) from my bucket list. What could me more happy and joyful that to enjoy life doing the things you love the most. For me, travel, nature, culture and been able to see the beauty of life with my own eyes.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

Until then,

xamlinnette 🙂

Big Washington DC

How naive I was about the size of the famous monuments and structures in DC. I had watched this monuments, buildings and structures hundreds of times in TV and movies but I was far in my mind of what I thought they look in person.

After we settle in our hotel, we drove to Cheverly Train Station, that was the closest station from our hotel. We parked the van and hopped in a train to DC. Leaving the van parked there was only $4.00 and weekends are free! The app, Washington MX, (that I found earlier on my search for tools for this trip) for the Metros in DC worked perfectly for us.

The first thing we wanted to see was the White House. After studying the metro map and the regular DC map we decided to get out in Metro Center Station. At first we were disoriented were to go, it´s a matter of situating yourself with the map, after walking in the wrong direction few times we figure it out. So, going back to the subject after we found a place to eat, we kept our focus to the White House. While walking around I was hypnotize by the dimensions of the city. I found it big! Spacious! One building can take half of the street, they look classic, formal, antique and big.

Also I think it looks even bigger in my eyes because even though is a busy city, people are more spread out than in NY City. In other words there in not even half of the crowd that in NY City.
The funny thing about all this ” big subject in DC” , is that I thought that the White House was super super super huge! And its big, but not as big as my imagination thought it was…

 

That same night we visited the Lincoln Memorial and I was (again) impressed of the dimensions of this monument. Oh me, so naive!

 

During that weekend we visited all the landmarks that any tourist will do. Everything is huge, the museum, The Mall, the monuments. The walks between one place to other were from 15 minutes to 30 minutes even though you can see it from the distance and it give you the impression that is less time walking. At the end of the day our feet were suffering major pain.
It was a great experience and we enjoy it at the maximum. unfortunately we were not able to see everything, definitely I want to go back… But a cool thing, I learn how to ride the metro in DC! Next time will be easier. (You see we don’t have a metro system in Orlando FL)
Here let me share with you more pics fo the BIG DC!
I found the Capitol to be Huge!
A view of The Mall up to the Washington Monument. This pic I took it from the Capitol.
World War II Memorial, at the background is Lincoln Memorial
National Air and Space Museum
National Museum of the American Indian
and more…
Smithsonian Castle
United States Botanical Garden
 
Until then,
xamlinnette 🙂