The Antrim Coast

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Every hour we spent in Northern Ireland was full of breathtaking sights. Views, outlooks, hikes, and adventures that literally took my breath away. It’s views that you see in movies and television right there up close and in person. Absolutely stunning.

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I think this photo of my parents and Flora about to climb back over the Carrick a rede bridge is one of my favorites of the entire trip. The emerald green water, sea breeze, sunshine, death defying heights! Northern Ireland is so lush and fresh, thousands of grazing sheep walking the hillsides, splashes of bright blues and greens everywhere you look, and enormous cliff sides. The landscape is quite dramatic, which made for some very cautious and nerve wracking hikes with Mr. T.

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The only time I have ever seen him nervous was walking over the rope bridge. There was a steady cautious walk happening while I held both his hands over the cross. I think the experience humbled him a little bit.

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It was a once in a lifetime experience. Although, I thought the descent down onto the bridge was more scary than walking the bridge itself.

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Our entire week in this northern region of Ireland was just nature hikes, coastal drives, and a few playgrounds here and there. I see now that it was not exactly the trip that Flora was hoping for. It was chilly and not a ton of activities that children find extremely interesting, but it was an experiment for us. Since I thought she loved Ireland so much the first time, I just assumed it would be the same this time around. Nonetheless, I loved the trip and I know that my parents found it to be very special.

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Donegal & Northern Ireland

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I’ve been thinking about writing these posts for about two months now. I can’t even remember what I was going to write. Only that we had a breathtaking trip in Donegal (Ireland) and Northern Ireland. I could return there a million times and still feel like we are discovering new beauties. To quote a good Irish friend, “It’s God’s country.” Truly an amazing place. Here are my favorite parts of our Donegal leg of the trip.

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Hiking Glenveagh National Park My parents are nature lovers and it’s probably the greatest love they instilled in us as children. They were so happy here exploring this park. Flora was wandering why we hiked 4 kilometers when we could have taken the bus. Smart girl. 🙂

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Dunfanaghy & Horn Head More breathtaking views driving the coast and some scary narrow roads up at Horn Head right outside Dunfanaghy. We walked the beach, had a delicious lunch, and finally a Guinness on day 2.

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A live session at Patsy Dan’s

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Rick Steves does it again! My father can make fun of me all he wants, but thanks to Rick Steves and his travel books we have had some memorable moments all over Europe. The live Monday night session in Dunfanaghy at Patsy Dan’s was thanks to his tip. We’re lucky we could catch a live session at 18:00. The kids loved it and I will never forget the accordion player. Top notch. We were able to enjoy a full hour of music and beer before the kids made us leave.

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An incredible find on Airbnb in Gortahork

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If you’re traveling to Donegal, stay in this place. A steal at about 100 euros per night! A beautiful new house, TONS of space, lots of comfort, and great views. I loved the communal atmosphere of the kitchen and cooking pancakes while the kids ate breakfast at the kitchen island. Little things like this make the trip great.

Donegal was a rugged and relaxed place to start our northern tour. More about Northern Ireland, Game of Thrones highlights, and exhilarating hikes on the next post.

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Rotterdam Girls Trip

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Flora and I had an amazing girls trip weekend to Rotterdam last week! What a modern and trendy place. I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do. We had one night away from the boys (and Grandma) and two full days of good times!

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Flora posing at a Rotterdam icon

In no particular order, here are our highlights and memories.

Flora’s Faves:

The water taxi! By far the greatest part of this weekend was shooting around Rotterdam by water taxi. I will never forget the “taxi” driver and passenger laughing at how loud Flora and I were laughing. We were completely surprised by how fast the boat broke away from the harbor after crossing under the Erasmus bridge. It was hilarious.

 

Euromast. Checking out the views of the city on top of the Euromast and getting a better idea of how massive this port really is.

Sushi & dinner at Markhal with chopsticks for kids!

Lunch at the iconic Hotel New York another Rotterdam hot spot easily reached by water taxi, so we shot over there after our morning activity.

Maritime museum I must say. This place would have been heaven for Thibault. The top floor was all hands on for kids. Flora moved bags of rice with the crane for about 20 minutes. I saw other short toddlers moving “cargo boxes” the entire time. Thibault would have loved it and Flora did too.

Contemporary art on Witte de Withstraat I’m pretty sure Flora enjoyed this place more than I did. I was in love with her commentary and attention to detail while we walked through all of the exhibits.

Overall an incredible trip with my little lady. I love her curious mind, healthy appetite for Asian food :), and her traveling spirit. I can already see that she will be a traveler when she grows up. Walking through life now holding her hand as long as I can. XOXO.

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Mindful in Sloten

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Sloten

After Christmas, we traveled up north to visit my good friend Erika. We spent two nights in Friesland and a bit of quality time with an old friend. It was fantastic and just what I needed. More about that in my next post.

Our first night in the Airbnb started off perfectly and ended up with Flora starting her day at 3:30 a.m. Why does this happen? She is such a light sleeper and the slightest sound of me walking downstairs in the middle of the night woke her up. It was ridiculous and in retrospect quite funny, but we were totally dead. Despite this, we were able to have a fun family day with friends. I’m shocked we didn’t drop dead from exhaustion.

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We had a chilly morning stroll in Woudsend admiring the windmills and canals. Of course Flora fell asleep in the stroller by 10:00 a.m. img_1731We drove to Sloten, a tiny village Erika took me to when Flora was just a baby. By that time they were both asleep and Jaap and I had some peace. We took turns walking through Sloten and I enjoyed a 25 minute mindful walk through this old place by myself. The thrill of Europe will never fade for me because I still get goose bumps exploring places like this. I’m sure the inner city looks mostly the same as it did 250 years ago. It was a beautiful pocket of alone time all to myself to enjoy a little walk, breath in the cold fresh air, and experience complete stillness. Peace on Earth. Amen!

 

Acadia, Maine— Snapshots

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Dinner at Stewman’s 

Just a few snapshots of our stay in Maine.

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Camp life at Blackwoods

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Roasting marshmallows— Flora’s greatest memory of the trip

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Local playground in Bar Harbor

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Two girls admiring the beauty of nature.

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Jordan Pond

Acadia, Maine– Hunters Beach

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Hunters Beach

This was part of our first day exploring Acadia with the extended family. We went for a picnic lunch on one of the rockiest beaches in the park. Of course, this was my father’s idea. It was quite hilarious actually. The little cousins loved it though.

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My favorite part was catching Flora on top of this rock. I’m not sure how long she was sitting there alone before we noticed her. She was sitting there pretending to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid. hahahaha. Another beautiful moment in Acadia…

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Acadia, Maine– Hiking to Bubble Rock

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Flora loved our hike up to Bubble Rock. Listed as “strenuous” by the park map, we knew she could do the thirty minute uphill climb. The views at the top made it all worth while!

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This hike was invigorating. I felt alive, fresh, and appreciative of America’s natural beauty. I felt so far from home in this moment, but at the same time, I felt like I arrived. It was an incredible feeling. This trip reminded me of so many childhood memories camping with my family and also of exploring Maine as a chid and pre-teen. It feels like I’ve come full circle being their with my own husband and kids. It was so excited to show Jaap this beautiful place and it filled my heart to see Flora and Thibault appreciating the great outdoors.

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