Archive for April, 2011

“Let’s start at the very beginning,

A very good place to start.

When you read, you begin with A-B-C,

When you sing, you begin with Do-Re-Mi…”

I’ll begin here at the beginning of our two week travel time where we flew into Memmingen, Germany where we took a bus to the train station, then a train in a round about fashion to Salzburg, Austria.

Salzburg was where we did the bulk of our traveling in continental Europe.

And if you are now thinking about the Sound of Music, you have got it right! We ladies of course had to partake in a bit of Sound of Music, right? The first day we were there, Tuesday, we went on the Sound of Music tour with Panorama tours who did an excellent job in giving we lovers of musicals information about that specific musical.

Here I are several photos of various filming places for the famous movie, the Sound of Music. The cast and crew spent about 11 weeks in Salzburg, Austria where they filmed the majority of the world famous movie. These scenes include the “Do-Re-Mi” scene where Maria is teaching the children to sing through familiar things around them. Then of course, the children pick up on how to sing instantly and are able to carry a beautiful tune with Maria. Also, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “Must Have Done Something Good” were filmed in the gazebo which is located in Salzburg, though Hollywood had a duplicate made in the studio that was much larger than the one located in Salzburg.

The photos above were taken mostly in Mirabell Gardens where “Do-Re-Mi” was filmed. I was able to sit on the edge of the fountain where the children walked along singing as well as stand on the steps where the children hopped up and down while singing.

I know…I LOVE Sound of Music!

For the Von Trapp’s home in the movie, there were two different palaces which were used for the setting of the Von Trap home. These two palaces are now private schools and do not allow the public onto the property. The first palace which overlooks the lake, was used as the back of the Von Trap home. This lake is also part of the canoe scene where the children and Maria fall out of the canoe as they are greeting the Captain. The second palace is where Maria is seen singing “I Have Confidence,” as she is going to begin her new life as a Frauline for 7 children. This palace is used for the front of the Von Trap home. Both of these palaces are extremely beautiful.

This is the cathedral where Maria and the Captain were married in the movie. This cathedral is B-E-A-UTIFUL!!! Check out the inside of the cathedral, I think it just might top the exterior of this building.

Gorgeous, right?

I don’t know how people can’t be given chill-bumps from something like this!

This cathedral is located in a small town called Mondsee which is a suburb of Salzburg, Austria. In this little town, there was some scrumptious deserts that we decided to add to our waistlines, and because we all know that I travel according to my stomach, I have to share with you the sweet treats.

I chose the black forest cake…


In case you didn’t know, Maria, the Captain, and the children were real people who lived in Salzburg, Austria. They met the same way, but their love affair was not quite a romantic as it is in the movie. Maria and the Captain were married in the oldest abbey in Salzburg called the Nonnberg Abbey where there are still nuns who are practicing their faith, but the public is no longer allowed to enter the abbey because the nuns are practicing silence, simplicity, and are praying to The Almighty.

This abbey is also exquisite, take a look…

I love the red roof in this picture. It really give the structure extra character.

Ok, ok….I know there are people who might be reading who aren’t as fond of the Sound of Music as I am, but there are only a couple more pictures and I won’d even make any movie references.


On this tour, we went out into the lake district of Salzburg where we took our first photos of the Bavarian Alps.


Look how beautiful this sight is…I was speechless. Yes me. Speechless.

Appalling, I know.

See what I mean?


On this day, I also partook of my first Bratwurst and it was all downhill from there. I fell in love!

I was incredibly happy with my Bratwurst. Incredibly happy!

After lunch, we took another tour to the Salt Mines of Hallein where we went deeeeeeeep under the ground to see where salt or “white gold” comes from.

The best part of this tour was that we wore jumpsuits. Incredibly attractive jumpsuits…

Really attractive, right? Oh goodness…seeing us getting dressed in these things was hilarious! I could only imagine that the staff looks back at the security videos with drinks and chips just for entertainment. I have to say that I was glad to have this jumpsuit on underground because it was SUPER cold down there!

Yes mom, I said it was cold.

We weren’t supposed to take pictures underground so I only have a couple of pictures of before getting onto the train and one or two on the train. I’m sorry! :/ But here is what I did get!

We were riding on a trolley down deep into the ground. This experience was NOT for those who are claustrophobic. It was incredibly tight quarters in there for a while and it even made me a bit nervous.

Don’t we look cute in our jumpsuits. I might need to get one to bring home and wear it on a regular basis, but I’m not sure that my sister would claim me if I wore something like that.

Later that night we strolled around and just got to know our way around a bit. The city itself was incredibly safe and there were no times where we felt uneasy about our surroundings, but the city is gorgeous at night time because everything is lit up.

I would go back to Salzburg in a heartbeat. It is such a beautiful place and there is so much character presented by all of the buildings here that  I couldn’t wait to explore some more.

Much love to those back home!

~Salzburg Explorer


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Here we are traveling on a bus through the countryside of Southern Ireland with Paddywagon tours, typing a post to share with you all of my adventures. I know, I know…I have been a bit MIA for the past week and a half. I’m sooooo sorry!! First, I couldn’t get internet at my house and then I was in Austria and Germany where I did not have my computer or free internet access.

I know, I’m full of excuses aren’t I…but really, I haven’t had the opportunity to. My folks haven’t even heard much from me!! Sorry Mom and Dad and Ashley and Sean and Kyla!! I love y’all!!

Anyway, again, we are traveling through the countryside of Ireland and we are all crammed on a bus with about 50 people on it from all over the world!

How cool is that?

We have people on the bus from Australia, England, United States, Canada, South Africa, and Austria. I think that has everyone covered…maybe.

Anyway, I don’t have the time to go into a lot of detail, but I’m going to be playing catch up this weekend in order to fill you in on what has been going on over the past 2 weeks. I have so much to catch you up on, but at this time I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive and enjoying every breath of life!

Much love,

~Ireland Lover

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10K Race

So, as many of you know, I ran in a 10K in Pheonix Park in Dublin, Ireland on Sunday. I still can’t believe that I decided to run in a race that is so popular and widely known in Ireland. This race is known as the Great Ireland Run and there were around 15,000 people who ran in this race.

I ran in it too.

It was soooo much fun and I truly felt like I accomplished something when I finished the race.

Before the race, Ashley and I hung out on the green and soaked up some sun. Look at my pale face! I really need some sun!

We were waiting for our friends to get there, and obviously we were early birds because there is practically no one behind us, and we are good like that.

This is my race number. I saved it because I’m a bit sentimental about my first competitive run. I’m so impressed with myself and I feel like I need to keep this forever and ever! Silly…I know.

Kristen showed up and started waiting with us.

And before we knew it…we were done!!

We all got medals, t-shirts, powerade, gummies, and powerbars. YUMMY!!! Believe me, when I opened the bag and found the goodies, I dove right into the snacks and the powerade super quickly. After that run I was starving and extremely thirsty.

All-in-all I we all had an amazing time and enjoyed every moment of the experience, and it makes me even more pumped to do the 5K in late May for the Watauga Swim Team.

Lots of Love from Ireland!!

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Dun Drum

On Friday afternoon, the girls and I went to what I’m told is the largest shopping mall in Europe. It was pretty darn big and I can’t say that we saw the whole thing. First of all, I’m not a huge in-person shopper. I prefer to shop online. I know…horrible isn’t it!

Anyway, we basically went to say that we went AND to go to the best milkshake shop around. Juliette, my little host sister who is 13, told Whitney and me about the “Shake Shop.”This shop is located at Dun Drum, and they make shakes from any candy bar you can imagine.

It looks like a 50s shake shop with the bright colors, neon lights, and incredible music!

It. was. AWESOME!!! Everyone loved their shakes!

I made the best shake EVER. It was a Nutella and Oreo shake with marshmallows on top. It was phenomenal!! Everyone tried mine, and it was unanimous…my shake was the BEST!! 🙂

Of course, you know me…I’m all about the food!

Then we had a fun bus ride home, where I rode in my first double decker bus! Of course we went up to the second floor and sat in the front.

I have to say, I felt like I was going to fly out the window or fall over the edge, one way or another.

We were having so much fun…

…that I think we annoyed the guy behind us. Oh well!! Haha…we had a great time on our 20 minute (or more) bus ride back to the DART, and he was just grouchy.

We went back home and rented a movie off of the TV and had a good time simply hanging out with each other. We watched “Unstoppable,” which was an incredible movie that kept us on the edge of our seats the whole night!!

Keep me in your thoughts on Sunday, I am running my 10K in Phoenix Park at approximately 1.30pm.

Much Love,

Ireland Lover

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I have a lot to get you caught up on from this week. However, I know that I am extremely behind getting y’all caught up on the past week. I’ll start at the beginning of the week and go from there.

On Tuesday we went to Dalkey after school. Of course we found a bakery with all sorts of goodies from fresh baked breads to cakes and cupcakes. It was called Country Bakery.

I fell in love. We each got a slice of cake and shared them among all of us so we could taste them all. Each piece of cake was amazing in its own right. Delicious! 🙂

Then we visited Dalkey Castle and Heritage Center. We were going to go inside, but when we arrived, we realized that Tuesday is the only afternoon they are closed. Haha…only our luck!

We also found out that Bono from U2 lives in Dalkey so on our walk, I took pictures of various extravagant houses that I thought might be his. Who knows if they are but it was interesting to see how massive and beautiful some of the houses are in Dalkey.

Aren’t they amazing? I love the architecture here because it is so old world. I am told that much of the architecture in Ireland is of the Georgian era.

Then we went to a famous harbor where seals have been known to live year round. We didn’t see any seals, but we were there and of course took pictures of the Irish Sea.

I am in love with the water and the rocky beaches here. I know, it is weird to love the beach when you can’t even go down and lay on it, but there is something beautiful and unfamiliar about rocky beaches that I have fallen deeply in love with.

Also, for those of you who are wondering where I have been living for the past 3 weeks, I have finally taken a picture of the house that I have been calling my “home away from home.”

My host dad, Stuart, loves his motorbike and rides every Sunday morning. You could say that it is his meditation. Whitney’s and my bedroom is on the back side of the house so we can have our windows open any time without anyone knowing that they are open. It is cozy and comfortable. I love my family here and I can see myself coming back to visit in the future. They are absolutely wonderful!

On Thursday, I spent time in multiple classrooms. In the KG3s (Senior Infants or Kindergarteners) we did a couple art projects, then a couple science experiments. The girls in this classroom are incredible and I absolutely LOVE that age.

Our first art project was a washcloth bunny rabbit. I’m in love with this craft. So much so that I made one for myself to bring home!

The girls really enjoyed making them, and they all look so cute!

Then we made a nest for our chicks with paper, feathers, and garland.

Our science projects included making a volcano and putting pepper in a water basin then sticking your dishwashing soap covered finger into the water. You should try it and see what happens!! 🙂

On to our next experiment!

After being in KG3s, I went with P4s (4th grade) to their keyboarding class and I watched them learn how to play the chorus of “Sway.” The girls had loads of fun, and I truly enjoyed watching them take the beginning steps to learning a new instrument.

This is Mrs. Stamper.

She is the teacher from the Senior school who comes over to teach the girls groups music lessons. She has soooo much energy and she is truly inspiring to me because she loves what she is doing and it shows through her enthusiasm and her commitment to what she is teaching the students. It is wonderful. I hope that one day, I am half as good of a teacher as what she is now.

That is my week in a nutshell. It was awesome, and I can’t believe that I have already been here for 3 weeks, and I  only have one week to go. It is bittersweet feeling. I’m not sure exactly how to express how I feel right now. It has been amazing so far. I have learned a lot and I have enjoyed every moment. God has been so good to me throughout this entire experience and I know he has so much more in store for me.

Miss y’all!

Much love!

~Ireland Lover

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Northern Ireland

On Saturday we took a trip to Northern Ireland with the Paddywagon tour company where we visited three places along the way. It was only a day trip, but we had TONS of stuff packed into the day and we had an absolutely amazing time!

Our first stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This bridge has changed drastically over the years in the way that it has been build as well as its purpose. At this time the bridge is only a tourist stop and a place of history for Northern Ireland, but when the bridge was first built, it was a fisherman’s bridge. The fishermen built this bridge to hang their nets from for the salmon that were moving locations. They would hang a net from the bridge into the water below for 6 to 8 hours to catch the fish and there were so many salmon swimming in this area that it would take 10 to 12 men to hoist it from the sea below.

The bridge itself was originally just a rope for their feet and a rope to lean on, but over time, the gauge of the rope has been “beefed up,” wooden planks have been added to walk on, and safety netting has been added to prevent people from falling off and through the floor of the bridge. The water is an approximated 100 feet below where there are rock jutting from under the sea’s surface.

And guess what…I walked across it!

Following the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, we went to the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway has a legend of a giant named Finn MacCoul who was lonely and was searching high and low to find a woman to make a life with. He heard of a beautiful woman in a neighboring country so he threw rocks out into the sea until he built a bridge in the water so he could cross to find his true love. He traveled across the sea, met the woman, fell madly in love with her immediately, and brought her back to Ireland to settle down. Well, there was an ogre who fancied Finn’s wife and he came across the sea to steal her away, but Finn knew he was a giant ogre. But Finn and his wife had devised a plan to ward the ogre off. So, Finn dressed as if he were an infant with a bonnet on sucking on a wooden spoon with honey on it. The ogre caught sight of the “infant” and thought that if the babe was that large at such a young age, then his father must be massive. So, the ogre got incredibly scared and ran back home, never to be heard from again.

Well, of course the story is fiction, but what was left in the water was actually rocks that have been pushed through the earth’s surface and through the water by volcanic activity. It is a sight for sore eyes. I was amazed at it’s beauty.

The rocks are actually octagonal in shape and jut out of the ground at all different levels and have created cliffs and formations all along this beach. It is an amazing sight to see from the top of this natural formation. Wow! God does some amazing things!
We finally got one decent group picture of the whole gang for the books! It is so hard to get a picture of everyone without asking all sorts of people take pictures of you. Oh man!
(People from the left: Kerry, Whitney, me, Cassie, Caitlyn (our adopted student teacher from Indiana), Kristen, Calah, and Ashley)
Finally, we stopped in Derry for a quick walk around to see the murals that have been painted on the walls during the time of religious conflict. Though the vast majority of the lives have been lost in the past, tensions still are evident between the Catholics and the Protestants. This is a tension that runs deeps and has been in existence for many, many years, and will most likely continue for years to come.
The pictures I am posting are of murals to show civil rights activists across the world, civil rights marches that took place, and they show the emotion of the people who were fighting to have an equal society.
They gave me goosebumps…very emotional.
The eeriest part about this journey was that just after this final picture was taken, the heavens opened up and a torrential downpour took over the city. We were soaked to the bone and had just experienced spine tingling experiences where so much pain, heartache, and turmoil took place. To be standing in an area where people were mass murdered made me want to cry. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be standing where I was on Bloody Sunday or during any of the strikes against these people. Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

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On Sunday, the girls and I decided to have an afternoon outside in the fresh air because the sun was shining and there was a light breeze which made it incredible weather for a bit of hiking. Easy hiking, but hiking none-the-less.

One town south of Shankill, where I have been living, is a town called Bray. Between Bray and the next town south of Bray (Greystones), is a walk along the cliff that borders the Irish Sea. It is a 6 kilometer walk one way which equals out to be just under 4 miles.

The scenery was beautiful!

This is the town of Bray.

And these are the girls getting ready to begin the climb.

Then we of course had to stop to take pictures along the way!

Here I am overlooking Greystones!

So, for the Irish Mother’s Day, we decided to go for the cliff walk, then go to a mid-afternoon “snack” at a restaurant in Greystones called “The Hungry Monk.” I got pear and goat cheese brushchetta. It was absolutely amazing, and I would die to have it again!

It was scrumptious!

Then Kerry decided it would be a good idea to take my picture in front of  “The Hungry Monk” sign.

After that Calah made me a rose from her napkin. She wouldn’t look at the camera or hold the rose, but I took her picture anyway.

After lunch, we went home via train!

This is Whitney, Ashley, and myself at the Shankill train station that is oh, so familiar.

Until later and with lots of love!

Happy Irish Mother’s Day!

~Ireland Dreamer

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