The Space Station Bakeshop Captain’s Log

Boston Days 2 and 3

Saturday we woke up excited to see Ron and Anne and the boys, but first we did a little shopping at Niketown. Niketown Boston doesn’t have a huge tennis section, so Ariel and I didn’t find as much as we had hoped. Kevin, however, hit the jackpot for cool weather running. Then we made our way (between rain showers) to the Boston Museum of Science where we met up with Ron and Anne and the boys. The great thing about Ron and Anne is that we can go ages without seeing each other, and our conversations tend to pick up like it has been only hours since we have seen them. Anyway, we had a great time wandering around the Museum of Science, looking at some if the preliminary displays in the Harry Potter exhibit, and of course, hitting the gift shop.
Day 3 was spent shopping at some of our favorite stores (H&M, Juicy and Burberry) that we don’t have in the Triangle. We also found a Wagamama’s (a favorite noodle shop from our London trip) for lunch. Yum-o! The flight home was uneventful, and it was good to be back home (though I do miss the Westin’s Heavenly Bed).

Boston Day 1

This weekend we are doing our first official college tour – MIT. I know Ariel is a little on the young side to start the college tours, but if she is truely interested in MIT, I wanted her to see what she needed in order to get in. A couple of days ago Ron emailed that President Obama announced he was speaking on campus about green energy on the day we planned to tour campus. I was really worried our campus visit would be snarled with people, security, and schedule changes. In the middle of Thursday night at our hotel, we received a note that the president was attending a function in the hotel and security would be tighter.
We walked to campus and found an engineering class that Ariel was allowed to attend. She came out of class looking completely shell-shocked. She also took 4 pages of notes. After class we decided to head to the student center for some lunch and MIT goodies. We saw barricades set up along one street and wondered if Obama’s motorcade was planned to come down the street. We hung around, saw some quirky protesters, then realized something was going on at the next intersection. We walked down there right to the curb and realized the motorcade was coming down that street. We were just feet from Obama’s limo with no one in front of us when he passed. We could see him through the tinted windows waving at us. Way Cool.
Then on to shopping, lunch, MIT information session and campus tour.
After a brief rest at the hotel we went to Trinity Church to meet up with our friend Al. He and his daughter gave us a walking tour of Boston and took us to the Holocost Memorial. They have etched the identification numbers of all people killed during the Holocost into plexiglass sheets. This is incredibly sobering.
After walking part of the Freedom Trail, we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner (mmmm, gnocci). It was so nice to see Al and Cathy again and to meet their lovely daughter.

Ireland – Day 8 – Limerick

Today we left Kilkenny and headed toward Limerick. The Rock if Cashel was on the way, and was also a site that was covered by our Heritage cards (a card that covers admission to many of Ireland’s historical sites). We didn’t feel like much touring, but I’m glad we went in and had a look around. Once in Limerick, we spent most of the time recouping our energy in the hotel room. We even felt like eating dinner, though I ask Kevin to bring mine back to the room. Our room overlooked the Shannon River, and we could see the swans swimming on the river from our window.

Ireland – Day 7 – Kilkenny Reprise

We were supposed to head to Doolin today, but either food poisoning or a stomach bug hit the family in the night and we stayed in Kilkenny for another day. Actually Kevin and Ari didn’t leave the hotel room all day, and we all napped for most of the day. The view from our room includes a round tower (something I really wanted to see) so at least we had something nice to see when we woke up from our naps.

Ireland – Day 6 – Waterford and Kilkenny

Today we left the Jury’s Inn in Cork and drove to Waterford. They are no longer doing the factory tour (boo) but the visitor’s center/gift shop is open. I finally bought the salt and pepper shakers that I agonized over on my honeymoon 20 years ago. From Waterford we drove to Kilkenny, home of Smithwick’s Brewery. Apparently the brewery doesn’t do tours (except there may be tastings between 3 and 5 according to a nice gentleman we mat at Kytelers). We walked into town, then realized the Kilkenny Castle was within walking distance. We toured the castle, which has been in use since the 1200’s. It is now decorated more as a grand manor house, which isn’t something we have seen on this trip. Dinner was at Kyteler’s – a restaurant dating back to the 12 or 1300’s.

Ireland – Day 5 – Blarney Castle

This morning we headed out to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. What fun! We all leaned way back, held the rails, and lowered ourselves down to kiss the stone. Afterwards we walked around the grounds, then hit the gift shop. After Blarney Castle, we drove to Midleton to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery. We did the tour, then our guide asked for eight volunteers to do a tasting. Since Kevin was driving, I did the tasting for the Gunns. We tried a four year (triple distilled) Jameson Whiskey against the double distilled Scotch against the single distilled US Jack Daniels. To me, the Jameson was the best. We headed back to Cork, got a little rest, then headed out for some more shopping (hello Tesco).

Ireland – Day 4 – Cork

Today we headed to Cork and stopped at Ross Castle along the way. This 15th century castle is situated on a beautiful lake where swans come up asking for a hand out. This castle was neat because it contains furniture dating to the 16 th and 17th centuries, so you could imagine how the interiors would have looked. We then headed to Cork where we did a little shopping and had a much needed nap. Oh, and today is our 20th anniversary – what a cool place to spend it!

Ireland – Day 3 – Dingle Peninsula

Today we left the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis and headed to the Dingle Peninsula. Our first stop was in Adare where we took a tour of the Adare Castle (see pic below). I loved the open area where the Yew tree grows. In Adare we stopped at a grocery store where we went up and down every aisle comparing it to the American stores. The cereal aisle (or lack of a full aisle devoted to cereal) was what struck me the most. It was here we found one thing on my Ireland quest, Magnum ice cream bars. Mine was white chocolate covering vanilla ice cream – enough reason for me to move to Ireland. We then headed to the Dingle Peninsula where we mostly followed the tour in Rick Steve’s Ireland guide. Our energy was flagging until we had tea at the Stone House Restaurant. From there we drove and saw the Blasket Islands, remains of the Reasc Monastery (amazing Celtic pillar c. 500 B.C.), the Gallarus Oratory, and the church at Kilmalkedar (where we renewed our vows at the ogham stone). Whew. We drove into Tralee where we are spending the night at the Grand Hotel. Dinner was at a pub called The Abbey (see below).

Ireland – Day 2 – Bunratty Castle

We had a slow start today (we didn’t even make it down in time for breakfast at the hotel) but had a good day anyway. We tried to find Dromore Wood, but couldn’t find signs to it. We did stop at a map by the side of the road and found these friendly donkeys. We then went to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The castle was built in 1425 and the Folk Park is where they have recreated 19th century Ireland. Back in Ennis Ari was able to find a County Clare hurling jersey and jacket (we love watching hurling over here).

Ireland – Day 1 – Ennis

Our plane made its approach into Shannon this morning as the sun rose and the summer solstice occurred. I’m not too crazy about over night flights. Luckily we were able to get our cute little car (a Nissan Note) and head to our hotel in Ennis. After an early morning walk around town, we took a much-needed nap at the hotel (well a nap until Kev sat bolt upright in bed and yelled “what time is it????”)
Lunch was at Knox’s Pub (mmm SmIthwicks) where we watched a game of Gaelic football then we toured the Ennis Friary, the ruins of an 13th century Franciscan friary. One of the staff came out and took our picture together, and was able to give us a mini-tour of the site. We loved how she explained the “Ecce Homo” on the site and how the site would have looked during the 1500s during early mass.