S: The Martin Family Vacation 2011
BC: Slán Ireland! | Relaxing in Minnesota! The final leg of our 2011 adventure! | Minnesota was the wind down part of the trip. We spent time with the Murphy's and we went to see Great Grandpa Mike and Great Aunt Marnie. Typically we only stay an hour due to Grandpa's health, but he was doing so great that day that we stayed for seven hours recounting our adventures in Europe! We had dinner, played songs on the piano and LJ sang Finnegan's Wake which I did an Irish jig to for them. It was a lot of fun seeing and talking to them for so long. We did our traditional waving of the tissues as we left. | The Murphy's is always a great deal of fun. We enjoyed tubing, swimming, fireworks for the 4th and always lots of great food! This year we had the added adventure of saving a whole bunch of toads! They had been born by the pool and they kept falling in and drowning. I kept fishing them out and putting them down by the woods at the lake.
FC: Iceland | The Martin Vacation 2011 | France | Ireland | This book was created by: Abbey Martin
1: Our apartment in Iceland was a little strange but very artistic! A lamp in the apartment was a life-sized horse that I could sit on! I was surprised by Iceland because I thought it would be very cold and covered in ice. The weather was really not that cold and the landscapes were varied from volcanoes, geysirs and waterfalls to fields of flowers and streams | ICELAND
2: On our first day in Iceland we saw some fantastic things. At Pingvellir, there was a stream that a lot of people would throw coins in to make a wish. The sun shining down on the stream made the coins look like shiny fish scales! The money in Iceland was called Krona. L.J. and I both threw a coin in the stream and made a wish! | Pingvellir
3: We also went to a very windy waterfall called "Gullfoss" which in English means "Golden Falls." It was huge! When we were standing beside it, the wind off of it made my hair go all directions! I really enjoyed going to see the "Great Geysir" that all others in the world are named after. It exploded out and the mist got us all wet! | Gullfoss | Geysir
4: Faxi Waterfall and the crater lake were a lot of fun because it wasn't as windy and we were able to really explore and hike! We also got to explore a secret tunnel under a church called Skalholt. | Faxi Waterfall in the Golden Circle | Kerid volcanic crater lake on the Golden Circle
6: The Icelandic horse was brought over by the Vikings over a 1,000 years ago. It is the only kind of horse in Iceland and can only be found in that country now. I got to feed a very hungry black one!
7: Hallgrimskirkja Church is the tallest building in Iceland. It was named after an Icelandic poet. We climbed to the top and looked out over the city of Reykjavik where we were staying. | I was surprised that everything was so new looking in Iceland. A new museum that held an old Viking ship had this funny statue outside. Art and sculptures were found throughout the country.
8: We were able to climb down and around at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. The rocks were really slippery behind the waterfall and some tourists turned back, but our family trekked all the way around it! We were soaked from head to toe and I had to go buy a new pair of socks at the next town. | Seljalandsfoss
9: In Iceland the only barricades they have around any of their natural wonders are small ropes! | We danced under Skogafoss which was enormous! We then climbed 343 stairs up the side of the falls which was really hard! It was worth it though because the views from the top were amazing! | Mrdalsjkull glacier | Skogafoss
10: Vík í Myrdal is the southernmost village in Iceland. We shopped and had lunch there and then our tour guide Ossi took us up a really steep, one-lane road leading to Dyrhólaey cliffs and lighthouse. Ossi tried to scare us while driving by saying "ut ohhh" the whole way up. We made it to the top safely and it was beautiful. At one of the overlooks, Dad bet us to try and skip stones from the top of the cliff. We did it, so dad had to pay up in Krona!
11: The Blue Lagoon is a resort which is a hot spring. The pools of water are heated through the volcanic activity from a nearby geothermal power- plant. The rocks in the pools are covered in a white chalk substance that is supposed to be good for your skin. | The Blue Lagoon | Dyrhólaey
12: Flying in to.... | When we arrived from Iceland, our taxi met us and he didn't speak any English. It was hard because we found out that our apartment wasn't ready for us, so we were trying to tell the taxi driver to slow down. Dad used his phone translator and handed it to the driver, which seemed a good idea at the time, until the driver started driving with his knee to get his glasses to read it. When we arrived at our apartment we couldn't get in, so we had to wait on the porch for two hours. We were very, very tired and happy to finally get in and lay down to rest. Later that afternoon, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We had tickets to go to the top by a lift. It was very crowded there but we didn't have to wait in line too long because we had booked our tickets online. At the top it was very scary because we were up so high. You could see the entire city of Paris, which was awesome, but it still made me nervous being up so high. | Paris !
13: Our apartment had two bedrooms and L.J. and I shared one. Our bedrooms had a sliding door out to a beautiful terrace that we ate dinner and breakfast on. It had lots of plants and trees. In the evening the sliding doors had huge, metal shutters that automatically came down with the push of a button to keep us safe and comfortable. We walked everywhere while in Paris. Dad would walk to the market each morning to get our food for the day. | Sainte Chapelle | Apartment 5 Rue Copreaux
14: On the Pont Alexandre III bridge daddy was being attacked by a boy riding a fish throwing a trident. Luckily we escaped narrowly with our lives! One of the big statues on the bridge, L.J. and I noticed, was holding the holy hand grenade of Antioch. The bridge was very ornate and beautiful. Some of it was under construction but it was still an amazing thing to see. I really enjoyed walking back-and-forth on it. The bridge goes over the River Seine which is the main river that goes through Paris. It is a very busy river with lots of tourists but it is also a working river for the locals.
15: Petit Palais | Les Invalides | Grand Palais | When we saw the Grand Palais we didn't know how much entertainment it would give to our family. At the time, the Petit and Grand Palais were both just beautiful buildings that we enjoyed looking at. Later our tour guide that we would have the following day would freak out because dad pronounced the Grand Palais wrong. There were a lot of funny things that happened with that tour guide, Claude, so he because a very funny part of our family vacation. The Petit Palais had huge, gold doors that were gorgeous! The museum was closed that day but we had fun looking at the building from the outside.
16: Notre Dame | Notre Dame was one of my favorite spots in Paris. We got to go there twice. The outside had gargoyles and stained glass windows. We really enjoyed walking around both inside and out. They had shops all along the streets and that is where we bought most of our souvenirs from Paris including our paintings. I was really surprised to see that Notre Dame had a playground and park on its grounds in the back. I got to swing on a swing and we had a really yummy lunch of sandwiches and cookies for desert. When we looked through the back locked gates we saw some of the sculptures that were being repaired.
17: The inside of Notre Dame was just as amazing as the outside. We walked around looking at all of the sculptures and heard the bells chiming. I especially enjoyed the stained glass because of all the different colors of light it brought into the church. I got to light a prayer candle and sign the historical book. We also got to see some very important religious relics from Christianity. We got to see a thorn from the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the cross that they believe Jesus was hung from when he died for our sins. On our way out, mass began so we got to see them lighting the alter candles and also heard some songs being sung.
18: We took a lunch river cruise on the Seine. The boat was very elegant and the food was interesting. I liked the dessert the best because it was chocolate. The cruise took us past all the main sites in Paris, but gave us a different perspective from the river instead of walking from the street. We got to see Notre Dame again, the Eiffel Tower and the replica of the Statue of Liberty. | Statue of Liberty
19: After the lunch cruise we took a long walk back to our apartment through the Concorde. There were a lot of people lounging in the parks by the fountains and monuments. I really enjoyed the flowers especially the roses. The colors were beautiful. | Place de la Concorde
20: Arc de Triomphe | We were really looking forward to seeing the Arc ever since we saw it from up high on our first day at the Eiffel Tower. It looked so impressive. When we got close to it, it really was amazing. I thought it was funny that Napoleon built it as a monument to himself! As we approached the monument, we knew there was a tunnel that went under it, so we didn't have to cross traffic; but, we couldn't find it! Just when we had given up and decided to take our chances with crossing the traffic, a parade started crossing! We couldn't believe it! We jumped in the parade and crossed to the Arc safely. The stairs going to the top were steep and spiral. There wasn't an elevator. I was really tired when we got to the top, The look-out was a lot like the Eiffel Tower. We could see the whole city all around. For some reason, I wasn't scared at all looking out from the Arc. I just thought it was amazing.
21: Eglise Saint-Etienne du Mont | Le Opera | Victory Column | We went to a beautiful church called Saint Etienne du Mont. It had a lot of pretty statues and detailed carvings made from stone and wood. It was hard to imagine how people from the 1500's could carve something so beautiful all by hand. We drove passed the opera house and other monuments including the Victory Column that Napoleon erected for French victories. We also learned that the column, which is also a fountain, provided fresh drinking water for the people of the time.
22: Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) | Fontaine de l'Observatoire | Hotel de Ville | In the Sacre Coeur you are not allowed to talk or take pictures inside. This is because there are always two monks that are praying for world peace at all times. It was interesting going into a place with so many tourists and it was still quiet! The actual church sat at the highest point in Paris and could be seen from the tops of the Arc and Eiffel Tower. We ate lunch at a little restaurant next to the church. I had this really yummy main dish that actually had chocolate in it!
23: The Trains One of the main ways to get around Paris was by their underground train system. It was scary at first because we were not really sure about how it worked, but by the end of the trip it was really easy. I even saw kids my age riding the trains by themselves to and from school! | Open Tour Bus Towards the end of our trip to Paris, our cousin Lori, from London, joined us. She got to spend two days with us. The first thing we did together was take an open-tour bus so we could see all the main monuments again. They gave us headphones that we plugged in and listened to the history of the things we passed. It was really nice being able to ride around and see things and not have to worry about walking or traffic. We had such great weather the entire week and on our bus tour the weather was perfect!
24: This Musée du Louvre houses 35,000 works of art on four floors. We spent seven hours here and only saw a small portion! It hardly felt that long because I was so interested in the art. We had a private tour guide the first couple of hours but I enjoyed it more when it was just my family and we could take our time where we wanted to. | The Louvre
25: I was really excited to finally get to see the actual Mona Lisa by de Vinci! I had heard about it for so long that it seemed almost unreal that I got to see the real thing. I had heard it was really small but I was pleasantly surprised that it was a normal size. | The Winged Victory | Two Dogs Hunting by Jacopo Bassano - 1548 This painting made me miss my dog Princess that we had to leave at home.
26: I learned that a lot of the paintings in the Louvre are an expression of the artist. In the "Raft of the Medusa" - 1816 - the artist, Théodore Géricault, is expressing anger and frustration over an actual ship that sank because of a captain that was given his job because of who he knew. The artist felt the unqualified captain was to blame for the sinking. 149 people survived but there was only one life boat for them all! In the end only 15 people were left when the rescue ship finally arrived.
27: In the Louvre, there was a painting called "Le Pandemonium" that was painted by none other than "John Martin!" We thought that was pretty neat! | The Louvre
28: Some of our most relaxing parts of Paris were spent in our wonderful apartment. In the below picture you can see the beautiful plants on our terrace. I loved coming back from a long day touring to get on my jammies and have a pasta dinner with my family. I especially enjoyed the desserts of ice cream and Nutella. | The d'Orsay was closed the first time we arrived because the workers went on strike. We heard this is common in France. We were lucky it didn't last long and they were open the second time we arrived. The d'Orsay does not allow pictures inside which I was sad about because it had some of my favorite paintings like van Gogh's self-portrait and Monet's Japanese Bridge | Eglise de la Madeleine | d'Orsay
30: The Palace of Versailles was a graceful and elegant place where the royals of France once lived in the 1600's until they were forced to return to Paris during the Revolution. There was gold, mirrors, paintings, sculptures and anything else you could imagine. I have never seen anything like it before. The gardens were very interesting and made the place look even more enormous. Our private tour guide, Gigi, helped us to understand its history and the purpose of each room | Versailles
31: My favorite room in Versailles was the Hall of Mirrors. The ceiling was covered in art that told the life story of King Louis XIV. The walls were full of mirrors that I learned from Gigi were the biggest mirrors that could be made at that point in time in history. The place made me feel like I was actually in an art painting myself! It was really crowded when we were there but the place was so big it didn't feel like there were that many people. I would have loved to have spent more time here.
32: The Queen's Chamber was another part of Versailles that I really enjoyed seeing. Her part of Versailles had four rooms including a sleeping quarter with an enormous and beautiful bed. It even had feathers on top. After learning from Gigi about the last queen at Versailles, which was Marie Antoinette, I decided being a queen was not all that it was cracked up to be. Marie Antoinette was beheaded in part because she didn't like to follow the traditions of being a royal and was out of touch with the people of France. | Versailles
33: Giverny | Monet's house and gardens were a beautiful place where the artist found inspiration for many of his paintings. It was pretty neat going to the d'Orsay earlier in the week and seeing the paintings of the Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies then coming to Giverny and seeing the actual place that Monet saw to paint the pictures. | Claude Monet's
34: Giverny | The entire house and garden was a work of art. It was beautiful everywhere. There were streams and flowers and even bamboo! My favorite was the Japanese Bridge. Monet really enjoyed Japanese art and had many visitors from that country when he was alive. He purchased the bridge and then had it painted green from its original red to match the plants around it. L.J. and I had fun on one of the bridges by pretending we were looking for Trolls. I didn't believe there was such a thing as trolls but L.J. told me there were and so we looked and looked. We didn't find any at Giverny. Maybe they were all still in Iceland.
36: Ireland | After our airplane ride from Paris, we found our way through Dublin to our first hotel. It was an old manor house and looked like a castle. It was right on the beach and we walked over after dinner to explore and relax. At the pub we ate at, there was a bicycle rally that ended right where we were eating! People were very excited and cheering everyone on to the finish. At the beach we made rock sculptures since it was a rocky beach. I put a secret message on a rock with another rock and buried it. The Irish Sea was very cold but we waded in anyway. LJ and I pretended we could control the waves while we played in the water. | Bray and the Irish Sea
37: Trinity College, Dublin | St. Stephen's Green | Our first full day in Ireland was spent in Dublin. We went to Trinity College which had the Book of Kells. It was amazing work of art! I could hardly take my eyes off of it. In the museum, they had videos playing on how the Book of Kells was made with quill pens and how the book was bound. We also visited a park in the middle of Dublin called Stephen's Green. On the fences that surrounded the park, artists would come and hang their paintings to sell. Inside the park I met a trumpet swan in the pond. It was very tame and it nibbled on my hand thinking I was going to give it food.
38: While we were driving to Kilkenny Castle, the directional signs ran out a few miles from our destination and our GPS ran out of battery power. We wandered around for a very long time trying to find it. Suddenly, mom said she "wished we had a detailed map!" LJ and I looked at each other because in our hands we were holding a detailed map that we had found in the back seat of the rental car. We gave it to mom and were very happy when we finally arrived. We thought they would be closing by the time we got there; however, we were lucky to see that we arrived a couple of hours before closing time. We had plenty of time to explore the grounds and castle. Walking along, we found a path that led into the forest along the river. While we were enjoying looking at the plants, we found a big tree stump that LJ and I enjoyed climbing on top of.
39: Killiane Castle was one of our Bed and Breakfast places that we stayed at. All of the food at breakfast was served fresh from the farm. The eggs that were served were from chickens that they had on the grounds. LJ and I named two of our favorite chickens. LJ named his white one Fred and my all black one I named Shadow. We really liked staying here because we got to explore the castle ruins. It was very interesting and fun to climb to the top of the towers and look out over the pasture.
40: Tintern Abbey founded 1200 This church was in ruin but the Republic of Ireland was trying to restore it to its original form. There was a very pretty bridge that had a river that ran under it. While we were taking a tour of the main abbey, our tour guide was pointing us to look up but I was looking down. I saw a long-eared bat that our guide told us was a protected species in Ireland because there are not many left. I was happy that I was able to find it and our guide was able to save it.
41: The Waterford Crystal Factory in Waterford, Ireland was amazing! When our tour began, we entered a room that had a clock that was covered in carved crystals. Our guide told us about the history of the factory and about their new facility. In the next room we went to, it was covered in mirrors and we got to see a color and light show. We then entered into the main factory where we got to see the workers actually making the crystal that they sell all over the world. After the tour was complete, LJ and I went shopping for our special piece of crystal that would remind us of our time in Waterford. I picked out a small bowl with etched leaves and a pretty lid.
42: Ballyseede Castle was my favorite place we stayed while in Ireland. It was just like a real castle! Ballyseede had two dogs. My favorite was a very friendly terrier that reminded me of Princess. His name was Einstein. He had a really fun game that he played with rocks. When we first arrived I was playing with Einstein and dad got really worried and thought the poor dog would die if he ate the rocks. I didn't even know it was a game at the point so when dad took the rocks away and threw them and Einstein brought them back we laughed and laughed. He even had a hole in the yard that he dug that he would put special rocks in. I also really enjoyed breakfast. It was very fresh and the best part were the wonderful pastries.
44: Our room at Ballyseede was at the very top story of the castle. It had domed windows and was beautiful. I also enjoyed playing the piano there and playing with Arthur the huge Irish Wolfhound. | While at Ballyseede, we took a day-trip to an area called Tralee. While there, we went horseback riding. I was given a horse named Puzzle. LJ's horse had a bit of an attitude and while we were practicing in the arena, LJ's horse caused some problems which made my horse buck and I fell off. Luckily, I wasn't hurt and was able to get back on Puzzle. I did however, lose a great deal of faith in my horse and was concerned about the trail ride up the mountain. It turned out wonderful though and I had a great time!
45: As we were heading to the Dingle Peninsula, we had many opportunities to stop and look at the Atlantic Ocean. One of our stops was to a beach that had lots of pretty shells that we collected. Even though it had rained earlier in the day when we went horseback riding, the skies had cleared and it turned out to be a very pretty day. There was a campground right next to the beach pathway we stopped at and we were amazed that we had the entire place to ourselves. It was the strangest feeling not seeing anyone around for miles in each direction. Dad really liked the metal sculpture located at the entrance to the beach so he had us pose with the artwork and look out to the Atlantic. Mom and I wrote our last name in the sand but I doubt it is still there.
46: Dad and Mom gave LJ and I the choice if we wanted to go see Blarney Castle or go on a nature hike. Both LJ and I decided we would much rather avoid the crowds and go for a hike. Dingle Peninsula's roads reminded me of the Road to Hana in Hawaii. They were very narrow and winding. We were able to stop multiple times and climb the rocks. It was great fun and by the time we arrived at our next destination in Adare, LJ and I had decided we had made an excellent choice!
47: Upon arriving at Adare we were scheduled for an apartment but mom and dad decided to upgrade once we arrived to a room in the actual manor house. The manor was amazing with carved wood and sculpted marble everywhere. After dinner we tried to get up to the top of the turrets and found the access door. We snuck in and climbed as far as we could but they had the very top door locked. It was still fun even if we didn't get in. | Adare Manor
49: While we were staying at Adare, we scheduled a private hawk walk. The company "Animal Magic" that taught us falconry, also brought a few other surprises that we were not expecting. We met a tree frog, a hedgehog and an owl named Gandolf. The owl was so heavy that the owner had to help me hold my arm up when it was perched on the safety glove. In the woods, they had two falcons that were trained to fly around the woods with us while we walked. We played games with them and I learned how to catch and release properly. It was something that I had read about in books but never thought I would get the chance to do it. The funniest part was when one of the owners showed us how they exercised the falcons on the ground. They actually ran but looked so funny doing it because they are not normally meant to walk.
51: The Franciscan Friary is now a ruin on the Adare Manor golf course. It was built in 1464 and can only be accessed if you are playing a round of golf or go over at dusk. We all went over at dusk and explored. We climbed the ruin walls and read the ancient tombstones. We also explored the woods and trails around Adare Manor. One of the woods that we found was a cypress tree that had a huge central trunk and then had a whole bunch of branches that went down into the ground and then sprouted up towards the sky. We had seen one of these trees at Ballyseede but the one at Adare was much bigger! It was a whole woods! Another tree that I thought was interesting was a cork tree. I never really thought about where the corks in bottles came from but during our tour of Adare, our guide told us that each cork tree can be shaved five times during its lifetime to make corks. | Adare Manor
52: My mom had read that there were not barricades along the Cliffs of Moher, so she had told us that we would need to "army crawl" to see the edge so we wouldn't cause her any more gray hairs. When we got there, mom was pleasantly surprised that they had built a wall around the main walking area so you could view safely. Although some tourists were climbing the walls and going to the edge anyway. When we were walking around I jumped on one of the pay telescopes and was excited to see that it was broken! It was actually stuck on! It gave us an opportunity to spy the puffin colony along the cliffside! They looked like their own little village since there were so many of them! We also walked to O’Brien’s Tower but we didn't go up in it because they charged extra and it wasn't historic. They actually built it in 1835 for tourists. The shops at the site were really neat. They were built into the side of the hill. There were many musicians along the walkway playing their instruments. LJ bought a music CD at one of the shops. I really liked one of the songs called "City on the Lagan."
53: In Doolin, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called the Sea View House. Our room was really small but I liked it because I was close to my family. Our place was at the top of a hill. The town was below and we were able to walk down and have lunch. LJ and dad ate at a pub and mom and I ate at a little cafe. I loved their lasagna. I thought that Ireland would have lots of potatoes at their restaurants, but they didn't. I wondered if that was because of the Great Potato Famine. A short drive from our place was the coast. We drove over one evening and climbed the rock and looked in the tide pools. We found shrimp, crabs and lots of limpets. It was here that we saw the ferry's taking passengers over to the Aran Islands and we all decided that is what we wanted to do the next day.
54: Aran Islands
55: The Aran Islands are a group of three islands off of the west coast of Ireland. We took a ferry over to the first and smallest island called Inis Oírr. It took about 30 minutes to get over to it. When we got to the island we took a horse and cart tour from one of the locals. They speak Irish on the island but most of the locals speak English also since that is what most of the tourists speak too. I really enjoyed seeing the rock fences that looked like a maze. There are only about 300 people on the whole island and they use the fences to divide up their land. It looked like a lot of work to pull the rocks from the land and pile them up. The people there farm and raise sheep for wool. I thought it was interesting also that they use seaweed to create their topsoil. They pull it from the ocean and let it dry out and then mix it in with the land. After the ride, we walked up to Caislean Oi Bhriain castle ruins that are from about 1585. We climbed to the top of the ruins. I was scared climbing up because there were not safety bars but when I got to the top I was excited to see the entire island. It was beautiful and I was proud of myself for climbing to the top. After the castle and visiting an old cemetery that keeps getting buried by sand, we headed to the beach. It is much, much warmer on the island than the mainland and the Atlantic water is a sparkling blue. We played on the rocks but unfortunately were not prepared for the brighter sun so we got a little burnt. While waiting for the ferry to head back, we bought some ice cream and watched a lobster boat haul in its load.
56: Dunguaire Castle was a stop on our way back to Dublin. I thought this castle was neat because it was owned by a Martyn at one point! The spiral stairs inside the castle lead to a banquet hall with a stage. They perform medieval banquets in the evenings. I jumped up on the stage and did one of my Irish jigs. It was fun. Dad and I walked down at the base of the castle in the marsh lands. We found a swan feather and I was surprised at how big and thick it was.
57: The Burren or Bhoireann in Irish means "Stony Place" | Clontarf Castle | Fondue at airport while waiting for our flight to Minnesota | Back to the Irish Sea in Dublin - The sand was really soft and we got to see people kite surfing. | LJ and I felt like royalty at Clontarf. They had messed up on our reservation so they gave us an upgraded room and free dinner. The room was awesome but the dinner was just ok. They were out of a bunch of stuff that I liked but we enjoyed it anyway because it was free!