Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Beginnings of Aruba - One Happy Island Planning

Gold mine ruins, rock formations, horse riding ranches, donkey sanctuary, ostrich farm, and beaches - guess where the Chic Family is going next? 

Yes! Aruba!  Roundtrip flights booked, accommodations booked, car rental booked, travel insurance purchased.  We are very excited to return to Aruba.  We made our first trip to "One Happy Island" last year for the winter holidays and stayed at the Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive Beach Resort.  It is located in what is referred to as the "Low Rise" because it is not near the high rise hotels.  This really worked out well because we avoided the over-crowded hotel beaches during the peak travel period.  It is also not as pricey.  You won't have the frills of the 5 star big-name hotels, but you get more of a relaxed island vibe.  Also, because of the smaller size, there is less walking to/from the restaurants, beaches, pool, and bar.  Even if it was not peak travel time, I would still stay in the low rise over the high rise.  I would HIGHLY recommend this resort for families.  Rob said it was the best resort we have ever stayed.  

For our upcoming trip, we have chosen to rent a beach house and get a rental car.  We feel very safe on this tiny island and feel comfortable with the idea of navigating it ourselves.        

On our first trip, we only ventured out of the resort once with the kids to go to Baby Beach. Rob and I also took the local bus from one end of the island to the other one day while the kids were in the Kids Club. Other than that, we just spent our days on the beach. Nothing wrong with that, but this time, we are planning to get off the beaten path and really explore Aruba. Because we will have a car, we will really be able to easily see all the hidden sights and avoid the cruise ship crowds and large tour groups.  I can't wait to roll around in the sand and dip my toes in the clear blue waters while enjoying perfect weather (I'm predicting lots of snow at home this winter!).  But most of all, I can't wait to enjoy our next journey as a family.  I'll be back soon with our trip report!

Trip Report: Happy Holidays from Aruba - 12 Days of Christmas

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Family Time in Ireland - Reaching The End of Our Adventure (Days 19-20)

We left Athlone today to finish the trip back to Donabate but first, we were going to enjoy a welcomed treat - a visit with family.  Caitlin and Molly were going to meet and spend time with cousins.  In Ireland!  

We pulled into the cutest village (is there any other kind in Ireland?!) and first picked up a gift.  Rob wanted to know what I was doing out of the car when he returned.  Taking a pic, of course.  I couldn't resist.  I gotta get some hanging baskets when we return home.  To inevitably kill.  Not on purpose though.  

Still in Ireland! Finding cousins! — in Lucan, Dublin.

A great day! We enjoyed good company, good food, and good play!  My irish sister opened her house, her family, and her heart to us.  We came to see Ireland, but what makes this trip so special is the roots of family.  Our visit was too short, but thoroughly full of connections. 

After a boring drive back to Donabate on the most boring road in Ireland.  Hahahahaha, we were on the M-some_number boring freeway with MULTIPLE lanes.  Rob was clearly more comfortable as he drove much faster than usual.  I think he was even whistling through smiles at the lack of stone walls, sheer cliffs, oncoming traffic in his lane, and sheep.  I, meanwhile, died of boredom.    

The next day, we returned to our starting point - Donabate Beach.  The first place we stopped, and the last place.  This time though, we enjoyed it injury-free.  Whew!

Last day in Ireland! Spending it with Granny! — at Donabate Beach.

Good night Ireland! Tomorrow we go home!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

One More Stop! Athlone, Ireland (Day 18)

We left the comfort of Inishmore, Aran Islands by plane and arrived quickly (8 minutes) back at Connemara Airport.  Our rental car was still there and so was all its contents.  I have to say it was very easy to travel to the Aran Islands by plane via Connemara Airport.  Someday, I would like to see and stay on the other two islands.

Today, we were headed back to base camp at Castle Chic (Donabate), but we were not just driving back across the mainland in one 3 hour trip.  Nope, we had plans to see some sights midway and overnight in Athlone.  We planned to first go to a petting farm and then to see the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise as our last big hurrah on this Chic Family Road Trip.


Farms and fairy trails. My girls are right at home. We are making our way back around to our starting point. Mentally preparing for our return with mixed feelings. — at Glendeer Pet Farm.

My kids had a hard time leaving the puppies and kittens! They sure were darn adorable. The puppies, not my kids.  Molly has decided that she wants a farm when she grows-up, so we will soon have plenty of animals galore.

You are probably thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of pics of fairy doors." Well, Caitlin insisted on a pic with EVERY single one that she found. All 5,482,365 of them. So, I've actually spared you.

We ended our visit with lunch at the cafe located in Glendeer Pet Farm.  This is more than just a petting farm.  There's also a playground (with obstacle course and maze), picnic area, and of course, the fairy forest.  It's located off the M6, so was very convenient for our journey back east.  We continued from here to the nearby Clonmacnoise.

Ending our sightseeing the proper way - monastic ruins. Mid-6th century early Christian site boasting round towers and high crosses among its treasures. — in Clonmacnoise, Offaly, Ireland.

This was a treat! Super cool site that sits along the Shannon River. There is lots to see amongst the ruins - high tower, cathedral ruins, high crosses, and grave stones.  We knew we were overnighting in Athlone, so just took our time wandering.  

We could easily have made it back to Donabate in a couple hours, but were glad to add another stop as we could all sense the end of our trip approaching.  We stayed at Alverna House and it was perfect as they are a family with young children.  My girls instantly bonded with their daughter.  

We went into Athlone village for dinner.  I had read in one of my guide books that Athlone has THE best thai restaurant in Ireland.  Well, that is a pretty big claim so we decided to check it out for ourselves.  I will say that the service was great (the staff made it fun!) and we really did enjoy ourselves, but as we left, Rob said, "it would have been better if we hadn't heard the claim."  

We went back to Alverna House and the kids enjoyed playing with the homeowners' daughter, while Rob and I relaxed with a few rounds at their pool table.

Before leaving in the morning, we had a lovely breakfast and the kids got to play some more.  But, it turns out this wasn't our last stop.  We saved the best for last!