Monday, August 25, 2014

Cave Hill Adventures

One of my absolute favorite things that I did while I was in Ireland was hiking the Cave Hill.  Since the first day I met Roibeard he has been telling me all sorts of stories about the Cave Hill.  It was so wonderful to finally be there in person.  I have to say I wasn't expecting it to be quite as steep as it was!  We made it nearly to the top, but the to get to the tip of the "nose" you literally have to climb and drag yourself up in the mud and we were with Roibeard's 8 year old niece, so it just wasn't going to happen.
Cave Hill is historically known in Irish as Beann Mhadagain. It is a basaltic hill that forms part of the southeastern border of the Antrim Plateau. The nose that I mentioned above is known as "Napoleon's Nose" as the hill top itself looks like the profile of a man's face (or Napoleon's face).  It is rumored to have been the inspiration for Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
The views of the city below were incredible.  It is said that on a clear day you can see the Isle of Man and Scotland, but I personally didn't find that to be true.  Maybe if you have really good eyes.  Which I do not.

This was definitely one of my fondest memories of our trip!  It was worth it just to see Roibeard so happy that day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wedding Ideas!

I'll try to not focus too much on wedding details here, but I have to say that Roibeard and I are starting to get really excited for our upcoming wedding.  Nothing is set for sure yet, but we are thinking May 2015.  It doesn't give us much time to plan, but since it will be a smaller celebration I think that we can manage. 

In terms of venues my number one choice right now is Dunseverick Castle.  It's really only a few ruins, but is a medieval castle dating back to the 5th century.  St. Patrick is rumored to have visited Dunseverick Castle on several occasions.  It's located right on the Antrim coast and looks a bit more isolated, which I think will be best for reciting our vows.  One of my fears of having our ceremony in a public place is obnoxious tourists ruining it for us!  (I'm more worried about that than I am about the 90% chance of rain).

The next choice on my list is Dunluce Castle.  It's also a medieval castle and also located on the Antrim coast.  This one we were actually able to walk the grounds of while we were in Ireland.  The only problem with this one is it's a huge tourist attraction. 
For both Dunseverick and Dunluce castles we need to get permission from the National Trust in order to have our ceremony on their sites.  I'm in the process of contacting them right now.  If that falls through then Belfast Castle is my back up.  It's not quite as old and over grown as I would like.  It doesn't over look the sea.  However, it is still very pretty and the gardens are beautiful.
If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!  We are trying to stay close enough to Belfast so that Roibeard's family can attend the ceremony.
Since the two medieval castles are not licensed venues if we choose them as our ceremony sight we will have to wed at city hall first (to make it official) then have a "symbolic ceremony" on the ocean.  Belfast Castle is licensed so if we marry there we don't have to worry about city hall.
In terms of a reception we're planning on a favo(u)rite pub of Roibeard's family's that's located in Belfast itself.
Okay, let the planning begin!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Belfast Castle

During our time in Belfast we took a small hike up to Belfast Castle with Roibeard's family.  I have to admit that a good part of my wanting to visit Belfast Castle was as a possible wedding venue.  We haven't ruled it out completely yet, but it is a bit more of a stately home than a castle.  I have since fallen in love with Dunseverick Castle for our wedding...more on that later.

As you can see by our short sleeves it was an unusually warm and dry day in Belfast.  It was probably the warmest day of the whole trip.  I was really happy to see the sun. 
The original Belfast Castle was built by the Normans in the late 12th century and was the home of Sir Arthur Chichester, baron of Belfast.  Unfortunately the original was burnt down in 1708.  The current Belfast Castle sits right at the foot of the Cave Hill and was built between 1811-1870.
The Castle grounds are incredibly beautiful and offer an amazing view of the city.  One of things you're supposed to do on the grounds is find all of the cats!  Myself being the cat lady that I am just absolutely loved this!!  Roibeard and I only managed to find 8 of the 9.  (Two are together in the photo below). 


Roibeard claims that the 9th cat ran away.

Friday, August 1, 2014

San Francisco: The Palace of Fine Arts

While looking through my hard drive the other day I came across these photos that Roibeard and I took from when we were still living in San Francisco.  The photos are from the Palace of Fine Arts which was one of my favorite places to go on dates when I lived there.  What I find interesting about these is that the photos are from two different trips that we took during two very different times of the day.  The first ones were probably taken around mid-day and the ones near that bottom were taken closer to the golden hour.


The Palace of Fine Arts is located in the Marina District of San Francisco.  When Roibeard and I first moved to San Fran this is where we lived (before moving to the Mission District), so it was easy to stop by here during an afternoon stroll.  The monument was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.  It is one of the few structures that survived over the years.

As happy as I am to be back in Chicago I really do miss California.  It wasn't the right place for me to settle down, but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to have spent two years over there.  The nice thing about having family over that way is that we can always go back to visit!