All right, I know it's been over a month since our honeymoon, but that's the next important thing we need to update you all on! Basically, IRELAND IS AMAZING, and our honeymoon was a blast!!! It was such a great experience to be newly married, off in a beautiful, foreign country, away from everyone and everything else--just the two of us. :) It was truly a remarkable foundation for the beginning of our marriage and supplied oodles of gorgeous memories to fondly look back on. :)
Anyway, here's how it went down: Saturday morning, the first of May, we took a shuttle from our awesome hotel at Springhill Suites in SLC (with Rebekah's Marriott discount) to the airport and got checked in and ready to board for Chicago. Upon arriving at the O'Hare airport, we realized that we had arrived too late to board the only plane leaving for Ireland that day through Aerlingus airlines. So, we took our baggage and Rebekah called up Marriott and had them book a hotel near the airport in Chicago for us so we could take the flight the next day. That turned out to be great; we didn't have to travel ALL day, and we ordered pizza in the hotel and watched movies. :)
Finally, on Sunday, our day had come. We were flying to Ireland! We got awesome seats by the window and the Shamrock-decorated Aerlingus plane also had sweet video screens behind each seat--you could listen to the radio, watch movies, television shows, and even play games, or just monitor where the plane was currently flying. It was a looooong flight, but eventually we came to be flying over Ireland! Finally the plane spiraled down into Dublin, and we could see that everything that wasn't part of the city was absolutely GREEN! We waddled out of the plane to find our luggage, and to my joy I found that also Ireland has drinking fountains (Germany, for example, does not)! Then we called the Marriott hotel in Ashbourne (pronounced by the Irish "Ashburn") to tell them to pick us up from the airport, and they directed us to the pick-up spot outside and past a little church. Being driven to the hotel 20 minutes away, I was thankful we actually couldn't rent a car, because I would have had a difficult time trying to navigate in a foreign country driving on the left side of the road! The buses we used throughout our trip proved to be an excellent choice. :)
Tuesday was an incredible day! Early in the morning we ordered a full Irish breakfast with Irish sausages, ham, pudding (not american kind), and a grilled tomato, along with some pastries. Yum! :) Then we took the bus to Dublin and just started walking around seeing anything there was to do. The city is very quaint and cute, and yet still impressive. A giant spike marks the center of the city, and the large O'Connel street was lined with hundreds of little shops. We crossed the river and headed south-west, until we came to a sign that said there was a wax-museum! Spontaneously we decided to visit it, which turned out to be quite a treat! Each room had great figures that depicted Ireland's mythological and political history, plus some other treats later on, like Fairy-tales and Movie Stars.
After that, we wondered around in Dublin further until we came across Dublin Castle, the Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and took many pictures. Then we headed back for Ashbourne that evening.
On Wednesday we took a trip from Dublin to the city of Trim! In Trim lies the largest Anglo-Norman Castle in Europe, which was built by Hugh de Lacy around the 12th century A.D. This castle is huge! And the whole town of Trim and surrounding area was beautiful. We got there in time for the last tour of the day, and took several pictures of the castle before being able to enter inside. Much of the castle has deteriorated or been destroyed over time, including an entire section on the exterior that had crumbled down. All the interior floors were no longer there (at least the originals) and some archways had also fallen down. Despite this, the castle is still in relatively good condition, and we were able to go all the way up to the roof and look out at the countryside below (which is, of course, vibrantly green). Our tour guide was excellent and explained many things about castles of the day and where certain phrases come from that we use today. After the exceptional experience at Trim Castle, we meandered over to the Yellow Steeple, or the ruins of it, just across the field. There we ate our packed lunch in the grassy fields amidst the dandelions, before heading off home to Ashbourne through Dublin.
Thursday was spent making our way across the entire Island to the western city of Galway. We took an express bus from Dublin which we miraculously found and which had barely enough seats available. Then we wandered around Galway until we were lead to the Courtyard by Marriott where we stayed for the night. The next morning, we again by luck of the irish found an amazing tour for amazingly cheap that lead us down the county of Clare to ancient tombs and castles until we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher! This was the main attraction, and we spent a good hour gazing at these breathtaking cliffs and down to the ocean below--700 ft. below. It was very windy, but very worth it! Then we made our way back up the coastline to Galway, and took another bus across the green country to Dublin, and from there returned to Ashbourne. Another awesome day!
On Sunday we woke up early enough to head for church in Dublin, and had located a ward on Finglas Road. As we were half-way to the bus stop down town, we realized we hadn't written down the address of the church! We decided that we could try to ask the bus driver if he knew where it was. So Rebekah wrote down "Finglas Road" on a piece of paper and when we boarded the bus she held it up and said, "We're trying to go here." The bus driver replied, "Do you know where on that road?" I said, "A church." He said, "Which one?" to which Rebekah added, "Latter-day Saints!" And the bus driver said he thought he knew where that was and could take us there. Turns out Finglas Road must be on the bus route anyway, and when we got to the place where the driver thought the church was, he let us out. We walked over to the church and immediately recognized it as LDS! The sign out front said "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" in Gaelic first, then english.
And then, in the sacrament room, we met a missionary serving there who graduated from Springville High our year! He recognized us and we laughed about the coincident. After a nice time at church, we caught another bus back to Ashbourne and relaxed for the rest of the day.
On Monday we took our last tour from Dublin, this time to see the monolithic tomb of Newgrange, a 5,000 year old tomb that is the oldest known man-made structure on the planet--older than Stonehenge and the pyramids! Along the way, our very entertaining and talkative tour guide showed us plenty of great things, including the preserved severed head of Oliver Plunkett, and an ancient Monastery. When we finally arrived at Bru na Boinne we ate at the visitor's center and then headed out to see the tomb. Newgrange is one of several known tombs and is the most known of the them. We were able to go inside and the tour guide demonstrated artifically how the light of dawn on the Winter Solstice would light up the entire inner chamber.
After that fascinating trip, we headed home for the last time. Tuesday we just packed up all of our stuff and ate out at the restaurant, and Wednesday morning headed for the airport. We arrived in Chicago that day, but had to stay overnight again and so didn't arrive in SLC until Thursday. We were tired but ready to go home to our NEW home, our very own apartment and we opened up all our gifts that night and spent the next day setting up our place. We now live here comfortably and love it and love each other and love being married! Our honeymoon to Ireland was our dream come true and the most amazing trip ever! May the luck of the irish ever protect us all.