Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • What is a romantic escape? Does it really have to be about time with your significant other? Does is have to be a honeymoon trip or anniversary journey? Is it who you are with or is it about where you go?

    My affair with Ireland began before I visited this magical place. I read about it as a child, with stories of fairies and legends like The Blarney Stone. I read about the mists in history books and her heroes in my romance novels. When the offer was made to travel across the ocean and actually step foot on this island, I jumped at the chance to meet one of my crushes.

    My entire being began to change when I stepped off the plane. My hair curled up, and I longed to start my exploration of the land that inspired so many writers. I visited faery rings, wondering if any of these places were portals into other worlds, like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I enjoyed dinner at a private residence overlooking the inspiration of Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B. Yeats while my host read the poem aloud in between courses.

    I visited a seaside spa in Sligo and floated in a seaweed bath, imagining myself as a mermaid. I walked the streets of Dublin late one night, in search of Bram Stoker’s residence where he penned Dracula. I enjoyed a pint of Guinness at Davy Byrnes on Grafton Street, the place where James Joyce used to frequent.

    I learned about my name, Shannon, and the river my mother named me after. I also learned that the Irish don’t name their children Shannon, as it would be like an American naming their child Mississippi or Rio Grande, but the legend of Sinaan and how the river was named is a fascinating story in itself.

    I danced with friends and I danced with strangers all over the island, from Sligo, to Donegal, to Dublin. I enjoyed the food and the drink and the people. I fell in love with Ireland and I discovered a new depth in my soul and even fell in love with myself. I knew that when I returned home to my family I would be able to hold the memories of Ireland dear to my heart whenever I thought my life was dull with dishes, laundry, and carpools.

    Every once in a while, when life gets still, one might be able to find me listening to a bit of Celtic music, drinking a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea, and flipping through photos or reading the poetry of Keats. My romantic affair with Ireland will always be in my heart, never to be forgotten.

    Ireland is a welcoming destination for families, romantic escapes (with or without spouse), girlfriend getaways, and definitely soul-oh trips. When you find the real Ireland, you find yourself. For more information visit DiscoverIreland.com or find your own romantic escape closer to home.

    This article was originally published here on October 26, 2008

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  • Picture yourself at Walt Disney World, pushing a stroller around, possibly on a multi-generational family trip, and you find nap time is quickly approaching – for everyone. You just want a little Me Time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Parents need to stay sane and take advantage of down time, or even treat themselves to a visit to the parks WITHOUT the kids. Family travel can get crazy, so why not
    ask a family member to watch the kids, giving you and your spouse a few moments of adult time.

    Did you know there are nearly 400 places to dine across Walt Disney World Resort? And that’s not counting the portable food carts. In all, more than 6,000 different food items are available. And chances are, if the restaurants aren’t in the Magic Kingdom, they just might have an adult beverages on the menu for you to enjoy. If wine is your poison of choice, then you’ll want to know that more than 600 sommeliers have been awarded the Court of Master Sommelier Introductory Certificate at Walt Disney World Resort, with more than 300 sommeliers currently in restaurants.

    With so many restaurants and dining choices, where should you go for that “special” drink? Here are just of few of our top choices for a cocktail, beer, or wine while at Walt Disney World.

    Epcot’s World Showcase 

    United Kingdom – The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining room brings visitors into Victorian England with its etched glass panels, dark mahogany bar and authentic dart board. If you are looking for hearty ale, this place offers specially designed ale warmer can heat your Guinness to 55 degrees, should that be your preference.

    Mexico – The pavilion features a festive and colorful celebration of the beauty and culture of Mexico that is fun for guests of all ages. “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros” is an excursion by tour boat through the vibrant, eye-filling sights and lively music of Mexico. If you’re interested in margaritas, you should check out ThemeParkMom’s review of inventive margaritas at La Hacienda de San Angel, a new restaurant in EPCOT.

    Japan – In the Matsu-no-ma Lounge, visitors see a majestic view of Future World across the lagoon while sampling sushi, Japanese pickled vegetables, tempura and exotic specialty drinks.

    Germany – Biergarten, an indoor German “courtyard” featuring a German Oktoberfest buffet. At lunch and dinner time, yodelers, dancers and other lederhosen-clad musicians perform an Oktoberfest dinner show. Guests are invited onstage to join in the musical fun. The wine shop nearby offers samples of Ice Wine for a few bucks. Definitely worth a try.

    French Champagne and Wine cart at EPCOT World ShowcaseFrance – Want a glass of vino but don’t want to wait in the long line inside the wine shop? Across from the front of France there is a wine cart serving Champagne, wines, and frozen blends.

    Want more? Check out our extensive list of wine, beer, and cocktails at Epcot’s World Showcase.

    Other Venues at Disney with Alcohol

    Victoria Falls at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Down a flight of stairs from the lobby, this mezzanine lounge serves wine and spirits imported from Africa, including Windhoek beer from Namibia and Imoya Brandy from South Africa. The specialty drink is a Victoria Falls Mist, with tangerine, melon and banana liqueurs. Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest offering of South African wines anywhere in the US. Be sure to check out Jiko, The Cooking Place, too!

    The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Trendy cocktails are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the day with a Pomegranate Splash (vodka, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice and soda water) or the Ultimate Bloody Mary (organic vodka, Bloody Mary mix and a dash of red chili sauce). The Pure-tini mixes organic vodka with organic mango and passion fruit liqueur. The Antioxidant Cocktail features wild berry vodka, black raspberry liqueur, açai juice with agave, lychee, aloe juice and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, next door to 50’s Prime Time Cafe, looks like a family den from the ’50s, with black-and-white TVs and campy retro furniture. You can choose kitschy drinks from “Dad’s Liquor Cabinet” such as Uncle Tim’s Melon Margarita, Scooter’s Long Island Iced Tea or an Electric Lemonade. Beer and wine is offered, too. My personal favorite is a Magical Star. Check out this video of inside Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as part of our Cocktail Series.

    Dawa Bar adjacent to Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Sit in the shade and sip a hard-to-find Tusker Beer from Africa or Safari Amber, brewed just for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. South African wines are on the drink menu, too, along with cocktails like Lost on Safari with rum and fruit juices.

    Dawa Bar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

    Mizner’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – A live orchestra plays nostalgic Big Band sounds just outside the doors of this lounge tucked away on the second floor of the hotel. The lounge’s namesake is architect Addison Mizner, whose designs launched a “Florida Renaissance” in the 1920s, so the sophisticated drinks are apropos: champagnes, caipirinhas, mint juleps and cosmopolitans, along with nine vodkas, seven different single malt scotch whiskeys and after-dinner cognacs and ports.

    There are more than 50 lounges in Walt Disney World hotels and three theme parks (no alcohol in Magic Kingdom. Again I stress. No alcohol in Magic Kingdom), making this list just a sampling of the many great place for big kids like parents to have their own magic time at Walt Disney World. If there’s a place you’d like us to know about, be sure to leave a comment, helping our readers discover new places to sample adult beverages.

    If you find yourself wandering around looking for a place to buy alcohol at Disney, all you have to do is ask one of the friendly cast members, who can point you in the right direction.  Be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re in the parks also, as alcohol is dehydrating. Designate a driver or take advantage of Disney’s resort transportation. Cheers!

    All Disney venues selling alcohol have a limit of two beverages per sale per person to limit overindulgence on property. Remember, cocktails can be fun, but this is a family friendly destination and not a place to act inappropriate.

     

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  • The Final Season of Oprah is closing with the ultimate adventure – Ms. Winfrey surprised an entire audience with a trip to accompany Ms. Winfrey on her first trip to Australia. The group landed in Oz and broke off to experience different adventures across the country. I’m so excited to see others get a chance to have an amazing and unbelievable adventure trip like this and hope they all have a wonderful, lasting travel experience.

    Oprah landed in the country to meet up with the tour group. She and her best friend Gayle King (and entourage) spent some time at Hamilton Island Wildlife Park and The Great Barrier Reef. The friends enjoyed a barbecue on Whitehaven Beach prepared by Australian chef Curtis Stone. Now this is beginning to sound like one of the best getaways ever!

    Uluru glowing

    Stops for the various audience members (broken into smaller groups) include some of the following:

    A helitour of Uluru and Kata Tjuta

    Lodging at Longitude 131 – I’ve had this luxury camping resort on my list of places to experience. You have to go glamping at least once! It’s near Ayers Rock (Uluru) and looks absolutely fabulous.

    Surfing Lessons at Byron Bay

    A Hot Air Balloon Ride in the Hunter Valley

    Melbourne

    Be sure to watch the entire coverage of Oprah’s Ultimate Australia Adventure which will air on two episodes. I can’t wait to watch and start planning my own ultimate Australia adventure and to follow along Oprah Winfrey as she takes her next path on her life journey with the upcoming launch of OWN the Oprah Winfrey Network which premiers January 1, 2011. Tonight I’ll be settling in to watch the Barbara Walter’s special about Oprah on ABC.

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  • Last year I took my first ski lessons, thanks to SkiUtah.com. One thing I noticed about the fashion at the various ski resorts is that women want to look good both on and off the slopes. I had no idea what type of ski wear to pack for a cold weather destination. Keeping your feet warm and dry after a day on the slopes is important, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping with the current fashion. Here are some of the best apres ski boots that work for both function and fashion.

    teva kiru apres ski boot print zapposTeva Kiru Boot – We love Zappos.com, not just because they’re friendly people, but because they offer great products at fabulous prices. These Teva Kiru print boots will keep your feet warm and cozy when the temperatures drop. The side zipper makes it easy to slide these boots on and the top laces help with taking these beauties off. They not only look fabulous with your apres ski attire, but they keep you upright with their non-marking Spider soles that help grip on slippery surfaces.

    apres ski boots Sorel Cate the Great ZapposSorel Cate the Great Boot – Waterproof construction is important when temperatures are below freezing. Sorel is one of the top brands that keep feet warm and dry in winter and these Sorel Cate the Great will help you look fashionable too. The upper is leather and suede and the recycled inner felt InnerBoot is removable. These boots even fit those with a little bit larger calf, which is sometimes hard to find with taller boots. Be aware that if you are looking for tight ankle support, these boots fit a little loose in that area.

    apres ski boots Keen Charleston Boot 6pmcomKeen Charleston Boot – Not everyone is comfortable wearing tall boots as their apres ski attire. Keen is a classic brand that produces quality products for all seasons. The Keen Charleston Boot boasts a soft, microfleece inner lining to keep your tootsies toasty. These boots aren’t just quality and will keep your feet warm and dry, they are also very light for apres ski boots and will be a welcome respite for your legs after a day on the slopes and the binding fit of ski boots. You can find these boots online at 6pm.com, the sister site of Zappos that offers AMAZING discount prices.

    apres ski boots Khombu Moon Boots Sierra Trading PostKhombu Moon Boots – The Khombu Moon Boots are cute, fur-trimmed waterproof boots for apres ski. They have a faux-fur lining and removable foam-cushioned insole. The rubber outsole is great for gripping icy sidewalks and stepping through snow to get to that apres-ski lunch or afternoon of shopping after a day’s adventure on the slopes. We found this boot and many others at SierraTradingPost.com.

    Apres Ski boots Timberland Crystal Mountain CampmorTimberland Crystal Mountain Mid Pull-on Boots – Timberland is a classic outdoor adventure brand and their winter offerings won’t let anyone down. These Timberland Crystal Mountain Mid Pull-on Boots don’t have that bulky look of Timberland’s classic hiking boots. These are very fashionable for apres-ski adventures. The removable anti-fatigue footbed is an added aspect to these already quality boots. The rubber outsole not only provides traction on slippery surfaces, but it’s also eco-friendly. Campmor is one of the many places to purchase these apres ski boots for women.

    These are just a few of the many apres ski boots available for women. What are some of your favorite brands of winter boots?

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  • Is your family looking for a place to get away from it all and still enjoy family time with their children? Do you want vacation where you can enjoy the beach, stay active and enjoy local attractions?

    Ocean Isle Inn on Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina has been named one of the Top Atlantic Coastal Destinations.  Children love it.  Families love it.  The location is great and the property keeps calling guests back again and again. 

    “Ocean Isle is the way beaches use to be. Uncrowded, Unhurried, and Unforgettable. All this and more await you at the Ocean Isle Inn. Ideally situated a short distance from the historic riverfront town of Wilmington, North Carolina, Southport NC, Holden Beach NC, Sunset Beach NC, and North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach South Carolina, the Ocean Isle Inn provides the perfect accommodations for a vacationer, business traveler, family reunion or wedding.”

    Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

    Ocean Isle Inn is a beautiful ocean front property on the quiet Southern beaches of North Carolina.  Enjoy the quiet of the beaches where you can get away from it all.  Yet,  you can drive an hour to the trendy and popular Myrtle Beaches of South Carolina where wonderful restaurants, shopping and local activities abound.

    Enjoy the local attractions:

    1)  Ocean front beaches for families;

    2)  Ten minutes from the wonders of South Carolina like  Myrtle Beach and famous Callabash Seafood;

    3) Ingram Planetarium – where the Stars Always Shine!

    4) Museum of Coastal Carolina

    Enjoy this view each morning – after a complimentary breakfast and gourmet coffee, step out poolside and enjoy the ocean views.  When it’s breezy or it rains, take in the indoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi!  Life is good in North Carolina.

    Are you ready to get away from it all?  Take your children on a vacation they will always remember! Book your trip to Ocean Isle Inn today!  Ocean Isle Inn is offering Traveling Mamas Readers a 15% Discount if you Book with the Discount Code: CarolinaMama. Book your trip and enjoy the anticipation until you experience the pure delight of the ocean at Ocean Isle Inn.

    *CarolinaMama is an Ocean Isle Inn Ambassador.

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