Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Malahyde Castle DublinThe Dublin Pass with a transportation add-on is an affordable way to tour this Irish city at your leisure. I used this pass during my visit to Ireland and really enjoyed being able to hop-on and hop-off the bus at different stops. It was a safe and fun way to see the city. It includes entry into 30 different attractions, such as Dublin Castle, The Bram Stoker Dracula Experience, Dublin Writers Museum, and many more. If admission is normally free to the attraction, the Dublin Pass gets you things such as an extra souvenir or a discount in attraction gift shops.

    The Pass offers discounts at certain restaurants, on tours, and other attractions. Pass holders can get 25% off the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl or a free bottle of house wine at Abbey Tavern, with meal purchase. The pass can even be used for Airport transfer into Dublin City Centre, but beware that once you activate your card, the clock starts ticking.

    Audio and Video Tours

    VisitDublin.com offers free downloads of iWalks, which are audio tours for your iPod or mp3 player. There are twelve themed tours to choose from, or download all of them. The Guinness tours are available in a variety of languages. The official tourism site for Dublin also has a video to get you in the travel mood. The video is set to U2’s Beautiful Day.

    If you are thinking of visiting Dublin and searching for some great deals, or if you just want to take a virtual vacation away from work today, go to VisitDublin.com.

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  • april2006-359.jpgFriday’s post reminded me of when I had the pleasure of traveling to Dunfanaghey, located on the northwest coast of Ireland. I stayed at Arnold’s Hotel, a family run business that offers the amenities of a larger hotel, yet the charm of a bed and breakfast. I knew I would like this place, if not for the view of Sheephead Bay, then for the warm and inviting peat fire glowing in the lobby. The price was very reasonable, starting at 65Euros per night with breakfast. Arnold’s Hotel also offers special events throughout the year, including writing classes, photography weekends, and even home-cooked Irish cooking lessons.

    My room was clean and cozy, with a surprisingly spacious bath. I dropped my bags and went in search of comraderie down in The Whiskey Fly Bar, where our group met up. I did my best to make friends with the bartender, Sterling, but imagine my surprise when Mr. Arnold himself poured me a drink. He charmed me with his Irish accent and somehow talked me into another drink. And another. And then the sweet couple who was sitting next to me bought me a drink to celebrate their anniversary. Boy, I was loving Ireland.

    I stumbled up to my room, and my travel friends stumbled to theirs. I closed my eyes, but the room started to spin. Let’s just say it was a long Irish night. I wasn’t looking forward to an early game of golf, but when in Ireland, one must golf.
    The next morning, Mr. Arnold was awaiting me in the lobby, all ready to drive just a few of us to Dunfanaghey Golf Club. Mr. Arnold was even kind enough to let me borrow his very nice clubs.

    april2006-375.jpgThe course was fantastic and I couldn’t believe I was standing in Ireland, on a golf course, overlooking the bay. The breeze was crisp and cool, so I bought a goofy knit hat with a pom-pom on top and borrowed a warm vest from a friend. Non members can play here for 22Euros, but I think there is a discount for international visitors. What a steal!

    The course wasn’t very busy, so our crew really took in the scenery of the ocean on one side, and fields of horses on the other. This links-style course was simply breathtaking. Our afternoon closed with another visit to The Whiskey Fly Bar and a round of Guinness.

    The Irish really know how to entertain.

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  • elmontesagrado-100.jpg

    Anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine’s days are those special dates that come around where Mamas hope for romance and loving and maybe a romantic trip.

    Sometimes, though, life gets in the way.

    This Traveling Mama experienced a low point in her life when the Birthday and Anniversary occurred a week after a hysterectomy. Yes, TMI, but I want you all to know that what seemed like a lost cause became an opportunity for Mr. CajunMama and the little ones to step it up. They surprised me with a dinner at the dining room table, which hardly ever gets used. The Mister and I ate a candlelight meal of overcooked steak, chewy Au Gratin Potatoes, and dessert of a chilled Reese’s Cup. Top that off with some sparkly and it was better than any fine dining experience.

    Here are Valentine’s Day ideas for those Traveling Mamas who are grounded:

    Dinner and a Movie

    Break out the fine china, the crystal, and let the kids act as chef and maitre d. The kids will really enjoy serving their parents, who can gaze at each other over candlelight. Follow up with the movie No Reservations.

    Day Spa Getaway

    Call up your local day spa and check on their specials. Plan an afternoon when the kids are in school and you can both take time for yourselves. A couples treatment is just the thing.

    Can’t wait for the day spa?

    Get the kids to bed early, lock the door, and break out the massage oil or lotion. Play a little tropical music in the background or turn on “crashing waves” sounds on your alarm clock. Fix some umbrella drinks and take a soak in the bath together. Who needs a day spa?

    Use your imagination

    So you didn’t get that trip to the Bahamas for Valentine’s Day. Neither did I. I’m still having a fantastic V-Day. I’ve got the Champagne chilled (and sparkling grape juice too) and the pizza is on the way. The whole family is having a living-room picnic with the fireplace going. Afterwards we are baking heart-shaped cookies. And who knows what will happen after the kids go to bed.

    Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day from the Traveling Mamas, no matter what your plans are.

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  • Mardi Gras Parade

    Parades and the revelry of Mardi Gras has attracted tourist and visitors from all over the world. Make sure you don’t break any of the cardinal rules of Mardi Gras. First timers may not know the traditions, but this quick primer will help you weave your way from parade route to parade route, no matter if you are in New Orleans, Mobile, or Galveston.

    Mardi Gras translated means Fat Tuesday. It originally began as a Catholic celebration day to enjoy the things that a person would give up during the Lenten Season. Lent, is the 40 days before Easter that symbolizes the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert before his arrest and crucifixion. Catholics fast on certain days and also give up something that is important to them. Many people give up candy, others quit smoking, and some people try to give up relations (if they aren’t married). It starts on Ash Wednesday, the day following Mardi Gras.

    Through the years, the celebrations have expanded from one day to an entire season, consisting of weeks of revelry beginning on The Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. Mardi Gras dates vary from year to year. Many revelers will argue that there really are no rules to Mardi Gras. As a lifelong resident of South Louisiana, I beg to differ. There are rules, and then there are the RULES.

    The King Cake Rule: I can give a detailed explanation about the origins of the King Cake, but that might be boring. Suffice it to say, the King Cake is a big round cinnamon roll topped with icing and colored sugar. The colors are green, purple, and gold. A plastic or gold baby is placed inside the delicacy, so be careful when you take a bite. You don’t want to break a tooth. If you get the baby inside your slice, guess what? YOU get to buy the next King Cake. And don’t try to slip it back inside the King Cake when no one is looking, because Karma will come back and get you in the form of an party-goer who will regurgitate on you at your next parade.

    The Parade Rule: There are invisible lines surrounding the area of a family who has staked out their spot on the parade route. Do not think that you can wait until the parade starts to stand in the area in front. You will get injured by an inebriated mother wearing a feather boa should you block her child’s area of the curb. Your lesson: Get there early and find your own spot.

    The Bead Rule: There are beads and then there are “good” beads. When good beads are being thrown, get out of the way unless the person on the float makes eye contact. Yes, this is the Bead Rule. Eye contact and pointing means the person throwing the item will aim for you. Oh, and don’t catch beads intended for a child. Should you make contact with these beads, then act like you “meant” to get it for the kid, and then hand it off to them.

    The Don’t Be Offended Rule: Mardi Gras is considered a family event in many areas, however, this does not lesson the satire or adult tones of parades. If you are easily offended, just don’t go. You will see the obligatory family ice chest filled with beer and juice boxes. Every once in a while someone still flashes “the girls” so don’t look or at least be aware of your surroundings during the parade, keeping your hands ready to block a view from your child’s eyes. Stay away from Bourbon Street and find the family areas along a parade route.

    The No Business Rule: Mardi Gras is an official state holiday in Louisiana, so don’t even try conduct business with someone from that state from the Saturday before Mardi Gras through the afternoon of Ash Wednesday.

    These are just a few of the rules of Mardi Gras posted for your entertainment and education. Any additional rules can be posted in the comments. And remember, if you attend a Mardi Gras parade, the ultimate rule is to HAVE FUN.

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