Everyday in Atlanta G-A

Andy, Amy and Ainsley in Atlanta

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Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

We love our little girl and now have another one coming soon! Stay tuned...


Just spent a week in Ireland......

......and we loved it! We flew over to Dublin on Thursday, June 7th with our friend Liam (he's from Ireland so we had our own personal tour guide). When we got there we rented (or "hired" as they say here) a car and drove all the way across the country (it took us about 3 hours...not a very big country) to the west coast of Ireland to set up camp for a few days in Castlebar, County Mayo where Liam is from. Most of his family and friends are there and he still owns a house there so we were able to stay at his house and use his sister's car. But, to start off the Irish experience we come back to the initial car rental story. So, we drive the car to the west coast and had arranged with the Budget Rent-A-Car people in Dublin to return the car at the Knock Airport once we got there around 10:30 or 11 pm. Well, we drove up to the entrance of the Knock (International, mind you) Airport and all gates were closed and locked and it was dark. The airport was shut down for the night. We thought, "Great, what do we do now?" So, we found a phone number on the Budget paperwork we filled out in Dublin but had no luck at that number. Where we drove up to there was a car rental return area for National, Avis and some other company but not Budget! Liam found a phone number on the door of that place and called it, getting some lady who said, "It's almost midnight, everything's closed. I'd recommend you just go to Castlebar to catch a sleep and bring the car back in the morning". Well, we weren't too keen on that idea since we were supposed to return it that night in order to not get charged extra. So, Liam tried the Dublin phone number again and got Michelle, the manager of Budget in Dublin on the phone. He told her the story and she said, "Oh, you shouldn't be having a problem, customers have been dropping cars off there after hours for years. You just give the keys to the night watchman in the hut by the front gate." Well, imagine us all looking around wondering what she was talking about, because there's no night watchman or a hut anywhere! Thanks for the help Michelle! We then found a number to the Knock Airport so Liam called and got no answer. He tried again a few minutes later and finally a man answered. So, Liam tells him the story that we're trying to return this car and that Michelle in Dublin said to give the keys to the night watchman. He says, "We've not had a night watchman here for 2 years! I'll tell you what, ya see the yellow box through the front gate there? Just 'fire' the keys over the gate toward the yellow box and around 2am (it's midnight at this point) I'll come out and collect them and return them to the Budget desk here for you." So we're just supposed to park the car outside the front gate, "fire" the keys over the gate and hope that our car is returned safely the next day. We had no other choice so that's what we did. We documented the "firing" with pictures just in case. The picture above is of Liam holding the keys through the gate before we let them go for good. We never heard from Budget and when looking at our credit card statement we only got charged what we were supposed to so it all turned out okay but I'll tell you, we were a bit nervous about this whole return experience. Welcome to Ireland! The next day, Friday, we drove out to Achill Island which was so beautiful. "Next parish America" is what they say about that place because apparently if you were able to keep going on the road we were on you would eventually end up in America. We went for a walk on the beach then had some afternoon tea, coffee and scones at a Bed 'n' Breakfast place there. The whole day was lovely. If you didn't know you were in Ireland you would have thought you were in Hawaii when walking on that beach. There were huge cliffs, soft white sand and bright blue water. It was very picturesque. We really lucked out with our weather too. It was 75 and sunny all but our last 2 days in Ireland. Saturday we drove with Liam's friend Fiona down to Westport which is a coastal town, very cute, and then out to Croagh Patrick which is a Holy Mountain. That mountain is where St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland back in the day so it has become a pilgrimage sight. There's a church on top and people come from all over to hike to it, especially on St. Patrick's Day. We didn't make the trek (that would've been pretty impressive considering the state I'm in) but we did climb a short way to the statue of St. Patrick at the base of the mountain to get some pictures. (For our Protestant friends...you can get an indulgence for making the trek and saying particular prayers for the Pope at the church on top.) There's also the National Famine Memorial across the road that commemorates the thousands that died during the potato famine. Then, of course, at the base of the mountain there's also a pub. Now, this was a good 'ol traditional Irish pub. Andy had his first real pint of Guinness there (you haven't had a Guinness until you've had one in the motherland). That's where the great picture of Andy and Liam holding up their pints was taken. Sunday we went to Mass at Liam's home church then drove out to Knock. Knock is one of the churches official apparition pilgrimage sight. (The vision has been re-created by eye-witness accounts as you can see in the picture.) A Basilica has been built there, Pope John Paul II said Mass there, and quite an industry has been built around this sight. People make pilgrimage there from all around the world. On our way back to Castlebar we stopped at Ballintubber Abbey which is a ruined Abbey connected to a restored church. That was neat and, a little bit of pop trivia for you, the church is where Pearce Brosnan got married a few years ago. Monday we drove down south a little ways to Galway. We had lunch and walked around a bit looking at different cathedrals, buildings, historical sights, etc. That was a neat town too. Now some general American trivia for you, John F. Kennedy visited there during his presidency (a memorial is built for him in the Galway Cathedral) as well as Bill Clinton during his presidency. Each night we were in Castlebar we did something with someone in Liam's family. We met and spent a bit of time with his parents, two of his brothers (the 3rd one lives in the States) and his sister. What a sweet family! We also met a couple of his friends. We loved it and had a great time. Tuesday we drove back to Dublin where we stayed for 2 nights until we came back to Aberdeen on Thursday, June 14th. Dublin is a great city! We took the "hop on, hop off" sightseeing bus tour which was very informative and allowed us to get around to more places since I'm moving a bit slower these days. We visited the two Cathedrals and the pro-Cathedral, Trinity College, the Temple Bar area, and the many historical sights in the city. We did go to the Guinness Factory, but unfortunately we didn't go on the tour, or go into the "Old Library" at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (both "must sees" when you're in Dublin) due to lack of funds, if you know what I mean, but we still loved everything we did see and our time there. I'm sure there is plenty we have forgotten to tell you about but you get the picture, and when we come back in November/December to visit you can see all the pictures. Liam was a wonderful host and tour guide, nothing like seeing a country with a native.


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